Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

who now kindly proposed to him the alternative of becoming his partner in the business, or lending him money to set up for himself, as he had no doubt of his speedy success. Walter thanked his master, but refused both his proposals. His master was astonished, and gave him a week to consider them. Margaret was urgent with her brother to accept the one or the other.

What do you propose, dear Walter ?' she said gently. "You, the pride of our family, to be settled here in Strasbourg, a watchmaker! What could you desire better?'

'To go to Paris.
'Paris ! Walter, what would you do there ?'

'Yes, Paris. It is there—in the great metropolis of France, almost of the world—that genius is properly acknowledged. There I shall rise to be somebody; here I should be no more than our good master-a respectable tradesman. I will be one of the great men of the age; and where can I hope to become one but in Paris ?'

And to Paris he accordingly went. All his savings, as well as his sister's, had been exhausted in his clock. His master refused to assist him in his wild projects, and lamented that so much talent vand energy should be wasted : his father and uncle could not help whim ; but in this difficulty his fellow-workmen came forward : those whom he had so little regarded subscribed all they were able, and supplied him with a small sum for his journey. Walter hesitated whether to accept their loan, but his desire for fame was too ardent to be repressed; so, promising to repay them when he grew rich, which he had no doubt he would soon, he took a kind farewell of them all. He had procured a crazy sort of caravan, which contained his clock and himself

, with a small bundle of clothes and provisions. His parents and Margaret accompanied him half a day's journey, and left him to proceed, buoyant with hopes and spirits as when he made his entrance into Strasbourg at the age of fourteen.

Ten days after, Walter, with his tired horse, both_covered with dust, and wearied with travel, were traversing the Boulevards of Paris. Speaking French imperfectly, and not knowing where to get a night's lodging, with only two or three small coins remaining, he felt utterly helpless and forlorn. Turning down the first street he came to, he looked vainly on all sides for some small inn or beerhouse, till chance happily favoured him in discovering written in a shop-window that German was spoken within. Fastening his horse to a post, he boldly entered the shop, and in spite of his miserable appearance, he was civilly received, and a young German who was employed there undertook to shew him the way to a place where he might lodge himself and his horse for the ght : he even offered to lend him some money, with but slender chance of being repaid; and Walter, though unwillingly, accepted it, as he would rather incur a debt to a countryman than a stranger. The next morning the young German called to see him, and offered to assist him in finding a room fitted to accommodate his clock, and to direct him how to advertise it. He was interested in the success of his countryman, and Walter's mild yet enthusiastic manners attracted him. Before the end of the week Walter established his clock in its new lodgings, and promised himself soon to repay the expenses incurred by his friend.

Now was the grand essay to be made. With mingled hopes and fears he opened his exhibition.

The first day did not seem to open very auspiciously. Morning passed away, and no visitors appeared. Walter tried to console himself by thinking it was too early for any but workpeople to be abroad. About three o'clock a visitor appeared, and Walter, in taking his money, felt relieved of an irksome anxiety which was creeping upon him. The visitor was an old man with spectacles, and a sharp snarling countenance. He minutely examined the clock, asked Walter a string of questions, or rather gave him a series of his own observations; and, finding he was not understood, heshrugged his shoulders, smiled contemptuously at the clock, and walked out again. A lady with two little boys succeeded him. The children attempted to handle the machinery, to see how it was made, and on Walter's remonstrating, the lady seemed offended, and departed very shortly. Two or three young men followed, who seemed by their gestures to approve; and one of them told him, in very bad German, it was a pretty toy. No more came that day; but he had earned enough by the end of the week to pay his friendly countryman, which was fortunate, as he was leaving Paris immediately, and bade Walter a kind farewell, wishing him success.

During the second week, a number of visitors came; but Walter, to his great sorrow, found that the debt for the lodging increased at a quicker ratio than his gains. After the first fortnight, he thought himself very happy if four visitors appeared in the course of an afternoon: these gradually diminished, till his exhibition-room was totally deserted. The bitterness of his disappointment was even greater than his anxiety about his circumstances : still he hoped some scientific man might, by a happy chance, drop in, and, struck. with his ingenuity, recommend him to the notice of his friends. In the meantime, Walter began to consider if he could, by any means, procure some employment, while waiting in his exhibition-room. His landlady, who was kind and compassionate, had a friend who was a working-jeweller, and he agreed to let Walter do any little work, such as mending chains or watches, which he could take with him to his lodging. He ate little and saved all he could; but the expense of his lodgings was very heavy, and his purse very light: his health, too, was sinking, and his courage with it; but the man great in science and influence might still appear and set all to rights. His landlord now told him he must pay his debt or leave the house. The first was impossible : he had pawned nearly all

[ocr errors]

success.

his clothes, and sold his old horse and caravan for half their small value, which only sufficed to pay for his daily maintenance ; so, giving his landlord the remainder of his money, he removed his model to a small shabby room, which he hired at a very low price, and where he still hoped for those visitors who were not attracted by his more eligible quarters. In this obscure lodging there was no better

Day after day passed, week after week, and still no one visited the exhibition. He earned still a scanty subsistence by the working-jeweller ; but even that failed at last; for his sickly constitution gave way, more from sorrow than disease. The people of the house pressed for rent; they were poor themselves, and Walter knew it. One cold wintry day, as he sat shivering with a tattered coat drawn round his thin figure, he heard a foot on the stairs leading to his apartment : hope and joy once more lighted up his countenance : it might be a visitor. It was indeed, but not such as he expected; it was the officer appointed to seize his goods for debt. He had nothing left him but his clock; that on which he had toiled so long, in which he had seen so many bright visions of the future; the pride of his heart, the work of his genius, his friend and consolation when forsaking all others; which had seemed to speak words of hope to him, and shine like a beacon in the darkness which had gathered around. Alas! it had not warned him from the rock, but lured him on to his own destruction. He did not utter a word as they removed this his only treasure ; but as he heard the last heavy footstep descending the stairs, he cast himself on the ground and wept like a child.

