« ForrigeFortsæt »
He was visited by as many as three grave doctors—they used to assemble downstairs, and come up together—and the room was so quiet, and Paul was so observant of them (though he never asked of anybody what they said), that he even knew the difference in the sound of their watches. But his interest centered in Sir Parker Peps, who always took his seat on the side of the bed. For Paul had heard them say long ago, that that gentleman had been with his mamma when she clasped Florence in her arms, and died. And he could not forget it now.
He liked him for it. He was not afraid. The people round him changed as unaccountably as on that first night at Dr. Blimber's—except Florence; Florence never changed—and what had been Sir Parker Peps was now his father, sitting with his head upon his hand. Old Mrs. Pipchin, dozirg on an easy-chair, often changed to Miss Fox, or his aunt; and Paul was quite content to shut his eyes again, and see what happened next without emotion. But this figure with its head upon its hand returned so often, and remained so long, and sat so still and solemn, never speaking, never being spoken
to, and rarely lifting up its face, that Paul began to wonder languidly if it were real; and in the night-time saw it sitting there with fear.
Floy,” he said, “what is that?" Where, dearest!" * There! at the bottom of the bed.” “There's nothing there, except papa!" The figure lifted up its head, and rose, and coming to the bedside, said—“My own boy, don't you know me?” Paul looked it in the face, and thought, was this his father! But the face, so altered to his thinking, thrilled while he gazed, as if it were in pain ; and before he could reach out both his hands to take it between them, and draw it towards him, the figure turned away quickly from the little bed, and went out at the door. Paul looked at Florence with a fluttering heart, but he knew what she was going to say, and stopped her with his face against her lips. The next time he observed the figure sitting at the bottom of the bed, he called to it, “Don't be so sorry for me, dear papa; indeed I am quite happy!" His father coming, and bending down to him—which he did quickly, and without first pausing by the bedside—Paul held him round the neck, and repeated these words to him several times, and very earnestly; and Paul never saw him again in his room at any time, whether it were day or night, but he called out, “Don't be so sorry for me; indeed I am quite happy.”. This was the beginning of his always saying in the morning that he was a great deal better, and that they were to tell his father so.
How many times the golden water danced upon the wall; how many nights the dark dark river rolled towards the sea in spite of
Paul never counted, never sought to know. If their kindness, or his sense of it, could have increased, they were more kind, and he more grateful every day; but whether they were many days, or few, appeared of little moment now to the gentle boy. One night he had been thinking of his mother, and her picture in the drawingroom downstairs, and had thought she must have loved sweet Florence better than his father did, to have held her in her arms
The Death of Paul Dombey.
when she felt that she was dying; for even he, her brother, who had such dear love for her, could have no greater wish than that. The train of thought suggested to him to inquire if he had ever seen his mother; for he could not remember whether they had told him yes or no, the river running very fast, and confusing his mind. • Floy, did I ever see mamma ?” “No, darling; why ?” • Did I never see any kind face, like mamma's, looking at me when I was a baby, Floy?” he asked, incredulously, as if he had some vision of a face before him. “Oh
Whose, Floy?” “ Your old nurse's; often.” And where is my old nurse ?” said Paul. “Is she dead too? Floy, are we all dead, except
There was a hurry in the room, for an instant-longer, perhaps; but it seemed no more then all was still again ; and Florence, with her face quite colourless, but smiling, held his head upon her arm. Her arm trembled very much. “Show me that old nurse, Floy, if you please ?"
“She is not here, darling. She shall come to-mor“ Thank you, Floy!”. “And who is this? Is this my old nurse ?” said the child, regarding with a radiant smile a figure coming in. Yes, yes ! No other stranger would have shed those tears at sight of him, and called him her dear boy, her pretty boy, her own poor blighted child. No other woman would have stooped down by his bed, and taken his wasted hand and put it to her lips and breast, as one who had some right to fondle it. No other woman would have so forgotten everybody there but him and Floy, and been so full of tenderness and pity... “Floy, this is a kind good face,” said Paul. “I am glad to see it again. Don't go away, old nurse! Stay here!”
