Off the Skelligs (4)

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CHAPTER XII.


H
ERMIONE. By this we gather
                     You have tripped since.
P
OLIXENES. O my most sacred lady,
                     Temptations have since then been born to us.


DINNER was ready when we reached the yacht, and while we dined Uncle Rollin told us he had changed several of his plans, for he had been talking with Mr. Brandon, who had told him that as the children now on board had no one at all to look after them, he did not intend to lose sight of them till they reached their destination.

    They were to go to their grandmother, an old French lady who lived at Chartres.

    'So,' said our kind uncle, 'I have offered to take him and them into Havre, and that will facilitate matters very much.'

    Tom and I looked at one another on hearing this, and for once he caught us doing it.

    'I shall not stop a day longer at Havre than I can help,' he remarked.  Neither of us said a word; but I knew very well that Tom would like to have a few days to spend in the north of France.  He was familiar enough with the ends of the earth, and had spent years in cruising about on the west coast of South America and in the China seas, but, excepting once when there had been a few months spent in the Mediterranean, and that was in his boyhood, he had never set his foot on the shore of France.

    'There is nothing more ridiculous than the modern fashion of racing through a foreign country, and then fancying you know all about it,' said Uncle Rollin.  'Butter, Brand.'

    Still silence.

    'Cheese,' said my uncle, raising his voice; 'you can't stir a step beyond a French seaport without a passport.  In fact, so long as I am the owner of this yacht, I shall never lie in harbour, waiting till it is your—ahem! till it is other people's pleasure to come on board.  Nobody takes any cheese, it appears.  Clear away.

    His voice had been rising at every sentence he spoke, and the moment he had said grace he marched on deck without waiting for his wine.  Tom went into my cabin to sit by Mr. Brandon, and as there was a good deal of work to be done for the children, I remained where I was and began to stitch.  Presently, down came Uncle Rollin again.

    'Well, Miss Graham, you seem very much at home.'

    'I thought you would not object to my working here, uncle, because you know the after-cabin is occupied.'

    'Modest! why don't you say "my cabin."  No, I don't object; but now, understand this,—if you think I am going to wait your pleasure while you run about in Normandy—'

    'Indeed I never did think so, uncle; how could I run about there by myself?'

    'By yourself! the presumption of some young people is astonishing!  Then I suppose you expected me to escort you?'

    I really was too much surprised to answer.  When I had said 'by myself,' I had only wished him to think of me apart from Tom, whose cause I did not want to damage.

    'Why don't you speak, Miss Graham?  I know you have an answer on the tip of your tongue.'

    'I know I have presumed sometimes,' I answered, unable to repress a smile; 'but really, uncle, I never thought of that piece of presumption.  If I had—'

    'Well, if you had; go on, go on, I say.'

     'I had much better not.'

    'Then you should not have begun.  Since you got over your sea-sickness you ate more demure than ever; go on—nobody knows better than I, whether you presume. I hate mysteries; speak out-if you had what—'

    'If I had, perhaps you would have rewarded me for it; you always do.'

    'Rewarded! what do you mean, child?  Do you mean to say that I encourage you and Tom in presuming, and let you have your own way?'

    'Yes, uncle, I think you do.'

    I felt a little alarmed when I had been compelled by questioning to give this direct answer, and I went on as fast as I could with my work.

    'If a man ought to command anywhere it is on board his own yacht.  And here am I, told to my face, that I am encouraging mutiny.  Well, Brandon shall go to Chartres because I said he should.'

    'Yes, uncle, and I shall stay behind because you said I should.'

    'Humph!  Well, there was one thing that I prided myself on; only one—and it was —Pooh, child; what am I to kiss you for? a foolish custom—stuff, nonsense.  What do you want, coaxing a man in this way? what do you want, hey?'

    'Shall I have what I want?

    'I'll see about it.'

    'Then I want to stop with you in the dock at Havre.'

    'You do, do you' (a short laugh).  'I won't be lectured in this style for nothing.  If it is more convenient to me that you should go to Chartres, go you shall.'

    'But you said you would see about it?'

    He laughed; but I did not understand the cause of his gratification till afterwards, and went on, 'I am very happy on board, I could not be happier than with you.'

    'Ahem!' he said, 'if I don't assert some sort of authority now, I may as well give it up at once and for ever.  So I say, go to Chartres you shall.  I've set my mind on it, and I expect you to be content.'

    'Very well, uncle, I'll try.'

    'You will; nobody to see your grave little face would imagine—What are you folding your work up for?'

    'It makes my head ache to work down here.'

    'Go on deck, then, and take the air; you may give me a kiss, if you like, first.'

    I went on deck, and about tea-time came below.  As I reached the open door of my own cabin, I took off my hat and shawl and gave them to Mrs. Brand desiring her to fetch me out my work, and as I waited these words fell on my ear,—

    'So, as they have set their minds on it, go they must; young people, you know—young people contrive to get the better of an old man like me.'  He spoke as if this profession of slavery was made with great pride and self-gratulation.

    A voice from the berth remarked in reply, on his great kindness and indulgence.

    'Indulgent,' was the reply, 'well, perhaps I am.  At any rate, I never deny them anything.  Ask my niece if I do.'

    He had evidently come out, to his own apprehension, in a new character—that of the indulgent uncle.  He had been quite unconscious hitherto of the manner in which he gave way to Tom and me; and now it was forced on his notice, he was highly gratified, and even fussy.  'Yes, yes,' he said; 'I suppose they will expect me to lie at Southampton Pier while they get their passports.'

    Mrs. Brand gave me my work, and I returned to the chief cabin.

    That night we took coffee in the after-cabin with Mr. Brandon, who, although he could not lift up his head, declared that he felt much better.  We then went on deck once more in the dusk, saw the dim outline of the Great Skellig, with the two lights on its summit looking like two great eyes in the head of some rampant monster.  I went early to my new berth, and did not wake in the morning till Mrs. Brand came to call me.

    'Mr. Tom says you must dress as fast as you can, miss, for it is calm, and he is going to land on the Lesser Rock.  Some of the sailors have been there already.  You never saw such a sight—it is covered with white ducks as thick as snow along the ledges.'

    I started up, and made inquiries about Mr. Brandon and the children.  They had slept perfectly well, she said.  Mr. Brandon had eaten a hearty breakfast, and now called for shaving-water.

    'Much use he found he could make of it,' she continued, with a dismal sigh.  'That arm of his is so free from pain that I should not wonder if it has begun to mortify!  However, I told him that Brand always shaved Master, and he says he should be glad of his help, so I called him, and he is going to get him up.'

    'What for?  He had much better lie still.'

    He won't, ma'am.  His shoulders are much better; and he is so shocked at your being turned out of your cabin.'

    'What nonsense!  I wish I had known.'

    'He can't abide the confinement either—gentlemen never can.  He wants to be on deck; so he was got some clothes of Mr. Graham's and a loose overcoat, and get up he says he will.  Called for a looking-glass he did, and when he saw himself he laughed till the tears ran down his face.  One of his cheeks is a good deal swelled, and he has some blisters on his forehead yet.  I think he's hoarser than ever this morning—he croaks like a raven.'

    I could not do anything in the matter but say to Mrs. Brand how glad I should be if he could be comfortable where he was; but it was pleasant to find that he has well enough even to think of rising.  So she went away, and I was dressed and nearly ready to come on deck, when she burst in again to the little state-room, pale and staring.

    'Oh, Miss Graham!—Oh, my heart beats so!  Bless me.  Mr. Brandon—he would get up, and he has fainted!'

    I had seen Mrs. Bell faint too often to be alarmed at this news.  I had a bottle of salts that I bought at Ipswich to use at church when I felt sleepy, so I rushed to the scene of action to find it; and there I saw the two children sitting up in their berths wailing, and Mr. Brandon lying flat on his back on the floor, with Tom and Brand on one side of him, and my uncle on the other.  A large basket of spotted eggs stood on the floor, and round about the patient and over him sprawled several awkward-looking ducklings.  Each child was hugging one, and a third was spreading out its skinny web feet on the pillow that he had laid his head on.

    I pushed my way past them to find my keys, and open the locker where these salts were kept, and when they were discovered, Mr. Brandon had begun to recover consciousness, and was sitting upon the floor, Tom and Brand supporting him.  His lips were blue, his face yellow, and he looked so different from the crimson-hued patient of yesterday that I should not have recognized him.

    The first words he uttered were words of rebellion against his nurses.  'Take the odious stuff away!'  So, finding that he did not like the salts, I dipped a handkerchief in cold water, and laid it on his forehead, whereupon he opened his eyes and shivered, looking about him with an air of disgust and astonishment.

    'This,' he presently observed, with the true perversity of a sick man, as distinguished from a sick woman—'this is entirely because I did not go on deck quickly enough.'

    'Sir, you had not strength to get up at all,' remarked Mrs. Brand.

    'If I could breathe the fresh air I should be well enough.  Nothing pulls a man down like lying in bed.'

    When he had absolutely the day before been unable to lift his head from the pillow!

    'You'd much better lie down again, sir.'

    'No; I must shake this off.  It won't do to yield to it.

    'Do wait, sir, for a little while.'

    'What is the use of arguing?' said I.  'If Mr. Brandon can go on deck, it will do him good.'

    'Yes, exactly so; that is what I intend.'

    'And if he finds he cannot he is quite safe here.'

    'There is no doubt that I can do it.'

    I was almost sure he could not, but Tom said there was no harm in trying, so he presently made another effort to rise and stand on his feet, which with a good deal of help he accomplished.

    I was so much afraid he would fall that I did not dare to look till he had dragged himself out of my cabin, and by the aid of a few pulls and a few pushes had actually got on deck.

    So feeling sure that he would not be able to sit up long, I rolled up the mattress and pillows belonging to one of the berths, gave it to Mrs. Brand to take on deck, and followed with two railway rugs.  I told her to lay them down very near where he was sitting, and I spread one of the rugs over them.

