WHAT WILL HE DO WITH IT
By "Pisistratus Caxton"
IN TWO VOLUMES
WHAT WILL HE DO WITH IT?
In which the history opens with a description of the social manners, habits, and amusements of the English People, as exhibited in an immemorial National Festivity.—Characters to be commemorated in the history, introduced and graphically portrayed, with a nasological illustration.—Original suggestions as to the idiosyncrasies engendered by trades and callings, with other matters worthy of note, conveyed in artless dialogue after the manner of Herodotus, Father of History (mother unknown).
It was a summer fair in one of the prettiest villages in Surrey. The main street was lined with booths, abounding in toys, gleaming crockery, gay ribbons, and gilded ginger bread. Farther on, where the street widened into the ample village-green, rose the more pretending fabrics which lodged the attractive forms of the Mermaid, the Norfolk Giant; the Pig-faced Lady, the Spotted Boy, and the Calf with Two Heads; while high over even these edifices, and occupying the most conspicuous vantage-ground, a lofty stage promised to rural playgoers the "Grand Melodramatic Performance of The Remorseless Baron and the Bandit's Child." Music, lively if artless, resounded on every side,—drums, fifes, penny-whistles, cat-calls, and a hand-organ played by a dark foreigner, from the height of whose shoulder a cynical but observant monkey eyed the hubbub and cracked his nuts.
It was now sunset,—the throng at the fullest,—an animated, joyous scene. The, day had been sultry; no clouds were to be seen, except low on the western horizon, where they stretched, in lengthened ridges of gold and purple, like the border-land between earth and sky. The tall elms on the green were still, save, near the great stage, one or two, upon which had climbed young urchins, whose laughing faces peered forth, here and there, from the foliage trembling under their restless movements.
Amidst the crowd, as it streamed saunteringly along, were two spectators; strangers to the place, as was notably proved by the attention they excited, and the broad jokes their dress and appearance provoked from the rustic wits,—jokes which they took with amused good-humour, and sometimes retaliated with a zest which had already made them very popular personages. Indeed, there was that about them which propitiated liking. They were young; and the freshness of enjoyment was so visible in their faces, that it begot a sympathy, and wherever they went, other faces brightened round them.
One of the two whom we have thus individualized was of that enviable age, ranging from five-and-twenty to seven-and-twenty, in which, if a man cannot contrive to make life very pleasant,—pitiable indeed must be the state of his digestive organs. But you might see by this gentleman's countenance that if there were many like him, it would be a worse world for the doctors. His cheek, though not highly coloured, was yet ruddy and clear; his hazel eyes were lively and keen; his hair, which escaped in loose clusters from a jean shooting-cap set jauntily on a well-shaped head, was of that deep sunny auburn rarely seen but in persons of vigorous and hardy temperament. He was good-looking on the whole, and would have deserved the more flattering epithet of handsome, but for his nose, which was what the French call "a nose in the air,"—not a nose supercilious, not a nose provocative, as such noses mostly are, but a nose decidedly in earnest to make the best of itself and of things in general,—a nose that would push its way up in life, but so pleasantly that the most irritable fingers would never itch to lay hold of it. With such a nose a man might play the violoncello, marry for love, or even write poetry, and yet not go to the dogs.
Never would he stick in the mud so long as he followed that nose in the air.
By the help of that nose this gentleman wore a black velveteen jacket of foreign cut; a mustache and imperial (then much rarer in England than they have been since the Siege of Sebastopol); and yet left you perfectly convinced that he was an honest Englishman, who had not only no designs on your pocket, but would not be easily duped by any designs upon his own.
The companion of the personage thus sketched might be somewhere about seventeen; but his gait, his air, his lithe, vigorous frame, showed a manliness at variance with the boyish bloom of his face. He struck the eye much more than his elder comrade. Not that he was regularly handsome,—far from it; yet it is no paradox to say that he was beautiful, at least, few indeed were the women who would not have called him so. His hair, long like his friend's, was of a dark chestnut, with gold gleaming through it where the sun fell, inclining to curl, and singularly soft and silken in its texture. His large, clear, dark-blue, happy eyes were fringed with long ebon lashes, and set under brows which already wore the expression of intellectual power, and, better still, of frank courage and open loyalty. His complexion was fair, and somewhat pale, and his lips in laughing showed teeth exquisitely white and even. But though his profile was clearly cut, it was far from the Greek ideal; and he wanted the height of stature which is usually considered essential to the personal pretensions of the male sex. Without being positively short, he was still under middle height, and from the compact development of his proportions, seemed already to have attained his full growth. His dress, though not foreign, like his comrade's, was peculiar: a broad-brimmed straw hat, with a wide blue ribbon; shirt collar turned down, leaving the throat bare; a dark-green jacket of thinner material than cloth; white trousers and waistcoat completed his costume. He looked like a mother's darling,—perhaps he was one.
Scratch across his back went one of those ingenious mechanical contrivances familiarly in vogue at fairs, which are designed to impress upon the victim to whom they are applied, the pleasing conviction that his garment is rent in twain.
The boy turned round so quickly that he caught the arm of the offender,—a pretty village-girl, a year or two younger than himself. "Found in the act, sentenced, punished," cried he, snatching a kiss, and receiving a gentle slap. "And now, good for evil, here's a ribbon for you; choose."
The girl slunk back shyly, but her companions pushed her forward, and she ended by selecting a cherry-coloured ribbon, for which the boy paid carelessly, while his elder and wiser friend looked at him with grave, compassionate rebuke, and grumbled out,—"Dr. Franklin tells us that once in his life he paid too dear for a whistle; but then he was only seven years old, and a whistle has its uses. But to pay such a price for a scratch-back!—Prodigal! Come along."
As the friends strolled on, naturally enough all the young girls who wished for ribbons, and were possessed of scratch-backs, followed in their wake. Scratch went the instrument, but in vain.
"Lasses," said the elder, turning sharply upon them his nose in the air, "ribbons are plentiful,—shillings scarce; and kisses, though pleasant in private, are insipid in public. What, still! Beware! know that, innocent as we seem, we are women-eaters; and if you follow us farther, you are devoured!" So saying, he expanded his jaws to a width so preternaturally large, and exhibited a row of grinders so formidable, that the girls fell back in consternation. The friends turned down a narrow alley between the booths, and though still pursued by some adventurous and mercenary spirits, were comparatively undisturbed as they threaded their way along the back of the booths, and arrived at last on the village-green, and in front of the Great Stage.
"Oho, Lionel!" quoth the elder friend; "Thespian and classical,—worth seeing, no doubt." Then turning to a grave cobbler in leathern apron, who was regarding with saturnine interest the motley figures ranged in front of the curtain as the Drumatis Persona, he said, "You seem attracted, sir; you have probably already witnessed the performance." "Yes," returned the Cobbler; "this is the third day, and to-morrow's the last. I are n't missed once yet, and I sha' n't miss; but it are n't what it was a while back."
"'That is sad; but then the same thing is said of everything by everybody who has reached your respectable age, friend. Summers, and suns, stupid old watering-places, and pretty young women, 'are n't what they were a while back.' If men and things go on degenerating in this way, our grandchildren will have a dull time of it."
The Cobbler eyed the young man, and nodded approvingly. He had sense enough to comprehend the ironical philosophy of the reply; and our Cobbler loved talk out of the common way. "You speaks truly and cleverly, sir. But if old folks do always say that things are worse than they were, ben't there always summat in what is always said? I'm for the old times; my neighbour, Joe Spruce, is for the new, and says we are all a-progressing. But he 's a pink; I 'm a blue."
"You are a blue?" said the boy Lionel; "I don't understand."
"Young 'un, I'm a Tory,—that's blue; and Spruce is a Rad,—that's pink! And, what is more to the purpose, he is a tailor, and I'm a cobbler."
"Aha!" said the elder, with much interest; "more to the purpose is it? How so?"
The Cobbler put the forefinger of the right hand on the forefinger of the left; it is the gesture of a man about to ratiocinate or demonstrate, as Quintilian, in his remarks on the oratory of fingers, probably observes; or if he has failed to do so, it is a blot in his essay.
"You see, sir," quoth the Cobbler, "that a man's business has a deal to do with his manner of thinking. Every trade, I take it, has ideas as belong to it. Butchers don't see life as bakers do; and if you talk to a dozen tallow-chandlers, then to a dozen blacksmiths, you will see tallow-chandlers are peculiar, and blacksmiths too."
"You are a keen observer," said he of the jean cap, admiringly; "your remark is new to me; I dare say it is true."
"Course it is; and the stars have summat to do with it; for if they order a man's calling, it stands to reason that they order a man's mind to fit it. Now, a tailor sits on his board with others, and is always a-talking with 'em, and a-reading the news; therefore he thinks, as his fellows do, smart and sharp, bang up to the day, but nothing 'riginal and all his own, like. But a cobbler," continued the man of leather, with a majestic air, "sits by hisself, and talks with hisself; and what he thinks gets into his head without being put there by another man's tongue."
"You enlighten me more and more," said our friend with the nose in the air, bowing respectfully,—"a tailor is gregarious, a cobbler solitary. The gregarious go with the future, the solitary stick by the past. I understand why you are a Tory and perhaps a poet."
"Well, a bit of one," said the Cobbler, with an iron smile. "And many 's the cobbler who is a poet,—or discovers marvellous things in a crystal,—whereas a tailor, sir" (spoken with great contempt), "only sees the upper leather of the world's sole in a newspaper."