“Now lay me down,” he said; "and, Floy, come close to me, and let me see you!” Sister and brother wound their arms around each other, and the golden light came streaming in, and fell upon them, locked together. “ How fast the river runs, between its green banks and the rushes, Floy! But it's very near the sea.
I hear the waves! They always said so.” Presently he told her that the motion of the boat upon the stream was lulling him to rest. How green the banks were now, how bright the flowers growing on them, and how tall the rushes! Now the boat was out at sea, but gliding smoothly on; and now there was a shore before them. Who stood on the bank? He put his hands together, as he had been used to do at his prayers. He did not remove his arms to do it; but they saw him fold them so behind her neck. “Mamma is like you, Floy;
I know her by the face! But tell them that the print upon the stairs at school is not divine enough. The light about the head is shining on me as I go!".
The golden ripple on the wall came back again, and nothing else stirred in the room. The old, old fashion! The fashion that came in with our first garments, and will last unchanged until our race has run its course, and the wide firmament is rolled like a scroll. The old, old fashion-Death! Oh, thank God, all who see it, for
that older fashion yet, of Immortality! And look upon us, angels of young children, with regards not quite estranged, when the swift river bears us to the ocean!
(By permission of Messrs. Chapman and Hall.)
5.-ONE NICHE THE HIGHEST.
ELIHU BURRITT. [Born in America (U.S.), 1811. Originally a blacksmith, but having acquired the mastery of many languages, he adopted literature as a profession, and became a popular lecturer and journalist. Still living. ] The scene opens with a view of the great Natural Bridge in Virginia. There are three or four lads standing in the channel below, looking up with awe to that vast arch of unhewn rocks which the Almighty bridged over those everlasting butments, “ when the morning stars sang together.". The little piece of sky spanning those measureless piers is full of stars, although it is mid-day. It is almost five hundred feet from where they stand, up
those perpendicular bulwarks of limestone to the key of that vast arch, which appears to them only of the size of a man's hand. The silence of death is rendered more impressive by the little stream that falls from rock to rock down the channel. The sun is darkened, and the boys have uncovered their heads, as if standing in the presencechamber of the Majesty of the whole earth. At last this feeling begins to wear away; they look around them; and find that others have been there before them. They see the names of hundreds cut in the limestone butments. A new feeling comes over their young hearts, and their knives are in their hands in an instant.
“What man has done, man can do,” is their watchword, while they draw themselves up, and carve their name a foot above those of a hundred full-grown men who have been there before them.
They are all satisfied with this feat of physical exertion, except one, whose example illustrates perfectly the forgotten truth, that there is no royal road to learning.” This ambitious youth sees a name just above his reach-a name which will be green in the memory of the world when those of Alexander, Cæsar, and Bonaparte, shall rot in oblivion. It was the name of Washington. Before he marched with Braddock to that fatal field, he had been there and left his name, a foot above any of his predecessors. It was a glorious thought to write his name side by side with that great father of his country. He
his knife with a firmer hand, and clinging to a little jutting crag, he cuts a gain into the limestone, about a foot above where he stands; he then reaches up and cuts another for his hands.. 'Tis a dangerous adventure; but as he puts his feet and hands into those gains, and draws himself up carefully to his full length, he finds himself a foot above every name chronicled in that mighty wall. While his companions are regarding him with concern and admiration, he cuts his name in wide capitals, large and deep, into that flinty album. His knife is still in his hand, and
One Niche the Highest.
strength in his sinews, and a new-created aspiration in his heart. Again he cuts another niche, and again he carves his name in larger capitals. This is not enough; heedless of the entreaties of his companions, he cuts and climbs again. The gradations of his ascerding scale grow wider apart. He measures his length at every gain he cuts. The voices of his friends wax weaker and weaker, till their words are finally lost on his ear. He now for the first time casts a look beneath him. Had that glance lasted a moment, that moment would have been his last. He clings with a convulsive shudder to his little niche in the rock. An awful abyss awaits his almost certain fall. He is faint with severe exertion, and trembling from the sudden view of the dreadful destruction to which he is exposed. His knife is worn half-way to the haft. He can hear the voices, but not the words, of his terror-stricken companions below. What a moment! what a meagre chance to escape destruction ! there is no retracing his steps. It is impossible to put his hands into the same niche with his feet, and retain his slender hold a moment. His companions instantly perceive this .new and fearful dilemma, and await his fall with emotions that “freeze their young blood.” He is too high to ask for his father and mother, his brothers and sisters, to come and witness or avert his destruction. of his companions anticipates his desire. Swift as the wind, he bounds down the channel, and the situation of the fated boy is told upon his father's hearthstone.
