« AnteriorContinuar »
“No, no, Sir, we sink or swim together? You shall never get out of my reach again, believe me!” Herman smiled and yielded, and was soon flung in helpless dependence upon his old friend. In the midst of considering a small plan of business, (having with a spirit of independence declined aid which would have launched him somewhat imposingly), he was, as the winter advanced, attacked by fever and ague, and again the once strong and still struggling man was cast down. This new calamity was studiously concealed from Bertha, till the progress of the disorder rendered it impossible for him to write. Johnson was then summoned to act as his amanuensis, and they conferred together over the excuses to be put forth, till Herman exclaimed,— “The attempt is folly: she would penetrate the reality, or apprehend still worse. Take a fresh sheet and write as I dictate. “A circumstance not worth relating takes the pen out of my hand, but it is held by a faithful and attentive friend, to whom I owe more than I can express, or shall ever be able to repay. I shall reinstate my affairs, but not for some time—till then—till I can realize a home in some degee suited to your hahits, I say nothing of your deserts, consent, I entreat you, to remain where you are —in the shelter of friendship, opulence, and (since in the exercise of your abilities) in independence. No such field is open for you here, and it would sink me yet lower to see you suffer with me. Cling then to such support as you have, since I, a broken reed, have none to offer you. I will again to work to build up a home— then come to me—it will be no home till you are in it.” This effort had been followed by a fit and its usual subversion of strength; Johnson, during his tendance debated with himself whether he ought to conceal the state of his affairs from the absent wife; but Herman's malady, though distressing, was not dangerous, and he had great constitutional energy. His mind, in its ever restless action, was the great bar to his recovery, and the derangement of his whole nervous system bowed his spirit at moments to the deepest depression. When the next post brought him no letters, nor another, nor many after that, in spite of every effort, hope and confidence began to give way. He remembered the balance there was in human character: he recollected the adage, as applicable to morals as machinery, that what is gained in velocity is lost in weight—he knew that the tide which will flow very high will also N0, XXIII.-WOL. IV. * G G
ebb very low. He examined his own claims to the unlimited devotion of a woman so endowed, and, with the natural severity of selfjudgment which high morality ever institutes, he deemed himself an utter bankrupt, with no right to murmur should he find his moral wreck equal to his commercial ruin. An anguish heavier than any that had yet weighed upon his heart oppressed him, and he yearned for release from the burden. He requested Johnson to leave him, and that in so decided a manner, that the poor old man, though unwilling and uneasy, complied. When alone, Herman turned to his solitary fireside: he looked round at the scene of desolation his habitation presented, as if taking a last survey, when he perceived that the door of his apartment was open. The process of discomfiture takes increase from very minor causes; desirous to secure perfect privacy the circumstance annoyed him; perhaps the cold of that November evening was making itself felt, and assisting to stagnate the sinking pulses of his heart. He slowly rose, and was about to close the door, when voices arrested his attention—he paused, there was something in the murmurs that moved even his languid curiosity, at least, it served to call him for a moment from a dangerous self-engrossment. There were steps upon the stairs, and again voices, and one among them of which the words were few, low, and hurried; but it fell upon his heart, not upon his ear. He moved feebly forward, in the dim light he beheld a form—it glided towards him. The next instant arms were about his neck, tears upon his face, and a heartbeating warmly— wildly upon his breast. Prosperity has no gratification that can compete with such a burst of happiness when it breaks upon the darkness of calamity, making even calamity precious as the purchase of a joy so intense. Never did magician scatter gloom and call up light as did Bertha in that moment when she was folded to the bosom of her despairing husband, while to her all she had ever enjoyed was poor in comparison to the joy of bringing him comfort, and regaining her guarantee for hope and happiness. Little more remains to be said. Her silence had been caused by the chances that deprived her of a mother's hopes ; as soon as practicable, converting some jewellery she possessed into money by the aid of the friendly Rodens, who liberally repaid her brief but valuable services, she made her way to England under the pressure of deep anxiety. To this little fortune Johnson insisted on adding the savings of his life, and thus a small capital was submitted
to the application of Herman's talent, Johnson resuming his old post with resolute devotion. In the outset of their new career Mrs. Milller accepted some engagements as a daily governess, which, as her husband's prospects improved, were resigned for the dear exclusive duties of her domestic life. Johnson became the friend of heart and hearth in that home of unique enjoyment. Largely had all parties profited by sorrow : they felt that they owed a debt of gratitude to their calamities, since they had thrown out in such strong relief moral qualities which had never otherwise been so truly known—had tested attachments which would probably have slumbered into satiety in the fair weather of umbroken fortune. Their mental energies new strung—their tried attachment permanently based, they felt that well-directed occupation and moderate relaxation were among the staples of happiness, which may be lost in the pursuit of pleasure, never in that of improvement.
M. L. G.
DODYPOL, THE CLERK.
A TALE OF A LONDON FOG.
