Part 1 out of 4
Etext by James Rusk, firstname.lastname@example.org. Italics are indicated by the
underscore character (_). Acute accents are indicated by a single quote
(') after the vowel, while grave accents have a single quote before the
vowel. All other accents are ignored.
by Charles Reade
I dedicate all that is good in this work to my mother.--C. R.,
THIS story was written three years ago, and one or two topics in it are
not treated exactly as they would be if written by the same hand to-day.
But if the author had retouched those pages with his colors of 1853, he
would (he thinks) have destroyed the only merit they have, viz., that of
containing genuine contemporaneous verdicts upon a cant that was
flourishing like a peony, and a truth that was struggling for bare life,
in the year of truth 1850.
He prefers to deal fairly with the public, and, with this explanation and
apology, to lay at its feet a faulty but genuine piece of work.
VISCOUNT IPSDEN, aged twenty-five, income eighteen thousand pounds per
year, constitution equine, was unhappy! This might surprise some people;
but there are certain blessings, the non-possession of which makes more
people discontented than their possession renders happy.
Foremost among these are "Wealth and Rank." Were I to add "Beauty" to the
list, such men and women as go by fact, not by conjecture, would hardly
The fortunate man is he who, born poor, or nobody, works gradually up to
wealth and consideration, and, having got them, dies before he finds they
were not worth so much trouble.
Lord Ipsden started with nothing to win; and naturally lived for
amusement. Now nothing is so sure to cease to please as pleasure--to
amuse, as amusement. Unfortunately for himself he could not at this
period of his life warm to politics; so, having exhausted his London
clique, he rolled through the cities of Europe in his carriage, and
cruised its shores in his yacht. But he was not happy!
He was a man of taste, and sipped the arts and other knowledge, as he
sauntered Europe round.
But he was not happy.
"What shall I do?" said _l'ennuye'._
"Distinguish yourself," said one.
No immediate answer.
"Take a _prima donna_ over," said another.
Well, the man took a _prima donna_ over, which scolded its maid from the
Alps to Dover in the _lingua Toscana_ without the _bocca Romana,_ and
sang in London without applause; because what goes down at La Scala does
not generally go down at Il Teatro della Regina, Haymarket.
So then my lord strolled into Russia; there he drove a pair of horses,
one of whom put his head down and did the work; the other pranced and
capricoled alongside, all unconscious of the trace. He seemed happier
than his working brother; but the biped whose career corresponded with
this playful animal's was not happy!
At length an event occurred that promised to play an adagio upon Lord
Ipsden 's mind. He fell in love with Lady Barbara Sinclair; and he had no
sooner done this than he felt, as we are all apt to do on similar
occasions, how wise a thing he had done!
Besides a lovely person, Lady Barbara Sinclair had a character that he
saw would make him; and, in fact, Lady Barbara Sinclair was, to an
inexperienced eye, the exact opposite of Lord Ipsden.
Her mental impulse was as plethoric as his was languid.
She was as enthusiastic as he was cool.
She took a warm interest in everything. She believed that government is a
science, and one that goes with _copia verborum._
She believed that, in England, government is administered, not by a set
of men whose salaries range from eighty to five hundred pounds a year,
and whose names are never heard, but by the First Lord of the Treasury,
and other great men.
Hence she inferred, that it matters very much to all of us in whose hand
is the rudder of that state vessel which goes down the wind of public
opinion, without veering a point, let who will be at the helm.
She also cared very much who was the new bishop. Religion--if not
religion, theology--would be affected thereby.
She was enthusiastic about poets; imagined their verse to be some sort of
clew to their characters, and so on.
She had other theories, which will be indicated by and by; at present it
is enough to say that her mind was young, healthy, somewhat original,
full of fire and faith, and empty of experience.
Lord Ipsden loved her! it was easy to love her.
First, there was not, in the whole range of her mind and body, one grain
of affectation of any sort.
She was always, in point of fact, under the influence of some male mind
or other, generally some writer. What young woman is not, more or less, a
mirror? But she never imitated or affected; she was always herself, by
Then she was beautiful and eloquent; much too high-bred to put a
restraint upon her natural manner, she was often more _naive,_ and even
brusk, than your would-be aristocrats dare to be; but what a charming
abruptness hers was!
I do not excel in descriptions, and yet I want to give you some carnal
idea of a certain peculiarity and charm this lady possessed; permit me to
call a sister art to my aid.
There has lately stepped upon the French stage a charming personage,
whose manner is quite free from the affectation that soils nearly all
French actresses--Mademoiselle Madeleine Brohan! When you see this young
lady play Mademoiselle La Segli'ere, you see high-bred sensibility
personified, and you see something like Lady Barbara Sinclair.
She was a connection of Lord Ipsden's, but they had not met for two
years, when they encountered each other in Paris just before the
commencement of this "Dramatic Story," "Novel" by courtesy.
The month he spent in Paris, near her, was a bright month to Lord Ipsden.
A bystander would not have gathered, from his manner, that he was warmly
in love with this lady; but, for all that, his lordship was gradually
uncoiling himself, and gracefully, quietly basking in the rays of Barbara
He was also just beginning to take an interest in subjects of the
day--ministries, flat paintings, controversial novels, Cromwell's
spotless integrity, etc.--why not? They interested her.
