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The rain that had fallen, and which still continued with little diminution, had made the streets, previously thick with snow, one quag. mire of filthy mud. But it was morning, and the night, after all, had worn itself away. With morning, however, came to Fitzherbert the recollection of the past, and the pitiable prospect of the future. There was a step left him, which could not fail him in his need; but pride started an objection. This was, to write immediately and submissively to his father. But the ambition of his nature was too great, even in his present destitute condition, to allow of his cherishing such a thought, with a view to its execution, longer than for an instant. Come what may—come what would, he would face the worst, and prefer it to such an alternative.
And now the langour and exhaustion, consequent upon the manner in which he had spent the night, forced themselves upon him. His eyelids were heavy for want of sleep. His legs seemed scarcely able to support his frame. The dirtiest creatures that turned from the streets into the lowest and filthiest of the public-houses, he envied even them, for they had seats whereon to rest themselves. He would have given the world for a place on which to recline. The resorts of gratuitous exhibition, the Museum and the National Gallery, were not yet open, or he would have sought them for the repose of their chairs and benches. Hunger! he cared not for that : sleep-beyond everything-sleep!
Still he exerted himself, and wandered on. He was in Hyde Park now, and the broad sheet of the Serpentine was before him. А thought-a dreadful thought, flashed across his brain; and without knowing what he did, he hurried to its fulfilment. But the water seemed so cold, that he was too cowardly to put his half formed purpose into execution. If it had been summer—but the idea of drowning in water that was half congealed!
The whole of that day, no food, no morsel did he take within his lips. The beggars, as he passed along, solicited charity of him,—of him who was himself in want of the single penny which they craved.
And then night came on again-another night, which must be passed like the one preceding it, in wandering to and fro. He was passing the Theatre of Drury Lane, just as the audience were pouring forth from its doors. The crowd was extremely dense, for the night's performances had been sustained by the talent of a very popular actress. As Fitzherbert lingered, gazing listlessly into the faces of those who hurried by him, he felt himself touched on the shoulder : he turned round, and beheld Rosslewyn.
Rosslewyn had been his school-fellow at Harrow. They had been chums together, had loved each other with an affection that exceeded the average of school-boy friendship. But since Fitzherbert's removal to the University, they had not met, and much had passed in that interval. Rosslewyn had lost his father, and with him, the stay and prospects of his youth. He was now the architect of his own fortunes ; and when our path is unaided, we have most of us a weary hill to climb.
They had not seen each other for two years: to Rosslewyn it
seemed an age.
“ What, Fitzherbert !”
“ You are not well, Fitzherbert,-you look paler than you used to do. Where do you live? Come home, and spend the night with me. I have but a poor lodging to receive you in ; but-we have been friends, Fitzherbert, and you will not sneer at my poverty. Good heavens! what is the matter?"
Had not Rosslewyn caught him in his arms, Fitzherbert must have fallen to the ground. His friend stopped not to question him further; but, calling a cab, he deposited him within it, jumped in himself, and conveyed him to his own home—the home of a poor and unpatronized artist. When they arrived there, our hero was insensible.
Much alarmed at the suddenness of the event, Rosslewyn immediately procured medical aid ; restoratives were administered, and the exhausted youth was placed in a clean and comfortable bed, while his friend kept watch beside him. Fitzherbert slept-but not soundly,- for dreams were the companions of his pillow:
“Thou hast been called, O Sleep, the friend of woe,
But 'tis the happy who have named thee so.” Often did he start and struggle,—that hideous phantom ! he could not get rid of it. He knew he had done wrong, and deserved punishment. But what did that thing there, crouching and scowling at him? Off! away! He was in the green fields now, he had escaped-Hurra! No, there it was, following him closely-at his side, before him-assuming now all shapes, all figures ; it was no longer one—it was many. Many !-it was everything, everywhere ; it was like a group of thickly crowded faces, peering and grinning forth from every point to which he turned his eyes : and many of the faces he had known before, and beautiful were they in those times,but now !