Minutes of almost eternal length roll on, and there are hundreds standing in that rocky channel, and hundreds on the bridge above, all holding their breath, and awaiting the fearful catastrophe. The poor boy hears the hum of new and numerous voices both above and below. He can just distinguish the tones of his father, who is shouting with all the energy of despair,—“William! William ! Don't look down! Your mother, and Henry, and Harriet, are all here praying for you! Don't look down! Keep your eye towards the top?" The boy didn't look down. His eye is fixed like a flint towards heaven, and his young heart on Him who reigns there. He grasps again his knife. He cuts another niche, and another foot is added
to the hundreds that remove him from the reach of human help from below. How carefully he uses his wasting blade! How anxiously he selects the softest places in that vast pier! How he avoids every flinty grain! How he economises his physical powers, resting a moment at each gain he cuts. How every motion is watched from below! There stand his father, mother, brother, and sister, on the very spot, where if he falls, he will not fall alone.
The sun is half-way down in the west. The lad has made fifty additional niches in that mighty wall, and now finds himself directly under the middle of that vast arch of rock, earth, and trees. He must cut his way in a new direction, to get from this overhanging mountain. The inspiration of hope is in his bosom ; its vital heat is fed by the increasing shouts of hundreds perched upon cliffs, trees, and others who stand with ropes in their hands upon the bridge above, or with ladders below. Fifty more gains must be cut before
the longest rope can reach him. His wasting blade strikes again into the limestone. The boy is emerging painfully foot by foot, from under that lofty arch. Spliced ropes are in the hands of those who are leaning over the outer edge of the bridge. Two minutes more, and all will be over. That blade is worn to the last half inch. The boy's head reels; his eyes are starting from their sockets. His last hope is dying in his heart, his life must hang upon the next gain he cuts. That niche is his last. At the last flint gash he makes, his knife-his faithful knife-falls from his little nerveless hand, and, ringing along the precipice, falls at his mother's feet. An involuntary groan of despair runs like a death-knell through the channel below, and all is still as the grave. At a height of nearly three hundred feet, the devoted boy lifts his hopeless heart and closing eyes to commend his soul to God. 'Tis but a moment—there! one foot swings off !—he is reeling-trembling-toppling over into eternity. Hark!-a shout falls on his ears from above! The man who is lying with half his length over the bridge, has caught a glimpse of the boy's head and shoulders. Quick as thought, the noosed
rope is within reach of the sinking youth. No one breathes. With a faint convulsive effort, the swooning boy drops his arm into
Darkness comes over him, and with the words “God!” and “mother!” whispered on his lips just loud enough to be heard in heaven—the tightening rope lifts him out of his last shallow niche. Not a lip moves while he is dangling over that fearful abyss; but when a sturdy Virginian reaches down and draws up the lad, and holds him up in his arms before the tearful, breathless multitude such shouting! and such leaping and weeping for joy, never greeted a human being so recovered from the yawning gulf of eternity.
6.-A GLASS OF COLD WATER.
G. B. GOUGH [A celebrated American temperance lecturer; still living. ] WHERE is the liquor which God the eternal brews for all his children? Not in the simmering still, over smoky fires choked with poisonous gases, and surrounded with the stench of sickening odours, and rank corruptions, doth your Father in heaven prepare
precious essence of life, the pure cold water. But in the green glade and grassy dell, where the red deer wanders, and the child loves to play; there God brews it. And down, low down in the deepest valleys, where the fountains murmur and the rills sing; and high upon the tall mountain tops, where the naked granite glitters like gold in the sun; where the storm-cloud broods, and the thunderstorms crash; and away far out on the wide wild sea, where the hurricane howls music, and the big waves roar; the chorus sweeping the march of God: there He brews it—that beverage of life and healthgiving water. And everywhere it is a thing of beauty, gleaming in the dew-drop; singing in the summer rain; shining in the ice-gem,