Suddenly the lady and her family returned to England. Lord Ipsden, who
was going to Rome, came to England instead.
She had not been five days in London, before she made her preparations to
spend six months in Perthshire.
This brought matters to a climax.
Lord Ipsden proposed in form.
Lady Barbara was surprised; she had not viewed his graceful attentions in
that light at all. However, she answered by letter his proposal which had
been made by letter.
After a few of those courteous words a lady always bestows on a gentleman
who has offered her the highest compliment any man has it in his power to
offer any woman, she came to the point in the following characteristic
"The man I marry must have two things, virtues and vices--you have
neither. You do nothing, and never will do anything but sketch and hum
tunes, and dance and dangle. Forget this folly the day after to-morrow,
my dear Ipsden, and, if I may ask a favor of one to whom I refuse that
which would not be a kindness, be still good friends with her who will
"Your affectionate _Cousin,_
Soon after this effusion she vanished into Perthshire, leaving her cousin
stunned by a blow which she thought would be only a scratch to one of his
Lord Ipsden relapsed into greater listlessness than before he had
cherished these crushed hopes. The world now became really dark and blank
to him. He was too languid to go anywhere or do anything; a republican
might have compared the settled expression of his handsome, hopeless face
with that of most day-laborers of the same age, and moderated his envy of
the rich and titled.
At last he became so pale as well as languid that Mr. Saunders
Saunders was a model valet and factotum; who had been with his master
ever since he left Eton, and had made himself necessary to him in their
The said Saunders was really an invaluable servant, and, with a world of
obsequiousness, contrived to have his own way on most occasions. He had,
I believe, only one great weakness, that of imagining a beau-ideal of
aristocracy and then outdoing it in the person of John Saunders.
Now this Saunders was human, and could not be eight years with this young
gentleman and not take some little interest in him. He was flunky, and
took a great interest in him, as stepping-stone to his own greatness. So
when he saw him turning pale and thin, and reading one letter fifty
times, he speculated and inquired what was the matter. He brought the
intellect of Mr. Saunders to bear on the question at the following angle:
"Now, if I was a young lord with 20,000 pounds a year, and all the world
at my feet, what would make me in this way? Why, the liver! Nothing else.
"And that is what is wrong with him, you may depend."
This conclusion arrived at, Mr. Saunders coolly wrote his convictions to
Dr. Aberford, and desired that gentleman's immediate attention to the
case. An hour or two later, he glided into his lord's room, not without
some secret trepidation, no trace of which appeared on his face. He
pulled a long histrionic countenance. "My lord," said he, in soft,
melancholy tones, "your lordship's melancholy state of health gives me
great anxiety; and, with many apologies to your lordship, the doctor is
sent for, my lord."
"Why, Saunders, you are mad; there is nothing the matter with me."
"I beg your lordship's pardon, your lordship is very ill, and Dr.
Aberford sent for."
"You may go, Saunders."
"Yes, my lord. I couldn't help it; I've outstepped my duty, my lord, but
I could not stand quiet and see your lordship dying by inches." Here Mr.
S. put a cambric handkerchief artistically to his eyes, and glided out,
having disarmed censure.
Lord Ipsden fell into a reverie.
"Is my mind or my body disordered? Dr. Aberford!--absurd!--Saunders is
getting too pragmatical. The doctor shall prescribe for him instead of
me; by Jove, that would serve him right." And my lord faintly chuckled.
"No! this is what I am ill of"--and he read the fatal note again. "I do
nothing!--cruel, unjust," sighed he. "I could have done, would have done,
anything to please her. Do nothing! nobody does anything now--things
don't come in your way to be done as they used centuries ago, or we
should do them just the same; it is their fault, not ours," argued his
lordship, somewhat confusedly; then, leaning his brow upon the sofa, he
wished to die. For, at that dark moment life seemed to this fortunate man
an aching void; a weary, stale, flat, unprofitable tale; a faded flower;
a ball-room after daylight has crept in, and music, motion and beauty are
"Dr. Aberford, my lord."
This announcement, made by Mr. Saunders, checked his lordship's reverie.
"Insults everybody, does he not, Saunders?"
"Yes, my lord," said Saunders, monotonously.
"Perhaps he will me; that might amuse me," said the other.
A moment later the doctor bowled into the apartment, tugging at his
gloves, as he ran.
The contrast between him and our poor rich friend is almost beyond human
Here lay on a sofa Ipsden, one of the most distinguished young gentlemen
in Europe; a creature incapable, by nature, of a rugged tone or a coarse
gesture; a being without the slightest apparent pretension, but refined
beyond the wildest dream of dandies. To him, enter Aberford, perspiring
and shouting. He was one of those globules of human quicksilver one sees
now and then for two seconds; they are, in fact, two globules; their head
is one, invariably bald, round, and glittering; the body is another in
activity and shape, _totus teres atque rotundus;_ and in fifty years they
live five centuries. _Horum Rex Aberford_--of these our doctor was the
chief. He had hardly torn off one glove, and rolled as far as the third
flower from the door on his lordship's carpet, before he shouted:
"This is my patient, lolloping in pursuit of health. Your hand," added
he. For he was at the sofa long before his lordship could glide off it.
"Tongue. Pulse is good. Breathe in my face."
