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ABOUT THE UMBRELLA-MENDER: A STUDY.

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It was a winter's evening. The learned that it was no light natter clock of St Martin-le-Grand was to disturb the unibrella - inender striking six as Mr Coriolanus when once the shutters of the little Crocker, the umbrella-inender, rose shop had been put up. He was froin his hench, laid aside his work, thus usually enabled to enjoy and shut up his shop. He then Grote's 'Greece' without any posretired into the little inner room, sible fear of business amoyauves. made some tea, contrived a sand- But this evening, just as he was wich, and settled himself dowu to finishing an account of the battle an evening's enjoyinent with his of Salamis, there came a loud ring books. In a few iniuutes lie was at the shop-bell. Mr Crocker did lost in the dear delights of Grote's 'not' pay the slightest actire atten“Greece'; for Mr Crocker was a tion to this appeal, but there wax scholar, and looked such, even no doubt that he was conscious of when he was repairing unıbrella, the disturbance, for he looked up One might have expected hiin at from his book, cast a few indiguant any given minute to put away his glances towards the shop-door, and work, and deliver a lecture on sulge then poured himself out another abstruse subject-perhaps ou the cup of tea, and returned to Grote political aspects of the reign of and Greece. The bell rang again Thothmes the Third, or on the this time louder and more impotentialities of the Differential patiently. Mr Coriolanus Crocker Calculus. One might have expected read on quietly. But when the this in vain, since Mr Crocker was bell pealed a third time, he darted as sparing of his words as most rich into the shop, opened the door people are of their money. He was hurriedly, and saidshort and shrivelled, and not un- “I wou't have any custoiners like a thin umbrella—a thread bare, after six o'clock. There's another shabbily-genteel umbrella, with an umbrella-mender at the top of the uncompromising handle, and a long road. Go to hiin, and if he won't drawn piece of elastic, and ar do your work, go to the devil, for ancient button, and a well-worn all I care!” stick which wanted re-tipping. “I am inclined to think I hare

Mr Crocker had a small face arrived at the destination you provided with small piercing eyes. mention,” said the riuger of the His hair was brown and scanty. bell. “ Allow me, however, to He had a habit of combing back assure you that I am vot a this scanty hair with his thin haud customer, and have not cowe to when he was engaged in contem- see you about anything so unin. plating an invalid umbrella, and teresting as umbrellas. Probably wondering whether it was worth a you do not realise that it is snowing. new stick, or a new handle, or a I can understand that, for you are new frame, or a new silk or alpaca standing out of the suow, and I covering

am standing in the snow, Thank A piece of paper pasted on Mr you, I will step in and tell you my Crocker's window announced that business.” no customers were wanted after Mr Crocker raised the lamp to six o'clock, and the neighbours had the stranger's face. He looked

un

; for

about thirty years of age, and had “I have always loved my son," the appearance of being an the umbrella-mender answered. successful artist.

“I wonder he did not turn out “I dou't know you,” said Mr a better man, if he had some one Crocker, putting the lamp on the to care for him. That ought to counter. “Please to tell me your make such a difference to a felbusiness and then

go; my

time low," said the stranger, somewhat is precious, and I don't care to sadly. waste it on strangers."

“You are hard on the dying," “I will be brief," answered the said the umbrella-mender. stranger, taking a ring from his “I hate your son !” muttered pocket. “This is your son's ring. the stranger

the stranger“I hate him. He You recognise it? Well, then, he has come between me and all my is dying, and wishes to see you

chances of success and happiness. before lex says farewell to this And when he is dead I shall have world. You'll excuse me, but to go after him, for it was my I think we have not much time hand that struck him down." to lose. He was well on the road Mr Crocker started back. when I left him.”.

“ Your hand ?” he cried.

" And “My son dying,” inurmured the you dare to tell me this !” unbrella-mender, as though to him Why not?” said the other, self, “and dying he turns to me. I coolly. “I don't value my life at am glad of that."

a brass farthing.

We've got to "I am ready,” he said to the die, and it really does not matter artist. He took his hat from the much whether we die on the galpeg, and passed out of the shop lows or on a feather-bed We have together with the stranger. only a few steps to go now. We

“You are my son's friend, no cross the road and turn down that doubt?” he asked.

narrow street opposite. I beg of “No," replied the other, curtly. you to take my arm, sir; the roads “I'm low enough, but I have not are slippery, and you may fall." sunk to that degradation yet." The umbrella-mender shook off

“Do you refer to his personal the stranger's touch. character or to his father's profes “ Don't touch me,” he said, with sion ?" asked the umbrella-mender. a shudder. fiercely.

