[ocr errors]

6. It



[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

more respect was paid to the “Thrift” tioneer's mind at rest, “I will wait,” he and the “ Life of Napoleon” owing to the said, “till you make out my account." gaudy coloring, but yet Gibbs became the Then he stood there - perhaps at that possessor of them for a few shillings, un moment the happiest of all mankind. cut, spotless copies as they were. Then "I should like to have had that fine they had to work along the last bottom volume of Shakespeare for my daughters,' shelf, but here, as the books were mostly said the auctioneer, as he handed Gibbs folios and quartos and fat to boot, they the receipt, “but you are such a deterwere got quickly through. Gibbs let go mined bidder there is no standing against Peon's “Quakers,” for he could read the you. A London gentleman, I presume

I title, and a Latin dictionary, and some old might you be from London ?" theological works. When the quarto on * You are welcome to the Shakespeare,” which his eyes had been glued so long replied Gibbs, ignoring the question. was reached, his heart was beating so he is an elegant volume. And it is a famfelt afraid his neighbors would hear it. ily edition, which adds to its value. You “ Love's Labor Lost,” slowly spelt out the may safely trust it to your daughters.” auctioneer, "a comedy by William Shake. Profuse were the happy father's thanks speare; a most”- he was at a loss for a for the gracious present. suitable adjective, and fell back on the old An old lady had in the earlier part of

“a most-elegant work — by Wil- the day purchased a large and substantial liam Shakespeare."

box for eighteenpence; Gibbs now hunted Then there was a pause and a hush. her out and offered her a sovereign for it. Perhaps the people were tired; the excite- The old person was flustered almost out ment of the sale was over, — for them. of her life at such a premium, and it evi. But to one man present there it almost dently aroused some suspicion in her mind seemed as if the quiet which fell for a that the stranger might know more about little while over the crowd in that shabby its value than she did. It was not until room was due to something more than she had examined every corner of it many this, was in some way an act of homage limes over, and taken counsel with all the paid unconsciously and involuntarily to friends and relations she could get hold of, the greatest of all the sons of men. It that she consented to part with it seemed a profanation to offer for that book then following it up-stairs fo the fraction of a shilling or a pound. It search for possibly hidden gold. Into this was the last, and, before the merchant box Gibbs put first his prizes, and then could get out his offer, Gibbs made his the most respectable part of the remainder own and electrified the room. “Five of his library. But the Annual Registers pounds !” he cried out in so loud a voice and the Miscellanies and the green-backed that his next neighbor -a meek old works by Mrs. Sherwood be strewed reckwoman in a mutch - jumped as if a snake lessly about the room, and astonished the had bitten her. Some question as to the people who from time to time cautiously perfect sanity of the fisherman had found came in to have a look at him, by telling place in the minds of the wiser and more them that they could take what they liked experienced people in the room. as they away. With a wary eye on the donor the listened to his rash offers, and thought of books were removed, and many a happy the perfect impossibility of any one want-home in that remote district is even now ing to have so many books all at the same indebted to his generosity for the solid time. But all doubts were now dispelled, collection of works which adorn its humand three good-looking girls who had edged ble shelves. If the constant perusal of up close to Gibbs to have a quiet examina- “L'Industrie Françoise,” the

“ Géotion of him now shrunk away in obvious graphie Ancienne Abrégée,” the “Gramalarm. The moon-faced auctioneer was maire Espagnole Raisonné," or the “ His. visibly affected – during his long experi- toire de Henri le Grand,” have in any way ence he had never seen a book sold for soothed the sorrows, lightened the labors, the fifth part of such a price. And what and improved the morals of the crofters sort of a man was this to offer it when, if in this part of the north of Scotland the he had waited half a minute longer, he praise and the reward is due to John Gibbs would have secured what he wanted for a the fisherman, and to no one else. If, as couple of shillings? But Gibbs cared for the old story-books say, the books have nothing of this now — they might call him never been removed, there they are still. and think him what they pleased — and Then the two men started on their way he pushed up to the table and claimed the home. We said just now that Gibbs was precious volume. He soon set the auc- perhaps for a short time the happiest man

