Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

your hands—I will not strike you so ness of bis arm. Ay, and the arm, --defend yourself.”

too, was no longer so feeble: so strange Lenny mechanically obeyed; and is the strength that comes from pashe had good need of the admonition: sion and pluck! for if before he had bad the advan- Poor Lenny, who had never fought tage, now that Randal bad recovered before, was bewildered ; his sensathe surprise to his nerves, the battle tions grew so entangled that he could was not to the strong.

never recall them distinctly: he had Though Leslie had not been a fight- a dim reminiscence of some breathless iog boy at Eton, still his temper had impotent rush-of a sudden blindness involved him in some conflicts when followed by quick flashes of intolerable he was in the lower forms, and light-of a deadly faintness, from he bad learned something of the art which he was roused by sharp pangs as well as the practice in pugilism-- -here-there-everywhere; and then an excellent thing, too, I am barba- all he could remember was, that he rous enough to believe, and which I was lying on the ground, huddled up hope will never quite die out of our and panting hard, while his adversary pablic schools. Ah, many a young bent over him with a countenance as duke has been a better fellow for life dark and livid as Lara himself might from a fair set-to with a trader's son; have bent over the fallen Otho. For and many a trader's son has learned Randal Leslie was not one who, by to look à lord more manfully in the impulse and nature, subscribed to the face on the hustings, from the recol- noble English maxim—“ Never hit a lection of the sound thrashing he foe when he is down ;” and it cost once gave to some little Lord Leopold him a strong if brief self-struggle, not Dawdle.

to set his heel on that prostrate form. So Randal now brought his expe. It was the mind, not the heart, that rience and art to bear; put aside subdued the savage within him, as, those heavy roundabout blows, and muttering something inwardly-cerdarted in his own, quick and sharp- tainly not Christian forgiveness--thesupplying the due momentum of pugi- victor turned gloomily away. listic mechanics to the natural feeble

CHAPTER IV.

Just at that precise moment, who (whether to recover his breath, or should appear but Mr Stirn! For, in whether to show that his victory was fact, being extremely anxious to get consummated, and that he was in his Lenny into disgrace, he had hoped rights of possession.)“ Hollo," said that he should have found the young Mr Stirn, " what is all this?-what's villager had shirked the commission the matter, Lenny, you blockhead ? " intrusted to him; and the Right-hand “ He will sit there," answered Man had slily come back, to see if that Lenny, in broken gasps, “and he amiable expectation were realised. has beat me because I would not He now beheld Lenny rising with some let him ; but I doesn't mind that," difficulty - still panting hard -- and added the villager, trying hard to supwith hysterical sounds akin to what is press his tears, " and I'm ready again vulgarly called blubbering—his fine for bim-that I am." new waistcoat sprinkled with his own “ And what do you do, lolloping blood, which flowed from his nose, there on them blessed Stocks ?” nose that seemed to Lenny Fairfield's “Looking at the landscape: out feelings to be a nose no more, but a of my light, man!" swollen, gigantic, mountainous Slaw- This tone instantly inspired Mr kenbergian excrescence,-in fact, he Stirn with misgivings : it was a tone felt all nose! Turning agbast from so disrespectful to him that he was this spectacle, Mr Stirn surveyed, with seized with involuntary respect : who no more respect than Lenny bad ma- but a gentleman could speak so to nifested, the stranger boy, who had Mr Stirn ? again seated himself on the Stocks “And may I ask who you be ? " said Stirn, falteringly, and half now fairly off, stood bowing to the inclined to touch his hat. 6. What's earth—"as for you, give my compliyour name, pray, and what's your ments to Mr Hazeldean, and say bizness?"

that, when he does us the honour to “My name is Randal Leslie, and visit us at Rood Hall, I trust that the my business was to visit your master's manners of our villagers will make family—that is, if you are, as I guess him ashamed of Hazeldean." from your manner, Mr Hazeldean's O my poor Squire! Rood Hall ploughman !"

ashamed of Hazeldean! If that mesSo saying, Randal rose; and, move sage had ever been delivered to you, ing on a few paces, turned, and throw- you would never have looked up ing half-a-crown on the road, said to again! Lenny,—“Let that pay you for your With those bitter words, Randal bruises, and remember another time swung himself over the stile that led how you speak to a gentleman. As into the parson's glebe, and left for you, fellow,"—and he pointed his Lenny Fairfield still feeling his nose, scornful hand towards Mr Stirn, who, and Mr Stirn still bowing to the with his mouth open, and his hat earth.

