Imagens da página

compared to this. All sorts of grim and still more from the hang-dog eximaginings beset him. Apoplexy pression of their faces, it was evident haunted him like a spectre; and the that they were confirmed scapegoats freshening wind, as it swept across the choice samples of a breed such as unsheltered moor, seemed redolent of may be found in almost every country agues and rheumatisms. What enor village; fellows who get drunk when. mous sin had he committed, that he ever they can ; steal whatever they should be thus visited with a severer can lay their hands on; are at home punishment than if he had been sent in the stocks ; familiar with the flavour to pick oakum at the tread.mill! Had of horse-ponds and the sharp discipline he violated all the decencies of social of the cat's-tail ; and want nothing life, or so far sported with the sacred but opportunity to ensure their promo. interests of truth as to call Joseph tion to the gallows. Both these vagrant Hume a statesman, then, indeed, he geniuses were attired in a costume might have anticipated a stern retribu- whose uncommon raggedness approach. tive visitation. But he had done no- ed to the picturesque. One wore a thing of the sort; but, on the contrary, grey beaver hat, and a great-coat which had always strictly fulfilled his duties reached to his ankles, and was patched as a man and a citizen, and held it as in twenty different places; the other an axiom that Joseph was by no means had no hat at all ; but then, to mako a Solon. And yet here he was-he amends for this defect, his yellow shirtwhose anti-peripatetic prejudices were tail stuck out behind through a fissure the strongest in his nature, and the in his small clothes, in the gracefullest constant theme of remark among his and most natural manner possible. friends-wandering alone at nightfall As this precious couple drew near on a moor, in silk stockings and pumps, the slumbering Waddilove, whose nap thawing like a prize-ox in the dog. had by this time lasted upwards of an days, and with no chance of bettering hour, a sudden movement that he made his condition until daybreak, suppos. with his legs, accompanied by a deep ing he should survive till then_or, at groan (as if, in the character of Harleany rate, till the moon should rise, quin, he was just going to take a resupposing that there was à moon! luctant leap head-foremost through a It was a cruel, an unprecedented case, window), attracted their notice, and, and might have given a serious shock hastening up, they gazed for a minute to his faith in a superintending Provi. or so, in expressive silence, on the dence, had not his train of indignant sleeper, who lay on his side with his meditation been seasonably diverted head buried in his arms. by his making a false step, and plump. At length one whispered the other, ing down upon a smooth, dry mound. “ I say, Jack, this is a rum go, this is ; Too tired to get up again, and more there's been some of the family at work than half persuaded that it was all over here, I take it." with him, and that he should be found “ No, no," replicd his com-rogue, a corpse before the morning, Miles stooping down and gently turning threw himself at full length along this Miles on his back-"it's no affair of mound, and in a few minutes was fast that natur; the cove's not been queered, asleep, and wandering through the he's only lushy, and as fast as a church land of dreams ; now fancying that he - I'm blest if he ain't." was Captain Barclay, and walking for “ Vy, then, I'm a-thinking, Jack," a wager a thousand miles in a thou. resumed the first speaker, laying bis sand hours; and now, that he was forefinger beside his nose," as it would Harlequin, and, as such, compelled not be but right and proper in us to take only to walk but to frisk through a care of the gemman's watch and seals pantomime, without stopping, for three for him, for it's wery clear as he can't mortal hours !

take care on 'em his-self.” It was now nearly nine o'clock; the No more he can't, Bill," replied risen moon shone like a tempered sun, the other, with a grin of intelligence ; except when the clouds, driven by a " he's as helpless as a babby." fresh south-wind, swept across her “ Vy, then, here goes, Jack;" and so orb; and by her light two men might saying, the one scamp knelt down, and be seen making their way over the dexterously drew out Miles's gold common towards the mound whereon watch, with its massive chain and seals; Miles lay sleeping. From their dress, while the other ransacked his breechespockets, whence he presently extract- untoward discoveries ; suffice it to ed, with an air of modest triumph, a say, that after firing off volleys of well-stored silk-net purse.

oaths, like minute-guns, till he was This done, they next proceeded to nearly black in the face with the effort, make free with Waddilove's hat and be took out his pocket-handkerchief, wig, and would even have reduced him tied it about his bald shiny pate, after to the attractive state of nature in the fashion of an old Irish applewhich Adam was before the Fall, had woman, and then hurried along his not their intentions been frustrated by road, taking those fidgety, petulant, a loud trumpet-like snore from the and irregular steps, which men are sleeper, which startled their delicate wont to take when labouring under nerves to such a degree, that they flew unusual nervous excitement. off across the common, as if, to quote Nearly opposite the cross-road to Byron's well-known words, “the speed Myrtle Lodge, there was a swingof thought were in their limbs." gate, from which ran a winding pub