-even one more

[ocr errors]




[ocr errors]

in the world; in making that remark we see who was appealed to. The man had did not take into consideration Archie's a little red, angry face and a long beard, feelings. He had bought a flaming yellow. you will see fifty like him in any town in red mahogany horse-hair sofa, three chairs, a day's walk. His companion would have a clock-case, and an umbrella-stand, and attracted some attention anywhere; Gibbs above all a bed, - a real old-fashioned, got to know her face pretty well in the seven feet by five-and-a-half erection, with course of time, but though he felt it was a sort of pagoda on the top. That he bad wbat is called a striking one he never only a “but and ben," with stone and mud knew exactly why. He would have said floors, twelve by fourteen feet each, and a that her hair was neither dark nor light, door leading to them little more than two that her eyes were grey, her mouth and feet wide, had not yet caused bim any pose both perhaps rather large, and that anxiety. But we believe that before that she had full red lips - a commonplace seven-foot bedstead was got through that description enough which would answer two-foot door the good-looking young perhaps for three or four out of every woman, to whom half of it might be said dozen girls you meet. She was very tall to belong, expressed her opinion of his she stood a head and shoulders over judgment in a way which made him shake her companion — and her figure, though in his shoes, strong and able man as he it would have been large for a smaller

woman, was in just proportion to her When Gibbs reached the inn with his height. She put her hand on the old precious cargo he came in for the end of man's arm, as if to check his impetuosity, what had evidently been a serious disturb. and threw oil on the troubled waters as it

The landlord was undergoing with is befitting a woman should do. what patience he might the angry re- “It is really of little consequence," she proaches of a little old man, who with up- said, “ though it was provoking at the lifted finger emphasized every word he time. We only wished to have got some uttered. The stranger had his back to remembrance of an old friend. I have the doorway, as had also his companion, a no doubt that there was some mistake at tall lady in a grey tweed dress.

the post-office. Come !” and with a pretty “ It's most provoking and annoying," air of authority she led the old ġrumbler cried the old man. “I took particular into the sitting-room. care to write the name of your infernal Gibbs was by no means what is called a place plainly! - I believe you got the classical scholar. He had wasted – so it letter!"

seemed to him - a good many years of “I got no letter," replied the landlord, his life in turning Shakespeare and Milton or I should have sent the machine." into very inferior Greek and Latin verse,

“ But you should have got it!” cried and since be left Oxford had never opened the old man furiously, “and I'll find out a book connected with either of the lanwho is responsible ! It's scandalous ! - guages — unless it was to see who the it's "he stuttered with rage at a loss printer was. But he had a misty recollecfor a word.

tion of some passage which described how “ You've lost a good day's fishing, Mr. a mortal woman walked like a goddess, Gibbs, I doubt,” said the landlord, looking and he thought that then for the first as if he would rather like to get out of time he understood what the old writer the corner in which the new-comers had meant, - he knew then for the first time caught him; they had cut him off coming how a goddess moved. down-stairs and blocked the lower step. If a traveller had passed by that lonely

And I'll see that whoever is responsi-ion at midnight, he would have seen a ble suffers for it,” went on the old gentle bright light burning in one of its windows. man in a very threatening way; " I'll show And if he had returned two, or three, or you

even four hours later, he would have seen “Oh, man!" said the landlord at last, it still burning, shining out like a beacon roused to retaliate, “ I got no letter. And over the wild moors. The salmon-fisher I do not care the crack of my thumb for had forgotten his craft, the politician bis you or your letter, or your threats, or your newspaper, the admirer of goddesses that responsibilities! Here's a gentleman who such creatures ever existed upon the has just come from the sale and he'll tell earth. It was very late, or early, before you there was naething in it but a wheen Gibbs had finished his investigations and sticks and books and rubbish, - a wheen retired to his bed, and then his sleep was auld chairs and pots !"

