Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

The Major had paraded his tooth so often, that Dick Dawson began to tire of it, and for the purpose of making it a source of amusement to himself, he stole his father's keys one day, and opening the cabinet in which his tooth was enshrined, he abstracted the grinder which Nature had bestowed on the Major, and substituted in its stead a horse's tooth, of no contemptible dimensions. A party some days after dined with the old gentleman, and after dinner the story of the skirmish turned up, as a matter of course, and the enormous size of the tooth wound up the tedious tale.

“ Hadn't you better show it to them, sir?” said Dick from the foot of the table.

“ Indeed, then, I will,” said the Major ; “ for it really is a curiosity."

“Let me go for it, sir,” said Dick, well knowing he would be refused.

“ No, no," answered his father, rising ; “ I never let any one go to my pet cabinet but myself ;" and so saying he left the room, and proceeded to his museum. It has been already said that the Major's mind was of that character, which once being satisfied of anything, could never be convinced to the contrary ; and having for years been in the habit of drawing his own tooth out of his own cabinet, the increased size never struck him of the one which he now extracted from it; so he returned to the dining-room, and presented with great exultation to the company the tooth Dick had substituted. It may be imagined how the people stared, when an old gentleman, and moreover a Major, declared upon his honour, that a great horse's tooth was his own ; but having done so, politeness forbade they should contradict him, more particularly at the head of his own table, so they smothered their smiles, as well as they could, and declared it was the most wonderful tooth they ever beheld ; and instead of attempting to question the fact, they launched forth in expressions of admiration and surprise, and the fable, instead of being questioned, was received with welcome, and made food for mirth. The difficulty was not to laugh; and in the midst of twisted mouths, affected sneezing, and applications of pocket handkerchiefs to rebellious cachinations, Dick, the maker of the joke, sat unmoved, sipping his claret with a serenity which might have roused the envy of a red Indian.

“ I think that's something like a tooth !” said Dick Prodigious—wonderful-tremendous !” ran round the board. “ Give it to me again," said one. “ Let me look at it once more," said another. " Colossal !” exclaimed a third. “ Gigantic !" shouted all, as the tooth made the circuit of the table.

The Major was delighted, and never remembered his tooth to have created such a sensation ; and when at last it was returned to him, he turned it about in his own hand, and cast many fond glances at the monstrosity, before it was finally deposited in his waistcoat pocket. This was the most ridiculous part of the exhibition : to see a gentleman, with the use of his eyes, looking affectionately at a thumping horse's tooth, and believing it to be his own. Yet this was a key to the Major's whole

character. A received opinion was with him unchangeable ; no alteration of circumstances could shake it : it was his tooth. A belief or a doubt was equally sacred with him ; and though his senses in the present case should have shown him it was a horse's tooth,- no, it was a piece of himself-his own dear tooth.

After this party, the success which crowned his anecdote and its attendant relic, made him fonder of showing it off; and many a day did Dick the devil enjoy the astonishment of visitors as his father exhibited the enormous tooth as his own. Fonder and fonder grew the Major of his tooth and his story, until the unlucky day Edward O'Connor happened to be in the museum with a party of ladies, to whom the old gentleman was showing off his treasures with great effect, and some pains; for the Major, like most old soldiers, was very attentive to the fair sex. At last the pet cabinet was opened, and out came the tooth. One universal exclamation of surprise arose on its appearance : “ What a wonderful man the Major was to have such a tooth ! Just then, by an unlucky chance, Edward, who had not seen the Major produce the wonder from his cabinet, perceived the relic in the hand of one of the ladies at the extremity of the group, and fancying it had dropped from the horse's head, he said,

I suppose that is one of the teeth out of old Shonberg's skull.".

The Major thought this an impertinent allusion to his political bias, and said, very sharply, “ What do you mean by Old Shonberg ?

The horse's head, sir," replied Edward, pointing to the musical relic.

“ It was of my tooth you spoke, sir, when you said Old Shonberg," returned the major, still more offended at what he considered Edward's evasion.

“I assure you,” said Edward, with the strongest evidence of a desire to be reconciled in his voice and manner --" I assure you, sir, it was of this tooth I spoke;" and he held up the one the Major had produced as his own.

“ I know it was, sir," said the Major, “and therefore I didn't relish your allusions to my tooth.”

Your tooth, sir ?" exclaimed Edward, in surprise. “ Yes, sir,- mine!"

“ My dear sir," said Edward, " there is some mistake here; this is a horse's tooth,"

“ Give it to me, sir !" said the Major, snatching it from Edward. “ You may think this very witty, Mr. O'Connor, but I don't; if my tooth is of superhuman size, I'm not to be called a horse for it, sir !nor Shonberg, sir !-horse--a-hem !-better than ass, however !".

While this brief but angry outbreak took place, the bystanders, of course, felt excessively uncomfortable; and poor Edward knew not what to do. The Major he knew to be of too violent a temper to attempt explanation for the present; so, bowing to the ladies, he left the room, with that flushed look of silent vexation to which courteous youth is sometimes obliged to submit at the hands of intemperate age.

