« PreviousContinue »
She was poor-he was sure of that; moody and taciturn. He abjured all he had read as much in the one brief sentiment, but always when the anniglance into her wan face. Poor and versary of his father's death came careworn, alone in the city streets; jos- around he felt a loneliness and isolailed by the crowd; probably hurrying tion that made the grim old house a home to some sordid refuge-she for horror to him. The paneled walls whom life could have been one bright seemed to close in on him like the walls holiday, he thought bitterly. He of a vault. laughed aloud as he contrasted her The year following his meeting with probable misery with the home he could Frank Ryder this anniversary seemed have given her; not that dull old house to affect him more than usual. He which had served as a home for his wandered into the library after dinner mother and grandmothers, but a subur- and tried to read, but a sudden parban palace set in a fairy-land of gar- oxysm of despondency seized him and dens and flowers. How different life he flung his book aside and hurried might have been for both of them, he from the house. Once in the open air, reflected, had she loved him. He hated it mattered little to him where he went. her with a double hatred as he thought The clocks were striking seven and the of what they had both lost; hated her traffic of the day was almost over. He for the wrong done to herself, as well had the streets practically to himself. as for the wrong done to him. But still It was a supreme relief to him to esher face haunted him with its pinched, cape from the silent, shadowy manhungry look and its pitiful expression sion, always haunted by the ghost of of constant sorrow.
what once had been, and get out under From that time forward the face that the open sky. He walked on, careless had flashed past him in the street of where he went, making his way was always with him. She had haunted through obscure streets and by-ways, him before in her girlish grace and until he found himself in a bleak, barbeauty; she came before him now like ren outskirt, where there was a ghastly the sad shadow of her former self. But patch of waste ground, intersected by still he told himself that he hated her. shabby streets of newly built houses, What was her poverty to him? If she the greater part of which seemed to be had been on her knees before him untenanted. pleading for help he would have been The exploration of this sordid neighdeaf to her prayers. She had chosen borhood afforded him a fierce of for herself. Let her abide the issue. amusement. Perhaps it was pleasant
A year later he saw her husband. A for him, in his mood, to contrast the faint Alush lit up Ryder's face as he rec- squalor which manifested itself in a ognized the son of his old employer. hundred ways with his own prosperous Involuntarily he opened his lips to condition. If he had no friends or none speak to him, but Braddon brushed to share it with him, he could at least past him and hurried on, very pale and congratulate himself in the comparison with a dark, forbidding countenance. of his lot with that of the people about Ryder, irresolute, looked after him for him. He turned presently into a darker a moment, then gave a heavy sigh and and lonelier street than the others. Here walked on. Whatever vague hope had there were more vacant houses, and an impelled him to approach his erstwhile air of desolation more profound than friend died out at the sight of his pale, elsewhere, yet the houses were better stern face.
and larger, and had little gardens Thus Roy Braddon twice lost the around them. opportunity of ascertaining the fate of The place was so silent that he could these two who had once been so dear hear the low, suppressed sobbing of a to him. All the time his persistent child who was standing on the other nursing of his hatred made him more side of the street, looking down at
something on the ground—a humble touched him profoundly. For the first image of despair. He was not a hard- time he realized how hard the lot of hearted man in a general way, and the poor must be when such a trifling could not witness the child's distress service seemed so much to one of them. unmoved. He crossed the street The girl was eleven years old, she quickly and went up to her. She was told him, and the eldest of a family of small and delicate looking, with an air three-two boys and a girl. Her father of shabby gentility, and a pale, was dead, and her mother had been sick thoughtful little face; a girl who might for the past month; it was her heart, have been any age, from eight to the doctors said. twelve.