CHAPTER V.

Randal Leslie had a very long clothes; because he spoiled his clothes, walk home : he was bruised and sore he gave up his visit ; because he gave from head to foot, and his mind was up his visit, he got into the village still more sore and more bruised than green, and sate on the Stocks with his body. But if Randal Leslie had a hat that gave him the air of a fugirested himself in the Squire's gardens, tive from the treadmill; because he without walking backwards, and in- sate on the Stocks—with that hat, and dulging in speculations suggested by a cross face under it he had been Marat, and warranted by my Lord forced into the most discreditable Bacon, he would have passed a most squabble with a clodhopper, and was agreeable evening, and really availed now limping home, at war with gods himself of the Squire's wealth by go- and men ;-ergo, (this is a moral that ing home in the Squire's carriage. will bear repetition)-ergo, when you But because he chose to take so in- walk in a rich man's grounds, be tellectual a view of property, he contented to enjoy what is yours, tumbled into a ditch ; because he namely, the prospect ;-1 daro say tumbled into a ditch, he spoiled his you will enjoy it more than he does.

CHAPTER VI.

If, in the simplicity of his heart, and if it established the devotion of the the crudeness of his experience, employé, got the employer into what Lenny Fairfield had conceived it pro- is popularly called a scrape ! And bable that Mr Stirn would address to though, by those unversed in the inhim some words in approbation of his tricacies of the human heart, and ungallantry, and in sympathy for his acquainted with the especial hearts of bruises, he soon found himself wofully prime-ministers and Right-hand men, mistaken. That truly great man, it might have seemed natural that Mr worthy prime-minister of Hazeldean, Stirn, as he stood still, hat in hand, might, perhaps, pardon a dereliction in the middle of the road, stung, from his orders, if such dereliction humbled, and exasperated by the proved advantageous to the interests mortification he had received from of the service, or redounded to the the lips of Randal Leslie, would credit of the chief; but he was inex- have felt that that young gentleman orable to that worst of diplomatic was the proper object of his resentoffences—an ill-timed, stupid, over- ment; yet such a breach of all the zealous obedience to orders, which, etiquette of diplomatic life as resent

sneer.

ment towards a superior power was break the Sabbath," said Mr Stirn, the last idea that would have sug- interrupting him with a withering gested itself to the profound intellect

“Ö yes ! I told you to disof the Premier of Hazeldean. Still, grace his honour the Squire, and me, as rage like steam must escape some- and the parridge, and bring us all wbere, Mr Stirn, on feeling-as he into trouble. But the Squire told me afterwards expressed it to his wife- to make an example, and I will !” that his “buzzom was a burstin," With those words, quick as lightning turned with the natural instinct of flashed upon Mr Stirn's mind the self-preservation to the safety-valve luminous idea of setting Lenny in the provided for the explosion; and the very Stocks which he had too faithfully vapours within him rushed into vent guarded. Eureka! the “example" upon Lenny Fairfield. He clapped was before him! Here, he could gratify his hat on his head fiercely, and thus his long grudge against the pattern relieved his “buzzom."

boy ; here, by such a selection of the “You young willain! you howda- very best ind in the parish, le cions wiper! and so all this blessed could strike terror into the worst ; Sabbath afternoon, when you ought to here he could appease the offended have been in church on your marrow dignity of Randal Leslie ; here was a bones, a-praying for your betters, you practical apology to the Squire for the has been a-fitting with a young gentle- affront put upon his young visitor; man, and a wisiter to your master, on here, too, there was prompt obedience the werry place of the parridge hinsti- to the Squire's own wish that the tution that you was to guard and Stocks should be provided as soon as pertect; and a-bloodying it all over, possible with a tenant. Suiting the I declares, with your blaggard little action to the thought, Mr Stirn made nose !" Thus saying, and as if to a rapid plunge at his victim, caught mend the matter, Mr Stirn aimed an him by the skirt of his jacket, and, in additional stroke at the offending a few seconds more, the jaws of the member; but, Lenny mechanically Stocks had opened, and Lenny Fairputting up both his arms to defend field was thrust therein-a sad spechis face, Mr Stirn struck his knuckles tacle of the reverses of fortune. This agaiast the large brass buttons that done, and while the boy was too adorned the cuff of the boy's coat- astounded, too stupefied by the sudsleeve-an incident which consider denness of the calamity for the resistably aggravated his indignation. ance he might otherwise have made And Lenny, whose spirit was fairly -nay, for more than a few inaudible roased at what the narrowness of his words-MrStirn hurried from the spot, education conceived to be a signal in- but not without first picking up and justice, placing the trunk of the tree pocketing the half-crown designed for between Mr Stirn and himself, began Lenny, and which, so great had been that task of self-justification which it his first emotions, he had hitherto even was equally impolitic to conceive and almost forgotten. He then made his imprudent to execute, since, in such a way towards the church, with the incase, to justify was to recriminate. tention to place himself close by the

