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house with a fire, which the weather rendered indispensable; so the matter was compromised by her and Doshy getting well into a corner, while Mrs. Margery occupied an intermediate place between them and the gentlemen. Molly was too much astonished at the news that was speedily communicated to her in whispers by Doshy to Margery flew to her friend, and Robert and be able quite to comprehend it at first; but she Driftwood likewise rose hastily. Molly, howevwas assisted in this by recollecting the fact she er, answered not a word to their questions, but had come to announce, that the captain and his set staring at the window, with her round eyes retainers were to set out the next day on their dilated even beyond their usual size, and absoreturn home. There seemed to her to be some-lutely blazing with astonishment. There was thing strangely sympathetic in the two move-nothing at the window to account for her scream. ments-the one to Australia, the other to Weary-If the evening had not been so dark, it might foot; and she took the liberty of thinking, that, have been supposed that the waving of the trees for all Mrs. Margery's experience, there was as in the gardens opposite had excited her imagimuch genuine fate in the one denouement as in nation; for Mrs. Margery had been in the habit the other. Robert received the intelligence with-at Wearyfoot of dispensing with shutters, the out apparent emotion; for he got up presently, kitchen windows opening into the garden, and as if to fetch a book from the shelf at the further her present abode being the last house in the end of the room. But he did not find what he row, and there being no passage beyond, she still wanted; for he returned, and then went back kept up the custom. again, and so kept wandering up and down the floor, as if he had lost himself on the Common.
"What ever is the matter with you, Molly?" said Mrs. Margery; "have you lost your senses since you came to London?" At the moment a carriage chanced to pass the end of the street.
"There-there!" cried Molly; "I knew I could not be mistaken! It's a face nobody could mistake who had once seen it, and it was lighted with two eyes that were like gas jets looking in at the window!"
"Is it a spirit you fancy you have seen?" asked Driftwood."
"It is very easy," said Driftwood at last-for he, too, had been in a reverie-" it is very easy to talk of going here and there-but how is it to be done? You will want money, Oaklands, money to get you an outfit, to take you to the antipodes, to enable you to travel from the coast to the mines, and to keep you alive till your earnings begin to come in. For my own part, you see, these confounded guineas are very slow, and my gallery-pictures have not yet been found out by the connoisseurs. In another year or so I should be able to give you a cheque for a thousand easily enough, and that would insure your success; but at present, why "For the present, interrupted Robert, "I cordially accept your good wishes instead. A smaller sum than you mention would indeed make the adventure easy, and expedite my return, perhaps by many years; but talking of that is of no use-I see my way towards raising by and by what is actually necessary, and hard work, perseverance, and time must do the rest. Come, instead of a thousand pounds, you shall give me a couple of your spare brushes, Driftwood; and I will take as much care of them as I did of the cake Molly made for me at my first exodus from the Lodge. I kept that cake, Molly, for months, and it did me more good than any cake I ever ate before or since. This made Molly burst into a nervous laugh that ended in a gush of tears-with which she half-drowned a little girl who had the mishap to enter the room
at the moment.
another was climbing into Mrs. Margery's lap; and the girl was struggling to get away from Molly, whose intentions she was not altogether sure of when that young lady let her go suddenly, head over heels upon the floor, and gave a loud scream.
"O no, sir; I know better than that—a spirit doesn't go off in a carriage, but in a flash of brimstone! Though it was like a spirit too; for its black mourning-dress seemed only a piece of the black night; its black hood was raised over its brow that it might stare in upon us the better, and so the lighted face looked as if it was floating in the air."
Molly," said Robert, earnestly, "of whom are you talking?"
"Of Miss Falcon tower."
"The girl's crazy," cried Driftwood, indignant at having been betrayed into excitement by so palpable an absurdity.
"Did you ever see the lady," said Robert with much vexation, "you have so thoughtlessly named?"
"Oh, I saw her come out of her carriage, and I was told who she was."
"That accounts for your illusion. Her face being a very remarkable one, has dwelt in your imagination; and that dark window with the panes glittering in the fitful light of the candle and the fire has supplied you with materials for a picture."