Miles, mean-time, continued buried lic footpath through Caversham park. in profound repose, but about eleven This park terminated in a stile not far o'clock he awoke, and, starting to his from the entrance to the village, and feet, looked about him with a counte. as it cut off a considerable elbow of nance of as much wonder as Abon the road, Miles, who had missed it on Hassan showed, when he found him his way out to the Lodge, now deterself sitting up, broad awake, in the mined to avail himself of it, it being a Caliph Haroun's state-bed. He soon, matter of infinite consequence to him however, recovered his self-possession, to reach the public-house, and secure and, being refreshed by his nap, and supper and a bed, before they should goaded to further peripatetic exer- shut up for the night. As he maintions by an appetite of wondrous po. tained a smart pace, and was no longer tency, he gave a preliminary jump or incommoded by the heat, the night so, by way of taking the starch-like stiff being cool and the wind fresh, ho ness out of his knees, and then set out made very satisfactory progress, and on his return to Caversham, no longer bad already got as far as the park apprehensive of losing his way, for preserves, which the footpath skirted, the moon shed down a steady radiance descending thence into a gradual on the common, and enabled him to bushy hollow, when he was startled by see that he was only separated from the sound of whispers at no great disthe right track by a patch of marshy tance from him, which was almost imground, on the edge of which rose the mediately followed by the discharge grassy tumulus whereon he had made of a gun. Now, it happened that the his bed.

pacific Waddilove had the same inJust as he was about to start, feel. vincible horror of fire-arms that King ing an uncommon coolness-say, ra. James had of a drawn sword; he ther, a decided chill-in his upper could not even look a gun in the face story, he put his hand to his forehead, without a shudder ; judge, then, of his when, to his inexpressible astonish- consternation when he heard this sudment, he discovered that he was minus den discharge, together with a rusthat and wig. How was this? Was ling among the preserves, as though a there witchcraft in the case ? Had gang of poachers were emerging upon Puck or Robin Goodfellow being the footpath! Overmastered by his trying their hands at petty larceny, or apprehensions, and taking for granted some vagabond zephyr taken a fancy that, if he should be seen, he would to the articles in question ? No, no; instantly be shot for a gamekeeper, there had been no agency of this sort and not have the mistake cleared up at work, as the bereaved Waddilove till he lay stretched like a cock partsoon found to his cost, when on feel. ridge on the ground, with a score or ing for his watch, in order to see what so of small shot buried in his epigaso'clock it was, he ascertained that this, trium, he abruptly quitted the path, too had gone, most likely to keep com- and plunging down into the thick pany with his hat and wig ; and that copse near it, doubled himself up, his purse also had taken the opportu, hedgehog fashion, heedless of the nity of playing truant! I forbear, brambles and stinging-nettles which from conscious incapacity, to describe gave him any thing but a gracious rethe paroxysms of rage into which ception. Miles was thrown on making these The noise he made, as he went crashing into the heart of the thicket, and, in the spectral moving shadows caught the quick ears of the poachers, flung by the stirred trees across his who, darting out from the preserves path, beheld the signs of a lurking on the other side of the footpath, enemy. stood looking anxiously about them, It must have been a rare treat to and whispering to each other, as a lover of the grotesque, to have seen though doubtful whether the sound this adipose fugitive scouring along of their gun had started a spy or a in a steeple-chase style, and taking hare. Intense was Miles's agitation big bouncing leaps like a ram, while while he heard these scamps, among the broad flaps of his black coat other equally significant threats, an- streamed in the wind, and his mouth nounce their intention, when once stood ajar like the shell of a dead they got a glimpse of him, to “do for oyster. What cares he for distance him"-"riddle him like a cullender" or difficulty ? The trunk of a fallen -“bring him down at a long shot" elm lies across his road ; he is over it “ pitch him into the Thames, with a in a jiffey, and comes down on the big stone tied about his neck," &c.; other side with all the agility of a and he inwardly vowed that, should dancing-master. Further on, a brawl. he but escape the perils of this memo. ing brooklet threatens to impede his rable night, he would never again progress; in he plunges, halfway up venture so far from home-not even to his knees, and scrambles out again, in a coach, much less the accursed refreshed rather than incommoded town-tub-were he to be bribed by by his partial bath. Thus, copse after the daintiest dinner that epicure ever copse, slope after slope, are passed ; sat down to. No, he would cut the now he descends into a shady dell; acquaintance of every one who lived now he winds round the brow of a more than a hundred yards from Read- verdant hill, whence he may catch a ing. While he was thus settling the fine view of the park that extends to course of conduct he would adopt, in the bank of the Thames, affording the event of his getting safely out of shelter to large herds of deer, and his present ticklish scrape, the moon magnificently timberedwith giantoaks, became suddenly overcast; whereupon who have bid defiance to the storms the poachers, eager to avail themselves of centuries, and heard the roar of of the favouring gloom to pursue Cromwell's cannon against the walls their vocation in the preserves, and of Reading Abbey ; and now, all satisfied by this time that the noise danger passed, he halts to rest himself they had heard was merely occasioned on the stile which, as I have before by the starting of a hare, withdrew observed, abuts on the main road, just again to the spot which they had so at the entrance of Caversham. lately quitted.

