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Go of the timber

April 8th, 2011

The word reached his ear as a wave which he no longer had the strength to surmount passed over his head. He rose again to the surface, struggled with the last desperate effort of a drowning man, uttered a third cry, and felt himself sinking, as if the fatal cannon shot were again tied to his feet. The water passed over his head, and the sky turned gray. A convulsive movement again brought him to the surface. He felt himself seized by the hair, then he saw and heard nothing. He had fainted. When he opened his eyes Dantès found himself on the deck of the tartan. His first care was to see what course they were taking. They were rapidly leaving the Chateau d’If behind. Dantès was so exhausted that the exclamation of joy he uttered was mistaken for a sigh. As we have said, he was lying on the deck. A sailor was rubbing his limbs with a woollen cloth; another, whom he recognized as the one who had cried out “Courage!” held a gourd full of rum to his mouth; while the third, an old sailer, at once the pilot and captain, looked on with that egotistical pity men feel for a misfortune that they have escaped yesterday, and which may overtake them to-morrow. A few drops of the rum restored suspended animation, while the friction of his limbs restored their elasticity. “Who are you?” said the pilot in bad French.

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“In two or three hours,” thought Dantès, “the turnkey will enter my chamber, find the body of my poor friend, recognize it, seek for me in vain, and give the alarm. Then the tunnel will be discovered; the men who cast me into the sea and who must have heard the cry I uttered, will be questioned. Then boats filled with armed soldiers will pursue the wretched fugitive. The cannon will warn every one to refuse shelter to a man wandering about naked and famished. The police of Marseilles will be on the alert by land, whilst the governor pursues me by sea. I am cold, I am hungry. I have lost even the knife that saved me. O my God, I have suffered enough surely! Have pity on me, and do for me what I am unable to do for myself.” As Dantès (his eyes turned in the direction of the Chateau d’If) uttered this prayer, he saw off the farther point of the Island of Pomègue a small vessel with lateen sail skimming the sea like a gull in search of prey; and with his sailor’s eye he knew it to be a Genoese tartan. She was coming out of Marseilles harbor, and was standing out to sea rapidly, her sharp prow cleaving through the waves. “Oh,” cried Edmond, “to think that in half an hour I could join her, did I not fear being questioned, detected, and conveyed back to Marseilles! What can I do? What story can I invent? under pretext of trading along the coast, these men, who are in reality smugglers, will prefer selling me to doing a good action. I must wait. But I cannot —I am starving. In a few hours my strength will be utterly exhausted; besides, perhaps I have not been missed at the fortress. I can pass as one of the sailors wrecked last night. My story will be accepted, for there is no one left to contradict me.” As he spoke, Dantès looked toward the spot where the fishing-vessel had been wrecked, and started. The red cap of one of the sailors hung to a point of the rock and some timbers that had formed part of the vessel’s keel, floated at the foot of the crag. It an instant Dantès’ plan was formed. he swam to the cap, placed it on his head, seized one of the timbers, and struck out so as to cut across the course the vessel was taking. “I am saved!” murmured he. And this conviction restored his strength. He soon saw that the vessel, with the wind dead ahead, was tacking between the Chateau d’If and the tower of Planier. For an instant he feared lest, instead of keeping in shore, she should stand out to sea; but he soon saw that she would pass, like most vessels bound for Italy, between the islands of Jaros and Calaseraigne. However, the vessel and the swimmer insensibly neared one another, and in one of its tacks the tartan bore down within a quarter of a mile of him. He rose on the waves, making signs of distress; but no one on board saw him, and the vessel stood on another tack. Dantès would have shouted, but he knew that the wind would drown his voice. It was then he rejoiced at his precaution in taking the timber, for without it he would have been unable, perhaps, to reach the vessel–certainly to return to shore, should he be unsuccessful in attracting attention. Dantès, though almost sure as to what course the vessel would take, had yet watched it anxiously until it tacked and stood towards him. Then he advanced; but before they could meet, the vessel again changed her course. By a violent effort he rose half out of the water, waving his cap, and uttering a loud shout peculiar to sailers. This time he was both seen and heard, and the tartan instantly steered towards him. At the same time, he saw they were about to lower the boat. An instant after, the boat, rowed by two men, advanced rapidly towards him. Dantès let go of the timber, which he now thought to be useless, and swam vigorously to meet them. But he had reckoned too much upon his strength, and then he realized how serviceable the timber had been to him. His arms became stiff, his legs lost their flexibility, and he was almost breathless. He shouted again. The two sailors redoubled their efforts, and one of them cried in Italian, “Courage!”

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As well as he could

April 8th, 2011

These few words were uttered with an accent that left no doubt of his sincerity; Dantès rose, dispersed the fragments with the same precaution as before, and pushed his bed back against the wall. He then gave himself up to his happiness. He would no longer be alone. He was, perhaps, about to regain his liberty; at the worst, he would have a companion, and captivity that is shared is but half captivity. Plaints made in common are almost prayers, and prayers where two or three are gathered together invoke the mercy of heaven. All day Dantès walked up and down his cell. He sat down occasionally on his bed, pressing his hand on his heart. At the slightest noise he bounded towards the door. Once or twice the thought crossed his mind that he might be separated from this unknown, whom he loved already; and then his mind was made up–when the jailer moved his bed and stooped to examine the opening, he would kill him with his water jug. He would be condemned to die, but he was about to die of grief and despair when this miraculous noise recalled him to life. The jailer came in the evening. Dantès was on his bed. It seemed to him that thus he better guarded the unfinished opening. Doubtless there was a strange expression in his eyes, for the jailer said, “Come, are you going mad again?”

