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he actually smiled at these indignities, for he found gone to India she knew, and was reported to be it very pleasant to have that absorbed little face so leading a gay life there, and to be gaining rapid near his, and those marvellously soft little fingers promotion. touching him so lightly. She tired of the amuse The Rev. Allan Stalman died. Every one in ment sooner than he did, and presently began to Spikehurst was very kind to his widow, but Spikeclamor for her "paints."
hurst was not a large place, and she could not live It seemed she was a great hand at the fine arts, on kind words alone. Nor bad sbe any idea of and Edward was obliged to get out at the next sta- living on the bounty of others. Consequently, Mrs. tion to procure some water to moisten the said Stalman roused herself in her deep affliction, and, quints, and a copy of the Ilustrated London News, instead of posing in the eyes of Spikehurst as a desin which to exercise her shill in the art of coloring. olate widow with a fatherless cbild, proceeded to The peturs of ships and public buildings were soon realize her possessions, and travelled up to London
inne of She adopted a very broad style with with a mouest wardrobe and three hundred pounds them. Some of her paints she heli in greater esti in money. matten than the rest, and these were not emp.ored She had been a great musical performer in the unit the petare were a favorite. Others were ! Malta dars, and had managed to keep her power Quan d verr oni nary tints, and were giderailr| tolerably unimpaired, even in the unappreciative Riset over uninteresting spets without the circles at Spisehurst. She was so fortunate as to Si n irence to natan Toe Governor-Gente obtain the rest of musical teacher in two Food craina w nieis deep line; and a meeting sobools near London. and that of organist in a ** Frerer Hanabricant veidow: bat - the Paris church in od trend, who was much in her ow Hans sor lantary "represated by three or four pighi (mirus the three bundred poun.is), was glad
n abing sales and an event c i, re! to join rih ber in renting a small boos, which of nei st a ve Counderajaan. She dinair teri - Apartments for a Single Gedistilar": and
to Ms. Siuman melaged to Ere in respecto *ll has been she inquin pointing to one ability.
In London si te bad passed osse rscily Theis lady," said Finani: gire ber a green prer Hs Sanai bea in the A: crer
- Why, sir, she's been told 'undreds of times she give no further attention for the moment to Laura ain't to make that noise, but it ain't of no use. She and her education. At the end of the term he hurwon't mind one bit.”
ried out of town for rest and to see his mother, and “Do you suppose knocking her about will do any returned in a week to make out the boys' reports. good ? " said Edward, whose eyes were angrily ob- It had become a habit with him now to frequently serving a red mark on the child's wrist where the join the circle down stairs in the evening, and even servant had clutched her, and a black smear on the to take his work there with him. His first evening back of her hand inflicted by a blacking-brush. was so passed. Taking out his handkerchief to remove this smear, “Where's Laura ?” he inquired at once. he noticed the hand, which was peculiar, more " Ah, poor Laura !” sighed mamma, “ I shall nevclosely. He looked at the ehild, and with a sudden er forget her sorrowful little face as she went away! exclamation drew her into his room and shut the I have been obliged to act without consulting you, door.
as I should have liked, Mr. Pringleson. But time This unexpected move rather astonished her, and pressed. Mrs. Welling, the wife of my dear Allan's though she looked Edward straight in the eyes with successor in the Spikehurst living, is really a very a defiant air, there were certain little signs that she nice person, and, on hearing of my difficulties, wrote was not altogether easy in her mind. Edward had in the kindest manner and offered to take Laura as by this time satisfied himself that his little heroine a pupil. She has no children of her own, and, as of the train stood before him. His first remark was they are not well off, will be glad of both salary and highly diplomatic, intended to elicit a final proof, occupation. You don't look pleased, Mr. Pringleand also to introduce a pleasing subject.
son! I hope you don't disapprove of what I have " Do you like sugar-plums now ?” he asked. done."