Here the conversation was interrupted by a sudden pressure of the crowd towards the theatre. The two young friends looked up, and saw that the new object of attraction was a little girl, who seemed scarcely ten years old, though in truth she was about two years older. She had just emerged from behind the curtain, made her obeisance to the crowd, and was now walking in front of the stage with the prettiest possible air of infantine solemnity. "Poor little thing!" said Lionel. "Poor little thing!" said the Cobbler. And had you been there, my reader, ten to one but you would have said the same. And yet she was attired in white satin, with spangled flounces and a tinsel jacket; and she wore a wreath of flowers (to be sure, the flowers were not real) on her long fair curls, with gaudy bracelets (to be sure, the stones were mock) on her slender arms. Still there was something in her that all this finery could not vulgarize; and since it could not vulgarize, you pitied her for it. She had one of those charming faces that look straight into the hearts of us all, young and old. And though she seemed quite self-possessed, there was no effrontery in her air, but the ease of a little lady, with a simple child's unconsciousness that there was anything in her situation to induce you to sigh, "Poor thing!"
"You should see her act, young gents," said the Cobbler: "she plays uncommon. But if you had seen him as taught her,—seen him a year ago."
"Waife, sir; mayhap you have heard speak of Waife?"
"I blush to say, no."
"Why, he might have made his fortune at Common Garden; but that's a long story. Poor fellow! he's broke down now, anyhow. But she takes care of him, little darling: God bless thee!" and the Cobbler here exchanged a smile and a nod with the little girl, whose face brightened when she saw him amidst the crowd.
"By the brush and pallet of Raphael!" cried the elder of the young men, "before I am many hours older I must have that child's head!"
"Her head, man!" cried the Cobbler, aghast.
"In my sketch-book. You are a poet,—I a painter. You know the little girl?"
"Don't I! She and her grandfather lodge with me; her grandfather,—that's Waife,—marvellous man! But they ill-uses him; and if it warn't for her, he'd starve. He fed them all once: he can feed them no longer; he'd starve. That's the world: they use up a genus, and when it falls on the road, push on; that's what Joe Spruce calls a-progressing. But there's the drum! they're a-going to act; won't you look in, gents?"
"Of course," cried Lionel,—"of course. And, hark ye, Vance, we'll toss up which shall be the first to take that little girl's head."
"Murderer in either sense of the word!" said Vance, with a smile that would have become Correggio if a tyro had offered to toss up which should be the first to paint a cherub.
The historian takes a view of the British stage as represented by the irregular drama, the regular having (ere the date of the events to which this narrative is restricted) disappeared from the vestiges of creation.
They entered the little theatre, and the Cobbler with them; but the last retired modestly to the threepenny row. The young gentlemen were favoured with reserved seats, price one shilling. "Very dear," murmured Vance, as he carefully buttoned the pocket to which he restored a purse woven from links of steel, after the fashion of chain mail. Ah, Messieurs and Confreres the Dramatic Authors, do not flatter yourselves that we are about to give you a complacent triumph over the Grand Melodrame of "The Remorseless Baron and the Bandit's Child." We grant it was horrible rubbish, regarded in an aesthetic point of view, but it was mighty effective in the theatrical. Nobody yawned; you did not even hear a cough, nor the cry of that omnipresent baby, who is always sure to set up an unappeasable wail in the midmost interest of a classical five-act piece, represented for the first time on the metropolitan boards. Here the story rushed on, per fas aut nefas, and the audience went with it. Certes, some man who understood the stage must have put the incidents together, and then left it to each illiterate histrio to find the words,—words, my dear confreres, signify so little in an acting play. The movement is the thing. Grand secret! Analyze, practise it, and restore to grateful stars that lost Pleiad the British Acting Drama.
Of course the Bandit was an ill-used and most estimable man. He had some mysterious rights to the Estate and Castle of the Remorseless Baron. That titled usurper, therefore, did all in his power to hunt the Bandit out in his fastnesses and bring him to a bloody end. Here the interest centred itself in the Bandit's child, who, we need not say, was the little girl in the wreath and spangles, styled in the playbill "Miss Juliet Araminta Wife," and the incidents consisted in her various devices to foil the pursuit of the Baron and save her father. Some of these incidents were indebted to the Comic Muse, and kept the audience in a broad laugh. Her arch playfulness here was exquisite. With what vivacity she duped the High Sheriff, who had the commands of his king to take the Bandit alive or dead, into the belief that the very Lawyer employed by the Baron was the criminal in disguise, and what pearly teeth she showed when the Lawyer was seized and gagged! how dexterously she ascertained the weak point in the character of the "King's Lieutenant" (jeune premier), who was deputed by his royal master to aid the Remorseless Baron in trouncing the Bandit! how cunningly she learned that he was in love with the Baron's ward (jeune amoureuse), whom that unworthy noble intended to force into a marriage with himself on account of her fortune! how prettily she passed notes to and fro, the Lieutenant never suspecting that she was the Bandit's child, and at last got the king's soldier on her side, as the event proved! And oh, how gayly, and with what mimic art, she stole into the Baron's castle, disguised as a witch, startled his conscience with revelations and predictions, frightened all the vassals with blue lights and chemical illusions, and venturing even into the usurper's own private chamber, while the tyrant was tossing restless on the couch, over which hung his terrible sword, abstracted from his coffer the deeds that proved the better rights of the persecuted Bandit! Then, when he woke before she could escape with her treasure, and pursued her with his sword, with what glee she apparently set herself on fire, and skipped out of the casement in an explosion of crackers! And when the drama approached its denouement, when the Baron's men, and the royal officers of justice, had, despite all her arts, tracked the Bandit to the cave, in which, after various retreats, he lay hidden, wounded by shots, and bruised by a fall from a precipice,—with what admirable byplay she hovered around the spot, with what pathos she sought to decoy away the pursuers! it was the skylark playing round the nest. And when all was vain,—when, no longer to be deceived, the enemies sought to seize her, how mockingly she eluded them, bounded up the rock, and shook her slight finger at them in scorn! Surely she will save that estimable Bandit still! Now, hitherto, though the Bandit was the nominal hero of the piece, though you were always hearing of him,—his wrongs, virtues, hairbreadth escapes,—he had never been seen. Not Mrs. Harris, in the immortal narrative, was more quoted and more mythical. But in the last scene there was the Bandit, there in his cavern, helpless with bruises and wounds, lying on a rock. In rushed the enemies, Baron, High Sheriff, and all, to seize him. Not a word spoke the Bandit, but his attitude was sublime,—even Vance cried "bravo;" and just as he is seized, halter round his neck, and about to be hanged, down from the chasm above leaps his child, holding the title-deeds, filched from the Baron, and by her side the King's Lieutenant, who proclaims the Bandit's pardon, with due restoration to his honours and estates, and consigns to the astounded Sheriff the august person of the Remorseless Baron. Then the affecting scene, father and child in each other's arms; and then an exclamation, which had been long hovering about the lips of many of the audience, broke out, "Waife, Waife!" Yes, the Bandit, who appeared but in the last scene, and even then uttered not a word, was the once great actor on that itinerant Thespian stage, known through many a fair for his exuberant humour, his impromptu jokes, his arch eye, his redundant life of drollery, and the strange pathos or dignity with which he could suddenly exalt a jester's part, and call forth tears in the startled hush of laughter; he whom the Cobbler had rightly said, "might have made a fortune at Covent Garden." There was the remnant of the old popular mime!—all his attributes of eloquence reduced to dumb show! Masterly touch of nature and of art in this representation of him,—touch which all who had ever in former years seen and heard him on that stage felt simultaneously. He came in for his personal portion of dramatic tears. "Waife, Waife!" cried many a village voice, as the little girl led him to the front of the stage.
He hobbled; there was a bandage round his eyes. The plot, in describing the accident that had befallen the Bandit, idealized the genuine infirmities of the man,—infirmities that had befallen him since last seen in that village. He was blind of one eye; he had become crippled; some malady of the trachea or larynx had seemingly broken up the once joyous key of the old pleasant voice. He did not trust himself to speak, even on that stage, but silently bent his head to the rustic audience; and Vance, who was an habitual playgoer, saw in that simple salutation that the man was an artistic actor. All was over, the audience streamed out, much affected, and talking one to the other. It had not been at all like the ordinary stage exhibitions at a village fair. Vance and Lionel exchanged looks of surprise, and then, by a common impulse, moved towards the stage, pushed aside the curtain, which had fallen, and were in that strange world which has so many reduplications, fragments of one broken mirror, whether in the proudest theatre or the lowliest barn,—nay, whether in the palace of kings, the cabinet of statesmen, the home of domestic life,—the world we call "Behind the Scenes."
Striking illustrations of lawless tyranny and infant avarice exemplified in the social conditions of Great Britain.— Superstitions of the dark ages still in force amongst the trading community, furnishing valuable hints to certain American journalists, and highly suggestive of reflections humiliating to the national vanity.
The Remorseless Baron, who was no other than the managerial proprietor of the stage, was leaning against a side-scene with a pot of porter in his hand. The King's Lieutenant might be seen on the background, toasting a piece of cheese on the point of his loyal sword. The Bandit had crept into a corner, and the little girl was clinging to him fondly as his hand was stroking her fair hair. Vance looked round, and approached the Bandit,—"Sir, allow me to congratulate you; your bow was admirable. I have never seen John Kemble; before my time: but I shall fancy I have seen him now,—seen him on the night of his retirement from the stage. As to your grandchild, Miss Juliet Araminta, she is a perfect chrysolite."
Before Mr. Waife could reply, the Remorseless Baron stepped up in a spirit worthy of his odious and arbitrary character. "What do you do here, sir? I allow no conspirators behind the scenes earwigging my people."