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Dantès had but one resource, which was to break the jug, and with one of the sharp fragments attack the wall. He let the jug fall on the floor, and it broke in pieces. Dantès concealed two or three of the sharpest fragments in his bed, leaving the rest on the floor. The breaking of his jug was too natural an accident to excite suspicion. Edmond had all the night to work in, but in the darkness he could not do much, and he soon felt that he was working against something very hard; he pushed back his bed, and waited for day. All night he heard the subterranean workman, who continued to mine his way. Day came, the jailer entered. Dantès told him that the jug had fallen from his hands while he was drinking, and the jailer went grumblingly to fetch another, without giving himself the trouble to remove the fragments of the broken one. He returned speedily, advised the prisoner to be more careful, and departed. Dantès heard joyfully the key grate in the lock; he listened until the sound of steps died away, and then, hastily displacing his bed, saw by the faint light that penetrated into his cell, that he had labored uselessly the previous evening in attacking the stone instead of removing the plaster that surrounded it. The damp had rendered it friable, and Dantès was able to break it off–in small morsels, it is true, but at the end of half an hour he had scraped off a handful; a mathematician might have calculated that in two years, supposing that the rock was not encountered, a passage twenty feet long and two feet broad, might be formed. The prisoner reproached himself with not having thus employed the hours he had passed in vain hopes, prayer, and despondency. During the six years that he had been imprisoned, what might he not have accomplished? In three days he had succeeded, with the utmost precaution, in removing the cement, and exposing the stone-work. The wall was built of rough stones, among which, to give strength to the structure, blocks of hewn stone were at intervals imbedded. It was one of these he had uncovered, and which he must remove from its socket. Dantès strove to do this with his nails, but they were too weak. The fragments of the jug broke, and after an hour of useless toil, he paused. Was he to be thus stopped at the beginning, and was he to wait inactive until his fellow workman had completed his task? Suddenly an idea occurred to him–he smiled, and the perspiration dried on his forehead. The jailer always brought Dantès’ soup in an iron saucepan; this saucepan contained soup for both prisoners, for Dantès had noticed that it was either quite full, or half empty, according as the turnkey gave it to him or to his companion first. The handle of this saucepan was of iron; Dantès would have given ten years of his life in exchange for it. The jailer was accustomed to pour the contents of the saucepan into Dantès’ plate, and Dantès, after eating his soup with a wooden spoon, washed the plate, which thus served for every day. Now when evening came Dantès put his plate on the ground near the door; the jailer, as he entered, stepped on it and broke it. This time he could not blame Dantès. He was wrong to leave it there, but the jailer was wrong not to have looked before him. The jailer, therefore, only grumbled. Then he looked about for something to pour the soup into; Dantès’ entire dinner service consisted of one plate–there was no alternative. “Leave the saucepan,” said Dantès; “you can take it away when you bring me my breakfast.” This advice was to the jailer’s taste, as it spared him the necessity of making another trip. He left the saucepan. Dantès was beside himself with joy. He rapidly devoured his food, and after waiting an hour, lest the jailer should change his mind and return, he removed his bed, took the handle of the saucepan, inserted the point between the hewn stone and rough stones of the wall, and employed it as a lever. A slight oscillation showed Dantès that all went well. At the end of an hour the stone was extricated from the wall, leaving a cavity a foot and a half in diameter. Dantès carefully collected the plaster, carried it into the corner of his cell, and covered it with earth. Then, wishing to make the best use of his time while he had the means of labor, he continued to work without ceasing. At the dawn of day he replaced the stone, pushed his bed against the wall, and lay down. The breakfast consisted of a piece of bread; the jailer entered and placed the bread on the table. “Well, don’t you intend to bring me another plate?” said Dantès. “No,” replied the turnkey; “you destroy everything. First you break your jug, then you make me break your plate; if all the prisoners followed your example, the government would be ruined. I shall leave you the saucepan, and pour your soup into that. So for the future I hope you will not be so destructive.” Dantès raised his eyes to heaven and clasped his hands beneath the coverlet. He felt more gratitude for the possession of this piece of iron than he had ever felt for anything. He had noticed, however, that the prisoner on the other side had ceased to labor; no matter, this was a greater reason for proceeding–if his neighbor would not come to him, he would go to his neighbor. All day he toiled on untiringly, and by the evening he had succeeded in extracting ten handfuls of plaster and fragments of stone. When the hour for his jailer’s visit arrived, Dantès straightened the handle of the saucepan as well as he could, and placed it in its accustomed place. The turnkey poured his ration of soup into it, together with the fish–for thrice a week the prisoners were deprived of meat. This would have been a method of reckoning time, had not Dantès long ceased to do so. Having poured out the soup, the turnkey retired. Dantès wished to ascertain whether his neighbor had really ceased to work. He listened–all was silent, as it had been for the last three days. Dantès sighed; it was evident that his neighbor distrusted him. However, he toiled on all the night without being discouraged; but after two or three hours he encountered an obstacle. The iron made no impression, but met with a smooth surface; Dantès touched it, and found that it was a beam. This beam crossed, or rather blocked up, the hole Dantès had made; it was necessary, therefore, to dig above or under it. The unhappy young man had not thought of this. “O my God, my God!” murmured he, “I have so earnestly prayed to you, that I hoped my prayers had been heard. After having deprived me of my liberty, after having deprived me of death, after having recalled me to existence, my God, have pity on me, and do not let me die in despair!”

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Death then terrified me

April 8th, 2011

It was easy to ascertain this; but how could he risk the question? It was easy to call his jailer’s attention to the noise, and watch his countenance as he listened; but might he not by this means destroy hopes far more important than the short-lived satisfaction of his own curiosity? Unfortunately, Edmond’s brain was still so feeble that he could not bend his thoughts to anything in particular. He saw but one means of restoring lucidity and clearness to his judgment. He turned his eyes towards the soup which the jailer had brought, rose, staggered towards it, raised the vessel to his lips, and drank off the contents with a feeling of indescribable pleasure. He had often heard that shipwrecked persons had died through having eagerly devoured too much food. Edmond replaced on the table the bread he was about to devour, and returned to his couch–he did not wish to die. He soon felt that his ideas became again collected–he could think, and strengthen his thoughts by reasoning. Then he said to himself, “I must put this to the test, but without compromising anybody. If it is a workman, I need but knock against the wall, and he will cease to work, in order to find out who is knocking, and why he does so; but as his occupation is sanctioned by the governor, he will soon resume it. If, on the contrary, it is a prisoner, the noise I make will alarm him, he will cease, and not begin again until he thinks every one is asleep.” Edmond rose again, but this time his legs did not tremble, and his sight was clear; he went to a corner of his dungeon, detached a stone, and with it knocked against the wall where the sound came. He struck thrice. At the first blow the sound ceased, as if by magic. Edmond listened intently; an hour passed, two hours passed, and no sound was heard from the wall–all was silent there. Full of hope, Edmond swallowed a few mouthfuls of bread and water, and, thanks to the vigor of his constitution, found himself well-nigh recovered. The day passed away in utter silence–night came without recurrence of the noise. “It is a prisoner,” said Edmond joyfully. The night passed in perfect silence. Edmond did not close his eyes. In the morning the jailer brought him fresh provisions–he had already devoured those of the previous day; he ate these listening anxiously for the sound, walking round and round his cell, shaking the iron bars of the loophole, restoring vigor and agility to his limbs by exercise, and so preparing himself for his future destiny. At intervals he listened to learn if the noise had not begun again, and grew impatient at the prudence of the prisoner, who did not guess he had been disturbed by a captive as anxious for liberty as himself.