    Bravely as he had struggled, and strong as he thought himself, a glance of unmistakable contentment shone in his eyes when he saw these preparations.  He was chilly, though the morning was fine; and when I had arranged his pillows, he came and thankfully laid himself down, uttering a murmur of satisfaction when the second rug was thrown over his shoulders.  I sent Mrs. Brand for another pillow, and he said,—

    'This is very comfortable; I am grateful for such kind consideration.  The air does me good.'

    'I hope you will not be the worse for this removal.'

    'My nurse is grave this morning, she disapproves.'

    'I heard that your chief reason for rising was that you could not intrude longer in my cabin.'

    A smile glimmered in his eyes.  'A natural feeling,' he answered, 'and on the whole laudable.'

    No one was standing near him but myself, the air lifted his rug, and I had to kneel down and tuck it under his mattress; while so occupied I said, 'I wonder what Paul would have done in such a case; I wonder whether the Primitive Christians risked their health out of politeness to ladies.'

    'In my opinion if Paul could have seen a grave, quiet young lady of the present century tucking a sick man up, and lecturing him, he would have been edified—as I am.'

    'And what would he have thought of the sick man?'

    'Miss Graham, ninety-nine men out of a hundred would reply, "He would have envied him;" I shall answer nothing of the sort.'

    'You mean that you shall answer more to the purpose?'

    'Ingenious! by-the-bye, when we talked yesterday of the inferiority of the present race of Christians, did you include women?'

    'Of course.'

    'There we differ; I believe there never were such women in the world as there are now—never.'

    'And how do you feel yourself now, sir?' asked Mrs. Brand, coming up and putting on a dismal face.

    'Thank you, I feel quite comfortable, and very hungry.'

    In fact his face had regained its old hue; his eyes were bright, and his whole appearance showed how much the air had refreshed him.

    Lest he should feel faint again, I asked Mrs. Brand not to lose sight of him, and went below to breakfast—to order something to eat for him, and to look after my dear little pets.

    The elder child was still fretful and very unfriendly, but the little one was perfectly sociable and came on deck after breakfast.  At first she was very active, and put me in constant fear lest she should get into danger; but, after a good deal of persuasion from Mr. Brandon, she came and sat on the corner of his rug and listened to some expostulations as to her behaviour.

    Tom had caused a carpet to be spread close to the mattress; and the awning was up, for the sun was now hot.  I took out my book and sat down under it by my little charge, glad to rest so long as she would let me.

    A good many of the forlorn lumps of down had been brought to Mr. Brandon in a basket, and he and Tom were feeding them with bits of raw fish.  Tom had explored the Lesser Skellig and was tired of it; but some of the sailors had been allowed to land and were plundering a few of the nests.  It seemed cruel to take the poor birds, but sailors are very wasteful of animal life, and we heard that they were
going to make a large mallard pie.

    It was perfectly calm, not a ripple on the water, and the yacht lay so near the rock that its shadow reached to within a few cables' length of her lee beam.

    The sun beat on the awning, but there was a golden-hued shade beneath.  I could see the lower ledges of the rock where the brooding mallards sat.  Sometimes, when the sailors roused them, a flock would fly screaming over our heads.

    My little nurseling crept to my knees as I sat on the carpet, laid her head on them and fell fast asleep; the conversation of Tom and Mr. Brandon was so very uninteresting that I only listened to it, as it were, with one ear.  It concerned square, circular, and elliptical sterns.  Tom was eloquent, our guest attentive.  From this the subject veered to the different modes of securing beam ends to the sides of ships, and Tom brought a book and showed some diagrams trying to make him decide on the comparative merits of a modern 'side-cast knee' and 'Sepping's forked knee and chock.'  I knew he had brought the discussion on himself, but he did not quite care to give his mind to it, and as he chose to import me into it, I forthwith selected the 'side-cast' thing because it looked the simplest, but thereupon an explanation was begun, which proved to such as could understand that the latter of the two was preferable.

    Then while I had a fit of inattention, or rather of rapt admiration of the golden shadow, the white flapping canvas, the delightful, pale polish of the water, and the strange, populous rock with foolish ducks standing or squatting in rows on every ledge, they began to talk of their travels, and Tom, who could hardly ever converse with me of anything but passing things and mere facts, brought out his opinions freely enough now he had a man to talk to.

    Once or twice I had spoken of our childhood, but it seemed to give him pain.  'You may think of these things gladly enough,' he said, 'but I seem to have set a long night between myself and the beautiful morning.  Sometimes I can hardly bear to think of that great promise which has come to nothing.'  I knew he was speaking of his early genius then, and ventured to propose that he should give up his desultory ways and study with me, teaching me as he had formerly done, but he laughed rather bitterly and answered, 'No, my dear child, I would fain hope that you will never learn anything more of me.'

    He was always most prudishly careful what he said before me: but he had a sort of admiring, and yet slighting way, of mentioning women, and especially the Mexican women, that always made my heart ache.  I wished he could have spent his early youth with women of finer nature and higher soul, such as the English or Americans.  But while I was mourning over this in my mind, and thinking on the singular kind of watch that he seemed to keep over me as if I was not infinitely better able to take care of my feminine dignity than he was, Mr. Brandon, who had just come from the States, began to talk of them, and I was attracted again to the conversation by his saying of the American girls, 'They often reminded me of a woman in a book.'

    'How so?' said Tom.

    'They held set conversations and expected me to keep to the point,' he answered, laughing; 'that was at Boston.  I went to several parties there, and felt that I must be as intellectual as circumstances would permit.'

    'That is the kind of girl who would frighten me out of my wits,' exclaimed Tom.

    'Just as if a girl of eighteen or nineteen was not ten times more interesting in herself than anything she could tell one,' proceeded Mr. Brandon.  'And they are so pretty.  They talked exceedingly well, too; not in the least as an English girl would talk though, or could, if she would.'

    'That may be from the different bringing up.'

    'Yes, no doubt; one seldom hears an English girl talk tolerably on any intellectual subject when she first comes out; but then, there is often a naive and lovely ignorance about her, the bloom of childhood hangs round her, and she thinks the world is as good as herself.'

    'American girls are more clever than we are, perhaps; or they have earlier advantages of going into society and talking with intellectual people,' I said, when he paused.

    He answered me with some trifling compliment.  I was nineteen then, and by no means liked the notion 'that any bloom of childhood might still hang about me.  Perhaps a girl, who is nineteen in the year 1871, is not often afflicted with this disadvantage, and I need not trouble myself about it now, for that conversation took place a good many years ago.

    'No,' said Tom, in a somewhat oracular manner, 'I do not know why a girl should be expected to talk well till she is at least twenty.  There cannot be much in her; she may be prettily exacting, or charmingly modest, but her attractions must be personal, not intellectual.'

    'But a girl in a book can talk well at any age, you think,' I remarked to our guest.

    'She always does,' he replied; 'and girlhood in a tale is often represented as the embodiment of self-possession, combined with a grand, calm, and a wide experience which,' he added, and hesitated a little 'which I have never met with in real life, and I am very glad of it!  I presume to prefer the real thing.'

    He said this as if he perceived that I found my youth, or rather my youthful appearance, what Mrs. Bell was in the habit of calling 'a dispensation.'  Something painful that was as ordained, and could not be escaped.  But I believe I only thought this, because I was sensitive on the point myself.  I had hoped that the tan of the sea would make me look older; but, on the contrary, it gave a little bloom to my cheeks, which, though becoming, did not age me by a day.  I took up the little book of directions, by which I was tatting a collar, and occupied myself with it while they went on talking.  It was a time of profound peace, and yet they tortured my heart by all sorts of gloomy prognostics, such as I frequently read in newspapers, but had not yet heard discussed by the living voice.  Then they turned to home politics, and there, of course everything was going to rack, for their party was not in.  As girls are not able to converse, I had not intended to have anything further to say; but at last they got so very lugubrious, that I was impelled to exclaim, turning to Mr. Brandon,—

    'You speak as if freedom was some great anomaly'

    'So it is,' he answered quietly, but with an air of full conviction.

    'And almost certain to be snatched away?'

    ' So I think.'

    'But why?'

    'Because intelligence does not keep pace with it—the common notion of freedom is leave to each individual to do just as he likes.'

    'And does not everybody think that desirable?'

    'Am I obliged to think as everybody thinks—mayn't I be original?'

    'I am not at all sure that you may!'

    'That's right, Dolly,' said Tom; 'what a tyrant you would be if you might reign.'

    'I assure you I admire liberty,' said Mr. Brandon, laughing. 'I wish that we should all have as much as we know what to do with.  What we were both saying that we hated was that individualism which too much personal liberty is apt to lead to, and which tends to bring in the loss of national liberty and power.  People ought to be able to think of themselves as part of some great whole, and they are losing the ability to do so.'

    'It is better, you think, to feel ourselves to be part of something great than the whole of something small?'

    'Certainly; the secular use of a church and one great use of a government is to give this feeling, and prevent society from breaking up into units.'

    'Still you make me feel as if nothing was secure.'

    'Could there be a better feeling if things are insecure ?'

    'No; but suppose they are not, and suppose I think so ?'

    'Why, then no harm is done; you will not sleep less sweetly for other people's talk; you will take just as much pains in working this little collar as if I had not said a word.'

    'But so she would,' said Tom, rising and laughing, 'if she believed it all and knew it was true.'

    They would not talk seriously, so I answered—

    'In my opinion, men are quite as particular about their collars and their neck-ties as we are.'

    'I am,' said Tom; 'but, then, in spite of all we have said, I believe the country will come right in the end.  If I did not, you should see what a figure I would go.'

    'And you need not look at my neck-tie, Miss Graham; it but ill represents my feelings.  The captain's valet tied this killing knot.'

    'Well, Mr. Brandon, I will not judge you by to-day; but if you can assure me that when you do your ties yourself you are quite indifferent how they look, I will believe you.'

    'And think me a patriot?'

    'Yes; or else that you are untidy.'

