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Schliemann, Henry. By KATE FIELD
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XX. Shooting off the Ties .
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The Secret. .
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IIe woka, and met their eyes fixed on his' ..
Now he's coming, coming!' .
I could wish to be like Rosalind.' Holiday No.
TT is notoriously the custom with the best story-tellers to let I their characters speak for themselves : to ticket them with adjectives such as good, for example, instead of making them establish their own right to it, is the same sorry device as is adopted by early painters (not the old masters, but the very young ones) who scrawl man,' woman,'' tree,' below their counterfeit presentments of those objects, in order to prevent mistakes arising from their own defects of execution. But I have written “good 'Mrs. Wardlaw on our first introduction to that personage, because you had only to look at her to be convinced at once that she had a title to that epithet, if good humour, good temper, and good nature combined have any claim to it. It is curious that in the system of Lavater the point of age’ is so slightly dwelt upon, when it is in fact the keynote of the whole of it. Just as an artist finds it easier to take the set and pronounced features of elderly persons than the comparatively unformed faces of the young, so it is with the student of character; he can, in fact, only judge with certainty of men's minds from their faces when they have passed life's meridian. By that time the habitual smile or frown has become stereotyped ; greed or generosity, duplicity or frankness, and even to some extent wisdom or folly, have written their autographs upon their possessors with more or less of distinctness. Care and toil, indeed, may cause us to pass a harsh judgment; for we sometimes ascribe their work to that of moroseness; but after forty it is very difficult for any gentleman who is a scoundrel to appear like an honest man. The kind heart, too, glows through the genial countenance no
VOL. XXXIII. NO. CXXIX,
matter how coarse the grain, how weather-beaten the skin, like the light through a horn lantern.
Mrs. Wardlaw's ruddy face was the incarnation of kindness; and, though her majestic proportions forbad any approach to sprightliness, she had a dancing eye. Judged by a Mayfair standard, her appearance might have been set down as vulgar; (between ourselves, I have seen leaders of fashion quite as unfortunate in that respect, but in them it is called “a majestic appearance'); she looked, said her enemies (for in this wicked world how could so excellent a soul be without them ?) • like a housekeeper:' but what is better than a good housekeeper, I should like to know, except indeed a good cook? It was a matter of surprise among some who had the privilege of Mrs. Conway's acquaintance how so exclusive and lady-like a being could have got to know so stout and florid a personage as Mrs. Wardlaw, who was also (and by no means distantly) connected with trade.'
The captain's wife had always held her head up—metaphorically - very high, and when circumstances had prevented her from continuing to move in the best circles, had kept herself to herself, and ceased to move at all. Lodgings in Gower Street (however convenient with regard to omnibuses) are not adapted for this sort of motion, and while residing in them she had therefore been stationary. Yet it was during that period, and now some years ago, that the acquaintance with Mrs. Wardlaw had been formed, not indeed by Mrs. Conway, but by Nelly herself.
Wearied with reading, and practising on the piano, the girl was amusing herself one day during the absence of her mother by looking out of the dining-room window-her pretty chin resting on the top of the blind, her little nose flattened against the pane
—when an accident occurred just opposite the door. An omnibus had stopped to drop' a lady passenger, and not stopping long enough had dropped her in the road, from which, with an obstinacy which the conductor denounced as cussed,' she refused to stir. When one weighs sixteen stone, and sprains an ankle, it is difficult to put even one's best leg foremost. The stout lady was evidently helpless, and in great pain, and promised a gratuitous entertainment to the public more gratifying, because less fleeting, than Punch, or organs; but as the sudden crowd closed around her, a young girl followed by a maid-of-all-work appeared upon the scene: “Bring the lady into our house, cried she excitedly.
- Who's to do it, miss, without a windlass ??
“I have got a shilling,' said Nelly (of which she was quite certain, it being her whole stock of pocket-money), and she held it between her small finger and thumb. The power of the lever
is as nothing compared with that of a visible coin. Four sturdy men seized the prostrate lady and carried her like a feather into Nelly's parlour, and retired with the price of four quarts of beer among them.
