Hard Cash, by Charles Reade

Chapter 3

THE long vacation commenced about a month afterwards, and Hardie came to his father’s house, to read for honours, unimpeded by university races and college lectures; and the ploughed and penitent one packed up his Aldrich and his Whately, the then authorities in Logic, and brought them home, together with a firm resolution to master that joyous science before the next examination for Smalls in October. But lo! ere he had been an hour at home, he found his things put neatly away in his drawers on the feminine or vertical system — deep strata of waistcoats, strata of trousers, strata of coats, strata of papers — and his Logic gone.

In the course of the evening he taxed his sister good-humouredly, and asked “What earthly use that book was to her, not wearing curls.”

“I intend to read it, and study it, and teach you it,” replied Julia, rather languidly — considering the weight of the resolve.

“Oh, if you have boned it to read, I say no more; the crime will punish itself.”

“Be serious, Edward, and think of mamma! I cannot sit with my hands before me, and let you be reploughed.”

“I don’t want. But — reploughed! — haw, haw! but you can’t help me at Logic, as you used at Syntax. Why, all the world knows a girl can’t learn Logic.”

“A girl can learn anything she chooses to learn. What she can’t learn is things other people set her down to.” Before Edward could fully digest this revelation, she gave the argument a new turn by adding fretfully, “And don’t be so unkind, thwarting and teasing me!” and all in a moment she was crying.

“Halloa!” ejaculated Edward, taken quite by surprise. “What is the matter, dears?” inquired maternal vigilance from the other end of the room. “You did not speak brusquely to her, Edward?”

“No, no,” said Julia eagerly. “It is I that am turned so cross and so peevish. I am quite a changed girl. Mamma, what is the matter with me?” And she laid her brow on her mother’s bosom.

Mrs. Dodd caressed the lovely head soothingly with one hand, and made a sign over it to Edward to leave them alone. She waited quietly till Julia was composed: and then said, softly, “ Come, tell me what it is: nothing that Edward said to you; for I heard almost every word, and I was just going to smile, or nearly, when you —— And, my love, it is not the first time, you know. I would not tell Edward, but I have more than once seen your eyes with tears in them.”

“Have you, mamma?” said Julia, scarcely above a whisper.

“Why, you know I have. But I said to myself it was no use forcing confidence. I thought I would be very patient, and wait till you came to me with it; so now, what is it, my darling? Why do you speak of one thing and think of another? and cry without any reason that your mother can see?”

“I don’t know, mamma,” said Julia, hiding her head. “I think it is because I sleep so badly. I rise in the morning hot and quivering, and more tired then I lay down.”

Mrs. Dodd inquired how long this had been.

Julia did not answer this question; she went on, with her face still hidden: “Mamma, I do feel so depressed and hysterical, or else in violent spirits: but not nice and cheerful as you are, and I used to be; and I go from one thing to another, and can settle to nothing — even in church I attend by fits and starts: I forgot to water my very flowers last night: and I heard Mrs. Maxley out of my window tell Sarah I am losing my colour. Am I? But what does it matter? I am losing my sense; for I catch myself for ever looking in the glass, and that is a sure sign of a fool, you know. And I cannot pass the shops: I stand and look in, and long for the very dearest silks, and for diamonds in my hair.” A deep sigh followed the confession of these multiform imperfections; and the culprit half raised her head to watch their effect.

As for Mrs. Dodd, she opened her eyes wide with surprise; but at the end of the heterogeneous catalogue she smiled, and said, “I cannot believe that. If ever there was a young lady free from personal vanity, it is my Julia. Why, your thoughts run by nature away from yourself; you were born for others.”

Her daughter kissed her gratefully, and smiled: but after a pause, said, sorrowfully, “Ah! that was the old Julia, as seen with your dear eyes. I have almost forgotten her. The new one is what I tell you, dear mamma, and that” (within sudden fervour) “is a dreamy, wandering, vain, egotistical, hysterical, abominable girl.”

“Let me kiss this monster that I have brought into the world,” said Mrs. Dodd. “And now let me think.” She rested her eyes calm and penetrating upon her daughter; and at this mere look, but a very searching one, the colour mounted and mounted in Julia’s cheek strangely.

“After all,” said Mrs. Dodd thoughtfully, “yours is a critical age. Perhaps my child is turning to a woman; my rosebud to a rose. And she sighed. Mothers will sigh at things none other ever sighed at.

“To a weed, I fear,” replied Julia. “What will you say when I own I felt no real joy at Edward’s return this time? And yesterday I cried, ‘Do get away, and don’t pester me!’”

“To your brother? Oh!”

“Oh, no, mamma, that was to poor Spot. He jumped on me in a reverie, all affection, poor thing.”

“Well, for your comfort, dogs do not appreciate the niceties of our language.”

“I am afraid they do; when we kick them.”

Mrs. Dodd smiled at the admission implied here, and the deep penitence it was uttered with. But Julia remonstrated, “Oh no! no! don’t laugh at me, but help me within your advice: you are so wise and so experienced: you must have been a girl before you were an angel. You must know what is the matter with me. Oh, do pray cure me, or else kill me, for I cannot go on like this, all my affections deadened and my peace disturbed.”

And now the mother looked serious and thoughtful enough; and the daughter watched her furtively. “Julia,” said Mrs. Dodd, very gravely, “if it was not my child, reared under my eye, and never separated from me a single day, I should say, this young lady is either afflicted with some complaint, and it affects her nerves and spirits; or else she has — she is — what inexperienced young people call ‘in love.’ You need not look so frightened, child; nobody in their senses suspects you of imprudence or indelicacy; and therefore I feel quite sure that your constitution is at a crisis, or your health has suffered some shock — pray Heaven it may not be a serious one. You will have the best advice, and without delay, I promise you.”

That very evening, Mrs. Dodd sent a servant into the town with a note like a cocked-hat for Mr. Osmond, a consulting surgeon, who bore a high reputation in Barkington. He came, and proved too plump for that complete elegance she would have desired in a medical attendant; but had a soft hand, a gentle touch, and a subdued manner. He spoke to the patient with a kindness which won the mother directly; had every hope of setting her right without any violent or disagreeable remedies; but, when she had retired, altered his tone; and told Mrs. Dodd seriously she had done well to send for him in time: it was a case of “Hyperaesthesia” (Mrs. Dodd clasped her hands in alarm), “or as unprofessional persons would say, ‘excessive sensibility.’”

Mrs. Dodd was somewhat relieved. Translation blunts thunderbolts. She told him she had always feared for her child on that score. But was sensibility curable? Could a nature be changed?

He replied that the Idiosyncrasy could not; but its morbid excess could, especially when taken in time. Advice was generally called in too late. However, here the only serious symptom was the Insomnia. “We must treat her for that,” said he, writing a prescription; “but for the rest, active employment, long walks or rides, and a change of scene and associations, will be all that will be required. In these cases,” resumed Mr. Osmond, “connected as they are with Hyperaemia, some medical men considered moderate venesection to be indicated.” He then put on his gloves saying, “The diet, of course, must be Antiphlogistic. Let us say then, for breakfast, dry toast with very little butter — no coffee — cocoa (from the nibs), or weak tea: for luncheon, beef-tea or mutton-broth: for dinner, a slice of roast chicken, and tapioca or semolina pudding. I would give her one glass of sherry, but no more, and barley-water; it would be as well to avoid brown meats, at all events for the present. With these precautions, my dear madam, I think your anxiety will soon be happily removed.”

Julia took her long walks and light diet; and became a little pale at times, and had fewer bursts of high spirits in the intervals of depression. Her mother went with her case to a female friend. The lady said she would not trust to surgeons and apothecaries; she would have a downright physician. “Why not go to the top of the tree at once, and call in Dr. Short? You have heard of him?”

“Oh, yes; I have even met him in society; a most refined person: I will certainly follow your advice and consult him. Oh, thank you, Mrs. Bosanquet! A propos, do you consider him skilful?

“Oh, immensely; he is a particular friend of my husband’s.”

This was so convincing, that off went another three-cocked note, and next day a dark-green carriage and pair dashed up to Mrs. Dodd’s door, and Dr. Short bent himself in an arc, got out, and slowly mounted the stairs. He was six feet two, wonderfully thin, livid, and gentleman-like. Fine homing head, keen eye, lantern jaws. At sight of him Mrs. Dodd rose and smiled. Julia started and sat trembling. He stepped across the room inaudibly, and after the usual civilities, glanced a! the patient’s tongue, and touched her wrist delicately. “Pulse is rapid,” said he.

Mrs. Dodd detailed the symptoms. Dr. Short listened within the patient politeness of a gentleman, to whom all this was superfluous. He asked for a sheet of note-paper, and divided it so gently, he seemed to be persuading one thing to be two. He wrote a pair of prescriptions, and whilst thus employed looked up every now and then and conversed with the ladies.

“You have a slight subscapular affection, Miss Dodd: I mean, a little pain under the shoulder-blade.”

“No, sir,” said Julia quietly.

Dr. Short looked a little surprised; his female patients rarely contradicted him. Was it for them to disown things he was so a good as to assign them?

“Ah!” said he, “you are not conscious of it: all the better; it must be slight; a mere uneasiness: no more.” He then numbered the prescriptions, 1, 2, and advised Mrs. Dodd to (1r01) No. I after the eighth day, and substitute No. 2, to be continued until convalescence. He put on his gloves to leave. Mrs. Dodd then, with some hesitation, asked him humbly whether she might ask him what the disorder was. “Certainly, madam,” said he graciously; “your daughter is labouring under a slight torpidity of the liver. The first prescription is active, and is to clear the gland itself, and the biliary ducts, of the excretory accumulation; and the second is exhibited to promote a healthy normal habit in that important part of the vascular system.”