"I beg pardon respectfully: I am an artist,—a pupil of the Royal Academy; I should like to make a sketch of Miss Juliet Araminta."
"Sir," said Lionel, with the seasonable extravagance of early youth, "my friend would, I am sure, pay for the sitting—handsomely!"
"Ha!" said the manager, softened, "you speak like a gentleman, sir: but, sir, Miss Juliet Araminta is under my protection; in fact, she is my property. Call and speak to me about it to-morrow, before the first performance begins, which is twelve o'clock. Happy to see any of your friends in the reserved seats. Busy now, and—and—in short—excuse me—servant, sir—servant, sir."
The Baron's manner left no room for further parley. Vance bowed, smiled, and retreated. But meanwhile his young friend had seized the opportunity to speak both to Waife and his grandchild; and when Vance took his arm and drew him away, there was a puzzled, musing expression on Lionel's face, and he remained silent till they had got through the press of such stragglers as still loitered before the stage, and were in a quiet corner of the sward. Stars and moon were then up,—a lovely summer night.
"What on earth are you thinking of, Lionel? I have put to you three questions, and you have not answered one."
"Vance," answered Lionel, slowly, "the oddest thing! I am so disappointed in that little girl,—greedy and mercenary!"
"Precocious villain! how do you know that she is greedy and mercenary?"
"Listen: when that surly old manager came up to you, I said something—civil, of course—to Waife, who answered in a hoarse, broken voice, but in very good language. Well, when I told the manager that you would pay for the sitting, the child caught hold of my arm hastily, pulled me down to her own height, and whispered, 'How much will he give?' Confused by a question so point-blank, I answered at random, 'I don't know; ten shillings, perhaps.' You should have seen her face!"
"See her face! radiant,—I should think so. Too much by half!" exclaimed Vance. "Ten shillings! Spendthrift!" "Too much! she looked as you might look if one offered you ten shillings for your picture of 'Julius Caesar considering whether he should cross the Rubicon.' But when the manager had declared her to be his property, and appointed you to call to-morrow,—implying that he was to be paid for allowing her to sit,—her countenance became overcast, and she muttered sullenly, 'I'll not sit; I'll not!' Then she turned to her grandfather, and something very quick and close was whispered between the two; and she pulled me by the sleeve, and said in my ear—oh, but so eagerly!—'I want three pounds, sir,—three pounds!—if he would give three pounds; and come to our lodgings,—Mr. Merle, Willow Lane. Three pounds,—three!' And with those words hissing in my ear, and coming from that fairy mouth, which ought to drop pearls and diamonds, I left her," added Lionel, as gravely as if he were sixty, "and lost an illusion!"
"Three pounds!" cried Vance, raising his eyebrows to the highest arch of astonishment, and lifting his nose in the air towards the majestic moon,—"three pounds!—a fabulous sum! Who has three pounds to throw away? Dukes, with a hundred thousand a year in acres, have not three pounds to draw out of their pockets in that reckless, profligate manner. Three pounds!—what could I not buy for three pounds? I could buy the Dramatic Library, bound in calf, for three pounds; I could buy a dress coat for three pounds (silk lining not included); I could be lodged for a month for three pounds! And a jade in tinsel, just entering on her teens, to ask three pounds for what? for becoming immortal on the canvas of Francis Vance?—bother!"
Here Vance felt a touch on his shoulder. He turned round quickly, as a man out of temper does under similar circumstances, and beheld the sweat face of the Cobbler.
"Well, master, did not she act fine?—how d'ye like her?"
"Not much in her natural character; but she sets a mighty high value on herself."
"Anan, I don't take you."
"She'll not catch me taking her! Three pounds!—three kingdoms! Stay," cried Lionel to the Cobbler; "did not you say she lodged with you? Are you Mr. Merle?"
"Merle's my name, and she do lodge with me,—Willow Lane."
"Come this way, then, a few yards down the road,—more quiet. Tell me what the child means, if you can;" and Lionel related the offer of his friend, the reply of the manager, and the grasping avarice of Miss Juliet Araminta.
The Cobbler made no answer; and when the young friends, surprised at his silence, turned to look at him, they saw he was wiping his eyes with his sleeves.
"Poor little thing!" he said at last, and still more pathetically than he had uttered the same words at her appearance in front of the stage; "'tis all for her grandfather; I guess,—I guess."
"Oh," cried Lionel, joyfully, "I am so glad to think that. It alters the whole case, you see, Vance."
"It don't alter the case of the three pounds," grumbled Vance. "What's her grandfather to me, that I should give his grandchild three pounds, when any other child in the village would have leaped out of her skin to have her face upon my sketch-book and five shillings in her pocket? Hang her grandfather!"
They were now in the main road. The Cobbler seated himself on a lonely milestone, and looked first at one of the faces before him, then at the other; that of Lionel seemed to attract him the most, and in speaking it was Lionel whom he addressed.
"Young master," he said, "it is now just four years ago, when Mr. Rugge, coming here, as he and his troop had done at fair-time ever sin' I can mind of, brought with him the man you have seen to-night, William Waife; I calls him Gentleman Waife. However that man fell into sick straits, how he came to join sich a caravan, would puzzle most heads. It puzzles Joe Spruce, uncommon; it don't puzzle me."
"Why?" asked Vance.
"Cos of Saturn!"
"Saturn,—dead agin his Second and Tenth House, I'll swear. Lord of Ascendant, mayhap; in combustion of the Sun,—who knows?"
"You're not an astrologer?" said Vance, suspiciously, edging off.
"Bit of it; no offence."
"What does it signify?" said Lionel, impatiently; "go on. So you called Mr. Waife 'Gentleman Waife;' and if you had not been an astrologer you would have been puzzled to see him in such a calling."
"Ay, that's it; for he warn't like any as we ever see on these boards hereabouts; and yet he warn't exactly like a Lunnon actor, as I have seen 'em in Lunnon, either, but more like a clever fellow who acted for the spree of the thing. He had sich droll jests, and looked so comical, yet not commonlike, but always what I calls a gentleman,—just as if one o' ye two were doing a bit of sport to please your friends. Well, he drew hugely, and so he did, every time he came, so that the great families in the neighbourhood would go to hear him; and he lodged in my house, and had pleasant ways with him, and was what I call a scollard. But still I don't want to deceive ye, and I should judge him to have been a wild dog in his day. Mercury ill-aspected,—not a doubt of it. Last year it so happened that one of the great gents who belong to a Lunnon theatre was here at fair-time. Whether he had heard of Waife chanceways, and come express to judge for hisself, I can't say; like eno'. And when he had seen Gentleman Waife act, he sent for him to the inn—Red Lion—and offered him a power o' money to go to Lunnon,—Common Garden. Well, sir, Waife did not take to it all at once, but hemmed and hawed, and was at last quite coaxed into it, and so he went. But bad luck came on it; and I knew there would, for I saw it all in my crystal."
"Oh," exclaimed Vance, "a crystal, too; really it is getting late, and if you had your crystal about you, you might see that we want to sup."
"What happened?" asked Lionel, more blandly, for he saw the Cobbler, who had meant to make a great effect by the introduction of the crystal, was offended.
"What happened? why, just what I foreseed. There was an accident in the railway 'tween this and Lunnon, and poor Waife lost an eye, and was a cripple for life: so he could not go on the Lunnon stage at all; and what was worse, he was a long time atwixt life and death, and got summat bad on his chest wi' catching cold, and lost his voice, and became the sad object you have gazed on, young happy things that ye are."
"But he got some compensation from the railway, I suppose?" said Vance, with the unfeeling equanimity of a stoical demon.
"He did, and spent it. I suppose the gentleman broke out in him as soon as he had money, and, ill though he was, the money went. Then it seems he had no help for it but to try and get back to Mr. Rugge. But Mr. Rugge was sore and spiteful at his leaving; for Rugge counted on him, and had even thought of taking the huge theatre at York, and bringing out Gentleman Waife as his trump card. But it warn't fated, and Rugge thought himself ill-used, and so at first he would have nothing more to say to Waife. And truth is, what could the poor man do for Rugge? But then Waife produces little Sophy."
"You mean Juliet Araminta?" said Vance.
"Same—in private life she be Sophy. And Waife taught her to act, and put together the plays for her. And Rugge caught at her; and she supports Waife with what she gets; for Rugge only gives him four shillings a week, and that goes on 'baccy and such like."
"Such like—drink, I presume?" said Vance.
"No—he don't drink. But he do smoke, and he has little genteel ways with him, and four shillings goes on 'em. And they have been about the country this spring, and done well, and now they be here. But Rugge behaves shocking hard to both on 'em: and I don't believe he has any right to her in law, as he pretends,—only a sort of understanding which she and her grandfather could break if they pleased; and that's what they wish to do, and that's why little Sophy wants the three pounds."
"How?" cried Lionel, eagerly. "If they had three pounds could they get away? and if they did, how could they live? Where could they go?"
"That's their secret. But I heard Waife say—the first night they came here—I that if he could get three pounds, he had hit on a plan to be independent like. I tell you what put his back up: it was Rugge insisting on his coming on the stage agin, for he did not like to be seen such a wreck. But he was forced to give in; and so he contrived to cut up that play-story, and appear hisself at the last without speaking."
"My good friend," cried young Lionel, "we are greatly obliged to you for your story; and we should much like to see little Sophy and her grandfather at your house to-morrow,—can we?"
"Certain sure you can, after the play's over; to-night, if you like."
"No, to-morrow: you see my friend is impatient to get back now; we will call to-morrow."
