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THE HISTORY OF ST. GILES AND ST. JAMES.
“WHAT is it you look at so earnestly 2" asked Mrs. Wilton : and Clarissa, with a flushed cheek, placed the miniature in her bosom. Snipeton had just quitted the house—for we must take back the reader to that point of time—and Clarissa sat, with her heart in her eyes, gazing at the youthful features of her father. As she looked, with fond curiosity comparing those features, in their early bloom and strength, tempered with gentle frankness; as she gazed upon their manly, loving openness, and, with her memory, evoked that melancholy, care-worn face, that, smiling on nought beside, would always smile on her, she felt— she shuddered—but still she felt anger, bitterness towards her mother. Her eye, reading that face, could see where pain had given a sharper edge to time; could see where, in the living face, care had doubled the work of years. Surely, she thought, so fair a morning promised a fairer night. That glad and happy day should have closed with a golden sunset, touching with solemn happiness all it shone upon, as slowly from the earth it passed in glory. These were the daughter's thoughts as she heard her mother's voice. A momentary resentment glowed in her cheek— darkened her eyes.
“It is nothing—a-a present from Mr. Snipeton—from my husband,” said Clarissa coldly. Her mother took her hand between her own. Affectionately pressing it, and with all a mother's tenderness beaming in her face—the only look hypocrisy could never yet assume—she said, “It is well, Clarissa—very well. It makes me happy, deeply happy, to hear you. I think it is the first time you have said “husband.’” “Is it so? I cannot tell. The word escaped me. Yet I–d —must learn to speak it." “Oh, yes, Clarissa. Make it the music of your life . Think it a charm that, when pronounced, makes all earth's evils less— doubling its blessings. A word that brings with it a sense of joy; a strength; a faith in human existence. A word that may clothe beggary itself with content, and make a hut a temple. You may still pronounce it. Oh, never, never may you know what agony it is to forego that word. The living makes it a blessing ; and the dead sanctifies and hallows it.” Clarissa felt conscience-smitten, stung with remorse. All heedlessly, cruelly, she had arraigned her mother; thoughtless of the daily misery that wore her; regardless of the penitence that corroded and consumed her. “Forgive me,” she said: “forgive me, mother. I will lay this lesson to my heart. I will learn to speak the word. You shall still teach me its sustaining sweetmess.” “A most unfit teacher; most unfit,” said the mother, with an appealing look of anguish. “Your own heart will best instruct you.” And then, with resolute calmness, she asked: “What is this present 2 '' “You shall not know to-day ; by-and-by, mother. And I have a present, too, for you,” said Clarissa; and she looked so light, so happy, that her mother for the first time dared to hope. Did the young victim feel at length the wife : Would that seem-ing life-long sorrow pass away, and the sunshine of the heartbreak in that clouded face? “I will be patient, child; nay, I will promise what you will, I feel so grateful that I see you thus cheerful—happy. Shall I not —say happy, Clarissa £’’ “Oh yes; very happy,” answered the wife; and a sudden pang of heart punished the treason of the lips. “But I must not be idle to-day, I have so much to do.” And Clarissa seated herself at her work; and the mother silently occupied herself. And so, hour after hour passed, and scarce a word was spoken. At length Dorothy Vale, with noiseless step and folded arms, stood in the room. “They be come,’ her arms. “Who are come 2'' asked Clarissa. “Why, Becky be come, and a man with her,” answered Dorothy; and—it was strange—but her voice seemed to creak with suppressed anger. “I am glad of that,” said Clarissa; “tell the girl to come to me —directly, Dorothy.” Dorothy stood, rubbing her withered arms with renewed purpose. Her brow wrinkled, and her grey, cold eyes gleamed, like sharp points, in her head ; then she laughed. “She was brought up in the workhouse; and to be put over my head ' Well, it's a world! The workhouse; and put over my head!” Thus muttering, she left the room. In a moment, Becky—possessed with delight, swimming in a sea of happiness—was curtseying before her new mistress. Now, were we not assured, past all error, that it was the same country wench that half laughed at, half listened to, the flatteries of the deceitful Gum, we should deny her identity with that radiant piece of flesh and blood, that, glowing with felicity, bobbed and continually bobbed before Mrs. Snipeton. Certainly, there is a subtle power of refinement in happiness; a something elevating, purifying in that expansion of the heart. Sudden bliss invests with sudden grace; and gives to homeliness itself a look of sweetness. The soul, for a brief time, flashes forth with brighter light; asserting itself—as human pride is sometimes apt to think—in the vulgarest, oddest sort of people. And so it was with Becky. To be sure, all the way from St. Mary Axe— hanging, and sometimes at puddles and crossings, with all her weight on the arm of St. Giles, she had felt the refining process hinted at above. St. Giles had talked on what he thought indifferent matters; but the weather, the shops, the passers-bywhatever his silver tongue dwelt upon—became objects of the dearest interest to the hungry listener; who now laughed, she knew not why, from her over-brimming heart; and now had much ado to check her tears, that—she knew it—had risen to her eyes, and threatened to flow. She walked in a region of dreams; and intoxicating music broke at every footstep. Could it be true— could it be real—that that wayfaring, wretched man; that unhappy creature, with all the world * at him, chasing him to destrucU
