Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

over him here as at home, whose eye followed with equal certainty the boy and the young man. A grateful glance, full of humble devotion and yet of peaceful joy-he bends his knee-Let us leave him alone with his God.

The weakest point in the German Almanacks is, generally, the anecdotes, which require an infinity of italics to show in what the point consists. We will, however, close our paper with one or two specimens, which we regard as the best of a very shady lot. Our readers are particularly requested not to laugh.

How To Save Wood.-- Professor Taubmann, at Wittenburg, gave a student his advice how to get through the whole winter with only one cart-load of wood. “ When your wood is brought home," he said, “ have it placed in the cellar. When you begin to grow cold, carry one log after the other up-stairs till you are warm; when you grow cold again, carry it back to the cellar, which will make you warm again, and continue the process whenever you feel cold. You could not keep a tire

up cheaper.” THE Two STOCKINGS.-"Well, my dear Emily, I suppose you have been very industrious during my absence. What stocking are you knitting now?" “The second, papa.” “ Where have you put the first ?” * Papa, I shall knit that when I have finished this one."

A BERLINER, while travelling, was handed a very long bill at an hotel, in which ten silver groschen were charged for attendance, and ten more for the inevitable wax candles. He read the bill very calmly, then took the candles, which bad not been lighted, and said, solemnly, to the head waiter, “As you have charged me ten groschen for the candles, of course they are worth that sum. I have not used

them, as you see, so pray take them as your pour boire." He spoke, and left the bead-waiter pulling a terribly long face.

A Lucky IDEA.–First actor (firing a pistol). “Unnatural son, die by my hand!” (The pistol misses.) Second actor (falling on the stage). “ It is true the pistol missed fire, O my father, but I die, in obedience to your paternal wish.”

Two PASSENGERS were conversing in a railway carriage about music. One gentleman asked the other, who appeared rather simple, “Do you know the * Barber of Seville ?!" "No," the latter replied, “I always shave myself."

A Lady was desirous of purchasing a watch. The jeweller showed her, among others, a very beautiful one, remarking, at the same time, that it fent thirty-six hours. “In one day ?” the purchaser asked.

HONESTY.-“Now, you must be very honest in sharing that apple with your brother, Max.” “What is being honest, mother ?”

* You must give your brother a larger piece than you keep for yourself.” “Mother, then I would sooner Hans were honest."

We fancy this will prove sufficient for our readers—at least, it is for us—but we thought it our duty to supply a specimen of German wit. The other Almanacks we have received do not contain any speciality which would force them on our notice, although they furnish an average supply of good stories.

[blocks in formation]

The clocks were tolling the three-quarters before midnight, as a gentleman splashed through the mud and wet of the London streets, on his way to a West-end gambling-house. It was the barrister, Thomas Kage. He was not given to frequent such places on his own account, but he was in urgent search of one who was. Not a cab was to be had, and his umbrella was useless ; and glad enough was he to turn into the dark passage which led to its entrance, and shake the wet from his clothes. Dark, cold, and gloomy as it was here, inside all was light and warmth, and he was about to give the signal which would admit him to it, when the door was cautiously opened and two gentlemen came forth.

One of them, he was in her Majesty's regimentals, wore a scowling aspect : and with reason. He had become addicted to that bad vice, gambling; the worst vice, save one, that man can take to himself; and this night he had lost fearfully. Mr. Kage remained in his dark corner, but some one, who seemed to have been waiting there, glided out of the opposite one.

6 Major,” said this last, “I must speak to you." “What the mischief-brings you here ?" demanded the scowling officer.

“I have waited for you two mortal hours. I was just in time to see you enter ; and got threatened by the doorkeepers, for insisting upon going in after you. I had not the password. Can I speak a word with you, major?"

"No," answered Major Dawkes, “I want to hear nothing. You know where I live, and you might come there. Pretty behaviour, this is, to waylay an officer and a gentleman.”

“Excuse me, major, but if you play at hide-and-seek" “ Hide-and-seek," interrupted Major Dawkes.

66 What do you mean, sir?"

“ It looks like it. You can never be seen at your house, and you will not answer our letters. It has not been for pleasure that I have waited here, like a lackey, this miserable night : we might have sent a clerk, but I came myself, out of courtesy to your feelings. If I cannot speak with you, I will give you into custody: and you know the consequences of that."