not a pleasant or a restful one. Unless it The strangers turned round at once to is pleasant to have hundreds of other peo


ple's poor relations standing in endless | about the place. At lunch-time, and when raoks, bolding out this and empty hands smoking his evening pipe, sometimes even for help; unless it is restful to have to when changing a fly to give a pool another drive a huge wheelbarrow along in front cast over, her fair image rose up before of them, heavy at the commencement of him. Dinner had hitherto been a somethe journey with first editions, uncut, of what comfortless meal, hastily consumed, the quartos, but gradually growing lighter with one eye on the Scotsman and the and lighter as they one by one slipped other on a mutton chop. But now he was down the pile, and fell off on to the muddy sure of meeting one pleasant face at any roadway.

rate, and he enjoyed relating his adven. tures on the river, and looking at Miss

Samela's sketches afterwards. Her faTwo parties cannot be long together in ther was no acquisition to the party; be a small country inn without getting to was generally in a bad temper, and he some extent to know each other. Gibbs seemed for some reason to have taken a began by the little services which a man dislike to Gibbs. An old man with a can always render to a lady, opening doors, good-looking daughter is sure of attention lending newspapers, and so forth. A dog, and politeness on the part of a young man, too, often acts as a sort of introduction to but in this case the civilities seemed two people who are fond of that animal ; thrown away - there was little friendly and the fisherman was the possessor of a response. Śtill Samela was always pleas. small, short-legged, crust-colored, hairy ant, and so Gibbs minded the less the creature, answering to the name of Grow- somewhat brusque behavior of the old ley, which soon twined itself round the collector of curiosities. lady's heart, as it did round all with whom One afternoon the former, who had been it came in contact.

fishing near the inn, went in there to get The travellers' name was Prendergast. something he wanted, and on his way back They had evidently not intended to make overtook Samela, sauntering along with a a stay in Ross-shire, having brought little large sketching-block under her arm. with them, but in a few days a consider- “Will you come and draw a fight with able addition to their baggage arrived. a salmon, Miss Prendergast?” he asked. The old man seemed to be something of " There are a lot of fish up to-day, and I a naturalist. He wandered about the think I'm sure to get hold of one pretty moors with a green tin.box kind of knap- quickly. I'm not a very elegant figure, sack on his back, but he said little about he added, laughing as he looked at bis his captures, and Gibbs taking no interest waders; “but Archie is very smart, and, in such pursuits never asked leave to see at any rate, you will have a good backwhat was in it. He also wrote a good ground in the rocks on the other side.” deal. The daughter, whò rejoiced in the Miss Prendergast said she was quite quaint and uncommon name of Samela, willing, and they went dowc to the pool. spent most of her time sketching; when- As a rule, when a lady comes near a ever it was fine she was out of doors, and salmon river and you want to show off even pretty damp weather did not discour- your skill before he fish sulk, and age her if she was in the humor. Clad in Gibbs was a rash man to give the undera short, grey, homespun dress, shod with taking he did. But fortune had hitherto strong but shapely boots, with an immense been wonderfully kind to him, and did not umbrella over her head, she was able to desert him now. He had barely gone over defy the elements if they were not very half the water before up came a good fish unpropitious. She met Gibbs's little civil- and took him. For the next ten minutes ities frankly and pleasantly, but never he was kept pretty busy: The fish was a seemed to look for them; he rarely saw strong one and showed plenty of fight; her when he was on the river, and, when but it was at last gaffed and laid on the they did by chance meet, a nod and a bank, and the lady came down from the smile were often all that were vouchsafed rock she had settled on to inspect it. She to him. Gibbs was perhaps a sufficiently did not say, "Oh! how cruel to stick that susceptible young man, but just now fish- horrid thing into it !” or, “ How could you ing was his object, and he had no leisure kill such a beautiful creature ?” or “ I wish for flirting even if he had found any one it had got away!” as some ladies would willing to meet him half-way. But still at have done. On the contrary, she gave spare times he caught himself thinking the salmon - a bright twelve-pounder — a about the lady more than he did about her little poke with her foot, and said she was father or the innkeeper, or any one else | very glad it had been captured. Then


and "