"I wonder at you, Master Stirn, door, catch the Squire as he came out, -if mother could hcar yon! Yon whisper to him what had passed, and know it was you who would not let lead him, with the whole congregation me go to church ; it was you who at his heels, to gaze upon the sacrifice told me to_"

offered up to the joint Powers of *Fit a young gentleman, and Nemesis and Themis.

CHAPTER VII.

Unaffectedly I say it-upon the Lenny Fairfield, as he sate alone in honour of a gentleman, and the repu- that place of penance.

He felt no tation of an author, unaffectedly I more the physical pain of his bruises; say it-no words of mine can do jus- the anguish of his mind stifled and tice to the sensations experienced by overbore all corporeal suffering—an

anguish as great as the childish breast on his young and fair repute—he, who is capable of holding. For first and had already learned so dearly to prize deepest of all, and earliest felt, was the sweets of an honourable namethe burning sense of injustice. He he, to be made, as it were, in the had, it might be with erring judg- twinkling of an eye, a mark for opproment, but with all honesty, earnest- brium, a butt of scorn, a jeer, and a ness, and zeal, executed the commis- byeword! The streams of his life sion intrusted to him; he had stood were poisoned at the fountain. And forth manfully in discharge of his then came a tenderer thought of his duty; he had fought for it, suffered mother! of the shock this would be to for it, bled for it. This was his re- her-she who had already begun to ward! Now, in Lenny's mind there look up to him as her stay and was pre-eminently that quality which support: he bowed his head, and distinguishes the Anglo-Saxon race- the tears, long suppressed, rolled the sense of justice. It was perhaps down. the strongest principle in his moral Then he wrestled and struggled, constitution ; and the principle had and strove to wrench his limbs from never lost its virgin bloom and fresh- that hateful bondage ;-for he heard ness by any of the minor acts of steps approaching. And he began to oppression and iniquity which boys picture to himself the arrival of all the of higher birth often suffer from villagers from church, the sad gaze of harsh parents, or in tyrannical the Parson, the bent brow of the schools. So that it was for the first Squire, the idle ill-suppressed titter of time that that iron entered into his all the boys, jealous of his unblotted soul, and with it came its attendant character — character of wbich the feeling--the wrathful galling sense of original whiteness could never, never impotence. He had been wronged, be restored! He would always be and he had no means to right himself. the boy who had sate in the Stocks ! Then came another sensation, if not so And the words uttered by the Squire deep, yet more smarting and enven- came back on his soul, like the voice omed for the time-shame! He, the of conscience in the ears of some good boy of all good boys——he, the doomed Macbeth. “A sad disgrace, pattern of the school, and the pride of Lenny-you'll never be in such a the parson-he, whom the Squire, in quandary." “Quandary," the word sight of all his contemporaries, had was unfamiliar to him ; it must mean often singled out to slap on the back, something awfully discreditable. The and the grand Squire's Jady to pat on poor boy could have prayed for the the head, with a smiling gratulation earth to swallow him.

CHAPTER VIII. “ Kettles and frying-pans ! what “ Nick Stirn! Ay, I'd ha' ta'en my has us here ?" cried the tinker. davy on that: and cos vy?".