This little girl was followed by two little boys. They were the children of a poor widow who Oh, that's all very well for you, Master Roblived in the upper part of the house, and were inert, said Molly, somewhat sullenly; "but for the frequent habit of receiving lessons in reading my part, I can't see nothing but what's before from Robert in the evening when he was at me; and if this was my last moment, I'm ready home, besides a good hunch of bread and butter to make oath that what I did see was neither from Mrs. Margery. The little creatures were ghost nor picture, but Lord Luxton's daughter." very poorly dressed, but clean and tidy, and had Robert was much struck with the earnestness been so kindly treated by their hosts that they of this declaration. There was obviously no infelt and behaved as if they were members of the tentional deception on Molly's part, and the family. Robert had already one of the boys by chance of her being under a delusion herself his knee with the lesson-book open on the table; seemed at least to diminish. But how to ac
count for the presence of that unfathomable | tomed, from similar feelings, to hide her head in Claudia? Could it be that the wild notions of the bed-clothes. Margery-for he now understood how these had been confounded with his apparently more tangible expectations-had reached the ears of the Falcontowers? Could it be that he himself was suspected of being at the bottom of the fraud, and that Claudia's was a visit of espial, intended to ascertain from external appearances his real position in the world? But this idea merely flitted across his mind for a moment; for how could she have known of Margery's custom-a very uncommon one in London-with regard to the window; and, ignorant of this, could it have been her intention to inquire from door to door into his circumstances? More than all, how was it possible to suppose that one with so many dependants at her command would undertake in her own person so singular a task?
The two ladies, however, took a loving farewell of each other, uncertain whether they were ever to meet again in this world; and Molly, with wandering steps and slow, pursued her solitary way down the dark street to join her convoy.
A DOUBLE SERARATION.
A LADY of our acquaintance used to express her surprise that it was considered indelicate or unpolite to say to anybody-more especially to one of her own sex-How old are you? and that the person so questioned should be unwilling to give a straightforward, truthful reply. If I am asked, said she, how long I have resided in such a place, I do not think of evading the question, but mention the time as well as I am able; and when the inquiry relates to the number of years I may have been a denizen of this world of comings and goings, why should I feel or speak otherwise? The fair reasoner might have gone further in her philosophy of common-place. She might have said: Since this earth is but a stage on a journey taken by us all, why do we mourn when a friend reaches the goal before us?
To reason on the subject, however, was vain; and, taking up his hat, he proposed, as he sometimes did, to accompany Driftwood, who was now preparing to go, to the end of the street. It was arranged that the artist should have the felicity of escorting Molly home; but that young lady, saying that she would join him presently, lingered behind to bid a confidential good-by to Mrs. Margery. Her friend had by this time dried her tears, or else the triumphant smiles that broke on her good-looking face had absorbed them nat-and whence is our desolateness of heart when a urally. As soon as the gentlemen were gone, she separation takes place for a probably shorter whirled Molly to a corner of the room, out of space, and when even in this world we have the view of the window, and laying her two hands on prospect of meeting again? her shoulders, and putting her mouth to her car, said in an eager whisper
"Don't you see, girl? Isn't it all coming out, just as I told you from the first? And isn't the denouement hastening on as fast as ever it can?"
Such reasonings do very well to exercise the judgment; but we question whether they have the slightest effect upon the heart. No one, for example, was better aware than Robert of the transitory nature of this mundane scene, or less inclined to wish that it were indeed an abiding
"What's coming out?" said Molly in as-place and a continuing city; and yet the leavetonishment," when Master Robert is going to the taking that was before him the next morning other world, and Miss Sara to Wearyfoot?" seemed to his imagination like the rending asun
But the parting itself was not so bad as the anticipation, at least in its external phenomena. It never is. The very effort to conceal the feelings divides them, and the heart is shared between grief and pride, desolation and triumph.
