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Chap. XX.

the hoarse tide of human life which surges at his | feet. And the "upper ten” (I beg their par

don full contritely! I should have mentioned “THE CURSE IS COME UPON ME !'

them before ; perchance they have the right to SAID THE LADY OF SHALOTT."

honourable mention before the menial crowd, for the ladies and gentlemen who ful6l Blackstone's definition most admirably in having nothing to

do there is strict rule, too), they must wing their Again, in the ordinary course of old, steady- | lordly flight from the scenes in which they have plodding Time, London is beginning to fill. been disporting. No longer for them the gePeople who have been sauntering their time nial cricket-match, with all its pleasant conaway in pleasant country-lanes, during the last comitants of good company, sympathizing laAugust and September months, have awakened, dies, and fine play against the County Eleven some fine morning, to the fact that business

-no longer for them that delightful half-hour stands ready to take the place of pleasure in between the innings, when they tucked the the steady, onward pace of life-that Lampade honest meerschaum, or dingy clay, between phoria, where so many runners fail midway, and their lips, and lay full-length on the grass in all pass on the unextinguished torch to the more the cool comfort of their flannel uniforms and lucky competitor ; and on their diaries must be broad straw-hats-for them no more the charminscribed, “ Care and Trouble, and Anxiety and ing pic-nics down the river, where some cungeneral Toil, vice Pleasure, and freedom from ning Oxford-man, mighty in aquatics, pulled thought and merry insouciance dismissed till stroke, and a witching maiden, with long, fair this time next year. From the lordly merchant hair, “coxed;" and then the well-earned pull prince, who has been shooting grouse and moor at the cool tankard, and the flirtation under the hen on his moor in Perthshire, and combining whispering alders; and then the quiet pull) amusement with profit by sending large supplies home in the twilight, while Grace and Mary to the shops in London-sub rosd, of course, sang “ Tell us, O tell us," and the mildest man for it would never answer that the great man in the company played the flute by way of sym.' should be deemed guilty of such sordid meanness phony, till the sober cattle by the water-side' -down to the humble city clerk, who has been lifted their heads, and wondered what the fairy sunding himself on the beach, and eating the melody might mean—"Nec te memorande relintempting oyster at Southend, and watching with quam,' o delightful day's shooting-for them fond eyes the engineering efforts of his little no more the hard, exhilarating tramp over the children-for all grades of holiday-seekers the stubble-no more the welcome whirr of the cry is homewards to the city of toil, back to covey, and the double report, as some skilled work, while yet the light and the tide serve marksman brought down his bird, and the ex. nack to work while, through gracious Provi- tempore lunches at the farm-houses, when the dence, the hand is strong and the intellect keen, bread-and-cheese and home-brewed was offered while the bread-winner can bravely do his best by the smiling housewife, and prodigies were in the life-struggle ; for, right well do they done in the eating-way by the hungry sportsknow that the night of old age is coming on, man. All gone! all vanished into the limbo of slowly and fatefully, when the palsied hand will

the past, and only to be revived in fond rememrefuse to work, and the keen intellect forget its brance in the smoking-room. The martyrdom cuoning-when the strong man of erst, must of conventional society has begun its hideous neede, sink into the easy-chair, and be minis-reign afresh, and the poor victims must make tered unto by the little children. “There's up their minds for the usual course of putting plenty to do and little to get,” sighs the regret-on masks to conceal their real features; of simiful holiday-seeker, as he turns his sunburnt, I lating the. pleased grin when they are bored to healthy face-healthy with roses, too soon to death; of professing themselves enchanted, imfade and wither in the noisome London air— mensely delighted, when ennui and vexation are citywards, and prepares for the fresh plunge into l in their heart of hearts. Once more the reigri