It was about one hour after noon, on a day in the foggy month of November, 18—, that the metropolis was visited with one of those extremely dense fogs, which are happily very rare visitors, and which generally of casion much personal detriment and inconvenience to worthy citizens, whenever they occur. The fog we allude to was one of the rarest. As servant-maids in areas declared, you might cut it with a knife. Indeed it was almost possible to do what you pleased with it,-except drive it away. That you couldn't do, for it grew denser and denser every instant. It was evidently determined to be as troublesome and alarming as a fog could be. See the houses opposite 3. You couldn't see your own toes. Judge what jostling there was in the human current in such thoroughfares as the Strand and Cheapside. It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
There was no mistake about that fog. London seemed to have grown weary of existence, and to be bent upon stifling itself. Of course there was a cessation to all business. People who were within doors became very pleasant with themselves in congratulations at their good fortune, and * without, rapidly lost their
temper in their ineffectual efforts to find their way home, mistaking the turnings of streets, groping on one of the bridges when they were bound to Somers' Town—walking into strange houses, and getting themselves collared as thieves, or committing some absurd error of a like nature. Very funny to hear afterwards recounted, but by no means agreeable at the time of sufferance to the actually concerned individual. City lanes—courts—alleys—dark recesses, where dingy counting-houses are packed away—how impenetrable were these that afternoon You might as well have sought to get at the interior of Africa. Messrs. Denham and Clapperton had easy work of it, compared with that of the old clerk who had grown grey-headed on our office stool, and who, having gone forth to get his dinner, at a tavern hard by, spent two whole mortal hours in an ineffectual search after his desk—much to the discomposure of his ordinarily unruffled disposition, for his shins were nearly raw from encounters with serapers and doorsteps; and an angel with an abraded epidermis would be petulant. But what shall be said of the bully sailor, who, fancying that he was crossing the threshold of the “Jolly Launch” walked into the river off Wapping Stairs, and made the heavily laden air undulate with the concussion of his oaths? What shall be said of vehicle-drivers, cads and cabbies, who, with smashed panels, were dolorously and splenetically misleading themselves and cattle, in vain and frantic attempts to get to home quarters? Let us rather attend to the old clerk, for we shall see, in the sequel, how he had reason to remember the fog for the remainder of his life. Not yet. Very like the street, but not the street, though it can't be far off. Not yet again—No, nor nothing like it this time. for, as true as the monument is a monument, he is groping around its iron railings. London Bridge is nigh at hand, and the riverwhat if he should go astray in that direction, and get drowned 2 Such things, it is said, have happened in a fog. Not yet—and now he thinks he has got it. Yes. A few steps along the passage, and then a staircase to mount. How cheerful the lighted apartment looks, in contrast to the choking murkiness of the street, outside. Yet not quite like itself either. A portion of the fog must have penetrated through crannies, or the clerks, coming in from dinner, must have introduced it with their damp garments. Certainly, there was a prevalent haziness that seemed to metamorphose things a little. There were his desk and stoolyet the stool had a feeling unlike itself—wasn't worn as his was, —he had sat on his for twenty years, and should know it well, he thought. There was a difference, for which he could not account. The fog must have confused him, or was his dinner ale stronger than usual? The landlord had mentioned something about a new tap. P. Mr. Dodypol,” said a voice, “you have mistaken your desk." : “Dear me, have I, indeed ?” the clerk replied... “It must be the fog that has affected my eyes. There was just such a fog twenty-six years ago—the year of the great comet.” “Why, Mr. Dodypol,” said another speaker, “how hoarse you are, your voice is quite altered,” “Is it, indeed? It must be the effects of the fog. Oh, it's a terrible fog. I am afraid that we shall hear of a great many accidents.” “Yes. I never encountered such a fog, but then I am not so old as Mr. Dodypol,” said a pert young clerk, gesticulating as if he had intended to balance his pen across his nose, but had suddenly changed his mind. Here arose a new source of confusion. The voices, features, apparel, of the individuals who were at work around him, were not as they should have been, if he was amongst his fellow-clerks.— Yet there could be no mistake, for had they not called him by his name 3 He stood gazing around him, like one stupified. He heard one junior clerk whisper another, that “Dodypol was drunk 1 " Could it be true? Oh, that ale, and that treacherous landlord 1 “Why, Mr. Dodypol, your face is so changed, that I hardly know you—you have bruised your nose,” said the voice that had first spoken, “I ran against a lamp-post,” answered our friend. Four o'clock struck, amidst the half-suppressed titter that followed this confession, and at the instant every desk was vacated, and the clerks, seizing their coats and hats, bowed to the firm, in the person of Twiggers, the principal, and to him—to him, Dodypol, their fellow-clerk, and withdrew. “You will be particular about the hour to-morrow, Mr. Dodypol, if you please,” said Mr. Twiggers—who could it be but Twiggers, though it didn't look much like him 7 but that, as Dodypol thought, was the fog. “You will be particular about the hour— not that we shall make much ceremony. You will dine with us,