"Breathe in your face, sir! how can I do that?" (with an air of mild
"By first inhaling, and then exhaling in the direction required, or how
can I make acquaintance with your bowels?"
"The abdomen, and the greater and lesser intestines. Well, never mind, I
can get at them another way; give your heart a slap, so. That's your
liver. And that's your diaphragm."
His lordship having found the required spot (some people that I know
could not) and slapped it, the Aberford made a circular spring and
listened eagerly at his shoulder-blade; the result of this scientific
pantomime seemed to be satisfactory, for he exclaimed, not to say bawled:
"Halo! here is a viscount as sound as a roach! Now, young gentleman,"
added he, "your organs are superb, yet you are really out of sorts; it
follows you have the maladies of idle minds, love, perhaps, among the
rest; you blush, a diagnostic of that disorder; make your mind easy,
cutaneous disorders, such as love, etc., shall never kill a patient of
mine with a stomach like yours. So, now to cure you!" And away went the
spherical doctor, with his hands behind him, not up and down the room,
but slanting and tacking, like a knight on a chess-board. He had not made
many steps before, turning his upper globule, without affecting his
lower, he hurled back, in a cold business-like tone, the following
"What are your vices?"
"Saunders," inquired the patient, "which are my vices?"
"M'lord, lordship hasn't any vices," replied Saunders, with dull,
"Lady Barbara makes the same complaint," thought Lord Ipsden.
"It seems I have not any vices, Dr. Aberford," said he, demurely.
"That is bad; nothing to get hold of. What interests you, then?"
"I don't remember."
"What amuses you?"
"What! no winning horse to gallop away your rents?"
"No opera girl to run her foot and ankle through your purse?"
"No, sir! and I think their ankles are not what they were."
"Stuff! just the same, from their ankles up to their ears, and down again
to their morals; it is your eyes that are sunk deeper into your head.
Hum! no horses, no vices, no dancers, no yacht; you confound one's
notions of nobility, and I ought to know them, for I have to patch them
all up a bit just before they go to the deuce."
"But I have, Doctor Aberford."
"A yacht! and a clipper she is, too."
"Ah!--(Now I've got him.)"
"In the Bay of Biscay she lay half a point nearer the wind than Lord
"Oh! bother Lord Heavyjib, and his Bay of Biscay."
"With all my heart, they have often bothered me."
"Send her round to Granton Pier, in the Firth of Forth."
"I will, sir."
"And write down this prescription." And away he walked again, thinking
"Saunders," appealed his master.
"Saunders be hanged."
"Sir!" said Saunders, with dignity, "I thank you."
"Don't thank me, thank your own deserts," replied the modern
Chesterfield. "Oblige me by writing it yourself, my lord, it is all the
bodily exercise you will have had to-day, no doubt."
The young viscount bowed, seated himself at a desk, and wrote from
"DR. ABERFORD'S PRESCRIPTION.
"Make acquaintance with all the people of low estate who have time to be
bothered with you; learn their ways, their minds, and, above all, their
"Won't all this bore me?" suggested the writer.
"You will see. Relieve one fellow-creature every day, and let Mr.
Saunders book the circumstances."
"I shall like this part," said the patient, laying down his pen. "How
clever of you to think of such things; may not I do two sometimes?"
"Certainly not; one pill per day. Write, Fish the herring! (that beats
deer-stalking.) Run your nose into adventures at sea; live on tenpence,
and earn it. Is it down?"
"Yes, it is down, but Saunders would have written it better."
"If he hadn't he ought to be hanged," said the Aberford, inspecting the
work. "I'm off, where's my hat? oh, there; where's my money? oh, here.
Now look here, follow my prescription, and
You will soon have Mens sana in corpore sano; And not care whether the
girls say yes or say no;
neglect it, and--my gloves; oh, in my pocket--you will be _blase'_ and
_ennuye',_ and (an English participle, that means something as bad); God
And out he scuttled, glided after by Saunders, for whom he opened and
shut the street door.
Never was a greater effect produced by a doctor's visit; patient and
physician were made for each other. Dr. Aberford was the specific for
Lord Ipsden. He came to him like a shower to a fainting strawberry.
Saunders, on his return, found his lord pacing the apartment.
"Saunders," said he, smartly, "send down to Gravesend and order the yacht
to this place--what is it?"
"Granton Pier. Yes, my lord."
"And, Saunders, take clothes, and books, and violins, and telescopes, and
things--and me--to Euston Square, in an hour."
"Impossible,' my lord," cried Saunders, in dismay. "And there is no train
His master replied with a hundred-pound note, and a quiet, but wickedish
look; and the prince of gentlemen's gentleman had all the required items
with him, in a special train, within the specified time, and away they
IT is said that opposite characters make a union happiest; and perhaps
Lord Ipsden, diffident of himself, felt the value to him of a creature so
different as Lady Barbara Sinclair; but the lady, for her part, was not
so diffident of herself, nor was she in search of her opposite. On the
contrary, she was waiting patiently to find just such a man as she was,
or fancied herself, a woman.
Accustomed to measure men by their characters alone, and to treat with
sublime contempt the accidents of birth and fortune, she had been a
little staggered by the assurance of this butterfly that had proposed to
settle upon her hand--for life.
