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and desolate. Poems! Oh! no wonder my hair's grey! But its your fault, master-informing his mind! I wonder who ever troubled about my mind!” And out she flounced, while her master, not without some secret apprehension--more anxiety, in fact, for Richard than he had ever felt before-unrolled the manuscript, and, after wiping and putting on his spectacles, commenced its perusal.
between; so that I never have a word out of him. And the paper! he reads it shameful! treating polyticks as if they war dirt; and so ignorant, that when he's done, he knows no more of the state of Europe than when he began. His mother says he lives without sleep, or as good as: there's a heart-break for a tender mother! I hate unnatural ways. The truth is, he's above his business."
“I quite agree with you."
" Then,” said the contradictory Matty, "its a sin and a shame for you to say so, sir. You have nothing to complain of: he's willing enough to do every hand's turn for you. I'm nothing in the house--just no-thing! He's as civil and smooth as crame—with his good morning, and good evening, and fine day, Mrs. Cook! but that's professional-there's no love with it. He's all for learning and books. If he goes on this way, you'll have to take him into partnership."
“ Very likely!”
“Then, sir, you must look out for another housekeeper, that's all : I'm not going to have two masters, and one of them no better than a dog-boy! Oh! that I should come to that! He's bewitched you, so he hash-put his comether over you. I should'nt wonder if you made him sit down at your table, and printed his poems."
"Poems! Hav’nt I heard you say many times that there was no good in books now, since there's such a many writers; that a book is no longer a book, only a rubbish; and that all the half of the writers do is to spile paper and pens, and waste ink. Them's your words, master, when you war in one of your pleasant humours, discoorsing upon the ruin that's come into the world. And now this boy goes and writes poems, and you'll print them !”
*Go down stairs, Matty, and bring me those poems."
- And to be made paper weight in my ould days-just to stand upon papers.” E “Do es I desire you."
“ I can't: do you think I'd keep 'em in the kitchen? There they are !” she continued, throwing a roll of manuscript on the table; " there they are! As if he had any right to set up for a poet—as if his mother and him hav'nt gone through starvation enough without that. That's what comes of his neglecting the state of Europe, and hurrying over the knives : his mother wanted to tell you about it, but had no courage, and no wonder. Its asy to see what's before him now; and his poor mother blind
CHAP. V. In Harley-street, where the houses bear a near relationship to each other, and seem to have been erected by some grave builder, who was never ambitious of being considered an architect, but heaped brick upon brick, in the heavy, old-fashioned style; laying down solid floorings-putting in solid windows-bearing in mind that there might be dancing in the first floors, and dinners in the diningrooms--and so created (giving the walls time to dry, and the plaster to harden-doing, in fact, everything which builders do not do now) the long, solemn street, which so admirably illustrates the term “respectable.” In one of the most sedate and self-important houses of this very respectable street, lived Mr. Francis Oldham. His name was upon a brass plate on the door, showing that he was not ashamed of it. The brass plate was as lustrous as if it had only been put up the previous day, and the door-steps were white and spotless as snow; the windows were bright in the lustre of unstained plateglass; the paint all fresh. Many beggars, well or ill-dressed, passed up and down that strcet, in sunshine and shower, but few knocked at that particular door, or addressed beggingletters to Mr. Francis Oldhamn, though his name could be read from the opposite side of the gaping street; indeed, if a beggar did knock at that bright-plated door, the policeman (policemen and dogs know beggars by intuition) on his lonely beat would have set the knocker down“ as a real case, and no sham—a green one." Noregular beggar would waste time on such an act, it being currently reported amongst the clique, that Mr. Francis Oldham never did an act of charity in his life, and never would do one.
