Imágenes de páginas

linen, and only take in laces to wash and mend, which was a very profitable business." “Well,” says I,

Virginia, my mother is a hardworking woman, and a clever woman, and I dare say she would do very well, and, as she says she would have a better home for you, I think I shall let her have the

money; but I won't say so yet. I must talk about it to Peter Anderson, and if he don't say no, she shall have it with pleasure."

" That will be very kind of you, Tom; and I hope mother will feel it, for you don't owe her much.”

“Never mind that; after breakfast I'll see Peter Anderson : don't say a word about it till I come back."

At breakfast-time my mother still appeared to be very thoughtful : the fact was, that the idea of what advantage the money would be had taken possession of her mind; and perhaps she thought that there was no chance of obtaining it. Perhaps she felt that, had she treated me better, she would have had it without difficulty-it was impossible to say exactly.

After breakfast I walked with Virginia to her school; and then set off to Anderson, to whom I immediately imparted what had taken place. His answer was decided

“I think, Jack, you can't do better; but, at the same time, let us go to your father and hear his opinion.”

My father coincided with Anderson and me; and he added, " I tell you what, your mother is not parfect cxactly-though I say it, as shouldn't say it-but still she docs work hard-and she will work hard-she has paid my little girl's schooling out of her own arnings; and, moreover, she has found me one pot of porter as least, every night, which has made me very comfortable. Now I've still a matter of forty pounds in the lieutenant's hands; I'll add it to Tom's hundred pounds, and then she will have a fair start. What d’ye think, Peter ?"

“ I think you are both right; and, Tom-you are doing your duty."

I know what Anderson meant. I thanked him for his advice; and my father and I went to my mother's house. I requested my father to stand spokesman, which he did, ending by telling my mother, that my hundred pounds and his forty pounds were very much at her sarvice, and good luck to her. Virginia's eyes glistened as she took me by the hand. My mother replied

“ Very well, if we pleased, she would do her best for us all.”

The answer was hardly gracious; but I watched her countenance, and saw she was moved. Her thin lips quivered, as she turned away and went up stairs, which she did immediately after her reply. In about half an hour, during which I was laughing with Virginia, my mother came down stairs in her shawl and bonnet.

“ Tom,” said she, in a kind manner, “will you walk with Virginia to school this afternoon, as I am going to have some conversation with Mr. Wilson ?"

The alteration in her tone of voice to me was immediately perceived by Virginie.

“You are a dear good Tom,” said she, kissing mu, as soon as my mother had left the house.

As soon as I had left Virginia at school, I went to

[ocr errors]

call upon old Nanny, whom I found quite brisk and lively, sorting old keys and rusty hinges.

"Well, Jack," said she, “ so you are come at last; I thought you would have been here yesterday, but nobody cares about an old woman like me. I heard all about you, and how you took the privateer, and how the Company have given you a hundred pounds; and when I heard that, I said, 'Now Jack (Poor Jack that was, who came begging to old Nanny to lend him money) will not come to see me; he'll be too proud. Besides, I said, his family is getting up in the world : there's a baronet and his lady who have taken them under their protection, and there's Lawyer Wilson calls at the house. O dear me! it's the way of us all.'

"And so you said all that to yourself, did you ?" replied I.

" Yes, and a great deal more too.”

“ Then, mother, you do me injustice. I could not well come before ; I had to see my father and mother, and my sister, and I had business to transact.”

“Mercy on us! business to transact! Poor Jack had business to transact! Here's a change from tho time that his whole business was to touch his hat for coppers, and dip his head in the mud for a penny !"

“Nevertheless, what I say is true, and you are very unjust to accuse me as you have done : I have always thought of you, and have now with me several things that I have collected for you.”

"Yes, you promised me-Jack, you Jo keep your promises; I will say that for you. Well, what have you got ?"

I opened my handkerchief, and pulled out several little articles, such as fine worked baskets, shells, &c., and, among the rest, a pound of tea, in a leaden canister.

There, mother, I have brought you them as a present, and I hope you will take them.”

Old Nanny turned them over one by one, rather contemptuously, as I thought, until she came to the tea. “ That may do,” said she. “Why, Jack, those are all very pretty things, but they are too pretty for my shop: why didn't you bring me some empty ginger-beer bottles? I could have sold them this very morning."

“Why, mother, I really did not like to ask for such things."

“No, there it is; you've grown so fine all of a sudden : these are no use, for nobody will come to my shop to buy them.”

“I thought you would like to keep them yourself, mother.”

Keep them; Oh! they are keepsakes, are they? Look you, Jack, if they are to be kept, you had better take them away at once, and give them to the young girls. Girls like keepsakes, old women like money."

“ Well, mother, sell them if you please ; they are

[ocr errors]

your own.”

“ Sell them: let me see-yes- I think I know whero there is a sort of curiosity shop, in Church Street; but it's a long way to walk, Jack, and that let me see," continued she, counting the different articles — “one, two, three-seven times, Jack.”

“But why not take them all at once ?" “ All at once, you stupid boy? I should get 10 more for two than for one. No, no; one at a time, and I may make a few shillings. Well, Jack, it's very kind of you after all, so don't mind my being a little cross; it was not on account of the things, but because you did not come to see me, and I've been looking out for you.”

“If I had thought that, I would have come sooner, mother, although it would not have been convenient.”

“I believe you, Jack, I believe you; but you young people can't feel as an old woman like I do. There is but one thing I love in the world, Jack, now, and that's you; and when I get weary of waiting for that one thing, and it don't come, Jack, it does make a poor old woman like me a little cross for the time.”

I was touched with this last speech of old Nanny's, who had never shown me any such a decided mark of kindness before. “Mother," said I, “depend upon it, whenever I return to Greenwich, you shall be the first person that I come to see after I have been to my mother's."

“ That's kind, Jack, and you keep your promise always. Now, sit down; you don't want to go away already, do you?"

“No, mother, I came to spend the whole morning with you."

“Well, then, sit down; take care, Jack, you'll knock down that bottle. Now tell me, what do you intend to do with your hundred pounds?”

“I have settled that already, mother. I have given it away.”

Already! Why, the boy has one hundred pounds given him on the morning and he gives it away beforo

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »