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gave rise to an instinctive dislike in those who heard him speak for the
cap once more, and went slowly back to his work.
“ How white his face is !” said Aurora. “ Has he been ill ?”'
“No. He has had that pale face ever since his fall. I was too young when it happened to remember much about it; but I have heard my father say, that when they brought the poor creature home, his face, which had been florid before, was as white as a sheet of writing-paper, and his voice, until that period strong and gruff, was reduced to the halfwhisper in which he now speaks. The doctors did all they could for him, and carried him through an awful attack of brain-fever; but they could never bring back his voice, nor the colour to his cheeks.”
“ Poor fellow !" said Mrs. Mellish gently; "he is very much to be pitied.”
She was reproaching herself, as she said this, for that feeling of repugnance which she could not overcome. It was a repugnance closely allied to terror; she felt as if she could scarcely be happy at Mellish Park while that man was on the premises. She was half-inclined to beg her indulgent husband to pension him off, and send him to the other end of the county; but the next moment she was ashamed of her childish folly, and a few hours afterwards had forgotten Steeve Hargraves, the “softy," as he was politely called in the stables.
Reader, when any creature inspires you with this instinctive unreasoning abhorrence, avoid that creature. He is dangerous.
He is dangerous. Take warning, as you take warning by the clouds in the sky, and the ominous stillness of the atmosphere when there is a storm coming. Nature cannot lie; and it is nature which has planted that shuddering terror in your breast; an instinct of self-preservation rather than of cowardly fear, which at the first sight of some fellow-creature tells you more plainly than words can speak, “That man is my enemy!"
Had Aurora suffered herself to be guided by this instinct; had she given way to the impulse which she despised as childish, and caused Stephen Hargraves to be dismissed from Mellish Park, what bitter misery, what cruel anguish, might have been spared to herself and others.
The mastiff Bow-wow had accompanied his mistress to her new home; but Bow-wow's best days were done. A month before Aurora's marriage he had been run over by a pony-carriage in one of the roads about Felden, and had been conveyed, bleeding and disabled, to the veterinary surgeon's, to have one of his hind-legs put into splints, and to be carried through his sufferings by the highest available skill in the science of dogdoctoring. Aurora drove every day to Croydon to see her sick favourite; and at the worst Bow-wow was always well enough to recognise his beloved mistress, and roll his listless, feverish tongue over her white hands, in token of that unchanging brute affection which can only perish with life. So the mastiff was quite lame as well as half blind when he arrived at Mellish Park, with the rest of Aurora’s goods and chattels. He was a privileged creature in the roomy mansion; a tiger-skin was spread for him upon the hearth in the drawing-room, and he spent his declining days in luxurious repose, basking in the fire-light or sunning himself in the windows, as it pleased his royal fancy; but, feeble as he was, always able to limp after Mrs. Mellish when she walked on the lawn or in the woody shrubberies which skirted the gardens.
One day, when she had returned from her morning's ride with John and her father, who accompanied them sometimes upon a quiet gray cob, and seemed a younger man for the exercise, she lingered on the lawn in her riding-habit after the horses had been taken back to the stables, and Mr. Mellish and his father-in-law had reëntered the house. The mastiff saw her from the drawing-room window, and crawled out to welcome her. Tempted by the exquisite softness of the atmosphere, she strolled, with her riding-habit gathered under her arm and her whip in her hand, looking for primroses under the clumps of trees upon the lawn.
. She gathered a cluster of wild flowers, and was returning to the house, when she remembered some directions respecting a favourite pony
that was ill, which she had omitted to give to her groom.
She crossed the stable-yard, followed by Bow-wow, found the groom, gave him her orders, and went back to the gardens. While talking to the man, she had recognised the white face of Steeve Hargraves at one of the windows of the harness-room. He came out while she was giving her directions, and carried a set of harness across to a coach-house on the opposite side of the quadrangle. Aurora was on the threshold of the gates opening from the stables into the gardens, when she was arrested by a howl of pain from the mastiff Bow-wow. Rapid as lightening in every movement, she turned round in time to see the cause of this cry. Steeve Hargraves had sent the animal reeling away from him with a kick from his iron-bound clog. Cruelty to animals was one of the failings of the “softy.” He was not cruel to the Mellish horses, for he had sense enough to know that his daily bread depended upon his attention to them; but Heaven help any outsider that came in his way. Aurora sprang upon him like a beautiful tigress, and catching the collar of his fustian jacket in her slight hands rooted him to the spot upon which he stood. The grasp of those slender hands, convulsed by passion, was not to be easily shaken off; and Steeve Hargraves, taken completely off his guard, stared aghast at his assailant. Taller than the stable-man by a foot and a half, she towered above him, her cheeks white with rage, her eyes flashing fury, her hat fallen off, and her black hair tumbling about her shoulders, sublime in her passion.
The man crouched beneath the grasp of the imperious creature.
“Let me go," he gasped, in his inward whisper, which had a hissing sound in his agitation ; “let me go, or you'll be sorry; let me go!"
"How dared you!" cried Aurora,—“how dared you hurt him? My
poor dog! My poor lame, feeble dog! How dared you do it? You cowardly dastard ! you—"
She disengaged her right hand from his collar and rained a shower of blows upon his clumsy shoulders with her slender whip; a mere toy, with emeralds set in its golden head, but stinging like a rod of flexible steel in that little hand.
“How dared you !” she repeated again and again, her cheeks changing from white to scarlet in the effort to hold the man with one hand. Her tangled hair had fallen to her waist by this time, and the whip was broken in half-a-dozen places.
John Mellish, entering the stable-yard by chance at this very moment, turned white with horror at beholding the beautiful fury.
“Aurora ! Aurora !” he cried, snatching the man's collar from her grasp, and hurling him half-a-dozen paces off. “Aurora, what is it?"
She told him in broken gasps the cause of her indignation. He took the splintered whip from her hand, picked up her hat which she had trodden
rage, and led her across the yard towards the back entrance to the house. It was such bitter shame to him to think that this peerless, this adored creature should do any thing to bring disgrace or even ridicule upon herself. He would have stripped off his coat and fought with half-a-dozen coal-heavers, and thought nothing of it; but that she
“Go in, go in, my darling girl,” he said, with sorrowful tenderness; “the servants are peeping and prying about, I dare say. You should not have done this; you should have told me.”
“I should have told you!" she cried impatiently. “How could I stop to tell you when I saw him strike my dog, my poor lame dog?”
“Go in, darling, go in! There, there, calm yourself, and go in."
He spoke as if he had been trying to soothe an agitated child, for he saw by the convulsive heaving of her breast that the violent emotion would terminate in hysteria, as all womanly fury must, sooner or later. He half-led, half-carried her up a back staircase to her own room,
and left her lying on a sofa in her riding-habit. He thrust the broken whip into his pocket, and then, setting his strong white teeth and clenching his fist, went to look for Stephen Hargraves. As he crossed the hall in his way out, he selected a stout leather-thonged hunting-whip from a stand of formidable implements. Steeve, the softy, was sitting on a horse-block when John reëntered the stable-yard. He was rubbing his shoulders with a very doleful face, while a couple of grinning stable-boys, who had perhaps witnessed his chastisement, watched him from a respectful distance. They had no inclination to go too near him just then, for the softy nad a playful habit of brandishing a big clasp-knife when he felt himself aggrieved; and the bravest lad in the stables had no wish to die from a stab in the abdomen, with the pleasant conviction that his murderer's heaviest punishment might be a fortnight's imprisonment or an easy fine.
“Now, Mr. Hargraves,” said John Mellish, lifting the softy off the horse-block and planting him at a convenient distance for giving full play to the hunting-whip, “it wasn't Mrs. Mellish's business to horsewhip you, but it was her duty to let me do it for her; so take that, you coward."
The leathern thong whistled in the air, and curled about Steeve's shoulders; but John felt there was something despicable in the unequal contest. He threw the whip away, and, still holding him by the collar, conducted the softy to the gates of the stable-yard.