The house without was an index to the house within : it was so well ordered as to be positively uncomfortable; the bright bars had the effect of ice--it was impossible to imagine they had ever contained a fire; the polished oaken floor of the dining-room had a small, square Turkey carpet in the centre, upon which stood a
solid mahogany table, like a tomb-stone. There tious cleanliness, felt as if uninhabited ; and was a picture (how such a picture ever came there was a close atmosphere, caused by want there was a mystery) of Christ overturning the of ventilation, which oppressed the spirits of tables of the money-changers in the temple. those who were accustomed to breathe fresh It was gloriously treated. The figure of the air. It was also a silent house, nothing moving Saviour in the foreground-calm and erect, about it except a very beautiful little spaniel, the face more than half-turned towards the of a bitter, unamiable temper, who attempted cowering crowd he had reproved, while with- to bite every visitor, without the courtesy of a drawing from a presence whose authority warning bark. they dared not dispute-was full of the most Contrary to his usual custom, Mr. Francis sublime dignity of displeasure; the effect pro- Oldham was pacing up and down the drawingduced upon the people was the effect of will,
The chairs and sofas must have been rather than of words; the attitude was in itself rare and costly, to match the inlaid tables and all-eloquent-all-powerful. If you looked at buhl cabinets; but they were all carefully the picture before you noted the frozen bars covered with brown holland-cold and glazed ; and tomb-like table, and desolate aspect of the the rich paper looked as if it had not been room, you would never notice them at all--- it hung a week; and the dreadful holland that would absorb your attention from the first to shrouded the carpet was spotless and chilly as a the last moment you passed in the shivering field of snow. The little dog paced after its atmosphere of the rich man's inhospitable master, pausing occasionally, as if wondering chamber. The Saviour's right arm was out- why he walked there at all : it was not at stretched, yet not fully elevated; it seemed as home in the room, seemed to have no place to though the tables of the money-changers had lay down upon, and was thoroughly uncombeen crushed and broken while he raised it fortable. A magnificent pendule, and two from his side ---the arm of flesh being the costly, but heavy and tasteless, lustres, were on symbol of the arm of the Spirit; there was a the chimney-piece; and the old man (for he positive halo-a radiance—around the head, was old) never failed to pause before the clock, not painted in the ordinary way, as if brought to see if time lingered as usual. He frequently there, but a tender light exhaling from the glanced at the arm-chairs, as if intending to Christ. It was impossible to tell how the sit down--perhaps it was their cold and comeffect was produced, there it was, a thing fortless air which prevented his doing so, or to dream of; inspired, doubtless, after holy perhaps he did not like to crease the covering. prayer and supplication, that it might be A very small fire was burning in a fire-basket given to mortal man to show what Jesus within the grate, and yet the short November was-what Jesus did. The whole picture, evening was closing in, with more than usual in every effect, in every detail, was magni- fog, and creeping, creeping cold-a cold which ficently painted ; and yet it was the Saviour, rhimed the windows, and made the streetthe Saviour alone, that rivetted attention. lamps look dim and wet. Mr. Francis Oldham You would have given much that the face had walked on; sometimes rubbing his dry, hard been turned away from the multitude, and to- palms together, and feeling if there was anwards you ; and yet who could look upon other button to draw his coat still more closely severity of its beauty unscathed! Oh! rare er his narrow chest; he coughed frequently painter-and wise as rare !
-it echoed like a death-knell in that still The wonder was, how Mr. Francis Oldham house. After a long time, a step was heard could endure the silent reproof of such ascending from below; it came stealthily up, a picture; for the tale was whispered that as if unwilling to disturb the silence. The he had been, and was, a money-changer- drawing-room fire was nearly out, only one or one who gave gold for bills, and took large two cave-like coals glowing at the back of the interest. It might have been untrue, but basket, and the mystified street lamps cast their so went the tale; and if true, then it is palest light into the room ; still Mr. Francis not to be wondered at that Mr. Francis Oldham walked, and his shadow, broken off at Oldham rarely dined there, but partook intervals by the piers between the windows, of his solitary meal in a little back room, to which the curtains were drawn tight back, where the barred window looked into a small, and covered with that ghastly holland, came square, paved court, surrounded by high, white- and went, a thin, crazy-looking shadow-now washed walls, which even the Harley-street on the floor, now on the wall. How dim and cats, could never scale !
homeless everything appeared in that chill, The house, despite its glaring and ostenta- unsocial room-it was becoming positively
spectral; at last the step paused at the door, and then the handle turned, and a gaunt-looking woman, shading the candle with her hand, said :
" The cook, sir, declares the rabbits will not be fit to eat, shall she"
“ Rabbits,” he interrupted, and his voice was hard and grating, “ I told her if my brother did not come, she should dress but one."