“What, then, it is not Hyperaemia?”

“Hyperaemia? There is no such disorder in the books.”

“You surprise me,” said Mrs. Dodd. “Dr. Osmond certainly thought it was Hyperaemia.” And she consulted her little ivory tablets, whereon she had written the word.

But meantime, Dr. Short’s mind, to judge by his countenance, was away roaming distant space in search of Osmond.

“Osmond? Osmond? I do not know that name in medicine.”

“Oh, oh, oh!” cried Julia, “and they both live in the same street!” Mrs. Dodd held up her finger to this outspoken patient.

But a light seemed to break in on Dr. Short. “Ah! you mean Mr. Osmond: a surgeon. A very respectable man, a most respectable man. I do not know a more estimable person — in his grade of the profession — than my good friend Mr. Osmond. And so he gives opinions in medical cases, does he?” Dr. Short paused, apparently to realise this phenomenon in the world of Mind. He resumed in a different tone: “You may have misunderstood him. Hyperaemia exists, of course; since he says so. But Hyperaemia is not a complaint; it is a symptom. Of biliary derangement. My worthy friend looks at disorders from a mental point; very natural: his interest lies that way, perhaps you are aware: but profounder experience proves that mental sanity is merely one of the results of bodily health: and I am happy to assure you that, the biliary canal once cleared, and the secretions restored to the healthy habit by these prescriptions, the Hyperaemia, and other concomitants of hepatic derangement, will disperse, and leave our interesting patient in the enjoyment of her natural intelligence, her friends’ affectionate admiration, and above all, of a sound constitution. Ladies, I have the honour” and the Doctor eked out this sentence by rising.

“Oh, thank you, Dr. Short,” said Mrs. Dodd, rising within him; “you inspire me with confidence and gratitude. As if under the influence of these feelings only, she took Dr. Short’s palm and pressed it. Of the two hands, which met for a moment then, one was soft and melting, the other a bunch of bones; but both were very white, and so equally adroit, that a double fee passed without the possibility of a bystander suspecting it.

For the benefit of all young virgins afflicted like Julia Dodd, here are the Doctor’s prescriptions:—

FOR MISS DODD.

Rx Pil: Hydrarg: Chlor: Co: singuml: nocte sumend: Decoc: Aloes Co: 3j omni mane viii. Sept. J. S.


FOR MISS DODD.

Rx Conf: Sennae. Potass: Bitartrat. Extr: Tarax: a a 3ss Misft: Elect: Cujus sum: 3j omni mane. xviii. Sept. J. S.


Id: Anglie reddit: per me Carol: Arundin:

The same done into English by me. C. R.

FOR MISS DODD.

1. O Jupiter aid us!! Plummer’s pill to be taken every night, 1 oz. compound decoction of Aloes every morning.

8th Sept. J. S.

FOR MISS DODD.

2. O Jupiter aid us!! with Confection of Senna, Bitartrate of Potash, extract of Dandelion, of each half an ounce, let an electuary be mixed; of which let her take 1 drachm every morning.

18th Sept. J. S.


“Quite the courtier,” said Mrs. Dodd, delighted. Julia assented: she even added, with a listless yawn, “I had no idea that a skeleton was such a gentlemanlike thing; I never saw one before.”

Mrs. Dodd admitted he was very thin.

“Oh no, mamma; ‘thin’ implies some little flesh. When he felt my pulse, a chill struck to my heart. Death in a black suit seemed to steal up to me, and lay a finger on my wrist: and mark me for his own.”

Mrs. Dodd forbade her to give way to such gloomy ideas; and expostulated firmly with her for judging learned men by their bodies. “However,” said she, “if the good, kind doctor’s remedies do not answer his expectations and mine, I shall take you to London directly. I do hope papa will soon be at home.”

Poor Mrs. Dodd was herself slipping into a morbid state. A mother collecting Doctors! It is a most fascinating kind of connoisseurship, grows on one like Drink; like Polemics; like Melodrama; like the Millennium; like any Thing.

Sure enough, the very next week she and Julia sat patiently at the morning levee of an eminent and titled London surgeon. Full forty patients were before them: so they had to wait and wait. At last they were ushered into the presence-chamber, and Mrs. Dodd entered on the beaten ground of her daughter’s symptoms. The noble surgeon stopped her civilly but promptly. “Auscultation will give us the clue,” said he, and drew his stethoscope. Julia shrank and cast an appealing look at her mother; but the impassive chevalier reported on each organ in turn without moving his ear from the key-hole: “Lungs pretty sound,” said he, a little plaintively: “so is the liver. Now for the —— Hum? There is no kardiae insufficiency, I think, neither mitral nor tricuspid. If we find no tendency to hypertrophy we shall do very well. Ah! I have succeeded in diagnosing a slight diastolic murmur; very slight.” He deposited the instrument, and said, not without a certain shade of satisfaction that his research had not been fruitless, “The heart is the peccant organ.”

“Oh, sir! is it serious?” said poor Mrs. Dodd.

“By no means. Try this” (he scratched a prescription which would not have misbecome the tomb of Cheops), “and come again in a month.” Ting! He struck a bell. That “ting” said, “Go, live, Guinea; and let another come.”

“Heart-disease now! “ Said Mrs. Dodd, sinking back in her hired carriage, and the tears were in her patient eyes.

“My own, own mamma,” said Julia earnestly, “do not distress yourself. I have no disease in the world, but my old, old, old one, of being a naughty, wayward girl. As for you, mamma, you have resigned your own judgment to your inferiors, and that is both our misfortunes. Dear, dear mamma, do take me to a doctress next time, if you have not had enough.”

“To a what, love?”

“A she-doctor, then.”

“A female physician, child? There is no such thing. No; assurance is becoming a characteristic of our sex; but we have not yet intruded ourselves into the learned professions, thank Heaven.”

“Excuse me, mamma, there are one or two; for the newspapers say so.”

“‘Well, dear, there are none in this country, happily.”

“‘What, not in London?”

“No.”

“Then what is the use of such a great overgrown place, all smoke, if there is nothing in it you cannot find in the country? Let us go back to Barkington this very day, this minute, this instant; oh, pray, pray.”

“And so you shall — tomorrow. But you must pity your poor mother’s anxiety, and see Dr. Chalmers first.”

“Oh, mamma, not another surgeon! He frightened me; he hurt me. I never heard of such a thing; oh, please not another surgeon.”

“It is not a surgeon, dear; it is the Court Physician.”

The Court Physician detected “a somewhat morbid condition of the great nervous centres.” To an inquiry whether there was heart-disease, he replied, “Pooh!” On being told Sir William had announced heart-disease, he said, “Ah! that alters the case entirely.” He maintained, however, that it must be trifling, and would go no further, the nervous system once restored to its healthy tone. “O Jupiter, aid us! Blue pill and Seidhitz powder.”

Dr. Kenyon found the mucous membrane was irritated and required soothing. “O Jupiter, &c.”

Mrs. Dodd returned home consoled and confused; Julia listless and apathetic. Tea was ordered, with two or three kinds of bread, thinnest slices of meat, and a little blane mange, &c., their favourite repast after a journey; and whilst the tea was drawing, Mrs. Dodd looked over the card-tray and enumerated the visitors that had called during their absence. “Dr. Short — Mr. Osmond — Mrs. Hetherington — Mr. Alfred Hardie — Lady Dewry — Mrs. and Miss Bosanquet. What a pity Edward was not at home, dear; Mr. Alfred Hardie’s visit must have been to him.”

“Oh, of course, mamma.”

“A very manly young gentleman.”

“‘Oh, yes. No. He is so rude.”

“Is he? Ah! he was ill just then, and pain irritates gentlemen; they are not accustomed to it, poor Things.”

“That is like you, dear mamma; making excuses for one.” Julia added faintly, “But he is so impetuous.”

“I have a daughter who reconciles me to impetuosity. And he must have a good heart, he was so kind to my boy.”

Julia looked down smiling; but presently seemed to be seized with a spirit of contradiction: she began to pick poor Alfred to pieces; he was this, that, and the other; and then so bold, she might say impudent.

Mrs. Dodd replied calmly that he was very kind to her boy.

“Oh, mamma, you cannot approve all the words he spoke.”

“It is not worth while to remember all the words young gentlemen speak now-a-days. He was very kind to my boy, I remember that.”

The tea was now ready, and Mrs. Dodd sat down, and patted a chair, with a smile of invitation for Julia to come and sit beside her. But Julia said, “In one minute, dear,” and left the room.

When she came back, she fluttered up to her mother and kissed her vehemently, then sat down radiant. “Ah!” said Mrs. Dodd, “why, you are looking yourself once more. How do you feel now? Better?”

“How do I feel? Let me see: The world seems one e-nor-mous flower-garden, and Me the butterfly it all belongs to.” She spake, and to confirm her words the airy thing went waltzing, sailing, and fluttering round the room, and sipping mamma every now and then on the wing.

In this buoyancy she remained some twenty-four hours; and then came clouds and chills, which, in their turn, gave way to exultation, duly followed by depression. Her spirits were so uncertain, that things too minute to justify narration turned the scale either way: a word from Mrs. Dodd — a new face at St. Anne’s Church looking devoutly her way — a piece of town gossip distilled in her ear by Mrs. Maxley — and she was sprightly or languid, and both more than reason.

One drizzly afternoon they were sitting silent and saddish in the drawing-room, Mrs. Dodd correcting the mechanical errors in a drawing of Julia’s, and admiring the rare dash and figure, and Julia doggedly studying Dr. Whately’s Logic, with now and then a sigh, when suddenly a trumpet seemed to articulate in the little hall: “Mestress Doedd at home?”

