Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

“What's up now? Ain't he going to Newcastle ? And you can go with him if you like "

“I want him at once. It's of the greatest importance.”

“You won't find him to-night, I can tell you. You'd better sit down and have something, and tell us all about it."

When Thomas thought, he saw that nothing could be done till next day. Without money, without Robins, without a train in all probability, he was helpless. Therefore he sat down and told the captain what he was after, namely, to find Robins's friend Jack, whosé surname he did not know, and see what evidence he could give upon the question of the order of decease in the family of Richard Boxall. He explained the point to the captain, who saw at once that Robins's services must be dispensed with for this voyage-except indeed he returned before they weighed anchor again, which was possible enough. When Tom told him what he had heard Jack say about little Julia, the captain, pondering it over, gave it as his judgment that Jack, being the only one saved, and the child being with him till she died, there was a probability almost of his being able to prove that she outlived the rest. At all events, he said, no time must be lost in finding this Jack.

Mr. Potts having joined them, they sat talking it over for a long time. At last Tom said,

“ There's one thing I shall be more easy when I've told you : that lawyer is my father.”

“God bless my soul !” said Mr. Potts, while Captain Smith said something decidedly different.

“ So, you'll oblige me," Tom went on, “ if you'll say nothing very hard of him, for I hope he will live to be horribly ashamed of him

self.

“Here's long life to him !” said Captain Smith.
And no success this bout !” added Mr. Potts,
“ Amen to both, and thank you,” said Tom.

Mrs. Potts would have got the same bed ready for him that he had had before, but as the captain was staying all night, Tom insisted on sleeping on the sofa. He wanted to be off to find Robins the first thing in the morning. It was, however, agreed that the captain should go and send Robins, while Thomas went to get his money. In a few hours Robins and he were off for Newcastle.

CHAPTER LV.

LUCY, AND MATTIE, AND POPPIE. THE Saturday following Tom's departure Lucy had a whole holiday, and she resolved to enjoy it. Not much resolution was necessary for that ; for everything now was beautiful, and not even

66

more.

[ocr errors]

Poppie, as if it were her own. There was one word in it, however, which, amongst others of her vocabulary, making the antique formality of her speech so much the more ludicrous, she could not pronounce.

The old lady don't feel over comfibittle in her inside to-day. We must drop it, or she'll be worse,” Mattie would gravely remark to Poppie, and the tumult would be heard no more that day, or at least for an hour, when, if they were so long together, it might break out again.

Every now and then some strange explosion of Arab habits or ways of thinking would shock Mattie ; but from seeing that it did not shock Miss Burton so much. she became, by degrees, considerably less of a little prig. Childhood revived in her more and

“Will you come with me to-day, Poppie, to see the wild beasts?” said Lucy.

“But they'll eat us, won't they ?”
“Oh no, child. What put that into your head?”

thought they always did.”
“They always would if they could. But they can't.”

Do they pull their teeth out, then?” “ You come and see. I'll take care of you." “ Is Mattie going ?” “ Yes.” “ Then I'll come.”

She threw down the saucer she was washing, dried her hands in her apron, and stood ready to follow.

No, no, Poppie ; that won't do. You must finish washing up and drying your breakfast things. Then you must put on your cloak and hat, and make yourself look nice and tidy, before I can take you."

"If it's only the beasts, miss! They ain't very particler, I guess.”

Was this the old word of Chaucer indigenous, or a slip from the American slip?

“ It's not for the beasts, but because you ought always to be tidy. There will be people there; of course, and it's disrespectful to other people to be untidy."

"I didn't know, miss. Would they give I to the bears?" “ Poppie, you're a goose. Come along. Make haste."

The children had never seen any but domestic animals before, and their wonder and pleasure in these strange new forms of life were boundless. Mattie caught the explosive affection from Poppie, and Lucy had her reward in the outbursts of interest, as varied in kind as the animals themselves, that rose on each side of her. The differences, too, between the children were very notable. Poppie shrieked with laughter at the monkeys; Matrie turned away, pale with dislike. Lucy overcame her own feelings in the matter for Poppie's sake, but found that Mattie had disappeared. She was standing outside the door, waiting for them. " I can't make it out,” she said, putting her hand into Lucy's. “What can't you make out, Mattie? ” “I can't make out why God made monkeys."

Now, this was a question that might well puzzle Mattie. Indeed, Lucy had no answer to give her. I daresay Mr. Fuller might have had something to say on the subject, but Lucy could only reply, “I don't know, my dear;" for she did not fancy it part of a teacher's duty to tell lies, pretending acquaintance with what she did not know anything about. Poppie had no difficulty about the monkeys; but the lions and tigers, and all the tearing creatures were a horror to her; and if she did not put the same question as Mattie had put about the monkeys, it was only because she had not yet felt any need for understanding the creation of God in relation to him. In other words, she had not yet begun to construct her little individual scheme of the universe, which, sooner or later, must, I presume, be felt by every one as an indispensable necessity. Mr. Fuller would have acknowledged the monkeys as to him a far more important difficulty than the ferocious animals, and would probably have accepted the swine as a greater perplexity than either. Perhaps the readiest answer-I say readiest only, but I would not use the word answer at all, except it involved the elements of solution-for Lucy to give would have been :

“They disgust you, you say, Mattie ? Then that is what God made them for.”

