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the lease of the house was mortgaged; but he ltill lacked four hundred pounds to complete the deficiency in his accounts.
'' Four hundred pounds," he concluded, would save me, or at least give me time to turn myself round. There are those diamonds of yours, Mall. I gave seven hundred and fifty pounds for them, and surely they ought to be good for four hundred. Mall, my own dear true wife, you must let me have those diamonds, and we must pawn them. It grieves me to the heart to do so, for you looked superb in them last night."
She blushed, turned pale, stammered, equivocated, asked what the world would say, and whether there were no other means of tiding •ver the difficulty. She was told that there were none; and as for the world, her husband eried out passionately that it might say what it liked, and go hang. She offered him all her other trinkets; he told her disdainfully that, altogether, they would not fetch a hundred pounds, and that he must have the diamonds. She said faintly that she could not let him have them. He stared at her for some moments in blank amazement; and then, passing from entreaty to command, insisted on having the jewels forthwith; adding that, if she did not instantly obey him, he would take them from her by force. Sick with terror and apprehension of discovery, the wretched woman went upstairs and returning, brought the morocco-case, and laid it tremblingly on the dining-room table. He opened the itui, and sarcastically admired the sheen and sparkle of the gems. Then he told her that early the next morning they must be taken to the pawnbrokers; but that she should go with him, and assure herself that he had been telling the truth. She remembered the falsity of the stones, and the marrow in her spine turned cold.
After a night spent in infinite and sleepless wretchedness, the cheerless morning came; and Mr. and Mrs. Mellor drove in their elegant brougham down to Beaufort Buildings, Strand, at the corner of which, at the time of which I speak, was the well-known pawnbroking establishment of Mr. Amos Scantleberry. They entered the "private office," in which loans of too much importance to be discussed in the vulgar boxes where the poor pawned their clothes were negotiated, and the diamonds were submitted to Mr. Amos Scantleberry, who was reputed to be one of the best judges of precious stones in Europe. That gentleman examined Mrs. Mellor's "diamonds" minutely, weighed and tested them, and did not hesitate for the moment in advancing on them the sum required—four hundred pounds sterling. He
paid over the amount at once in crisp banknotes, and a bond for the loan, at a rate of interest agreed upon, was made out. This document Mr. Mellor handed to his wife, telling her sardonically, that she might very soon redeem her finery if she would only practise a little economy for a time. He seemed to have become a very different personage from the Surbiton P. Mellor of the day before yesterday, and of the four happy years of their married life. At the pawnbroker's door he handed her into her brougham, and saying that he had an engagement in the city, left her.
She went home half-distracted. In the course of a few hours she was certain the spurious nature of the gems must be discovered, and her husband would be prosecuted for fraud. What was she to do? Why had she not told him the truth in the first instance? He would not have killed her, had she confessed that her real diamonds were in the custody of Madame Schumakers. But then those embezzled funds belonging to the bank, and the awful peril he was in? It was too late, and something must be done. She sat for hours revolving in her mind scheme after scheme, but none seemed practicable. At length, with shame and horror and ghastly loathing, she hit upon one which appeared feasible. She could borrow eight hundred pounds; somebody had told her so over and over again. Why had she not gone to him when the hag Schumakers pressed her? Because she was afraid and ashamed. But the worst was come now, and she must brave it.
Somebody lived in very grand style in the Albany—and in very grand style too—and was highly curled, oiled, ringed, chained, pinned, and locketed. Somebody's name was Mossby—Mr. Algernon Mossby; and somebody else—by whom may be meant everybody or anybody- - declared that the name of Algernon Mossby was only an elegant paraphrase of the less aristocratic appellation of Abraham Moses. Mr. Mossby was a frequent visitor at Gallipoli Villa; Mr. Mossby had horses and carriages and a yacht; Mr. Mossby was a gay man, a fashionable man; and Mr. Mossby admired Mrs. Surbiton P. Mellor to distraction, and had frequently insinuated that not only was his heart laid at her feet, but that his purse was at her command.