The lady rose from her seat, and said with a smile of pleasure, “I hear a voice.”

The door opened, and in darted a grey-headed man, with handsome but strongly marked features, laughing and shouting like a schoolboy broke loose. He cried out, “Ah! I’ve found y’ out at last.” Mrs. Dodd glided to meet him, and put out both her hands, the palms downwards, with the prettiest air of ladylike cordiality; he shook them heartily. “The vagabins said y’ had left the town; but y’ had only flitted from the quay to the subbubs; ’twas a pashint put me on the scint of ye. And how are y’ all these years? an’ how’s Sawmill?”

“Sawmill! What is that?”

“It’s just your husband. Isn’t his name Sawmill?”

“Dear no! Have you forgotten? — David.”

“Ou, ay. I knew it was some Scripcher Petrarch or another, Daavid, or Naathan, or Sawmill. And how is he, and where is he?”

Mrs. Dodd replied that he was on the seas, but expect ——

“Then I wish him well off ’em, confound ’em oncannall! Halloa! why, this will be the little girl grown up int’ a wumman while ye look round.”

“Yes, may good friend; and her mother’s darling.”

“And she’s a bonny lass, I can tell ye. But no freend to the Dockers, I see.”

“Ah!” said Mrs. Dodd sadly, “looks are deceitful; she is under medical advice at this very ——”

“Well, that won’t hurt her, unless she takes it.” And he burst into a ringing laugh: but in the middle of it, stopped dead short, and his face elongated. “Lord sake, mad’m,” said he impressively,” mind what y’ are at, though; Barkton’s just a trap for fanciful femuls: there’s a n’oily ass called Osmond, and a canting cut-throat called Stephenson and a genteel, cadaveris old assassin called Short, as long as a maypole; they’d soon take the rose out of Miss Floree’s cheek here. Why, they’d starve Cupid, an’ veneseck Venus, an’ blister Pomonee, the vagabins.”

Mrs. Dodd looked a little confused, and exchanged speaking glances with Julia. “ However,” she said calmly, “I have consulted Mr. Osmond and Dr. Short; but have not relied on them alone. I have taken her to Sir William Best. And to Dr. Chalmers. And to Dr. Kenyon.” And she felt invulnerable behind her phalanx of learning and reputation.

“Good Hivens!” roared the visitor, “what a gauntlet o’ gabies for one girl to run; and come out alive! And the picter of health. My faith, Miss Floree, y’ are tougher than ye look.”

“My daughter’s name is Julia,” observed Mrs. Dodd, a little haughtily; but instantly recovering herself, she said, “This is Dr. Sampson, love — an old friend of your mother’s.”

“And th’ Author an’ Invintor of th’ great Chronothairmal Therey o’ Midicine, th’ Unity Perriodicity an’ Remittency of all disease,” put in the visitor, with such prodigious swiftness of elocution that the words went tumbling over one another like railway carriages out on pleasure, and the sentence was a pile of loud, indistinct syllables.

Julia’s lovely eyes dilated at this clishmaclaver, and she bowed coldly. Dr. Sampson had revealed in this short interview nearly all the characteristics of voice, speech, and manner, she had been taught from infancy to shun: boisterous, gesticulatory, idiomatic; and had taken the discourse out of her mamma’s mouth twice. Now Albion Villa was a Red Indian hut in one respect: here nobody interrupted.

Mrs. Dodd had little personal egotism, but she had a mother’s, and could not spare this opportunity of adding another Doctor to her collection: so she said hurriedly, “Will you permit me to show you what your learned confreres have prescribed her?” Julia sighed aloud, and deprecated the subject with earnest furtive signs; Mrs. Dodd would not see them. Now, Dr. Sampson was himself afflicted with what I shall venture to call a mental ailment; to wit, a furious intolerance of other men’s opinions; he had not even patience to hear them. “Mai — dear — mad’m,” said he hastily, “when you’ve told me their names, that’s enough. Short treats her for liver, Sir William goes in for lung disease or heart, Chalmers sis it’s the nairves, and Kinyon the mookis membrin; and I say they are fools and lyres all four.”

“Julia!” ejaculated Mrs. Dodd, “this is very extraordinary.”

“No, it is not extraordinary,” cried Dr. Sampson defiantly; “nothing is extraordinary. D’ye think I’ve known these shallow men thirty years, and not plumbed ‘um?”

“Shallow, my good friend? Excuse me! they are the ablest men in your own branch of your own learned profession.”

“Th’ ablest! Oh, you mean the money-makingest: now listen me! our lairned Profession is a rascally one. It is like a barrel of beer. What rises to the top?” Here he paused for a moment, then answered himself furiously, “THE SCUM.”

This blast blown, he moderated a little. “Look see!” said he, “up to three or four thousand a year, a Docker is often an honest man, and sometimes knows something of midicine; not much, because it is not taught anywhere. But if he is making over five thousand, he must be a rogue or else a fool: either he has booed an’ booed, an’ cript an’ crawled, int’ wholesale collusion with th’ apothecary an’ the accoucheur — the two jockeys that drive John Bull’s faemily coach — and they are sucking the pashint togither, like a leash o’ leeches: or else he has turned spicialist; has tacked his name to some poplar disorder, real or imaginary; it needn’t exist to be poplar. Now, those four you have been to are spicialists, and that means monomaniues — their buddies exspatiate in West-ind squares, but their souls dwell in a n’alley, ivery man jack of ’em: Aberford’s in Stomich Alley, Chalmers’s in Nairve Court, Short’s niver stirs out o’ Liver Lane, Paul’s is stuck fast in Kidney Close, Kinyon’s in Mookis Membrin Mews, and Hibbard’s in Lung Passage. Look see! nixt time y’ are out of sorts, stid o’ consultin’ three bats an’ a n’owl at a guinea the piece, send direct to me, and I’ll give y’ all their opinions, and all their prescriptions, gratis. And deevilich dear ye’ll find ’em at the price, if ye swallow ‘m.”

Mrs. Dodd thanked him coldly for the offer, but said she would be more grateful if he would show his superiority to persons of known ability by just curing her daughter on the spot.

“Well, I will,” said he carelessly: and all his fire died out of him. “Put out your tongue! — Now your pulse!”

Mrs. Dodd knew her man (ladies are very apt to fathom their male acquaintance — too apt, I think); and, to pin him to the only medical theme which interested her, seized the opportunity while he was in actual contact with Julia’s wrist, and rapidly enumerated her symptoms, and also told him what Mr. Osmond had said about Hyperaesthesia.

“GOOSE GREECE!” barked Sampson, loud, clear, and sharp as an irritated watch-dog; but this one bow-wow vented, he was silent as abruptly.

Mrs. Dodd smiled, and proceeded to Hyperaemia, and thence to the Antiphlogistic Regimen,

At that unhappy adjective, Sampson jumped up, cast away his patient’s hand, forgot her existence — she was but a charming individual — and galloped into his native region, Generalities.

“Antiphlogistic! Mai — dear — mad’m, that one long fragmint of ass’s jaw has slain a million. Adapted to the weakness of human nature, which receives with rivirince ideas however childish, that come draped in long-tailed and exotic words, that aasimine polysyllable has riconciled the modern mind to the chimeras of th’ ancients, and outbutchered the guillotine, the musket, and the sword: ay, and but for me

Had barred the door
For cinturies more

on the great coming sceince, the sceince of healing diseases, instead of defining and dividing ’em and lengthening their names and their durashin, and shortening nothing but the pashint. Th’ Antiphlogistic Therey is this: That disease is fiery, and that any artificial exhaustion of vital force must cool the system, and reduce the morbid fire, called, in their donkey Latin ‘flamma,’ and in their compound donkey Latin ‘inflammation,’ and in their Goose Greece, ‘phlogosis,’ ‘phlegmon,’ &c. And accordingly th’ Antiphlogistic Practice is, to cool the sick man by bleeding him, and, when blid, either to rebleed him with a change of instrument, bites and stabs instid of gashes, or else to rake the blid, and then blister the blid and raked, and then push mercury till the teeth of the blid, raked, and blistered shake in their sockets, and to starve the blid, purged, salivated, blistered wretch from first to last. This is the Antiphlogistic system. It is seldom carried out entire, because the pashint, at the first or second link in their rimedial chain, expires; or else gives such plain signs of sinking, that even these ass-ass-ins take fright, and try t’ undo their own work, not disease’s, by tonics an’ turtle, and stimulants: which things given at the right time instead of the wrong, given when the pashint was merely weakened by his disorder, and not enfeebled by their didly rinmedies, would have cut th’ ailment down in a few hours.”

“Dear me,” said Mrs. Dodd; “and now, my good friend, with respect to my daughter——

“N’ list me!” clashed Sampson; “ye’re goen to fathom th’ antiphlogistics, since they still survive an’ slay in holes and corners like Barkton and d’Itly; I’ve driven the vamperes out o’ the cintres o’ civilisation. Begin with their coolers! Exhaustion is not a cooler, it is a feverer, and they know it; the way parrots know sentences. Why are we all more or less feverish at night? Because we are weaker. Starvation is no cooler, it is an inflamer, and they know it — as parrots know truths, but can’t apply them: for they know that burning fever rages in ivery town, street, camp, where Famine is. As for blood-letting, their prime cooler, it is inflammatory; and they know it (parrot-wise), for the thumping heart and bounding pulse of pashints blid by butchers in black, and bullocks blid by butchers in blue, prove it; and they have recorded this in all their books: yet stabbed, and bit, and starved, and mercuried, and murdered on. But mind ye, all their sham coolers are real weakeners (I wonder they didn’t inventory Satin and his brimstin lake among their refrijrators), and this is the point whence t’ appreciate their imbecility, and the sairvice I have rendered mankind in been the first t’ attack their banded school, at a time it seemed imprignable.”