Hush, not a word! You don't know any-der of soul and body. On his long walk to thing about it: you are blind as a mole, for all Bloomsbury his feet seemed to cling to the your great eyes. What would Miss Falcontower ground, his head hung upon his breast, and the be doing here this blessed night, unless it was a- usually vigorous and energetic young man precoming? How should you have seen her your-sented a complete picture of desolation. self prowling about, and flattening her nose, I dare be sworn, against our window, like my cousin Driftwood, as round as a crown-piece? I tell you, girl, it is as sure as fate itself-and that is seldom put out of its way, except by foolish people who don't understand it. And "Well, Bob," said the captain, when he went you will be married, Molly, out of hand; and a into the room-" you are off, I hear, for the other comfortable match you will make of it, now that side of the world? I don't blame you-I did the young baker has succeeded to his father; something like it myself; and you will have a and your first girl will come up here as soon as better chance of getting on there than in a place she is old enough, and join me in the business, like this, where people can't stir their elbows for and have it all to herself when I am dead and the crowd. But as you are not going for some gone. See if that doesn't come out too!" Mrs. time yet, you will run down to Wearyfoot to bid Margery, in the triumph of her art, would per- good-by? Yes, you will?" Robert shook his haps have gone on arranging, in the most satis-head. "No? I thought so. Perhaps you are factory manner, the destinies of numerous gene-right-it's of no use. But I am not like you, full rations, but Molly was not in the vein to listen. of strong, young life, and I can't help feeling The spectral face of Claudia was before her im-down in the mouth a little. I am getting an old agination still; and it affrighted her so much fellow, Bob; I noticed in the glass this morning that she would fain have taken refuge in igno- that my hair is almost white; and if it had been rance from the preternatural illumination of her so ordered that you were to have been with friend, just as when a child she had been accus- us down yonder for a few years, till you helped
to carry me quietly—and I am sure you would savagely away some desperate sobs, and then do it lovingly-to that lonely little Wearyfoot Elizabeth threw herself upon his bosom, and church-yard, where the grass grows so trimly wept helplessly. Sara was just vanishing at the among the white stones, and where the weary door of the inner room; but Robert followed foot is indeed at rest, why"-her, and as the visitors were at the moment announced, he shut the door after him.
"Darling uncle!" cried Sara, throwing her arms round the veteran's neck in a passion of tears. Some large drops rolled, one after another, down the waxen cheeks of Elizabeth. Robert alone seemed unmoved; but when he spoke, his voice was constrained and husky.
"Do not part, Sara," said he, "without shaking hands! If you only knew the cost of this self-sacrifice"
"The grass in Wearyfoot church-yard," said he, "will. I trust, be many times alternately green and withered before you, my beloved benefactor, are carried thither. But when that does take place, my consolation will be to know, that your last moments were soothed by the cares of those you loved, and your kind true-heart laid in the grave by tender lands."
"And you, Robert?" said Elizabeth-" will not the wanderer be with us even at the end of many years?"
The wanderer," replied Robert, "may by that time have found a grave himself." "But if not?" said Sara, almost inaudiblv.
Robert paused before answering, and a struggle of some kind appeared to take place in his mind. When at length he spoke, his cheek was slightly pale:
This side of the ocean," said he, "I have not found fortunate-not from my very birth. Why. then, should I wish to return? I will not even suffer myself to think of the ordinary changes brought by time-of new ties, new feelings, new graves; the things and persons of the present will remain with me as they are forever; and so I shall be able to defy the evil fortune before which I have hitherto succumbed."
"I know nothing," said she, turning quickly round-"speak!" and she fixed her eyes cagerly on his. Another struggle seemed to take place in his mind, and this time of so terrible a nature that large drops of sweat rolled down his brow.
"I dare not," said he at length-" Farewell!' and he released her hand. She walked silently away; and presently, the hardly audible sound of the opening and shutting of the door informed her that Robert was gone.