She had been a good and true wife to her husband, and had never given the oily, impudent, much bejewelled Jew any undue encouragement. She was determined to give him none now, dire as was her extremity. She went nevertheless to his chambers in the Albany within an hour after leaving Mr. Scantleberry's establishment; and she fell on her knees before Mr. Algernon Mossby, and besought him to save her from utter ruin and destruction. Mr. Mossby behaved with thorough gallantry. He admitted that eight hundred pounds was a very large sum, but he thought, he said, that he could at once oblige her with a cheque for the amount. For all security he merely required her note of hand, payable on demand for the sum of eight hundred pounds and for "value received."
"That is enough, my dear Mrs. Mellor," said Mr. Algernon Mossby, as he handed her the cheque and locked up the promissory note in his cash-box. "I will make my demand all in good time. That little scrap of writing is quite sufficient to ruin your reputation if produced; and I have no doubt, that ere I produce it we shall have arrived at a very satisfactory understanding. Allow me to conduct you to the door; the staircase is rather dark."
Half-distraught she hastened to Mr. Scantleberry's, stopping on her way at the bank to get the cheque cashed. She had still the fifty pounds which the Dutchwoman had advanced to her on the previous day; and with the eight hundred lent to her by Mr. Algernon Mossby, she felt that one great peril was at least surmounted. Mr. Scantleberry seemed somewhat surprised to see her; but on her producing the loan-bond and the requisite money, handed her over the diamonds. She hurried then to Madame Schumakers in Foley Street, who was delighted to see her; the more so, she said, as she was starting for Rotterdam that very evening. To her Mrs. Mellor handed the sum of four hundred and fifty pounds, and received her jewel-case and her own diamonds. Now she felt relieved. She would hasten back to Mr. Scantleberry's, re-pawn her diamonds, and then give Mossby back half his money. He would surely wait for the rest. It was four in the afternoon ere she reached Beaufort Buildings, and in a few half-incoherent words explained that, through unforeseen events, she was compelled to renew the transaction of the previous day. The pawnbroker bowed, observed that such things frequently happened in the way of business, and proceeded to examine the jewels—merely, he observed, as a matter of form. Mrs. Mellor felt perfectly at ease as he weighed and tested them; in this, at least, there was no fraud, she thought.
Suddenly the pawnbroker fixed upon her a searching glance.
"These are not the stones you brought me yesterday, madam," he said.
"At all events," Mrs. Mellor faltered out, "they are my own jewels, and fully worth the sum I ask upon them."
"I only know," replied Mr. Scantleberry, very slowly and deliberately, and handing her back her "diamonds," "that the stones you brought me yesterday were genuine, and of great value—and that these are F.vlse."
"False, madam; you may take them to any lapidary—to any judge of precious stones in London, and he will tell you that they are not worth ten pounds. There has been some very ugly mistake here." And with a low bow Mr. Scantleberry retired into his back office.
She found herself, she knew not how, in the street. She was now utterly, entirely ruined. She had no diamonds at all, either in pledge or in her own possession; and the accursed Mr. Algernon Mossby of the Albany held her note of hand for eight hundred pounds "for value received." She would go home, she thought, and kill herself.
"No, my darling," said Snrbiton P. Mellor that night, when she had thrown herself at his feet, and with passionate tears and outcries confessed all; "you are not ruined; no harm has come to you at all, or to me either, for the matter of that. I have merely been reading you a little lesson, to cure you of your one fault—extravagance. The diamonds I gave you on your birthday were false. I knew that, sooner or later, they would come into the possession of that Dutch beldame Schumakers; I found the hag out, and took her into my pay; I intrusted to her the real diamonds, which she gave you as imitation ones. They were the real stones we pawned, and the sham ones which you afterwards vainly endeavoured to pledge. As to Mr. Algernon Mossby, he is my very good friend and agent to command. Here is your note of hand; and it may relieve your mind to know, that I was concealed in the next room throughout your interview with that obliging gentleman in the Albany. He will come no more to this house, and he has five hundred good reasons for holding his tongue. Now, then, come and give me a kiss, and to-morrow morning I'll give you your real diamonds and your sham ones too. Only, under any circumstances, don't take either the genuine or the spurious ones to Foley Street, to Beaufort Buildings, or to the Albany."