“Ah! this promises to be very interesting,” sighed Mrs. Dodd; “and before you enter on so large a field, perhaps it would be as well to dispose of a little matter which lies at my heart. Here is my poor daughter——”

“NLISSMEE! A human Bean is in a constant state of flux and reflux; his component particles move, change, disappear, and are renewed; his life is a round of exhaustion and repair. Of this repair the brain is the sovereign ajint by night and day, and the blood the great living material, and digestible food th’ indispensible supply. And this balance of exhaustion and repair is too nice to tamper with: disn’t a single sleepless night, or dinnerless day, write some pallor on the face, and tell against the buddy? So does a single excessive perspiration, a trifling diary, or a cut finger, though it takes but half an ounce of blood out of the system. And what is the cause of that rare ivint — which occurs only to pashmints that can’t afford docking — Dith from old age? Think ye the man really succumms under years, or is mowed down by Time? Nay, yon’s just Potry an’ Bosh. Nashins have been thinned by the lancet, but niver by the scythe; and years are not forces, but misures of events. No, Centenarius decays and dies bekase his bodil’ expindituire goes on, and his bodil’ income falls off by failure of the reparative and reproductive forces. And now suppose bodil’ exhaustion and repair were a mere matter of pecuniary, instead of vital, economy: what would you say to the steward or housekeeper, who, to balance your accounts and keep you solvent, should open every known channel of expinse with one hand, and with the other — stop the supplies? Yet this is how the Dockers for thirty cinturies have burned th’ human candle at both ends, yet wondered the light of life expired under their hands.”

“It seems irrational. Then in my daughter’s case you would ——”

“Looksee! A pashint falls sick. What haps directly? Why the balance is troubled, and exhaustion exceeds repair. For proof obsairve the buddy when Disease is fresh!

And you will always find a loss of flesh

to put it economikly, and then you must understand it, bein a housekeeper —

Whativer the Disease, its form or essence,
Expinditure goes on, and income lessens.

But to this sick and therefore weak man, comes a Docker purblind with cinturies of Cant, Pricidint, Blood, and Goose Greece; imagines him a fiery pervalid, though the common sense of mankind through its interpreter common language, pronounces him an ‘invalid,’ gashes him with a lancet, spills out the great liquid material of all repair by the gallon, and fells this weak man, wounded now, and pale, and fainting, with Dith stamped on his face, to th’ earth, like a bayoneted soldier or a slaughtered ox. If the weak man, wounded thus, and weakened, survives, then the chartered Thugs who have drained him by the bung-hole, turn to and drain him by the spigot; they blister him, and then calomel him: and lest Nature should have the ghost of a chance to conterbalance these frightful outgoings, they keep strong meat and drink out of his system emptied by their stabs, bites, purges, mercury, and blisters; damdijjits! And that, Asia excipted, was profissional Midicine from Hippocrates to Sampsin. Antiphlogistic is but a modern name for an ass-ass-inating rouutine which has niver varied a hair since scholastic midicine, the silliest and didliest of all the hundred forms of Quackery, first rose — unlike Seeince, Art, Religion, and all true Suns — in the West; to wound the sick; to weaken the weak; and mutilate the hurt; and thin mankind.”

The voluble impugner of his own profession delivered these two last words in thunder so sudden and effective as to strike Julia’s work out of her hands. But here, as in Nature, a moment’s pause followed the thunderclap; so Mrs. Dodd, who had long been patiently watching her opportunity, smothered a shriek, and edged in a word: “This is irresistible; you have confuted everybody, to their heart’s content; and now the question is, what course shall we substitute?” She meant, “in the great case, which occupies me.” But Sampson attached a nobler, wider, sense to her query. “What course? Why the great Chronothairmal practice, based on the remittent and febrile character of all disease; above all, on

The law of Perriodicity, a law
Midicine yet has wells of light to draw.

By Remittency, I mean th’ ebb of Disease, by Perriodicity, th’ ebb and also the flow, the paroxysm and the remission. These remit and recur, and keep tune like the tides, not in ague and remittent fever only, as the Profission imagines to this day, but in all diseases from a Scirrhus in the Pylorus t’ a toothache. And I discovered this, and the new path to cure of all diseases it opens. Alone I did it; and what my reward? Hooted, insulted, belied, and called a quack by the banded school of profissional assassins, who, in their day hooted Harvey and Jinner — authors too of great discoveries, but discoveries narrow in their consequences compared with mine. T’ appreciate Chronothairmalism, ye must begin at the beginning; so just answer me — What is man?”

At this huge inquiry whirring tip all in a moment, like a cock-pheasant in a wood, Mrs. Dodd sank back in her chair despondent. Seeing her hors de combat, Sampson turned to Julia and demanded, twice as loud, “WHAT IS MAN?” Julia opened two violet eyes at him, and then looked at her mother for a hint how to proceed.

“How can that child answer such a question?” sighed Mrs. Dodd. “Let us return to the point.”

“I have never strayed an inch from it. It’s about ‘Young Physic.’”

“No, excuse me, it is about a young lady. Universal Medicine: what have I to do with that?”

“Now this is the way with them all,” cried Sampson, furious; “there lowed John Bull. The men and women of this benighted nashin have an ear for anything, provided it matters nothing: talk Jology, Conchology, Entomology, Theology, Meteorology, Astronomy, Deuteronomy, Botheronomy, or Boshology, and one is listened to with rivirence, because these are all far-off things in fogs; but at a word about the great, near, useful art of Healing, y’all stop your ears; for why? your life and dailianhourly happiness depend on it. But ‘no,’ sis John Bull, the knowledge of our own buddies, and how to save our own Bakin — Beef I mean — day by day, from disease and chartered ass-ass-ins, all that may interest the thinkers in Saturn, but what the deevil is it t’ us? Talk t’ us of the hiv’nly buddies, not of our own; babble o’ comets an’ meteors an’ Ethereal nibulae (never mind the nibulae in our own skulls). Discourse t’ us of Predistinashin, Spitzbairgen seaweed, the last novel, the siventh vile; of Chrisehinising the Patagonians on condition they are not to come here and Chrischinise the Whitechapelians; of the letter to the Times from the tinker wrecked at Timbuctoo; and the dear Professor’s lecture on the probabeelity of snail-shells in the backyard of the moon: but don’t ask us to know ourselves — Ijjits!!”

The eloquent speaker, depressed by the perversity of Englishmen in giving their minds to every part of creation but their bodies, suffered a momentary loss of energy; then Mrs. Dodd, who had long been watching lynx-like, glided in. “Let us compound. You are for curing all the world, beginning with Nobody. My ambition is to cure my girl, and leave mankind in peace. Now, if you will begin with my Julia, I will submit to rectify the universe in its proper turn. Any time will do to set the human race right; you own it is in no hurry: but my child’s case presses; so do pray cure her for me. Or at least tell me what her Indisposition is.”

“Oh! What! didn’t I tell you? Well, there’s nothing the matter with her.”

At receiving this cavalier reply for the reward of all her patience, Mrs. Dodd was so hurt, and so nearly angry, that she rose with dignity from her seat, her cheek actually pink, and the water in her eyes. Sampson saw she was ruffled, and appealed to Julia — of all people. “There now, Miss Julia,” said he, ruefully; “she is in a rage because I won’t humbug her. Poplus voolt decipee. I tell you, ma’am, it is not a midical case. Give me disease and I’ll cure ’t. Stop, I’ll tell ye what do: let her take and swallow the Barkton Docks’ prescriptions, and Butcher Best’s, and canting Kinyon’s, and after those four tinkers there’ll be plenty holes to mend; then send for me!”

Here was irony. Mrs. Dodd retorted by finesse. She turned on him with a treacherous smile, and said: “Never mind doctors and patients; it is so long since we met; I do hope you will waive ceremony, and dine with me en ami.

He accepted with pleasure; but must return to his inn first and get rid of his dirty boots and pashints. And with this he whipped out his watch, and saw that, dealing with universal medicine, he had disappointed more than one sick individual; so shot out as hard as he had shot in, and left the ladies looking at one another after the phenomenon.

“Well?” said Julia, with a world of meaning.

“Yes, dear,” replied Mrs. Dodd, “he is a little eccentric. I think I will request them to make some addition to the dinner.”

“No, mamma, if you please, not to put me off so transparently. If I had interrupted, and shouted, and behaved so, you would have packed me off to bed, or somewhere, directly.”

“Don’t say ‘packed,’ love. Dismissed me to bed.”

“Ah!” cried Julia, “that privileged person is gone, and we must all mind our P’s and Q’s once more.”

Mrs. Dodd, with an air of nonchalance, replied to the effect that Dr. Sampson was not her offspring, and so she was not bound to correct his eccentricities. “And I suppose,” said she, languidly, “we must accept these extraordinary people as we find them. But that is no reason why you should say ‘P’s and Q’s,’ darling.”

That day her hospitable board was spread over a trap. Blessed with an oracle irrelevantly fluent, and dumb to the point, she had asked him to dinner with maternal address. He could not be on his guard eternally; sooner or later, through inadvertence, or in a moment of convivial recklessness, or in a parenthesis of some grand Generality, he would cure her child: or, perhaps, at his rate of talking, would wear out all his idle themes, down to the very “well-being of mankind;” and them Julia’s mysterious indisposition would come on the blank tapis. With these secret hopes she presided at the feast, all grace and gentle amity. Julia, too, sat down with a little design, but a very different one, viz., of being chilly company; for she disliked this new acquaintance, and hated the science of medicine.

