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with his own thoughts—with the utter hopelessness of his mind. Hopelessness !-yes, that was the word. He had hazarded all upon this one chance, and its failure was the shipwreck of his life. The ruin was complete. He could not build-up a new scheme of happiness. In the full maturity of his manhood, his fate had come to him. He was not the kind of man who can survive the ruin of his plans, and begin afresh with other hopes and still fairer dreams. It was his nature to be constant. In all his life he had chosen for himself only one friend—in all his life he had loved but one woman.
He came to the little village, with its low sloping-roofed cottages, whose upper stories abutted upon the road and overshadowed the casements below; and where here and there a few pennyworths of gingerbread, that seemed mouldy with the mould of ages, a glass pickle-bottle of bulls-eyes or sugar-sticks, and half a dozen penny bottles of ink, indicated the commercial tendencies of Crosber. A little farther on, he came to a rickety-looking corner-house, with a steep thatched roof overgrown by stonecrop and other parasites, which was evidently the shop of the village, inasmuch as one side of the window exhibited a show of homely drapery, while the other side was devoted to groceries, and a shelf above laden with great sprawling loaves of bread. This establishment was also the post-office, and here Gilbert resolved to make his customary inquiries, when he had put up his horse.
Almost immediately opposite this general emporium the sign of the Blue Boar swung proudly across the street in front of a low rather dilapidated - looking hostelry, with a wide frontage, and an archway leading into a spacious desolate yard, where one gloomy cock of Spanish descent was crowing hoarsely on the broken roof of a shed, surrounded by four or five shabby-looking hens, all in the most wobegone stage of moulting, and appearing as if eggs were utterly remote from their intentions. This Blue Boar was popularly supposed to have been a most distinguished and prosperous place in the coaching-days, when twenty coaches passed daily through the village of Crosber; and was even now much affected as a place of resort by the villagers, to the sore vexation of the rector and such good people as believed in the perfectibility of the human race and the ultimate suppression of public-houses.
Here Mr. Fenton dismounted, and surrendered his horse to the keeping of an unkempt bare-headed youth, who emerged from one of the dreary-looking buildings in the yard, announced himself as the hostler, and led off the steed in triumph to a wilderness of a stable, where the landlord's pony and a fine colony of rats were luxuriating in the space designed for some twelve or fifteen horses.
Having done this, Gilbert crossed the road to the post-office, where he found the proprietor, a deaf old man, weighing half-pounds of sugar in the background, while a brisk sharp-looking girl stood behind the counter sorting a little packet of letters.
It was to the damsel, as the more intelligent of these two, that Gilbert addressed himself, beginning of course with the usual question, Did she know any one, a stranger, sojourning in that neighbourhood called Holbrook ?
The girl shook her head without a moment's hesitation. No, she knew no one of that name.
And I suppose all the letters for people in this neighbourhood pass through your hands ?'
Yes, sir, all of them; I couldn't have failed to notice if there had been any one of that name.'
Gilbert gave a little weary sigh. The information given him by the landlord of the White Swan had seemed to bring him so very near the object of his search, and here he was thrown back all at once upon the wide field of conjecture, not a whit nearer any certain knowledge.' It was true that Crosber was only one among several places within ten miles of the market-town, and the strangers who had been driven from the White Swan in March last might have gone to any one of those other localities.
His inquiries were not finished yet, however.
• There is an old house about a mile from here,' he said to the girl ; 'a house belonging to a farm, in the lane yonder that turns off by the Blue Boar. Have you any notion to whom it belongs, or who lives there ?'
• An old house in that lane across the way ?' the girl said, reflecting. That's Golder's-lane, and leads to Golder's-green. There's not many houses there ; it's rather a lonesome kind of place. Do you mean a big old-fashioned house standing far back in a garden ?'
· Yes; that must be the place I want to know about.'
It must be the Grange, surely. It was a gentleman's house once; but there's only a bailiff lives there now.
The farm belongs to some gentleman down in Midlandshire, a baronet; I can't call to mind his name at this moment, though I've heard it often enough. Mr. Carly's daughter-Carly is the name of the bailiff at the Grange -comes here for all they want.'
Gilbert gave a little start at the name of Midlandshire. Lidford was in Midlandshire. Was it not likely to be a Midlandshire man who had lent Marian's husband his house ?
• Do you know if these people at the Grange have had any one staying with them lately—any lodgers ?' he asked the girl.
· Yes; they have lodgers pretty well every summer. There were some people this year, a lady and gentleman; but they never seemed to have any letters, and I can't tell
their names.' Are they living there still ?' 'I can't tell you that. I used to see them at church now and then in the summer-time; but I haven't seen them lately. There's a church at Golder's-green almost as near, and they have been there.'
• Will you tell me what they were like ?' Gilbert asked eagerly.
His heart was beating loud and fast, making a painful tumult in his breast. He felt assured that he was on the track of the people whom the innkeeper had described to him ; the people who were, in all probability, Mr. and Mrs. Holbrook.
* The lady is very pretty and very young, quite a girl. The gentleman older, dark, and not handsome.'
“Yes. Has the lady gray eyes, and dark brown hair, and a very bright expressive face ?'
· Yes, sir.'
· Pray try to remember the name of the gentleman to whom the Grange belongs. It is of great importance to me to know that.'
I'll ask my father, sir,' the girl answered good-naturedly; he's pretty sure to know.'
She went across the shop to the old man who was weighing sugar, and bawled her question into his ear. He scratched his head in a meditative way for some moments.