A most incomplete, but most true and important reply—and the readiest.

Poppie shouted with delight to see the seals tumble into the water, dive deep, then turn on their backs and look up at her. But their large, round, yet pathetic, dog-like eyes, fixed upon her, made the tears come in Mattie's eyes, as they dreamed up and down and athwart the water-deeps with such a gentle power as destroyed all notion of force to be met or force to overcome.

Another instance or two, to show the difference between the children, and we shall return to the business of my story. There are, or were then, two or three little animals in a cage—I forget the name of them : they believe in somersaults-that the main object of life is to run round and round, doing the same thing with decency and order—that is, turning heels over head every time they arrive at a certain spot.

With these pretty enough, and more than comical enough creatures, Poppie was exquisitely delighted. She laughed and clapped her hands and shouted,

Now, now! Do it again. There you are ! Heels over head. All right, little one! Round you go. Now, now! There you are !” and so on.

Mattie turned away, saying only to Lucy,—.

· They don't make anything of it. They're no further on at night than they were in the morning. I hate roundabouts. Poor litile things !”

They came to the camel's house, and, with other children, they got upon his back. After a short and not over comfortable ride, they got down again. Poppie took hold of Lucy's sleeve, and, with solemn face, asked,

“ Is it alive, miss ?”
“ How can you ask such a question, Poppie?”
“I only wanted to know if it was alive.'

She was not sure that he did not go by machinery. Mattie gazed at her with compassionate superiority, and said,

“Poppie, I should like to hear what you tell Mr. Spelt when you get home. You are ignorant."

At this Poppie only grinned. She was not in the least offended. She even, I daresay, felt some of the same admiration for herself that one feels for an odd plaything.

Lucy's private share of the day'senjoyment lay outside the gardens. There the buds were bursting everywhere. Out of the black bark all begrimed with London smoke and London dirt, flowed the purest green. Verily there is One that can bring a clean thing out of an unclean. Reviving nature was all in harmony with Lucy's feelings this day. It was the most simply happy day she had ever had. The gentle wind with its cold and its soft streaks fading and reviving, the blue sky with its few flying undefined masses of whiteness, the shadow of green all around-for when she looked through the trees, it was like looking through a thin green cloud or shadow-the gay songs of the birds, each of which, unlike the mocking-bird within, was content to sing his own song-a poor thing, it might be, but his own-his notion of the secret of things, of the well-being of the universe-all combined in one harmony with her own world inside, and made her more happy than she had ever been before, even in a dream.

She was walking southwards through the park, for she wanted to take the two children to see Mrs. Morgenstern. They were frolicking about her, running hither and thither, returning at frequent intervals to claim each one of her hands, when she saw Mr. Sargent coming towards her. She would not have avoided him if she could, for her heart was so gay that it was strong as well. He lifted his hat. She offered her hand. He took it, saying, -

“This is more than I deserve, Miss Burton, after the abomin. able way I behaved to you last time I saw you. I see you have forgiven me. But I dare hardly accept your forgiveness ; it is so much more than I deserve."

“I know what it is to suffer, Mr. Sargent, and there is no excuse I could not make for you. Perhaps the best proof I can give that I wish to forget all that passed on that dreadful evening is to be quite open with you still. I have seen Mr. Worboise since then,” she went on, regardless of her own blushes. “He had been led astray, but not so much as you thought. He brought me back the ring you mentioned.”

If Mr. Sargent did not place much confidence in the reformation Lucy hinted at, it is not very surprising. No doubt the fact would destroy any possibly lingering hope he yet cherished, but this was not all; he was quite justified in regarding with great distrust any such change as her words implied. He had known, even in his own comparatively limited experience. so many cases of a man's having, to all appearance, entirely abjured his wicked ways for the sake of a woman, only to return, after marriage, like the sow that was washed to his wallowing in the mire, that his whole soul shrunk from the idea of such an innocent creature falling a prey to her confidence in such a man as Worboise most probably was. There was nothing to be said at present on the subject, however, and after a few more words they parted—Lucy, to pursue her dream of delight-Mr. Sargent, lawyer-like, to make further inquiry.

CHAPTER LVI.

MOLKEN ON THE SCENT.

Now it had so happened that Mr. Molken had caught sight of Tom as he returned from his visit to his mother, and had seen him go into Mr. Fuller's house. His sailor's dress piqued the curiosity which he naturally felt with regard to him ; and as, besides, the rascal fed upon secrets, gave him hope of still making something out of him if he could but get him again in his power. Therefore he watched the house with much patience, saw Mr. Fuller go out and return again with Lucy, whom he knew by sight, and gave to the phenomenon what interpretation his vile nature was capable of, concluding that Tom was in want of money, -as he himself generally was,- and would get something out of Lucy before they parted : he had stored the fact of the ring in his usual receptacle for such facts. Besides, he had been in communication with a lawyer, for he could see well enough that Mr. Sargent belonged to that profession, concerning this very Thomas Worboise: perhaps he was wanted, and if so, why should not he reap what Lenefit might be reaped from aiding in his capture ? With all these grounds for hope, he was able to persevere in watching the house till Thomas came out alone, evidently in great haste and

« ForrigeFortsett »