The unconscious Object chatted away with both, and cut their replies very short, and did strange things: sent away Julia’s chicken, regardless of her scorn, and prescribed mutton; called for champagne and made her drink it and pout; and thus excited Mrs. Dodd’s hopes that he was attending to the case by degrees.

But after dinner, Julia, to escape medicine universal and particular, turned to her mother, and dilated on treachery of her literary guide, the Criticaster. “It said ‘Odds and Ends’ was a good novel to read by the seaside. So I thought then oh! how different it must be from most books, if you can sit by the glorious sea and even look at it. So I sent for it directly, and, would you believe, it was an ignoble thing; all flirtations and curates. The sea indeed! A pond would be fitter to read it by; and one with a good many geese on.”

“Was ever such simplicity!” said Mrs. Dodd. “Why, my dear, that phrase about the sea does not mean anything. I shall have you believing that Mr. So-and-So, a novelist, can ’wither fashionable folly,‘ and that ’a painful incident’ to one shopkeeper has ’thrown a gloom’ over a whole market-town, and so on. Now-a-days every third phrase is of this character; a starling’s note. Once, it appears, there was an age of gold, and then came one of iron, and then of brass. All these are gone, and the age of ‘jargon’ has succeeded.”

She sighed, and Sampson generalised; he plunged from the seaside novel into the sea of fiction. He rechristened that joyous art Feckshin, and lashed its living professors. “You devour their three volumes greedily,” said he, “but after your meal you feel as empty as a drum; there is no leading idea in ‘um; now there always is — in Moliere; and he comprehended the midicine of his age. But what fundamental truth d’our novelists iver convey? All they can do is pile incidents. Their customers dictate th’ article: unideaed melodrams for unideaed girls. The writers and their feckshins belong to one species, and that’s ‘the non-vertebrated animals;’ and their midicine is Bosh; why, they bleed still for falls and fevers; and niver mention vital chronometry. Then they don’t look straight at Nature, but see with their ears, and repeat one another twelve deep. Now, listen me! there are the cracters for an ‘ideaed feckshin’ in Barkington, and I’d write it, too, only I haven’t time.”

At this, Julia, forgetting her resolution, broke out, “Romantic characters in Barkington? Who? who?”

“Who should they be, but my pashints? Ay, ye may lauch, Miss Julee, but wait till ye see them.” He was then seized with a fit of candour, and admitted that some, even of his pashints, were colourless; indeed, not to mince the matter, six or seven of that sacred band were nullity in person. “I can compare the beggars to nothing,” said he, “but the globules of the Do–Nothings; dee —— d insipid, and nothing in ’em. But the others make up. Man alive, I’ve got ‘a rosy-cheeked miser,’ and an ‘ill-used attorney,’ and an ‘honest Screw’— he is a gardener, with a head like a cart-horse.”

“Mamma! mamma! that is Mr. Maxley,” cried Julia, clapping her hands, and thawing in her own despite.

“Then there’s my virgin martyr and my puppy. They are brother and sister; and there’s their father, but he is an impenetrable dog — won’t unbosom. Howiver, he sairves to draw chicks for the other two, and so keep ’em goen. By-the-bye, you know my puppy?”

“We have not that honour. Do we know Dr. Sampson’s puppy, love?” inquired Mrs. Dodd, rather languidly.

“Mamma! — I— I— know no one of that name.”

“Don’t tell me! Why it was he sent me here told me where you lived, and I was to make haste, for Miss Dodd was very ill: it is young Hardie, the banker’s son, ye know.”

Mrs. Dodd said good-humouredly, but with a very slight touch of irony, that really they were very much flattered by the interest Mr. Alfred Hardie had shown; especially as her daughter had never exchanged ten words with him. Julia coloured at this statement, the accuracy of which she had good reason to doubt; and the poor girl felt as if an icicle passed swiftly along her back. And then, for the first the in her life, she thought her mother hardly gracious; and she wanted to say she was obliged to Mr. Alfred Hardie, but dared not, and despised herself for not daring. Her composure was further attacked by Mrs. Dodd looking full at her, and saying interrogatively, “I wonder how that young gentleman could know about your being ill?”

At this Julia eyed her plate very attentively, and murmured, “I believe it is all over the town: and seriously too; so Mrs. Maxley says, for she tells me that in Barkington if more than one doctor is sent for, that bodes ill for the patient.”

“Deevelich ill,” cried Sampson heartily.

“For two physicians, like a pair of oars,
Conduck him faster to the Styjjin shores.”4

4 Garth.

Julia looked him in the face, and coldly ignored this perversion of Mrs. Maxley’s meaning; and Mrs. Dodd returned pertinaciously to the previous topic. “Mr. Alfred Hardie interests me; he was good to Edward. I am curious to know why you call him a puppy?”

“Only because he is one, ma’am. And that is no reason at all with ‘the Six.’ He is a juveneel pidant and a puppy, and contradicts ivery new truth, bekase it isn’t in Aristotle and th’ Eton Grammar; and he’s such a chatterbox, ye can’t get in a word idgeways; and he and his sister — that’s my virgin martyr — are a farce. He keeps sneerin’ at her relijjin, and that puts her in such a rage, she threatens ’t’ intercede for him at the throne.”

“Jargon,” sighed Mrs. Dodd, and just shrugged her lovely shoulders. “We breathe it — we float in an atmosphere of it. My love?” And she floated out of the room, and Julia floated after.

Sampson sat meditating on the gullibility of man in matters medical. This favourite speculation detained him late, and almost his first word on entering the drawing-room was, “Good night, little girl.”

Julia coloured at this broad hint, drew herself up, and lighted a bedcandle. She went to Mrs. Dodd, kissed her, and whispered in her ear, “I hate him!” and, as she retired, her whole elegant person launched ladylike defiance; under which brave exterior no little uneasiness was hidden. “Oh, what will become of me!” thought she, “if he has gone and told him about Henley?”

“Let’s see the prescriptions, ma’am,” said Dr. Sampson.

Delighted at this concession, Mrs. Dodd took them out of her desk and spread them earnestly. He ran his eye over them, and pointed out that the mucous-membrane man and the nerve man had prescribed the same medicine, on irreconcilable grounds; and a medicine, moreover, whose effect on the nerves was nil, and on the mucous membrane was not to soothe it, but plough it and harrow it; “and did not that open her eyes?” He then reminded her that all these doctors in consultation would have contrived to agree. “But you,” said he, “have baffled the collusive hoax by which Dox arrived at a sham uniformity — honest uniformity can never exist till scientific principles obtain. Listme! To begin, is the pashint in love?”

The doctor put this query in just the same tone in which they inquire “Any expectoration?” But Mrs. Dodd, in reply, was less dry and business-like. She started and looked aghast. This possibility had once, for a moment, occurred to her, but only to be rejected, the evidence being all against it.

“In love?” said she. “That child, and I not know it!”

He said he had never supposed that. “But I thought I’d just ask ye; for she has no bodily ailment, and the passions are all counterfeit diseases; they are connected, like all diseases, with cerebral instability, have their hearts and chills like all diseases, and their paroxysms and remissions like all diseases. Nlistme! You have detected the signs of a slight cerebral instability; I have ascertained th’ absence of all physical cause: then why make this healthy pashint’s buddy a test-tube for poisons? Sovereign drugs (I deal with no other, I leave the nullities to the noodles) are either counterpoisons or poisons, and here there is nothing to counterpoison at prisent. So I’m for caushin, and working on the safe side th’ hidge, till we are less in the dark. Mind ye, young women at her age are kittle cattle; they have gusts o’ this, and gusts o’ that, th’ unreasonable imps. D’ye see these two pieces pasteboard? They are tickets for a ball,

In Barkton town-hall.”

“Yes, of course I see them,” said Mrs. Dodd dolefully.

“Well, I prescribe ’em. And when they have been taken,

And the pashint well shaken,

perhaps we shall see whether we are on the right system: and if so, we’ll dose her with youthful society in a more irrashinal form; conversaziones, cookeyshines, et citera. And if we find ourselves on the wrong tack why then we’ll hark back.

Stick blindly to ‘a course,’ the Dockers cry.
But it does me harm: Then ’twill do good by-and-bye.
Where lairned ye that, Echoes of Echoes, say!
The killer ploughs ‘a course,’ the healer ’feels his way.‘

So mysterious are the operations of the human mind, that, when we have exploded in verse tuneful as the above, we lapse into triumph instead of penitence. Not that doggrel meets with reverence here below — the statues to it are few, and not in marble, but in the material itself — But then an Impromptu! A moment ago our Posy was not: and now is; with the speed, if not the brilliancy, of lightning, we have added a handful to the intellectual dust-heap of an oppressed nation. From this bad eminence Sampson then looked down complacently, and saw Mrs. Dodd’s face as long as his arm. She was one that held current opinions; and the world does not believe Poetry can sing the Practical. Verse and useful knowledge pass for incompatibles; and, though Doggrel is not Poetry, yet it has a lumbering proclivity that way, and so forfeits the confidence of grave sensible people. This versification, and this impalpable and unprecedented prescription she had waited for so long, seemed all of a piece to poor mamma: wild, unpractical, and —“oh, horror! horror!”— eccentric.

Sampson read her sorrowful face after his fashion. “Oh, I see, ma’am,” cried he. “Cure is not welcome unless it comes in the form consecrated by cinturies of slaughter. Well, then, give me a sheet.” He took the paper and rent it asunder, and wrote this on the larger fragment:

Rx Die Mercur. circa x. hor: vespert:
eat in musca ad Aulam oppid:
Saltet cum xiii canicul:
praesertim meo. Dom: reddita,
6 hora matutin: dormiat at prand:
Repetat stultit: pro re nata.

