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verenced. She sat evidently weary, face turned up towards the canvass, but with a slight smile of exquisite as if I expected to hear it speak. And enjoyment; and it burst upon me more speak to me indeed it did, though not strongly even than before, that her in- with audible sounds ; for there whisspiration must arise from some full pered in my heart words which I had and rich source of ecstacy far beyond heard and read a hundred times, and all that skill or physical endowment learned by rote, without ever reflect. could supply. '0!' I thought, that ing on them. Indeed, perhaps, this me. I could sing like her! that I could chanical familiarity had deadened their experience her inward spring of rap- meaning or me. The words wereture and harmony!' The next mo- • Be of good cheer! I have overcome ment I blamed my own folly, and felt the world.'- I remember nothing more that this was mean and jealous envy. that evening, but that in the carriage, It flashed across me as something hor- on my way home with my aunt, my rible, that, after such abundant and eyes filled with tears, and my maid repure delight, I could so soon sink into marked the next morning that the this wretchedness, and a sharp pang front of my dress was stained as if I of self-reproach shot through me. I had been weeping profusely. Thus remember that I pressed my hand began a new period of my life, which strongly against my heart, for I com- I do not believe will ever end, not pletely crushed the little nosegay of even with earthly life itself.” lovely flowers which I was wearing. Collins answered nothing; but when The music and the dancing now again he said he must take leave of her, and began, and looking up for a moment go, there was an expression of strong in sad perplexity, I saw before me a feeling in his face, which could not be spectacle which altered the whole cur- mistaken. They had been walking up rent of my thoughts. It was a pic- and down the wood during their whole ture of the Saviour by one of the great conversation. It was now the depth Italian masters, I think of the Lom- of evening. Maria accompanied him bard school, and probably Luini. By to the gate of the enclosure, and they whomsoever painted, it was so grave, parted as friends for whom an hour so loving, so awful—but I cannot de. had been in place of years of mutual scribe it. For some minutes I had no sympathy. notion where I was, and sat with my
The next day Collins went, in pur- The structure from which these suance of his promise, to see the poor sounds came appeared about ten feet basketmaker of whom Maria had spo- square, and through the open door ken, and who was commonly known and window was seen the room which in the neighbourhood by the name of filled this space, and which was partly Jack Fowler. His dwelling was a occupied by a ladder-stair leading to small hut rather than cottage, close to the floor above. Facing the door a the road-side. Before his new visitor man was seated on a bench, and enreached it he heard a rough and crack- gaged in weaving a basket. He looked voice singing vigorously
ed up cheerfully as Collins stood be“Merry be we from morn till night,
fore him, and said—"Good morning!
good morning! Ah! Mr Collins come Merry be we, merry be we. We old fellows, in dark or light,
to see poor Jack Fowler! Well, you But ask the young to let us be.'
are kindly welcome. They do say
you know more about bees than any Then, when Collins was already close man in these parts. Take a seat, at hand, the tune was changed, and he sir, here on the bench--here's room caught the words
enough." “ The boy he never stops
Collins sat down and looked more In the whipping of his tops,
closely at him.
Jack Fowler proAnd the men whip each his neighbour ; bably considered himself past the But in wiser age we lay
middle age, being apparently about Our idle whips away,
seventy-five. He also seemed to be And sleep like the tops without labour.” in somewhat reduced circumstances, for his principal garment, perhaps in the trouble of being a gentleman, with some forgotten period a waggoner's all the wearisomeness of a fortune to frock, exhibited several holes, some of spend. Great blessing that. Don't them repaired by patches, and some you think so, sir?” still unsophisticated and gaping. His - Why, it seems to have been so to person bore the traces of similar and
you. But every man has not your probably more ancient injury, for it basketfull of heartiness, and if one had been shorn of a leg, and had re- wants that, I think a purse full of gold ceived as a substitute only a wooden no bad help.” mernber, resembling the original in “ So many think. I fancied so mylittle else than length, as to which the self for five minutes once, and then be. modern supporter had perhaps the ad- fore one could twist an ozier, I saw vantage over the preceding one. The what a big fool I was. Perhaps, too, right hand had apparently lost the use you think I had better be young than of two of its fingers, for which it had old. But if you do, I can tell you it found no remedy but in the dexterity is a thumping mistake, for I should of the others. The bust which crown- have all the work to do over again. ed this antique trunk was of higher I'd as soon have the waggon go over interest, for under the trenched and my leg again, just for fun. expansive forehead appeared a face of “ O! for the days when I was young! arch shrewdness and irresistible good- When I thought that I should ne'er be humour. The fine blue eyes were old, still bright, the cheek healthily ruddy, When the songs came a-bubbling off my and the sunken mouth wore a most tongue, gladdening smile. The old man had And the girl that heard the ballad I sung, beside and behind him the osiers which Never thought if my pocket held copper were the materials of his trade, and or gold; two or three baskets. The one he
O! for the days when I was young ! was at work on lay before him, and “ And yet in the days when I was young, on a three-legged stool, close to his In the days that now I remember well, knee, sat, with professorial gravity, a Hot words like sparks around I flung, black cat. While he spoke to his vi- And snatching at honey I often was stung, sitor he continued to ply his work, And what I have lost its hard to tell ; and broke out every now and then
So I had rather be old than young." with some light-hearted stanza.