"'T is the last day of their stay," said the Cobbler. "But you can't be sure to see them safely at my house afore ten o'clock at night; and not a word to Rugge! mum!"
"Not a word to Rugge," returned Lionel; "good-night to you."
The young men left the Cobbler still seated on the milestone, gazing on the stars and ruminating. They walked briskly down the road.
"It is I who have had the talk now," said Lionel, in his softest tone. He was bent on coaxing three pounds out of his richer friend, and that might require some management. For amongst the wild youngsters in Mr. Vance's profession, there ran many a joke at the skill with which he parried irregular assaults on his purse; and that gentleman, with his nose more than usually in the air, having once observed to such scoffers "that they were quite welcome to any joke at his expense," a wag had exclaimed, "At your expense! Don't fear; if a joke were worth a farthing, you would never give that permission."
So when Lionel made that innocent remark, the softness of his tone warned the artist of some snake in the grass, and he prudently remained silent. Lionel, in a voice still sweeter, repeated,—"It is I who have all the talk now!"
"Naturally," then returned Vance, "naturally you have, for it is you, I suspect, who alone have the intention to pay for it, and three pounds appear to be the price. Dearish, eh?"
"Ah, Vance, if I had three pounds!"
"Tush; and say no more till we have supped. I have the hunger of a wolf."
Just in sight of the next milestone the young travellers turned a few yards down a green lane, and reached a small inn on the banks of the Thames. Here they had sojourned for the last few days, sketching, boating, roaming about the country from sunrise, and returning to supper and bed at nightfall. It was the pleasantest little inn,—an arbour, covered with honeysuckle, between the porch and the river,—a couple of pleasure-boats moored to the bank; and now all the waves rippling under the moonlight.
"Supper and lights in the arbour," cried Vance to the waiting-maid, "hey, presto, quick! while we turn in to wash our hands. And hark! a quart jug of that capital whiskey-toddy."
Being a chapter that links the past to the future by the gradual elucidation of antecedents.
O wayside inns and pedestrian rambles! O summer nights, under honeysuckle arbours, on the banks of starry waves! O Youth, Youth!
Vance ladled out the toddy and lighted his cigar; then, leaning his head on his hand and his elbow on the table, he looked with an artist's eye along the glancing river.
"After all," said he, "I am glad I am a painter; and I hope I may live to be a great one."
"No doubt, if you live, you will be a great one," cried Lionel, with cordial sincerity. "And if I, who can only just paint well enough to please myself, find that it gives a new charm to Nature—"
"Cut sentiment," quoth Vance, "and go on."
"What," continued Lionel, unchilled by the admonitory interruption, "must you feel who can fix a fading sunshine—a fleeting face—on a scrap of canvas, and say 'Sunshine and Beauty, live there forever!'"
VANCE.—"Forever! no! Colours perish, canvas rots. What remains to us of Zeuxis? Still it is prettily said on behalf of the poetic side of the profession; there is a prosaic one;—we'll blink it. Yes; I am glad to be a painter. But you must not catch the fever of my calling. Your poor mother would never forgive me if she thought I had made you a dauber by my example."
LIONEL (gloomily).—"No. I shall not be a painter! But what can I be? How shall I ever build on the earth one of the castles I have built in the air? Fame looks so far,—Fortune so impossible. But one thing I am bent upon" (speaking with knit brow and clenched teeth), "I will gain an independence somehow, and support my mother."
VANCE.—"Your mother is supported: she has the pension—"
LIONEL.—"Of a captain's widow; and" (he added with a flushed cheek) "a first floor that she lets to lodgers."
VANCE.—"No shame in that! Peers let houses; and on the Continent, princes let not only first floors, but fifth and sixth floors, to say nothing of attics and cellars. In beginning the world, friend Lionel, if you don't wish to get chafed at every turn, fold up your pride carefully, put it under lock and key, and only let it out to air upon grand occasions. Pride is a garment all stiff brocade outside, all grating sackcloth on the side next to the skin. Even kings don't wear the dalmaticum except at a coronation. Independence you desire; good. But are you dependent now? Your mother has given you an excellent education, and you have already put it to profit. My dear boy," added Vance, with unusual warmth, "I honour you; at your age, on leaving school, to have shut yourself up, translated Greek and Latin per sheet for a bookseller, at less than a valet's wages, and all for the purpose of buying comforts for your mother; and having a few pounds in your own pockets, to rove your little holiday with me and pay your share of the costs! Ah, there are energy and spirit and life in all that, Lionel, which will found upon rock some castle as fine as any you have built in air. Your hand, my boy."
This burst was so unlike the practical dryness, or even the more unctuous humour, of Frank Vance, that it took Lionel by surprise, and his voice faltered as he pressed the hand held out to him. He answered, "I don't deserve your praise, Vance, and I fear the pride you tell me to put under lock and key has the larger share of the merit you ascribe to better motives. Independent? No! I have never been so."
VANCE.—"Well, you depend on a parent: who, at seventeen does not?"
LIONEL.—"I did not mean my mother; of course, I could not be too proud to take benefits from her. But the truth is simply this—, my father had a relation, not very near, indeed,—a cousin, at about as distant a remove, I fancy, as a cousin well can be. To this gentleman my mother wrote when my poor father died; and he was generous, for it is he who paid for my schooling. I did not know this till very lately. I had a vague impression, indeed, that I had a powerful and wealthy kinsman who took an interest in me, but whom I had never seen."
LIONEL.—"No. And here comes the sting. On leaving school last Christmas, my mother, for the first time, told me the extent of my obligations to this benefactor, and informed me that he wished to know my own choice as to a profession,—that if I preferred Church or Bar, he would maintain me at college."
VANCE.—"Body o' me! where's the sting in that? Help yourself to toddy, my boy, and take more genial views of life."
LIONEL.—"You have not heard me out. I then asked to see my benefactor's letters; and my mother, unconscious of the pain she was about to inflict, showed me not only the last one, but all she had received from him. Oh, Vance, they were terrible, those letters! The first began by a dry acquiescence in the claims of kindred, a curt proposal to pay my schooling; but not one word of kindness, and a stern proviso that the writer was never to see nor hear from me. He wanted no gratitude; he disbelieved in all professions of it. His favours would cease if I molested him. 'Molested' was the word; it was bread thrown to a dog."
VANCE.—"Tut! Only a rich man's eccentricity. A bachelor, I presume?"
LIONEL.—"My mother says he has been married, and is a widower."
LIONEL.—"My mother says none living; but I know little or nothing about his family."
Vance looked with keen scrutiny into the face of his boyfriend, and, after a pause, said, drily,—"Plain as a pikestaff. Your relation is one of those men who, having no children, suspect and dread the attention of an heir presumptive; and what has made this sting, as you call it, keener to you is—pardon me—is in some silly words of your mother, who, in showing you the letters, has hinted to you that that heir you might be, if you were sufficiently pliant and subservient. Am I not right?"
Lionel hung his head, without reply.
VANCE (cheeringly).—"So, so; no great harm as yet. Enough of the first letter. What was the last?"
LIONEL.—"Still more offensive. He, this kinsman, this patron, desired my mother to spare him those references to her son's ability and promise, which, though natural to herself, had slight interest to him,—him, the condescending benefactor! As to his opinion, what could I care for the opinion of one I had never seen? All that could sensibly affect my—oh, but I cannot go on with those cutting phrases, which imply but this, 'All I can care for is the money of a man who insults me while he gives it.'"
VANCE (emphatically).—"Without being a wizard, I should say your relative was rather a disagreeable person,—not what is called urbane and amiable,—in fact, a brute."
LIONEL.—"You will not blame me, then, when I tell you that I resolved not to accept the offer to maintain me at college, with which the letter closed. Luckily Dr. Wallis (the head master of my school), who had always been very kind to me, had just undertaken to supervise a popular translation of the classics. He recommended me, at my request, to the publisher engaged in the undertaking, as not incapable of translating some of the less difficult Latin authors,—subject to his corrections. When I had finished the first instalment of the work thus intrusted to me, my mother grew alarmed for my health, and insisted on my taking some recreation. You were about to set out on a pedestrian tour. I had, as you say, some pounds in my pocket; and thus I have passed with you the merriest days of my life."
VANCE.—"What said your civil cousin when your refusal to go to college was conveyed to him?"
LIONEL.—"He did not answer my mother's communication to that effect till just before I left home, and then,—no, it was not his last letter from which I repeated that withering extract,—no, the last was more galling still, for in it he said that if, in spite of the ability and promise that had been so vaunted, the dulness of a college and the labour of learned professions were so distasteful to me, he had no desire to dictate to my choice, but that as he did not wish one who was, however remotely, of his blood, and bore the name of Haughton, to turn shoeblack or pickpocket—Vance—Vance!"
VANCE.—"Lock up your pride—the sackcloth frets you—and go on; and that therefore he—"
LIONEL.—"Would buy me a commission in the army, or get me an appointment in India."
VANCE.—"Which did you take?"
LIONEL (passionately). "Which! so offered,—which?—of course neither! But distrusting the tone of my mother's reply, I sat down, the evening before I left home, and wrote myself to this cruel man. I did not show any letter to my mother,—did not tell her of it. I wrote shortly,—that if he would not accept my gratitude, I would not accept his benefits; that shoeblack I might be,—pickpocket, no! that he need not fear I should disgrace his blood or my name; and that I would not rest till, sooner or later, I had paid him back all that I had cost him, and felt relieved from the burdens of an obligation which—which—" The boy paused, covered his face with his hands, and sobbed.