He handed this with a sort of spiteful twinkle to Mrs. Dodd, and her countenance lightened again. Her sex will generally compound with whoever can give as well as take. Now she had extracted a real, grave prescription, she acquiesced in the ball, though not a county one; “to satisfy your whim, my good, kind friend, to whom I owe so much.”

Sampson called on his way back to town, and, in course of conversation, praised nature for her beautiful instincts, one of which, he said, had inspired Miss Julee, at a credulous age, not to swallow “the didly drastics of the tinkering dox.”

Mrs. Dodd smiled, and requested permission to contradict him; her daughter had taken the several prescriptions.

Sampson inquired brusquely if she took him for a fool.

She replied calmly: “No; for a very clever, but rather opinionated personage.

“Opinionated? So is ivery man who has grounnds for his opinin. D’ye think, because Dockers Short, an’ Bist, an’ Kinyon, an’ Cuckoo, an’ Jackdaw, an’ Starling, an’ Co., don’t know the dire effecks of calomel an’ drastics on the buddy, I don’t know’t? Her eye, her tongue, her skin, her voice, her elastic walk, all tell me she has not been robbed of her vital resources. ‘Why, if she had taken that genteel old thief Short’s rimidies alone, the girl’s gums would be sore,

And herself at Dith’s door.”

Mrs. Dodd was amused. “Julia, this is so like the gentlemen; they are in love with argumeunt.They go on till they reason themselves out of their reason. Why beat about the bush; when there she sits?”

“What, go t’ a wumman for the truth, when I can go t’ infallible Inference?”

“You may always go to my David’s daughter for the truth,” said Mrs. Dodd, with dignity. She then looked the inquiry; and Julia replied to her look as follows: first, she coloured very high; then, she hid her face in both her hands; then rose, and turning her neck swiftly, darted a glance of fiery indignation and bitter reproach on Dr. Meddlesome, and left the apartment mighty stag-like.

“Maircy on us!” cried Sampson. “Did ye see that, ma’am? Yon’s just a bonny basilisk. Another such thunderbolt as she dispinsed, and ye’ll be ringing for your maid to sweep up the good physician’s ashes.”

Julia did not return till the good physician was gone back to London. Then she came in with a rush, and, demonstrative toad, embraced Mrs. Dodd’s knees, and owned she had cultivated her geraniums with all those medicines, liquid and solid; and only one geranium had died.

There is a fascinating age, when an intelligent girl is said to fluctuate between childhood and womanhood. Let me add that these seeming fluctuations depend much on the company she is in: the budding virgin is princess of chameleons; and, to confine ourselves to her two most piquant contrasts, by her mother’s side she is always more or less childlike; but, let a nice young fellow engage her apart, and, hey presto! she shall be every inch a woman: perhaps at no period of her life are the purely mental characteristics of her sex so supreme in her; thus her type, the rosebud, excels in essence of rosehood the rose itself.

My reader has seen Julia Dodd play both parts; but it is her child’s face she has now been turning for several pages; so it may be prudent to remind him she has shone on Alfred Hardie in but one light; a young but Juno-like woman. Had she shown “my puppy” her childish qualities, he would have despised her — he had left that department himself so recently. But Nature guarded the budding fair from such a disaster.

We left Alfred Hardie standing in the moonlight gazing at her lodging. This was sudden; but, let slow coaches deny it as loudly as they like, fast coaches exist; and Love is a Passion, which, like Hate, Envy, Avarice, &c., has risen to a great height in a single day. Not that Alfred’s was “Love at first sight;” for he had seen her beauty in the full blaze of day with no deeper feeling than admiration; but in the moonlight he came under more sovereign spells than a fair face: her virtues and her voice. The narrative of their meeting has indicated the first, and as to the latter, Julia was not one of those whose beauty goes out with the candle; her voice was that rich, mellow, moving organ, which belongs to no rank nor station; is born, not made; and, flow it from the lips of dairymaid or countess, touches every heart, gentle or simple, that is truly male. And this divine contralto, full, yet penetrating, Dame Nature had inspired her to lower when she was moved or excited, instead of raising it; and then she was enchanting. All unconsciously she cast this crowning spell on Alfred, and he adored her. In a word, he caught a child-woman away from its mother; his fluttering captive turned, put on composure, and bewitched him.

She left him, and the moonlight night seemed to blacken. But within his young breast all was light, new light. He leaned opposite her window in an Elysian reverie, and let the hours go by. He seemed to have vegetated till then, and lo! true life had dawned. He thought he should love to die for her; and, when he was calmer, he felt he was to live for her, and welcomed his destiny with rapture. He passed the rest of the Oxford term in a soft ecstasy; called often on Edward, and took a sudden and prodigious interest in him; and counted the days glide by and the happy time draw near, when he should be four months in the same town with his enchantress. This one did not trouble the doctors; he glowed with a steady fire; no heats and chills, and sad misgivings; for one thing, he was not a woman, a being tied to that stake, Suspense, and compelled to wait and wait for others’ actions. To him, life’s path seemed paved with roses, and himself to march in eternal sunshine, buoyed by perfumed wings.

He came to Barkington to try for the lovely prize. Then first he had to come down from love’s sky, and realise how hard it is here below to court a young lady — who is guarded by a mother — without an introduction in the usual form. The obvious course was to call on Edward. Having parted from him so lately, he forced himself to wait a few days, and then set out for Albion Villa.

As he went along, he arranged the coming dialogue for all the parties. Edward was to introduce him; Mrs. Dodd to recognise his friendship for her son; he was to say he was the gainer by it; Julia, silent at first, was to hazard a timid observation, and he to answer gracefully, and draw her out and find how he stood in her opinion. The sprightly affair should end by his inviting Edward to dinner. That should lead to their uninviting him in turn, and then he should have a word with Julia, and find out what houses she visited, and get introduced to their proprietors. Arrived at this point, his mind went over hedge and ditch faster than my poor pen can follow; as the crow flies, so flew he, and had reached the church-porch under a rain of nosegays with Julia — in imagination — by then he arrived at Albion Villa in the body. Yet he knocked timidly; his heart beat almost as hard as his hand.

Sarah, the black-eyed housemaid, “answered the door.”

“Mr. Edward Dodd?”

“Not at home, sir. Left last week.”

“For long?”

“I don’t rightly know, sir. But he won’t be back this week, I don’t think.”

“Perhaps,” stammered Alfred, “the ladies — Mrs. Dodd — might be able to tell me.”

“Oh yes, sir. But my mistress, she’s in London just now.”

Alfred’s eyes flashed. “Could I learn from Miss Dodd?”

“La, sir, she is in London along with her ma; why, ’tis for her they are gone; to insult the great doctors.”

He started. “She is not ill? Nothing serious?”

“Well, sir, we do hope not. She is pinning a bit, as young ladies will.”

Alfred was anything but consoled by this off-hand account; he became alarmed, and looked wretched. Seeming him so perturbed, Sarah, who was blunt but good-natured, added, “But cook she says hard work would cure our Miss of all she ails. But who shall I say was asking? For my work is a bit behind-hand.”

Alfred took the hint reluctantly, and drew out his card-case, saying, “For Mr. Edward Dodd.” She gave her clean but wettish hand a hasty wipe with her apron, and took the card. He retired; she stood on the step and watched him out of sight, said “Oho!” and took his card to the kitchen for preliminary inspection and discussion.

Alfred Hardie was resolute, but sensitive. He had come on the wings of Love and Hope; he went away heavily; a housemaid’s tongue had shod his elastic feet with lead in a moment; of all misfortunes, sickness was what he had not anticipated, for she looked immortal. Perhaps it was that fair and treacherous disease, consumption. Well, if it was, he would love her all the more, would wed her as soon as he was of age, and carry her to some soft Southern clime, and keep each noxious air at bay, and prolong her life, perhaps save it.

And now he began to chafe at the social cobwebs that kept him from her. But, just as his impatience was about to launch him into imprudence, he was saved by a genuine descendant of Adam. James Maxley kept Mr. Hardie’s little pleasaunce trim as trim could be, by yearly contract. This entailed short but frequent visits; and Alfred often talked with him; for the man was really a bit of a character; had a shrewd rustic wit, and a ready tongue, was rather too fond of law, and much too fond of money; but scrupulously honest: head as long as Cudworth’s, but broader; and could not read a line. One day he told Alfred that he must knock off now, and take a look in at Albion Villee. The captain was due: and on no account would he, Maxley, allow that there ragged box round the captains quarter-deck: “That is how he do name their little mossel of a lawn: and there he walks for a wager, athirt and across, across and athirt, five steps and then about; and I’d a’most bet ye a halfpenny he thinks hisself on the salt sea ocean, bless his silly old heart.”

All this time Alfred, after the first start of joyful surprise, was secretly thanking his stars for sending him an instrument. To learn whether she had returned, he asked Maxley whether the ladies had sent for him. “Not they,” said Maxley, rather contemptuously; “what do women-folk care about a border, without ’tis a lace one to their nightcaps, for none but the father of all vanity to see. Not as I have ought to say again the pair; they keep their turf tidyish — and pay ready money — and a few flowers in their pots; but the rest may shift for itself. Ye see, Master Alfred,” explained Maxley, wagging his head wisely, “nobody’s pride can be everywhere. Now theirs is ina-doors; their with-drawing-room it’s like the Queen’s palace, my missus tells me; she is wrapped up in ’em, ye know. But the captain for my money.”