It was a complete success. The child had a very “O dear, no. Of course you have the first right pliant and expressive figure. In an instant its defiant over the little woman, and no doubt you have done rigidity disappeared, and she approached a thought the best for her.” nearer, before answering “Yes," in a shy whisper. “0, but dear me!” cried the widow, who was
Edward sat down by the fire, and she leaned very accessible to doubts, “I should be quite unagainst one of his knees.
comfortable if I thought you were dissatisfied. And, "Now," said he," if I were to find some sugar- of course, you are such a judge of tuition ! But, plums, what would you do ?”
| you see, I was obliged to decide, for Mrs. Welling She was a practical person, and so inquired, - could only give me three days, and at the very last “ If you was to find them for me?"
moment I wrote and said the child should go." “ Yes, for you. What would you do with them?” | | “Pray don't apologize, Mrs. Stalman,” said Ed
“Give mamma some, and Miss Price some, and ward, half laughing, “ for disposing of your own me some.”
child. Little folks must learn to spell, I suppose." That evening Mrs. Stalman received a message He did not look at all happy, however, and W. from her new lodger begging to see her. This end- Payne Shepherd's report coming under his considing in an invitation from Mrs. Stalman to tea, Mr. eration, received no mercy. Pringleson came down to her room with a packet in his hand. The fellow-travellers recognized each
III. other at once, and Laura was sent to find the iden-l “PRINGLESON! You in an omnibus ! I thought tical bonbonnière, which had been carefully pre- you would as soon have thought of wearing a wideserved. Edward's packet soon refilled it, and for awake in London as foregoing your Saturday afterthe second time it became a bond of friendship. noon's walk.”
Laura was now eight years old, and beginning to The omnibus was going past the Temple gate, be a care to her mother.
and the speaker had emerged from that portal, and “ What am I to do about her, Mr. Pringleson?” now took a seat beside his friend. she asked, one evening; "she is beginning to get a “Ah!" answered Mr. Pringleson, “I have been big girl now, and her education ought to be attend doing a more extraordinary thing than riding in an ed to. She spells shockingly, and I fear she never omnibus. What do you think of my having been will write well. I cannot spare time to teach her, to take stalls for this new piece at the Lyceum ?" if I were able, and yet I don't like schools. What “My dear Pringleson! Have you come into a shall I do?”
fortune ? " Edward was really younger than Mrs. Stalman, “No," said Mr. Pringleson, with rather a perbut she was beginning to look up to him as family plexed look out into Chancery Lane, up which they umpire.
were passing; but my landlady's daughter has just - Don't send her to school,” he answered.
come home for good, and I am redeeming an old * You think not? But how else she is to learn promise. It feels rather odd, though." anything I don't know. Poor Eliza Price has | “0, you are getting a young fellow at last. It enough on her hands looking after the house, be- really is time you gave way to a little rashness. sides being no great scholar. I am quite sure Laura Why, dear me, I can remember when you first went would never mind a word from her.”
to Duke's College, and had those boys in one of the It was a difficult question. Edward Pringleson low classes, you were like a fellow of fifty-five. Yet was engaged in looking over a pile of examination- you could n't have been very old, for I consider you papers. The particular note-book under his scru- a young man now.” tiny required much revision. Its owner, who wrote « Ah, my dear fellow, I met a man to-day who an untidy, sprawling hand, and signed his name made me feel rather old, though. At that very with irritating illegibility, as “ W. Payne Shepherd," time you speak of there was a boy in my class gave the master great trouble. Edward again and named Shepherd, -a. lazy young dog, too, who again shook his head over Shepherd's note-book, and gave me endless trouble. Well, a card was brought scored it with marks of displeasure. It was a busy to me as I was preparing to leave this afternoon, time; as the examinations were coming on, he could with Mr. W. Payne Shepherd' on it, and in came this identical fellow. I should n't have known him. She had attracted considerable attention during the He has shot up far above me, — and I am not a evening, and, from her elaborate toilet and tortured short man, — and has a great mustache with long hair, Edward Pringleson had several times turned waxed points to it; a thing I hate. He was ex- to look complacently on the innocent simplicity of ceedingly civil, but he had not been talking to me his own neighbor. They were left alone, and Mrs. three minutes before I should have liked to box his Goldridge began to talk volubly. ears. Odd antipathies one takes, to be sure !” “I have been so amused by a little drama over
When Mr. Pringleson sat by the fire opposite there, Mr. Pringleson," – indicating an opposite Mrs. Stalman, waiting for dinner that evening, he box so far from the stage that he had not before forgot his odd antipathies; and the look of loving noticed its occupants. " That's Miss Royle and her pride which overspread the mother's face was re- mamma. A great beauty, you know, and a wonflected in his as they both watched Laura.