    At this moment the boatswain came and touched his hat to Tom.  'Tide's just on the turn, sir.'

    'I must go, Brandon,' said Tom.  'I want to see the lighthouse, and this is the best time.'  He went below to take some luncheon, and our guest said,


    'What is it that displeases you so much in our politics, Miss Graham?'

    I answered, 'It was not so much what you said about politics as what you alluded to about religion.'

    'I did not say that I thought our religion was in danger.'

    'No; but you would not have said what you did unless you had thought so.'

    A smile of amusement played about the corners of his month.  'The inference is fair,' he said; 'and may I ask what you think?'

    I began to think that I did not know what to do with this conversation; but I had brought it on myself, and I could not stir, for the child's head was on my lap, and she still slept soundly.  It was not so much because he had said that girls could not talk, however, that I felt a difficulty in answering.  It was more because he did not look quite the same man that he had appeared to be hitherto.  The red face had become of a more natural colour, and the swelled nose was now of a very respectable shape.  I began to perceive, besides, not only by his looks, but by his whole manner, that he could not be nearly so old a man as I had thought.

    I went on working, and there was silence, till, at last, looking up, I saw that his eyes were on my face, so I said, 'Perhaps I have no very settled opinion, or perhaps, if I have, it is not worth anything.'

    He repeated gently and not at all uncourteously, 'Perhaps.'  And I began to wish myself away, for I had only imported myself into the conversation to express my dislike to his opinions.  Now, it seemed, I must give some reason for the dislike.

    'It seems to me,' I said at last, 'that if things are firm and settled, and fixed, one should not discuss them as if they were not, because that is one way of unsettling them.'

    'What,' he answered, 'if I set my back against a church-wall and push, and say, "I don't believe this wall is firm," will my action make the wall come down unless my opinion is correct?'

    'No; but I want Tom to think of the church walls as strong, because his religion consists in going inside them now and then.  As he said himself the other day, his presenting himself there is as much as to say, "Here I am, your reverence; if you can do anything for me, now's your time."  That he thinks is enough.'

    'But he is to respect the church walls, is he not, because there is something inside them?'

    'Yes.'

    'I wanted to remind him of that.  I said the form only existed for the sake of the spirit.  It is the visible part of religion; but surely it has no significance if there is no spirit.  Afterwards, you know, he shifted his ground a little.'

    'Yes, dear fellow, he did not wish you to think that he accepted what he calls the whole system of dogma, and he remarked that the tendency of modern thought was towards freeing the mind from the bonds of dogma and form.'

    'And so then I shifted my ground, and tried to show him what a terrible mistake he was making against himself, if he made his religion to consist in form, and yet argued that it was not binding on him!  A true man never wants to be freed from a binding form for any other reason than that he may yield himself more fully to the spirit.'

    'Still,' I said, reverting to the cause of my discontent, 'I wish you had contradicted him when he said that the church was in danger.'

    'I could not.  A visible church is always in danger; the invisible only is Immortal, like its Head.'

    'I sympathize very much with Tom,' was my answer, 'though I never had any difficulties myself.'

    Of course not,' he answered gently; ' Christianity always suits us well enough so long as we suit it.  A mere mental difficulty is not hard to deal with.  Did you see the ducks yesterday sitting by their thousands, every one with her face to the wind, so that it blew all their feathers the right way.  Their work went on just as well in spite of the wind, so will ours if we face it.  The difficulty that cannot be faced is of another sort.  It is not often a thought that makes religion void.  With most of us it is not reason makes faith hard, but life.  A great many people think of religion as if it was a game that they had to play with an August Opponent—a game at which both could not win, and yet they actually think they can play it unfairly.  They want to cheat.  But in that grand and awful game, it cannot be said that either wins unless both do.'

    I heard Tom come up, and wondered what he would think if he could know what I had said of him; but little Nannette that moment waking, I asked Mr. Brandon to come below, that his arm might be attended to, and he did not receive the unwelcome suggestion with a very good grace, for he knew it frightened me to attend to it.  I could hardly help laughing at his rueful face, when he said,—

    'If it had only been the other arm, I could have looked after it myself.'

    Tom now appeared, after his luncheon, and when he heard the state of the case, he helped to haul up the patient, who, when he was on his feet (the said feet being encased in slippers on account of blistered soles), took a few steps backward and forward, and looked about him exultingly.  He had a well-built and very graceful figure, and his scorched features, as I said before, were improving.

    But Brand had cut off his singed hair and nearly all his whiskers.  This added somewhat of the air of a convict to his former charms.

    'I must be an impostor, after all,' he observed, standing erect.  'There seems to be nothing the matter with me.  Neck a little stiff; that's nothing; hands blistered—so they ought to be; nobody need care about that.'

    'If any fellow dares to call you an invalid,' said Tom, 'he had better keep his distance.'

    I heard this as I ran down with little Nannette in my arms to give her to Mrs. Brand, while I prepared for my patient, who presently came below.  His arm was very much better, and it would have been disgraceful if I had shown any fear.

    My uncle presently came on board, in a beautiful little cutter, a hired boat.  He had been that day to Killarney with Mr. Crayshaw, who had need of some temporary help as regarded money matters; and he had heard the last of the poor man whom Tom had picked off the bowsprit.  It seems he had gone down to plunder the passengers' cabins of any valuables he could find; and his love of drink overcoming him, he had stayed below till the boat and the raft were off.  He was an acrobat, one of the troupe.  He had never seemed quite to recover his drunken fit, and that morning he had been taken with some kind of stroke, and had died.

    We all had luncheon in the chief cabin, and after that my patient, with a little help, got on deck again; and when I followed some time after, I found Mrs. Brand approaching him with a huge nosegay, and the children with her, dragging a basket of flowers between them.

    Fresh flowers were luxuries belonging to the shore that my uncle could never dispense with.  Brand had orders on no occasion to land without getting some, if he could; and he had been scouring the country for these and fresh vegetables.  They scented the whole yacht, as she lay almost at rest on the water—a lovely little heap of sweet-williams, pinks, larkspurs, roses, and ferns.

    Mr. Brandon was so stiff that he could hardly turn on his mattress; and the children, in their eagerness to display their flowers, overthrew their basket upon him, to the great scandal of Mrs. Brand, who said they made him look like a cerpse strewed all over for the burial.  They then sat by him, and began to gather them up in their fat little hands.

    'These have all tumbled out of their little house!' exclaimed Nannette, showing him a double pink whose petals had burst the calyx.  'Put them in again, will 'oo?'

    'What a fool of a flower,' he answered.

    'Sir,' said Mrs. Brand, in a low tone of remonstrance, 'it's one of the works of God.'

    'You don't think, do you,' he replied, 'that any flower came first from the hands of its Maker, unable to bloom without splitting.  This flower has been spoilt by the gardener's cultivation, as they call it.  The lovely wild flowers, you know, are the flowers that God made.'

    'Here's another,' said Frances: 'all the little men have jumped out.'

    Mr. Brandon asked for thread, and began to tie up the broken flowers.  'This comes,' he observed, 'from leaving these beautiful things to half-educated men, who have a vulgar longing to make them big, but no sense of grace or fitness.'

    'I have often thought how ugly the large modern rosebuds are,' I said.  'Some of them before they begin to expand are as large as walnuts, as heavy and almost as hard.'

    'Yes,' he answered; 'if you took one by the stalk, you might kill a baby with it, swinging it against the little creature's temples.'

    'Still it is difficult to know where to stop.  How can we tell when a flower has reached the point when we should cease to cultivate?'

    'We may always be sure a flower has been over-cultivated, if it dies hard and has a dead body.  What can be more unsightly than the soppy, mouldy head of a doubly quilled dahlia?  The more you double a wallflower, the more debased it becomes, gets coarse, loses its scent, and when it dies has no notion what to do with itself.  But how lovely is the single passion-flower!  It does not die at all, but expands a pale splendour of blue and green; and when it has looked long enough at the light, it closes, shrinks back again into the green calyx, and, like another bud, retires.  Then the gum cystus, while her flowers are still perfectly clean, and fresh, sheds the petals; they drift away, and in an hour or two are invisible.  The iris retreats in the night, and hides within the sheath after its one day of glory.  Then the new flower comes out at dawn, expands and beautifully covers the place.  When there is a litter a tearing away of overladened boughs, or an unsightly lump of decay in the garden, it is a sign that we have not understood or respected the natures we have been playing with.'

    All this while he held the flowers together with the hand he could use, and little Frances tied in the petals with darning-cotton.

    'Here are some feather-hyacinths,' I said; 'surely it is late for them.'

    'No, ma'am,' answered Mrs. Brand; 'I have some below that I bought a week ago at Weymouth.  I went on shore there, you know, to see the horsemanship and the dwarf.'

    'Yes, I remember.'

    'And the stout lady,' she continued, with enthusiasm.  'She had a bunch of flowers in her belt; and Brand thought it would be very interesting to have them; so he said, if she would sell them, he was quite agreeable to buy. They were sprinkled with the sawdust of the circus, but quite fresh.  I'll fetch them up for you to see.'

    'Fancy the desecration,' said Mr. Brandon, as she retired—'the sawdust, the gas, the circus.'

    'She thinks no harm, but she would consider it wrong to talk of vulgar flowers.'

    'Yes; but taking flowers into a circus seems to me much the same as if Solomon had used the sacred anointing oil that was left after his consecration to grease his chariot wheels with.  Look, Frances, here is a heart's-ease.  Do you see its beautiful little face?'

    'It's laughing at me,' said the child, looking earnestly at the flower.  'Kiss it, then, Nannette.'

    'Is it happy?' asked Nannette.

    'Oh, yes, and very good.'  What sympathy children have with nature!—till education clouds it.  How distinct the little face is in this flower, as if when the first heart's-ease was fashioned there had been a thought in the heart of the great Maker of the first child's face that should look into it ages after.  Flowers always seem to me to be the lovely fancies of God—things that, as it were, He made for His own pleasure—for Himself, as well as for us.

'Surely you impute to God our feelings.'