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“Sometimes,” said he, “in my voyages, when I was a man and commanded other men, I have seen the heavens overcast, the sea rage and foam, the storm arise, and, like a monstrous bird, beating the two horizons with its wings. Then I felt that my vessel was a vain refuge, that trembled and shook before the tempest. Soon the fury of the waves and the sight of the sharp rocks announced the approach of death, and death then terrified me, and I used all my skill and intelligence as a man and a sailor to struggle against the wrath of God. But I did so because I was happy, because I had not courted death, because to be cast upon a bed of rocks and seaweed seemed terrible, because I was unwilling that I, a creature made for the service of God, should serve for food to the gulls and ravens. But now it is different; I have lost all that bound me to life, death smiles and invites me to repose; I die after my own manner, I die exhausted and broken-spirited, as I fall asleep when I have paced three thousand times round my cell.” No sooner had this idea taken possession of him than he became more composed, arranged his couch to the best of his power, ate little and slept less, and found existence almost supportable, because he felt that he could throw it off at pleasure, like a worn-out garment. Two methods of self-destruction were at his disposal. He could hang himself with his handkerchief to the window bars, or refuse food and die of starvation. But the first was repugnant to him. Dantès had always entertained the greatest horror of pirates, who are hung up to the yard-arm; he would not die by what seemed an infamous death. He resolved to adopt the second, and began that day to carry out his resolve. Nearly four years had passed away; at the end of the second he had ceased to mark the lapse of time. Dantès said, “I wish to die,” and had chosen the manner of his death, and fearful of changing his mind, he had taken an oath to die. “When my morning and evening meals are brought,” thought he, “I will cast them out of the window, and they will think that I have eaten them.” He kept his word; twice a day he cast out, through the barred aperture, the provisions his jailer brought him–at first gayly, then with deliberation, and at last with regret. Nothing but the recollection of his oath gave him strength to proceed. Hunger made viands once repugnant, now acceptable; he held the plate in his hand for an hour at a time, and gazed thoughtfully at the morsel of bad meat, of tainted fish, of black and mouldy bread. It was the last yearning for life contending with the resolution of despair; then his dungeon seemed less sombre, his prospects less desperate. He was still young–he was only four or five and twenty–he had nearly fifty years to live. What unforseen events might not open his prison door, and restore him to liberty? Then he raised to his lips the repast that, like a voluntary Tantalus, he refused himself; but he thought of his oath, and he would not break it. He persisted until, at last, he had not sufficient strength to rise and cast his supper out of the loophole. The next morning he could not see or hear; the jailer feared he was dangerously ill. Edmond hoped he was dying. Thus the day passed away. Edmond felt a sort of stupor creeping over him which brought with it a feeling almost of content; the gnawing pain at his stomach had ceased; his thirst had abated; when he closed his eyes he saw myriads of lights dancing before them like the will-o’-the-wisps that play about the marshes. It was the twilight of that mysterious country called Death! Suddenly, about nine o’clock in the evening, Edmond heard a hollow sound in the wall against which he was lying. So many loathsome animals inhabited the prison, that their noise did not, in general, awake him; but whether abstinence had quickened his faculties, or whether the noise was really louder than usual, Edmond raised his head and listened. It was a continual scratching, as if made by a huge claw, a powerful tooth, or some iron instrument attacking the stones.

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Without apparent cause

April 8th, 2011

Rage supplanted religious fervor. Dantès uttered blasphemies that made his jailer recoil with horror, dashed himself furiously against the walls of his prison, wreaked his anger upon everything, and chiefly upon himself, so that the least thing,–a grain of sand, a straw, or a breath of air that annoyed him, led to paroxysms of fury. Then the letter that Villefort had showed to him recurred to his mind, and every line gleamed forth in fiery letters on the wall like the Mene Tekel Upharsin of Belshazzar. He told himself that it was the enmity of man, and not the vengeance of heaven, that had thus plunged him into the deepest misery. He consigned his unknown persecutors to the most horrible tortures he could imagine, and found them all insufficient, because after torture came death, and after death, if not repose, at least the boon of unconsciousness. By dint of constantly dwelling on the idea that tranquillity was death, and if punishment were the end in view other tortures than death must be invented, he began to reflect on suicide. Unhappy he, who, on the brink of misfortune, broods over ideas like these! Before him is a dead sea that stretches in azure calm before the eye; but he who unwarily ventures within its embrace finds himself struggling with a monster that would drag him down to perdition. Once thus ensnared, unless the protecting hand of God snatch him thence, all is over, and his struggles but tend to hasten his destruction. This state of mental anguish is, however, less terrible than the sufferings that precede or the punishment that possibly will follow. There is a sort of consolation at the contemplation of the yawning abyss, at the bottom of which lie darkness and obscurity. Edmond found some solace in these ideas. All his sorrows, all his sufferings, with their train of gloomy spectres, fled from his cell when the angel of death seemed about to enter. Dantès reviewed his past life with composure, and, looking forward with terror to his future existence, chose that middle line that seemed to afford him a refuge.

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During this time the empire made its last conscription, and every man in France capable of bearing arms rushed to obey the summons of the emperor. Fernand departed with the rest, bearing with him the terrible thought that while he was away, his rival would perhaps return and marry Mercédès. Had Fernand really meant to kill himself, he would have done so when he parted from Mercédès. His devotion, and the compassion he showed for her misfortunes, produced the effect they always produce on noble minds–Mercédès had always had a sincere regard for Fernand, and this was now strengthened by gratitude. “My brother,” said she as she placed his knapsack on his shoulders, “be careful of yourself, for if you are killed, I shall be alone in the world.” These words carried a ray of hope into Fernand’s heart. Should Dantès not return, Mercédès might one day be his. Mercédès was left alone face to face with the vast plain that had never seemed so barren, and the sea that had never seemed so vast. Bathed in tears she wandered about the Catalan village. Sometimes she stood mute and motionless as a statue, looking towards Marseilles, at other times gazing on the sea, and debating as to whether it were not better to cast herself into the abyss of the ocean, and thus end her woes. It was not want of courage that prevented her putting this resolution into execution; but her religious feelings came to her aid and saved her. Caderousse was, like Fernand, enrolled in the army, but, being married and eight years older, he was merely sent to the frontier. Old Dantès, who was only sustained by hope, lost all hope at Napoleon’s downfall. Five months after he had been separated from his son, and almost at the hour of his arrest, he breathed his last in Mercédès’ arms. M. Morrel paid the expenses of his funeral, and a few small debts the poor old man had contracted. There was more than benevolence in this action; there was courage; the south was aflame, and to assist, even on his death-bed, the father of so dangerous a Bonapartist as Dantès, was stigmatized as a crime. DANTèS PASSED through all the stages of torture natural to prisoners in suspense. He was sustained at first by that pride of conscious innocence which is the sequence to hope; then he began to doubt his own innocence, which justified in some measure the governor’s belief in his mental alienation; and then, relaxing his sentiment of pride, he addressed his supplications, not to God, but to man. God is always the last resource. Unfortunates, who ought to begin with God, do not have any hope in him till they have exhausted all other means of deliverance. Dantès asked to be removed from his present dungeon into another; for a change, however disadvantageous, was still a change, and would afford him some amusement. He entreated to be allowed to walk about, to have fresh air, books, and writing materials. His requests were not granted, but he went on asking all the same. He accustomed himself to speaking to the new jailer, although the latter was, if possible, more taciturn than the old one; but still, to speak to a man, even though mute, was something. Dantès spoke for the sake of hearing his own voice; he had tried to speak when alone, but the sound of his voice terrified him. Often, before his captivity, Dantès, mind had revolted at the idea of assemblages of prisoners, made up of thieves, vagabonds, and murderers. He now wished to be amongst them, in order to see some other face besides that of his jailer; he sighed for the galleys, with the infamous costume, the chain, and the brand on the shoulder. The galley-slaves breathed the fresh air of heaven, and saw each other. They were very happy. He besought the jailer one day to let him have a companion, were it even the mad abbé. The jailer, though rough and hardened by the constant sight of so much suffering, was yet a man. At the bottom of his heart he had often had a feeling of pity for this unhappy young man who suffered so; and he laid the request of number 34 before the governor; but the latter sapiently imagined that Dantès wished to conspire or attempt an escape, and refused his request. Dantès had exhausted all human resources, and he then turned to God. All the pious ideas that had been so long forgotten, returned; he recollected the prayers his mother had taught him, and discovered a new meaning in every word; for in prosperity prayers seem but a mere medley of words, until misfortune comes and the unhappy sufferer first understands the meaning of the sublime language in which he invokes the pity of heaven! He prayed, and prayed aloud, no longer terrified at the sound of his own voice, for he fell into a sort of ecstasy. He laid every action of his life before the Almighty, proposed tasks to accomplish, and at the end of every prayer introduced the entreaty oftener addressed to man than to God: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us.” Yet in spite of his earnest prayers, Dantès remained a prisoner. Then gloom settled heavily upon him. Dantès was a man of great simplicity of thought, and without education; he could not, therefore, in the solitude of his dungeon, traverse in mental vision the history of the ages, bring to life the nations that had perished, and rebuild the ancient cities so vast and stupendous in the light of the imagination, and that pass before the eye glowing with celestial colors in Martin’s Babylonian pictures. He could not do this, he whose past life was so short, whose present so melancholy, and his future so doubtful. Nineteen years of light to reflect upon in eternal darkness! No distraction could come to his aid; his energetic spirit, that would have exalted in thus revisiting the past, was imprisoned like an eagle in a cage. He clung to one idea–that of his happiness, destroyed, without apparent cause, by an unheard-of fatality; he considered and reconsidered this idea, devoured it (so to speak), as the implacable Ugolino devours the skull of Archbishop Roger in the Inferno of Dante.