In a word, the beautiful writer of the fatal note was honestly romantic,
according to the romance of 1848, and of good society; of course she was
not affected by hair tumbling back or plastered down forward, and a
rolling eye went no further with her than a squinting one.
Her romance was stern, not sickly. She was on the lookout for iron
virtues; she had sworn to be wooed with great deeds, or never won; on
this subject she had thought much, though not enough to ask herself
whether great deeds are always to be got at, however disposed a lover may
No matter; she kept herself in reserve for some earnest man, who was not
to come flattering and fooling to her, but look another way and do
She liked Lord Ipsden, her cousin once removed, but despised him for
being agreeable, handsome, clever, and nobody.
She was also a little bitten with what she and others called the Middle
Ages, in fact with that picture of them which Grub Street, imposing on
the simplicity of youth, had got up for sale by arraying painted glass,
gilt rags, and fancy, against fact.
With these vague and sketchy notices we are compelled to part, for the
present, with Lady Barbara. But it serves her right; she has gone to
establish her court in Perthshire, and left her rejected lover on our
Journeys of a few hundred miles are no longer described.
You exchange a dead chair for a living chair, Saunders puts in your hand
a new tale like this; you mourn the superstition of booksellers, which
still inflicts uncut leaves upon humanity, though tailors do not send
home coats with the sleeves stitched up, nor chambermaids put travelers
into apple-pie beds as well as damp sheets. You rend and read, and are at
Edinburgh, fatigued more or less, but not by the journey.
Lord Ipsden was, therefore, soon installed by the Firth side, full of the
The young nobleman not only venerated the doctor's sagacity, but half
admired his brusquerie and bustle; things of which he was himself never
As for the prescription, that was a Delphic Oracle. Worlds could not have
tempted him to deviate from a letter in it.
He waited with impatience for the yacht; and, meantime, it struck him
that the first part of the prescription could be attacked at once.
It was the afternoon of the day succeeding his arrival. The Fifeshire
hills, seen across the Firth from his windows, were beginning to take
their charming violet tinge, a light breeze ruffled the blue water into a
sparkling smile, the shore was tranquil, and the sea full of noiseless
life, with the craft of all sizes gliding and dancing and courtesying on
their trackless roads.
The air was tepid, pure and sweet as heaven; this bright afternoon,
Nature had grudged nothing that could give fresh life and hope to such
dwellers in dust and smoke and vice as were there to look awhile on her
clean face and drink her honeyed breath.
This young gentleman was not insensible to the beauty of the scene. He
was a little lazy by nature, and made lazier by the misfortune of wealth,
but he had sensibilities; he was an artist of great natural talent; had
he only been without a penny, how he would have handled the brush! And
then he was a mighty sailor; if he had sailed for biscuit a few years,
how he would have handled a ship!
As he was, he had the eye of a hawk for Nature's beauties, and the sea
always came back to him like a friend after an absence.
This scene, then, curled round his heart a little, and he felt the good
physician was wiser than the tribe that go by that name, and strive to
build health on the sandy foundation of drugs.
"Saunders! do you know what Dr. Aberford means by the lower classes?"
"Perfectly, my lord."
"Are there any about here?"
"I am sorry to say they are everywhere, my lord."
"Get me some"--_(cigarette)._
Out went Saunders, with his usual graceful _empressement,_ but an
internal shrug of his shoulders.
He was absent an hour and a half; he then returned with a double
expression on his face--pride at his success in diving to the very bottom
of society, and contempt of what he had fished up thence.
He approached his lord mysteriously, and said, _sotto voce,_ but
impressively, "This is low enough, my lord." Then glided back, and
ushered in, with polite disdain, two lovelier women than he had ever
opened a door to in the whole course of his perfumed existence.
On their heads they wore caps of Dutch or Flemish origin, with a broad
lace border, stiffened and arched over the forehead, about three inches
high, leaving the brow and cheeks unencumbered.
They had cotton jackets, bright red and yellow, mixed in patterns,
confined at the waist by the apron-strings, but bobtailed below the
waist; short woolen petticoats, with broad vertical stripes, red and
white, most vivid in color; white worsted stockings, and neat, though
high-quartered shoes. Under their jackets they wore a thick spotted
cotton handkerchief, about one inch of which was visible round the lower
part of the throat. Of their petticoats, the outer one was kilted, or
gathered up toward the front, and the second, of the same color, hung in
the usual way.
Of these young women, one had an olive complexion, with the red blood
mantling under it, and black hair, and glorious black eyebrows.
The other was fair, with a massive but shapely throat, as white as milk;
glossy brown hair, the loose threads of which glittered like gold, and a
blue eye, which, being contrasted with dark eyebrows and lashes, took the
luminous effect peculiar to that rare beauty.
Their short petticoats revealed a neat ankle, and a leg with a noble
swell; for Nature, when she is in earnest, builds beauty on the ideas of
ancient sculptors and poets, not of modern poetasters, who, with their
airy-like sylphs and their smoke-like verses, fight for want of flesh in
woman and want of fact in poetry as parallel beauties.
_They are,_ my lads.--_Continuez!_
These women had a grand corporeal trait; they had never known a corset!
so they were straight as javelins; they could lift their hands above
their heads!--actually! Their supple persons moved as Nature intended;
every gesture was ease, grace and freedom.