of duns, that will not be cajoled nor bullied into , " jaw," and by which he may possibly mean forgetfulness of their “ little bill ” of boots that long, serious disquisitions, and moral reflecwill pinch, of neck-ties that will not sit grace- tions. “Sparkling repartee and witty conver. fully, of heiresses who will not answer their sation is his form !” so he cries. Another is lure, of stern mammas who will not stand fond of loitering by the way, and plodding anything nigb approaching to "gammon !” In through pages of wordy dissertation. "People crowds they stream into town; the learned in can't be always talking as this fellow makes the law to unravel the knotty cases; the learned them : they must think sometimes." So, bein politics to raise their voices, even unto the tween two stools (you know the proverb: by fretted roof of St. Stephen's, in defence of their trying to please everybody, 'tis likely enough I country's wrongs; the learned in physic to try shall please none, and get myself laughed at as and defeat that wary old campaigner-Death! a sorry scribbler into the bargain! the learned in divinity to battle with that still Husband and wife were playing at crossmore wily adversary, the Devil! and the learned purposes, in that large house in Portman-square in nothing to try and look as if they knew —and we all know what a wretched game that everything! Barristers grope their way up to is! But, wretched as the game is, it must be the dingy chambers, and yawn as they survey | played, when husband and wife have secrets in the “old shop," as they contemptuously term the deep of their hearts which they will not conit, wishing most devoutly that they were back in fide one to the other. There was as much actthe country, shooting and waltzing, and airing | ing, probably, in that house, as on the boards their mighty whiskers! The brotherly band of of the Thespian, only with this difference artists lounge as usual into the neglected that in the theatre it brought no care, no sorstudios, and calmly tear off the covering from row to the actors: they did it all in the way of the “ Landscape with Figures ” with a scornful business, and, when the mask was off, troubled curl of the lip, as who should say, “I've seen themselves no further : but the acted parts of some few things lately which makes you look the two players-Ella and her husbandrather small ?" and chat over their pipe of the brought nothing but secret sorrow and heart. jolly trip to Rome and Naples, and go into felt agony-built still higher and thicker the raptures over the handsome contadini their wall of separation between their hearts. Harry models. The reader-if any such there be mis. | Grantley could not conceal from himself, in guided enough of the Morning Post, did he moments of quiet thought, that he had acted chance to run his eye over the list of fashionable like a very great villain, and that, sooner or arrivals, would have seen, “ Captain and Mrs. later, the evil consequences of his guilt would Grantley, Portman-square:" and in another co- recoil on him—that his sin would find him out. lumn, devoted to amuseinent announcements, | He fancied, and often pictured, the scene, in to the effect that Mrs. Grantley would receive those truthful colours with which such imagined on such a day; and that, on another, there scenes are presented to the eye-a scene of rewould be an “At home, and dancing.” And, if | tribution, in which Nathalie, the woman whose the reader happened to be a fashionable, and fate had been so strongly linked with bis, invited to these festivities, he would have found should have followed up the track of vengeance, the host vainly striving to hide the load of and laid open the secret of his life to the curious anxious care which sat on his brow; and the gaping world; and often, as the stern form of this lady of the house, handsome and urbane as injured woman, in all its dread beauty and lurid ever, but with an expression of sad weariness in splendour of eyes, rose before him, he shudher beautiful eyes, and a face oft clouded with dered, and pressed his hands to his brow, as il sorrow—a sorrow which the mask of affected he would fain shut out the ill-boding vision. gaiety and high spirits ill-concealed, and which It was Orestes over again, in the wonderful the wearer of that mask, hard as she fought to masterpiece of Euripides, feeling the madness repress any slight indication, much as she laid ' stealing over his senses, and hearing the herself out to be amusing and courteous, still smothered growl of the ban-dogs of the Eufelt to be consuming her heart; and at sight of menides, as they rush towards him, and praythis he would probably exclaim, with all Grant- ing so earnestly that kindly Night would steep ley's friends, “Wonder what's come to Grant- his wearied eyes in sleep, and finally sobbing ley? seems awfully down in the mouth! Lost out his fear on the devoted Electra's bosom. coin lately, perhaps, or something in that way-|But Harry Grantley had no one to confide his ought to be a deuced happy bloke, with that troubles to : the burden of remorse and fear he fine wife of his! And she don't seem over must bear alone as best he might. She, whose happy. Catch me marrying as long as I've a faithful heart should have been the sharer of the copper to keep myself-aw !” And would then trouble, recked not of any such thing, and it betake himself to the club, with the comforting was absolutely necessary that she should be assurance that he had said a good thing. kept in ignorance as long as possible.

