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This was thrown in craftily, as if to CHAPTER VIII.

establish a friendly relationship

“No. Is his name Wingrove ?”. VISITOR.

“No, sir, Pritchard ; but he took me

up there, and Uncle Van ran in with a On returning to Old Carter's, where I newspaper and told us all about some wasn't flogged for being a day late, as dreadful wreck." Mr. Cavander had prophesied I should “Well ?” Mr. Venn was listening be, Mr. Venn, whom the holidays had attentively. rendered thinner and yellower, as they “And he said that nearly everyone had made Mr. Crosbie larger, redder in was drowned except I forget how many, the nose, and generally stouter, asked sir; and then he said Wingrove.” me privately,

“A Wingrove drowned ?” he asked, "Colvin, did you mention the name rather sharply. of Wingrove to your father ?”

"No, sir, saved.” “Wingrove, sir ?."

“A man?” he asked, scrutinizing me I had forgotten all about our conver- in a way that caused me to wish I had sation, and I thought he would have never fallen into this conversational been angry with me for the omission. trap.

“ Yes ; do you not remember what I A woman, sir ; Sarah Wingrove." told you ?”

Sarah ?" he repeated emphatically. “In the cricket field ? Yes, sir. “Sarah,” I returned, almost defiantly. But- "

I thought, as a long pause ensued, I was about to stammer out an ex- he was about to dismiss this witness, cuse, when it flashed across me that having no further questions to ask. I almost the last name I had heard in the was mistaken. He laid his hand on office was this identical one of Win- my shoulder, and prevented my turning grove.

away. "I didn't speak about it, sir," I there “You've not made up-you've not fore began, adroitly," because I heard it invented this story ?he said, pointing, read out."

so to speak, his eyes at me with deadly “Read out! What do you mean ?

aim. “From a newspaper, sir, by my “No, sir, indeed not," I replied with Uncle Van."

energy. “ Van? Is that his name?

“H'm. Do you remember—remem“Not all of it, sir. Mr. Van Clym bering so much, perhaps you can—where is my uncle. He has something to do the ship was from ?" with ships, and”-here it all came back I thought for an instant, and then to me clearly—“he rushed in " ventured, “Africa or America, sir." “Where ? ”

Perceiving my hesitation, for this “My father's counting-house, when geographical inquiry trenched on busiI was coming down here, sir, with my ness, he suggested, smiling as much as Uncle Herbert. Do you know my he could smile, “Australia, perhaps, Uncle Herbert, sir ?”.


I was much relieved. It was like panion for himself, or rather he was being prompted in an examination, and employing others to do it for him, he being unable to catch the word. “Yes, supplying the material on which they sir, it was ; I am sure of it. It was were to operate, and paying for the Australia."

labour. “ In the paper ?

At the commencement of this school“Yes, sir.”

time, however, my father for three weeks “And you came down yesterday. forgot the usual letter; and in reply to That'll do. Go. Stay. If you are writing an inquiry (monetary of course), I rehome, you need not mention my asking ceived a brusque note from Mr. Cavander anything about it; do you understand, to the effect that my father was away Colvin ? "

and too busy to write. What affected I answered that I had not much to me deeply was that the letter contained write about generally, and had no ob- no enclosure. However, I represented jection to omitting even this item from the case to Mr. Venn, who recommended my scanty budget of school news. me to go to head-quarters, where I He walked away thoughtfully.

applied with success, and returned with As to my home correspondence, my half a sovereign, to be charged in Old father used once a week to send me a Carter's bill as twelve and sixpence. commonplace letter, which was so stereo But business is business. typed in its phrases as to weather and I was never stinted; I had pretty health, as to be far more like a circular. well what I wanted, and more, perhaps, As to what I was doing, what progress than any other boy at Old Carter's. I was making, what books I was read. I was on an equality with them at ing, or what might be my moral or school; but at home they most of them religious training at Old Carter's, he had brothers and sisters, and their never once inquired. They were paid mother was never out of their picture to teach at Carter's, and he took for of home. But for me, I had no comgranted that what was bought and paid panions of my own age, save the Clyms, for was found on the establishment. As my cousins, about whom I did not to a line in life for me, that had never care, and no one to fill in anything like entered into his head. His strong point an adequate way the place to me of a was, that to be a gentleman was every mother. What might have been done thing in this world, and probably in the for me I have understood since, on next, though, at this time, he never learning that the Pritchard family, inventured upon such terra incognita in cluding Aunt Susan, had once offered my hearing, or for my benefit at all to take me, but that this was resented, events.

as an interference, by my father, who “We've all been in business,” he used irritably observed, that, if he didn't to say, " and your grandfather made his know how to bring up his own child, name there. He wasn't a father to me no one else did. It was a mistake as I am to you, and you'll acknowledge on his part, and so they retired from it afterwards as you get on in life. My the field : Grandmamma Pritchard father put me to work in the city when limiting herself as heretofore to good I was fifteen, and I never had an edu- advice and timely presents of toothcation such as you've got. I never had powder, and a brush as before ; and your advantages. You will be a gen- my Aunt to amusing me on my visits tleman and--and-one of these days with illustrated books, and showing me you'll have your horse in the park, and what pretty pictures she herself could your stall at the opera, and be able to paint; while Uncle Herbert, lolling on go about with me."