“ All the old men I know," said “ How do you get on ?" said Col- Collins, “but you, would be young lips.
if they could, and none of the young “Oh, very well, sir, thank you. I would be old. So you see most men make it a rule to get on well. Never are not of your way of thinking.” got on ill in my life, except when the “ So much the worse for them. I waggon went over my leg, and before have tried both ends of life, and I like the doctor came to cut it off, and set the last best. And what's more, I am me all to rights again. I have never sure so would every body who made wanted a stocking for that leg since ; the most of what he has. I was a and only think what a saving that is. fool when I was young, and I did not Aye, aye, Mr Collins-all for the
know it, so I thought myself ill-treatbest.
ed. I am a fool now, but I do know “ Bald is my head, so it wears no lock it, and so I am content." For age or care to take hold of,
“ It is a queer thing to be contentAnd my forehead's a door where grief ed with.” may knock,
“ Not so queer maybe as you
think. But as well might he rap on the front of Burn those oziers ! they're as brittle a rock,
as glass. All the wise men I have ever For I am not the man he was told of."
seen, and half a dozen have fallen in “ Basket-making," said Collins, my way, one how or other, who were seems a merry sort of trade, to judge thought special wise in their own pa
rishes; all of them who fancied them“ Aye, sir, it is a merry trade selves wise, have fancied too, that the enough, like most others I know of, world was not good enough for them, for those that have merry hearts. And and have despised the greater nummine has never been heavy, since I ber of men ; those, you know, with first found I was not going to have the rough dirt upon them, but right
good ones many of them, nevertheless. ful when I don't feel it. To be sure These wise men, I say, have always I once took an osier, and said to mysupposed every thing, and everybody self, “Now, I'll cut a notch on this too coarse for them. I never saw one for every sin I can remember in all of them look right out, straight up, my life. I began going through the happy and merry. Now, it all seems job from the time I was a baby, and a too good for me, and so I should be a pretty lot of notches I soon had, and beast if I were not contented ; just as some of them terrible deep ones, too, the donkey that got into the hot-house that very nigh cut the twig right the other day, and ate up all those fine through. When I had done with it flowers and plants, and things, would I took another, and another, till at have been a wonderful big jackass if last I had five osiers, and nigh five it had not been satisfied, and had hundred notches,—for I told them off wanted a thistle."
quite regular, a hundred on each. And “ Your receipt for happiness must when I got the five all in my hands, be a curious and precious one; I should so—nice likely switches they were, much like to know it."
too, before I had hacked them in that • Bless you, I have no receipt, no cruel sort of way-I said to myself, more than our old women have a • Well, here are the rods to give my receipt for making flour-dumpling! conscience a drubbing, at all events. They do it quite naturally. And, the Then I fell a-thinking and a-pondersame way, I am as happy as can be, ing what would come of it all, and at except when I have the rheumatism in last I settled it all off as neat as a lady's my leg; and then I'm thankful that work-basket. So I took and shoved I'm not like to have it in the wooden the osiers into the fire; and though one, and that, by death or some way, they were too green to burn well, I most likely, it won't last for ever." got them all burned to ashes at last,
“ Have you no fear of death ?” and then I was a deal easier."