Vance, though much moved, pretended to scold his friend, but finding that ineffectual, fairly rose, wound his arm brother-like round him, and drew him from the arbour to the shelving margin of the river. "Comfort," then said the Artist, almost solemnly, as here, from the inner depths of his character, the true genius of the man came forth and spoke,—"comfort, and look round; see where the islet interrupts the tide, and how smilingly the stream flows on. See, just where we stand, how the slight pebbles are fretting the wave would the wave if not fretted make that pleasant music? A few miles farther on, and the river is spanned by a bridge, which busy feet now are crossing: by the side of that bridge now is rising a palace; all the men who rule England have room in that palace. At the rear of the palace soars up the old Abbey where kings have their tombs in right of the names they inherit; men, lowly as we, have found tombs there, in right of the names which they made. Think, now, that you stand on that bridge with a boy's lofty hope, with a man's steadfast courage; then turn again to that stream, calm with starlight, flowing on towards the bridge,—spite of islet and pebbles."
Lionel made no audible answer, though his lips murmured, but he pressed closer and closer to his friend's side; and the tears were already dried on his cheek, though their dew still glistened in his eyes.
Speculations on the moral qualities of the Bandit.—Mr. Vance, with mingled emotions, foresees that the acquisition of the Bandit's acquaintance may be attended with pecuniary loss.
Vance loosened the boat from its moorings, stepped in, and took up the oars. Lionel followed, and sat by the stern. The Artist rowed on slowly, whistling melodiously in time to the dash of the oars. They soon came to the bank of garden-ground surrounding with turf on which fairies might have danced one of those villas never seen out of England. From the windows of the villa the lights gleamed steadily; over the banks, dipping into the water, hung large willows breathlessly; the boat gently brushed aside their pendent boughs, and Vance rested in a grassy cove.
"And faith," said the Artist, gayly,—"faith," said he, lighting his third cigar, "it is time we should bestow a few words more on the Remorseless Baron and the Bandit's Child! What a cock-and-a-bull story the Cobbler told us! He must have thought us precious green."
LIONEL (roused).—"Nay, I see nothing so wonderful in the story, though much that is sad. You must allow that Waife may have been a good actor: you became quite excited merely at his attitude and bow. Natural, therefore, that he should have been invited to try his chance on the London stage; not improbable that he may have met with an accident by the train, and so lost his chance forever; natural, then, that he should press into service his poor little grandchild, natural, also, that, hardly treated and his pride hurt, he should wish to escape."
VANCE.—"And more natural than all that he should want to extract from our pockets three pounds, the Bandit! No, Lionel, I tell you what is not probable, that he should have disposed of that clever child to a vagabond like Rugge: she plays admirably. The manager who was to have engaged him would have engaged her if he had seen her. I am puzzled."
LIONEL.—"True, she is an extraordinary child. I cannot say how she has interested me." He took out his purse, and began counting its contents. "I have nearly three pounds left," he cried joyously. "L2. 18s. if I give up the thought of a longer excursion with you, and go quietly home—"
VANCE.—"And not pay your share of the bill yonder?"
LIONEL.—"Ah, I forgot that! But come, I am not too proud to borrow from you: it is not for a selfish purpose."
VANCE.—"Borrow from me, Cato! That comes of falling in with bandits and their children. No; but let us look at the thing like men of sense. One story is good till another is told. I will call by myself on Rugge to-morrow, and hear what he says; and then, if we judge favourably of the Cobbler's version, we will go at night and talk with the Cobbler's lodgers; and I dare say," added Vance, kindly, but with a sigh,—"I daresay the three pounds will be coaxed out of me! After all, her head is worth it. I want an idea for Titania."
LIONEL (joyously).—"My dear Vance, you are the best fellow in the world."
VANCE.—"Small compliment to humankind! Take the oars: it is your turn now."
Lionel obeyed; the boat once more danced along the tide—thoro' reeds,—-thoro' waves, skirting the grassy islet—out into pale moonlight. They talked but by fits and starts. What of?—a thousand things! Bright young hearts, eloquent young tongues! No sins in the past; hopes gleaming through the future. O summer nights, on the glass of starry waves! O Youth, Youth!
Wherein the historian tracks the public characters that fret their hour on the stage, into the bosom of private life.—The reader is invited to arrive at a conclusion which may often, in periods of perplexity, restore ease to his mind; namely, that if man will reflect on all the hopes he has nourished, all the fears he has admitted, all the projects he has formed, the wisest thing he can do, nine times out of ten, with hope, fear, and project, is to let them end with the chapter—in smoke.
It was past nine o'clock in the evening of the following day. The exhibition at Mr. Rugge's theatre had closed for the season in that village, for it was the conclusion of the fair. The final performance had been begun and ended somewhat earlier than on former nights. The theatre was to be cleared from the ground by daybreak, and the whole company to proceed onward betimes in the morning. Another fair awaited them in an adjoining county, and they had a long journey before them.
Gentleman Waife and his Juliet Araminta had gone to their lodgings over the Cobbler's stall. Their rooms were homely enough, but had an air not only of the comfortable, but the picturesque. The little sitting-room was very old-fashioned,—panelled in wood that had once been painted blue, with a quaint chimney-piece that reached to the ceiling. That part of the house spoke of the time of Charles I., it might have been tenanted by a religious Roundhead; and, framed-in over the low door, there was a grim, faded portrait of a pinched-faced saturnine man, with long lank hair, starched band, and a length of upper lip that betokened relentless obstinacy of character, and might have curled in sullen glee at the monarch's scaffold, or preached an interminable sermon to the stout Protector. On a table, under the deep-sunk window, were neatly arrayed a few sober-looking old books; you would find amongst them Colley's "Astrology," Owen Feltham's "Resolves," Glanville "On Witches," the "Pilgrim's Progress," an early edition of "Paradise Lost," and an old Bible; also two flower-pots of clay brightly reddened, and containing stocks; also two small worsted rugs, on one of which rested a carved cocoa-nut, on the other an egg-shaped ball of crystal,—that last the pride and joy of the cobbler's visionary soul. A door left wide open communicated with an inner room (very low was its ceiling), in which the Bandit slept, if the severity of his persecutors permitted him to sleep. In the corner of the sitting-room, near that door, was a small horsehair sofa, which, by the aid of sheets and a needlework coverlid, did duty for a bed, and was consigned to the Bandit's child. Here the tenderness of the Cobbler's heart was visible, for over the coverlid were strewed sprigs of lavender and leaves of vervain; the last, be it said, to induce happy dreams, and scare away witchcraft and evil spirits. On another table, near the fireplace, the child was busied in setting out the tea-things for her grandfather. She had left in the property-room of the theatre her robe of spangles and tinsel, and appeared now in a simple frock. She had no longer the look of Titania, but that of a lively, active, affectionate human child; nothing theatrical about her now, yet still, in her graceful movements, so nimble but so noiseless, in her slight fair hands, in her transparent colouring, there was Nature's own lady,—that SOMETHING which strikes us all as well-born and high-bred: not that it necessarily is so; the semblances of aristocracy, in female childhood more especially, are often delusive. The souvenance flower, wrought into the collars of princes, springs up wild on field and fell.
Gentleman Waife, wrapped negligently in a gray dressing-gown and seated in an old leathern easy-chair, was evidently out of sorts. He did not seem to heed the little preparations for his comfort, but, resting his cheek on his right hand, his left drooped on his crossed knees,—an attitude rarely seen in a man when his heart is light and his spirits high. His lips moved: he was talking to himself. Though he had laid aside his theatrical bandage over both eyes, he wore a black patch over one, or rather where one had been; the eye exposed was of singular beauty, dark and brilliant. For the rest, the man had a striking countenance, rugged, and rather ugly than otherwise, but by no means unprepossessing; full of lines and wrinkles and strong muscle, with large lips of wondrous pliancy, and an aspect of wistful sagacity, that, no doubt, on occasion could become exquisitely comic,—dry comedy,—the comedy that makes others roar when the comedian himself is as grave as a judge.
You might see in his countenance, when quite in its natural repose, that Sorrow had passed by there; yet the instant the countenance broke into play, you would think that Sorrow must have been sent about her business as soon as the respect due to that visitor, so accustomed to have her own way, would permit. Though the man was old, you could not call him aged. One-eyed and crippled, still, marking the muscular arm, the expansive chest, you would have scarcely called him broken or infirm. And hence there was a certain indescribable pathos in his whole appearance, as if Fate had branded, on face and form, characters in which might be read her agencies on career and mind,—plucked an eye from intelligence, shortened one limb for life's progress, yet left whim sparkling out in the eye she had spared, and a light heart's wild spring in the limb she had maimed not.
"Come, Grandy, come," said the little girl, coaxingly; "your tea will get quite cold; your toast is ready, and here is such a nice egg; Mr. Merle says you may be sure it is new laid. Come, don't let that hateful man fret you: smile on your own Sophy; come."
"If," said Mr. Waife, in a hollow undertone, if I were alone in the world—"
"'I know a spot on which a bed-post grows, And do remember where a roper lives.'
Delightful prospect, not to be indulged; for if I were in peace at one end of the rope, what would chance to my Sophy, left forlorn at the other?"
"Don't talk so, or I shall think you are sorry to have taken care of me."
"Care of thee, oh, child! and what care? It is thou who takest care of me. Put thy hands from thy mouth; sit down, darling, there, opposite, and let us talk. Now, Sophy, thou hast often said that thou wouldst be glad to be out of this mode of life, even for one humbler and harder: think well, is it so?"
"Oh, yes, indeed, grandfather."