the sofa, as usual, informed me where This was the brilliant future held up the best boots in London were to be to me by my father. He was somehow, obtained, and promised me that when he knew not how, fashioning a com- I was old enough to appreciate a good fit, he would introduce me to his own we at school should be taken to church tailor.

when all the gentlemen I saw in the holi“Every gentleman,” said Uncle Her- days, including my father, never went bert, yawning, and then admiring his to church on Sunday morning, and, as light-coloured trousers, tightly strapped we invariably met them in the park on down over his polished leather boots, the afternoon of the same day, I con“should be well dressed."

cluded that they never affected a place Uncle Herbert was the only one of of worship at all. It once occurred to the Pritchards who ever thoroughly got me that, perhaps, they were taking on with my father. I fancy his view of their holidays too, like myself, and that clothes was one bond of union between when their work-time recommenced, them, and perhaps my father was really they would perhaps have to go to able to be of some little use to his brother church as regularly as Old Carter's boys. in-law in the city. But this opinion I When they were not speaking of formed later on, when I was, of course, city affairs, which was seldom, they far better able to judge of such matters had something to say about the singers —though I never understood, and never at the opera, and the actors and actresses shall understand “business," on account at the theatres. Uncle Herbert was of my having been so carefully trained strong in this line generally, and there to be nothing but an idle gentleman of was a jovial, pleasant, fat-faced young fortune.

stockbroker, who used to give us (I I used to hear enough of business was always of the party, receiving though, on Sundays, during the holidays, the visits with my father) choice anecwhen city friends were wont to call and dotes of the previous night, which at talk over the affairs of the money market. first astonished me. For though my Before I was fourteen, I had a parrot's father would ignore me on a visit to knowledge of such phrases as “ four to the counting-house, in strict keeping an eighth," "buying for the account," with his notion of my having nothing and I was perfectly aware that “bulls" to do with his business, only with his and “bears ” on the Stock Exchange pleasure, yet I was being educated to had no sort of connection with those enjoy myself, and to do with others as which Nurse Davis had taken me to see I saw others doing. Thus, at an early in the Zoological Gardens.

age, in my father's drawing-room, and at None of the visitors at our house in his dinner-table, I was “one of themtown that I ever saw had any subject selves." but one, and that was business. There These were my models, for they were were nervous men, who couldn't take my father's chosen companions, and for Sunday as a day of rest, but were this position I was being brought up. down on my father, to ask him whatWhat was classical learning-what were he thought Rothschild would do, and Latin and Greek, and modern languages, whether the Prime Minister had really by the side of such pleasures as I heard sent such a message to the Turkish about from these gentlemen, who were Government or not. There was a stout, all, it struck me, as happy as the day bilious-looking German Baron, who was long, always excepting the German became almost green under depression Baron, who suffered in the chameleonin the city, and took to his bed, I like manner I have before mentioned, believe, in a panic. He always seemed and nervous Mr. Twiddingly, who never to be considering what was his next could get his money satisfactorily inmove, on Sunday at least, and perhaps vested, and who was always buying on Monday he did move, or changed when he ought to have been selling, his mind. My father looked over his selling when he ought to bave been accounts on Sunday morning, and spent buying, and ruining himself, gradually, the time, from breakfast to lunch, in his at the rate of a hundred a year, deducted private room. I came to wonder why in small losses.

I have since come to appreciate the overgrown Babes in the Wood out to be nuisance I must have been to these killed, than of an affectionate father deconvives. They were obliged to talk voting himself to the amusement of his round me, so to speak, and my father two children. They afterwards made up often looked at me, covertly, to ascertain for the temporary truce, by having a whether the conversation was intelli- regular set-to for the possession of five gible to me. He was decidedly pleased shillings, of which sun each had been to find, on occasions, that it was. This the recipient of half-a-crown. showed the kind of 'sharpness which Harker's papa and mamma, from Mangratified him, and proved that it would chester, came once a half to see how he not be long before my intellect, if not my was getting on, and left an “h" or two in age or growth, would make me a fitting Dr. Carter's drawing-room, to be picked companion for himself. I leave my , up by the servant, or by anyone in want readers to pass judgment on this mental of an aspirate. measurement and this paternal system. Comberwood, my companion and I say nothing here.

evening reciter of Scott's novels, used "Ha, vell! so!" said the German to depend upon a visit from either his Baron, pinching my cheek; “I tell you papa or mamma, accompanied by his vat it is, dey starve you at school, do married sister, as a certainty, about the they? So ? no?” And then turning middle of the half. I should have to my father, he'd go on, “He look often liked to have exbibited my ver vell—ver, such a col-lor. But”. father to the boys, walking with his - here his voice sank to a whisper, hand on my shoulder, and enjoying and his whole manner evinced deep the sports going on in the playground. earnestness of purpose—“tell me, my But I never saw any of my relations dear Sir John, vas dere anoder rise in during school-time, except once Grandde Bonozares, eh?” and forthwith they mamma Pritchard, and once Uncle would slip into business.