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He often watched Marianne

April 7th, 2011

This event, while it raised the spirits of Elinor, restored to those of her sister all, and more than all, their former agitation. From this moment her mind was never quiet; the expectation of seeing him every hour of the day made her unfit for any thing. She insisted on being left behind, the next morning, when the others went out. Elinor’s thoughts were full of what might be passing in Berkeley Street during their absence; but a moment’s glance at her sister, when they returned, was enough to inform her that Willoughby had paid no second visit there. A note was just then brought in, and laid on the table, “For me!” cried Marianne, stepping hastily forward. “No, ma’am, for my mistress.” But Marianne, not convinced, took it instantly up. “It is, indeed, for Mrs. Jennings; how provoking!” “You are expecting for letter, then?” said Elinor, unable to be longer silent. “Yes, a little- not much.” After a short pause. “You have no confidence in me, Marianne.” “Nay, Elinor this reproach from you- you who have confidence in no one!” “Me!” returned Elinor, in some confusion; “indeed, Marianne, I have nothing to tell.” “Nor I,” answered Marianne with energy; “our situations then are alike. We have neither of us any thing to tell; you, because you communicate, and I, because I conceal nothing.” Elinor, distressed by this charge of reserve in herself, which she was not at liberty to do away, knew not how, under such circumstances, to press for greater openness in Marianne.Mrs. Jennings soon appeared, and the note being given her, she read it aloud. It was from Lady Middleton, announcing their arrival in Conduit Street the night before, and requesting the company of her mother and cousins the following evening. Business on Sir John’s part, and a violent cold on her own, prevented their calling in Berkeley Street. The invitation was accepted; but when the hour of appointment drew near, necessary as it was, in common civility to Mrs. Jennings, that they should both attend her on such a visit, Elinor had some difficulty in persuading her sister to go, for still she had seen nothing of Willoughby; and therefore was not more indisposed for amusement abroad than unwilling to run the risk of his calling again in her absence.

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“IF this open weather holds much longer,” said Mrs. Jennings, when they met at breakfast the following morning, “Sir John will not like leaving Barton next week; ’tis a sad thing for sportsmen to lose a day’s pleasure. Poor souls! I always pity them when they do; they seem to take it so much to heart.” “That is true,” cried Marianne, in a cheerful voice, and walking to the window as she spoke, to examine the day. “I had not thought of that. This weather will keep many sportsmen in the country.” It was a lucky recollection; all her good spirits were restored by it. “It is charming weather for them indeed,” she continued, as she sat down to the breakfast table with a happy countenance. “How much they must enjoy it! But” (with a little return of anxiety) “it cannot be expected to last long. At this time of the year, and after such a series of rain, we shall certainly have very little more of it. Frosts will soon set in, and in all probability with severity. In another day or two, perhaps; this extreme mildness can hardly last longer- nay, perhaps it may freeze to-night!” “At any rate,” said Elinor, wishing to prevent Mrs. Jennings from seeing her sister’s thoughts as clearly as she did, “I dare say we shall have Sir John and Lady Middleton in town by the end of next week.” “Ay, my dear, I’ll warrant you we do. Mary always has her own way.” “And now,” silently conjectured Elinor, “she will write to Combe by this day’s post.” But if she did, the letter was written and sent away with a privacy which eluded all her watchfulness to ascertain the fact. Whatever the truth of it might be, and far as Elinor was for feeling thorough contentment about it, yet while she saw Marianne in spirits, she could not be very uncomfortable herself. And Marianne was in spirits; happy ill the mildness of the weather, and still happier in her expectation of a frost.The morning was chiefly spent in leaving cards at the houses of Mrs. Jennings’s acquaintance, to inform them of her being in town; and Marianne was all the time busy in observing the direction of the wind, watching the variations of the sky, and imagining an alteration in the air. “Don’t you find it colder than it was in the morning, Elinor? There seems to me a very decided difference. I can hardly keep my hands warm even in my muff. It was not so yesterday, I think. The clouds seem parting too; the sun will be out in a moment, and we shall have a clear afternoon.” Elinor was alternately diverted and pained; but Marianne perserved, and saw every night in the brightness of the fire, and every morning in the appearance of the atmosphere, the certain symptoms of approaching frost.The Misses Dashwood had no greater reason to be disatisfied with Mrs. Jennings’s style of living, and set of acquaintance, than with her behaviour to themselves, which was invariably kind. Every thing in her household arrangements was conducted on the most liberal plan, and excepting a few old city friends, whom, to Lady Middleton’s regret, she had never dropped, she visited no one to whom an introduction could at all discompose the feelings of her young companions. Pleased to find herself more comfortably situated in that particular than she had expected, Elinor was very willing to compound for the want of much real enjoyment from any of their evening parties, which, whether at home or abroad, formed only for cards, could have little to amuse her.Colonel Brandon, who had a general invitation to the house, was with them almost every day: he came to look at Marianne, and talk to Elinor, who often derived more satisfaction from conversing with him than from any other daily occurrence, but who saw, at the same time, with much concern, his continued regard for her sister. She feared it was a strengthening regard. It grieved her to see the earnestness with which he often watched Marianne; and his spirits were certainly worse than when at Barton.About a week after their arrival, it became certain that Willoughby was also arrived. His card was on the table when they came in from the morning’s drive. “Good God!” cried Marianne, “he has been here while we were out.” Elinor, rejoiced to be assured of his being in London, now ventured to say, “Depend upon it, he will call again to-morrow.” But Marianne seemed hardly to hear her, and, on Mrs. Jenning’s entrance, escaped with the precious card.

