that Mrs. Boxall, senior, should take up her abode in the habitable region. This she made haste to do, accompanied by a young servant. With her she soon quarrelled, however, and thereafter relied upon the ministrations of a charwoman. The door between the house and the counting-house was now locked, and the key of it so seldom taken from the drawer of Mr. Boxall, that it came to be regarded almost as a portion of the wall. So much for the inner connexion of Guild Court and Bagot Street.

Some years after Mrs. Boxall removed to London, Cecil Burton (her daughter's husband,) died. They had lived from hand to mouth, as so many families of uncertain income are compelled to do, and his unexpected death left his wife and child without the means of procuring immediate necessaries. Inheriting the narrowness and prejudices of his descent and of his social position to a considerable degree, Mr. Boxall had never come to regard his sister's match with a music-master as other than a degradation to the family, and had, in his best humours, never got farther in the humanities of the kingdom of heaven, than to patronize his brother-in-law; though if size and quality go for anything in existence itself, as they do in all its accidents, Richard Boxall was scarcely comparable, honest and able man as he was, to Cecil Burton ; who, however, except that he was the father of Lucy, and so in some measure accounts for her, is below the western horizon of our story, and therefore needs scarcely be alluded to again. This behaviour of her brother was more galling to Mrs. Burton than to her husband, who smiled down any allusion to it; and when she was compelled, upon the death of Mr. Burton, to accept Richard's kindness in the shape of money, it was with a bitterness of feeling which showed itself plainly enough to wound the self-love of the consciously benevolent man of business. But from the first there had been the friendliest relations between the mother and daughter, and it was only from her determination to avoid all ground of misunderstanding, that Mrs. Boxall had not consented to take up her abode with the Burtons. Consequently after the death of the husband, the mother drew yet closer to the daughter, while the breach between brother and sister widened.

Two years after the death of Cecil Burton, his wife followed him. Then Mrs. Boxall took her grandchild Lucy home to Guild Court, and between the two there never arose the question of which should be the greater. It often happens that even a severe mother becomes an indulgent grandmother, partly from the softening and mellowing influences of time, partly from increase of confidence in child-nature generally, and perhaps also in part from a diminished sense of responsibility in regard to a child not immediately her

Hence grandparents who have brought up their own children well are in danger of spoiling severely those of their sons and daughters. And such might have been the case with Mrs. Boxall


and Lucy, had Lucy been of a more spoilable nature. But she had no idea of how much she had her own way, nor would it have made any difference to her if she had known it. There was a certain wonderful delicacy of moral touch about her, in the dis. crimination of what was becoming as well as of what was right, which resulted in a freedom the legalist of society would have called boldness, and a restraint which the same judge would have designated particularity ; for Lucy's ways could not but be different from the ways of one who feared and obeyed, as she best could, existing laws hard to interpret, while Lucy was a law unto herself

. The harmonies of the music by which, from her earliest child. hood, her growing brain had been interpenetrated, had, by her sweet will, been transformed into harmonies of thought, feeling, and action. She was not clever, but then she did not think she was clever, and therefore it was of no consequence ; for she was not dependent upon her intellect for those judgments which alone are of importance in reality of things, and which clever people are just as likely to go wrong as any other body. She had a great gift in music-a gift which Thomas Worboise had never yet discovered, and which, at this period of his history, he was incapable of discovering, for he had not got beyond the toffee of drawingroom sentiment-the song which must be sent forth to the universe from the pedestal of ivory shoulders. But two lines of a ballad from Lucy Burton were worth all the music, “She walks in beauty" included, that Mary Boxall coulu sing or play.

Lucy had not seen her cousins for years. Her uncle Richard, though incapable of being other than satisfied that the orphan should be an inmate of the house in Guild Court, could not, or, at least, did not forget the mildly defiant look with which she retreated from his outstretched hand, and took her place beside her mother, on the sole occasion on which he called upon his sister after her husband's death. She had heard remarks-and being her mother's, she could not question the justice of them. Hence she had not once, since she had taken up her abode with her grandmother, been invited to visit her cousins; and there was no affectation, but in truth, a little anxiety, in the question she asked Thomas Worboise about Mary Boxall's beauty. But, indeed, had she given her uncle no such offence, I have every reason to believe that her society would not have been much courted by his family. When the good among rich relations can be loving without condescension, and the good among poor relations can make a sufficient allowance for the rich, then the kingdom of heaven will be nigh a hand. Mr. Boxall 'shook hands with his niece when he met her, asked her after his mother, and passed on.

But Lucy was not dependent on her uncle, scarcely on her grandmother, even. Before her mother's death, almost child as she still was, she had begun to give lessons in music to a younger child

than herself, the daughter of one of her father's favourite pupils, who had married a rich merchant; and these lessons she continued. She was a favourite with the family, who were Jews, living in one of the older quarters of the west end of London; and they paid her handsomely, her age and experience taken into account. Every morning, except Saturday, she went by the underground railway to give an hour's lesson to Miriam Morgenstern, a gorgeous little eastern, whom her parents had no right to dress in such foggy colours as she wore.



LUCY was just leaving her home one morning to go to her pupil, and had entered the flagged passage which led from the court through the archway, when she met a little girl of her acquaintance, whom, with her help, I shall now present to my readers. She was a child of eight, but very small for her age. Her hair was neatly parted and brushed on each side of a large smooth forehead, projecting over quiet eyes of blue, made yet quieter by the shadow of those brows. The rest of her face was very diminutive. A soberness as of complete wom.inhood, tried and chastened, lay upon her. She looked as if she had pondered upon life and its goal,

and had made up her little mind to meet its troubles with patience. She was dressed in a cotton frock printed with blue rose-buds, faded by many waters and much soap. When she spoke, she used only one side of her mouth for the purpose,a

and then the old-fashionedness of her look rose almost to the antique, so that you could have fancied her one of the time-belated good people who, leaving the green forest-rings, had wandered into the city and become a Christian at a hundred years of age.