Van. Uncle Van didn't call; I met One thing had much struck mo at him quite by accident, as we were out school. The boys' parents often came for a walk, and I was allowed to fall to see them, or sent for them into the out of the rank and talk to him. He town where they were putting up for a was startled at seeing me, and after exday or two, to spend a Wednesday half. claiming “Hullo!” he laughed and holiday. Old Bifford-about whom, in chuckled in so high a key, and with such consequence of his wearing a huge a nervous manner, that Mr. Venn and muffler, and taking prodigious quanti- several of the boys turned back to look. ties of snuff, there were various myste- He recovered himself, however, and in. rious reports as to his daily avocations vited me into a confectioner's. -used often to run down (which is a “Will you 'ave zum zoop or zum figure of speech, as old Bifford couldn't buns? he-he-he!” he asked, laughing. have run had even an Andalusian bull “Take what you like. It is all goot for been behind him), and walk about with boys, eh, ma'am ?” his boys one on each side of him. This question he addressed to the Thus placed, fighting was impossible ; elderly female at the counter, who reand as old Bifford didn't care about plied that her pastry was made with talking, and each was afraid of uttering more than maternal care for the welfare a word in his presence, lest it should be of her youngest patrons. I remember contradicted by the other, and so lead selecting two Bath buns, half-a-dozen to what the Americans call “a difficulty," ginger cakes, for which this shop was their enjoyment of the afternoon must celebrated, and a tin of acidulated have been of a peculiarly placid character drops, wrapped in red paper. This Indeed, so remarkably gloomy did the choice seemed to delight Uncle Van, trio appear, that Mr. Bifford had more whose chuckles and laughs were so the air of the wicked uncle, taking two catching, that the elderly person couldn't

refrain from smiling and nodding at “I am afraid so. There have been me, by way of congratulating me, per- several sad mishaps at sea lately." sonally, on the possession of so kind Uncle Van adjusted his spectacles and and good-tempered a relative.

chuckled. Whether it appeared to him, “Will you write 'ome, an' zay you've so generally ready to chatter with any zeen me, hey?” he asked with a laugh, one, a waste of time to talk to an usher expressive somehow of considerable on shipping insurance, it is impossible anxiety. I know that it struck me at to do more than conjecture. He only the time that something was wrong answered “Yes," and chuckled again, somewhere. It turned out afterwards but this time more dolefully. I fancy that he had been enjoying a little holi- he had overstayed his leave granted from day, without Aunt Clym, and he was home by my aunt. afraid lest I should be writing home to The boys had passed in, and we then my father an account of our meeting, were standing at the back door of the and so let the cat out of the bag. I school-yard, which opened on to a dull answered that I was not going to write, and dreary road, where an occasional but I would do so if he wished, when he tramp or beggar might be seen, but brightened up, and told me that I unless he had some eatables for sale he needn't do anything of the sort, as he could expect nothing from the pupils at would himself see my father, and bear Old Carter's. to him any message I might want to Where the wall of our school-yard send.

ended, another had been begun by some “I have none, thank you, Uncle enterprising builder, who, becoming deVan," I replied after some consideration pressed, had given it up, and left it to

“Your love, hey? he-he-he! and, tumble down as soon as it liked. It 'ope he's sholly," Uncle Van suggested, had commenced tumbling, and our boys by way of a dutiful formula, in the had assisted in making a breach, where absence of anything better.

we occasionally divided ourselves into I said, “Yes, that would do,” and military parties, and stormed and dethanked him for his kindness; but I fended in turn. really had nothing to say to my father While we were conversing, my atten

-nothing that at least would, as I tion was attracted to a woman appaknew from experience, interest him. rently hiding behind this fragment.

Uncle Van insisted upon seeing me Once she looked out, but on seeing that safely restored to Mr. Venn's usherly I was watching her, she quickly withcare, being perhaps fearful of my affec- drew. tion for him overcoming my discre- . I only wondered whether she might tion.

not be the old woman who dealt in “Mr. Venn, this is my Uncle Van," unwholesome sweets, boot-laces, handI said.

glasses, stationery, and pocket-knives, “Mr. Van Clym,” returned Mr. Venn; and who had been forbidden to come bowing.

within bounds. If so, I could not “Yes,” chuckled Uncle Van, “he- mention the fact to Mr. Venn. he; I 'ave come tese way to tese part If not, it was of no importance to of Kent, as I make a 'oliday wit my me, or to anybody. In the meantime business.”

Uncle Van Clym, who had allowed the “Shipping, I believe, Mr. Van Clym," cork of his unnatural reticence to be said Mr. Venn, politely. I had never drawn by our usher's skilfully applied seen him so affable.

screw of inquiry, was now bubbling “Oh! he-he-yes! ships and shippin'. over with details about losses in general, I like to zee for myzelf some time. It and the loss, mentioned by Mr. Venn, is zad tese large wrecks. Dese gales of the Prairie Bird in particular. He and tese losses-he-he! Well, we must had by this time heard from him the have losses-eh-he-he?

full corroboration of the account which

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