What with their own radiance, and the snowy cleanliness and brightness of
their costume, they came like meteors into the apartment.
Lord Ipsden, rising gently from his seat, with the same quiet politeness
with which he would have received two princes of the blood, said, "How do
you do?" and smiled a welcome.
"Fine! hoow's yoursel?" answered the dark lass, whose name was Jean
Carnie, and whose voice was not so sweet as her face.
"What'n lord are ye?" continued she; "are you a juke? I wad like fine to
hae a crack wi' a juke."
Saunders, who knew himself the cause of this question, replied, _sotto
voce,_ "His lordship is a viscount."
"I didna ken't," was Jean's remark. "But it has a bonny soond."
"What mair would ye hae?" said the fair beauty, whose name was Christie
Johnstone. Then, appealing to his lordship as the likeliest to know, she
added, "Nobeelity is jist a soond itsel, I'm tauld."
The viscount, finding himself expected to say something on a topic he had
not attended much to, answered dryly: "We must ask the republicans, they
are the people that give their minds to such subjects."
"And yon man," asked Jean Carnie, "is he a lord, too?"
"I am his lordship's servant," replied Saunders, gravely, not without a
secret misgiving whether fate had been just.
"Na!" replied she, not to be imposed upon, "ye are statelier and prooder
than this ane."
"I will explain," said his master. "Saunders knows his value; a servant
like Saunders is rarer than an idle viscount."
"My lord, my lord!" remonstrated Saunders, with a shocked and most
disclamatory tone. "Rather!" was his inward reflection.
"Jean," said Christie, "ye hae muckle to laern. Are ye for herrin' the
day, vile count?"
"No! are you for this sort of thing?"
At this, Saunders, with a world of _empressement,_ offered the Carnie
some cake that was on the table.
She took a piece, instantly spat it out into her hand, and with more
energy than delicacy flung it into the fire.
"Augh!" cried she, "just a sugar and saut butter thegither; buy nae mair
at yon shoep, vile count."
"Try this, out of Nature's shop," laughed their entertainer; and he
offered them, himself, some peaches and things.
"Hech! a medi--cine!" said Christie.
"Nature, my lad," said Miss Carnie, making her ivory teeth meet in their
first nectarine, "I didna ken whaur ye stoep, but ye beat the other
confectioners, that div ye."
The fair lass, who had watched the viscount all this time as demurely as
a cat cream, now approached him.
This young woman was the thinker; her voice was also rich, full, and
melodious, and her manner very engaging; it was half advancing, half
retiring, not easy to resist or to describe.
"Noo," said she, with a very slight blush stealing across her face, "ye
maun let me catecheeze ye, wull ye?"
The last two words were said in a way that would have induced a bear to
reveal his winter residence.
He smiled assent. Saunders retired to the door, and, excluding every
shade of curiosity from his face, took an attitude, half majesty, half
Christie stood by Lord Ipsden, with one hand on her hip (the knuckles
downward), but graceful as Antinous, and began.
"Hoo muckle is the queen greater than y' are?"
His lordship was obliged to reflect.
"Let me see--as is the moon to a wax taper, so is her majesty the queen
to you and me, and the rest."
"An' whaur does the Juke* come in?"
"On this particular occasion, the Duke** makes one of us, my pretty
"I see! Are na yeawfu' prood o' being a lorrd?"
"What an idea!"
"His lordship did not go to bed a spinning-jenny, and rise up a lord,
like some of them," put in Saunders.
"Saunders," said the peer, doubtfully, "eloquence rather bores people."
"Then I mustn't speak again, my lord," said Saunders, respectfully.
"Noo," said the fair inquisitor, "ye shall tell me how ye came to be
lorrds, your faemily?"
"Na! ye manna flee to Sandy for a thing, ye are no a bairn, are ye?"
Here was a dilemma, the Saunders prop knocked rudely away, and obliged to
think for ourselves.
But Saunders would come to his distressed master's assistance. He
furtively conveyed to him a plump book--this was Saunders's manual of
faith; the author was Mr. Burke, not Edmund.
Lord Ipsden ran hastily over the page, closed the book, and said, "Here
is the story.
"Five hundred years ago--"
"Listen, Jean," said Christie; "we're gaun to get a boeny story. 'Five
hundre' years ago,'" added she, with interest and awe.
"Was a great battle," resumed the narrator, in cheerful tones, as one
larking with history, "between a king of England and his rebels. He was
in the thick of the fight--"
"That's the king, Jean, he was in the thick o't."
"My ancestor killed a fellow who was sneaking behind him, but the next
moment a man-at-arms prepared a thrust at his majesty, who had his hands
full with three assailants."
"Eh! that's no fair," said Christie, "as sure as deeth."
"My ancestor dashed forward, and, as the king's sword passed through one
of them, he clove another to the waist with a blow."
"Weel done! weel done!"
Lord Ipsden looked at the speaker, her eyes were glittering, and her
"Good Heavens!" thought he; "she believes it!" So he began to take more
pains with his legend.
"But for the spearsman," continued he, "he had nothing but his body; he
gave it, it was his duty, and received the death leveled at his
"Hech! puir mon." And the glowing eyes began to glisten.
"The battle flowed another way, and God gave victory to the right; but
the king came back to look for him, for it was no common service."
