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in a bag of gold made him wonder why the two stern men behind the curtains, in the small private room, should have so much wealth and confidence showered upon them. They had no particnlar talent that he could perceive, and the calm, quiet dignity with which they received the unsolicited golden offerings, from men who would not have given him a crown to save him from the workhoiise, filled him with rage and bitterness.
When he left about twelve o'clock, to spend his dinner hour, as usual, walking about, he was joined this day—of all days in the year—by one of the oldest clerks in the house ; - an aged man, who had always been very kind to him since he had taken his place in the bank, and whose greatest pleasure was to talk over old times—older than Jacob could remember.
They proceeded together for some time, and the old man spoke to him about his father.
“A good-hearted, gentlemanly man was your respected father, old Mr. Bancroft ; our bank would never have been what it is, but for him.”
Indeed,” replied Jacob, wishing to hear more. “No," returned the old man, “ for although he was not its founder (old Mr. Chalmers was the founder), it was during the time that he was a partner, that it got together the large business which it now possesses.”
“ Was my father ever a partner in the bank ?” exclaimed Jacob, excitedly.
“Why, bless my soul,” said the old man, astonished, “ didn't you know that?”
" No. Tell me; when was this ? "
“Oh, many years ago. Let me see; your poor father, when he died, must bave been-what?
“ Seventy, and turned,” replied Jacob.
“Ah, well, then it must bave been at least five-and-thirty years ago ; before you were born, young gentleman."
“How do you know this ? ” enquired Jacob.
“ Iwas your father's favourite clerk,” replied the old man; his confidential clerk; and I held at that time even a better position in the bank than I do now. The two men, who are uow our masters, were then mere boys under me, and old Mr. Chalmers, who was the principal partner, left everything to your father. During a severe run upon our establishment, which lasted for five days, about the middle of the year seventeen hundred and forty-eight, we must have sunk, if it had not been for Mr. Bancroft, and the money that he threw in.” “ Had my
father any interest in the bank at the time of his death ?”inquired Jacob, anxiously.
“When Mr. Chalmers died,” replied the old clerk, “your father, for some reason, left off taking an active part in the affairs of the bank, much to my regret; but he came in about twice a week, to see how we were getting on, up to within five years of his death.”
My father,” said Jacob, speaking more to himself than to bis companion, was always very reserved about his affairs, and being all well provided for, we never inquired too curiously into them. His death was sudden, and without a will. It was wrong, it was very wrong."
“At the time," continued the old man, “when the two present partners came into absolute authority--about twenty years ago—all the old books
“I may say
were closed ; a new set was given out to the clerks, who before this had access to all the accounts, and the sinall, black ledger, with the three clasps, wbich you have noticed in the private room, was started, and scrupulously kept from the eyes of every man in the place. At that time, I know, your late respected father had standing to his credit in our books, one hundred thousand pounds.”
“What !” exclaimed Jacob, wildly, "and I am now receiving from these men a paltry annual pittance, and paying back one third of that to satisfy an alleged debt of a few hundred pounds."
“ I feel convinced,” said the old clerk, “ that no such debt justly exists ; and that your late respected father, if all was known, must have a considerable claim upon the house."
They reached the bank, and the conversation ceased ; but it had had an effect upon Jacob, that the old clerk little dreamed of at the time.
When Jacob left the bank that night, at dusk, he was excited and hurried in his walk; and in his right hand, under his cloak, he clutched a bundle of notes, which he had stolen.
With many wild, confused, conflicting thoughts, he sped onwards, but not this time in the direction of his home. He thought of Ethel, of his poverty, of his sick mother, of his late father, and of his crime.