Well, Mattie,” said Lucy, “how are you this morning ?” “ I am quite well, I thank you, miss," answered Mattie. “I don't call this morning. The church-clock struck eleven five minutes ago.”

This was uttered with a smile from the half of her mouth which seemed to say, “I know you want to have a little fun with me by using wrong names for things because I am a little girl, and little girls can be taken in ; but it is of no use with me, though I can enjoy the joke of it.”

Lucy smiled too, but not much, for she knew the child. " What do you call the morning, then, Mattie ?" she asked. “Well”-she almost always began her sentences with a Well I call it morning before the sun is up."

“But how do you know when the sun is up ? London is so foggy, you know, Mattie.”

"Is it?' I didn't know. Are there places of another sort, miss ?*


“Oh yes ; many."

Weil, about the sun. I always know what he's about, miss. I've got a almanack.”

" But you don't understand the almanack, do you ? "Well, I don't mean to say I understand all a'out it, but I always know what time the sun rises and goes to bed, you know."

Lucy had found she was rather early for the train, and from where she stood she could see the clock of St. Jacob's, which happened to be a reliable one. Therefore she went on to amuse herself with the child.

“But how is it that we don't see him, if he gets up when the almanack says, Mattie ?"

“Well, you see, miss, he sleeps in a crib. And the sides of it are houses and churches, and St. Paulses, and the likes of that.”

Yes, yes; but some days we see him, and others we don't. We don't see him to-day, now.” “Well

, miss, I daresay he's cross some mornings, and keeps blankets about him after he's got his head up.”

Lucy could not help thinking of Milton's line-for of the few poems she knew, one was the “Ode on the Nativity:"

So, when the sun in bed,

Curtain'd with cloudy red,

Pillows his chin upon an orient wave. But the child laughed so queerly, that it was impossible to tell whether or how much those were her real ideas about the sunrise.

“ How is your father?” Lucy asked next.
Do you mean my father or my mother ? "
“I mean your father, of course, when I say so."
“ Yes, but I have a mother, too."

Lucy let her have her way, for she did not quite understand her. Only she knew that the child's mother had died two or three years ago.

“Well,” resumed the child,“ my father is quite well, thank God; and so is my mother. There he is, looking down at us.” Who do you mean, Mattie ?” asked Lucy, now bewildered.

Well, my mother,” answered the child, with a still odder halfsmile.

Lucy looked up, and saw--- -But a little description is necessary. They were standing, as I have said already, in the flagged passage which led to, and post-officially considered, formed part of Guild Court. The archway from Bagot-street into this passage was as it were tunnelled through a house facing the street, and from this house a wall, stretching inwards to the first house in the court proper, formed one side of the passage. About the middle this wall broke into two workshops, the smallest and strangest ever seen out of the east. There was no roof visible-that lay behind the curtainwall ; but from top to bottom of the wall, a height of about nine feet, there was glass, divided in the middle so as to form two windows, one

above the other. So likewise on the right-hand side of the glass were two doors, or hatches, one above the other. The tenement looked as if the smallest of rooms had been divided into two horizontally by a floor in the middle, thus forming two cells, which could not have been more than five feet by four, and four feet in height. In the lower, however, a little height had been gained by sinking the floor, to which a single step led down. In this under cell a cobbler sat, hammering away at his lap-stone-a little man, else he could hardly have sat there, or even got in without discomfort. Every now and then he glanced up at the girl and the child, but never omitted a blow in consequence. Over his head, on the thin floor between, sat a still smaller man, cross-legged like a Turk, busily "plying his needle and thread.”. His hair, which standing straight up gave a look of terror to his thin pale countenance, almost touched the roof. It was the only luxuriance about him.

As plants run to seed, he seemed to have run to hair. A calm keen eye underneath its towering forest, revealed observation and peaceful. ness. He, too, occasionally looked from his work, but only in the act of drawing the horizontal thread, when his eyes had momentary furlough, moving in alternate oscillation with his hand. But at the moment when the child said so, he was looking down in a pause in which he seemed to have forgotten his work in his interest in the pair below. He might be forty, or fifty, or sixty-no one could tell which.

Lucy looked up and said, “That is Mr. Spelt; that is not your mother."

Well, but I call him my mother. I can't have two fathers, you know. So I call Mr. Spelt my mother; and so he is.

Here she looked up and smiled knowingly to the little tailor, who, leaning forward to the window, through which, reaching from roof to floor of his cage, his whole form was visible, nodded friendlily to the little girl in acknowledgment of her greeting. But it was now time for Lucy to go.

As soon as she had disappeared beyond the archway, Mattie turned towards the workshops. Mr. Spelt saw her coming, and before she had reached them, the upper half of the door was open, and he was stretching down his arms to lift her across the shoemaking region, into his own more celestial realm of tailoring. In a moment she was sitting in the furthest and snuggest corner, not cross-legged, but with her feet invisible in a heap of cuttings, from which she was choosing what she would-always with a reference to Mr. Spelt-for the dressing of a boy-doll which he had given her.

This was a very usual proceeding-so much so that Mattie and the tailor sat for nearly an hour without a word passing between them beyond what sprung from the constructive exigencies of the child. Neither of them was given to much utterance, though each had something of the peculiar gift of the Ancient Mariner, namely

« ForrigeFortsett »