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“I have hoped, my dear friend and brother Duprè, that you will let me help in this," said M. Dessange ; "I have still the will; and perhaps, even yet, my purse is heavier than yours. Consider how long an arrear I owe you ; and let me show my love to you and yours in this."
The two old men joined hands across that humble hearth ; and Madeleine coming in, all blushes, joined her brother as he turned towards the window and moved his lips in silent prayer and thanksgiving.
lips in silent praveh her brother as he turnate hearth; and Madelei
To a popular “tea-garden" in what is now the north-east district of London, a glaring hot Monday afternoon had brought an influx of visitors.
Fathers and mothers of families, surrounded by their little ones, took tea in some of the boxes; while some even went so far as to partake of shrimps, bread and butter, and a peculiarly mild ale for which the place was famous. But these were staid, sober people, who held to eight o'clock as the traditional time for young folks to be in bed; and the last red glow of the setting sun upon the trees warned them to depart, and leave the less steady portion of the company to wait for the later attractions.
It was while a group of these were passing the turnstile where visitors gained admission, that Auguste and his newly-found father entered. Their inquiries after Pauline had reached thus far :-She had become a professional singer at some such place as this; where the man who had wronged her kept a table at which some game of chance was played.
In a front seat, on a plain wooden bench, opposite a little painted orchestra, the two men'sat down, and waited till the time arrived for the singers to come on. Heedless of the roar of applause which greeted the appearance of some well-known comic character-heedless of everything around him but the lath-and-paper door by which the performers entered—Auguste grew paler as the night went on, while the blood already stained his lip as he clenched his teeth upon it.
There was an interval, during which a man came forward, dressed in tight fleshings, which seemed to increase the extraordinary size of bis muscular limbs. He seemed to be remarkably popular, although his performance was only a series of postures supposed to represent what were called the “Grecian statues ;" but his popularity was due to the expression of physical power which his movements evinced, and the clapping of hands had scarcely died away before M. Dessange gripped his sou by the arm, and said in French
“Look there! That must be the woman we seek !".
As she came forward, with the daub of red paint on her hollów cheeks-her tawdry dress waving as she curtsied low to the mob beneath-Auguste could not suppress a low groan of anguish, which, being interpreted by a lively young butcher to mean something disparaging to the singer, a chorus of cries was got up as to the expediency of turning somebody out.
Before the song was ended, however, and how harsh that voice had grown with want and the exposure of that place !) both father and son had struggled to that side of the orchestra where they supposed she would leave the stage, and, even as they stopped to breathe, a shawled figure glided past them, and went on towards a sort of rude arbour, where the clicking of balls showed that some game was going on,-an exciting game, too, for a hoarse curse came out now and then into the
night, and a low defiant murmur of voices accompanied the solo with which somebody inside counted and scored the points. They entered just after the woman whom they had followed, but the crowd inside closed upon her as she passed in, and, beyond the one word, “ Pauline," which Auguste cried out, there was no chance of speaking to her.
“Ha! here comes the pretty bird," said a half-tipsy fellow with a drunken leer, as she went up and stood by the man at the table, who wore one hand in his coat, while he picked up money with wonderful dexterity with the other.
“Come, madam, you and I will be partners in a game here-here's money."
She shrunk back, but her husband (if he was her husband) scowled at her, and bade her play, as his eyes lighted on some gold-pieces that the fellow chinked in his hand.
"I will not play," she said, as the spark of paint upon her cheek lighted with a more vivid flush ; "anything but that."
“Come, come,” said the fellow, who was now supported by some half-dozen followers, who had, it seemed, come to help him drink and game away his money. “Come, my pretty lass, no mock-modesty here-here's a sovereign, and that'll do to kiss and make up with." As he spoke, he was about to put his arm round her, when she flung it back, and, looking round the room, seemed to seek some friendly face to which she might appeal. Just then the mob parted right and left, and before she could see what caused the tumult, the man beside her fell from a blow, while she saw a tall, dark-haired young fellow standing before her, and confronting the mob.
“Is that man your husband ?” he said, pointing to the fellow at the head of the table, who had now plucked his hand from his breast, and showed that it had lost three fingers.
“She's no wife of mine," roared he, as the white froth stood upon his lips. “See here"-and he held up his maimed hand "this happened to me because she refused to play."
He did not say that the fingers had been lost by the stroke of a sword from a German student who discovered him concealing a card.
“ Who are you ?" he shouted, aiming a blow at the young man's head; " you see I'm no match for you.”
The friends of the ruffian who had first fallen were already closing round Auguste and his companion ; but with all his strength, he turned suddenly round and threw himself upon them, clearing a passage towards the door. There were more outside, and he was borne onwards, struggling with all his strength, when a sound, as of men in sudden pain, rose on the outside of the crowd, and a man, dressed in a vulgar, showy style, intended to be fashionable, rushed on, driving all before him.
“Quick!" he shouted in Auguste's ear, “the old man is at the gate; take the girl in your arms, if she belongs to you, and run for it; follow me so through the crowd I"--and he leaped upon the front rank again, and scattered the men before him like nineping.