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It was spoken,

April 7th, 2011

Elinor replied that she was. “Norland is a prodigious beautiful place, is not it?” added Miss Steele. “We have heard Sir John admire it excessively,” said Lucy, who seemed to think some apology necessary for the freedom of her sister. “I think every one must admire it,” replied Elinor, “who ever saw the place; though it is not to be supposed that any one can estimate its beauties as we do.” “And had you a great many smart beaux there? I suppose you have not so many in this part of the world. For my part, I think they are a vast addition always.” “But why should you think,” said Lucy, looking ashamed of her sister, “that there are not as many genteel young men in Devonshire as Sussex?” “Nay, my dear, I’m sure I don’t protend to say that there ain’t. I’m sure there’s a vast many smart beaux in Exeter; but you know, how could I tell what smart beaux there might be about Norland; and I was only afraid the Misses Dashwoods might find it dull at Barton, if they had not so many as they used to have. But perhaps you young ladies may not care about the beaux, and had as lief be without them as with them. For my part, I think they are vastly agreeable, provided they dress smart and behave civil. But I can’t bear to see them dirty and nasty. Now there’s Mr. Rose at Exeter, a prodigious smart young man, quite a beau, clerk to Mr. Simpson, you know, and yet if you do but meet him of a morning, he is not fit to be seen. I suppose your brother was quite a beau, Miss Dashwood, before he married, as he was so rich?” “Upon my word,” replied Elinor, “I cannot tell you, for I do not perfectly comprehend the meaning of the word. But this I can say, that if he ever was a beau before he married, he is one still, for there is not the smallest alteration in him.” “Oh, dear! one never thinks of married men’s being beaux- they have something else to do.” “Lord! Anne,” cried her sister, “you can talk of nothing but beaux; you will make Miss Dashwood believe you think of nothing else.” And then, to turn the discourse, she began admiring the house and the furniture.

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John
is in such spirits to-day!” said she, on his taking Miss Steele’s pocket handkerchief, and throwing it out of window- “he is full of monkey tricks.” And soon afterwards, on the second boy’s violently pinching one of the same lady’s fingers, she fondly observed, “How playful William is!” “And here is my sweet little Anna-Maria,” she added, tenderly caressing a little girl of three years old, who had not made a noise for the last two minutes; “and she is always so gentle and quiet. Never was there such a quiet little thing!” But unfortunately in bestowing these embraces, a pin in her ladyship’s head-dress slightly scratching the child’s neck, produced from this pattern of gentleness such violent screams, as could hardly be outdone by any creature professedly noisy. The mother’s consternation was excessive; but it could not surpass the alarm of the Misses Steele, and every thing was done by all three, in so critical an emergency, which affection could suggest, as likely to assauge the agonies of the little sufferer. She was seated in her mother’s lap, covered with kisses, her wound bathed with lavender-water, by one of the Misses Steele, who was on her knees to attend her, and her mouth stuffed with sugar plums by the other. With such a reward for her tears, the child was too wise to cease crying. She still screamed and sobbed lustily, kicked her two brothers for offering to touch her: and all their united soothings were ineffectual, till Lady Middleton, luckily remembering that in a scene of similar distress last week some apricot marmalade had been successfully applied for a bruised temple, the same remedy was eagerly proposed for this unfortunate scratch, and a slight intermission of screams in the young lady on hearing it, gave them reason to hope that it would not be rejected. She was carried out of the room, therefore, in her mother’s arms, in quest of this medicine; and as the two boys chose to follow, though earnestly entreated by their mother to stay behind, the four young ladies were left in a quietness w
hich the room had not known for many hours. “Poor little creatures!” said Miss Steele, as soon as they were gone; “it might have been a very sad accident.” “Yet I hardly know how,” cried Marianne, “unless it had been under totally different circumstances. But this is the usual way of heightening alarm, where there is nothing to be alarmed at in reality.” “What a sweet woman Lady Middleton is!” said Lucy Steele. Marianne was silent; it was impossible for her to say what she did not feel, however trivial the occasion; and upon Elinor, therefore, the whole task of telling lies, when politeness required it, always fell. She did her best when thus called on, by speaking of Lady Middleton with more warmth than she felt, though with far less than Miss Lucy. “And Sir John, too,” cried the elder sister, “what a charming man he is!” Here, too, Miss Dashwood’s commendation, being only simple and just, came in without any eclat. She merely observed that he was perfectly good humoured and friendly. “And what a charming little family they have! I never saw such fine children in my life. I declare I quite doat upon them already, and indeed I am always distractedly fond of children.” “I should guess so,” said Elinor, with a smile, “from what I have witnessed this morning.” “I have a notion,” said Lucy, “you think the little Middletons rather too much indulged; perhaps they may be the outside of enough; but it is so natural in Lady Middleton; and, for my part, I love to see children full of life and spirits; I cannot bear them if they are tame and quiet.” “I confess,” replied Elinor, “that while I am at Barton Park I never think of tame and quiet children with any abhorrence.” A short pause succeeded this speech, which was first broken by Miss Steele, who seemed very much disposed for conversation, and who now said, rather abruptly, “And how do you like Devonshire, Miss Dashwood? I suppose you were very sorry to leave Sussex.” In some surprise at the familiarity of this question, or at least of the manner in which it was spoken,

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Had a very pretty face

April 7th, 2011

Mrs. Palmer was several years younger than Lady Middleton, and totally unlike her in every respect. She was short and plump, had a very pretty face, and the finest expression of good humour in it that could possibly be. Her manners were by no means so elegant as her sister’s, but they were much more prepossessing. She came in with a smile, smiled all the time of her visit, except when she laughed, and smiled when she went away. Her husband was a grave looking young man of five or six and twenty, with an air of more fashion and sense than his wife, but of less willingness to please or be pleased. He entered the room with a look of self-consequence, slightly bowed to the ladies, without speaking a word, and, after briefly surveying them and their apartments, took up a newspaper from the table, and continued to read it as long as he stayed.Mrs. Palmer, on the contrary, who was strongly endowed by nature with a turn for being uniformly civil and happy, was hardly seated before her admiration of the parlour and everything in it burst forth. “Well! what a delightful room this is! I never saw anything so charming! Only think, mamma, how it is improved since I was here last! I always thought it such a sweet place, ma’am! (turning to Mrs. Dashwood) but you have made it so charming! Only look, sister, how delightful everything is! How I should like such a house for myself! Should not you, Mr. Palmer?” Mr. Palmer made her no answer, and did not even raise his eyes from the newspaper. “Mr. Palmer does not hear me,” said she, laughing; “he never does sometimes. It is so ridiculous!” This was quite a new idea to Mrs. Dashwood; she had never been used to find wit in the inattention of any one, and could not help looking with surprise at them both.