“You see that avenue,” he said, pointing down a fair glade that stretched before them; “it leads pretty straight out of the Park, and I strongly recommend you, Mr. Stephen Hargraves, to get to the end of it as fast as ever you can, and never to show your ugly white face upon an inch of ground belonging to me again. D'ye hear?”
“Stay! I suppose there's wages or something due to you.” He took a handful of money from his waistcoat-pocket and threw it on the ground, sovereigns and half-crowns rolling hither and thither on the gravel-path; then turning on his heel, he left the softy to pick up the scattered treasure. Steeve Hargraves dropped on his knees, and groped about till he had found the last coin; then, as he slowly counted the money from one hand into the other, his white face relapsed into a grin: John Mellish had given him gold and silver amounting to upwards of two years of his ordinary wages.
He walked a few paces down the avenue, and then looking back shook his fist at the house he was leaving behind him.
“ You're a fine-spirited madam, Mrs. John Mellish, sure enough,” he muttered; “ but never you give me a chance of doing you any mischief, or by the Lord, fond as I am, I'll do it! They think the softy's up to naught, perhaps. Wait a bit.”
He took his money from his pocket again, and counted it once more, as he walked slowly towards the gates of the Park.
It will be seen, therefore, that Aurora had two enemies, one without and one within her pleasant home: one for ever brooding discontent and hatred within the holy circle of the domestic hearth; the other plotting ruin and vengeance without the walls of the citadel.
Winthrop Mackworth Praed.
The poetry of the day is preëminently Tennysonian. Although we have, or have had, several original writers outside of the Tennysonian circle; although Mr. Robert Browning, Mr. Matthew Arnold, and the lamented Arthur Clough, owe little or nothing to the Laureate,-yet ordinary readers of poetry have no admiration to spare for any productions in which Mr. Tennyson's subtlety and delicacy and exquisite grace of language are not imitated. We do not deem the veteran Walter Savage Landor as belonging to this generation. He is the Nestor of poets, and has fought with Ereuthalion. In his ninth decade he produces verse which, for terse severity and suggestive simplicity, can only be likened to the hendecasyllabics of Catullus. But Mr. Tennyson is the Achilles of the war; and when he withdraws to his tents, the authors of Edwin of Deira and Tannhaüscr come forth, fighting as much as possible in Achilles' style. The Laureate conquered his fame by that astonishing prize poem on
Timbuctoo, which thunderstruck Professor Smyth and took Cambridge by storm; a prize poem in blank verse, characterised by that magical mirage of words which no other writer can raise, and superscribed with a motto professedly taken from Chapman's Iliad, but which never could be found therein. Cambridge recognised the young demigod at once, and England was not slow to follow. Never, perhaps, even in Shakespeare's or Byron's days, has an English poet been so readily acknowledged as first by all bis contemporaries.
We have often thought that if Winthrop Mackworth Praed had lived to his prime, there would have been two schools of poetry in our time instead of one. Praed's genius differed as much from Tennyson's, as Wordsworth's from Byron's. But who was Praed ? a majority of our readers may ask. And here we come to the scarcely explicable fact—that there exists no English edition of the works of a man whose career at Eton and Cambridge was remarkably brilliant, whose connexions were aristocratic and wealthy, who was deemed likely to stand as Macaulay's commensurate antagonist in Parliament, who wrote some of the choicest political pasquinades of his time. Our American brethren, swift to appreciate English literature, have done their best to save Praed's works from oblivion; and although Redfield's edition is necessarily inaccurate and imperfect, it does the compiler great credit. Some years ago it was, we believe, announced that Praed's poems would be published under the editorship of his old friends and schoolfellows, the Rev. Derwent Coleridge and the Rev. John Moultrie. Why the book has not appeared remains a mystery. Tory though he was, and approvingly mentioned more than once by the great Tory editor in his Noctes Ambrosianæ, we believe Blackwood's Magazine has never done any thing to make the public acquainted with Praed's poetry. It remains for Temple Bar, in the interest not of politics but of literature,