"No more tinsel dresses and flowery wreaths; no more applause; no more of the dear divine stage excitement; the heroine and fairy vanished; only a little commonplace child in dingy gingham, with a purblind cripple for thy sole charge and playmate; Juliet Araminta evaporated evermore into little Sophy!"
"It would be so nice!" answered little Sophy, laughing merrily.
"What would make it nice?" asked the Comedian, turning on her his solitary piercing eye, with curious interest in his gaze.
Sophy left her seat, and placed herself on a stool at her grandfather's knee; on that knee she clasped her tiny hands, and shaking aside her curls, looked into his face with confident fondness. Evidently these two were much more than grandfather and grandchild: they were friends, they were equals, they were in the habit of consulting and prattling with each other. She got at his meaning, however covert his humour; and he to the core of her heart, through its careless babble. Between you and me, Reader, I suspect that, in spite of the Comedian's sagacious wrinkles, the one was as much a child as the other.
"Well," said Sophy, "I will tell you, Grandy, what would make it nice: no one would vex and affront you,—we should be all by ourselves; and then, instead of those nasty lamps and those dreadful painted creatures, we could go out and play in the fields and gather daisies; and I could run after butterflies, and when I am tired I should come here, where I am now, any time of the day, and you would tell me stories and pretty verses, and teach me to write a little better than I do now, and make such a wise little woman of me; and if I wore gingham—but it need not be dingy, Grandy—it would be all mine, and you would be all mine too, and we'd keep a bird, and you'd teach it to sing; and oh, would it not be nice!"
"But still, Sophy, we should have to live, and we could not live upon daisies and butterflies. And I can't work now; for the matter of that, I never could work: more shame for me, but so it is. Merle says the fault is in the stars,—with all my heart. But the stars will not go to the jail or the workhouse instead of me. And though they want nothing to eat, we do."
"But, Grandy, you have said every day since the first walk you took after coming here, that if you had three pounds, we could get away and live by ourselves and make a fortune!"
"A fortune!—that's a strong word: let it stand. A fortune! But still, Sophy, though we should be free of this thrice-execrable Rugge, the scheme I have in my head lies remote from daisies and butterflies. We should have to dwell in towns and exhibit!"
"On a stage, Grandy?" said Sophy, resigned, but sorrowful.
"No, not exactly: a room would do."
"And I should not wear those horrid, horrid dresses, nor mix with those horrid, horrid painted people."
"And we should be quite alone, you and I?"
"Hum! there would be a third."
"Oh, Grandy, Grandy!" cried Sophy, in a scream of shrill alarm. "I know, I know; you are thinking of joining us with the Pig-faced Lady!"
MR. WAIFE (not a muscle relaxed).—"A well-spoken and pleasing gentlewoman. But no such luck: three pounds would not buy her."
SOPHIE.—"I am glad of that: I don't care so much for the Mermaid; she's dead and stuffed. But, oh!" (another scream) "perhaps 't is the Spotted Boy?"
MR. WAIFE.—"Calm your sanguine imagination; you aspire too high! But this I will tell you, that our companion, whatsoever or whosoever that companion may be, will be one you will like."
"I don't believe it," said Sophy, shaking her head. "I only like you. But who is it?"
"Alas!" said Mr. Waife, "it is no use pampering ourselves with vain hopes: the three pounds are not forthcoming. You heard what that brute Rugge said, that the gentleman who wanted to take your portrait had called on him this morning, and offered 10s. for a sitting,—that is, 5s. for you, 5s. for Rugge; and Rugge thought the terms reasonable."
"But I said I would not sit."
"And when you did say it, you heard Rugge's language to me—to you. And now you must think of packing up, and be off at dawn with the rest. And," added the comedian, colouring high, "I must again parade, to boors and clowns, this mangled form; again set myself out as a spectacle of bodily infirmity,—man's last degradation. And this I have come to—I!"
"No, no, Grandy, it will not last long! we will get the three pounds. We have always hoped on!—hope still! And, besides, I am sure those gentlemen will come here tonight. Mr. Merle said they would, at ten o'clock. It is near ten now, and your tea cold as a stone."
She hung on his neck caressingly, kissing his furrowed brow, and leaving a tear there, and thus coaxed him till he set-to quietly at his meal; and Sophy shared it—though she had no appetite in sorrowing for him—but to keep him company; that done, she lighted his pipe with the best canaster,—his sole luxury and expense; but she always contrived that he should afford it.
Mr. Waife drew a long whiff, and took a more serene view of affairs. He who doth not smoke hath either known no great griefs, or refuseth himself the softest consolation, next to that which comes from Heaven. "What, softer than woman?" whispers the young reader. Young reader, woman teases as well as consoles. Woman makes half the sorrows which she boasts the privilege to soothe. Woman consoles us, it is true, while we are young and handsome! when we are old and ugly, woman snubs and scolds us. On the whole, then, woman in this scale, the weed in that, Jupiter, hang out thy balance, and weigh them both; and if thou give the preference to woman, all I can say is, the next time Juno ruffles thee,—O Jupiter, try the weed.
The historian, in pursuance of his stern duties, reveals to the scorn of future ages some of the occult practices which discredit the march of light in the nineteenth century.
"May I come in?" asked the Cobbler, outside the door. "Certainly come in," said Gentleman Waife. Sophy looked wistfully at the aperture, and sighed to see that Merle was alone. She crept up to him.
"Will they not come?" she whispered. "I hope so, pretty one; it be n't ten yet."
"Take a pipe, Merle," said Gentleman Waife, with a Grand Comedian air.
"No, thank you kindly; I just looked in to ask if I could do anything for ye, in case—in case ye must go tomorrow."
"Nothing: our luggage is small, and soon packed. Sophy has the money to discharge the meaner part of our debt to you."
"I don't value that," said the Cobbler, colouring.
"But we value your esteem," said Mr. Waife, with a smile that would have become a field-marshal. "And so, Merle, you think, if I am a broken-down vagrant, it must be put to the long account of the celestial bodies!"
"Not a doubt of it," returned the Cobbler, solemnly. "I wish you would give me date and place of Sophy's birth that's what I want; I'd take her horryscope. I'm sure she'd be lucky."
"I'd rather not, please," said Sophy, timidly.
"Rather not?—very odd. Why?"
"I don't want to know the future."
"That is odder and odder," quoth the Cobbler, staring; "I never heard a girl say that afore."
"Wait till she's older, Mr. Merle," said Waife: "girls don't want to know the future till they want to be married."
"Summat in that," said the Cobbler. He took up the crystal. "Have you looked into this ball, pretty one, as I bade ye?"
"Yes, two or three times."
"Ha! and what did you see?"
"My own face made very long," said Sophy,—"as long as that—," stretching out her hands.
The Cobbler shook his head dolefully, and screwing up one eye, applied the other to the mystic ball.
MR. WAIFE.—"Perhaps you will see if those two gentlemen are coming."
SOPHY.—"Do, do! and if they will give us three pounds!"
COBBLER (triumphantly).—"Then you do care to know the future, after all?"
SOPHY.—"Yes, so far as that goes; but don't look any further, pray."
COBBLER (intent upon the ball, and speaking slowly, and in jerks).—"A mist now. Ha! an arm with a besom—sweeps all before it."
SOPHY (frightened).—"Send it away, please."
COBBLER—"It is gone. Ha! there's Rugge,—looks very angry,—savage, indeed."
WAIFE.—"Good sign that! proceed."
COBBLER.—"Shakes his fist; gone. Ha! a young man, boyish, dark hair."
SOPHY (clapping her hands).—"That is the young gentleman—the very young one, I mean—with the kind eyes; is he coming?—is he, is he?"
WAIFE—"Examine his pockets! do you see there three pounds?"
COBBLER (testily).—"Don't be a-interrupting. Ha! he is talking with another gentleman, bearded."
SOPHY (whispering to her grandfather).—"The old young gentleman."
COBBLER (putting down the crystal, and with great decision).—"They are coming here; I see 'd them at the corner of the lane, by the public-house, two minutes' walk to this door." He took out a great silver watch: "Look, Sophy, when the minute-hand gets there (or before, if they walk briskly), you will hear them knock."
Sophy clasped her hands in mute suspense, half-credulous, half-doubting; then she went and opened the room-door, and stood on the landing-place to listen. Merle approached the Comedian, and said in a low voice, "I wish for your sake she had the gift."
WAIFE.—"The gift!—the three pounds!—so do I!"
COBBLER.—"Pooh! worth a hundred times three pounds; the gift,—the spirituous gift."
WAIFE.—"Spirituous! don't like the epithet,—smells of gin!"
COBBLER.—"Spirituous gift to see in the crystal: if she had that, she might make your fortune."
WAIFE (with a 'sudden change of countenance).—"Ah! I never thought of that. But if she has not the gift, I could teach it her,—eh?"
COBBLER (indignantly).—"I did not think to hear this from you, Mr. Waife. Teach her,—you! make her an impostor, and of the wickedest kind, inventing lies between earth and them as dwell in the seven spheres! Fie! No, if she hasn't the gift natural, let her alone: what here is not heaven-sent is devil-taught."
WAIFE (awed, but dubious).—"Then you really think you saw all that you described, in that glass egg?"
COBBLER.—"Think!—am I a liar? I spoke truth, and the proof is—there—!" Rat-tat went the knocker at the door.
"The two minutes are just up," said the Cobbler; and Cornelius Agrippa could not have said it with more wizardly effect.
"They are come, indeed," said Sophy, re-entering the room softly: "I hear their voices at the threshold."
The Cobbler passed by in silence, descended the stairs, and conducted Vance and Lionel into the Comedian's chamber; there he left them, his brow overcast. Gentleman Waife had displeased him sorely.