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The old well-established grievance of duty against will, parent against child, was the cause of all. She would have been glad to know when these difficulties were to cease, this opposition was to yield,- when Mrs. Ferrars would be reformed, and her son be at liberty to be happy. But from such vain wishes she was forced to turn for comfort to the renewal of her confidence in Edward’s affection, to the remembrance of every mark of regard in look or word which fell from him while at Barton, and above all, to that flattering proof of it which he constantly wore round his finger. “I think, Edward,” said Mrs. Dashwood, as they were at breakfast the last morning, “you would be a happier man if you had any profession to engage your time and give an interest to your plans and actions. Some inconvenience to your friends, indeed, might result from it- you would not be able to give them so much of your time. But (with a smile) you would be materially benefited in one particular at least- you would know where to go when you left them.” “I do assure you,” he replied, “that I have long thought onthis point as you think now. It has been, and is, and probably will always be, a heavy misfortune to me, that I have had no necessary business to engage me, no profession to give me employment, or afford me any thing like independence. But unfortunately my own nicety, and the nicety of my friends, have made me what I am, an idle, helpless being. We never could agree in our choice of a profession. I always preferred the church, as I still do. But that was not smart enough for my family. They recommended the army. That was a great deal too smart for me. The law was allowed to be genteel enough: many young men, who had chambers in the Temple, made a very good appearance in the first circles, and drove about town in very knowing gigs. But I had no inclination for the law, even in this less abstruse study of it, which my family approved. As for the navy, it had fashion on its side, but I was too old when the subject was first started to enter it; and, at length, as there was no necessity for my having any profession at all, as I might be as dashing and expensive without a red coat on my back as with one, idleness was pronounced on the whole to be most advantageous and honourable, and a young man of eighteen is not in general so earnestly bent on being busy as to resist the solicitations of his friends to do nothing. I was therefore entered at Oxford, and have been properly idle ever since.” “The consequence of which, I suppose, will be,” said Mrs. ashwood, “since leisure has not promoted your own happiness, that your sons will be brought up to as many pursuits, employments, professions, and trades as Columella’s.” “They will be brought up,” said he, in a serious accent, “to be as unlike myself as is possible. In feeling, in action, in condition, in every thing.” “Come, come; this is all an effusion of immediate want of spirits, Edward. You are in a melancholy humour, and fancy that any one unlike yourself must be happy. But remember that the pain of parting from friends will be felt by every body at times, whatever be their education or state. Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience- or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope. Your mother will secure to you, in time, that independence you are so anxious for; it is her duty, and it will, it must ere long become her happiness to prevent your whole youth from being wasted in discontent. How much may not a few months do?”

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You would have told me

April 7th, 2011

EDWARD remained a week at the cottage; he was earnestly pressed by Mrs. Dashwood to stay longer; but, as if he were bent only on self-mortification, he seemed resolved to be gone when his enjoyment among his friends was at the height. His spirits, during the last two or three days, though still very unequal, were greatly improvedhe grew more and more partial to the house and environs- never spoke of going away without a sigh- declared his time to be wholly disengaged- even doubted to what place he should go when he left thembut still, go he must. Never had any week passed so quickly- he could hardly believe it to be gone. He said so repeatedly; other things he said, too, which marked the turn of his feelings, and gave the lie to his actions. He had no pleasure at Norland; lie detested being in town; but either to Norland or London he must go. He valued their kindness beyond any thing, and his greatest happiness was in being with them. Yet, he must leave them at the end of a week, in spite of their wishes and his own, and without any restraint on his time.Elinor placed all that was astonishing in this way of acting to his mother’s account; and it was happy for her that he had a mother whose character was so imperfectly known to her, as to be the general excuse for every thing strange on the part of her son. Disappointed, however, and vexed as she was, and sometimes displeased with his uncertain behaviour to herself, she was very well disposed on the whole to regard his actions with all the candid allowances and generous qualifications, which had been rather more painfully extorted from her, for Willoughby’s service, by her mother. His want of spirits, of openness, and of consistency, were most usually attributed to his want of independence, and his better knowledge of Mrs. Ferrars’s dispositions and designs. The shortness of his visit, the steadiness of his purpose in leaving them, originated in the same fettered inclination, the same inevitable necessity of temporising with his mother.

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“Nothing, for you have anticipated my answer.” “Then you would have told me, that it might or might not have happened. Oh, Elinor, how incomprehensible are your feelings! You had rather take evil upon credit than good. You had rather look out for misery for Marianne, and guilt for poor Willoughby, than an apology for the latter. You are resolved to think him blamable, because be took leave of us with less affection than his usual behaviour has shown. And is no allowance to be made for inadvertence, or for spirits depressed by recent disappointment? Are no probabilities to be accepted, merely because they are not certainties? Is no thing due to the man whom we have all such reason to love, and no reason in the world to think ill of? To the possibility of motives unanswerable in themselves, though unavoidably secret for a while? And, after all, what is it you suspect him of?” “I can hardly tell myself. But suspicion of something unpleasant is the inevitable consequence of such an alteration as we just witnessed in him. There is great truth, however, in what you have now urged of the allowances which ought to be made for him, and it is my wish to be candid in my judgment of every body. Willoughby may, undoubtedly, have very sufficient reasons for his conduct, and I will hope that he has. But it would have been more like Willoughby to acknowledge them at once. Secrecy may be advisable; but still I cannot help wondering at its being practiced by him.” “Do not blame him, however, for departing from his character, where the deviation is necessary. But you really do admit the justice of what I have said in his defence am happy and he is acquitted.” “Not entirely. It may be proper to conceal their engagement (if they are engaged) from Mrs. Smith; and if that is the case, it must be highly expedient for Willoughby to be but little in Devonshire at present. But this is no excuse for their concealing it from us.” “Concealing it from us! my dear child, do you accuse Willoughby and Marianne, of concealment? This
is strange, indeed, when your eyes have been reproaching them every day for incautiousness.” “I want no proof of their affection,” said Elinor, “but of their engagement I do.” “I am perfectly satisfied of both.” “Yet not a syllable has been said to you on the subject by either of them.” “I have not wanted syllables where actions have spoken so plainly. Has not his behaviour to Marianne and to all of us, for at least the last fortnight, declared that he loved and considered her as his future wife, and that he felt for us the attachment of the nearest relation? Have we not perfectly understood each other? Has not my consent been daily asked by his looks, his manner, his attentive and affectionate respect? My Elinor, is it possible to doubt their engagement? How could such a thought occur to you? How is it to be supposed that Willoughby, persuaded as he must be of your sister’s love, should leave her, and leave her perhaps for months, without telling her of his affection,- that they should part without a mutual exchange of confidence?” “I confess,” replied Elinor, “that every circumstance except one, is in favour of their engagement; but that one is the total silence of both on the subject, and with me it almost outweighs every other.” “How strange this is! You must think wretchedly indeed of Willoughby, if, after all that has openly passed between them, you can doubt the nature of the terms on which they are together. Has he been acting a part in his behaviour to your sister all this time? Do you suppose him really indifferent to her?” “No, I cannot think that. He must and does love her, I am sure.” “But with a strange kind of tenderness, if he can leave her with such indifference, such carelessness of the future, as you attribute to him.” “You must remember, my dear mother, that I have never considered this matter as certain. I have had my doubts, I confess; but they are fainter than they were, and they may soon he entirely done away. If we find they correspond, every fear of mine will be removed.” “A mighty conc
ession, indeed! If you were to see them at the altar, you would suppose they were going to be married. Ungracious girl! But I require no such proof. Nothing in my opinion has ever passed to justify doubt; no secrecy has been attempted; all has been uniformly open and unreserved. You cannot doubt your sister’s wishes. It must be Willoughby, therefore, whom you suspect. But why? Is he not a man of honour and feeling? Has there been any inconsistency on his side to create alarm? can he be deceitful?” “I hope not, I believe not,” cried Elinor.