Here Lord Ipsden began to turn his eye inward, and call up the scene. He
lowered his voice.
"They found him lying on his back, looking death in the face.
"The nobles, by the king's side, uncovered as soon as he was found, for
they were brave men, too. There was a moment's silence; eyes met eyes,
and said, this is a stout soldier's last battle.
"The king could not bid him live."
"Na! lad, King Deeth has ower strong a grrip."
"But he did what kings can do, he gave him two blows with his royal
"Oh, the robber, and him a deeing mon."
"Two words from his royal mouth, and he and we were Barons of Ipsden and
Hawthorn Glen from that day to this."
"But the puir dying creature?"
"What poor dying creature?"
"Your forbear, lad."
"I don't know why you call him poor, madam; all the men of that day are
dust; they are the gold dust who died with honor.
"He looked round, uneasily, for his son--for he had but one--and when
that son knelt, unwounded, by him, he said, 'Goodnight, Baron Ipsden;'
and so he died, fire in his eye, a smile on his lip, and honor on his
name forever. I meant to tell you a lie, and I've told you the truth."
"Laddie," said Christie, half admiringly, half reproachfully, "ye gar the
tear come in my een. Hech! look at yon lassie! how could you think t'eat
plums through siccan a bonny story?"
"Hets," answered Jean, who had, in fact, cleared the plate, "I aye listen
best when my ain mooth's stappit."
"But see, now," pondered Christie, "twa words fra a king--thir titles are
"Of course," was the answer. "All titles are. What is popularity? ask
Aristides and Lamartine--the breath of a mob--smells of its source--and
is gone before the sun can set on it. Now the royal breath does smell of
the Rose and Crown, and stays by us from age to age."
The story had warmed our marble acquaintance. Saunders opened his eyes,
and thought, "We shall wake up the House of Lords some evening--_we_
His lordship then added, less warmly, looking at the girls:
"I think I should like to be a fisherman."
So saying, my lord yawned slightly.
To this aspiration the young fishwives deigned no attention, doubting,
perhaps, its sincerity; and Christie, with a shade of severity, inquired
of him how he came to be a vile count.
"A baron's no' a vile count, I'm sure," said she; "sae tell me how ye
came to be a vile count."
"Ah!" said he, "that is by no means a pretty story like the other; you
will not like it, I am sure.
"Ay, will I--ay, will I; I'm aye seeking knoewledge."
"Well, it is soon told. One of us sat twenty years on one seat, in the
same house, so one day he got up a--viscount."
"Ower muckle pay for ower little wark."
"Now don't say that; I wouldn't do it to be Emperor of Russia."
"Aweel, I hae gotten a heap out o' ye; sae noow I'll gang, since ye are
no for herrin'; come away, Jean."
At this their host remonstrated, and inquired why bores are at one's
service night and day, and bright people are always in a hurry; he was
informed in reply, "Labor is the lot o' man. Div ye no ken that muckle?
And abune a' o' women."*
* A local idea, I suspect.--C. R.
"Why, what can two such pretty creatures have to do except to be
This question coming within the dark beauty's scope, she hastened to
"To sell our herrin'--we hae three hundre' left in the creel."
"What is the price?"
At this question the poetry died out of Christie Johnstone's face, she
gave her companion a rapid look, indiscernible by male eye, and answered:
"Three a penny, sirr; they are no plenty the day," added she, in smooth
tones that carried conviction.
(Little liar; they were selling six a penny everywhere.)
"Saunders, buy them all, and be ever so long about it; count them, or
"He's daft! he's daft! Oh, ye ken, Jean, an Ennglishman and a lorrd, twa
daft things thegither, he could na' miss the road. Coont them, lassie."
"Come away, Sandy, till I count them till ye," said Jean.
Saunders and Jean disappeared.
Business being out of sight, curiosity revived.
"An' what brings ye here from London, if ye please?" recommenced the fair
"You have a good countenance; there is something in your face. I could
find it in my heart to tell you, but I should bore you."
"De'el a fear! Bore me, bore me! wheat's thaat, I wonder?"
"What is your name, madam? Mine is Ipsden."
"They ca' me Christie Johnstone."
"Well, Christie Johnstone, I am under the doctor's hands."
"Puir lad. What's the trouble?" (solemnly and tenderly.)
"Ennui!" (rather piteously.)
"Yawn-we? I never heerd tell o't."
"Oh, you lucky girl," burst out he; "but the doctor has undertaken to
cure me; in one thing you could assist me, if I am not presuming too far
on our short acquaintance. I am to relieve one poor distressed person
every day, but I mustn't do two. Is not that a bore?"
"Gie's your hand, gie's your hand. I'm vexed for ca'ing you daft. Hech!
what a saft hand ye hae. Jean, I'm saying, come here, feel this."
Jean, who had run in, took the viscount's hand from Christie.
"It never wroucht any," explained Jean. "And he has bonny hair," said
Christie, just touching his locks on the other side.
"He's a bonny lad," said Jean, inspecting him scientifically, and
"Ay, is he," said the other. "Aweel, there's Jess Rutherford, a widdy,
wi' four bairns, ye meicht do waur than ware your siller on her."
"Five pounds to begin?" inquired his lordship.