This time Mr Sprott was without "''Cause I did as he told me, and his donkey; for, it being Sunday, it fought a boy as was trespassing on is to be presumed that the donkey these very Stocks; and he beat me was enjoying his Sabbath on the but I don't care for that; and that boy Common. The tinker was in his was a young gentleman, and going to Sanday's best, clean and smart, about visit the Squire; and so Nick Stirn—" to take his lounge in the park. Lenny stopped short, choked by rage

Lenny Fairfield made no answer to and humiliation. the appeal.

" Augh," said the tinker, staring, “ You in the wood, my baby! "you fit with a young gentleman, did Well, that's the last_sight I should you? Sorry to hear you confess that, ba' thought to see. But we all lives my lad! Sit there, and be thankful to larn," added the tinker senten- you ha' got off so cheap. 'Tis salt tiously. “Who gave you them leg- and battery to fit with your betters, gins ? Can't you speak, lad ?" and a Lunnon justice of peace would "Nick Stirn."

have given yon two months o' the treadmill. But vy should you fit cos The tinker went his way. Lenny's be trespassed on the Stocks ? It ben't eye followed him with the sullenness your natural side for fitting, I takes it.” of despair. The tinker, like all the

Lenny murmured something not tribe of human comforters, had only very distinguishable about serving the watered the brambles to invigorate Squire, and doing as he was bid. the prick of the thorns. Yes, if

"Oh, I sees, Lenny,” interrupted Lenny had been caught breaking the the tinker, in a tone of great con- Stocks, some at least would have pitied tempt, "you be one of those who him; but to be incarcerated for dewould rayther 'unt with the ounds fending them, you might as well have than run with the 'are! You be's expected that the widows and orphans the good pattern boy, and would of the Reign of Terror would bave peach agin your own horder to curry pitied Dr Guillotin when he slid favour with the grand folks. Fie, through the grooves of his own deadly lad! you be sarved right: stick by machine. And even the tinker, itineryour horder, then you'll be 'spected ant, ragamuffin vagabond as he was, when you gets into trouble, and not felt ashamed to be found with the be 'varsally 'espised—as you'll be arter pattern boy! Lenny's head sank church-time! Vell, I can't be seen again on his breast, heavily as if 'sorting with you, now you are in this it had been of lead. Some few minutes here drogotary fix; it might hurt my thus passed, when the unhappy pricracter, both with them as built the soner became aware of the presence Stocks, and them as wants to pull 'em of another spectator to his shame: he down. Old kettles to mend! Vy, heard no step, but he saw a shadow you makes me forgit the Sabbath. thrown over the sward. He held his Sarvent, my lad, and wish you well breath, and would not look up, with out of it; 'specks to your mother, and some vague idea that if he refused to say we can deal for the pan and shovel see he might escape being seen. all the same for your misfortin."

CHAPTER IX.

"Per Bacco !” said Dr Riccabocca, way as the Italian spoke thus kindly, putting his hand on Lenny's shoulder, and the tears rushed down; but he and bending down to look into bis face again stopped them, and gulped out -"Per Bacco! my young friend, do sturdily, — you sit here from choice or necessity ?" "I have not done no wrong; it

Lenny slightly shuddered, and ben't my fault-and 'tis that which winced under the touch of one whom kills me!” concluded Lenny, with a he had hitherto regarded with a sort burst of energy. of saperstitious abhorrence.

" You have not done wrong? "I fear," resumed Riccabocca, after Then,” said the philosopher, drawing waiting in vain for an answer to his out his pocket-handkerchief with question, " that, though the situation great composure, and spreading it on is charming, you did not select it your- the ground" then I may sit beside self. What is this ?”—and the irony you.

I could only stoop pityingly of the tone vanished—“what is this, over sin, but I can lie down on equal my poor boy? You have been bleed- terms with misfortune." ing, and I see that those tears which Lenny Fairfield did not quite comyou try to check come from a deep prehend the words, but enough of well. Tell me, povero fanciullo mio, their general meaning was appa(the sweet Italian vowels, though rent to make him cast a grateful Lenny did not understand them, glance on the Italian. Riccabocca sounded softly and soothingly,)—teli resumed, as he adjusted the pocketme, my child, how all this happened. handkerchief, “ I have a right to your Perhaps I can help you—we have all confidence, my child, for I have been erred; we should all help each other." afflicted in my day; yet I too say

Lenny's heart, that just before had with thee, I have not done wrong. seemed bound in brass, found itself a Cospetto ! (and here the Dr seated

« ElőzőTovább »