    'Why not?  We feel His great difference only too well.  Every year God becomes more marvellous and more remote.  It is the likeness that draws us to Him.  It is surely no irreverence to say, since He has brought, a sense of the beauty of His work into our hearts, that He derives some splendid joy from it also.  Indeed the strange, sweet old words, "God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good," seem to point almost to the majestic movement of a tender pride.'

    I left the children after this, going below to Uncle Rollin, to take my second lesson in navigation.  He advised me to write up my log.  I had made two entries, and he commended me, and expressed his satisfaction about things in general.  He had not found me such a trouble as he expected; in short, he might as well say (for it was true) that he had not found me any trouble at all.

    This was very agreeable news; and it was nice to know also that a slight breeze had sprung up, so that we could get away from the Skelligs.  I did not like being too near those awful rocks.  When the red sunset glowed upon them that evening, they had a most strange and weird appearance; they seemed to be half smothered in a red haze, and to sit up in the water like two great dogs threatening us.  The wind continued to freshen, and I, finding myself perfectly well, began to consider that the life suited me.

    I sat enjoying the fine weather.  An old brig, crowding all sail, looked picturesque enough as we approached, and, venturing to admire, I was met with a storm of abuse.  'A rotten old tub! she trembles at every sea that strikes her bows, and weeds are streaming from her bends,' &c.  I found that I had better talk as little as possible on all matters connected with shipping.  It seemed that I had a natural inaptitude for picking up nautical language, for whenever I used a sea phrase it was sure to be a wrong one.


 
CHAPTER XIII.


THE wind continued to be quite in our favour, and that day and the next passed very pleasantly; but I found so much to do for the children that I could not be long on deck, excepting when they were brought up to take some exercise.

    Sometimes the little creatures chose to come and sit by the mattress, and tell Mr. Brandon concerning their various new clothes and of the toy-ships and boats that continually came from the people as offerings.  Nannette generally walked about with a brig in full sail under one arm, and a basket of ducklings under the other.  Frances had a pinafore full of little boats, and when their masts were broken, she expected him to put them in again.

    He was an odd man, and as he gained strength a kind of suppressed energy showed itself in his well-governed voice, and his dancing, penetrating eyes looked more like independent live things than features of his steady face.  His other features were well under command, and he had a clear, manly voice, very different in its tones from the soft depths of Tom's, but quite as pleasant in its way, and as I moved about with my work, following the children, I often heard every word of his part in the dialogue, when Tom's was only a soft murmur of sound.

    He was often fond of talking of the world as a whole, and the land in it, as if one could dibble in men here and there, just as in a garden one may dibble in vegetables.

    He had been buying bits of land in various parts; he 'had a family in his eye' that would just suit his last purchase, and he used frequently to argue and dispute with Tom about the best thing to be done for the English lower classes; they always differed about almost everything, but yet they seemed never tired of sharpening their wits against each other's notions.

    Almsgiving, in his opinion, was, as at present conducted, a mean, vulgar vice.  The world ought to have done with almsgiving long ago.  'Beggars! what's to be done with the beggars, do you say?  How dare we have any beggars?'

    He had taken out a man and his wife to the Pampas, he told us, when he was only three-and-twenty.  Then he went to Rio and Bahia to amuse himself and look about him, promising them that if they did not like the life before them when they had tried it, he would fetch them back again.  It appeared by the story that they did not like it—at least, the husband brought the wife on board, and begged him to take them home again.  He admitted that this was the most awkward thing that had ever happened to him, but when the steamer had got too far for any remedy to be found, he discovered that the man had escaped and gone back to Rosario, leaving the wife by her own connivance on his hands.

    'I took her to Southampton,' he said, 'and bribed her never to show her face in our parts any more.  Then I went home to my step-father, feeling very small.'

    'And were not cured of that form of philanthropy?' said Tom.

    'Certainly not; almsgiving is not open to me.  If a man thinks he wants half-a-crown, and I am base enough to give it to him, instead of helping him to his inheritance that he really does want, there is nothing bad that I do not deserve.  I must win his confidence, and by fair means, or by wholesome scolding and driving, sweep him or buffet him for his own good out of the country.  Hang him, why he is to be an absentee more than an Irish landlord?  Drive the rascal to his estate, and let him live on it.'

    'Hang him!' does not sound a particularly charitable or gentle thing to say, yet this queer man said it with a softening in his voice that was almost tender.

    'There is no cant that I hate like the cant about resignation,' he exclaimed the next day, after he had been telling us some things about the London poor.

    'Surely it is a Christian virtue,' I remarked.

    'Yes, I suppose there is such a virtue; but it must be rare.  I never had any occasion to exercise it. I am not presumptuous enough to think so.'

    'Indeed!'

    'Most of the pain or misfortune that I have gone through has been from my own fault.  I have been repentant, and have tried to take the consequences as well as I could.  The rest—'

    'Well, the rest?' said Tom.

    'The rest I look upon as discipline that ought to make, and is intended to make a better man of me.'

    'And which of the two do you consider this burn on your arm to be?'

    'Neither.  I consider that I bought a certain thing and paid for it.  I got it dirt cheap.  Crayshaw and I went below to fetch up the two children, but a rush of burning hot air came after us, and we had to lie down with our mouths to the floor.  I wanted my child's head (Nannette's) to be close to the floor, and yet not to touch it, because it was so dreadfully hot, so I put my arm under it, and of course got burnt, for I had to lean my weight on it while I supported her with the other till I could rise and run off.'

    'That was the first time you went below, then.'

    'Yes, I think so.  The infant was in what had been the mother's cabin.  She died when we had only been at, sea two days.  The heat did not penetrate there so soon.  The women had brought out the two elder children and their clothes, and had carried them to their own part of the ship, where they gave them some thing to eat, and dressed them.  They then put them into the berths ready dressed, but all on a sudden we had to fetch them up.'

    Nannette at this moment was brought on deck with a slice of cake in her hand.

    'Give me some of that,' said Mr. Brandon, as Mrs. Brand set her down.  'I want some-it looks so nice.'

    The child came close to him, and turning her cake round looked at it, and hesitated.  'There's a big cake down there,' she observed.

    'But I want some of yours,' he insisted.  'Do spare a little bit for me.'  Whereupon she selected a particularly small plum, which she picked out, and put into his mouth, saying, 'There! that's plenty.'

    'I am always charmed by the selfishness of childhood,' said Tom, 'it is quite touching in its pretty unconsciousness.'

    The little white-headed thing went on eating with great satisfaction, but presently she noticed that my uncle, who had come and seated himself close to us, was beckoning her with his finger, and she instantly got up, and breaking off a good-sized piece of her cake, held it out to him, saying, 'Does 'ou want a piece?—here.'

    'Look,' said Tom, as the old man took the child on his knee, and they began to smile at one another, 'you see he has won what you could not earn.'

    'But they never love us,' I said, 'as we love them.'

    'No; it is always the same story; they receive the love of one generation and they pay it to another.  That little creature does not love Brandon any the more because he snatched her out of the fire; but twenty years hence, perhaps, she will love some other child all the better for the sake of that dimly-remembered day.'

    'My dear fellow,' exclaimed Mr. Brandon, 'she can have no intelligent remembrance of it even now.'

    'Nanny,' said my uncle, who had heard the remark, 'Where's the raft?  Who took care of Nanny on the raft?'

    The child pointed at Mr. Brandon with her finger, 'He was very naughty that other day,' she said, shaking her head, 'but he's good now.'

    'Naughty, was he!  I can hardly think it.  Why what did he do?'

    'He wouldn't show me the ducks.'

    'She means the cormorants,' said Mr. Brandon.  'Yes, I believe it's a true bill!  In the dead calm we saw a few cormorants feeding not far off.  They sat so low in the water that every little ripple passed over their backs.  Only the head and neck of each was visible, like the stalk and bud of a water-lily, or a steam- vessel all under water excepting the funnel.'

    'You noticed that at such a time?' I enquired.

    'Yes.  Crayshaw thought at first they were water snakes.  We had often, of course, seen cormorants before, but we were then so absolutely on a level with the water that they looked differently.  I leaned against the little mast, and held this thing up to watch them, and no doubt I put her down sooner than she liked.'

    'How keenly, when the mind is strained, one observes all sorts of unimportant things.'

    'Yes, and their crowding in prevents the important ones from doing more than taking their turn.  I never noticed so many things in my life as during that calm.  The rare pale colours so fickle and so tender, that bloomed across the water here and there, the slightly ruffled patches of desert, where a flaw of wind was fainting away, and leaving it all sparkling like flocks of wings; outlandish drifts of sallow weed floating about, and seeming to be attracted by our raft.'

    'I am never so much alive as when I expect to die,' said Tom.

    'Yes, I was intensely alive then; I remember dreading to think what a world of killing I should want before I could give in!'

    'Don't, man,' said my uncle, and then went on to Tom; 'you were never in such danger in your life as when you crossed under that ship's bows the other night.'

    'I did not feel it.  Of course I should have felt the raft.  What a bore it is, Brandon, that the dull, and uneducated, and unimaginative, should possess a dogged contempt for danger, and a kind of stupid fearlessness that we are never to have.  I do not see how a highly imaginative man can have much animal courage.'

    'He has more resources,' observed Mr. Brandon.

    'And more pluck and daring,' said Uncle Rollin.  'Whatever name you may give to his courage, it generally serves his turn, boy!'

    'And,' continued Tom, 'not only does the highly organized man perceive danger most keenly, but he feels pain most when the blow comes.  Unless he is excited—of course he cannot feel either fear or pain then; certainly not the fear of death.'

    'That is only because excitement takes us out of ourselves,' said Mr. Brandon; I makes us forget ourselves as individuals, and become part of the company we are standing up with to strive.  The familiar fact that individuals fear death often makes us take for granted that death is dreaded by the race.  I do not believe it is.  It is regarded as the great conclusion which we feel to be wanted.  In fact, though death be an enemy, I believe the human race instinctively feels that it could not do with out it, so long as it has crime, or even imperfection.'