"Five pund! Are ye made o' siller? Ten schell'n!"
Saunders was rung for, and produced a one-pound note.
"The herrin' is five and saxpence; it's four and saxpence I'm awin ye,"
said the young fishwife, "and Jess will be a glad woman the neicht."
The settlement was effected, and away went the two friends, saying:
"Good-boye, vile count."
Their host fell into thought.
"When have I talked so much?" asked he of himself.
"Dr. Aberford, you are a wonderful man; I like your lower classes
"Me'fiez vous, Monsieur Ipsden!" should some mentor have said.
As the Devil puts into a beginner's hands ace, queen, five trumps, to
give him a taste for whist, so these lower classes have perhaps put
forward one of their best cards to lead you into a false estimate of the
strength of their hand.
Instead, however, of this, who should return, to disturb the equilibrium
of truth, but this Christina Johnstone? She came thoughtfully in, and
"I've been taking a thoucht, and this is no what yon gude physeecian
meaned; ye are no to fling your chaerity like a bane till a doeg; ye'll
gang yoursel to Jess Rutherford; Flucker Johnstone, that's my brother,
will convoy ye."
"But how is your brother to know me?"
"How? Because I'll gie him a sair sair hiding, if he lets ye gang by."
Then she returned the one-pound note, a fresh settlement was effected,
and she left him. At the door she said: "And I am muckle obleeged to ye
for your story and your goodness."
While uttering these words, she half kissed her hand to him, with a lofty
and disengaged gesture, such as one might expect from a queen, if queens
did not wear stays; and was gone.
When his lordship, a few minutes after, sauntered out for a stroll, the
first object he beheld was an exact human square, a handsome boy, with a
body swelled out apparently to the size of a man's, with blue flannel,
and blue cloth above it, leaning against a wall, with his hands in his
pockets--a statuette of _insouciance._
This marine puff-ball was Flucker Johnstone, aged fourteen.
Stain his sister's face with diluted walnut-juice, as they make the stage
gypsy and Red Indian (two animals imagined by actors to be one), and you
have Flucker's face.
A slight moral distinction remains, not to be so easily got over,
She was the best girl in the place, and he a baddish boy.
He was, however, as sharp in his way as she was intelligent in hers.
This youthful mariner allowed his lordship to pass him, and take twenty
steps, but watched him all the time, and compared him with a description
furnished him by his sister.
He then followed, and brought him to, as he called it.
"I daur say it's you I'm to convoy to yon auld faggitt!" said this
On they went, Flucker rolling and pitching and yawing to keep up with the
lordly galley, for a fisherman's natural waddle is two miles an hour.
At the very entrance of Newhaven, the new pilot suddenly sung out,
Starboard it was, and they ascended a filthy "close," or alley they
mounted a staircase which was out of doors, and, without knocking,
Flucker introduced himself into Jess Rutherford's house.
"Here a gentleman to speak till ye, wife."
THE widow was weather-beaten and rough. She sat mending an old net.
"The gentleman's welcome," said she; but there was no gratification in
her tone, and but little surprise.
His lordship then explained that, understanding there were worthy people
in distress, he was in hopes he might be permitted to assist them, and
that she must blame a neighbor of hers if he had broken in upon her too
abruptly with this object. He then, with a blush, hinted at ten
shillings, which he begged she would consider as merely an installment,
until he could learn the precise nature of her embarrassments, and the
best way of placing means at her disposal.
The widow heard all this with a lackluster mind.
For many years her life had been unsuccessful labor; if anything had ever
come to her, it had always been a misfortune; her incidents had been
thorns--her events, daggers.
She could not realize a human angel coming to her relief, and she did not
realize it, and she worked away at her net.
At this, Flucker, to whom his lordship's speech appeared monstrously weak
and pointless, drew nigh, and gave the widow, in her ear, his version,
namely, his sister's embellished. It was briefly this: That the gentleman
was a daft lord from England, who had come with the bank in his breeks,
to remove poverty from Scotland, beginning with her. "Sae speak loud
aneuch, and ye'll no want siller," was his polite corollary.
His lordship rose, laid a card on a chair, begged her to make use of him,
et cetera; he then, recalling the oracular prescription, said, "Do me the
favor to apply to me for any little sum you have a use for, and, in
return, I will beg of you (if it does not bore you too much) to make me
acquainted with any little troubles you may have encountered in the
course of your life."
His lordship, receiving no answer, was about to go, after bowing to her,
and smiling gracefully upon her.
His hand was on the latch, when Jess Rutherford burst into a passion of
He turned with surprise.
"My _troubles,_ laddie," cried she, trembling all over. "The sun wad set,
and rise, and set again, ere I could tell ye a' the trouble I hae come
"Oh, ye need na vex yourself for an auld wife's tears; tears are a
blessin', lad, I shall assure ye. Mony's the time I hae prayed for them,
and could na hae them Sit ye doon! sit ye doon! I'll no let ye gang fra
my door till I hae thankit ye--but gie me time, gie me time. I canna
greet a' the days of the week."
Flucker, _aetat._ 14, opened his eyes, unable to connect ten shillings
Lord Ipsden sat down, and felt very sorry for her.
And she cried at her ease.
If one touch of nature make the whole world kin, methinks that sweet and
wonderful thing, sympathy, is not less powerful. What frozen barriers,
what ice of centuries, it can melt in a moment!