The major drew aside with him, and a few words passed between them in a whisper.

“ To-morrow at twelve then, at the office,” concluded the lawyer--as he evidently was.

And
you

will do well to keep the appointment, major, this time," he significantly added: “if you do not, we will not wait another hour."

The speaker turned out of the passage into the pool at its entrance, and then waded through other pools, down the street. Major Dawkes and his friend stood watching him. The major's cab was waiting, but his man, probably not expecting him so soon, was in the public-house round the corner: somebody else's man flew to fetch him.

“ Horrid creatures these creditors are,” cried the major's friend. “But it is the most incomprehensible thing in the world, Dawkes, that you should suffer yourself to be bothered in this way. Of course it is no secret that you are up to your eyes in embarrassment; there's not a fellow in the regiment owes half what you do for play, let alone other debts : why don't you pay up, and get clear ?"

“Where's the money to do it? I don't possess a mine of gold.”

“But your wife does. She has eight or ten thousand a year, and where does it all go to ?”

“Nonsense,” peevishly uttered Major Dawkes. “My wife's income is not half as much. It would not be more than that, if her child died.”

“Oh, ay, I forgot--the best part of the money is settled on little Canterbury. Can't you touch his thousands ?”

“I should not have waited till now to do it, if I could. His thousands are tied up to accumulate. A lordly fortune, his will be, by the time he is of age.”

“But with so much money in the family-your own son's, as may be said-surely there are ways of getting at it. You might have the use of some to clear

you,
and
pay
it back at

your

leisure." “So I would, if it were not for the boy's trustee," returned the major. “ He's as tight a hand as you could find. I broached the point to him a few weeks ago ; not taking Mrs. Dawkes into my counsels ; and he cut me short with a haughty denial. He's a regular curmudgeon.”

Little thought the major that the “curmudgeon" was in the dark passage behind him-Thomas Kage.

“ Then, if things are like this, how can you go plunging into expense at the rate you do? You must have lost a cool three hundred tonight.”

“ It is in my nature to spend,” cried the major ; "and spend I must, let who will suffer."

“Well, it does seem hard that a sickly child should be keeping you out of your thousands a year.”

So hard did it seem, that Major Dawkes gave a curse to it in his heart : and another curse, spoken, to his servant, who now came up. He entered his cab, and, giving his friend a lift, was driven home : while Mr. Kag was admitted to the hidden mysteries of the house ; but with his business there we have nothing to do.

Mrs. Dawkes was at that time recovering from an illness, and had retired to rest before the major's return. He proceeded to the room above hers, which he at present occupied; but sleep he could not : anxiety prevented it, for his position was beginning to look very black. He had spoken truth when he said he was by nature a spendthrift

, and his early recklessness had compelled him to sell out of the army. He then came in contact with Mrs. Canterbury, the rich Mrs. Canterbury, as she was called, a young and lovely widow; and contriving to patch up matters for a while, so that his embarrassments were not suspected, he succeeded in becoming her second husband. Some ready money thus came into his hands, which he used ; his family also assisted him; so that he started clear again, and repurchased into the army. But his old habits retained their sway; he launched out into, not only imprudent

but sinful expenses; and they brought their consequences with them. Happy for him had they brought debt alone: but, to get himself out of one dreadful embarrassment, he obtained money upon a bill, which which-had something peculiar about it, to speak cautiously; and which nobody could be found to own. The firm who had innocently advanced the money upon it, and whose junior partner was the gentleman who had lain in wait for the major that night, would hush it up, on condition of the money being found, but, otherwise, they were threatening exposure and consequences. Other parties, to whom the major was legally, if not criminally responsible, were also threatening exposure and consequences; so that altogether the major had enough to disturb his rest. He knew quite well that if all came out that might come out-apart from the peculiar bill—he and his wife should probably be two, for the future'; and the army would drum him out of it, and society would scout him. “A nice state of affairs !" thought he ; “something must be done. What a fool I have been !"