* Continued from p. 118, Vol. IV. NO. XXII.-WOL. I.W. U
said Dorothy, with unmoved face, rubbing tion, like a rabid cur, that vagabond, to a suspicious world, dyed in murderous blood, was the trim, handsome—to her, how beautiful!—young fellow walking at her side ; and now and then smiling so kindly upon her that her heart seemed to grow too big with the blessing 2 And oh-extravagant excess of happiness!— he was to be her fellow-servant ' . He would dwell under the same roof with her | Now she was steeped in bliss ; and now, a shadow fell upon her. Yes: it could not be. The happiness was too full ; all too complete to endure. And yet the bliss continued—nay, increased. Mrs. Snipeton, that creature of goodness; that angel of Becky's morning dreams —gave smiling welcome to her new handmaid; greeted her with kindest words; and, more than all, looked cordially on St. Giles, who could not remain outside, but sidled into the room to pay his duty to his handsome mistress. The sweetness with which she spoke to both seemed to the heart of Becky to unite both. The girl's affection for St. Giles—until that moment, unknown to her in its strength—appeared sanctioned by the equal smiles of her lady. At this juncture, a new visitor—with a confidence which he was wont to wear, as though it mightily became him—entered the room, passing before the slow domestic, leisurely bent upon heralding his coming. Mr. Crossbone was again in presence of his patient; again had his finger on her pulse; again looked with professional anxiety in Mrs. Snipeton's face; as though his only thought, his only mission in this world was to continually act the part of her healing angel. “Better, much better, my dear Mrs. Snipeton. Yes; we shall be all right, now ; very soon all right. And I have brought you the best medicine in the world. Bless me!”—and Crossbone stared at Becky—“the little wench from the Dog and Moon.” “Lamb and Star, sir,” said Becky. “Wonder you've forgot the house, sir; wonder you've forgot Mrs. Blick and all the babies.” “I think it was the Lamb and Star,” said Crossbone; but when we consider that the apothecary had already promised himself a carriage in London, can we wonder that he should have forgotten the precise sign; that he should have forgotten the poor children (weeds that they were) who owed to him an introduction into this over-peopled world 2 “You are afortunate young woman, that you have been promoted from such a place to your present service. One always has one's doubts of the lower orders; nevertheless, I hope you'll be grateful.” And the apothecary looked the patron.
“I hope she ool,” said Dorothy, with a sneer; and as she turned from the room, she went muttering along—“She was born in the workhouse, and to be put over my head.”
“I have great faith in Becky; she'll be a good, a prudent girl ; I am sure of it. You may go now, child, to Dorothy. Bear with her temper a little, and soon she'll be your friend.” And with this encouragement, Becky left her mistress, seeking the kitchen, hopeful and happy, as pilgrims seek a shrine. In a moment she had resolved with herself to be a wonder of fidelity and patience. And then for Dorothy, though the girl could not promise herself to love her very much, nevertheless, she determined to be to her a pattern of obedience. “She may walk over me if she likes, and I won't say nothing,” was Becky's resolution ; should Dorothy, from the capriciousness of illtemper, resolve upon such enjoyment; walking over people, giving at times, it must be owned, a strange satisfaction to the tyranny of the human heart. Now Becky, though she had at least nine thousand out of the nine thousand and three good qualities that, according to the calculation of an anonymous philosopher, fall, a natural dower, to the lot of woman, was not ordinarily so much distinguished by meekness as by any other of the nameless crowd of good gifts. Ordinarily, any attempt “to walk over her,” would have been a matter of extreme difficulty to the stoutest pedestrian; but Becky was mollified, subdued. Her heart was newly opened, and gushed with tenderness. She felt herself soothed to any powers of endurance. The house was made such a happy, solemn place to her by the presence of St. Giles. He would live there: he would be her daily sight; her daily music; and with that thought, all the world might walk over her, and she would not complain the value of a single word. She was astonished at her own determined meekness; she could never have believed it. * “And Mr. Snipeton—excellent man —has hired you?” And Crossbone looked up and down at St. Giles. “I trust, young man, you'll do no discredit to my good word. It's a risk, a great risk, at any time to answer for folks of your condition; but l have ventured for the sake of of your poor father.” St. Giles winced. “I hope you'll show yourself worthy of that honest man. Though he was one of the weeds of the world, nevertheless, I don't know how it was, but I'd have trusted him with untold gold. So, you'll be sober and attentive in this house; study the interests of your master, the wishes of your excellent mistress who