Waddilove reached the village as Miles waited till they had all left the church clock was striking the last the footpath, and were lost to sight chime of midnight. As he passed along in the leafy and tangled preserves, and the main street, its irregular rows of then stealing cautiously back into the houses wore a cold, staring, and even road, like a shy old badger out of his ghastly aspect in the imperfect moon. hole, he stood listening for a few light, and nothing was audible but seconds, after which he flew at his the rippling of the near Thames utmost speed along the road, with against the arches of the bridge, or outstretched neck, and both hands the occasional growl of some drowsy clapped instinctively upon his bind watch-dog. Under other circumstanquarters, so as to act as a sort of pro- ces, Miles's imagination would have tecting shield in case he should chance been forcibly impressed by the dead to receive an ignominious shot in the solitude of this hushed hamlet through rear. Away, away he flew, insensible which he moved, the only living being, alike to fatigue and hunger, so com- startling the echoes of night by his pletely had fear got the better of every tread; but his late adventures had, other sensation. As the wind rose for the time being, given him quite a and fell, sighing among the pines and surfeit of romance. beeches, and whirling the dead leaves On coming to the public-house, he by hundreds into the air, he fancied found, as might have been anticipated, he heard the quick tramp of footsteps that it was shut up, and that not the behind him ; mistook the hooting of slightest glimmer of a light was to be the owl for the yells of his pursuers; seen in any of the rooms. Determined, nevertheless, on gaining admit- who but eight hours before had left tance, he banged away at the door for his home, smiling and sunny, in all full ten minutes ; but finding this of the consciousness of a captivating cosno avail, be bawled out the landlord's tume! He had met the cart as he was name, and then let fly a handful of crawling, snail-like, along the main small stones and gravel against his road, after leaving Caversham bridge, bedroom windows. This had the de- and had bargained with the driversired effect, for presently the lattice who was on his way to Reading, to was cautiously thrown open, and a be in time for the morrow's marketman's head, enveloped in a worsted for a seat among his vegetables, by nightcap, thrust through the aperture. way of a dignified finale to his walk

* Who's there?” enquired the land of upwards of ten miles, and the mislord, in a peevish tone of voice full of haps consequent upon it. sleep.

After his recognition by his house. "'Tis T,” replied Miles.

keeper, which was a task of no ordi6 And who the devil is I?”

nary difliculty, Miles hurried into his “ A friend of Captain Capulet, Mr study, and throwing himself on a sofa, Waddilove of Wallington Lane, near ordered up all the cold meat in the Reading. I've been unexpectedly de. pantry, made a prodigious supper, tained in the neighbourhood, and want which he washed down with a bottle some supper and a bed, for it's too late of his very oldest Madeira, and then to think of returning home to-night." plunged into bed, where he soon fell

“ Humph!--supper and a bed! You'll into the soundest sleep ever, perhaps, get neither the one nor the other here, enjoyed by a sedentary gentleman on so be off with you I ain't going to the shady side of forty. Had he taken open my door at this hour to fellows laudanum, or, what is equivalent to without a hat; you may be a thief laudanum, subjected himself to the for aught I know;"-and with these perusal of Doctor Bowring's edition words, the landlord shut to the win- of Bentham, his slumber could not dow.