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He might easily claim it again

April 6th, 2011

Four days had Jem Wilson watched for Mr. Harry Carson without success; his hours of going and returning to his home were so irregular, owing to the meetings and consultations among the masters, which were rendered necessary by the turn-out. On the fifth, without any purpose on Jem’s part, they met.It was the workman’s dinner hour, the interval between twelve and one; when the streets of Manchester are comparatively quiet, for a few shopping ladies, and lounging gentlemen, count for nothing in that busy, bustling, living place. Jem had been on an errand for his master, instead of returning to his dinner; and in passing along a lane, a road (called, in compliment to the intentions of some future builder, a street), he encountered Harry Carson, the only person, as far as he saw, beside himself, treading the unfrequented path. Along one side ran a high broad fence, blackened over by coal-tar, and spiked and stuck with pointed nails at the top, to prevent any one from climbing over into the garden beyond. By this fence was the footpath. The carriage-road was such as no carriage, no, not even a cart, could possibly have passed along, without Hercules to assist in lifting it out of the deep clay ruts. On the other side of the way was a dead brick wall; and a field after that, where there was a sawpit, and joiner’s shed.Jem’s heart beat violently, when he saw the gay, handsome young man approaching, with a light buoyant step. This, then, was he whom Mary loved. It was, perhaps, no wonder; for he seemed to the poor smith so elegant, so well appointed, that he felt the superiority in externals, strangely and painfully, for an instant. Then something uprose within him, and told him, that “a man’s a man for a’ that, for a’ that, and twice as much as a’ that.” And be no longer felt troubled by the outward appearance of his rival.Harry Carson came on, lightly bounding over the dirty places with almost a lad’s buoyancy. To his surprise the dark, sturdy-looking artisan stopped him, by saying respectfully,Could this man be a lover of Mary’s? And (strange stinging thought) could be be beloved by her, and so have caused her obstinate rejection of himself? He looked at Jem from bead to foot, a black, grimy mechanic, in dirty fustian clothes, strongly built, and awkward (according to the dancing master); then he glanced at himself, and recalled the reflection he had so lately quitted in his bedroom. It was impossible. No woman with eyes could choose the one when the other wooed. It was Hyperion to a Satyr. That quotation came aptly; he forgot, “The man’s a man for a’ that.” And yet here was a clue, which he had often wanted, to her changed conduct towards him. If she loved this man. If—-he hated the fellow, and longed to strike him. He would know all.”Mary Barton! let me see. Aye, that is the name of the girl. An arrant flirt the little hussy is; but very pretty. Aye, Mary Barton is her name.”Jem bit his lips. Was it then so; that Mary was a flirt; the giddy creature of whom he spoke? He would not believe it, and yet bow he wished the suggestive words unspoken. That thought must keep now, though Even if she were, the more reason for there being some one to protect her; poor faulty darling.

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A note, respectfully worded, although its tone of determination was strong, had been sent by the power-loom weavers, requesting that a “deputation” of them might have a meeting with the masters, to state the conditions they must have fulfilled before they would end the turn-out. They thought they had attained a sufficiently commanding position to dictate. John Barton was appointed one of the deputation.The masters agreed to this meeting, being anxious to end the strife, although undetermined among themselves how far they should yield, or whether they should yield at all. Some of the old, whose experience had taught them sympathy, were for concession. Others, white-headed men too, bad only learnt hardness and obstinacy. from the days of the years of their lives, and sneered at the more gentle and yielding. The younger men were one and all for an unflinching resistance to claims urged with so much violence. Of this party Harry Carson was the leader.ut like all energetic people, the more he had to do the more time he seemed to find. With all his letter-writing, his calling, his being present at the New Bailey when investigations of any case of violence against knob-sticks was going on, he beset Mary more than ever. She was weary of her life for him. From blandishments he had even gone to threats–threats that whether she would or not she should be his; be showed an indifference that was almost insulting to everything which might attract attention and injure her character.And still she never saw Jem. She knew he had returned home. She heard of him occasionally through his cousin, who roved gaily from house to house, finding and making friends everywhere. But she never saw him. What was she to think? Had be given her up? Were a few hasty words, spoken in a moment of irritation, to stamp her lot through life? At times she thought that she could bear this meekly, happy in her own constant power of loving. For of change or of forgetfulness she did not dream. Then at other times her state of impatience was such, that it required all her self-restraint to prevent her from going and seeking him out, and (as man would do to man, or woman to woman) begging him to forgive her hasty words, and allow her to retract them, and bidding him accept of the love that was filling her whole heart. She wished Margaret had not advised her against such a manner of proceeding; she believed it was her friend’s words that seemed to make such a simple action impossible, in spite of all the internal urgings. But a friend’s advice is only thus powerful, when it puts into language the secret oracle of our souls. It was the whisperings of her womanly nature that caused her to shrink from any unmaidenly action, not Margaret’s counsel.All this time, this ten days or so, of Will’s visit to Manchester, there was something going on which interested Mary even now, and which, in former times, would have exceedingly amused and excited her. She saw as clearly as if told in words, that the merry, random, boisterous sailor had fallen deeply in love with the quiet, prim, somewhat plain Margaret: she doubted if Margaret was aware of it, and yet, as she watched more closely, she began to think some instinct made the blind girl feel whose eyes were so often fixed upon her pale face; that some inner feeling made the delicate and becoming rose-flush steal over her countenance. She did not speak so decidedly as before; there was a hesitation ill her manner, that seemed to make her very attractive; as if something softer, more loveable than excellent sense, were coming in as a motive for speech; her eyes had always been soft, and were in no ways disfigured by her blindness, and now seemed to have a new charm, as they quivered under their white downcast lids. She must be conscious, thought Mary–heart answering to heart.Will’s love had no blushings, no downcast eyes, no weighing of words; it was as open and undisguised as his nature; yet he seemed afraid of the answer its acknowledgment might meet with. It was Margaret’s angelic voice that had entranced him, and which made him think of her as a being of some other sphere, that he feared to woo. So he tried to propitiate Job in all manner of ways. He went over to Liverpool to rummage in his great sea-chest for the flying-fish (no very odorous resent, by the way). He hesitated over a child’s caul for some time, which was, in his eyes, a far greater treasure than any Exocetus. What use could it be of to a landsman? Then Margaret’s voice rang in his ears: and he determined to sacrifice it, his most precious possession, to one whom she loved as she did her grandfather.It was rather a relief to him, when having put it and the flying-fish together in a brown paper parcel, and sat upon them for security all the way in the railroad, he found that Job was so indifferent to the precious caul, that he might easily claim it again. He hung about Margaret, till he had received many warnings and reproaches from his conscience in behalf of his dear aunt Alice’s claims upon his time. He went away, and then he bethought him of some other little word with Job. And he turned back, and stood talking once more in Margaret’s presence, door in hand, only waiting for some little speech of encouragement to come in and sit down again. But as the invitation was not given, he was forced to leave at last, and go and do his duty.