" I don't know, I am sure, sir; that was what she said." " It is past six ?"
Yes, sir." " Then tell her to put the dinner by, it will do for to-morrow. I cannot eat at this newfashioned hour ; clear away the things below, and get me some tea.”
As if the dog understood the mandate which deprived her of her bones, she leaped up to her master's hand; he stooped and fondled her, “No, no, Fan shall have her dinner ; tell the cook to send me up Fan's dinner-poor Fan." He took the little animal in his arms, and caressed it tenderly, and his eyes lost their fierce, suspicious look, while playing with his little favourite ; it was strange how much the cold man and the cross dog were to each other. Mr. Francis Oldham never looked sternly or suspiciously on Fan, never grudged her her food, never withered her by unkindness, or spurned her, as he did his fellow-creatures, with contempt from his heart and door. In a short time, both were seated in the little back
Tea was the only luxury heindulged in, and this he drank so strong that, if he had taken council of a physician, he would have learned that the excited state of his nerves, and the irresistible humours from which he suffered, were the results of his libations to the Chinese gods. A knock came to the door, single and deep; the lonely man sprang from his chair as if electrified, and Fan barked furiously; the step from the depths below again ascended the stairs, and in process of time, the gaunt housemaid entered with the newspaper—which Mr. Francis had long since ascertained he could keep for two hours in the evening for the charge of one penny–he read it in less than one, for he was quick of eye and comprehension ; but he calculated on the possibility of not being able to read it in one, and, besides, it was a bargain, “ I told him," said the maid, in answer to her master's angry look, “ I told him, over and over again, he must ring, not knock,"
Hard, iron-hard, as that man seemed-unimpressible--his features and expression remaining unchanged, while perusing column
after column of disastrous warfare, of frightful shipwreck, of murder and rapine, of execution, of marriage, of insanity, of gay balls, of costly city pageantry, of advertising misery, of catchpenny falsehood; redeemed from time to time by a burst of honest enthusiasm for a noble cause, or a noble virtue, or marked by the no less noble sarcasm, shivering a false speculation to atoms, or torturing some hoary sinner by the public exposure of his gilded sins. Unmoved, I say, as the old man looked ; unmoved by wit, or eloquence, or heroism; untouched by misery; stolid, silent, except when shaken by his warning cough-there was still beneath that mask of wrinkles, within that petrified heart, one eternal pulsation, that beat there night and day, that would not, could not rest; throbbing on, gaining strength from his weakness in its fearful monotony-still talking of the past !
Another knock, by a hesitating hand, followed rapidly by one loud and redoubled—a will-come-in, whether-at-home-or-not, sort-ofknock—and then a tearing ring, vibrating through the house ! Fan was paralyzed, she opened her mouth twice or thrice to bark, but could not; Mr. Francis dropped the paper, clutched the arms of his chair firmly, and gasped for breath.
• What a waste of noise!” he murmured, thirty years has not changed his knock; another! why will not that woman hurry, he will shake the paint off the door."
There was loud and joyous questioning in the hall, a voice of boisterous cheerfulness shouting with all the eagerness of fraternal affection for his " brother.” Mr. Francis Oldham was moved, he did not understand it, but he was moved; he almost staggered to the door, and staggered still more when his brother, after an embrace close as the hug of a brown bear, wrung and shook his hands until they ached again. The old men looked each the other in the face. “Why Frank, God bless me, your features are our poor father's; your height, size, all his ! But are you ill, brother? or has any sorrow since the last I know of, come upon you ? No; well, that is good ; but you show sorrow—you must brighten up.”
“ But for your voice, John, I should not have known you. Your hair, however, is not white as mine." By a dexterous movement John Oldham removed his wig; “ there,” he exclaimed, “how do I look now, and not afraid of the phrenologists. But where are your fellows? I want my things brought in and taken up stairs. What, no men servants; well, my rascal will soon be here, I left him to look
after the luggage, and take care (don't be boyhood, into youth, manhood, age! had passed frightened, Frank, my boy) of my monkey; through six of the “ seven ages," with toil and the nicest creature you ever saw. I hope your labour, been elevated by "lucky hits," and dedog is good-natured ; Jebb is quiet enough, but pressed by commercial changes; had been both if she teazes him, he'll flay her alive, he will battered and cherished by what the one called by Jupiter!"