Showing the arts by which a man, however high in the air Nature may have formed his nose, may be led by that nose, and in directions perversely opposite to those which, in following his nose, he might be supposed to take; and, therefore, that nations the most liberally endowed with practical good sense, and in conceit thereof, carrying their noses the most horizontally aloof, when they come into conference with nations more skilled in diplomacy and more practised in "stage-play," end by the surrender of the precise object which it was intended they should surrender before they laid their noses together.
We all know that Demosthenes said, Everything in oratory was acting,—stage-play. Is it in oratory alone that the saying holds good? Apply it to all circumstances of fife, "stage-play, stage-play, stage-play!"—only ars est celare artem, conceal the art. Gleesome in soul to behold his visitors, calculating already on the three pounds to be extracted from them, seeing in that hope the crisis in his own checkered existence, Mr. Waife rose from his seat in superb upocrisia or stage-play, and asked, with mild dignity,—"To what am I indebted, gentlemen, for the honour of your visit?"
In spite of his, nose, even Vance was taken aback. Pope says that Lord Bolingbroke had "the nobleman air." A great comedian Lord Bolingbroke surely was. But, ah, had Pope seen Gentleman Waife! Taking advantage of the impression he had created, the actor added, with the finest imaginable breeding,—"But pray be seated;" and, once seeing them seated, resumed his easy-chair, and felt himself master of the situation.
"Hum!" said Vance, recovering his self-possession, after a pause—"hum!"
"Hem!" re-echoed Gentleman Waife; and the two men eyed each other much in the same way as Admiral Napier might have eyed the fort of Cronstadt, and the fort of Cronstadt have eyed Admiral Napier.
Lionel struck in with that youthful boldness which plays the deuce with all dignified strategical science.
"You must be aware why we come, sir; Mr. Merle will have explained. My friend, a distinguished artist, wished to make a sketch, if you do not object, of this young lady's very"—
"Pretty little face," quoth Vance, taking up the dis course. "Mr. Rugge, this morning, was willing,—I understand that your grandchild refused. We are come here to see if she will be more complaisant under your own roof, or Under Mr. Merle's, which, I take it, is the same thing for the present."—Sophy had sidled up to Lionel. He might not have been flattered if he knew why she preferred him to Vance. She looked on him as a boy, a fellow-child; and an instinct, moreover, told her, that more easily through him than his shrewd-looking bearded guest could she attain the object of her cupidity,—"three pounds!"
"Three pounds!" whispered Sophy, with the tones of an angel, into Lionel's thrilling ear.
MR. WAIFE.—"Sir, I will be frank with you." At that ominous commencement, Mr. Vance recoiled, and mechanically buttoned his trousers pocket. Mr. Waife noted the gesture with his one eye, and proceeded cautiously, feeling his way, as it were, towards the interior of the recess thus protected. "My grandchild declined your flattering proposal with my full approbation. She did not consider—neither did I—that the managerial rights of Mr. Rugge entitled him to the moiety of her face—off the stage." The Comedian paused, and with a voice, the mimic drollery of which no hoarseness could altogether mar, chanted the old line,—
"'My face is my fortune, sir,' she said."
Vance smiled; Lionel laughed; Sophy nestled still nearer to the boy.
GENTLEMAN WAIFE (with pathos and dignity).—"You see before you an old man: one way of life is the same to me as another. But she,—do you think Mr. Rugge's stage the right place for her?"
VANCE.—"Certainly not. Why did you not introduce her to the London Manager who would have engaged yourself?"
Waife could not conceal a slight change of countenance. "How do I know she would have succeeded? She had never then trod the boards. Besides, what strikes you as so good in a village show may be poor enough in a metropolitan theatre. Gentlemen, I do my best for her; you cannot think otherwise, since she maintains me! I am no OEdipus, yet she is my Antigone."
VANCE.—"You know the classics, sir. Mr. Merle said you were a scholar!—read Sophocles in his native Greek, I presume, sir?"
MR. WAIFE.—"You jeer at the unfortunate: I am used to it."
VANCE (confused).—"I did not mean to wound you: I beg pardon. But your language and manner are not what—what one might expect to find in a—in a—Bandit persecuted by a remorseless Baron."
MR. WAIFE.—"Sir, you say you are an artist. Have you heard no tales of your professional brethren,—men of genius the highest, who won fame, which I never did, and failed of fortunes, as I have done? Their own fault, perhaps,—improvidence, wild habits, ignorance of the way how to treat life and deal with their fellow-men; such fault may have been mine too. I suffer for it: no matter; I ask none to save me. You are a painter: you would place her features on your canvas; you would have her rank amongst your own creations. She may become a part of your immortality. Princes may gaze on the effigies of the innocent happy childhood, to which your colours lend imperishable glow. They may ask who and what was this fair creature? Will you answer, 'One whom I found in tinsel, and so left, sure that she would die in rags!'—Save her!"
Lionel drew forth his purse, and poured its contents on the table. Vance covered them with his broad hand, and swept them into his own pocket! At that sinister action Waife felt his heart sink into his shoes; but his face was as calm as a Roman's, only he resumed his pipe with a prolonged and testy whiff.
"It is I who am to take the portrait, and it is I who will pay for it," said Vance. "I understand that you have a pressing occasion for"—
"Three pounds!" muttered Sophy, sturdily, through the tears which her grandfather's pathos had drawn forth from her downcast eyes, "Three pounds—three—three."
"You shall have them. But listen: I meant only to take a sketch; I must now have a finished portrait. I cannot take this by candlelight. You must let me come here to-morrow; and yet to-morrow, I understand, you meant to leave?"
WAIFE.—"If you will generously bestow on us the sum you say, we shall not leave the village till you have completed your picture. It is Mr. Rugge and his company we will leave."
VANCE.—"And may I venture to ask what you propose to do, towards a new livelihood for yourself and your grandchild, by the help of a sum which is certainly much for me to pay,—enormous, I might say, quoad me,—but small for a capital whereon to set up a business?"
WAIFE.—"Excuse me if I do not answer that very natural question at present. Let me assure you that that precise sum is wanted for an investment which promises her and myself an easy existence. But to insure my scheme, I must keep it secret. Do you believe me?"
"I do!" cried Lionel; and Sophy, whom by this time he had drawn upon his lap, put her arm gratefully round his neck.
"There is your money, sir, beforehand," said Vance, declining downward his betrayed and resentful nose, and depositing three sovereigns on the table.
"And how do you know," said Waife, smiling, "that I may not be off to-night with your money and your model!"
"Well," said Vance, curtly, "I think it is on the cards. Still, as John Kemble said when rebuked for too large an alms,
"'It is not often that I do these things, But when I do, I do them handsomely.'"
"Well applied, and well delivered, sir," said the Comedian, "only you should put a little more emphasis on the word do."
"Did I not put enough? I am sure I felt it strongly; no one can feel the do more!"
Waife's pliant face relaxed into a genial brightness. The equivoque charmed him. However, not affecting to comprehend it, he thrust back the money, and said,—"No, sir, not a shilling till the picture is completed. Nay, to relieve your mind, I will own that, had I no scruple more delicate, I would rather receive nothing till Mr. Rugge is gone. True, he has no right to any share in it. But you see before you a man who, when it comes to arguing, could never take a wrangler's degree,—never get over the Asses' Bridge, sir. Plucked at it scores of times clean as a feather. But do not go yet. You came to give us money: give us what, were I rich, I should value more highly,—a little of your time. You, sir, are an artist; and you, young gentleman?" addressing Lionel.
LIONEL (colouring).—"I—am nothing as yet."
WAIFE.—"You are fond of the drama, I presume, both of you? Apropos of John Kemble, you, sir, said that you have never heard him. Allow me, so far as this cracked voice can do it, to give you a faint idea of him."
"I shall be delighted," said Vance, drawing nearer to the table, and feeling more at his ease. "But since I see you smoke, may I take the liberty to light my cigar?"
"Make yourself at home," said Gentleman Waife, with the good-humour of a fatherly host. And, all the while, Lionel and Sophy were babbling together, she still upon his lap.
Waife began his imitation of John Kemble. Despite the cracked voice, it was admirable. One imitation drew on another; then succeeded anecdotes of the Stage, of the Senate, of the Bar. Waife had heard great orators, whom every one still admires for the speeches which nobody nowadays ever reads; he gave a lively idea of each. And then came sayings of dry humour and odd scraps of worldly observation; and time flew on pleasantly till the clock struck twelve, and the young guests tore themselves away.
"Merle, Merle!" cried the Comedian, when they were gone.
"We don't go to-morrow. When Rugge sends for us (as he will do at daybreak), say so. You shall lodge us a few days longer, and then—and then—my little Sophy, kiss me, kiss me! You are saved at least from those horrid painted creatures!"
"Ah, ah!" growled Merle from below, "he has got the money! Glad to hear it. But," he added, as he glanced at sundry weird and astrological symbols with which he had been diverting himself, "that's not it. The true horary question, is, WHAT WILL HE DO WITH IT?"
The historian shows that, notwithstanding the progressive spirit of the times, a Briton is not permitted, without an effort, "to progress" according to his own inclinations.
Sophy could not sleep. At first she was too happy. Without being conscious of any degradation in her lot amongst the itinerant artists of Mr. Rugge's exhibition,—how could she, when her beloved and revered protector had been one of those artists for years?—yet instinctively she shrank from their contact. Doubtless, while absorbed in some stirring part, she forgot companions, audience, all, and enjoyed what she performed,—necessarily enjoyed, for her acting was really excellent, and where no enjoyment there no excellence; but when the histrionic enthusiasm was not positively at work, she crept to her grandfather with something between loathing and terror of the "painted creatures" and her own borrowed tinsel.