possibly have been more profound. Nothing daunted by this repulse, When he rose at a late hour next day, Miles discharged a second shower of in a state of more vigorous health, gravel against the window, hoping by bating a slight stiffness in his limbs, such means to bully the churi into a than he had known for some months, surrender. But he knew not the man he found his medical man waiting for he had to deal with; for no sooner had him in the breakfast parlour, whom he he taken aim for the third time against instantly acquainted with all the sufthe casement, than it was again open- ferings he had undergone on the preed, and down came the saponaceous ceding night. To his great astonishcontents of a wash-hand basin on his ment, the apothecary, so far from head!

condoling with him on his involuntary It was past one o'clock when a peripatetic achievements, had actually market-cart, laden with fruit and vege- the hardihood to congratulate him; tables, stopped at Waddilove's door, and even went the length of assuring and a gentleman descended from it, him that-notwithstanding his fatigues pale as the turnips among which he and vexations—he might consider bimhad been seated, shaking in every self a very lucky fellow, inasmuch as j int from excessive jolting, his the walk, by giving a wholesome sti. clothes begrimed with dust, and a mulus to his nervous system, and probandkerchief tied about his head, ducing a corresponding energy of looking as rumpled as though a quart action in the blood, had most likely of water had been but just wrung out saved him from an attack of hypoof it. And this pitiable sample of hu- chondriacism, thereby exemplifying manity was Miles Waddilove, Esquire! the truth of the old adage out of Alas, how changed from that Miles- evil cometh good." quantum mutatus ab illo Hectore!




- I wish it were all over, and we sase in her bright black eyes, " you may back again here,” said Mr Hartwell to expect, when you meet us at Paris on his good lady, as they sat at a breakour return, to find me quite a different fast parlour window of the family seat sort of person." in which he was born, and overlooked " I trust not," replied Edward his own park and the pleasant country Drayton, mournfully ; « no, no, Jane ! beyond.

remain what you are! I would not ir Really, my dear," observed Mrs have you changed- no, not in any reHartwell in reply, " to confess the spect." truth to you, I do sometimes fancy « Thank you, Edward, that's very that I wish the very same thing ; but flattering. Well, well, I believe you, still I am quite sure that we must have notwithstanding; but hark ye, sir, a very great deal of enjoyment during changed' is a word of strong imports our tour. Only think with what de. when spoken with foreboding tone, light all our neighbours speak of the and a countenance so dismal as that different places they have seen, while which I have the honour-nay, don't we can only sit and listen, and have be so very sensitive !-I mean the nothing to say."

pleasure of seeing before me, I don't “Ab, well!" sighed Mr Hartwell, like the word changed. It implies “ the die is cast; and so, go we must, suspicion, and you, less than all others, I suppose now, though for my part I ought to make use of it to me, whom care no more about foreign places nor you have known so long ;" and she foreigners than they care about me." added reproachfully, “ you cannot

6. As to that, my dear, I don't sup- seriously imagine that a few months' pose we differ much ; but then you absence from home can, by any posknow we must see them, or else we sibility, effect a change worth speakcannot say so.”

ing of in my character, my sentiments, " If there was any chance of being or my feelings." believed, I really think I could stretch “No, dear Jane, I will not ; but I a point and say so' without going, as cannot look calmly forward to the six a queer old gentleman recommended long dreary months of separation, to his son, rather than risk his neck by when you will be I know not where, descending into a coal-pit."

and associated with I know not The good lady laughed ; and then, whom." for the five hundredth time, alluded to “Why, really, my good gentleman, the advantages their daughter Jane you talk as if I was going to undertake would derive from the trip, though her an expedition into the interior of notions of their precise nature and ex- Africa, among savages, instead of tratent were by no means very distinct. velling over roads, along which, hunHow many English of late years have dreds of our own acquaintance have toiled and travelled about the Conti. passed before us; and among people nent with the same odd inducements! who claim to be even more civilized

In the library under the same roof, and polite than ourselves." two younger persons were conversing “If I were but permitted to write upon the same topic.

to you, Janc !" as I certainly am pleased at the idea or Hush, hush, Edward ! be content ; of going abroad," said Jane Hartwell, let us keep one of our promises unbroo I will not for a moment deny it. ken, at least. As for the other” Indeed, as society now is, a tour forms and she hesitated and blushed. part of one's what shall I call it ? " It is unbroken, dearest Jane! i finishing' my good governess might Do not imagine that any thing you have said ;—but you understand me, may have chanced to say in the con. I'm sure—and so, grave sir," she fidence of our friendship, as to what added, while a playful light sparkled you might be prevailed" on to do un

« AnteriorContinuar »