    Uncle Rollin, when he said this, looked both surprised and displeased, and he went on,—

    'And even as individuals—of course, none of us would like to die now, or soon, or at any specified time, and yet, if we were told to-day that we were all going to live for five hundred years, I don't think we should like it.  We should get restless and fretful as children do if they pass the time when they should sleep.'

    'But,' I said, 'they scarcely ever like being put to bed.'

    'Any more than we do,' said Tom; 'that may be less because we fear to go to sleep, than because we know so little of the predicted waking.'

    'I mean,' continued Mr. Brandon, 'that I think we wish for more in life, rather than for more of it; and that if it were to contain no new elements, I do not think the human race (if it might consider the question for itself as a whole), would care to have it lengthened.'

    'I don't agree with you,' said Tom.

    'No,' said Uncle Rollin, 'nor I, if the proportions of youth and age were to be the same as at present.  Some people,' he continued, 'are fond of making out that a future state is to be very like this, only better, and that we are to have back again what we have lost here.  I don't agree to that, either.  We want something better and different, not better and like.'

    'But we wish to see our dead again,' I said.

    'Ay, child, but they did not satisfy us here, why should they there?  I consider that for a permanent life we want many new powers, and I trust the Almighty that we shall have them—one of them is the power to be unwearied by possession and continuance.'

    He rose as he spoke, and, giving his finger to the child, walked off with her and I followed.  I thought he did not seem to be in such good spirits as usual, so I proposed my usual remedy,—a lesson in navigation.  He fell into the trap directly; and for more than an hour we worked away together.  Then we came on deck, he to give some directions to the captain of the yacht, and I to find Tom and Mr. Brandon arguing away as if their lives depended on their decisions.  It was delightful to see Tom so animated, and I was charmed with our guest for making him so.

    A vehement, dogmatical man, he seemed, and though he lay on his mattress with one arm in a sling, there was a fullness of life and an enthusiasm of feeling about him which made him appear more able-bodied than we did.  He was prodigal of his speech, did not save up his thoughts as if he expected them one day to fail.  He was not afraid to be fully alive now, lest he might flag afterwards.  With him it was always springtide and full moon.

    It was about one o'clock; we dined at four—too early to make much of a luncheon, but I thought some slices of cake, such as little Nannette had eaten, and some sandwiches would not be amiss, besides my patient was always hungry.  So I left little Frances under his charge, and said I would go and order a picnic lunch to be spread on deck.

    I certainly did not mean any harm; so when Tom followed me, as I was proceeding to Brand, the steward, to give my orders, I was quite surprised to be accosted with—'Dorothea!  What can you mean by waiting on that man as if he was a superior being?  Biscuits, too, that you were going to carry on deck yourself; I do believe—give them to me; I would much rather take them to him than that you should.'

    'But why am I not to attend to our guest?'

    'You are too polite, too much interested.  You listen to his talk as if nothing could be so important.'

    'So do you, Tom.'

    'You need not laugh and make a joke of the matter.  I wish you would trouble yourself less about him; he does not return the compliment, and has quite a good enough opinion of himself without any spoiling from the ladies.'

    'Really, Tom, I think your alarm is quite uncalled for.  I am never likely to see him again after he leaves the yacht.'

    I gave him the plate, and remained below till after dinner.  Our guest had never shown any desire to talk to me.  I went and came, and it scarcely seemed to attract his observation; but I did observe his presence or absence, and did wish that he should be comfortable.  Surely, Torn could not dislike my being interested in an acquaintance.

    However, I acted on his words, and did not see Mr. Brandon any more that day, excepting at tea-time; but sent the children on deck with Mrs. Brand.  We had light, baffling winds all night, and made very little way; but the next morning, after breakfast, the wind changed, and I came on deck just to look about me.  As usual, Tom and Mr. Brandon were arguing and discussing all sorts of things, and I was foolish enough to resent their taking no notice of me, and chose to go below, when I had an argument all to myself and with myself; it concerned manners, morals, Tom, and a sea life, and it lasted till dinner-time without coming to any decision.

    Mr. Brandon was much better that day, and, instead of lying on his mattress, paced the deck with Tom, and played with the children.  My uncle sat a good deal reading, while I worked, and Tom now and then came and talked with me.

    So the day passed.  'You see,' observed Tom,—'you see he does not care for the society of ladies.  So you need not trouble yourself about him.'

    As if out of more perversity, Mr. Brandon, not five minutes after that, came into the cabin.

    'Miss Graham, we are within sight of Southampton; will you come on deck?'

    'No, thank you, I am busy; but if you are going on deck, will you take this shawl to little Nannette?'

    He went away, but in five minutes appeared again.

    'It is a superb evening; indeed, you had better come.  You must be dull sitting here all alone.'

    'But I have my work to finish.'

    'You are very industrious.  This looks like something for one of my little orphans.'

    It was the frill of a mantle for Frances.

    As I went on working, he sat down near me, took up the other end of the long frill, and inspected it.

    'This is what you call whipping, is it not?  What a comfort needlework seems to be to ladies.'

    'Yes, we could not live without it'

    I believe I spoke more energetically than I had intended, for he looked up surprised.  I was going to explain my words, when he said, 'And yet the needlework that I see most ladies do is generally some trivial thing, not ennobled by being of much use—not like this.'

    'But better than nothing.'

    Instead of answering, he suddenly changed the subject.

    'You must find this a desultory life.  It is difficult to find settled employment at sea, and habitual life at is surely dull.'

    'It has not become habitual with me yet.'

    It is circumscribed—a great change from the freedom of the shore.'

    'No; it is liberty compared with my land life—freedom, and freshness, and change.  On shore I was at school, and had no holidays.  I was not happy.'

    He looked attentively at me.  'And you have been happy the last few days, I am sure of it.'  Again he inspected the frill.  'You are happy in having this to make.  I do not pity you at all for the trouble you are taking.  You are happy in having those two little girls to watch over.  I have known better all the time than to pity you when I have seen you running after them, while they tried to get into danger.  You are even happy, and I know it, in having this arm of mine to look to.  I am sure you will be sorry when we are gone away, and you have the yacht to yourself, and that old uncle of yours to laugh at all you say and think how clever you are.'

    'Perfectly true.  I shall be sorry.'

    'What a comfort we have been to you!'

    'Yes; when you are gone I must look out for some other people to supply your places.'

    'What, sail about in search of another raft! only think of depending on shipwrecks for one's happiness and pleasure.  No—no, don't flatter yourself that such good fortune will happen twice to the same person.'

    'I cannot imagine why you should think I expect or wish it.  I should have been extremely happy before we fell in with the raft if it had not been for that terrible sea-sickness.'

    'I do not doubt it.'

    'And when you are gone the sickness will be over'

    'Fortunate circumstance, calculated to let a man see that even with the advantage of a wounded arm, a sea life can wash him clean out of a lady's memory.'

    We both laughed; but I did not suppose that I should forget him, and he did not speak as if he cared whether I remembered him or not.

    'You have not been long yachting about, then?' he presently said.

    'No, a very little while.'

    'And you like it?'

    'I like it for the present.  It is adventurous—besides I really sometimes feel that it is a glorious thing only to alive—but to be alive and see this world and have time to learn and time to think—'

    'Yes, that is just what I feel,' he interrupted; 'but the thing is to keep one's self up to such a state of mind and body and not grow morbid and weak and discontented.  I suppose that in that school of yours they gave you no lessons on the art of being whole-hearted, cheerful, and joyous?'

    'O no.'

    'The more shame for them; then you must educate yourself in that matter!

    'But I have often heard it said that the truest happiness is unconscious.  And don't you think that to be often thinking and reasoning about it is in itself a morbid thing?'

    'Are any of us who have come to years of discretion in that childlike state of unconscious happiness?'

    'I am not.'

    'Nor I; but I am a great deal braver, cheerfuller, and heartier since I put myself to school to myself, and learnt the habit of being as a general rule in good spirits.  I think, therefore, that to reason about the matter, if one does it rightly, is not morbid.'

    'I am fond of learning new things.  I should like to teach myself this.  What was the first lesson you gave yourself in the art?'

    'I believe the first thing that set me thinking was an anecdote of a great actor, who complained that when he was acting in tragedy he became devoured by melancholy.  While he was studying the character of "Hamlet" he lost his health from mental depression.  Mournful and heartrending ideas suggested themselves to him, and he could not shake off the bearing that belonged to his hero.  It became natural to him.  After that I met with a very pleasant woman, a German actress, who told me she had completely spoilt her temper by acting viragos.  On the most trifling occasions she could put herself into a fearful rage.  It had ceased to be acting with her; she had so studied the passion of anger and imitated its manifestations that they got the better of her—and habit, at last, had made her a perfect firebrand.'

    'Don't you think she exaggerated?'

    'No; I suppose not.  It was at a Swiss hotel that I saw her first; something put her out; it was a very hot night and she flung her fan at one of the waiters—she told me this afterwards by way of excuse.  I thought she was mad when I saw her do it; you never saw such an air of fury—her husband, a stout matter-of-fact man, observed that it was very inconvenient.'

    'And on that hint you began your own education?'

    'That, and the observation of how involuntary sympathy makes other people imitate our moods and reflect them back upon us.'

    'Still it is an odd thing to set to work to aggravate one's self into being happy.'

    'I declare to you that I have tried it,' he answered, laughing: 'and I see you know what I mean.  It is as easy as aggravating one's self into being unhappy!  You know how unfashionable it is now to be enthusiastic.'