“Luck,” and the other “ Providence;" had “ He'd better not,” growled Mr. Francis, been stimulated by extraordinary energy, and snatching up his favourite. “ John, this is strengthened by a fixed purpose ; nurtured, my only companion, or friend; she betrays no they could not imagine how, though they could secrets, tetis no tales, and knows a beggar even tell where; they had achieved the same end, in the disguise of a gentleman.”
by different means, and in different hemis “ Ah! Frank, you were always cynical. spheres, and still one looked honest, the other Make a dog your only companion and friend, starved." when there are friends to be had, aye, in plenty, Mr. John and Mr. Francis Oldham sat oppoif we only deserve them; and as to the beg- site to each other in the little parlour, that gars, poor devils! why Frank, you remember commanded a view of the small square courtour own young days; a broom and a crossing yard, with the high walls; there never before, would have been a fortune to me, when our had been such a fire in the grate, the coal luxury consisted in sniffing the savoury steams seemed endowed with a spirit of life, and that loomed from the kitchens of the London crackled and sparkled-resolved to "make a Coffee House; talk of the increased power of night of it." The spring of the candle-lamp steam after that,” and he laughed joyously; gave an occasional click, a sort of hurra in "and then do you remember how we worked for steel, and a bound, thrusting the candle up so a supper_Want a coach, your honour ?''here as to form a mimic illumination. Fan did not Frank, hold the link to his lordship!' Chair- partake of this dumb hilarity; she knew the man! See-dan-ay-ay-all ready! Ah! monkey was in the house, and crouched her the days of Ranelagh and Vauxhall! we nose between her paws, ready to spring forth were hungry, half-starved link-boys, errand- in a moment. She groaned and growled to boys, serving-boys then; but we had youth, herself, wondering, doubtless, in her canine and hope, and energy; strong wills, though selfishness, what her master could want with in tangled ways, and triumphed. Lucky a brother or a monkey, when he had her. dogs we have been, eh, Frank ?” and again Wine, of marvellous age and flavour, was John Oldham shook his brother's hands; poured from cobwebbed bottles into glasses, while the proud, rigid brother writhed under which had been dry and dusty for years; it the remembrances in which John gloried, and evinced its power by fevering the one, and continued, “Do you remember, Frank, our un- rendering the other still more hard and bitter; lucky sixpence? I never forget the tenderness but both men were “ moderate”--the one from I felt for that last coin we had in the world! penurious habit, the other from a principle and how, after a hard day's fag, and a hard instilled by wisdom and experience. day's disappointment, we went to the baker's " I wonder, brother," said Frank, abruptly, to buy us a loaf, depending on the change for after many topies had been exhausted, “I a bed, and how the sixpence was a bad one! wonder you never married." and how the baker would have it that we knew “ I think," replied John, after a very long it, and threatened us with a constable ; but pause, during which the thoughts of both the baker's wife said him nay—that I “ looked had been rushing wildly among memories of honest,” and “ you looked starred," and she gave the past--long forgotten; while some almost us a stale roll. That woman's nd eyes have obliterated associations started like skeletons shone in my dreams many times since then! from mouldering graves, or arose with all the what a living, abiding thing is charity !” freshness of mocking youth before them; trials
It was well that John did not then look at and turmoils, hopes, disappointments, a ming. his brother Frank.