Gibbs went up to look at her sketch and good order - quite his own master. Busiwas honestly amazed at it. We once had ness must be attended to before pleasure the privilege of watching Mr. Ruskin draw here as elsewhere. A start has to be a swallow on a black-board, - half-a-dozen made as soon after pine as possible, and lipes, and then you saw the bird flying at if nothing untoward occurs, a certain pool you out of a black sky. So it was here; should be reached at two for lunch. A there was no weak or wasted stroke; the rest of an hour is allowed bere, but the strain on the rod, Archie's symmetrical angler would have good reason to be disfigure, the more concealed elegance of satisfied with himself if he did not devote the fisherman were shown, as the former the time between three and seven to said, to the life.

steady fishing. This would take Gibbs to "Well," said Gibbs, staring at it, “I the end of his beat, and so far up it as to think it is lovely.”

be back near the ion in time to change beIts author looked at it with her head on fore dinner. But he was getting into a one side, as ladies often do look at their somewhat restless state - a little impahandiwork, and promised that when it was tient of all such salutary regulations finished she would give it to him. Then and one fine day instead of beginning a she wrote down“ dun” for the waders, mile above the inn he began opposite it

grey” for the rocks, and "dark" to Archie's great disapproval — and so where the water ran under the cliff, and a timed himself as to be back there soon little “red” just in a line with the admir- after four o'clock. He knew that Samela ing Archie's nose, and went back to the would be thereabouts — she had told him inn. Gibbs fished out the afternoon, but that it would take her a day to finish her he thought more about the lady and less sketch. about the fish than he had done yet. He “Miss Prendergast," said Gibbs rather pondered a good deal, too, about the shyly, feeling as if his little manœuvre was sketch, and racked his brains to think if probably being seen through, “you said there was any way in which he could make the night you came up that you wanted to a nice return to Samela for it. She had have some little thing from the Strathamat declined to have anything to do with the sale, and I thought, perhaps, you would fish, which he had at once offered to her, like a book. I got a good many books saying there was no one she particularly there, and any that you would care to have wished to send it to, or she might have you are most welcome to." There was been squared in that way. He might give something of a conventional falsehood in her a book, he remembered her saying, this statement; there were a good many the first day they met, that she and her books he would have been very sorry to father had come up for the sale to get see her walk off with. some remembrance of an old friend. Gibbs Samela looked up in his face, and Gibbs was pleased at this idea until he bethought was quite sure she was beautiful; Vedus him what book he should give her, and was her prototype after all, and not Juno; then he was puzzled. Of course, as a he had been a little puzzled as to which mere remembrance, Josephus, or “ The deity favored her the most. “It is very Fairchild Family,” or even a volume of good of you,” she said, more warmly than the Encyclopædia Britannica would do as she had spoken yet. “I should like to well as another; but then there would have something." "It was horrid of me not be much generosity in handing one of not to have thought of it sooner,” said those works over. Plainly the lady must Gibbs. “Well now, will you come and be asked to choose for herself. Then choose for yourself? And may I tell them Gibbs at once resolved that the quarto to take some tea into my room? I am should be eliminated from the collection sure you must want some after your long

- the sketch would be purchased too day here.” This second invitation was dearly by its loss. As to any others, they quite an after-thought, given on the spur

take their chance. On second of the moment, and he hardly thought it thoughts, however, he concluded to con- would be accepted. He was on the point ceal the works of Grimm - all the rest of including her father in it when the lady were to run the gauntlet of her pretty fortunately stopped him, and said she eyes.

thought she would also like some tea. A day or two passed before he was able “ But may I stop ten minutes to finish this to put his little scheme into execution. bit while the light is on it? Then I will It will easily be understood -as has al- come in.” ready been hinted - that a man on a Gibbs went in and ordered the tea, and salmon river is not — when the water is in then opened his old box and took out the