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Holding my hand

April 6th, 2011

The babby had been fed afore we set out, and th’ coach moving kept it asleep, bless it’s little heart! But when th’ coach stopped for dinner it were awake, and crying for its pobbies. So we asked for Some bread and milk, and Jennings took it first for to feed it; but it made its mouth like a square, and let it run out at each o’ the four corners. ‘Shake it, Jennings,’ says I; ‘that’s the way they make water run through a funnel, when it’s o’er full; and a child’s mouth is broad end o’ th’ funnel, and th’ gullet the narrow one.’ So he shook it, but it only cried th’ more. ‘Let me have it,’ says I, thinking he were an awkward oud chap. But it were just as bad wi’ me. By shaking th’ babby we got better nor a gill into its mouth, but more nor that came up again, wetting a’ th’ nice dry clothes landlady had put on. Well, just as we’d gotten to th’ dinner-table, and helped oursels, and eaten two mouthfuls, came in th’ guard, and a fine chap wi’ a sample o’ calico flourishing in his hand. ‘Coach is ready!’ says one; ‘Half-a-crown your dinner!’ says the other. Well, we thought it a deal for both our dinners, when we’d hardly tasted ‘em; but, bless your life, it were half-a-crown apiece, and a shilling for th’ bread and milk as were possetted all over babby’s clothes. We spoke up again it; but everybody said it were the rule, so what could two poor oud chaps like us do again it? Well, poor babby cried without stopping to take breath, fra’ that time till we got to Brummagem for the night. My heart ached for th’ little thing. It caught wi’ its wee mouth at our coat sleeves and at our mouths, when we tried t’ comfort it by talking to it, Poor little wench! it wanted its mammy, as were lying cold in th’ grave. ‘Well,’ says I, ‘it’ll be clemmed to death, if it lets out its supper as it did its dinner. Let’s get some woman to feed it; it comes natural to women to do for babbies.’ So we asked th’ chambermaid at the inn, and she took quite kindly to it; and we got a good supper, and grew rare and sleepy, what wi’ th’ warmth andwi’ our long ride i’ th’ open air. Th’ chambermaid said she would like t’ have it t’ sleep wi’ her, only missis would scold so; but it looked so quiet and smiling like, as it lay in her arms, that we thought ‘twould be no trouble to have it wi’ us. I says: ‘See, Jennings, how women folk do quieten babbies; its just as I said.’ He looked grave; he were always thoughtful-looking, though I never heard him say anything very deep.

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“Well, them undertaker folk are driving a pretty trade in London. Wellnigh every lady we saw in a carriage had hired one o’ them plumes for the day, and had it niddle noddling on her head. it were th’ Queen’s drawing-room, they said, and th’ carriages went bowling along toward her house, some wi’ dressed up gentlemen like circus folk in ‘em, and rucks o’ ladies in others. Carriages themselves were great shakes too. Some o’ th’ gentlemen as couldn’t get inside hung on behind, wi’ nosegays to smell at, and sticks to keep off folk as might splash their silk stockings. I wondered why they didn’t hire a cab rather than hang on like a whip-behind boy; but I suppose they wished to keep wi’ their wives, Darby and Joan like. Coachmen were little squat men, wi’ wigs like th’ oud-fashioned parsons’. Well, we could na get on for these carriages, though we waited and waited. Th’ horses were too fat tonever known want o’ food, one might tell their sleek coats; and police pushed us back when we tried to cross. One or two of ‘em struck wi’ their sticks, and coachmen laughed, and some officers as stood nigh put their spy-glasses in their eye, and left ‘em sticking there like mountebanks. One o’ th’ police struck me. ‘Whatten business have yo to do that?’ said I.”‘You’re frightening them horses,’ says he, in his mincing way (for Londoners are mostly all tongue-tied, and can’t say their a’s and i’s properly), ‘and it’s our business to keep you from molesting the ladies and gentlemen going to her Majesty’s drawing-room.’”‘And why are we to be molested,”‘ asked I, “‘going decently about our business, which is life and death to us, and many a little one clemming at home in Lancashire? Which business is of most consequence i’ the sight o’ God, think yo, our’n or them gran’ ladies and gentlemen as yo think so much on?’”Aye, but I were though, and Peg there too, though she minds nought about it, poor wench! You must know I had but one child, and she were Margaret’s mother. I loved her above a bit, and one day when she came (standing behind me for that I should not see her blushes, and stroking my cheeks in her own coaxing way), and told me she and Frank Jennings (as was a joiner lodging near us) should be so happy if they were married, I could not find in my heart t’ say her nay, though I went sick at the thought of losing her away from my home. However, she was my only child, and I never said nought of what I felt, for fear o’ grieving her young heart. But I tried to think o’ the time when I’d been young mysel’, and had loved her blessed mother, and how we’d left father and mother, and gone out into th’ world together, and I’m now right thankful I held my peace, and didna fret her wi’ telling her how sore I was at parting wi’ her that were the light o’ my eyes.”"But,” said Mary, “you said the young man were a neighbour.”"Aye, so he were, and his father afore him. But work were rather slack in Manchester, and Frank’s uncle sent him word o’ London work and London wages, so he were to go there, and it were there Margaret was to follow him. Well, my heart aches yet at thought of those days. She so happy, and he so happy; only the poor father as fretted sadly behind their backs. They were married and stayed some days wi’ me afore setting off; and I’ve often thought sin’, Margaret’s heart failed her many a time those few days, and she would fain ha’ spoken; but I knew fra’ mysel it were better to keep it pent up, and I never let on what I were feeling; I knew what she meant when she came kissing, and holding my hand, and all her old childish ways o’ loving me. Well, they went at last You know them two letters, Margaret?”

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