I've heard the name times and often,' he said, though I never set eyes upon the gentleman. William Carly has been bailiff at the Grange these twenty years, and I don't believe as the owner has ever come nigh the place in all that time. Let me see, it's a common name enough, though the gentleman is a baronight. Forster—that's it—Sir something Forster.'
Sir David ?' cried Gilbert.
Sir David Forster! He had little doubt after this that the strangers at the Grange had been Marian and her husband. Treachery, blackest treachery, somewhere. He had questioned Sir David, and had received his positive assurance that this man Holbrook was unknown to him ; and now, against that there was the fact that the baronet was the owner of a place in Hampshire, to be taken in conjunction with that other fact that a place in Hampshire had been lent to Mr. Holbrook by a friend. At the very first he had been inclined to believe that Marian's lover must needs be one of the worthless bachelor crew with which the baronet was accustomed to surround himself. He had only abandoned that notion after his interview with Sir David Forster; and now it seemed that the baronet had deliberately lied to him. It was, of course, just possible that he was on a false scent after all, and that it was to some other part of the county Mr. Holbrook had brought his bride ; but such a coincidence seemed, at the least, highly improbable. There was no occasion for him to remain in doubt very long, however. At the Grange he must needs be able to obtain more definite information.
THE PICKWICK PAPERS
WHILE the cloud of a national sorrow rests on the sunset-splendour of a great career, it cannot be without interest to turn to the dawn of that career and set down a few facts which have suddenly acquired the importance of history. The reputation of Charles Dickens began with Pickwick. His early sketches attracted attention and caused him to be spoken of in literary circles as a young man of singular promise ; but it was with Pickwick that he took his position—a position which he held, in spite of all comers, to the day of his death. Everything respecting this work is therefore of moment, even its story; and it is with this rather than with the work itself that we propose to deal. A book which had the good fortune to make such a reputation, and to survive in public estimation thirtyfour years, may be regarded as a sort of public character, and demands a biography. Here are a few materials towards it.
• The first ray of light which illumines the gloom'—to quote Dickens on Dickens—out of which the Pickwick Papers emerged, is afforded by an advertisement which appeared in the Times of Saturday, March 26th, 1836. As this was the earliest notification the public received of the boon about to be conferred on them—of the fountain of inexhaustible amusement and delight about to be unsealed—we will transcribe the modest announcement. It was in these terms : THE PICKWICK PAPERS.—On the 31st of March will be published, to be
15 PAPERS OF THE PICKWICK CLUB, containing a faithful record of the Perambulations, Perils, Travels, Adventures, and Sporting Transactions of the Corresponding Members. Edited by Boz. Each Monthly Part embellished with four Illustrations by Seymour. Chapman and Hall, 186 Strand; and of all Booksellers.
On the day in question the hardy annual put forth its first green leaves. Another generation has sprung up since that day; many of the younger admirers of Dickens have never seen the Pickwick Papers in their original form ; and it may therefore be worth while to note that the Parts were identical in size and appearance with the author's latest work, the wrapper having of course its special design, which indicated, by the way, the first idea of the workthat of a series of sporting adventures undertaken by cockneys. This idea was determined by the circumstances out of which Pickwick originated. Seymour, the artist, was at that time very popular from having published some hundreds of prints in ridicule of cockney sportsmen, under the title of Sketches by Seymour.' These were afterwards collected; and Peake, the dramatic author, wrote a book to them—no easy task from the variety of incidents presented; but he did his work well, dividing the book into four seasons, and then sorting-out the cuts to suit them—fishing for summer, shooting for winter, and so forth. It then occurred to Messrs. Chapman and Hall that here was a vein which might be worked with advantage; and we all know the story of their applying to Charles Dickens, then beginning to be known from his Sketches, to supply letterpress, which in a very short time threw the illustrations utterly into the shade.
Poor Seymour's connection with the work was very brief. The wrapper was from his pencil, as also were the plates to No. 1four in number. They are well known. The first represents the • Club,’ illustrating the scene where the immortal Pickwick, in the height of his enthusiasm, ‘mounted into a windsor-chair, on which he had been previously seated, and addressed the club himself had founded. What a study for an artist did that exciting scene present!' The second plate represents Pickwick and his friends in a mêlée with a cabman. The third, Jingle's knowing dog Ponto looking up at the inscription, The gamekeeper has orders to shoot all dogs found in this enclosure.' The fourth, Jingle's encounter with Dr. Slammer at the Bull-inn, Rochester - the town to which the author returned again and again with steady affection, making it the locality of scenes in his last as in his first work. In No. 2 Seymour contributed three plates—there were only three in that number. Before the third number was published a melancholy catastrophe had happened. Seymour had destroyed himself by blowing-out his brains. The sudden loss of the artist put the author and the publishers to the greatest inconvenience. The work had achieved an immense success; had already taken a firm hold on the public, who anxiously awaited the appearance of each monthly instalment, and now it seemed brought to a sudden close. To find another artist was no easy matter at that time, when the style of illustration was to an extent new. They however succeeded, and the current number appeared. It contained two plates only, and those executed in a very inferior style of art. We do not know who was the artist, but they professed to be drawn and etched by R. N. Buss. The difference in style between these and the preceding plates strikes the eye at once in turning over the early numbers. Buss' evidently would not do; he received his congé; and in the next numberNo. 4—the hand of a fresh artist is perceptible. There, again, are two illustrations. These plates are not signed; but are obviously by Hablot K. Browne, who as · Phiz' soon became identified with • Boz' as the illustrator of his works. These details respecting the illustrations are of moment, in order that collectors may discriminate between the early copies which are already of different degrees