The cure was efficacious and complete. Mrs. Surbiton P. Mellor has since made considerable additions to her jewel-case; but she has ceased to raise money either on the hypothecation of her personal effects or on notes of hand.
HOME AT LAST.
Sister Mary, come and sit
Here beside me in the bay
Of the window—ruby-lit
With the last gleams of the day.
Steeped in crimson through and through,
Glow the battlements of vapour;
While above them, in the blue,
Hesper lights his tiny taper.
Look! the rook flies westward, darling,
Flapping slowly overhead;
See, in dusky clouds the starling
Whirring to the willow bed.
Through the lakes of mist, that lie
Breast-deep in the fields below,
Underneath the darkening sky,
Home the weary reapers go.
Peace and rest at length have come,
All the day's long toil is past;
And each heart is whispering "Home—
Home at last!"
Mary! in your great gray eyes
I can see the long-represt
Grief, whose earnest look denies
That to-night each heart's at rest.
Twelve long years ago you parted—
He to India went alone;
Young and strong and hopeful-hearted—
"Oh he would not long be gone."
Twelve long years have lingered by;
Youth, and strength, and hope have fled,
Life beneath an Indian sky
Withers limb and whitens head;
But his faith has never faltered,
Time his noble heart has spared;
Yet, dear, he is sadly altered—
So he writes me. Be prepared!
I have news—good news! He says—
In this hurried note and short—
That his ship, ere many days,
Will be anchored safe in port.
Courage!—soon, dear, will he come—
Those few days will fly so fast;
Yes! he's coming, Mary -Home—
Home at last.
- - --•---•
Idle words!—yet strangely fit!
That no earthly tongue may utter.
There is a tongue in every leaf I
A voice in every rill!
A tongue that's never still 1
'Tis the Great Spirit, wide diffused
Through everything we see.
Time and Eternity.
I see Him in the blazing sun,
And in the thunder-cloud;
When winds are piping loud.
I see Him, hear Him, everywhere,
In all things—darkness, light, Silence, and Bound; but, most of all, When slumber's dusky curtains fall
At the dead hour of night.
I feel Him in the silent dews
By grateful earth betrayed; I feel Him in the gentle showers. The soft south wind, the breath of flowers,
The sunshine, and the shade.
And yet (ungrateful that I am!)
I've turned in sullen mood
That they were "very good."
My sadness on the loveliest things
Fell like unwholesome dew— The darkness that encompass'd me, The gloom I felt so palpably,
Mine own dark spirit threw.
1 Son of Thomas Hood, the author of "The Song of the Shirt." This poem is from " The Daughtcri 0/ Sing Dahtr, and other Pocmt."
Yet He was patient—slow to wrath,
Though every day provoked By selfish, pining discontent, Acceptance cold or negligent)
And promisee revoked.
And still the same rich feast was spread
For my insensate heart.—
"O Lord, how good Thou art I"
The clouds drew up, the shadows fled,
The glorious sun broke out,
Of darkness and of doubt.
Caroline Bowlsb Southsy.
THE RUSTIC WREATH.