How did Rosslewyn wonder as he bent over his friend, and wiped from that fine brow the drops of perspiration that gathered thickly
Fitzherbert resembled his sister,—and that sister beautiful girl - Rosslewyn had once loved, and her shadow haunted him even now. He knew not-he could not conjecture-what had happened, but something dreadful it must be. How he longed to enquire!
And all that night, that seemed so long to the watcher by the bed of sickness, did Fitzherbert sleep ; and when the cold-coloured dawn of the winter's morning broke, Rosslewyn was still beside him, wakeful with suspense and anxiety. Presently the sun struggled in at the window, and the day became clearer; and the din of the streets commenced, and life-busy, populous life-was ebbing and flowing, rushing and hurrying along, through broad thoroughfare and narrow alley, pent-up court, and wide and spacious promenade. But the noise reached not Fitzherbert's ear.
At length he awoke,—but not as one refreshed. His limbs were numbed; the blood flowed languidly through them; they felt deathly, clammy, and cold, as if the grave-damp were upon them. He could
upon it !
not rise, he could not speak; he could only press his friend's hand, and thank him mutely.
The doctor was again in attendance; and when the night had closed in, Fitzherbert was considerably recovered. His story was soon told.
The room in which Fitzherbert had slept, served Rosslewyn at once for a sitting and a sleeping apartment. It was hung round with sketches,—the production of his own hands. In one corner were gathered together the sundry articles which comprised his stock of furniture, a table and an easle occupying the most prominent stations. The window—the only window-looked over the Thames, for his lodgings were situated in one of those narrow back streets which lie eastward of the Strand. Genius takes up its abode in strange and unworthy quarters.
The young painter had stationed himself at the window, and was gazing listlessly out upon the river. There was no moon; dark clouds had gathered over the face of heaven, and the sullen water dashed beneath. Here and there, from the different barges and vessels, lights were streaming along the surface of the tide; while the vessels themselves, lowering in the darkness, resembled huge and uncertain creatures slumbering in the silence. By Rosslewyn's side stood Fitzherbert.
Rosslewyn, you have saved my life.” 6. Thank God!”.
You shall prosper, Rosslewyn “Not in this world,” said the artist bitterly. “I have failed too often, while
malignant fate sat by and smiled.'”
shall succeed ; and we will be old and dear friends, as we have been: and
Constance.” “Ah! Fitzherbert, mention her no more, an' thou lovest me. I am but a poor painter.”
6. You remember her features ?"
“Oh, how well !-remember! From my recollection I have drawn them;" and he opened a small drawer, and produced a miniature.
“ Is that like her, Fitzherbert ?"
It was the picture of his sister. All that art could achieve had been effected ; the breathing soul only was not there. Fitzherbert pressed his friend's hand in silence.
Two anxious days passed, and the third morning brought a letter to Fitzherbert. It was from his father, to whom, at the artist's earnest entreaty, he had written; and it contained large remittances. His first thought was to assist Rosslewyn.
“ I have more than sufficient to discharge my bills at College,” he said ; " and an overplus of money will be an inducement to play.Take it, Rosslewyn. You can repay me at your leisure.”
Rosslewyn stood in need of money, and for that very reason refused it.
“But keep it for me; it will be more secure in your possession
than in mine. We have too many temptations at College ; and money is a sad incentive. Keep it, dear Rosslewyn, —if not for my sake, at least for auld lang syne.'
The blood mounted into the artist's cheek.
“When we were friends at Harrow," he said, “I had as good an expectation as yourself of succeeding in the world. I had friends, fortune, and ambition. The last is all that is now left me,-save a name undisgraced, and honour unsullied ; with these I shall succeed yet, and success shall come by my own exertions."
His eyes flashed,—his cheeks mantled ; — all the energy of his nature seemed to be rekindled. Poor Rosslewyn! how little did he think that at that very moment, in that one city of London, there were multitudes, like himself, yearning for fame, and feeding their hearts with promises of the future,-never to be fulfilled.