All this she told him with childish “What is the matter, child?” he frankness, and yet with the womanly asked.
tones of a child whom hard experience She looked up at him through her had made older than her years. They tears. "Oh, I don't know what to do," found the drug store still open and had she sobbed, brokenly. "I dropped the the prescription made up again. Then bottle of medicine and it broke! And he went home with her. His interest we haven't any money to get more. in her had become all absorbent, and Mamma will have to go without the he felt a great curiosity to see where medicine, and she is” She could not she lived. Such a child might have finish.
been his, he reflected, if Julia Torres He had heard of children of the had not proved unfaithful. street who were taught to relate such A dim light was shining from one of incidents for the purpose of inducing the front windows when they arrived charitable contributions from prosper- at her home. She led him into a bare, ous looking strangers, and for a mo- wretched room, the furniture of which ment he searched her face sicadily, but was of the scantiest and shabbiest. An such thoughts of her failed to find lodg- unkempt woman, carrying a candle, ment in his breast. There was some- emerged from the back premises as thing about her which inspired only they entered. confidence, and in the end a tender pity, “What a long time you have been, which he had not known for years, ac- Mary,” she exclaimed, looking curituated him.
ously at Braddon. "Your ma has been "Come back to the druggist's with frightened about you." me," he said, taking her hand, "and I "I stumbled, and broke the mediwill get you another bottle."
cine,” said the little girl, lowering her "Oh, thank you!" she exclaimed, voice almost to a whisper. gratefully. Then after a moment, "but "Broke it!” exclaimed the woman. I ought not to take it from you—from “And not another cent in the house. a stranger. Mamma would make me Oh, Mary!" take it back if she knew."
"But this gentleman got another bot"Your mamma needn't know, unless tle for me," the child hastened to add. you tell her. And if she is very sick "You must thank him, Sally.” and needs the medicine, it is your duty "Indeed I will," said the woman, to take it and not tell her."
heartily. "It was very kind of you, She looked up into his face doubt sir. I don't know what we should have fully for a moment; then she gave his done. Her mother is very sick." hand a confident little squeeze and fol “Isn't she any better, Sally?” asked lowed him without a word. They were the little girl, eagerly. a considerable distance from the drug "She's been very quiet; but she's alstore and he had time to study her as ways that. Complaints never pass her she walked along beside him, looking lips. And the children have all gone up into his face and answering all his to bed—where you should be, too. My, questions with a meek gratitude that it's nearly II o'clock.”
“Yes," put in Braddon. “It's too ite. He was certain that it would please late for this child to be about. And her vastly, even if it were not of much she seems far from strong."
use to her. “Ah, sir," said the woman, shaking He found the room into which he her head sadly, "if you knew what had been shown the previous evening that child goes through and how pa very neat and tidy, and the little girl tient she is, and what an old head for at work on some sewing by the light of her
years she has, you would not won a tall stand lamp, which made her look der that she doesn't look strong. She's very small, indeed. He was evidently kept the home together somehow, when expected, and she fushed with pleasthings must have all gone to nothin' if ure when the elderly woman led him it hadn't been for her.'
in; and her rapture was unbounded Braddon turned his eyes from a cu when she saw what he had brought. rious survey of the meager appoint "Oh," she cried, her eyes shining as ments of the room and looked at the she took out the contents of the basgirl. She had such an air of grace and ket, "the doctor has said so often that refinement in her premature womanli mamma ought to have wine, and we ness that he was more interested in her couldn't give it to her. You are like an than he could have believed it possible angel come down from heaven!” for him to be in any creature so far re He waited until she had taken her moved from himself. He touched her mother some of the wine and fruit he hair caressingly
had brought, and learned how she had "I'll come back to-morrow evening enjoyed it, and then went away with to inquire how your mother is,” he the thanks of the little girl ringing in said, "if you do not object."
his ears, and smiling at her delight in "I should be very grateful to you," her new work-box. she answered, in her quaint, grown-up After that Roy Braddon became a manner. “I'll take this medicine up to very frequent visitor in the little home. mamma now. And I'll remember what He contrived to ascertain the name and you said," she added, as she left the address of the landlord from the room.