Sometimes he hesitated, and turned back in the direction of the banking-honse, as if to replace the heap of flimsy, crumpled symbols of wealth that he had stolen in a moment of impulsive weakness. Then he checked himself, and stood immoveable for several minutes. Again, at headlong speed, he hurried forward in another direction. Smarting under real or fancied wrongs, and torn by conflicting emotions, he muttered loudly as he rushed along, and the few passers by who were timid avcided him, while others looked after him with expressions of wonder and pity. At one time he would go to Ethel, and lay himself, with his sudden, ill-gotten wealth, at her feet. Why should he hesitate ?—he was no longer “poor !” Then he would sink on the dark, cold road-side, bursting into tears, and relaxing his convulsive grasp of the accursed notes. Again he was flying onward, in no settled direction, with the skirts of his coat fluttering behind him in the wind. In this way the night hours passed, one by one, and he had wandered over many weary miles of ground. Towards midnight, still unwearied in body and uncalmed in mind, he reached an outskirt of London, near Kingsland, and found himself in the middle of a large brickfield. Some little distance in advance of him was a red, glowing light, coming from behind a dark heap of bricks He made towards it, and came suddenly in the middle of a group of men and women belongiug to a class, half tramp and half gipsy. At first they were startled at his appearance, supposing him to be one of the Bow-street runners, searching for one of their companions. They soon, however, discovered that he had wandered there by mistake, and they secretly congratulated themselves upon the chance of prey. They invited him, with a grin, to take a seat on some bricks by the fire, and he mechanically consented. The fire was made of straw and wood, which thiew up a thick, choking, blinding smoke, and a wrinkled, ragged old hag sat over it, next to Jacob, puffing at a short, black, clay pipe. Opposite were several rough, keen-eyed, powerful men, with dirty, brown, wrinkled skins, and long, dark, matted
hair. Several coarse women, and one girl completed the group, who were shut in between the rows of warm, smoking bricks.
“Poke up the fire, mother, an' guv the gen'l'man a warmin, one of the men, to the old hag, with a hoarse laugh, which was responded to by the general company.
Jacob, strangely enough, took no notice of the gang, or their remarks, but sat mumbling to himself, and staring at the flickering fire. One of the women, after a time, got behind him, and suddenly pulled back his cloak. He started up, with the band extended which held the notes, but was struck down in an instant, senseless, by a beavy blow at the back of his head.
When the brickmakers came to their labour in the morning, they found Jacob lying stripped, bleeding, and senseless by the ashes of the fire, and they saw at a glance what work had been going on during the night. They put him on a rude stretcher, and carried him to the nearest workhouse, where, under the unskilful surgical treatment of the place, it was nearly a month before he recovered his speech—his intellect had gone for ever. A few weeks after this, Ethel found him out, and had him removed to his home, where his dead mother was lying, awaiting burial.
Years after this, a shuffling, imbecile, barmless, premature old man might be seen, occasionally walking in the outskirts of the town, leaning on the left arm of a pale, interesting woman, seemingly much younger than himself, humbly clad in black. They were looked upon as brother and sister, and it was said that a large, rich banking-house in the city had kindly and liberally allowed them a small yearly pension. The thoughtless, cruel boys used sometimes to throw money in the way of the man, to make him wail and cry, but generally they met with nothing but pity and kindness, especially from the poor.
RIENDS! weariness destroys:
its curse the wise man IB
perial Nero spreads,
Who fair Ionia's minstrelsy,
Where rich Agenor shines or squand'ring Pallas laughs ;
From cups of gold, Falernian quaffs !
’Neath tents of Asian silk of rainbow-varied hue;
Nor when Batavia's chief, to music's merry staves,
His lions fed with twenty slaves, Whose fetters were concealed by garlands from our view Come ! you shall see Rome burn-Rome in her queenly power! Lo! I have had my couch transported to this tower Whence I can watch the flames and mark their
angry strife. What are the brawls where men 'gainst tigers fret and foam ? The seven hills, to-day, a circus form where Rome,
Shall fight with famished Fire for life.
And thunder, like a God, should hurl their tribes among !
The monster moves- -his pinions dense, Above the city, waves and darts his flaming tongue. Look, look, my friends! amid the sulph’rous stench and choke, Crawlingly he unwinds his endless coils of smoke,
Caressing it would seem while blasting with his breath;
Embrace with arms that crush to death!
That silence as of Death that wakes and dies again!
One stream of bronze, a glowing belt,
The loyal scourge speeds on at Nero's fell desire.
Of lashing waves in seas of fire.
'Tis Nero's will : these tow'rs these domes to earth must bow. Good ! all the city burns e'en to its utmost flanks !
-Queen of the world, give Nero thanks,
That at her seven feet, Time, overcome should die,
This deathless town's eternity.