Robert was strong in his consciousness of rectitude. With the exception of the conflict of the last parting moment, the only temptation that had assailed him that morning was suggested by Sara's question as to his return. They were both young. Would not a few years have a fair chance of enriching him in a country where wealth is sometimes collected in a few days? This thought darted like lightning through his brain, but like lightning it vanished. To set Sara's life-long happiness at stake on the mere chance of his success-to buoy her up with a hope which was as likely to be illusive as otherwise-and lead her on from year to year in a dream, in the course of which both her cheek and heart might wither, was not to be thought of. Let the prospect be closed at once; and if love still survived, why, then, who could tell what might happen after the lapse of years?
Robert had another scene to get through that forenoon; and the one that had just closed, instead of weakening his energies, nerved him for what was to come. It was with inexpressible
All this means," cried the captain, "that you are not coming back! You are a fine fellow. Bob, and a good fellow; but I don't understand you I never did, even when you were a boy-bitterness of spirit he took his way to Lord even when I was teaching you to fence, and when Luxton's house. The evening before, there were Sara was teaching you to dance. I can under- no stars visible in the heavens to consult; but he stand your going-that's all very right; but why had taken counsel of the void darkness, and did not come back?-and when you know, too, that not return till that began to be edged with the not one of us will have any pleasure in life till cold gray light of the dawn. It seemed clear to you do. Why, your letters from London filled him now that the Falcontowers had been in error up our time and our thoughts from one letter to as to his family position; that they had considanother. Even Margery's pothooks were precious, ered this however comparatively obscure, not to and they did Sara so much good, that poor Mol- be such as would reflect disgrace upon them; ly would n't open them herself. Isn't it true. and that, detecting the falsehood of the report Sara?" Sara did not reply; she was shaking that had reached them regarding his noble birth, from head to foot. and Robert determined to cut they had determined to observe with their own short the painful scene. A double knock at the eves the true nature of his social status. From street-door afforded him an excuse. his knowledge of Claudia, he was not at all sur"There are your friends," said he; "I saw prised that she should leave her father in the carthem pass the window. They are doubtless riage at the end of the street, and come alone to coming to escort you to the railway, and that the window; and perhaps, under other circumwill enable me to attend to some pressing busi- stances, it might have given him even amusement, ness of my own. I had a thousand things to to imagine the feelings with which the high-born say, but they will be better said by letter-we and haughty slave of conventionalism must shall have time for quite a long correspondence have beheld the unaccustomed scene that was before my departure. Farewell!"-and he clasp- then presented to her eyes. But the same meaned the veteran's hand and covered it with fervent ness which could induce them to defraud the kisses- may God requite you for all your good-man of low birth of the fairly earned reward of ness to the beggar and outcast!" The captain the successful writer, would affix upon himstrained him in his arms for a moment, coughing whose interest seemed alone to be interested in
the affair-the stigma of suborning others to bolster him up by means of fraud and falsehood. "It is clear, then, from the circumstance I This he would not submit to. Instead of send-have alluded to, and from your not putting direct questions to me upon a subject in which you appear to have felt so condescending an interest, that you supposed me to be a party in what seemed to you a fraud-probably the chief party concerned, the suborner of the false testimony you received."
ing for his papers. and allowing the unfortunate connection to drop in silence, as had been his intention, he was now on his way to the house in person, to force upon Lord Luxton such explanation as he might find necessary.