That night he had no shelter for his head, and he left Paris to beg his way, sick, hungry, and weary, to that home which he left in the pride of his heart and the fulness of hope and joy.

Six months had passed since Walter left Strasbourg, when, on the road to the little village of Rosenthal, on the banks of the Rhine, a lonely wanderer was seen dragging his weary limbs along: his cheeks were hollow, and his sunken eyes, still restless and bright with the fever of the mind, seemed to tell a long tale of misery. A ragged handkerchief was bound round his head, his clothes hung loosely on his thin shrunken body, and he leaned for support on a stick, which he seemed to have cut from a tree on his way. On he toiled till he reached a low bank near a solitary cottage. There he paused, and stretched himself on the green grass which covered it. It was a mild day in spring; the birds were singing merrily among the trees, and the flowers looked up with their little bright beautiful faces on the clear blue sky, and the cheerful sun, which shone on the green vineyards and danced in the broad blue river at a little distance. The sound of voices and busy feet from the cottage might be heard by the lonely stranger, who gazed silently at the happy scene, till the large tears rolled slowly down his cheeks. There is something touching in the very loveliness and peaceful joyousness of a spring day, when nature seems awakening from her long wintry sleep; but to the sad of heart, there is something in it inexpressibly melancholy, recalling as it does a thousand recollections of the past, and reminding him that there is a fresh source of happiness yearly springing up to all but him, and making him feel more lonely and desolate than before : but the stranger's grief was deeper than this; for he was Walter, and this was his home.

As he lay there he heard his own name pronounce and he started from his reverie, and wished to conceal himself; but he was not addressed, though the voice that he heard was that of his own sweet sister Margaret. It was the day before her wedding, and she was talking with him who was soon to be her husband. She only wished that Walter could have been at home to witness her marriage; but,' she added laughing, ‘he will soon despise us all, for I daresay by this time he is as great as he wished to be: God bless him, he was always a good brother to me.' This one kind word was too much for poor Walter; he groaned audibly, and Margaret and her lover turned and saw him. Margaret shrieked aloud, and the next moment he was in her arms. The whole family were soon assembled, and the poor wanderer was welcomed back more heartily. to his home than if he had come laden with riches and honour. Shame and wounded vanity still struggled in his breast for an ascendency; but better feelings had been slowly winning their way there, and the hard lesson of adversity had not been learned in vain.

It was long before even the tender care of his mother and Margaret could restore his feeble health ; but as his strength returned, he felt also the necessity of doing something for himself and others.

It seems strange,' he said one day to Margaret, “that I should have been permitted to live, when so many of the truly great and good are dropping off day by day. If I were to die, none would be less happy; and my vacant place, even with those who love me, would be soon supplied, for my life has not benefited even them.'

“Ah, Walter,' replied Margaret, ‘live for what we are all made to live—to endeavour earnestly to fulfil the duties of that situation in which God has placed us. We may never know why these duties are allotted to us; it is enough they are ours; and the sum of each little day will be sufficient, if rendered faithfully to our Lord, in that time when our earthly labours are over. Live, dear Walter, to be good and happy, not to be great : were you to attain the utmost you desire, you would not be content; for were you greater than the greatest on earth, you would still be little compared with the angels in heaven.'

Yes, Margaret, that is true; and, however slowly, we are still moving onwards and onwards. There is greatness in the thought of an infinite growth in wisdom and goodness, infinite as the Divine perfections. This is indeed glorious.

Walter had not yet been again at Strasbourg; he could not resolve to see all his old companions, and to come as their debtor instead of their benefactor; but Margaret was the good spirit who urged him to throw aside that weakness, so inherent in us all, which makes us ashamed of doing that which is right, more than that which is wrong. A humbled, yet a greater man, Walter returned to Strasbourg.

His first visit was to his uncle; this was also the worst; for it was hard to stand the prying eyes and curious inquiries of his old aunt, and harder still to feel he could be vexed by them. His old fellowworkmen had heard of his misfortune, and gave him a kind and hearty welcome, asking no questions. His last visit was to his master : he received him at first sternly, more to conceal his own tenderness of feeling than because he blamed the youth severely. Walter told him all; and his master, taking his hand kindly, spoke as follows : 'My dear boy, your experience has indeed been hard, but it has been of more use to you than all the advice of the wisest could have been. You have genius, talent, perseverance; with such qualities, you may indeed hope to rise to the highest position, but it must be by the same road as others who have gone before you. I offer you now what I offered you before; and, whichever you accept, I hope to live to see you attain the eminence you deserve.' Walter accepted the partnership gratefully; and, no longer the victim of self-deluding vanity, he led a life useful to his fellow-creatures, and we may hope that he presented his Talent with interest before Him from whom he received it.

[merged small][graphic][merged small]
« ForrigeFortsæt »