Neither Fanny nor Dick was at home when this occurred, so Edward quitted the house, and was forbidden to enter it afterwards. The Major suddenly entertained a violent dislike to Edward O'Connor, and hated even to hear his name mentioned. It was in vain that explanation was attempted : his self-love had received a violent shock, of which Edward had been the innocent means. In vain did Dick endeavour to make himself the peace-offering to his father's wounded consequence ; in vain was it manifest that Fanny was grieved: the old Major persisted in declaring that Edward O'Connor was a self-sufficient jackanapes, and forbade most peremptorily that further intercourse should take place between him and his daughter; and she had too high a sense of duty, and he of honour, to seek to violate the command. But though they never met, they loved not the less fondly and truly; and Dick, grieved that a frolic of his should have interrupted the happiness of a sister he loved and a friend he valued, kept up a sort of communion between them by talking to Edward about Fanny, and to Fanny about Edward, whose last song was sure, through the good offices of the brother, to find its way into the sister's album, already stored with many a tribute from her lover's muse.

Fanny was a sweet creature-- one of those choice and piquant bits of Nature's creation which she sometimes vouchsafes to treat the world with, just to show what she can do. Her person I shall not attempt to describe ; for however one may endeavour to make words play the part of colour, lineament, voice, and expression-and however successfully, -still a verbal description can never convey a true notion of personal charms; and personal charms Fanny had, decidedly; not that she was strictly beautiful, but, at times, nevertheless, eclipsing beauty far more regular, and throwing symmetry into the shade, by some charm which even they whom it fascinated could not define.

Her mind was as clear and pure as a mountain stream ; and if at times it chafed and was troubled from the course in which it ran, the temporary turbulence only made its limpid depth and quietness more beautiful. Her heart was the very temple of generosity, the throne of honour, and the seat of tenderness. The gentlest sympathies dwelt in her soul, and answered to the slightest call of another's grief; while mirth was dancing in her eye, a word that implied the sorrow of another would bring a tear there. She was the sweetest creature in the world!

The old Major, used to roving habits from his profession, would often go on a ramble somewhere for weeks together, at which times Fanny went to Merryvale to her sister, Mistress Egan, who was also a fine-hearted creature, but less soft and sentimental than Fanny. She was of the dashing school rather, and before she became the mother of so large a family, thought very little of riding over a gate or a fence. Indeed it was her high mettle that won her the squire's heart. The story is not long, and it may as well be told here-though a little out of place perhaps ; but it's an Irish story, and may therefore be gently irregular.

The squire had admired Letitia Dawson as most of the young men of her acquaintance did-appreciated her round waist and well-turned ankle, her spirited eyes and cheerful laugh, and danced with her at every ball as much as any other fine girl in the country; but never seriously thought of her as a wife, until one day a party visited the parish church, whose old tower was often ascended for the fine view it commanded. At this time the tower was under repair, and the masons were drawing up materials in a basket, which, worked by rope and pulley, swung on a beam protruding from the top of the tower. The basket had just been lowered for a fresh load of stones, when Letitia exclaimed, “ Wouldn't it be fine fun to get into the basket and be hauled up to the top of the tower?-how astonished the workmen would be to see a lady get out of it!"

“I would be more astonished to see a lady get into it," said a gentleman present.

“ Then here goes to astonish you,” said Letitia, laying hold of the rope and jumping into the basket. In vain did her friends and the workmen below endeavour to dissuade her; up she would go, and up she did go; and it was during her ascent that Egan and a friend were riding towards the church. Their attention was attracted by so strange a sight; and, spurring onward, Egan exclaimed, “ By the powers, 'tis Letty Dawson !-Well done, Letty !-you're the right girl for my money !-by Jove, if ever I marry, Letty's the woman !” And sure enough she was the woman, in another month.

Now, Fanny would not have done the basket feat, but she had plenty of fun in her, notwithstanding ; her spirits were light ; and though, for some time, she felt deeply the separation from Edward, she rallied after a while, felt that unavailing sorrow but impaired the health of the mind, and, supported by her good sense, she waited in hopefulness for the time that Edward might claim and win her.

At Merryvale now, all was expectation about the anticipated election. The ladies were making up bows of ribbon for their partizans, and Fanny had been so employed all the morning alone in the drawingroom ; her pretty fingers pinching, and pressing, and stitching the silken favours, while now and then her hand wandered to a wicker basket which lay beside her, to draw forth a scissors or a needlecase. As she worked, a shade of thought crossed her sweet face, like a passing cloud across the sun; the pretty fingers stopped, the work was laid down-and a small album gently drawn from the neighbouring basket. She opened the book and read ; they were lines of Edward O'Connor's, which she drank into her heart; they were the last he had written, which her brother had heard him sing and had brought her.

The Snow.*

An old man sadly said,

“Where's the snow
That fell the year that's fled ?

Where's the snow ?"
As fruitless were the task
Of many a joy to ask,

As the snow !

* The Songs in this work will be published by Duff and Hodgson, 65, Oxford-street.

II.

The hope of airy birth,

Like the snow,
Is stain’d on reaching earth,

Like the snow :
While 'tis sparkling in the ray
'Tis melting fast away,

Like the snow.

10.

A cold deceitful thing

Is the snow,
Though it come on dove-like wing,

The false snow!
'Tis but rain disguis'd appears ;
And our hopes are frozen tears,

Like the snow.

A tear did course down Fanny's cheek as she read the last couplet ; and, closing the book and replacing it in the little basket, she sighed, and said, “ Poor fellow !-I wish he were not so sad!”

« ElőzőTovább »