derful rider. Don't you know them ?” Her tall, straight figure looked wonderfully grace- "No." ful as she stood with her back to them before a pier “Dear me! Everybody knows them, — knows glass, trying the effect of a rose in her hair. Edward her, at all events. A dreadful flirt! They are very watched the hands that he knew so well; but they rich. Mr. Royle is the great banker, you know, did not work altogether to their owner's satisfaction. and she is an only daughter. There is a young He could see the reflection of the face, with its dis man named Shepherd, in a government office, I tressed eyes and knitted brows, and in a few mo- think, — who is tremendously devoted, and the popuments there was the unmistakable sound of a very lar idea is, that if she cares for any one she cares for small stamp.
him. He is not in the box now; he went out just “Bother!” she exclaimed deliberately, and then as you came in here, and I have been amused to turning round with a defiant look, as if she dared observe how cross he has made her by staring at a remonstrance, said : “Mamma, dear, I really can | very pretty girl in the stalls, — with a rose in her not make this thing do."
hair, — next to a vacant seat, - do you see? third “Well, darling, put it away then," said indulgent row ?” mamma.
Mrs. Goldridge took great pains to point out “ Yes, dear; but what am I to say to dear old Laura to Mr. Pringleson. Price ?"
" Ah, yes!” said he," she is next her mother, Mamma, as usual, looked in an agony of doubt at and they are with me. That vacant seat is this question; and, also as usual, referred to Ed- mine." ward.
Mrs. Goldridge looked a little confused at her “ Poor Eliza Price gave her the rose, Mr. Pringle- mistake, but hurried on. son, and it would be dreadful to hurt her feelings?” “Well, she is a very lovely girl, and more than
* Well, Laura," answered the umpire, " it resolves one person has been looking at her, I assure itself into a question between your appearance and you." Miss Price's feelings; does n't it?"
Mr. Pringleson's spirits were not raised by this Laura blushed, and hurrying up to the looking- announcement, and he soon afterwards left her. glass, desperately put the rose in her hair. Then Laura had quite forgotten that she had been she came and sat down on a low chair between her offended, and greeted him with an inquiring mother and friend. This last could not help re-smile. flecting that the misfitting rose did not prevent! “What lovely lady is that up there?” Laura from looking very lovely. Passing his hand "A bride," he answered. “A certain Mrs. over his forehead, which was getting bald now-a-Goldridge." days, he breathed a long sigh.
“A bride!” repeated both his companions in a When they were seated in the theatre, Laura's breath; and the young lady appeared to gain great absorption was complete, nor did her mother often additional interest in their eyes, until the rising of take her eyes from the stage. The play was Ruy the curtain again held them enchained. Blas, and at the most important points of the story, “By the by!” exclaimed Laura, as they were Laura's excitement was so great that she could not taking tea on their return, “ we never saw Mr. refrain from clutching Edward's arm. She was Goldridge. What is he like?" drinking in every word of the scene between Ruy " Mr. Goldridge, Q.C., is rather short, very fat. Blas and the Queen in the council-chamber, when has gray hair and whiskers, wears spectacles, was a Edward, who had been fidgeting for some time, widower, and is sixty," responded Edward. spoke in an energetic whisper,
“ You are laughing, Bluebeard," said Laura, * You had much better contrive to sit sideways, addressing him by a name she had bestowed on Laura. There is a current of air from the door, and him in her infancy. if you can manage to inhale a little of it, it may “No, indeed! It's perfectly true. Why sbouli o't correct this abominable atmosphere."