The new peer and his daughter were in the library, according to their ordinary custom, conversing on their affairs. The father was sometimes a good deal puzzled by the manner of the young lady, which, always decisive, was this morning what in a man would be called stern. Her words were few, abrupt, uncompromising. She looked older. The lines of time, whose appearance she had hitherto contrived to repress, were now visible in the unusual paleness of her countenance; and her eyes, in general so lustrous, looked heavy, yet feverish, as if they had not been recently closed in sleep. Lord Luxton, who was ignorant of her evening expedition, and of the adventures which had doubtless disturbed her equanimity, supposed that Claudia permitted her mind to dwell too earnestly on the turn taken by public affairs, and he was kinder in manner than was his wont. The young lady, however, was not in the vein for anything like either pity or affection, and received such demonstrations with a coldness allied to scorn. The conversation, therefore, was not agreeable, for the subject was perplexing; the ministerial crisis becoming more critical every hour, and Lord Luxton in corresponding difficulty as to his line of action. In the midst of it the door opened, and Robert Oaklands walked into the
His admission was quite accidental, and yet natural. The porter, in whose capacious mind rested the fate of visitors, like other dignified functionaries was late of coming to his post-at so early an hour of the forenoon, his counte-pendently of the difficulties of the ministry". nance would have been thrown away; and the door, therefore, was opened by one of the footmen who knew Robert merely as one who was admitted as a matter of course, and allowed to find his way unannounced to the library. Both Claudia and her father had recognized his straightforward, resolute knock, to which perhaps on the present occasion his feelings added unwonted sternness. The peer made no remark, his orders, he thought, having rendered him safe from unpleasant intrusion; but the quicker ear of Claudia had caught the visitor's. step, light as it was, as he approached the room, and without looking towards the door till he entered, she drew herself up, pale, cold, rigid, impassive.
"Pardon me, my lord, I will not hear a word on that subject. I came here to place my own character in a proper point of view-I have nothing to do with yours. Having now accomplished my purpose, I will, with your permission, collect my papers, and bid you good morning." Robert then walked with quiet dignity into the inner-room, the scene of his long and thankless labors.
A slight bend of the head received the visitor, and Lord Luxton motioned to a chair. Robert, however, remained standing behind it.
"I have called, my lord," said he, " in consequence of a circumstance which occurred yesterday evening, and which compels me to suppose that you labor under some mistake as to my real character. A report, I understand, reached your ears before you left town that some mystery attached to my social position, and that I was entitled to occupy much higher ground than I did. Is this the case?"
"Having made no accusation, Mr. Oaklands, either direct or implied," said the peer with dignity, "I feel myself under no necessity of replying to the remark; more especially as it is put in a tone which gives it the form of accusation rather than defence."
"Defence! I mean no defence, my lord, whatever. All I have to say is, that the idea, if you entertained it, is erroneous, and betrays a very mean capacity for the appreciation of character. The report originated in the enthusiasm of, I may say, natural affection, and may have received some apparent confirmation from a misconception with regard to it under which I labored myself; for I believed the hints that were dropped respecting my approaching elevation referred to the expectations you yourself had held out to me for a very considerable time."
"I understood, sir," said Lord Luxton, "that you were of the importance, even as regarded your own interest, of concealing those expectations till I permitted you to speak?"
You are right; and I cannot tax myself with having betrayed them. The equivoque was caused by my supposing it to be just possible that in some moment of domestic musing an unguarded word may have dropped from me which was caught at by the ignorant affection I have referred to, and made to harmonize with its own idiosyncrasy."
"Very well. With regard to the expectations themselves, it is necessary to be frank. Inde
Claudia had taken no part in this conversation. She did not move; she hardly seemed to breathe, she looked like a statue, only with living eyes that were fixed upon Robert with an intensity in their gaze, which did not appear to stop at the features, but to penetrate to the very soul. When he withdrew, she turned slowly, as if on a pivot, those strange eyes following his firm but noiseless step, and watching his calm, proud bearing, till he disappeared in the study.
"I am glad we have done with him," said her father in an under-tone; "he is an insolent young fellow, and wants to be taken down. Don't you think so?" Claudia did not hear: she was still looking towards the study, and listening to the movements within.
"His refusing to hear my explanation is quite enough, even without the ministerial crisis:
what do you say
"Stay. Mr. Oaklands," said Claudia suddenly; "having claimed the liberty of explanation for yourself, you have no right to deny it to others. Lord Luxton was about to explain to you, when you interrupted him, that a ministerial crisis, which occurred during our absence from town, would render it difficult, if not impossible, for him to exercise his influence in your favor to the extent he desired. But that is not all. Whatever your ideas may be on the subject, we who live in the world are obliged to conform to its laws and customs; and his lordship cannot, as an individual, even if his own wishes tended thereto, overturn the order and reasonable gradations of society. For a man of obscure family to rise gradually to distinction is nothing new in this country; but to do so suddenly, his family must be either literally obscure, kept entirely in the background, or their obscurity must be merely that of poverty, from which they may be able to rise gracefully with the man himself."