[Mary Russell Mitford, born at Alresford, Hampshire. 16th December, 1786; died at Swallowfleld, near Reading, 10th January, 1865. The extravagance of her father. Dr. Mitford, dissipated a considerable fortune which her mother had possessed, and also mads away with £30,000 which Miai Mitford, at the age of ten, had obtained as a prize in a lottery. It was the pecuniary difficulties of her family which suggested to her the idea of authorship as a profession, and in 1806 she began her literary career with a volume of Miscellaneous Verse, which was favourably received everywhere except in the Quartrrlt/. lu the succeeding year she made a more ambitious venture, and issued Christina, or the Maid of the South Seas, a narrative poem founded on the romantic incidents which followed the mutiny of the Bounty. Her genius and persevering energy achieved the greatest success in poetry, drama, and notion. Of her plays the most notable are, Julian, a Tragedy, first performed in 1823 with Macready in the part of hero; The Foseari, a Tragedy, 1826; Rienzi, 1838 ; and Charles the First. But of all her works the most widely appreciated is Our Village: Sketches of Rural Character and Scenery. The first of these sketches appeared in the Lady's Magazine, 1819 ; they were subsequently collected, and with the additions made to them from year to year formed five volumes—the first having been published in 1824, the last in 1832. In the Nodes, Christopher North speaks of Miss Mitford as "that charming painter of rural life;" and the Shepherd says, "Oh, sir, but that leddy has a fine and bauld hand, either at a sketch or finished picture." Her Recollections of a literary Life (18S2) form a work full of useful memoranda about books, places, and people. Bentley and Son have recently published in three volumes a life of Miss Mitford, "told by herself in letters to her friends." It is edited by the Rev. A. G. I/Estrange, and has an introductory memoir by the late Rev. William Harness, her literary executor.]
I had taken refuge in a harvest-field belonging to my good neighbour, Parmer Creswell: • beautiful child lay on the ground, at some
little distance, whilst a young girl, resting from the labour of reaping, was twisting a rustic wreath—enamelled corn-flowers, brilliant poppies, snow-white lily-bines, and light fragile harebells, mingled with tufts of the richest wheat-ears—around its hat.
There was something in the tender youthfulness of these two innocent creatures, in the pretty, though somewhat fantastic, occupation of the girl, the fresh wild flowers, the ripe and swelling corn, that harmonized with the season and the hour, and conjured up memories of "Dis and Proserpine," and of all that is gorgeous and graceful in old mythology—of the lovely Lavinia of our own poet, and of that finest pastoral in the world, the far lovelier Ruth. But these fanciful associations soon vanished before the real sympathy excited by the actors of the scene, both of whom were known to me, and both objects of a sincere and lively interest.
The young girl, Dora Creswell, was the orphan niece of one of the wealthiest yeomen in our part of the world, the only child of hia only brother; and, having lost both her parents whilst still an infant, had been reared by her widowed uncle as fondly and carefully as his own son Walter. He said that he loved her quite as well, perhaps he loved her better; for, although it were impossible for a father not to be proud of the bold, handsome youth, who at eighteen had a man's strength and a man's stature, was the best ringer, the best cricketer, and the best shot in the county, yet the fair Dora, who, nearly ten years younger, was at once his handmaid, his housekeeper, his plaything, and his companion, was evidently the very apple of his eye. Our good farmer vaunted her accomplishments, as men of his class are wont to boast of a high-bred horse or a favourite greyhound. She could make a shirt and a pudding, darn stockings, rear poultry, keep accounts, and read the newspaper: was as famous for gooseberry wine as Mrs. Primrose, and could compound a syllabub with any dairy-woman in the county. There was not such a handy little creature anywhere; so thoughtful and trusty about the house, and yet, out of doors, as gay as a lark, and as wild as the wind—nobody was like his Dora. So said and so thought Farmer Creswell; and, before Dora was ten years old, he had resolved that, in due time, she should marry his son Walter, and had informed both parties of his intention.