it be?" The idea of thinking of atmosphere or health “A young girl marry a horrible old man!" said when such much graver interests were at stake on Laura. the stage! Laura decidedly shifted her arm away "I did not say he was borrible, that I me from the entreating hand which had been laid on it, member." and looked hard at the stage with a very obstinate “ But fat and sixty!" said she, with a shudder; expression. When the act was over, Mr. Pringle- "besides, he must be horrible to base married son took a walk about the house to cool both body her." and mind. In the course of this walk he encoun) "Perhaps she married him?" suggested Jr. tered one of the few friends he had preserved from Pringleson. early days, Mr. Goldridge, Q.C. Mr. Goldridge "Then she is horrible. She cannot like hiro. had lately married, as his second wife, a young lady And then for him to marry again !" under twenty. He insisted upon presenting Mr. I don't see why people should not marry again Pringleson to his bride, who was in a private box. if they like!" said Edward.
“Bluebeard! How dare you say such shocking friend. So she had one or two sleepless nights, and things! Perhaps you will say next that people went about the house with red eyes. need not care for one another when they marry ?” “And what are you going to do, Bluebeard ? ”
"No," said he, meditatively ; “I don't say that inquired Laura, one evening, as he came in from at all.”
work and found her alone." Go away while we "Well, then," said she, triumphantly, “ of course move, I suppose ?" they can't care for more than one person, so they! “No. Why should I go away? I may as well ought not to marry twice.”
stay and see the last of you." * You think people can't care for more than one “The last of us! You are coming with us, are person?” he inquired.
you not?” “Of course they can't,” she answered, decisively. “Coming with you? My dear child, I have been
Laura thought a good deal about the question here as your lodger. You will take no lodger now. after she went to bed that night, and became more I shall keep my old quarters here and console Miss convinced about it than ever. Edward thought of | Price." it too, and walking up to the looking-glass, contem- “O dear, O dear! How dreadfully clear and plated himself for some time with a gloomy ex- reasonable,” said Laura, looking disconsolately into pression.
the fire. “I never thought of it before. I don't “ Forty-two," he said to himself; and shook his | think I should have wanted so to go to the new head very gloomily indeed.
house if I had.” She went away after dinner, and did not come down again, saying she was packing
books; but when Mr. Pringleson passed her door, Mr. PRINGLESON wrought himself up to the she came out to bid him good night, and then he pitch of making a formal call on Mrs. Goldridge. saw that she had been crying.
The failure of Royle's bank had been rumored, In that last fortnight of Laura's remaining at the and Mrs. Goldridge entertained him with a repe- old house, Mr. Pringleson's walks got sadly neglecttition of her friends' comments on the subject. What ed. The hour and a half before dinner was too enwould become of the family now? People said ticing, and it was “only for a fortnight," as he said they were utterly ruined. Miss Royle had better to himself. Towards the end of the time he began have lowered her tone a little, and then, perhaps, to forget that he was forty-two. she might have been comfortably settled by this The last day came. time, instead of seeing all her old admirers drop “You will come and see us directly?” said off:' as they inevitably would under the altered cir- Laura. cumstances.
“ Yes, I shall come soon, while I may,” said he. Mr. Pringleson had lately mused a great deal | “ By and by you won't want me.” over the poverty of Mrs. Stalman and her daughter, “What do you mean?" and had often consulted with himself how it might “When you begin to get fashionable, you won't be diminished. He had raised his own rent (in want an old rusty schoolmaster." spite of their remonstrances), but had not achieved “Mamma, do you hear how craftily he is fishing much in doing it. His visit to Mrs. Goldridge for a compliment! I shall not make you one, sir. achieved more, by setting him thinking that, so long But mind! you are to come. I made you do what as his dear friends were in no distress, it was better I pleased, in the train when I was a little girl, and they should keep out of a world composed of Royles I shall make you do what I please still." and Goldridges.