"I quite understand," said Robert, with a cold, half-contemptuous smile: "his lordship fancied that connected with me there was some small faded remnants of gentility, attenuated merely through famine, which would be no great drawback to my success in life, and he therefore promised to put me in the way of fortune-for a consideration. He now finds that there is no gentility at all in the case; and although he has received the consideration, and knows that I was completely ignorant of his mental reservation, he withdraws from his promise."
"The statement is not complete," said Claudia, quite unmoved; "there is unfortunately not merely no gentility, as you phrase it, but something quite the reverse-in the case of one like you, appallingly so; and this obliges him to break his promise so far, simply by destroying his freedom of action."
"You speak truly," said Robert, "so far as mere vulgarity and ignorance are concerned; but my case is worse than you suppose."
"Then you are truly," said she, "as I have heard, the foundling-the waif-of Wearyfoot Common! You are free to pursue your fortune in the world-to dare-to combat-to conquer it! You are alone, are you not?-alone, I say -alone!" and her figure seemed to expand, her nostrils dilated, her eyes lightened, and she looked with an aspiring and defiant gaze, as if at some object in the far distance.
"I am alone," replied Robert, catching no in
"In the case of one like me! Why so, if I may presume so far?" "Because you are not a man of society; be-spiration from the tone-" alone! I have no cause your family is a part of yourself; because blood relation that I know of on the earth; and even they must rise with you, if you rise, side by side; between the strangers to whom I owe everything because you would flaunt their vulgarity and and the homeless vagrant they educated into a ignorance in the eyes of the public; because you man, there will soon roll-as soon as I can acwould endeavor to extort for them the same re-complish it-many thousand miles of ocean. spect to which you were entitled yourself; and He spoke low and despondingly, for he felt as if because the attempt would cover with ridicule the faint lone star of the Common was at that not only you, but your supporters and everybody moment vanishing in the heavens; and the unconnected with you." equal breathing of Claudia was heard distinctly in the silence which his words seemed to mark rather than interrupt.
"But do not think," said he, recovering-" do "not think that the avowal demands your pity any more than your scorn. The world has in our day entered into a new cycle; and the weak prejudices that still linger among us owe such shadowy vitality as they possess to little more than the mean traditions and abject imitations of the novelists. The light of knowledge, which has resolved the nebule into stars, has established the individuality of men. No longer
"Worse! Were your parents ever married; Probably not."
"Was not your mother a menial servant?" "Worse!"
"Do not your brothers and sisters wear on their very brows the ineffable stamp of poverty and low nurture?"
"I mean that my origin is far lower than you imagine."
What, then, were your parents?" Vagrants-beggars-probably thieves. If 1 have brothers and sisters, the stamp they bear may be the stamp of Cain. "
"If? Then you do not know? You have shrunk with loathing and contempt from the contamination they would have brought ?"
"I did not shrink; I do not loathe or contemn. What right have I to do so? I was born one of them, and we shared alike, doubtless, in those qualities that are a part of the gift of life. In me, when we were separated by circumstances I did not seek, these qualities were developed and grew healthy; in them, they either withered in embryo or sprang up into poisonous weeds. Me this education of circumstances introduced into the library of a right honorable; them it conducted, too probably, to the workhouse or the hulks. I may loathe and despise their crimes, but I cannot do otherwise than love the criminals; and with regard to myself, I can only reflect with gratitude and awe on the accident, so to call it as mere an accident, madam, as that of birth!-which has enabled me, to a certain extent, to control the circumstances by which I am surrounded, and has thus raised me to the dignity and freedom of a man.
Robert looked proudly into those wild eyes he had so often controlled before; but the blaze they now encountered was as powerful as the one it met, because sharing in its own nature. Claudia's pale cheek was overspread with a glow which entirely obliterated the faint lines of time, and restored all its radiant beauty to her countenance.