Now, if I were to try and describe minutely After a fashion Grantley loved the woman the feelings of Grantley and his wife at this sea- whom he had taken to be the wife of his bosom, son, I should only fill reams of paper, and weary whose first maiden confession he had been the you out of all conscience. 'Tis a difficult mat- hearer of, and wished to keep her in ignorance ter to please everybody! One class of reader of the impending danger as long as he might; will exclaim against too much of what he calls and ever the name of the woman he feared kept haunting him. He could not take up the serted the gay booths; when the sound of the Times at breakfast without seeing that the new fife and the tabor will be heard no more in the actress's success was decided, and that, by par- streets, nor the many-twinkling footsteps of ticular request, the “Wife's Trials” would be those who dance; when all the gaude and shows played for a few nights more. He had never which delight us now will have faded away forgotten the night at the Thespian, when he “like the baseless fabric of a vision;" when looked down on the stage to see the dark, fierce Hamlet's words will come too true, “Go, get eyes fixed upon him, when he had heard the thee to my lady's chamber, and tell her-let strange musical voice—that voice which had her paint an inch thick-to this favour she stirred his heartstrings full often in the days must come. Let her laugh at that!" gone by, as Nathalie sang the wild ballad lore “Bah! why should you preach? why should of her country. Haunted day and night by you sermonise ? Are you better than the rest the uncomfortable impression of coming evil, of us?” sneers some kind friend-Mephisto, I feeling that his wife's happiness and life almost should think, by that curling lip and malicious was in the keeping of a deadly foe, what wonder smile. Why, indeed! save that a word somethat men should have remarked the gloom of times dropped from the lips of a fool will tell his face, and the desperate, fearful glance of his home. A bow drawn at a venture killed the eye? What wonder that he should have had King of Israel ; and besides, 'tis mighty plearesource to the gaming-table, in order to forget, sant to preach ; you apply a salve to conscience if for one short hour of frenzied excitement, the -an opiate to lull it asleep for awhile. May haunting shadow of his life! “As a man sows we strive-may we agonise-to keep a clear so he shall reap.” This verse kept ringing the conscience! Let us conduct ourselves decently changes in his ear. He had sowed the whirl and kindly to our neighbours. When Hagar wind; what could he expect to reap? His crouches down with her perishing darling in sowing-time had been devoted to the ruin of a the burning sun to die, may ours be the hand trusting woman; what harvest could he expect to tender the cold water; may we try and but a full crop of grief, remorse, and despair ? | practise a little charity in common life, and not "As a man sows"-ah! heaven help us! If pass by the miserable on the other side, but we could but sometimes think of this solemn kneel down and administer the balm of healing injunction, what a vast amount of preaching words; and who knows but that it may fare would it save! It's difficult to be good, I'll well with us at the last ? grant you, in this world of temptation and As the husband played at cross purposes folly ; but, if we only consulted the wisdom of the with the wife, so the wise with the husband. world--if we only shaped our conduct of life Grantley put on a mask of apparent indifference in accordance with the maxims of business in not half subtle enough to deceive the keen eye this one instance, we might“ 'scape the burning” of Love; and Ella tried bravely to conceal the -if we did but reason with ourselves, that a sickening sense of sorrow at her heart by a fair goodly harvest-of corn cannot in truth be outward seeming of happiness, which did in expected from those “wild oats” which the reality deceive her husband, and lulled him into world speaks so charitably of. How common a false security. to hear the expression, when a man's dissolute “Are you happy, Ella?" had Grantley asked life is talked of, “Ah, well! he has sown his of her one night, when the usual dinner-party wild oats now; we'll expect better things of had been performed, and the guests taken their him.” “ Sown his wild oats!"-yes -and here-fight. . after there will spring up a great crop of weeds “Very happy, my dear boy," had the poor and noxious herbs-gaunt sorrow; wan-eyed wife smiled, while her heart kept giving the lie despair—to embitter every moment of life, and to the assertion. “Only a little tired, that's --when - Time puts his sickle in among the all. Won't you tell me what's the matter with days”-as the journey of life gets narrower and you, my precious Harry? I know something nearer to the end, nothing to cheer him but the is vexing you; you ought to tell your wife. useless moan, “ Would I had led a better life | Let me beg of you to tell me." when young!” No hope to gild the dark | Grantley groaned in spirit, and was obliged clouds of old age and “'o the pity on't;" no to tell his wife that “there was nothing much; hope for the drear uncertain future. Of a surety he had lost a little money, perhaps ; nothing I do not mean to preach, so I pray you do not more.” cast it in my teeth that I should leave these

And thus the game went on, each deceiving solemn things to the clergyman on Sunday. I the other,-miserable little artifices which they don't set myself up as a prophet, Di vertant each saw through; and the outer world was in omen! All I say is, that it is better for us to profound ignorance. think of these things now, while it is yet light “ Happy as a pair of love-birds," chorused and our lamps are burning; for however con- all the company who visited the house in Portvenient it may be to forget the fact, still it is a man Square; and after admiring the fair young no less solemn one-that the pomps and vani- / wife who sat at the foot of her table, radiant in ties and idle pleasures of “Vanity Fair” cannot smiles, and beaming with feigned happiness, last for ever. The time will come-come steal- returned to their own homes to hug their own thily on-while we regard it not, when the light little sorrows to their bosoms, and to wonder and the music and the dancing will have de. 'why they were not so happy and loving as the

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