woman Sally, and paid the rent for the Braddon followed the woman to the cottage three months in advance. He front door, and as he passed out slipped caused some furniture which had been a five dollar bill into her hand. He stored in the attic of his home for years had felt, somehow, that he could not to be sent out to them. Very rarely offer money to the child, although she did he appear empty handed, and he had so freely confessed their poverty. exhibited a marvelous ingenuity in the
He thought of her many times the judicious selection and variety of his next day in the midst of his business. Offerings. The younger children had She had awakened an interest in him been presented to him, and he catered which lifted, though ever so little, the to their small wants with an almost flood-gates of affection which had been child-like delight in childish things. It pent up in his heart for so many years. was so new to him to be interested in At dusk he drove to the house in a cab, any human creature; so new for him to carrying all manner of small luxuries live out of himself. which he fancied might be appreciated As his intimacy with Mary inby the invalid, and the sensation of do- creased, she told him a great deal of ing something personally for another her mother's struggles to earn a living brought with it a satisfaction he had for them, and of the kindness of Sally, never before experienced. He was not who was a near neighbor; until he felt content even with this, but catching that he had more than a charitable insight of an attractive shop window on terest in the little household. And his way, stopped the cab and bought a when the time came finally that the inglittering work-box for his little favor valid was able to sit up for a few hours
daily, he was as glad as the rest of She echoed his cry faintly, and tot-
tered a few paces forward as if slie
“I don't want any thanks, my dear," face, beautiful to him still, even in the
he had ever loved.
"Everything is ready," she cried, why it is that you are not living under
money that was not his, and they sent
take your old place," he said tenderly.
his shoulder, and Mary came over and "Julia!"
nestled against his knee.
NAPOLEONIC MEMOIRS — II.
By F. P. STEARNS
OURIENNE'S memoirs, unfor are sometimes very amusing. One of tunately, are not to be trusted the results of Madame de Remusat's at all.
Even if they were meinoirs has been the republication of not written, as Savary states, by Las Cases's, O'Meara's, and other mean unknown person, and signed by moirs more favorable to Napoleon. Bourienne after he became demented, It is impossible to determine what is the character of the
tact and what may be fiction in these much against them. He was dis- feminine memoirs. charged from Napoleon's service for It is remarkable what a strong Creole complicity in a shameful stock-jobbing element pervaded Parisian society duroperation; and though Napoleon after ing the second empire. Madame de wards relented and sent him as consul Montholon was a Creole, and an Engto Hamburg, he never permitted Bou lish lady who resided some time at St. rienne to be near him after thai time. Helena, considered her a very tyranHis story in regard to Napoleon's nical wife. Josephine could not very amour with the wife of a captain of well be that; but all accounts agree that infantry lacks confirmation. His talk she was one of the most extravagant is too much like that of a discharged women ever known to the historical Servant.
pen. Napoleon, after praising her natRomancing comes naturally to a ural grace of manner, and the pleasantFrench woman. Both Madame Junot ness of her disposition to O'Meara, conand Madame de Remusat had griev- cluded with the blunt remark that she ances of their own against the Em rolled up mountains of debt and then peror. It is well known that the father told lies about them. She probably.preof Madame de Remusat attached him varicated froin embarrassment, but all self to Tallvrand, and went out of accounts agreethat while Napoleon was office with him in 1810. Madame Junot's in Egypt she contracted a mass of debts grievance was of a more subtle kind. equal to several times the amount of: Her husband was one of the Emperor's his salary and if he had not risen to favorite commanders, and yet he never autocratic power he never could have was created a marshal of France. A liquidated them. False pride is the belack of dignified character may have setting sin of womankind. Josephine been a sufficient reason for this, but his considered herself above paying for wife, of course, could not understand the articles that she purchased, or even it, and unquestionably felt it as a inquiring their price. She wished to slight. In her earlier household remi- please everybody, which is the same niscences of Napoleon she appears in as pieasing nobody; and she purchased quite an amiable light, but she did almost every article that was offered not sustain this character in afier life, her. Las Cases states that she bought and the Emperor spoke of her as rather thirty-eight hats in one month. Such a a flashy sort of person. The society she woman could have little depth, either moved in certainly was not high-toned of character or of affection. There -witness the remark she recounts, was nothing Napoleon hated so much inade in company, about Pauline Bona as foolishness; and it is probable parte's ears--and her small animosities that he contemplated separating from