Fitzherbert beheld the almost transparent brightness that illumined his eye ; and the thought impressed itself upon him, that he should see his friend no more.
He never did. That night he returned to Cambridge. In a narrow grave, dug in the noisy burial-ground of St. Clement's, Strand, the hopes and ambition of the artist are laid to rest. No one, save his landlady, followed him to the tomb: but when Fitzherbert, six months afterwards, accidentally heard of his death, he went to London, and placed a stone above his grave.
It was the Long Vacation; and Fitzherbert was permitted to remain in residence. He had distinguished himself at the recent College Examination, and had regained that good opinion of the authorities which his irregularities had forfeited before. The authorities—by which term we mean the Dons-of an University, are, nine times out of ten, the most disagreeable people one has to deal with through life. There are exceptions, and we have at this moment a most honourable one in our recollection, by whom, when we were an Undergraduate, we were never bullied about our non-attendance at chapel,—never lectured upon the heinousness of cutting lectures,-never informed that a cigar was unbecoming a gentleman, and that smoking was the only crime which could not be forgiven, since it inevitably led to the commission of sundry flagrancies which may not be mentioned in these our moral and instructive pages.
Let it not be supposed that we would wish to encourage irregu. larity of conduct. So far from it, that for every offence committed against the rules and statutes of the “institution of which we are a member, we would inflict a heavy and condign punishment upon the
offender, sentencing him to provide a dinner for at least thirty of his most intimate friends and acquaintance, at his own discretion and expence; to increase the bill already due to his wine-merchant, by the order of three dozen of Champagne; and, finally, to break, shatter, and demolish, at his own personal risk, all and each of the lamps which are stationed to illuminate the darkness of his College court.
There dwelt in Cambridge, at the time to which our story refers, one of that numerous tribe of human beings, to whom-whether deservedly or not, we will not undertake to assert—no slight degree of odium not unfrequently attaches itself. The individual we refer to, is now gone; but his successor, well known to the University, still exists. He was a Jew, and his name was Solomons.
It was late one evening, towards the close of the Vacation, and when the rain, which had been lowering and threatening the whole of the day, began to fall, that the Israelite arose from the
chair in which he had been seated, and, reaching his hat from the peg upon which it hung, prepared to sally forth into the street. A pot had been for some time simmering over the fire, which was burning brightly in the grate, and which ever and anon was fed with sticks, by a small female child, who crouched beside it.
“ Leah," said the old man, in a sharp voice, as he advanced towards the door of the room.
The girl looked up quickly, and apparently terrified, for she knew the hasty temper of her companion.
“ See that you let nobody in, while I am away. Do ye hear?” “Yes," responded the child, "if you wish it. “And see that the fire does not go out, and that the pot boils. Do
ye hear ?"
The child assented as before.
“ And see,” continued the Jew, as he re-opened the door, and advanced one foot again into the room, “that the supper is laid and ready when I come back: I shall not be gone long.'
Heedless of the rain, which now came heavily down, he directed his steps toward that disreputable part of the suburbs of Cambridge, which is situated upon the Newmarket road. When he had reached the spot upon which the Theatre is now erected, he turned down a narrow alley, and tapped hastily at the door of a small house standing apart from the rest. It was opened by a young girl of sixteen or seventeen, gaily-even gaudily dressed.
• Where is Sal ?” demanded the Jew, when the door had been closed and bolted on the inside.
“Up-stairs; but she'll be down directly," answered the girl who had admitted him.
“ Call her now, for I can't stay long. But tell me first,—has she seen him ?”
66 You mean
“Whom else should I mean? There is but one that we've got in hand now—is there ?"
“ No, she has not seen him !" returned the girl in a lower tone of voice than she had hitherto spoken in.
“ The devil! Why, has he not been here, then ?” asked the Jew, angrily.