The sage shouldered his tools and departed. But he left a good hint behind him. Alfred hovered about the back-door the next day till he caught Mrs. Maxley; she supplied the house with eggs and vegetables. “Could she tell him whether his friend Edward Dodd was likely to come home soon?” She thought not; he was gone away to study. “He haven’t much head-piece, you know, not like what Miss Julia have. Mrs. and Miss are to be home today; they wrote to cook this morning. I shall be there tomorrow, sartain, and I’ll ask in the kitchen when Master Edward is a-coming back.” She prattled on. The ladies of Albion Villa were good kind ladies; the very maid-servants loved them; Miss was more for religion than her mother, and went to St. Anne’s Church Thursday evenings, and Sundays morning and evening; and visited some poor women in the parish with food and clothes; Mrs. Dodd could not sleep a wink when the wind blew hard at night; but never complained, only came down pale to breakfast. Miss Julia’s ailment was nothing to speak of, but they were in care along of being so wrapped up in her, and no wonder, for if ever there was a duck ——!”

Acting on this intelligence, Alfred went early the next Sunday to St. Anne’s Church, and sat down in the side gallery at its east end. While the congregation flowed quietly in, the organist played the Agnus Dei of Mozart. Those pious tender tones stole over his hot young heart, and whispered, “Peace, be still!” He sighed wearily, and it passed through his mind that it might have been better for him, and especially for his studies, if he had never seen her. Suddenly the aisle seemed to lighten up; she was gliding along it, beautiful as May, and modesty itself in dress and carriage. She went into a pew and kneeled a minute, then seated herself and looked out the lessons for the day. Alfred gazed at her face: devoured it. But her eyes never roved. She seemed to have put off feminine curiosity, and the world, at the church door. Indeed he wished she was not quite so heavenly discreet; her lashes were delicious, but he longed to see her eyes once more; to catch a glance from them, and, by it, decipher his fate.

But no; she was there to worship, and did not discern her earthly lover, whose longing looks were glued to her, and his body rose and sank with the true worshippers, but with no more spirituality than a piston or a Jack-inthe-box.

In the last hymn before the sermon, a well-meaning worshipper in the gallery delivered a leading note, a high one, with great zeal, but small precision, being about a semitone flat; at this outrage on her too-sensitive ear, Julia Dodd turned her head swiftly to discover the offender, and failed; but her two sapphire eyes met Alfred’s point-blank.

She was crimson in a moment, and lowered them on her book again, as if to look that way was to sin. It was but a flash: but sometimes a flash fires a mine.

The lovely blush deepened and spread before it melted away, and Alfred’s late cooling heart warmed itself at that sweet glowing cheek. She never looked his way again, not once: which was a sad disappointment; but she blushed again and again before the service ended, only not so deeply. Now there was nothing in the sermon to make her blush: I might add, there was nothing to redden her cheek with religious excitement. There was a little candid sourness — oil and vinegar — against sects and Low Churchmen; but thin generality predominated. Total: “Acetate of morphia,” for dry souls to sip.

So Alfred took all the credit of causing those sweet irrelevant blushes; and gloated: the young wretch could not help glorying in his power to tint that fair statue of devotion with earthly thoughts.

But stay! that dear blush, was it pleasure or pain? What if the sight of him was intolerable?

He would know how he stood with her, and on the spot. He was one of the first to leave the church; he made for the churchyard gate, and walked slowly backwards and forwards by it, with throbbing heart till she came out.

She was prepared for him now, and bowed slightly to him with the most perfect composure, and no legible sentiment, except a certain marked politeness many of our young ladies think wasted upon young gentlemen; and are mistaken.

Alfred took off his hat in a tremor, and his eyes implored and inquired, but met with no further response; and she walked swiftly home, though without apparent effort. He looked longingly after her; but discretion forbade.

He now crawled by Albion Villa twice every day, wet or dry, and had the good fortune to see her twice at the drawing-room window. He was constant at St. Anne’s Church, and one Thursday crept into the aisle to be nearer to her, and he saw her steal one swift look at the gallery, and look grave; but soon she detected him, and though she looked no more towards him, she seemed demurely complacent. Alfred had learned to note these subtleties now, for Love is a microscope. What he did not know was, that his timid ardour was pursuing a masterly course; that to find herself furtively followed everywhere, and hovered about for a look, is apt to soothe womanly pride and stir womanly pity, and to keep the female heart in a flutter of curiosity and emotions, two porters that open the heart’s great gate to love.

Now the evening before his visit to the Dodds, Dr. Sampson dined with the Hardies, and happened to mention the “Dodds” among his old patients: “The Dodds of’ Albion Villa?” inquired Miss Hardie, to her brother’s no little surprise. “Albyn fiddlestick!” said the polished doctor. “No! they live by the water-side; used to; but now they have left the town, I hear. He is a sea-captain and a fine lad, and Mrs. Dodd is just the best-bred woman I ever prescribed for, except Mrs. Sampson.”

“It is the Dodds of Albion Villa,” said Miss Hardie. “They have two children: a son; his name is Edward; and a daughter, Julia; she is rather good-looking; a Gentleman’s Beauty.”

Alfred stared at his sister. Was she blind? with her “rather good-looking.”

Sampson was quite pleased at the information. “N’ listen me! I saved that girl’s life when she was a year old.”

“Then she is ill now, doctor,” said Alfred hastily. “Do go and see her! Hum! The fact is, her brother is a great favourite of mine.” He then told him how to find Albion Villa. “Jenny, dear,” said he, when Sampson was gone, “you never told me you knew her.”

“Knew who, dear?”

“Whom? Why Dodd’s sister.”

“Oh, she is a new acquaintance, and not one to interest you. We only meet in the Lord; I do not visit Albion Villa; her mother is an amiable worldling.”

“Unpardonable combination!” said Alfred with a slight sneer. “So you and Miss Dodd meet only at church!”

“At church? Hardly. She goes to St. Anne’s: sits under a preacher who starves his flock with moral discourses, and holds out the sacraments of the Church as the means of grace.”

Alfred shook his head good-humouredly. “Now, Jenny, that is a challenge; and you know we both got into a fury the last time we were betrayed into that miserable waste of time and temper, Theological discussion. No, no:—

Let sects delight to bark and bite
For ’tis their nature to;
Let gown and surplice growl and fight,
For Satan makes them so.

But let you and I cut High Church and Low Church, and be brother and sister. Do tell me in English where you meet Julia Dodd; that’s a dear; for young ladies ‘meeting in the Lord’ conveys no positive idea to my mind.”

Jane Hardie sighed at this confession. “We meet in the cottages of the poor and the sick, whom He loved and pitied when on earth; and we, His unworthy servants, try to soothe their distress, and lead them to Him who can heal the soul as well as the body, and wipe away all the tears of all His people.”

“Then it does you infinite credit, Jane,” said Alfred, warmly. “Now, that is the voice of true religion; and not the whine of this sect, nor the snarl of that. And so she joins you in this good work? I am not surprised.”

“We meet in it now and then, dear; but she can hardly be said to have joined me: I have a district, you know; but poor Mrs. Dodd will not allow Julia to enlist in the service. She visits independently, and by fits and starts; and I am afraid she thinks more of comforting their perishable bodies than of feeding their souls. It was but the other day she confessed to me her backwardness to speak in the way of instruction to women as old as her mother. She finds it so much easier to let them run on about their earthly troubles: and of course it is much easier. Ah! the world holds her still in some of its subtle meshes.”

The speaker uttered this sadly; but presently, brightening up, said, with considerable bonhomie, and almost a sprightly air: “But she is a dear girl, and the Lord will yet light her candle.”

Alfred pulled a face as of one that drinketh verjuice unawares; but let it pass: hypercriticism was not his cue just then. “Well, Jenny,” said he, “I have a favour to ask you. Introduce me to your friend, Miss Dodd. Will you?”

Miss Hardie coloured faintly. “ I would rather not, dear Alfred: the introduction could not be for her eternal good. Julia’s soul is in a very ticklish state; she wavers as yet between this world and the other world; and it won’t do; it won’t do; there is no middle path. You would very likely turn the scale, and then I should have fought against her everlasting welfare — my friend’s.”

“What, am I an infidel?” inquired Alfred angrily. Jane looked distressed. “Oh no, Alfred; but you are a worldling.”

Alfred, smothering a strong sense of irritation, besought her to hear reason; these big words were out of place here. “It is Dodd’s sister; and he will introduce me at a word, worldling as I am.”

“Then why urge me to do it, against my conscience?” asked the young lady, as sharply as if she had been a woman of the world. “ You cannot be in love with her, as you do not know her.”

Alfred did not reply to this unlucky thrust, but made a last effort to soften her. “Can you call yourself my sister, and refuse me this trifling service, which her brother, who loves her and esteems her ten times more sincerely than you do, would not think of refusing me if he was at home?”

“Why should he? He is in the flesh himself; let the carnal introduce one another. I really must decline; but I am very, very sorry that you feel hurt about it.”

“And I am very sorry I have not an amiable worldling for my sister, instead of an unamiable and devilish conceited Christian.” And with these bitter words, Alfred snatched a candle and bounced to bed in a fury. So apt is one passion to rouse up others.

Jane Hardie let fall a gentle tear: but consoled herself with the conviction that she had done her duty, and that Alfred’s anger was quite unreasonable, and so he would see as soon as he should cool.

The next day the lover, smarting under this check, and spurred to fresh efforts, invaded Sampson. That worthy was just going to dine at Albion Villa, so Alfred postponed pumping him till next day. Well, he called at the inn next day, and if the doctor was not just gone back to London!

Alfred wandered disconsolate homewards.

In the middle of Buchanan Street, an agitated treble called after him, “Mr. Halfred! hoh, Mr. Halfred!” He looked back and saw Dick Absalom, a promising young cricketer, brandishing a document and imploring aid. “Oh, Master Halfred, dooce please come here. I durstn’t leave the shop.”