“ Fear! No. I'm afraid of nothing “ An ingenious way of burning I know of, but a lady who once came up your offences, at all events," said to see me, and sat on that stool where Collins. Pussy is, and talked for five hours “ Not at all—by no means. You're without stopping, all about her sym- on a wrong scent there. pathy-whatever that is—with the
“ The greyhound, for all he looks so fine, poor, and something that she called the Has no more nose than this donkey of poetry of basket-making, and a deal
mine. more. I'm told she is gone out of the country, so I suppose too much tongui
That wasn't it at all. But I began ness is made transportation now-it to see it in this way. Said I to myused to be only ducking. But even
self,— Here's a pretty baddish lot of when she was here I kept on making then I don't know what kind of tally
things against me, to be sure. But a basket, and sung a song or two while she talked. No fear of inter- other folk might have to show if they rupting her, you know; you might as
worked as many hours as I did, and well think to stop a windmill by cut as clean notches.' Nay, I have a whistling to it. So I could sing on pretty good guess that there are some quite comfortable, and not cut my in my time, that would be a deal worse
sullen, hard sort of men, I have seen manners too short either. “ Those with too much cash to think of,
off than I; for my notion is, that
I'm no worse than most, and better May the cares of life lament;
That's no help, you'll Give me but a spring to drink of, Bread and breath, and I'm content.
say. Right—very true-none in the
world. For I must be judged not " While I feel that I am living,
by this man or t'other man, but by Death's a fool to look so grim ; what I knew and might have done All who wish me dead forgiving,
myself, if I had been so minded. And When he comes I'll sing to him.” I don't believe, in my own mind,
“ Have you really no fear," asked there's one that would have much to Collins, “ of what may happen to you boast of, no, not Miss Maria Lascelles, hereafter?"
that's as like what they say of angels “ No; I cannot honestly say that I
as any one I know. If so be, then, have, and I'm too old to speak bash- that we are all of us what we are, that we have none of us any right to boast, myself_Well, I'm not clear that I and must all be brought to nothing if would give an osier-chip to save mywe were served right, then, I want to self dying any night of the year, only know, is the whole world to be swept I should like to finish a basket when clean away and destroyed ? and, if so, once I begin it.' Often and often I why was it made at all? Thinks I, think I would give a trifle to wake up that's not my way of doing with my some morning in another world, and baskets. It is a bad workman that see what we shall look like there-and finds his work good for nothing when whether I shall have my old leg again, all's done, and must break it all up or must make wings do instead." again. So I'm pretty certain there Collins soon took leave of him. He must be some help somewhere, if one afterwards discovered from others that could only find it out. Then, all of a the old man had experienced a life of sudden, like a flash of lightning, there misfortune; had lost wife and childcame into my head all the stories I ren and his little property in compahad ever heard about Jesus Christ. ratively early life, and that he had That silenced and steadied me all that now for many years worked at his day. I got a little boy from the school trade without obtaining from it enough to come and read me a bit of the Bible to supply the scantiest wants, the dein the evening ; and then I woke up ficiency being made up chiefly by the once or twice in the night and thought charity of some neighbouring families. about it, and then I saw the whole He was said to have preserved through thing as clear as daylight. I have life the same kindly cheerfulness which known ever since, as sure as possible, rendered him in Collins's eyes the very that God never meant me to be en- archetype of a happy temperament. tirely done away with because of my “ Well,” said the recluse to himsins, or he would not have sent any self, with a deep sigh, “ I do not envy one into the world to save me. And him. His poverty-stricken contentever since that time, which is a good ment in such circumstances is mean while ago, I dare say a matter of thirty and slavish ; and it is sad to see a rayears or more, I have never set to tional being so satisfied with such a work upon the tallies again or troubled state of ignorance. Ignorance, indeed, my head about them, though I know is what the wisest must put up with. well enough that I should not make Let us prize, however, what largeness any more such deep notches if I be- of existence and fulness of knowledge gan to cut again now. But osiers, we can attain to-and, comparing this you see, are dear, and I want them forlot with that of others, of such as the my baskets, so I don't try. Ever since basketmaker, therein rejoice." I've been as gay as a lark. Many a But while he thus reflected, his look time, when I have seen people pulling and bearing were far from indicating long faces about death, I have said to perfect comfort and serenity.