Now, Farmer Creswell's intentions were well known to be as unchangeable as the laws of the Medes and Persians. He was a fair specimen of an English yeoman, a tall, square-built, muscular man, stout and active, with a resolute countenance, a keen eye, and an intelligent smile: his temper was boisterous and irascible, generous and kind to those whom he loved, but quick to take offence, and slow to pardon, expecting and exacting implicit obedience from all about him. With all Dora's good gifts, the sweet and yielding nature of the gentle and submissive little girl was undoubtedly the chief cause of her uncle's partiality. Above all, he was obstinate in the very highest degree, had never been known to yield a point or change a resolution; and the fault was the more inveterate because he called it firmness, and accounted it a virtue. For the rest, he was a person of excellent principle and perfect integrity; clear-headed, prudent, and sagacious; fond of agricultural experiments, and pursuing them cautiously and successfully; a good farmer, and a good man.
His son, Walter, who was, in person, a handsome likeness of his father, resembled him also in many points of character; was equally obstinate, and far more fiery, hot, and bold. He loved his pretty cousin much as he would have loved a favourite sister, and might, very possibly, if let alone, have become attached to her as his father wished: but to be dictated to, to be chained down to a distant engagement; to hold himself bound to a mere child—the very idea was absurd — and restraining, with difficulty, an abrupt denial, he walked down into the village, predisposed, out of sheer contradiction, to fall in love with the first young woman who should come in his way—and he did fall in love accordingly.
Mary Hay, the object of his ill-fated passion, was the daughter of the respectable mistress of a small endowed school at the other side of the parish. She was a delicate, interesting creature, with a slight drooping figure, and a fair, downcast face like a snow-drop, forming such a contrast with her gay and gallant wooer, as Love, in his vagaries, is often pleased to bring together. The courtship was secret and tedious, and prolonged from months to years; for Mary shrank from the painful contest which she knew that an avowal of their attachment would occasion. At length her mother died, and, deprived of a home and maintenance, she reluctantly consented to a private marriage. An immediate discovery ensued, and was followed by all the evils, and more than all, that her worst fears had anticipated. Her husband was turned from the house of his father, and, in less than three months, his death, by an inflammatory fever,
left her a desolate and penniless widow, unowned and unassisted by the stern parent, on whose unrelenting temper neither the death of his son nor the birth of his grandson seemed to make the slightest impression. But for the general sympathy excited by the deplorable situation, and blameless deportment, of the widowed bride, she and her infant must have taken refuge in the workhouse. The whole neighbourhood was zealous to relieve and to serve them ; but their most liberal benefactress, their most devoted friend, was poor Dora. Considering her uncle's partiality to herself as the primary cause of all this misery, she felt like a guilty creature; and casting off at once her native timidity and habitual submission, she had repeatedly braved his anger by the most earnest supplications for mercy and for pardon; and when this proved unavailing, she tried to mitigate their distresses by all the assistance that her small means would admit. Every shilling of her pocket-money she expended on her dear cousins; worked for them, begged for them, and transferred to them every present that was made to herself, from the silk frock to a penny tartlet. Everything that was her own she gave, but nothing of her uncle's; for, though sorely tempted to transfer some of the plenty around her to those whose claim seemed so just, and whose need was so urgent, Dora felt that she was trusted, and that she must prove herself trustworthy.
Such was the posture of affairs at the time of my encounter with Dora and little Walter in the harvest field: the rest will be best told in the course of our dialogue:—
"And so, madam, I cannot bear to see my dear cousin Mary so sick and so melancholy; and the dear, dear child, that a king might be proud of—only look at him!" exclaimed Dora, interrupting herself, as the beautiful child, sitting on the ground, in all the placid dignity of infancy, looked up at me, and smiled in my face. "Only look at him!" continued she, "and think of that dear boy and his dear mother living on charity, and they my uncle's lawful heirs, whilst I, that have no right whatsoever, no claim, none at all, I that, compared to them, am but a far-off kinswoman, the mere creature of his bounty, should revel in comfort and in plenty, and they starving! I cannot bear it, and I will not. And then the wrong that he is doing himself; he that is really so good and kind, to be called a hardhearted tyrant by the whole country side. And he is unhappy himself, too; 1 know that he is. So tired as he comes home, he will walk about bis room half the night; and often,