There is a tie between cricketers far too strong for social distinctions to divide, and, though Alfred muttered peevishly, “Whose cat is dead now?” he obeyed the strange summons.

The distress was a singular one. Master Absalom, I must premise, was the youngest of two lads in the employ of Mr. Jenner, a benevolent old chemist, a disciple of Malthus. Jenner taught the virtues of drugs and minerals to tender youths, at the expense of the public. Scarcely ten minutes had elapsed since a pretty servant girl came into the shop, and laid a paper on the counter, saying, “Please to make that up, young man.” Now at fifteen we are gratified by inaccuracies of this kind from ripe female lips: so Master Absalom took the prescription with a complacent grin; his eye glanced over it; it fell to shaking in his hand, chill dismay penetrated his heart; and, to speak with oriental strictness, his liver turned instantly to water. However, he made a feeble clutch at Mercantile Mendacity, and stammered out, “Here’s a many ingredients, and the governor’s out walking, and he’s been and locked the drawer where we keeps our haulhoppy. You couldn’t come again in half an hour, Miss, could ye?” She acquiesced readily, for she was not habitually called Miss, and she had a follower, a languid one, living hard by, and belonged to a class which thinks it consistent to come after its followers.

Dicky saw her safe off, and groaned at his ease. Here was a prescription full of new chemicals, sovereign, no doubt, i.e., deadly when applied Jennerically; and the very directions for use were in Latin words he had encountered in no prescription before. A year ago Dicky would have counted the prescribed ingredients on his fingers, and then taken down an equal number of little articles, solid or liquid, mixed them, delivered them, and so to cricket, serene; but now, his mind, to apply the universal cant, was “in a transition state.” A year’s practice had chilled the youthful valour which used to scatter Epsom salts or oxalic acid, magnesia or corrosive sublimate. An experiment or two by himself and his compeers, with comments by the coroner, had enlightened him as to the final result on the human body of potent chemicals fearlessly administered, leaving him dark as to their distinctive qualities applied remedially. What should he do? Run with the prescription to old Taylor in the next street, a chemist of forty years? Alas! at his tender age he had not omitted to chaff that reverend rival persistently and publicly. Humble his establishment before the King Street one? Sooner perish drugs, and come eternal cricket! And after all, why not? Drummer-boys, and powder-monkeys, and other imps of his age that dealt destruction, did not depopulate gratis; Mankind acknowledged their services in cash: but old Jenner, taught by Philosophy through its organ the newspapers that “knowledge is riches,” was above diluting with a few shillings a week the wealth a boy acquired behind his counter; so his apprentices got no salary. Then why not shut up the old rogue’s shutters, and excite a little sympathy for him, to be followed by a powerful reaction on his return from walking; and go and offer his own services on the cricket-ground to field for the gentlemen by the hour, or bowl at a shilling on their balls?

“Bowling is the lay for me,” said he; “you get money for that, and you only bruise the gents a bit and break their thumbs: you can’t put their vital sparks out as you can at this work.”

By a striking coincidence the most influential member of the cricket club passed while Dick was in this quandary.

“Oh, Mr. Halfred, you was always very good to me on the ground — you couldn’t have me hired by the club, could ye? For I am sick of this trade; I wants to bowl.”

“You little duffer!” said Alfred, “cricket is a recreation, not a business. Besides, it only lasts five months. Unless you adjourn to the anitipodes. Stick to the shop like a man, and make your fortune.”

“Oh, Mr. Halfred,” said Dick sorrowfully, “how can I find fortune here? Jenner don’t pay. And the crowner declares he will not have it; and the Barton Chronicle says us young gents ought all to be given a holiday to go and see one of us hanged by lot. But this is what have broke this camel’s back at last; here’s a dalled thing to come smiling and smirking in with, and put it across a counter in a poor boy’s hand. Oh! oh! oh!”

“Dick,” said Alfred, “if you blubber, I’ll give you a hiding. You have stumbled on a passage you can’t construe. Well, who has not? But we don’t shed the briny about it. Here, let me have a go at it.”

“Ah! I’ve heard you are a scholard,” said Dick, “but you won’t make out this; there’s some new preparation of mercury, and there’s musk, and there’s horehound, and there’s a neutral salt: and dal his old head that wrote it!”

“Hold your jaw, and listen, while I construe it to you. ’Die Mercurii, on Wednesday —decima hora vespertina, at ten o’clock at night —eat in Musca:‘ what does that mean? ’Eat in Musca?‘ I see! this is modern Latin with a vengeance. ‘Let him go in a fly to the Towns-hall. Saltet, let him jump —cum tredecim caniculis, with thirteen little dogs —praesertim meo, especially with my little dog.’ Dicky, this prescription emanates from Bedlam direct. ’Domum reddita’— hallo! it is a woman, then. ‘Let her go in a fly to the — Town-hall, eh?’ ‘Let her jump, no, dance, with thirteen whelps, especially mine.’ Ha! ha! ha! And who is the woman that is to do all this I wonder?”

“Woman, indeed!” said a treble at the door! “no more than I am; it’s for a young lady. O jiminy!”

This polite ejaculation was drawn out by the speaker’s sudden recognition of Alfred, who had raised his head at her remonstrance, and now started in his turn; for it was the black-eyed servant of Albion Villa. They looked at one another in expressive silence.

“Yes, sir, it is for my young lady. Is it ready, young man?”

“No, it ain’t: and never will,” squealed Dick angrily “It’s a vile ‘oax; and you ought to be ashamed of yourself bringing it into a respectable shop.”

Alfred silenced him, and told Sarah he thought Miss Dodd ought to know the nature of this prescription before it went round the chemists.

He borrowed paper of Dick and wrote:

“Mr. Alfred Hardie presents his compliments to Miss Dodd, and begs leave to inform her that he has, by the merest accident, intercepted the enclosed prescription. As it seems rather a sorry jest, and tends to attract attention to Miss Dodd and her movements, he has ventured with some misgivings to send it back with a literal translation, on reading which it will be for Miss Dodd to decide whether it is to circulate.

“‘On Wednesday, at ten P.M., let her go in a fly to the Town-hall, and dance with thirteen little {little dogs, puppies, whelps,} especially with mine: return home at six A.M. and sleep till dinner, and repeat the folly as occasion serves.’”

“Suppose I could get it into Miss’s hands when she’s alone?” whispered Sarah.

“You would earn my warmest gratitude.”

“‘Warmest gratitude!’ Is that a warm gownd, or a warm clock, I wonder?”

“It is both, when the man is a gentleman, and a pretty, dark — eyed girl pities him and stands his friend.”

Sarah smiled, and whispered, “Give it me; I’ll do my best.”

Alfred enclosed the prescription and his note in one cover, handed them to her, and slipped a sovereign into her hand. He whispered, “Be prudent.”

“I’m dark, sir,” said she: and went off briskly homewards, and Alfred stood rapt in dreamy joy, and so self-elated that, had he been furnished like a peacock, he would have instantly become a “thing all eyes,” and choked up Jenner’s shop, and swept his counter. He had made a step towards familiarity, had written her a letter; and then, if this prescription came, as he suspected, from Dr. Sampson, she would perhaps be at the ball. This opened a delightful vista. Meantime, Mrs. Dodd had communicated Sampson’s opinion to Julia, adding that there was a prescription besides, gone to be made up. “However, he insists on your going to this ball.”

Julia begged hard to be excused: said she was in no humour for balls: and Mrs. Dodd objecting that the tickets had actually been purchased, she asked leave to send them to the Dartons. “They will be a treat to Rose and Alice; they seldom go out: mamma, I do so fear they are poorer than people think. May I?”

“It would be but kind,” said Mrs. Dodd. “Though really why my child should always be sacrificed to other people’s children ——”

“Oh, a mighty sacrifice!” said Julia. She sat down and enclosed the tickets to Rose Darton, with a little sugared note. Sarah, being out, Elizabeth took it. Sarah met her at the gate, but did not announce her return: she lurked in ambush till Julia happened to go to her own room, then followed her, and handed Alfred’s missive, and watched her slily, and being herself expeditious as the wind in matters of the heart, took it for granted the enclosure was something very warm indeed; so she said with feigned simplicity, “I suppose it is all right now, miss?” and retreated swelling with a secret, and tormented her fellow-servants all day with innuendoes dark as Erebus.

Julia read the note again and again: her heart beat at those few ceremonious lines. “He does not like me to be talked of,” she said to herself. “How good he is! What trouble he takes about me! Ah! he will be there!

She divined rightly; on Wednesday, at ten, Alfred Hardie was in the ball-room. It was a magnificent room, well lighted, and at present not half filled, though dancing had commenced. The figure Alfred sought was not there; and he wondered he had been so childish as to hope she would come to a city ball. He played the fine gentleman; would not dance. He got near the door with another Oxonian, and tried to avenge himself for her absence on the townspeople who were there by quizzing them.

But in the middle of this amiable occupation, and indeed in the middle of a sentence, he stopped short, and his heart throbbed, and he thrilled from head to foot; for two ladies glided in at the door, and passed up the room with the unpretending composure of well-bred people. They were equally remarkable; but Alfred saw only the radiant young creature in flowing muslin, with the narrowest sash in the room, and no ornament but a necklace of large pearls and her own vivid beauty. She had altered her mind about coming, with apologies for her vacillating disposition so penitent and disproportionate that her indulgent and unsuspecting mother was really quite amused. Alfred was not so happy as to know that she had changed her mind with his note. Perhaps even this knowledge could have added little to that exquisite moment, when, unhoped for, she passed close to him, and the fragrant air from her brushed his cheek, and seemed to whisper, “Follow me and be my slave.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/r/reade/charles/hard-cash/chapter3.html

Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33