On the following morning a packet beautiful and bold character which he was brought to Collins, which, as he so well remembered, but had become very seldom received any communica- rather weaker and less steady. The tion, seemed to him an important oe- contents were to this effect:
He looked for some time at the outside with surprise, but could “ You will be much surprised at guess nothing from this. On opening hearing from me, but not more than I it, even before he had read a word, he should have been till lately, had any was much moved. The handwriting one proposed to me to write to you. of the first letter he came to was that I have never, indeed, ceased to feel of a woman of whom he had seen no- for you warmly ; but I knew that you thing and heard little for ten years. bad deliberately avoided me.
Nay, I She was the siren of whom he had owned to myself that you were right spoken to Maria, from whose charms in doing so. I need not bid you enhe had escaped with the help of the deavour to recall the days when we · advice of Mrs Lascelles. The hand. saw each other frequently. I have writing was, in general, of the same no doubt that you remember them well. Although we never came to an sound of waves without seeing your avowed understanding of each other's image before me as you then were hearts, it was a shining glowing -young, buoyant, and enthusiastic, time for both when we exchanged with your kindled cheeks and raven passion for passion; when your ear. hair falling wildly round your forenestness and my fancy encountered head. Your strange but stirring and timidly yet most fondly, and we said heartfelt words have always seemed to to ourselves that this in truth was me mingled inseparably with the murlove, while we dared not say it to one mur of the waters. In happy dreams another. That all this was guilt and which renewed my musing youth, for disgrace to me, that my affection for when I knew you I was little more than you was crime against him to whom twenty, I have sometimes believed my fidelity was vowed, I well know. that we are twin spirits of the ocean, I will not add to my offence by now al. floating with visionary forms beneath leging the excuses which his charac. the stars, and with airy feet skimming ter, and conduct, and utter indifference over the white foam. towards me, then seemed to furnish; “ But I did not propose to write to and to which in living apart from me, you on this subject. My love for you as entirely for his own gratification - I now dare call it by its namehe did, he appeared to give almost a what should I not now dare ? has been public sanction. True as all this was, to me a source of countless, pleasant, I nevertheless knew the right and and painful thoughts. But the events chose the wrong, and the dwelling on which have led me now to write to these things as justifications was but you are of a very different characa new breach of duty. I may, how- ter, and the recollection of them perever, say, that I trust you have never petually corrodes me with grief and known what it is, in the full strength shame. For some years after we of emotion and imagination to have no parted I lived in a state of dreary one to love, to see that all the trea. indifference, occupying myself as I sures of the soul have been bestowed could with society, literature, and all in vain on one who has no value for the beautiful arts. I had become acthem, nay, no conception that they quainted with an illustrious musical could have a worth, and who finds in composer, whose music had a characthe vulgarest pleasures more than a ter of strong feeling and sublime imacompensation for the devoted faith gination, to me peculiarly elevating which he throws away as a cast gar- and delightful. Sometimes I visited ment. Such was my state when I the infirm old man, who was almost
I can still, after so many blind, and could not rise from his years—and such years !--recall the chair, yet under the inspiration of his deep rapture, mingled with trembling art awoke into divine energy. Isang self-reproach, and I have sometimes to him the favourite airs of his own fancied, heightened by it, which filled composition, while he touched the my breast, when I learned to read in piano, and now and then gave me a you all I had so vainly hoped for in suggestion or a criticism of memorable another. I had no design of capti- felicity. There was a poet also favating you, but your sympathy was miliar with him, for whose words dearer to me than the admiration and some of his most perfect melodies had homage of all the world, and I may been created. He, too, was in the now say that I am persuaded I should habit of visiting this harmonious enhave given up all to possess it fully. chanter, who sometimes laid before You acted wisely, rightly, herciculi, me a song newly produced by both, and when you left me ; and I can more asked me to sing it for him. I willingly than forgive you, I can thank you, did so, and some of these strains were for all the tears and groans you cost so exquisite, and gave me such high me. I then went to the seaside for enjoyment, that I probably sang with my health, and lived in a lonely farm- more force and expression in the dark house away from all my acquaintan- and narrow room of the old man, with ces. I used to spend hours sitting on none but him near me, than I ever the shore thinking of you, and so gave to the most admired of my strong was the impression this period performances, such as they were, in of my life made on me that I have the midst of crowded and applauding never since been able to hear the circles. In the musician's study, near