“I can understand you are natnothing against his urally annoyed with me," replied father's profession," answered the the other. “It would be too abstranger. “For my part, I should surd to suppose that a man would think it is much better fun having be friends with a stranger who has umbrellas to mend than having no murdered his son. Follow me pictures to paint. You get bread now.” and cheese on the one, but you They had arrived at a wretchedstarve on the other. Then you ly poor-looking house. The door die and go to hell, and not a was opened by a little girl, who soul cares.

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slunk away immediately. They Then there was silence between groped their way up some rickety them, and the snow fell fast and stairs, and went into a darkened thick.

room. The artist struck a match “ I suppose you loved your son and lit a candle, and held it over once ?" the stranger said, after a the bed. pause

“Your son is still alive," he

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whispered to the umbrella-mender. the pity of it. Do not you think
“I am glad we are not too late. I
feared we should just miss him.” The umbrella-mender withdrew
Then he closed the door gently, his arm from beneath his son's
leaving the umbrella-mender bend- head, and suffered the stranger to
ing over his son.

lead him to the fireside, and help “ Marius !" the father whispered, him into an easy-chair. There was as he took his son's hand and a look of intense pain on the umkissed it tenderly. “Marius, you brella-mender's face. He watched know me?"

his son's murderer kneol down and The dying man looked up. attend to the fire ; he watched

“Dad !” he murmured, “I've every bit of stick put on to it, and not been much of a credit to you. once he stooped forward and picked Poor dad ! and you hoped for so up a bit which had fallen from the much from me. Well, it's too late bundle, and he himself threw it now, But just kneel down, dad, into the fire. But the fire would and let

success.

my
head rest on your arm.

not draw, and so the stranger Just like that."

fetched a newspaper, and he and And he died, with a peaceful the umbrella-mender held it before smile on his face. He had been the grate, until their patience and nothing but a sorrow to his father, perseverance were rewarded by nothing but a shame. His short life had been crowded with crimes “It would be no trouble for me of every description, except murder. to make you some coffee,” said the He did not understand anything stranger. “I was always famous about affection, or gratitude, or for my coffee. Your son used to honour. But all the same, he died praise it." with a peaceful smile on his face, “Thank you,” said the umbrellahis head resting, childlike, on his mender, half-dreamily. “I should father's arm.

like some.

I always enjoy a good Half an hour afterwards the cup of coffee. One does not often artist came back into the room and get it good in England." found the umbrella-mender kneel "I suppose you don't object to ing by the bedside.

The candle my smoking here," asked the stranhad burned very low, and the fire ger. “If you think it is not quite sent forth but a feeble flicker. It reverent, just tell me so, and I was bitterly cold.

shall understand.” The artist spoke gently to the “Smoke by all means," replied umbrella-mender.

the umbrella-mender, watching the “I see your son is dead," he said, young man not unkindly. The " and of course. I hold myself re- bright light of the fire fell full on sponsible for his death, and am his handsome face; there was no prepared to pay any penalty. But expression of viciousness or wickmeanwhile you are shivering with edness, but a sort of resigned, dull, cold. Let me persuade you to deadened sadness, as though the come nearer to the fireplace, and young man had honestly tried to to wrap yourseli in this rug until make a good thing of life, and all I have succeeded in rekindling the world had been against him. the fire. The snow is still falling "Perhaps you will allow me to fast, and the ground is covered offer you a cigarette," suggested with a white garment. But it the stranger.

“ Your son gave won't long remain whito - that's me these cigarettes à fortnight

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ບາງ.

my son."

the young

ago. They are not strong. Try answered the stranger, taking his them."

tobacco - pouch from his pockets “ Thank you,” said the and refilling his pipe. “At least, brella - mender, “but s do not that is what I choose to call mysmoke now.”

self. I thought that was a good The stranger nodded pleasantly, name for an artist, but it never and put the cigarettes back on brought luck to me. It is hard the mantelshelf. He moved about when you have the power and the very quietly preparing the coffee, wish to work, and you cannot get and in a few ininutes the comfort- anything to do. But I expect ing, cheering fragrance filled the you do not know what that means : room. The umbrella-mender lifted you are not unlucky.” the cup to his lips and drank long “Not particularly so," said the and deep.