    'I have read in books that it is.  I know it is considered bad taste to be much astonished.  People will not express great admiration even for very beautiful things, lest that should be thought a proof that they are not already familiar with all the most beautiful things in the world.  So they think it grand to appear bored'

    'That was nothing but imitation at first,' he answered.  'It arose from the misfortune of a few fashionable people, who were punished for their sins against all things beautiful and true and surprising, by being no longer able to enjoy anything heartily, or admire anything overwhelmingly, or believe anything devoutly.  The consequence was that people who have seen next to nothing, and are not at all fashionable, try to begin as the others left off.  They are so ashamed of enthusiasm, and have so schooled themselves to put down all ecstatic emotion, that the sentiment of awe has almost died out of their hearts; their sense of the sublime fades from being kept too long in the dark, and they can look on the Jungfrau as coolly as if it was a cabbage garden!  What a hard task such people have accomplished—much harder than mine.  Don't you think they would enjoy themselves much more if they were not weighed down by this vulgar fashion, if they had not weakened their power to admire by repressing the expression of it?'

    'I think they could, and I think I have decided to learn the art of being in good humour and good spirits; but, Mr. Brandon, I foresee a difficulty which you have not provided against.'

    'What is that?'

    'Whatever else my temper would stand I am sure it would give way if I heard it said, as I often should do,—"O, there is no merit in her good temper, it is natural to her, it comes from a phlegmatic constitution." '

    'You think you could not stand that?'

    'I am sure I could not.  And there is another thing that would be like a dagger to my heart.  Suppose I learned to take a cheerful view of things, and even when there were many things to worry and vex me, suppose I generally seemed to be whole-hearted and in good spirits—I mean years hence, when, no doubt, I should have troubles and some misfortunes to endure:

    'Yes, I understand, and suppose it.'

    'And if, when I had learned to bear up well, to be sometimes glad and merry, generally cheerful, I heard people say, "Ah, that shows how little feeling she has—we do not all feel equally—it is a proof of a cold heart to be so gay, I consider it a sign of a frivolous disposition"—and that sort of thing.'

    'Well, Miss Graham, finish your sentence.'  In my earnestness I had stopped to look at him, and seeing that his eyes were brim full of laughter I paused discomfited.

    'It will be very mean of them to treat you so,' he exclaimed.  'I am very angry with them beforehand, very angry.'

    Thereupon he indulged in a succession of laughter.  Something seemed to delight him exceedingly; and it was so evident that the laugh was against me, that if we had not just then been talking of temper, it is possible that I might have shown him mine.  As it was, I only enquired why he laughed.

    'Because you talked so seriously,' he answered; 'as if you meant forthwith to give your mind to this art as you have called it.'

    'That is just what I do mean.  I want to learn something new and difficult; besides, if it can be learnt it ought to be learnt.'

    He became serious on hearing this, and while I went on with my work he got up and began to pace the cabin floor.  Presently he came back to his seat and said, in a regretful way,—

    'I wish I had not talked such nonsense.  I beg your pardon.  To laugh at a good resolution is the last thing I should have thought myself capable of.'


 
CHAPTER XIV.

'And 'tis sentiment kills me, says I.'


SOUTHAMPTON.  My first view of it showed a gloomy background of cloud with lines of angry red running between its thunderous folds, and a dark foreground of old wall—Roman wall, I was in formed.  It looked as old as the hills, and almost as substantial.  A very shallow reach of water that hardly covered the green weed lay between us and the pier, and derived an unquiet beauty from the broken reflections of a long row of lamps just being lighted on shore.

    Tom and Mr. Brandon were about to push off when I came on deck.  They were going to London that night, partly about passports, partly, I felt sure, that Mr. Brandon might have a surgical opinion about his arm, and partly to call on an aunt of the children's, an English lady, who lived in town, and might wish to see them before they were taken to their grandmother.

    The dear little creatures had travelled a good deal considering their tender age.  They had been born in England, their father being a poor clergyman in the north of Yorkshire.  Not quite a year before their return, orphans, he had accepted a chaplaincy in the West Indies, but his health failing, after a very few months, be had gone up to Charleston with his family to stay with a French lady, a relation of his wife's, and there had died.

    Mr. Brandon knew nothing about the circumstances of their family; he was not even sure how their name was spelt, but he had an address in London, and had accepted the charge of them from their mother.

    It was Saturday night.  Uncle Rollin and I spent a very quiet Sunday, going on shore to church, and afterwards walking beside the grand old wall.

    On Monday I did a vast amount of shopping, bought a quantity of material for work at sea when the children should be gone, and spent a great deal of time, with Mrs. Brand's help, in choosing things for my own wear, for I perceived that it was supposed to be my first duty to be always neatly and gracefully dressed.  I tried to be as economical as I could, as my allowance was not large; but the very next day after these purchases were made, my uncle, taking a walk with me, stopped before one of the principal mercer's shops, and after looking into the window attentively, beckoned out a young man, and pointing at various things with his finger, said,—

    'You'll be so good as to put up that for me, and that, and that—'

    'Won't you come inside, sir?' said the young man, who was evidently surprised at his style of shopping.

    'No,' he answered, retreating a step or two.  'I don't think I will, thank you.'

    I gave Mrs. Brand, who was behind us with her husband, a significant look, and she stepped forward.

    'And I'll have that, too,' said my uncle, pointing at a very broad blue sash-ribbon that dangled in front of the other things.

    'Yes, but you only mean a sash of it, sir, and a dress-length of the silk, and of the embroidered muslin, and that scarf,' said Mrs. Brand.

    'Of course,' he answered.

    'Uncle, they are too expensive,' I ventured to say.

    'And what do you call that?' he continued to the master, who had now come out.

    'That's an opera-cloak, sir; a very sweet thing.'

    'Well, and I'll have that, if you please. Good morning, sir. This good friend of mine,' indicating Mrs. Brand, 'will tell you where to send the things.'

    He then marched off with me.

    'I know I shall repent this,' he observed in a moment or two.

    'Dear uncle, pray, pray let us go back then, and countermand the order.'

    'Nonsense, child!  I meant that as we're going to France, I might have done better to buy these things there.'

    'I know very well they are for me.'

    'Yes.  Why didn't you say "Thank you?" '

    'Because I am so afraid if you let me be such an expense to you, it will make you dislike me.  You must have spent twenty pounds.'

    'But I only spent what I chose.  You should take example by me, and never go inside, and then you can get away whenever you like.'

    Uncle Rollin and I were very happy together till three o'clock on Wednesday, when, coming on board, we found Tom and Mr. Brandon waiting for us on deck, and a lady who was introduced to me as Miss Tott.

    She remarked that she had come to see her nieces.  I saw two huge boxes with her name upon them, and wondered at the amount of luggage she had brought, as we were to sail the next day.

    I took her to my cabin, where the children, arrayed in their pink frocks, were playing about.

    Miss Tott embraced them both, and wept over them copiously.  She was a pleasant-looking person, tall, very slender, head a little on one side, drooping eyes, a long nose that projected rather too far into space, a pensive, soothing voice, and a fine complexion.

    Little Frances stared at her, and escaped from her kisses as quickly as possible; Nannette regarded her with curiosity and disfavour.

    'My precious ones,' murmured Miss Tott.  I trust their spirits are not utterly weighed down by these accumulated misfortunes.  It is indeed sad when the heart is wrung in infancy.'

    'What is she crying for?' whispered Frances to me.  Suddenly she clasped her hands, and looked up exclaiming,—

    'They are in coloured dresses—ah me! and what a colour—pink! '

    'Yes, ma'am,' put in Mrs. Brand, who seemed struck with admiration of this sensibility; 'we had nothing black for them to wear when they came on board; their own frocks were torn to shreds, I do assure you.'

    'I hope this has not been an additional pang to their tender hearts,' continued Miss Tott.  'You have explained to them, doubtless, that there has been no intentional disrespect.'

    She spoke to me, and not without secret wonder, I replied,—

    'They have not noticed it.  They are too young to feel deeply; but I have heard them speak with affection of their dear mamma and the baby.'

    Miss Tott dried her eyes and held out her hand to Nannette, who drew back.

    'This is little Nannette's aunt,' I whispered.  'Go to her.'

    The troublesome little creature instantly said aloud,—

    'But hasn't she brought us something pretty from London?'

    That was because Mr. Brandon had promised each of them a toy.

    I pushed the chubby little thing nearer, and she shook back her shining lengths of straight hair, and condescended to take the hand presented to her.

    'And so my little darling has no dear papa and mamma, and no sweet baby sister, now?'

    'It isn't a baby sister,' lisped the child, softly; 'it's my little baby brother; he's got two teeth.'

    'But he is gone now.  Nannette has no baby brother now.'

    'Yes, I have.'

    'Is it possible that they are in ignorance of these things?' cried Miss Tott, 'or are they devoid of feeling?'

    'Neither; but they do not understand you.'

    'He did cry,' said Nannette, with great simplicity, 'when he was on the raft.'

    'But he is very happy now,' put in the other child.  'Mr. Brandon says he never cries at all; God took him up to heaven.'

    'He likes to be up there,' said Nannette.

    Miss Tott looked scandalized at this infantile talk, but her boxes now appearing, to my ill-concealed surprise, she said to me,—

    'Mr. Brandon proposed to take my dear little nieces to their grandmamma, but I could not bear the thought that my little desolate ones should go alone; so I said I hoped it would be no inconvenience to Captain Rollin if I accompanied them.'

    I thought he would very much dislike to have a lady passenger, and I said nothing by way of encouragement.

    'I see abundance of room;' she presently added, looking round.

    'But not at my disposal,' I answered.

    'O, do not let that disturb you,' she said very sweetly, and with a soothing tone that I rather resented; 'your brother will speak to Captain Rollin when he comes on board—no responsibility shall rest on you, the gentlemen will do all, and after the captain's noble hospitality I have no anxious feelings about the result; so,' she continued very softly, 'would it be too much to ask that I might be alone with the dear children for a short time?'

    I was rather glad to comply with her request, and went away with the admiring Mrs. Brand, shutting Miss Tott in with the children.

    In the chief cabin I found Mr. Brandon and Tom, the former marching about in a very impatient style; be was evidently vexed and fretted.

    They had been mildly and sweetly obliged by Miss Tott to bring her and her luggage on board, and each being soothed and assured that he should not have any unpleasant responsibility, had been told what a relief it would be to 'the captain' to find that the children's best and nearest protector was ready to go with them.