Once at the outer edge, he turned and faced them, while Auguste lifted the fainting woman in his arms and made for the gate, where a coach had just drawn up; he placed his burden in it beside his father, and turned to look for the man whose aid had saved him. There was something awful in that man's strength; he swept down his antagonists with blows that sent them reeling senseless, and, having fought his way to the turnstile, his last remaining effort was to catch up the foremost of his opponents, and hurl him at the rest like a beam of wood ; with a bound he leaped the low fence, and, springing into the box, took the reins from the coachman, and lashed the horse into a furious gallop. When once they had passed the scene, and had distanced the two or three atragglers who ran after them, this strange deliverer pulled up, and giving the reins to the coachman, again took off his hat at the door.
“I knew all her story," he said, addressing himself to Auguste, and pointing to Pauline, who still lay pale and lifeless on the seat. “I knew it all long ago, and would have strangled that scoundrel if 'twould have done any good. Look here, sir,” he said, turning to the old gentleman, “you see me; I'm a blackguard, I know it; I'm a fighting man, a low character, as the saying is; but tell her that Bill Johnson did his best to help her always, and has stood between her and harm for six months and better-Bill Johnson, that does the Grecian statues. Good-night, sir, and God bless her;" and he strode off, merely waving his hand, as they called to him to come back.
Two years have passed, and in the quiet little garden at Bethnal-green two old men pace up and down the trim gravel walks ; time has sat lightly on one of them, for his black locks are but little more silvered, while his figure is still erect; the other is bowed, and his white hair hangs from under an old velvet cap; but a sweet smile breaks over his face, as a young woman, worn and thin, but with a calm face, calls to them that tea is ready in the arbour. They all three sit down while the tea is drawing, when a firm, quick tread sounds from the house, and a serious, dark-eyed man, who might be any age from twenty-six to thirty-six, comes towards them. The woman's face loses its careworn expression, and breaks into a sad but not unhappy smile, while the old gentleman, who walks so uprightly on his silver-headed cane, stands leaning on that support, and puts his arm round the neck of the new-comer.
"And how is Madeleine ?" asks the young woman anxiously.
“Well, dear, well,” replies Auguste, for it is he; "and her boy, the little rascal, actually crows at me; but here comes Ward himself," he says, as a fine, florid-looking fellow comes and joins the group. “Well, partner, we both leave business early to-day, and with good reason, for it's the anniversary of my becoming the possessor of my two fathers.”
Years pass again, and Auguste Dupré, now a grave, kind, sad man, beloved by , his workpeople even better than his gayer partner, takes a coach and drives away, one summer's afternoon, to a quiet little churchyard on the borders of Essex.
He has a companion, too, a little girl of six, and when they enter the churchyard gate, she wonders that uncle Auguste should stand and cry so over two graves there under the sweetbriar hedge. She knows who lies there ; it is grandpa and her aunt Pauline, and she was named after her ; but she don't know what makes uncle Auguste love her so dearly, except that she is named Pauline, too. She must ask her great-uncle, for he tells her funny stories all about French fairies, and once he showed her such a great, beautiful bowl, and said that when she was a woman she should have it to put flowers in.
We are already in the second month of the year; still all around us wears a wintry aspect. We are not yet quite emancipated from the "snow upon the ground," and the severe frost with which we have so recently been visited shall not have entirely passed from the "memory of man," however mild the month of February may be. This, however, is one of the most variable and disagreeable seasons of the year.
To-day we may be still in the depths of winter, and to-morrow we may have arrived, as it were, in the very middle of the merry, merry months of spring. Nas, such a sudden transformation of climate often takes place within the compass of a single day; and, were it not for the unmistakeable signs of winter which still linger upon the surface of the earth, or in the nooks and corners of our “highways and byways," we might felicitate ourselves on
having taken a final adieu of King Frost, at least for another year. Dreary, cold, and naked, however, is the face of the country.
Ill fares the traveller now, and he that stalks
Noiseless, appears a moving hill of snow."
So Cowper sings. February takes its name from Februo, which signifies to purify, this being the time when the ancient Romans held a feast, during which they offered expiatory sacrifices to the manes of the dead.
" In ancient times, purgations had the name
of Februa; various customs prove the saine." Gifts were, at the same time, laid upon the graves of the departed; and Virgil says that he will offer gifts to the shade of the youthful Marcellus, too early snatched from the earth." Such sacrifices and offeriogs were intended either to render the infernal gods propitious to the deceased, or to appease the deceased themselves, whose "perturbed spirits" might, like such as animated the shade of Hamlet's father, be inclined to revisit "he glimpses of the moon.” Our Saxon ancestors called the month Sprout-Kele, because kele-wurt, or colewort, was one of the first vegetables that began to sprout in this month. This name, however, was subsequently changed to Sol- Jonath, on account of the returning sun. It is also called February-fill- Dike, from the torrents of rain by which it is too often characterized, and which swell the rivers to such a degree as, in many parts, to realize the appearance of a miniature deluge. Gloomy and repellent as the general aspect of the month may be, however, Nature begins to exhibit signs of preparation for a universal revivification. Already does the crocus, “ dainty young thing of life,” begin to peep from its wintry bower; whilst the snowdrop, its fancied bride, may be seen waking from its wintry slumber, not far from its side.
“Say what impels, amid surrounding snow,
Congealed, the crocus' flaring bud to glow?
Or to each lingʻring bloom enjoins delay." Soon will the elder-tree put forth its flower-buds, and the earlier strawberry and the yew-tree be in flower; the wood-lark will begin his lay, and the missel-thrush sing from yonder bower. The forthcoming jubilee of Nature has already been announced, whilst the minstrels wait to regale us with their numbers.