tumbrella-mender, sipping his coffee. “That was very refreshing," he "Now I wish you would oblige ie said to the stranger, who had by telling me something about settled himself down by the fire, yourself. And should very much with his pipe in his mouth, and like to know why you have killed the coffee on the fender. “ You certainly can make a good cup Theu

man drew of coffee." Suddenly he turned closer to the old man, and told round and said quickly : “It bas him about bimself. He had had just struck me that you may have no chances in life, and if there added poison to that coffee. I do were a God of beaven and earth, not really care whether you have as some people seeined to think, done this, but I should much like that God of heaven and earth bad to know. It would be quite a strange way of taking care of natural for you to wish to poison those who needed help, and hope, me, since I am probably the only and encouragement. No one had person who kuows that you have ever cared for him until he met a murdered my son. S should not sweet woniai whom he married. be in the least surprised or angry, And she had died in giving birth 80 I beg of you to tell me the to his little girl. That was five truth."

years ago.

He had never known He put his hand on the young his father; and as for his mother, man's arn, almost curessingly. it was very little she had troubled

“The idea never even entered herself about him. Nothing had my head, sir,” answered the

young ever prospered with him-neither man. “You might guess that, art nor love nor friendship. Even because I am drinking from the his little girl did not love him ; same coffee-pot. I beg of you not she had always seemed frightened to think badly of me."

of him-why, he could not guess. “But you have iurdered my Still he had tried to make the best 8011," said the umbrella - mender. he could of life, until Marius “He lies there struck down by Crocker came across his path. The your haud-at least, so you tell end of it was that Marius Crocker me. And I see no reason why had betrayed the woman whom you should invent such a story-- Bernard Dene loved, and for whom unless, perhaps. you're mad. By he was trying to work, hoping the way, I have not the pleasure that he might at last conquer fail. of knowing your name.”

ure, and win happiness and peace. “My name is Bernard Dene,” The inan who hed robbed him of

ever

this last hope deserved to die. at least powerless to do evil, and He had told him that he would that is a gain for the world, and kill him, and Marius Orocker had for him too. But all the same, jeered at him.

Well, he would you must die, for several reasons : not jeer any more now. “ That is first of all, for your own sake ; my story, sir,” he cried, excitedly. and, secondly, for my wife's sake; “You see, I was obliged to kill and, thirdly, for your child's sake. your son. Forgive me, sir,—I say You probably understand the first it with all due deference to you and the third reasons; and as for

- but the world is better withou's the second, it is briefly this : women him. But I fear I hare hurt your are revengeful. I cannot hope feelings. I am very sorry." that my wife's soul will greet my

The umbrella - mender stirred soul in perfect love if our son restlessly in his chair.

Marius is unavenged. The joy of “No, you have not hurt my feel our souls' meeting will thus be ings,” he murmured, half to him- marred, just because, to gratify my self, " for Marius was never a son own earthly wish, I shall have to me. In fact, I never knew what spared you. You see plainly you a con's love meant. I have only must die. But I am sorry-yes, I read of such love. But his life am very sorry.

You are a fine was different from yours: he had young fellow, and I could have every care, every thought be- loved you." stowed on him. But I feel sure Bernard Dene took his pipe that nothing could have from his mouth, and bent forward made him a good man. He had magerly. not the genius for being good, just “Thank you,” he said ; “it was as I have not the genius for paint- good of you to say that. I shall ing.

He broke his mother's heart never forget that. I suppose you -and she died. He broke my would not shake hands with meheart but you see I live on. would you ? ” Whilst I had money Marius robbed 'By all means," answered the me. So I became poor, knowing umbrella-mender, warmly; and he that this was my one chance of held out his hand, which Bernard peace. When he realised that I Dene grasped firmly. had no more money to give, he pleased to have made your acleft me alone, and that was the quaintance. You seem to be a only merciful thing he ever did gallant young man, and you must

But with all this I loved not lose heart about yourself. Ah, him. It is a way we have, you but I forgot that you had not long know, of loving those who are a to live. I suppose you will kill life's sorrow, a life's anxiety to us.' yourself to-night?”

He paused a moment, and then “Yes; but not for an hour or drew nearer to the young man. so," said the artist, rising. “I

“And because I loved him, and should like first to show you some because you killed him, you must of my paintings—such as they are. die," he said, slowly. "Not that I made a portrait of him. You I see there is any advantage in may be interested in that. If it your death: you, by your death, pleases you, I trust you will accept cannot bring him back to life it as a little remembrance of him again, even if I wished him to and me. What a terrible night ! come back to life again. And I It is still snowing hard. I do not do not wish this. He lies there, know how you will manage about

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