- Where is it you are hurt, madam ? ' inquired Nelly tenderly.
I have broken my leg, my dear; send for my doctor-Dr. Walsh, of Russell Square.'
Short as was the distance, and quickly as the doctor took to traverse it, he found the patient and her little hostess already on intimate terms.
You have had a bad fall, but it is into good hands, I see,' said he, when he had made his examination of the ankle, round which Nelly had wrapped some wet rags.
• She is a little angel,' exclaimed Mrs. Wardlaw rapturously.
• She is a little doctor, which is almost the same thing,' answered he smiling. "We shall get you home in half an hour.' But Mrs. Wardlaw remained on the sofa for a much longer time, awaiting Mrs. Conway's return home.
I could not leave your roof,' she said when that lady arrived, without expressing my sense of the kindness with which I have been treated by your sweet little daughter. I am sure John also
—that is my husband : we live in the square close by—will never rest till he has thanked you.'
“There is nothing to thank us for, madam,' replied Mrs. Conway with stiffness. Her visitor's appearance did not impress her favourably; the "h’in the word “husband' had not been so distinct as could be wished; the name of John had a plebeian sound; moreover, it was annoying—though quite in consonance with the unsatisfactoriness of things in general—that a person of this description should live in the square, while she, Mrs. Conway, to whom the first circles had once been open, lived in the street, and in lodgings.
Poor Mrs. Wardlaw perceived that she was snubbed.
“I take the liberty to kiss your dear little daughter,' said she, because I have no words to speak my gratitude to her, Mrs. Conway, and of course no other means of expressing it. If there were any such means, or if a time should ever arrive when John Wardlaw—he is in the timber trade, ma'am, at present, but is about to retire-I should know what to be about; it will be as much as I can do, I know, to keep him from stepping round and thanking her in person.'
"I am sure my Nelly has been thanked enough, Mrs. Wardlaw. • John will not think so, ma’am; and he is so fond of children,
though unhappily we bave none of our own, and when I come to tell him of your daughter's kindness and of the good sense beyond her years
• Indeed, you will make her vain,' put in her hostess peremptorily; children are so easily spoilt.'
"And how I should like to spoil you, my darling!' exclaimed Mrs. Wardlaw, putting her arms about the child in farewell. “No, I don't want your help, little one: I should break you all to pieces, if I leant upon you. Jessie's arm will do.' And so with the maid's support she hobbled to the hired brougham that had been waiting for her hours ago, as though time had not been money ; and departed, leaving the aforesaid Jessie in possession of a glittering medallion, which, upon consulting with more experienced friends, she discovered to be a half-sovereign piece.
No news came from their late patient to the dwellers in Gower Street, far less any personal visit from her • John;' and Mrs. Conway rather repented of the sharp way in which she had put a stop to any such communication ; a few messages, backwards and forwards, would not have injured her own quondam position in the fashionable world; nor was it, on the whole, a wise proceeding to have thus quenched the incipient liking of their wealthy neighbour for Nelly. This last consideration, however, weighed but little with Mrs. Conway; no material reasons ever did when set in the balance against her prejudices. Moreover, though it is possible that, in a future state of existence, this lady might possibly be induced, under pressure of Rhadamanthus, to admit that on one or two occasions she had committed during her life -say-an error of judgment; as to allowing that she was wrong, there were no imaginable conditions, either of circumstance or being, under which she could have been brought to such a confession.
In all probability the relations between Mrs. Wardlaw and the Conways would have ended with that first interview, but that in a few days Nelly asked permission to make inquiry after the wounded lady at her house ; nor would the intimacy have gone far perhaps even then but that the child went unaccompanied by her mother, though bearing from her a pretty gift in the shape of a posy of hothouse flowers. That Mrs. Conway should have thought of them, and given balf-a-crown for them, and arranged them with her own tasteful hands, notwithstanding her previous discourtesy, was quite in keeping with her character; it was not done with the least feeling of making amends; but since the visit was to be, it was well that the obligation which had already proceeded from her side should remain there-nay, be intensified. The lady in the