“Something." But what? He saw but one hope—that Mr. Kage, the trustee for his stepson, would allow him the use of a few thousands of the child's large fortune. The thought of this fortune, so close at hand, yet so inaccessible to him-for, if the child died, the whole of it reverted to Mrs. Dawkes—had begun to be to the major as a very nightmare: it haunted his dreams, it haunted his daily thoughts ; it was ever present to him, sleeping or waking. Like the gold fever that fell on some of us, and sent us out to Australia, little better than eager madmen, so bad a gold fever attacked Major Dawkes. As the value of a thing, coveted, is enhanced to a fabulous height by longing, and diminished by possession, so did this fortune of little Tom Canterbury's wear, to his stepfather, an aspect of most delusive brightness. In its attainment appeared to lie the panacea for all ills, the recompense for past and present troubles, a real, golden paradise. Major Dawkes particularly disliked children, but when he had met with Mrs. Canterbury this dislike was suppressed, and to win his way to her favour he feigned a deep love for her child—of whom she was ardently fond. In striving to ingratiate himself with the boy, he had really acquired a liking for him; a mild, gentle little fellow he was, whom anybody might love ; but since this hankering after his fortune had arisen, he had grown to hate him, and to look upon him as a deadly enemy, who stood between him and light.

In the morning, the major proceeded to his engagement, and when he returned home his wife was in the drawing-room, surrounded by a bevy of visitors. Mrs. Dawkes, lovely still, but pale from recent illness, sat in their midst, elegantly attired, talking with one, laughing with another, exacting admiration from all; an adept was she in the fashion and frivolities of life. The major saw no chance of private conversation with her then.

He reappeared when the visitors were gone, and she was alone with her child, a delicate boy of six or seven years. Caroline,” said he, “send Tom away; I want to speak with you.” “ Is it nothing you can say before him?"

Are infatuated with that child that you cannot bear him out of your sight?” angrily demanded the major, who was in a most wretched mood, and particularly bitter against the child.

you so

Mrs. Dawkes was surprised : his ebullitions of temper had usually been restrained in her presence. She did not condescend to retort.

“Go to that table, Thomas, and amuse yourself with the large picturebook," she said, pointing to the far end of the room, where, if they spoke low, he would be out of hearing. "What is it ?" she coldly continued to her husband.

“My dear, you must pardon me; I am in trouble and perplexity," resumed the major, remembering that, to provoke his wife, was not exactly the best way to attain his ends. “I have been answering for the debts of a brother-officer, Caroline, and have got into difficulties through it," he continued, having rehearsed over the tale he should tell.

“Rather imprudent in you to do so, was it not ?" interrupted Mrs. Dawkes.

“I suppose it was, as things have turned out; for he died, and it all fell on me."

“ His liabilities?”

The major nodded. “ I have been trying to pay it off, as I could, and have run into debt myself in consequence. Caroline, my dear,” he added, in a sepulchral tone,“ your husband is a ruined man.”

To one who, like Mrs. Dawkes, had a splendid country mansion, and three or four thousand a year in her own right, and of which nobody's imprudence could deprive her, husband or no husband, the above announcement did not convey the dismay it would to many wives.

“ How shall you get out of the mess?" quoth she.

“ I can get out of it in two ways: one is by paying up; the other, by shooting myself."

“Ah,” said she, equably, “ people who talk of self-shooting, rarely do it. Don't be an idiot, Barnaby.”

« Caroline," he rejoined, in a tone of agitation, “ if I make light of it to you, it is to save you vexation: but I speak literally and truly, that I must pay, or-or-disappear somewhere, either into the earth or over the

“ What can be done ?” she uttered, after a pause of consternation: * we have no ready money to spare, for our expenses swallow up everything"

Our ready money would not suffice. The poor fellow was inextricably involved ; and”—he added, dropping his voice to a faint whisper -" ten or twelve thousand pounds would not more than pay it.” She gave way to a scream of dismay. Oh, Barnaby!"

“But for that deceitful old aunt of mine dying and leaving me nothing in her will (I hope there's a Protestant purgatory, and that she's in it!), I should never have had occasion to tell you this. Indeed, but for the expectation of inheriting her fortune, I should not have answered for the

“What is to be done?” repeated Mrs. Dawkes, returning to the practical consideration of the dilemma.

“One thing can be done, Caroline : you can help me out—if you will."

«I!" she repeated.

“ You can get Tom's trustee, Kage, to let me have the money. I will repay

it.”

seas.

poor fellow.”

« ПредишнаНапред »