He went to see them very soon. On reaching home, he found the house in commo Their house was pretty and fresh, and he was tion and eager for his arrival. Mrs. Stalman had shown up into a tasteful drawing-room where Laura known no peace since the afternoon's post had and her mother were sitting at a kettledrum with brought a solicitor's letter, announcing the decease a number of strange people. Mr. Pringleson was of Colonel Tustin, who had died unmarried in In- very shy, so he sat down and mechanically condia, and had left the whole of his considerable prop-sumed tea and bread-and-butter until people began erty to his cousin, Mrs. Stalman, as a mark of his to go, when he rose too. forgiveness and affection. There was not much “Wait five minutes," said Laura, in a low tone. sleep under that roof for the first night; neither He sat down very obediently till the house was was rest restored to some of its inmates for many a cleared. Then Laura shut the door in triumph. weary night to come.
“Now, we will be cosey," said she. “Come out Mr. Pringleson lay awake that night, and many of that uncomfortable chair, you dear old Bluenights afterwards. Why? Because he had that beard, and come close to the fire. O mamma, day come to the knowledge that he was, and that dear! Is n't it nice to see a friend's face again ? he had been for a long time, in love with Laura We are so tired of making new acquaintances," she Stalman.
added, looking to Edward for sympathy. To be in love for the first time in your life at the “My dear child," interposed Mrs. Stalman, age of forty-two, and, moreover, to feel hopelessly " what an ungrateful speech. And after people too old for the person you love, is a very serious mat- have been so kind, and given you so many inter. Of course Mr. Pringleson knew that he could vitations ! ” never marry Laura, and tried to be very philosoph- “Yes, I know, mamma, dear; but it seems odd ical about it. Perhaps he was so, but he failed for people to come and see us because we have beto sleep the better for it.
come rich. They did n't care for us when we were The Stalmans were to set up a small house to not rich." begin with, in a very different kind of neighbor- “ They did n't know us then, my dear; and now hood. "Poor Eliza Price,” for the first time, Mrs. Leith has introduced them to us, and it is seemed likely to deserve her name. She was to quite a chance, even, that we know her. A most remain in the old place and go on letting the curious thing," she explained to Mr. Pringleson. rooms, helped out by an allowance from her old / “ An intimate friend of poor John Tustin's in India,
who saw him a fortnight before his death. She dences were religiously preserved. However unexhappens to be a client of the same solicitor who is pectedly he might appear, whatever she was doing, acting for us, and so introduced herself.”
she always found him out in a second. Even when « Very curious," said Mr. Pringleson, who had occupied in waltzing with Mr. Shepherd (a more got into a dark corner, and was reflecting that frequent occurrence than her older friend liked), she Laura looked rather tired.
always smiled at him over her partner's shoulder, in * If you had come in a little sooner,” pursued a way that all but compensated him for the vexation Mrs. Stalman, “ you would have met a friend : of seeing her so occupied. Mrs. Goldridge."
Mr. Pringleson's familiar intercourse with the "Yes," interposed Laura, “and we are very | Stalmans soon gave rise to a report which annoyed angry that you never told us more about her. him unaccountably. He had always considered Mr. She says you are a most particular friend of Stevens, the solicitor, rather an underbred person ; hers."
but there was not the slightest doubt of it when Mr. Pringleson presently made another effort to that person called him “a sly fellow who knew ON leave, but was persuaded to remain and dine, as which side his bread was buttered, and who was they had no engagement for that evening. His in- evidently going in for the rich widow !” This valward gratification at this arrangement was some-garity was quite unpardonable. Mrs. Stalman was what damped by the announcement: “ Mr. Shep- a good five years older than he was, and every one herd."
