Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

had fallen asleep again on the sofa; my father kissell her softly, shook hands with me, and put a crown in my hand. He then unlocked the door, and, thrusting the end of his pigtail into his breast, coiled it, as it were, round his body, hastened down the alley, and was soon out of sight.

CHAPTER VIII.

IN WHICH THE DOCTOR PAYS A VISIT AND RECEIVES NO FEE,

AND I AM OBLIGED TO WORK VERY ARD TO PROCURE MYSELF A LIVELIHOOD.

I did not forget my father's injunctions, for I was very much frightened. There was a doctor who lived half way up Church Street, a short distance from Fisher's Alley. He was a little man with a large head, sunk down between two broad shoulders his eyes were small and twinkling, his nose snubbed, his pate nearly bald; but on the sides of his head the hair vas long and flowing. But if his shoulders were broad, the rest of his body was not in the same proportion — for he narrowed as he descended, his hips being very small, and his legs as thin as those of a goat. His real name was Todpoole, but the people invariably called him Tadpole, and he certainly in appearance somewhat reminded you of one. He was a facetious Yttle fellow, and, it was said, very clever in his profession.

“Doctor Tadpole," ied I, out of breath with running, "come quick - my mother is very bad indeed.”

“What's the matter 9” said he, peering over a mortar in which he was rubbing up something with the pestle. “External or internal ?”

Although I did not know what he meant, I replied “Both, doctor, and a great deal more besides."

“That's bad indeed," replied Tadpole, still rubbing away.

· But you must come directly,” cried I. “ Como along - quick!"

Festina lente, good boy- that's Latin for hat and boots. – Tom, are my boots clean ?"

“Ye'es, sir," replied a carroty-headed boy, whom I knew well.

The doctor laid down his pestle, and taking his seat on a chair, began very leisurely to pull on his boots, whilst I stamped with impatience.

“Now, do bo quick, doctor - my mother will be dead."

“Jack,” said the doctor, grinning as he pulled on lis second boot, "people don't die so quick before the doctor comes — it's always afterwards :- however, I'm glad to see you are so fond of your mother. — Tom, is my hat brushed ?"

“ Ye’es, sir,” replied Tom, bringing the doctor's hat.

“ Now then, Jack, I'm all ready. - Tom, mind the shop, and don't eat the stick liquorice — d'ye hear?"

“Ye’es, sir,” said Tom, with a grin from ear to ear.

The doctor followed me very quickly, for he thought from my impatience that something serious must be the matter. He walked up to my mother's room, and I hastened to open the door, when, to my surprise, I found my mother standing before the glass arranging her hair.

“Well!” exclaimed my mother, “ this is very pretty behaviour-forcing your way into a lady's room.

The doctor stared, and so did I. At last I exclaimed, “ Well! father thought he'd killed her.”

“Yes,” cried my mother, “and he's gone away with it on his conscience, that's some comfort;—he won't come back in a hurry-he thinks he has committed murder, the unfeeling brute !-Well, I've had my revenge.”

And as she twisted up her hair, my mother burst out screaming

" Little Bo-peep, she lost her sheep,
And couldn't tell where to find him
She found hin, indeed, but it made her heart bleed,
For he left his tail behind him."

• Why then, doctor, it was all sham,” cxclaimed I. “ Yes—and the doctor's come on a fool's errand :

“Goosey, Goosey Gander,

Whither dost thou wander ?
Up stairs and down stairs,
And in a lady's chamber."

The doctor shrugged up his shoulders so that his head disappeared between them; at last he said, “Your mother don't want me, Jack—that's very clear. Good morning, Mrs. Saunders.”

“A very good morning to you, Doctor Tadpole," replied my mother, with a profound courtesy. “You'll oblige mo by quitting this room, and shutting the door after you, if you please."

As the doctor and I went down my mother continued

the song:

“And then I met a little man,

Couldn't say his prayers ;
I took him by the left leg
And sent him down stairs."

[ocr errors]

As soon as we were in the parlour I acquainted the doctor with what had happened—“I'm sure I thought she was dead," said I, when I had finished the story.

Jack, when I asked you where your mother was bad, external or internal, you replied, both, and a great deal more besides. So she is-internally, externally, and infernally bad," said the doctor, laughing. "And so she amputated your father's pigtail, did she-the Delilah! Pity one could not amputate her head, it would make a good woman of her.—Good bye, Jack, I must go and look after Tom-he's swallowod a whole yard of stick liquorice by this time.”

Soon afterwards, Ben the Whaler came in to inquire after my father, and I told him what had occurred; he was very indignant at my mother's conduct, and, as soon as the affair was known, so were all the tenants of Fisher's Alley. When my mother went out, or had words with any of her neighbours, the retort was invariably, “Who sent the

pressgang after her own husband ?" or, “ Who cut off the tail from her husband's back?_wasn't that a genteel trick ?" All this worried my mother, and she became very morose and ill-tempered ; I believe she would have left the alley if she had not taken a long lease of the house. She had now imbibed a decidea hatred for me, which she never failed to show upon every occasion ; for she knew that it was I who had roused my father, and prevented her escape from his wrath. The consequence was that I was seldom at home, except to sleep. I sauntered to the beach, rar, into the water, sometimes rowed in the wherries, at others hauling them in and holding them steady for the passengers to land. I was beginning to be useful to the watermen, and was very often rewarded with a piece of bread and cheese or a drink of beer out of their pots. The first year after my father's visit I was seldom given a meal, and continually beaten— indeed sometimes cruelly so; but as I grew stronger I rebelled and fought, and with such success that, although I was hated more, I was punished less.

One scene between my mother and me may serve as a specimen for all. I would come home with my trousers tucked up, and my high-lows unlaced and full of water-sucking every time that I lifted up my leg, and marking the white sanded floor of the front room, as I proceeded through it to the back kitchen. My mother would come down stairs, and perceiving the marks I had left, would get angry, and as usual commence singing

* A frog he would a wooing go,

Heigbo, says Rowly."

I see-there's that little wretch been here,

“ Whether his mother would let him or no,

Heigbo, says Rowly.”

I'll rowly him with the rowling pin, when I get hold of him. He's worse than that beastly water-spaniel of Sir Hercules', who used to shake himself over my

« AnteriorContinuar »