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night. Mercy on us ! who would ever think of leaving you any money ?"
“No one, mother, and I never expect any except what I earn.”
“Why, Jack, do you know how much one hundred pounds is?"
“ I think so."
“Now, Jack, tell me the truth, who did you give it to, your father, or your little sister, or who? for I can't understand how a person could give away one hundred pounds in any way or to anybody."
“Well, then, I gave it to my mother."
“Your mother! your mother, who has hated you, wished you dead, half-starved you! Jack, is that possible?"
“My mother has not been fond of me, but she has worked hard for my sister. This hundred pounds will enable her to do much better than she does now, and it's of no use to me. Mother may love me yet, Nanny."
“She ought to," replied old Nanny, gravely; and then she covered her face up with her hands. * Oh, what a difference!" ejaculated she at last.
"Difference, mother, difference? in what ?"
“Oh, Jack, between you and somebody else. Don't talk about it any more, Jack," said Nanny, casting her eyes down to the presents I had brought her. “I recollect the time," continued she, evidently talking to herself, “ that I had plenty of presents; ay, and when it was thought a great favour if I would accept them. That was when I was young and beautiful; yes, people would laugh if they heard mo--young and very
beautiful, or men's smiles and women's hate wero thrown away
•Why so pale and wan, fond lover;
Yes, yes; bygones are bygones.”
I was much surprised to hear old Nanny attempt to sing, and could hardly help laughing; but I restrained myself. She didn't speak again, but continued bent over one of the baskets, as if thinking about former days. I broke the silence by saying
“ What part of the country did you live in when you were young, mother?”
“In the north part : but never ask questions.”
“Yes, but, mother, I wish to ask questions. I wish you to tell me your whole history. I will not tell it again to any one, I promise you."
“ But why should you wish to know the history of a poor old thing like me ?"
“ Because, mother, I am sure you must have seen better days.”
“And if I have, Jack, is it kind to ask me to bring up to memory the days when I was fair and rich-when the world smiled upon me, and I was fool enough to think that it would always smile ? is it kind to recall what was to an old, miserable, deserted wretch like me, struggling to keep out of the workhouse? Look at me now, Jack, and see what I now am: is it not cruel to bring to my mind what I once was? Jack, you're a selfish boy, and I don't love you.”
“Indeed, mother, if I thought it would have given you pain I never would have asked
cannot wonder at mc. Rccollect that you have ever been my best friend: you trusted me when nobody else would; and can you be surpriscd at my focling an interest about you? Why, mother, I don't even know
“Well, Jack, you have put things in a better light. I do believe that you care for mc, and who clsc docs? but, Jack, my name you never shall know, even if I am to tell you all the rest.”
“ Wore you cvcr married, mother?”
“Yes, child, I was married. Now, what's the next question ?" continued shc, impatiently.
“Had you any children ?"
“ Yes, boy, I had onc—one that was a source of misery and shame to his doting mother." Old Nanny pressed her eyeballs with her knuckles, as if in agony.
“I won't ask you any more questions," said I, mournfully.
“Not now, Jack, that's a good boy; some other day, perhaps, I'll tell you all. There's a lesson in cvery life, and a warning in too many. You'll come again, Jack; yes, I know you'll come to hear my story; so I shall seo you once more before you leave : go now.” Old Nanny rose and went in-doors, taking her stool in her hand, and leaving the presents where they lay, outside, –a proof that she was in great agiiation. I put them inside the threshold, and then went homewards.
I could not help remarking, as I walked home, that old Nanny's language and manner appeared very superior when she broke out in these reminiscences of the past, and I felt more interest in her than I ever had before.
On my return, I found Bramble, who had como down sooner than he was expected, sitting in the parlour with Peter Anderson and my father, all smoking, with porter on the table.
“Well, Tom,” said Bramble, “ here I am two days before my time, but that's better than being two days after it, and, what's more, I've got the money, both yours and mine. They told me I should not get it for three months at least; but I sent up my name to the Board, and explained to them, that a pilot could not wait like a purser, while they were passing accounts, so the gentleman laughed, and gave me an order for it, and I've got all my pilotage too: so I'm a rich man just now. Come, I'll give you yours at once, and I hope it may not be the last hundred pounds that you'll pick up.”
Bramble pulled his leathern case out of his pilot jacket, and counted out ten ten-pound notes. Jack, you ought to give me a receipt, for I signed for you at the India House.”
“Oh, you've plenty of witnesses," replied I, as I collected the notes, and giving them to Virginia, told her to take them to my mother, who was up-stairs in her room.
“ To tell you the truth, Jack, this two hundred pounds, which I earned so easily, has just come in tho right time, and with it and my pilotage I shall now be able to do what I have long wished.”
“And what's that?" inquired I. "Something for Bessy, I suppose.”
“ There, “ Exactly, Tom: it is something for Bessy, that is, it will be by-and-by. I've a good matter of money, which I've laid by year after year, and worked hard for it, too, and I never have known what to do with it. I can't understand the funds and those sort of things, su I have kept some here and some there. Now you know the grass, land at the back of the cottage: it forms part of a tidy little farm, which is rented for seventy pounds a year, by a good man, and it has been for sale these three years; but I never could manago the price till now. When we go back to Deal I shall try if I can buy that farm; for, you see, money may slip through a man's fingers in many ways, but land can't run away; and, as you say, it will be Bessy's one of these days—and more too, if I can scrape it up."
“You are right, Bramble," said Peter Anderson ; “and I am glad to hear that you can afford to buy the land.”
“Why, there's money to be picked up by pilotage, if you work hard, and arn't afraid of heavy ships," replied Bramble.
“Well, I never had a picce of land, and never shall have, I supposc,” said my father. “I wonder how a man must feel who can stand on a piece of ground, and
say, • This is my own."" “Who knows, father? it's not impossible but you
"Impossible! no, nothing's impossible, as they say on board of a man-of-war; it's not impossible to get an apology out of a midshipman, but it's the next thing to it."
“Why do they say that, father?" “Because midshipmen are so saucy-why, I don't