knows that, given a man and woman of forty, the * Really, it is too bad of me," that gentleman re-woman is decidedly elderly while the man is in the marked, as he came in ; "you ought to turn me out, prime of life. After all, a great many men did after my coming yesterday ; but I really could n't marry wives who were much younger than themhelp coming up, as the servant said you were in. Iselves. There were people of authority, too, who intended only to come to the door to ask if I had left stoutly affirmed that unless there were at least fifan umbrella here, but your windows looked highly teen years of seniority on the husband's side, the inviting, and it is just beginning to rain. Why matrimonial ship would probably be wrecked. Mr. Pringleson! How do you do? The idea of your Pringleson thought of these things continually. Mrs. knowing Pringleson!”
Stalman would often interrupt his meditations by * The idea of your knowing him I think more re- endeavoring to get up a conversation with him markable," said Laura, with a look into the dark about her daughter's marrying; but she found it corner where he sat.
extremely difficult to interest him in the subject. * I was at school under him," cried Mr. Shep- " I suppose men don't care about such things after herd. “I used to look up to him awfully in those a certain age,” was her wise solution of the diffidays, I assure you."
culty. The rain now beginning to announce itself! So no conversation had been held upon the subagainst the window-panes very noisily, Mrs. Stal-jeet, when one day Mr. Pringleson called as usual. man, under the influence of an impulse, framed and Only Mrs. Stalman was visible. uttered a proposal which she would ordinarily have “Not at home to any one else," said she to the taken a week to decide upon.
servant. Her triumphant tone made Mr. Pringle " It is terribly wet, Mr. Shepherd. Mr. Prin- son look up uneasily. “My dear friend," said she, gleson is going to stay and dine with us, en fa- with a radiant smile, “ I am so glad you are come! mille. If you are disengaged, I hope you will stay I have expected you every day for this week past.
I thought of writing, but I did n't know what to do, Mr. Shepherd was delighted, and led Miss Stal- quite." man down in high spirits.
* « Well?" After dinner, neither gentleman appeared conver- “ Well! My dear girl, Laura, is engaged to be sationally inclined, and both repaired to the draw- married. There! Now I have told you, I feel so ing-room so soon, that they found Mrs. Stalman ex- relieved. For though it is very delightful to see amining her accounts. An excellent knowledge of them so happy, still, I have never been quite easy. arithmetic had frequently enabled Mr. Pringleson to But now I know you approve, I shall be as happy be of great service to Mrs. Stalman, who was not as they are." strong on that head, and hitherto he had always been Mr. Pringleson had been balancing his hat behappy to assist her. To-night, however, when his tween his knees. It fell off his knees and he stooped aid was once more called in, the thought struck him to pick it up, and then carried it to a distant table that the knowledge of arithmetic was an inconven- before answering. He looked very serious as he ient knowledge. It might have been better to have returned to his seat. had some knowledge of music; in that case, he could! “ You have not told me who he is, Mrs. Stalbare sat by Laura in the back drawing-room, could man." have plared her accompaniments, and turned her “Haven't I? Really? But I am so excited leaves. Surely, he could have made a better thing and agitated that I am always making mistakes. of it than Mr. Shepherd was making of his songs Mr. Payne Shepherd. As I dare say you will kave Besides, Mr. Pringleson had not come there to do guessed." compound addition, and listen to feeble tenor mel - Yes," said he getting up and strolling to the ody.
ferns in the back room. Mrs. Stalman was called away, and in her absence Laura entered. Mr.
Pringleson started at the sound of ber voice, and MRS. STALMAN's reverential opinion of Mr. Prin- coming bastily forward took both her hands gleson remained unimpaired, and she continued to “Your mother has told me," was all he could refer all her difficulties to him as regularlr as erer. say. But what was more important still, Laura seemed to "Has she?" cried Laura, the color coming into welcome him now-a-days with almost greater cor her cheeks. * And I so wanted to tell you thyself! diality than before. All their old jokes and confi- I could not bear the idea of your hearing it from