    'And what did my uncle say?' I asked.

    'He pulled a long face, but he evidently means to submit.'

    I said it was a very odd thing.

    'The whole journey has been odd,' observed Tom.

    'Yes,' said Mr. Brandon, 'I saw when we called on her that she was full of pensive obstinacy and tender humbug.'

    'Why did you bring her with you then?'

    'She made us; she would come.  She felt that "the captain" would expect no less of her, and she could not disappoint him.'

    'You should have assured her to the contrary.'

    'We did, over and over again—no use; she did not intend to hear.  Graham, I wish we had been lost in that fog, and never found her house.'

    'A fog! we have had none here.'

    'We had a very thick fog,' said Tom, 'directly after the thunder-storm—a soupy fog; we took a cab and set off in it to find the grandfather and this aunt.  Drove a long way and saw nothing; at last, after a sharp turn, and one or two most preposterous jolts, we heard a loud knock and came to a stand.  The driver had given matters up, and the horse, in despair of finding the right turn, had gone up the steps of a house and was knocking at the door with his nose.'

    'The footman opened it,' said Mr. Brandon, 'and uttered a manly screech.  We asked where we were, and found we were in Eaton Square.  The horse, all this while, foolishly stared in at the hall door.  We managed to get on into Chester Square; and if Graham would only have stood by me, you would have seen a different result.'

    'Nothing of the sort,' said Tom; 'you were quite as helpless as I was, if not more so.  She made us come and fetch her too, and her great chests, and what with all your tailor's parcels and mine, and that great Noah's ark nearly as big as a child's coffin (and some great woolly dogs that he bought too, Dorothea, which barked in the parcel whenever we moved them), I never went through so much with luggage in my life!'

    'Yes, I have been round the world with less,' said Mr. Brandon.

    'So, here she is,' proceeded Tom; 'she wants to persuade the old grandmother that she ought to take the entire responsibility of the children.  Her father she says cannot afford it, now their grandmother, who was brought up a French Protestant, has lately become a Roman Catholic; and Brandon naturally hoped the children would be taken by the father's family and brought up in the religion of their parents.  But no, they cannot afford it, they say.'

    A great deal of crying and scuffling at my cabin door was now heard: we looked at one another.

    'Let them alone,' said Tom; 'she has, no doubt, made the children cry by some dismal talk.  Now let her manage them herself; she has a right to be alone with her own nieces if she likes.'

    'You seem to forget, poor thing, that she has only heard within the last day or two of the death of her sister-in-law; really, I think she may be excused for being sorrowful'

    'She took that matter very composedly,' said Tom; she even informed us that dear Fanchon had been a very bad manager, and a very bad match for her brother.  In fact, we thought she seemed to consider it a mark of the favour of Providence towards herself that her sister-in-law had been taken.'

    The remainder of that day was not at all comfortable.  Miss Tott's tender regrets over the children always seemed to imply reproof of somebody else, and as they took a great dislike to her I found it difficult to make them behave tolerably.  When at last they were put to bed, each insisted on taking her woolly dog with her, and as long as they could possibly keep awake, they made them bark at intervals.  They had been well taken care of during the voyage, but not kept in order, and consequently they were troublesome.  Mrs. Brand and I had not established much control, and while one was being dressed, she would set off and run round the cabin.  Then the other would rebel in some infantine fashion, poking her fingers into the pomatum, or spilling my Eau de Cologne.  These things it would have been ridiculous to treat as serious offences, but by dint of grave looks, a little scolding, and a little coaxing, we got on pretty well, and they would soon have been very good children, but they chanced to be particularly full of spirits the first morning of their aunt's presence, and when she found that nothing—she could say had any effect, she sat down in a corner and drooped, leaving Mrs. Brand and me to catch and dress the little rebels.  When these operations were over, I lectured them both very gravely, and received kisses in token of penitence, but Miss Tott could not recover her spirits, and from that hour she never did anything for them, and seemed instinctively to shrink from interfering in the least.

    She evidently knew nothing of children excepting from books.  She expected to find some ready-tamed little mortals, calm, and rather depressed, instead of two chubby things; quite wild, unconscious of orphan-hood, and mischievous, penitent, naughty and good again every hour of the day.

    To me they were the greatest amusement possible, and to Mrs. Brand a delight that it did one good to see; but they certainly did not do themselves justice that morning.

    Nannette talked at prayers, and had to be carried out crying.  Frances got away from Mrs. Brand while we were at breakfast, and ran triumphantly into the chief cabin, where her rash act was rewarded by Uncle Rollin, who gave her sausage and toast, and afterwards carried her on deck, to the great scandal of her aunt.

    I had bought some black alpaca at Southampton, and after breakfast Mrs. Brand and I set to work to cut out frocks for the children, that we might take them to their grandmother in mourning clothes; and Mrs. Brand, cheerful and happy, in the prospect of having almost more to do that day than she could possibly accomplish, was such a pleasant companion, that I might have stayed below another hour, if Tom had not come to remind me that I had left Miss Tott to amuse herself as best she could, which did not seem altogether polite.

    My uncle was in the chief cabin reading the morning papers, which had come in just before we sailed.  I came on deck with my work, and found Miss Tott with Mr. Brandon and Tom sitting on deck-chairs under the awning.  We were about ten miles south of Southampton; the sea was blue, the deep sky empty and bare, the sun hot, the air delightful.

    'A shame to shut out such a firmament, is it not?' asked Mr. Brandon.

    I replied without considering, 'I should think so, if it was not absolutely empty and open.'

    'Indeed, and why?'

    'Oh! because there is something so pathetic in those awful deeps of empty blue—something to fear in that waiting infinitude, with no islands up aloft, nothing that belongs to us; only God's great desert.'

    'You prefer to have some of it shut out; you want a tent over your head even when you are out of doors?'

    'Yes, I like to feel enclosed, and in my home; clouds are very sublime no doubt, but not oppressively so.'

    Miss Tott on hearing this laid her hand on my arm, with an air not quite of reproof, but rather of tender pity.

    'And yet,' she said, 'we ought not to shrink from Nature in her deeper sublimities; Nature in the dark midnight sky, and the green, surging billows—nothing else can so well soothe the wracked and burdened mind, and still the turbid passions of the soul.'

    I had often heard people say this kind of thing, and read it in books, but my narrow experience had not yet brought it before me, and Miss Tott uttered her speech in a way that I rebelled against a little.  She seemed so much to feel the sweetness and wisdom of her own words, and to fancy that she was tenderly instilling so much truth into a hardened nature, that instead of making any reply I felt an unworthy wish to shake off her hand; however, I resisted this, and there it still lay, as if to appeal to my better self; my ordinary, self being covered with blushes, because Tom and Mr. Brandon were looking at me.  At last, I said,—

    'No doubt the beauty and grandeur of the world is very invigorating, very elevating.'

    'You speak as of some abstract truth that you have nothing to do with.'

    'Miss Graham speaks of what will not always bear discussion' said Mr. Brandon, coming to the rescue; 'her first words showed rather an over-sensitiveness to the influence of the sublime than the absence of it.'

    Miss Tott took no notice of him, but continued to gaze at me, and keeping her hand on my arm oppressed me further by saying with pensive compassion,—

    'But is there no solace for the heart in communing with Nature in her wilder moods, and coming to be healed by her when your spirit is crushed?'

    The tender, old words, 'Is there no balm in Gilead,' flashed across my mind, and a thought of 'the physician there;' but I was much too shy to put my thought into words, and answered instead,—

    'I don't exactly know; I never am crushed.'

    'Ah!' she replied, withdrawing her hand, 'you will be, some day.'

    'Don't, Miss Graham,' exclaimed Mr. Brandon.  'I wouldn't, if I were you!'

    I looked up; he and Tom sat opposite, enjoying the dialogue, but neither moved a muscle of his face; and, to my discomfiture, Miss Tott took up her crochet, and murmured some low sentence in which we distinguished the word 'profane;' but she seemed to be more in sorrow than in anger, and as she worked she handled the very needle with a tenderness that might have shown us the depth of her compassion for us.

    Tom and Mr. Brandon glanced at one another with eyes that seemed to say, 'We have got into a scrape,' and presently, to my surprise, Tom said in a tone of apparent feeling,—

    'There is a sort of yearning after the infinite, a kind of a brooding over the irrevocable past, looking as it were over be vessel's side, to see the waves of existence pass slowly by, which—'

    'Ah! exclaimed Miss Tott, interrupting him. 'I thought those speaking features could not have deceived me.  I thought there must be a heart with such a voice as that.'

    I knew, of course, that he was amusing himself at her expense, but I am not sure whether Mr. Brandon did.

    'I say, old fellow,' he exclaimed; 'that sort of thing seems more like a dismal aggravation of the crushing process than a remedy.'

    'It's one that I always use,' persisted Tom.

    'Ah !' said Miss Tott again.

    'Unless I'm crushed quite flat,' continued Tom; 'and then I find that nothing does me so much good as a bottle of soda-water—with—with a little brandy in it!  What do you take, Brandon?'

    'I am sick of the very word,' said Mr. Brandon, with a short laugh.  'I shall answer with your sister that I never am crushed, I would rather be excused.'

    'Oh! but it's nonsense to struggle,' said Tom, appealing to Miss Tott with his eyes.  'You may kick and struggle as much as you like, but you must submit.'

    'I won't,' he repeated, coolly.  'At least, not if I can possibly help it, and not for long together; as long as I can speak a word or wag a finger I won't admit that I'm crushed.  It was never intended that I should be.  I hate the word.  I hate the feeling it describes.  Trouble does not come by chance—it is sent to make us rise, not to make us sink.'

    'All right,' said Tom; 'but we were not talking of any trouble worth mentioning!  I like to hear him fire up,' he continued, audaciously looking at us.  Miss Tott opened wide her dark eyes.

    'What is that?' she exclaimed, very tartly.