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

quarto which he embedded for the time said, and she gave it to him. It was a being in his portmanteau; he had previ- most masterly work in grey and yellow ously removed it from the old cover in and brown, Archie's nose supplying just order to keep it flatter in the box. It was the little bit of warm color that was wanta hard struggle for him to leave the ing. I think you have been a little hard Grimms, but at last he tore himself away on my waist,” said Gibbs after he had from them. The maid brought up the sufficiently admired it. “ And now will tea-things, and then, peeping out of the you please put your name to it; some day window, he saw the tall form of his visitor when you are a great artist I shall be endisappeariog through at the front door. vied for having it. He had a few seconds to spare, and he She laughed at the somewhat awkward occupied them (we are sorry to say), in compliment, and then in bold, firm letters rushing at his box, tearing out the Grimms, she wrote her signature. and slipping one into each coat pocket. "You have a very uncommon ChrisHe had barely time to get to the fireplace, tian name," he said. “I never saw it looking as self-possessed, or rather as little before. Is it one that belongs to your self-conscious as he could, when Samela family?." came in. She made herself quite comfort- • My father used to be very fond of the able in an armchair by the fire, and she ap- old dramatists,” replied the maiden — and peared as unself-conscious and innocent at the word “dramatists” the guilty as a lady could be as no doubt she was. Gibbs gave a little start and knocked one There were three cups on the tea-table, of the Grimms against the arm of his and this caused a little further embarrass- chair. “He found it in an out of the-way ment to the host. “ Your father - would song in some old play.” he - shall I ask him if he will come up ?” " It is a very pretty name," said the he inquired.

criminal. “Oh, please don't trouble," said the " I liked the song," said Samela ;“ I read daughter. “I know he wouldn't come if it once a long time age. But I think it is be is in; he never takes tea.”

pot very wise to give a child names of that So there was no more to be said, and kind. There is so much risk in it. If I Gibbs did the honors as gracefully as a had grown up crooked or ugly my name man in wading-stockings could be ex. would have been an injury to me.” It pected to do them, but some little part of was pretty, as Mr. Pepys used to say, to his usual complacency was destroyed by see how naturally she assumed her good an uneasy feeling that while he was so looks. We may mention that before many employed Samela's eyes were fixed on the days had passed Mr. Gibbs's bookseller side.pockets of his coat where the books had received an order (by telegraph) to were deposited, which he was persuaded supply him with the works of Robert bulged out shockingly. In the course of Greene, out of which he hunted with some time he found himself sitting in another difficulty the very charming lyric the easy-chair, on the other side of the fire, name of which stand at the head of this opposite Samela — just as a young hus. paper. band might be supposed to sit opposite a * And now for your books,” said Gibbs, young wife in, say, the third week of the when his visitor declined to have any honeymoon. Gibbs began to feel as if he more tea. He showed her first a great was married, and, what with this sensation carefully arranged pile in a corner of the and the knowledge of his bit of deceit, sitting-room. There have been exceptions somewhat uncomfortable, - for a moment – those who collect fine bindings will at or two he almost wished that the old pro- once recall some famous names fessor would make his appearance.

a rule women do not care for books as Samela had never looked so bright and men care for them. Probably a large pro. fresh and comely as she did that after- portion out of the hundred would prefer

There was just something in her if the choice was given them and a book. position which would have made some rest thrown in the édition de luxe of girls feel the least bit embarrassed ; they Thackeray to a rather dingy and commonwould have shown their feelings by little place looking set of the original issues. nervousnesses — have laughed or talked Samela was one of the exceptions ; she too much; after all she was only the showed a quite evident, almost an eager, chance acquaintance of a few days. But interest in the pile. The fashion for big she sat there perfectly at ease, absolutely volumes, for great folios and thick quartos mistress of herself.

has died out so the men who deal chiefly “ I have brought you your picture,” she in such merchandise tell you ; but this

- but as


[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »