Imágenes de páginas

“ Thanks, Tom-thanks; my toast, as I said before, when called upon, is— Friendship and love. ”

I quitted the shop, and went into that of Mrs. St. Felix, who, I thought, looked handsomer than ever.

“Come at last, Tom," said the widow, extending her hand; “I thought you would have called yesterday. Your sister was here."

“I have been less pleasantly engaged. You know that Spicer is dead.”

“One of the pensioners—I never saw him that I know of; but I heard Old Ben mention his death this morning-and that you were with him: was he a friend of yours ?”

“ No, indeed; I thought you knew something of him, or I should not have mentioned his name." I then changed the conversotion, telling her what had passed at Deal, and listening to her remarks upon Old Nanny, my mother, and our mutual aequaintances.

“And the doctor-how is he?"

“As busy as ever: I'm sorry, however, that he complains very much of Tom Cobb, and says that he must dismiss him. He has made some very serious mistakes in mixing the medicines, and nearly killed five or sis


“Had he killed them outright, their deaths must have been laid at your door,” replied I, very seriously.

“Good Heavens! what do you mean, Tom ?"

“I mean this—that your bright eyes have fascinateul him; and that, to use his own cxpression, he is deeply; desperately, irrevocably, and everlastingly in lovewith you.”

Here Mrs. St. Felix burst out in a laugh, so violent that I thought it would end in hysterics. As soon as she had recovered herself, I continued

“ It is all true--and independent of the five or six people half killed, you will have to answer for a whole death besides, for Tom has intimated to me that if he fails in his suit, he will have recourse to the big bottle of laudanum. You must further know that he has taxed my friendship to make known to you his deplorable condition, being unequal to the task himself.”

“ He must be mad,” observed Mrs. St. Felix, quietly.

“He flatters himself that you have given him encouragement: I asked him in what way ;-he says you always laugh at him.”

" True as the Bible—I can't help laughing at such a droll figure as he makes of himself. Mercy on me, what are men made of! Well, Tom, I'm sure I ought to be flattered--for (let it be a secret between us, Tom) this is the second offer I have received within these twenty-four hours." “ The doctor, I presume: Tom


that he is jealous."

“I mention no names. This is all very foolish.”

“ But you have not yet rejected both—Tom awaits his answer.

“ Tell him anything that you please-by-the-by, you may just as well add that instead of taking the laudanum, he had better resort to his old remedy-of liquorice and water. It will look just as killing in the phial, and not be quite so fatal in its results.”

“I shall certainly execute your commission in as delicate a way as I possibly can.”

“Do, Tom, and pray let me hcar no more of this

nonsense, for, ridiculous as it may appear, it is to me very painful. Leave me now -I am nervous and lowspirited. Good-bye, Come this evening with your sister, -I shall be better then.”

Mrs. St. Felix went into the back parlour, and I left the shop. I had turned the wrong way, almost forgetting to give Tom his answer, when I recollected myself, and returned to the doctor's house.

“ Well," said Tom, eagerly.

• Why,” replied I, hardly having made my mind up what to say, yet not wishing to hurt his feelings“the fact is, Tom, that the widow has a very good opinion of you."

“I knew that," interrupted Tom.

“ And if she were ever to marry again—why, you would have quite as good a chance as the doctor."

“I was sure of that,” said he.

“But at present, the widow--for reasons which she cannot explain to anybody—cannot think of entering into any new engagement.” “I see—no regular engagement."

Exactly so—but as soon as she feels herself at liberty —”

Yes," said Tom, breathless.

Why, then she'll send, I presume, and let you know." “I see—then I may hope.”

Why, not exactly—but there will be no occasion to take laudanum."

“Not a drop, my dear fellow, depend upon it.”

“ There is no saying what may come to pass, you see, Tom; two, or three, or four years may

“ Four years—that's a very long time.” Nothing to a man sincerely in love." No, nothing-that's very true.”

“So all you have to do is to follow up your profession quietly and steadily-and wait and see what time may bring forth."

“So I will—I'll wait twenty years, if that's all.”

I wished Tom good-bye, thinking that it was probable that he would wait a great deal longer ; but at all events he was pacified and contented for the time, and there would be no great harm done, even if he did continue to make the widow the object of his passion for a year or two longer. It would keep him out of mischief, and away from Anny Whistle.

On my return home I met with a severe shock, in consequence of information which my mother did not scruple to communicate to me. Perhaps it was all for the best, as it broke the last link of an unhappy attachment. She informed me very abruptly that the shutters of Mr. Wilson's house were closed in consequence of his having received intelligence of the death of Lady Poor Janet had expired in her first confinement, and the mother and child were to be consigned to the same tomb. This intelligence drove me to my chamber, and I may be considered weak, but I shed many tears for her untimely end. I did


sister to Mrs. St. Felix, but remained alone till the next day, when Virginia came, and persuaded me to walk with her to the Hospital, as she had a message for my father.

After we had seen my father, we walked down to the Hospital Terrace, by the river-side. We had

not go

been there but a few minutes, when we heard Bill Harness strike up with his fiddle :

“O cruel was my parents as tore my love from me,

And cruel was the press-gang as took him off to sea ;
And cruel was the little boat as row'd him from the strand,
But crueller the big ship as sail'd him from the land.

Sing tura-la, tura-la, tura-lara ley.

"O cruel was the water as bore my love from Mary,

And cruel was the fair wind as wouldn't blow contrary;
And cruel was the captain, his boatswain, and his men,
As didn't care a farding if we never meet again.

Sing tura-la, tura-la, tura-lara ley,

• O cruel was th' engagement in which my true love fonght,
And cruel was the cannon-ball as knock’d his right eye out:
He used to ogle me, with peepers full of fun,
But now he looks askew at me, because he's only one.

Sing tura-la, &c., &c."

“Eh! wid your tura-la. You call dat singing" cried Opposition Bill stumping up, with his fiddle in his hand. " Stop a little. How you do, Mr. Tomhow you do, pretty lady? Now I sing you a song, and show dat fellow how to make music. Stop a little, Miss Virginny."

“ Well,” said Bill Harness, “ I'll just let you sing, that Miss Saunders may judge between us.”

Virginia felt half inclined to go away; but as the pensioners always treated her with as much respect as any of the ladies of the officers of the hospital, 1 pressed her arm that she might stay. Opposition Bill then struck up as follows, saying, “ Now I give you a new Getting up stairs.'”

« AnteriorContinuar »