ling of life and death, vapoured through the The baker's wife was right; more than fifty long vista of time, into which each gazed beyears had gone past, grinding its thousands, wildered! John's joeund face assumed now a' and its tens of thousands, and its hundreds of sad, and then a serious expression, like the thousands, into nameless or forgotten graves ; a long-drawn rays of a winter sunset; his generation had come and gone, yet her judg- thoughts had strolled back to the present, ment was still true_"the one looked honest, the laden heavily with the memory of a wing, ne? other starved." The children had grown into vived, cruelly and unnecessarily by his bro-;
ther's question. He felt constrained to speak, mal--but of late our hearts drew towards and yet feared to give his thoughts or feelings each other--mine did, God knows, towards voice; his age was forgotten, or only recalled you! We are, to all appearance, once more by the shrivelled, blighted man, whose manner together, beneath the sanctuary of your roof, and words had jarred upon the heart that only warmed by your cheerful fire, stimulated, perwished to feel how they, two remnants of the haps, over-much by your good wine—but we past, were alone in the wide world ; and that are, in reality, beside the graves which yawn it would be wiser never to touch the chord, for those who approach three-score and ten. that already the brother had struck with I have given up the associates and associations heartless violence.
of forty years, for my heart yearned to be with "I think, Frank," he said, at last, " if your you, brother, so that we might end our days, memory does not fail you, you cannot wonder as we began them--if it was God's willwhy I never married."
within an hour of each other. For this I have " If," replied his brother, and his words crossed the sea, determined, because of the came hard and broken through his compressed long estrangement between us, that we should lips, “ if you mean that her memory prevented now be all in all to cach other; but while it, so best. One was quite enough to be en- I breathe this air, and have the power of snared into matrimony. I congratulate you speech, I will suffer no shadow to be cast upon on your escape, brother John."
her memory. You wooed her from me, brother, " This comes ill from you," replied the and far-off I bore, silently, unrepiningly, the brother; "she preferred you."
misery which I believed secured her happi"She married me," interrupted Frank Old
ness. ham, with bitter sarcasm. John rose from his Age had failed to paralyze that large heart! seat, and looked fixedly at his brother.
it was beating at that moment with the fervour " If she had not loved you, she would not of youth within his breast; tears overflowed have married you; there was nothing to in- his eyes, and, if he had yielded to his feelings, duce her but the love of woman—the unselfish he would have covered his face and wept; but love which we so little understand. She there was a stern severity, an unmelting nature sacrificed all for you, Frank; you were not about his brother, which brought his years back then the prosperous man that you became- upon him, and though his purpose remained she was a blessing."
his enthusiasm faded. "A curse!” groaned out Francis Oldham, “ We will not speak of it," said Frank, fiercely, prolonging the r, grating it between abruptly; " we are two old men now, waiting his teeth, while his dark, sunken eyes, glared annihilation.” like a tiger's in the dark. "A cu-r-se," he re- John Oldham shuddered, and drew back, as peated ; " I wish you had had her, with all if stricken by sudden ague. “ Not so," he the luck she brought to me!"
said, “ waiting the perfecting of a life comA variety of contending feelings wrestled in menced here, to be purified and immortalized John Oldham's bosom ; his distress was suffo- hereafter." Such was his noble nature that he cating-agonizing; he gazed on the distorted could hardly help-as he stood looking down features of his brother, and thought, “Was it upon the man, “ the muck worm,” writhing in for this I returned-despite his written words, the toils of infidelity, ashamed to let his face. is he unchanged p” And then, terror-stricken, be seen, so that he covered it with his handshe fancied that Frank must be insane. For a falling on his knees beside him, and praying moment, frightful as this was, he would rather that his heart might be changed; he forgot have had it so, than know that, in his senses, his indignation in his horror and sorrow at his brother had ever dared to express such the confession which had escaped from those thoughts: he summoned his better angel to shrivelled lips; his sanctified benevolence, his aid, by a rapid supplication for strength, born of true Christian charity, came forth, and power to overcome evil by good. After and he longed to take him to his bosom as a another moment, he felt compassion for the little child, and nurture him with tidings of rich, wretched man, who was grasping con- great joy; the cause of the deformity of his vulsively the handles of the chair whereon he brother's nature was laid bare before him ; sate, and muttering.“ Brother,” he said, the hideous skeleton of his life was there in "? more must have passed, during the many all its frightful, fleshless deformity; the coil years of our estrangement, than I have ever of the great sin-serpent was around him, its known. We are old men, both; we exchanged breath stified him, its eyes pierced him, its brief letters; at first they were cold and for- poison mingled with his blood, he was exist