But, more than all, she felt acutely every indignity or affront offered to Gentleman Waife. Heaven knows, these were not few; and to escape from such a life—to be with her grandfather alone, have him all to herself to tend and to pet, to listen to and to prattle with—seemed to her the consummation of human felicity. Ah, but should she be all alone? Just as she was lulling herself into a doze, that question seized and roused her. And then it was not happiness that kept her waking: it was what is less rare in the female breast, curiosity. Who was to be the mysterious third, to whose acquisition the three pounds were evidently to be devoted? What new face had she purchased by the loan of her own? Not the Pig-faced Lady nor the Spotted Boy. Could it be the Norfolk Giant or the Calf with two Heads? Horrible idea! Monstrous phantasmagoria began to stalk before her eyes; and to charm them away, with great fervour she fell to saying her prayers,—an act of devotion which she had forgotten, in her excitement, to perform before resting her head on the pillow,—an omission, let us humbly hope, not noted down in very dark characters by the recording angel.
That act over, her thoughts took a more comely aspect than had been worn by the preceding phantasies, reflected Lionel's kind looks and repeated his gentle words. "Heaven bless him!" she said with emphasis, as a supplement to the habitual prayers; and then tears gathered to her grateful eyelids, for she was one of those beings whose tears come slow from sorrow, quick from affection. And so the gray dawn found her still-wakeful, and she rose, bathed her cheeks in the cold fresh water, and drew them forth with a glow like Hebe's. Dressing herself with the quiet activity which characterized all her movements, she then opened the casement and inhaled the air. All was still in the narrow lane; the shops yet unclosed. But on the still trees behind the shops the birds were beginning to stir and chirp. Chanticleer, from some neighbouring yard, rang out his brisk rereillee. Pleasant English summer dawn in the pleasant English country village. She stretched her graceful neck far from the casement, trying to catch a glimpse of the blue river. She had seen its majestic flow on the day they had arrived at the fair, and longed to gain its banks; then her servitude to the stage forbade her. Now she was to be free! O joy! Now she might have her careless hours of holiday; and, forgetful of Waife's warning that their vocation must be plied in towns, she let her fancy run riot amidst visions of green fields and laughing waters, and in fond delusion gathered the daisies and chased the butterflies. Changeling transferred into that lowest world of Art from the cradle of civil Nature, her human child's heart yearned for the human childlike delights. All children love the country, the flowers, the sward, the birds, the butterflies; or if some do not, despair, O Philanthropy, of their afterlives!
She closed the window, smiling to herself, stole through the adjoining doorway, and saw that her grandfather was still asleep. Then she busied herself in putting the little sitting-room to rights, reset the table for the morning meal, watered the stocks, and finally took up the crystal and looked into it with awe, wondering why the Cobbler could see so much, and she only the distorted reflection of her own face. So interested, however, for once, did she become in the inspection of this mystic globe, that she did not notice the dawn pass into broad daylight, nor hear a voice at the door below,—nor, in short, take into cognition the external world, till a heavy tread shook the floor, and then, starting, she beheld the Remorseless Baron, with a face black enough to have darkened the crystal of Dr. Dee himself.
"Ho, ho," said Mr. Rugge, in hissing accents which had often thrilled the threepenny gallery with anticipative horror. "Rebellious, eh?—won't come? Where's your grandfather, baggage?"
Sophy let fall the crystal—a mercy it was not brokenand gazed vacantly on the Baron.
"Your vile scamp of a grandfather?"
SOPHY (with spirit).—"He is not vile. You ought to be ashamed of yourself speaking so, Mr. Rugge!"
Here simultaneously, Mr. Waife, hastily indued in his gray dressing-gown, presented himself at the aperture of the bedroom door, and the Cobbler on the threshold of the sitting-room. The Comedian stood mute, trusting perhaps to the imposing effect of his attitude. The Cobbler, yielding to the impulse of untheatric man, put his head doggedly on one side, and with both hands on his hips said,
"Civil words to my lodgers, master, or out you go!"
The Remorseless Baron glared vindictively, first at one and then at the other; at length he strode up to Waife, and said, with a withering grin, "I have something to say to you; shall I say it before your landlord?"
The Comedian waved his hand to the Cobbler.
"Leave us, my friend; I shall not require you. Step this way, Mr. Rugge." Rugge entered the bedroom, and Waife closed the door behind him.
"Anan," quoth the Cobbler, scratching his head. "I don't quite take your grandfather's giving in. British ground here! But your Ascendant cannot surely be in such malignant conjunction with that obstreperous tyrant as to bind you to him hand and foot. Let's see what the crystal thinks of it. 'Take it up gently, and come downstairs with me."
"Please, no; I'll stay near Grandfather," said Sophy, resolutely. "He sha'n't be left helpless with that rude man."
The Cobbler could not help smiling. "Lord love you," said he; "you have a spirit of your own, and if you were my wife I should be afraid of you. But I won't stand here eavesdropping; mayhap your grandfather has secrets I'm not to hear: call me if I'm wanted." He descended. Sophy, with less noble disdain of eavesdropping, stood in the centre of the room, holding her breath to listen. She heard no sound; she had half a mind to put her ear to the keyhole, but that seemed even to her a mean thing, if not absolutely required by the necessity of the case. So there she still stood, her head bent down, her finger raised: oh, that Vance could have so painted her!
Showing the causes why men and nations, when one man or nation wishes to get for its own arbitrary purposes what the other man or nation does not desire to part with, are apt to ignore the mild precepts of Christianity, shock the sentiments and upset the theories of Peace Societies.
"Am I to understand," said Mr. Rugge, in a whisper, when Waife had drawn him to the farthest end of the inner room, with the bed-curtains between their position and the door, deadening the sound of their voices,—"am I to understand that, after my taking you and that child to my theatre out of charity, and at your own request, you are going to quit me without warning,—French leave; is that British conduct?"
"Mr. Rugge," replied Waife, deprecatingly, "I have no engagement with you beyond an experimental trial. We were free on both sides for three months,—you to dismiss us any day, we to leave you. The experiment does not please us: we thank you and depart."
RUGGE.—"That is not the truth. I said I was free to dismiss you both, if the child did not suit. You, poor helpless creature, could be of no use. But I never heard you say you were to be free too. Stands to reason not! Put my engagements at a Waife's mercy! I, Lorenzo Rugge!—stuff! But I am a just man, and a liberal man, and if you think you ought to have a higher salary, if this ungrateful proceeding is only, as I take it, a strike for wages, I will meet you. Juliet Araminta does play better than I could have supposed; and I'll conclude an engagement on good terms, as we were to have done if the experiment answered, for three years." Waife shook his head. "You are very good, Mr. Rugge, but it is not a strike. My little girl does not like the life at any price; and, since she supports me, I am bound to please her. Besides," said the actor, with a stiffer manner, "you have broken faith with me. It was fully understood that I was to appear no more on your stage; all my task was to advise with you in the performances, remodel the plays, help in the stage-management; and you took advantage of my penury, and, when I asked for a small advance, insisted on forcing these relics of what I was upon the public pity. Enough: we part. I bear no malice."
RUGGE.—"Oh, don't you? No more do I. But I am a Briton, and I have the spirit of one. You had better not make an enemy of me."
WAIFE.—"I am above the necessity of making enemies. I have an enemy ready made in myself."
Rugge placed a strong bony hand upon the cripple's arm. "I dare say you have! A bad conscience, sir. How would you like your past life looked into, and blabbed out?"
GENTLEMAN WAIFE (mournfully).—"The last four years of it have been spent in your service, Mr. Rugge. If their record had been blabbed out for my benefit, there would not have been a dry eye in the house."
RUGGE. "I disdain your sneer. When a scorpion nursed at my bosom sneers at me, I leave it to its own reflections. But I don't speak of the years in which that scorpion has been enjoying a salary and smoking canaster at my expense. I refer to an earlier dodge in its checkered existence. Ha, sir, you wince! I suspect I can find out something about you which would—"
WAIFE (fiercely).—"Would what?"
RUGGE.—"Oh, lower your tone, sir; no bullying me. I suspect! I have good reason for suspicion; and if you sneak off in this way, and cheat me out of my property in Juliet Araminta, I will leave no stone unturned to prove what I suspect: look to it, slight man! Come, I don't wish to quarrel; make it up, and" (drawing out his pocket-book) "if you want cash down, and will have an engagement in black and white for three years for Juliet Araminta, you may squeeze a good sum out of me, and go yourself where you please: you'll never be troubled by me. What I want is the girl."
All the actor laid aside, Waife growled out, "And hang me; sir, if you shall have the girl!"
At this moment Sophy opened the door wide, and entered boldly. She had heard her grandfather's voice raised, though its hoarse tones did not allow her to distinguish his words. She was alarmed for him. She came in, his guardian fairy, to protect him from the oppressor of six feet high. Rugge's arm was raised, not indeed to strike, but rather to declaim. Sophy slid between him and her grandfather, and, clinging round the latter, flung out her own arm, the forefinger raised menacingly towards the Remorseless Baron. How you would have clapped if you had seen her so at Covent Garden! But I'll swear the child did not know she was acting. Rugge did, and was struck with admiration and regretful rage at the idea of losing her.
"Bravo!" said he, involuntarily. "Come, come, Waife, look at her: she was born for the stage. My heart swells with pride. She is my property, morally speaking; make her so legally; and hark, in your ear, fifty pounds. Take me in the humour,—Golconda opens,—fifty pounds!"