    'We were not talking of the troubles of widows and orphans, you know, of pinching poverty and remorse for crime, or the agonies of broken bones and carking care,' said Tom, addressing her with suave gravity.  'We were talking of poetical yearnings, and general dissatisfaction, of dyspeptic nervousness, and the discomfort of having nothing to do.  I am sure I ought to speak feelingly of these ills.  No one is a greater martyr to them than I am.'

    'It is very evident,' said Miss Tott, with exceeding sharpness, 'that none of you have ever known any trouble worth the name.'

    'Even if we have,' I ventured to say, 'surely the good has outweighed the evil.'

    'What, in this world of sorrow?' she answered 'You do not know what you are talking of.'

    'I beg your pardon.  I did not mean to vex you.'

    'I am not vexed; but your remark is contrary to reason, religion, and experience.'

    'To experience, perhaps; but is it contrary to religion?'

    'Of course it is.  Did not our Saviour say, "In this world ye shall have tribulation?" '

    'Yes; but, perhaps he may have meant that His religion would never exempt them from ordinary ills, nor from that envy of the wicked which makes them sometimes persecute the good.'

    'I think He meant that they should be afflicted.'

    'But they knew that before,' said Mr. Brandon.  'They knew that earth was not paradise.'

    'Then you wish to prove that our Saviour's words meant nothing.'

    'On the contrary; they were meant (among other things) to inform the first disciples that in their day would come the worst trouble that the world had ever known.  And now it is over—now the Christian nations are richer, wiser, healthier, and stronger than other people.'

    'What do you mean by other people?'

    'All but professed Christians.'

    Miss Tott was silent for a while, till seeming to remember a point that would yield her some triumph, she turned to Mr. Brandon and exclaimed,—

    'Pray, did you feel inclined during the shipwreck to think lightly of trouble, and to be as philosophical as you are to-day?'

    'I have often been in danger before,' he answered, hastily; 'so has Graham.'

    'But what did you think?'

    This was rather an unkind cut, and I thought, considering the circumstances, a little ungrateful.  He was not willing to discuss the matter, so he tried to put her off by saying,—

    'I thought what a number of bones there were in the human frame.'

    'That was an odd reflection, surely.'

    'Not at all, if most of them are bruised, and you have nothing to lie on but planks and spars.'

    'And after that?' she said, still questioning him as if for his good and to elicit some better feeling.

    'Too much to be repeated easily.  My Yankee friend and I had a great deal to do; but I believe we both felt very strongly the sweetness of life.'

    'And what next?' she continued, whereupon he gave way to the pressure and replied,

    'I felt the baser part of my nature rising up within me; thoughts so distinct, that they seemed to come from without, buzzed in my ears like wasps.  They represented it as hard that the presence of worn-out women and helpless children should make my chance of life so much fainter; hunger, wet, fatigue and pain, things that had stood aloof from me before drew near, and made me feel their weight and power.  They gnawed at my heart and chilled my blood.'

    'But I suppose you did not feel crushed?' said Miss Tott, in the clearest tones of her high-pitched voice.  He seemed to dislike this questioning exceedingly, and yet to be determined to answer.

    'No.'

    'What did you feel?' she asked, mildly.

    'I felt that this world was utterly gone by, but that the other world was not so near as it had often been in times of no danger at all.  It was not within our grasp; there was something first to be felt and to be seen—but though all was lost and as yet nothing gained I believed it would be gained.  After that there came a time of forgetfulness—I did not hear, or feel, or see anything.'

    'And all this while you were not overwhelmed?'

    'I did not expect to live after the first twenty-four hours, because the pitching of the raft put us in such imminent danger, but I did not despair.'

    'Ah! well, we need not argue about the meaning of words; some of us are better able to bear distress than others; indeed, some of us feel it far less.'

    This was the very thing that I had anticipated when talking with him some days before, but he did not seem to remember it.

    'Then the worst thing you felt when you became exhausted,' she said, 'was a kind of forgetfulness.'

    'Oh no, it was not!' he exclaimed; and such a look of horror leapt out of his eyes as for the moment quite astonished us.

    He seemed to be collecting his thoughts.

    'We had been lashed together,' he said, 'and I have some sort of recollection of going down and down an almost endless flight of steps, and thinking that I must and would get to the bottom before I died.  After that came a terrible time, when I seemed to be hemmed in by something intensely black, and an awful thought pressed me down, that I was dead,—and it was not what I had expected!  I felt sure I was dead, and I appeared to go spinning on with that thought for years.'

    Curiosity got the better of Miss Tott here.  She quite forgot to point the obvious moral.

    'Was that in the yacht?' she said.

    'I think it must have been, because of the steps; besides what enabled me at last to struggle out of that blackness and horror was the touch of something soft on my forehead.  I gathered sense by it to perceive that I was still in the body, and I opened my eyes.'

    He paused, and a smile came over his face.

    'I saw a vision,' he said; 'I knew not what else it could be, and I saw light.'

    'Indeed!' exclaimed Miss Tott.  Here was an experience that just suited her.  'What was the vision?'

    'I saw a small hand—a child's hand I thought it was at first, and it appeared to hover before my face.  There was something bright in it, through which the light was shining.  The child—the angel—whatever it might be—was leaning over me, but I only saw the hand.  It offered me bread, too; but my senses were so dim that I connected something sacramental with this bread and wine, and would not touch it because my hands and my lips were so begrimed.  Then I went back into the blackness again and the hand floated away; but a voice inexpressibly sweet and pathetic appeared to be reasoning with me.  I heard the sound, but I could not understand the words; and, after what seemed to be a mighty struggle, I got my eyes open, and there was the hand again, and the long folds of a gown floated down at my side.'

    'Was it very beautiful?' said Miss Tott, in a tone of pleasure and awe; 'was it in white?'

    'It was my sister, of course,' exclaimed Tom; for he saw that she was completely mystified.  'It was Dorothea!'

    Never shall I forget the look of astonishment and contempt she darted at me when she heard this; she drew up her head and set her lips as if she scorned me, and would not on any account have betrayed such interest if she could only have known what this really meant.

    He certainly had not intended to mislead, and answered her last question without looking at her.

    'Yes, in white, I think.  I did not see the face, and the hand appeared to hover before me till I came more to myself.  Then I drank the wine and ate something, and was in this world again.'

    Miss Tott attracted my attention the more strongly because she was the first person I had met with who, admiring misery, was very anxious to be thought a sufferer.  She liked to talk about being stricken, and also when she and I were alone of the great expense it would be to her to go into deep mourning again.

    No doubt if it is a very fine and interesting thing to be stricken, many more people will be stricken than would be the case in the days when people believed that great afflictions were punishments for heinous sins, and 'those eighteen' were thought by their neighbours much wickeder folks than themselves.

    Miss Tott did not care to pursue the subject of the visionary hand.  She returned to her former thought, and said with a sigh,—

    'Some people feel things less keenly than others.'

    No doubt,' he answered; 'and some of us think it mean and cowardly to be always looking at the dark side; if we refuse to look at it, therefore, no wonder we cannot see it.'

    'On the contrary, others feel that yearning for sympathy which makes it sweet to commune with some friendly and feeling heart,' said Miss Tott, sharply.

    'Sympathy is a skittish and perverse nymph; demand too much and she gives nothing.  When a soldier has lost his arm, if he were to go whining about the world lamenting over it everybody would despise him; but if he holds his tongue, and carries his empty sleeve carelessly, all the girls are in love with him.'

    'We expect a soldier to be brave.'

    'Certainly, and thus we help to make him so.'

    'There are many things which are far more hard to bear than loss of limbs,' said Miss Tott, severely, and as if she claimed for herself a large share of them.

    'We talk without book, having no experience in loss of limbs,—I suppose disgrace may be worse—and remorse.'  I am bound to say that he spoke with a certain hesitation, and added, 'I think it only honest to confess that I never had anything to bear that I consider at all comparable to the misery of carrying timber about with me in the shape of a leg or arm.  However handsomely it might be made I'm sure the joints would creak,' he added, thoughtfully.

    'I was not speaking of remorse,' said Miss Tott; 'I meant such things as loss of friends, disappointment of one's fondest wishes, a hopeless attachment, the death of its object—inconstancy.'

    Mr. Brandon was silent.

    'I consider constancy all stuff' said Tom, 'unless it exists on both sides.'

    'Good heavens,' murmured Miss Tott.

    'For,' proceeded this hardened young man, 'legs and arms won't grow again; but a jilted man has "all the world before him where to choose." '

    Mr. Brandon laughed, but he looked uneasy, and the subject seemed to please Miss Tott, who said to Tom with drooping eyelids and pensive sweetness of expression, 'We should hardly speak of this, should we, Mr. Graham, before we know anything about it?'

    'Meaning,' said Tom, 'that I know nothing about it?'

    'You are young,' she replied, with a sort of tender, regretful look at him.

    'But not without experience; I have been in love times out of number.  I don't mean to say that I have been refused at present; that may be because I have not yet gone the length of making an offer.'

    'When you do may you escape that sorrow,' she answered, in a tone that was a strange contrast to his banter.

    Mr. Brandon evidently winced under this talk: such an unmistakable twinge of dislike passed over his face that I ventured to change the subject by asking some question relative to our rate of sailing.

    He looked up to answer with the air of a man who feels himself to be found out, but he took instant advantage of the opportunity to get away, rising and saying that he would go and make some inquiries.

    His departure broke up the conference.  Miss Tott said she should like to walk about.  Tom offered his arm, and I ran below to my cabin to take my finished work down and bring up the children.  They were just awake after their morning sleep; but before we had done dressing them to come on deck, Tom knocked loudly at the door, exclaiming, 'Here's a pretty state of things, the sea is rising a little, and Miss Tott begins to look very pale, you had better come to her'

    I met her coming down.  'O let me lie down,' she murmured, 'O, this terrible giddiness!'

    I gave her to Mrs. Brand,—the usual thing followed; but I observed that she bore it quite as well as other people.



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