His bare mention of her troubles had surprised the widowed woman's heart,
and now she looked up and examined his countenance; it was soon done.
A woman, young or old, high or low, can discern and appreciate
sensibility in a man's face, at a single glance.
What she saw there was enough. She was sure of sympathy. She recalled her
resolve, and the tale of her sorrows burst from her like a flood.
Then the old fishwife told the young aristocrat how she had borne twelve
children, and buried six as bairns; how her man was always unlucky; how a
mast fell on him, and disabled him a whole season; how they could but
just keep the pot boiling by the deep-sea fishing, and he was not allowed
to dredge for oysters, because his father was not a Newhaven man. How,
when the herring fishing came, to make all right, he never had another
man's luck; how his boat's crew would draw empty nets, and a boat
alongside him would be gunwale down in the water with the fish. How, at
last, one morning, the 20th day of November, his boat came in to Newhaven
Pier without him, and when he was inquired for, his crew said, "He had
stayed at home, like a lazy loon, and not sailed with them the night
before." How she was anxious, and had all the public houses searched.
"For he took a drop now and then, nae wonder, and him aye in the
weather." Poor thing! when he was alive she used to call him a drunken
scoundrel to his face. How, when the tide went down, a mad wife, whose
husband had been drowned twenty years ago, pointed out something under
the pier that the rest took for sea-weed floating--how it was the hair of
her man's head, washed about by the water, and he was there, drowned
without a cry or a struggle, by his enormous boots, that kept him in an
upright position, though he was dead; there he stood--dead--drowned by
slipping from the slippery pier, close to his comrades' hands, in a dark
and gusty night; how her daughter married, and was well to do, and
assisted her; how she fell into a rapid decline, and died, a picture of
health to inexperienced eyes. How she, the mother, saw and knew, and
watched the treacherous advance of disease and death; how others said
gayly, "Her daughter was better," and she was obliged to say, "Yes." How
she had worked, eighteen hours a day, at making nets; how, when she let
out her nets to the other men at the herring fishing, they always cheated
her, because her man was gone. How she had many times had to choose
between begging her meal and going to bed without it, but, thank Heaven!
she had always chosen the latter.
She told him of hunger, cold, and anguish. As she spoke they became real
things to him; up to that moment they had been things in a story-book.
And as she spoke she rocked herself from side to side.
Indeed, she was a woman "acquainted with grief." She might have said,
"Here I and sorrow sit. This is my throne, bid kings come and bow to it!"
Her hearer felt this, and therefore this woman, poor, old, and ugly,
became sacred in his eye; it was with a strange sort of respect that he
tried to console her. He spoke to her in tones gentle and sweet as the
south wind on a summer evening.
"Madam," said he, "let me be so happy as to bring you some comfort. The
sorrows of the heart I cannot heal; they are for a mightier hand; but a
part of your distress appears to have been positive need; that we can at
least dispose of, and I entreat you to believe that from this hour want
shall never enter that door again. Never! upon my honor!"
The Scotch are icebergs, with volcanoes underneath; thaw the Scotch ice,
which is very cold, and you shall get to the Scotch fire, warmer than any
sun of Italy or Spain.
His lordship had risen to go. The old wife had seemed absorbed in her own
grief; she now dried her tears.
"Bide ye, sirr," said she, "till I thank ye."
So she began to thank him, rather coldly and stiffly.
"He says ye are a lord," said she; "I dinna ken, an' I dinna care; but
ye're a gentleman, I daur say, and a kind heart ye hae."
Then she began to warm.
"And ye'll never be a grain the poorer for the siller ye hae gien me; for
he that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord."
Then she began to glow.
"But it's no your siller; dinna think it--na, lad, na! Oh, fine! I ken
there's mony a supper for the bairns and me in yon bits metal; but I
canna feel your siller as I feel your winsome smile--the drop in your
young een--an' the sweet words ye gied me, in the sweet music o' your
Soothern tongue, Gude bless ye!" (Where was her ice by this time?) "Gude
bless ye! and I bless ye!"
And she did bless him; and what a blessing it was; not a melodious
generality, like a stage parent's, or papa's in a damsel's novel. It was
like the son of Barak on Zophim.
She blessed him, as one who had the power and the right to bless or
She stood on the high ground of her low estate, and her afflictions--and
demanded of their Creator to bless the fellow-creature that had come to
her aid and consolation.
This woman had suffered to the limits of endurance; yesterday she had
said, "Surely the Almighty does na _see_ me a' these years!"
So now she blessed him, and her heart's blood seemed to gush into words.
She blessed him by land and water.
She knew most mortal griefs; for she had felt them.
She warned them away from him one by one.
She knew the joys of life; for she had felt their want.
She summoned them one by one to his side.
"And a fair wind to your ship," cried she, "and the storms aye ten miles
to leeward o' her."
Many happy days, "an' weel spent," she wished him.
"His love should love him dearly, or a better take her place."
"Health to his side by day; sleep to his pillow by night."
A thousand good wishes came, like a torrent of fire, from her lips, with
a power that eclipsed his dreams of human eloquence; and then, changing
in a moment from the thunder of a Pythoness to the tender music of some
poetess mother, she ended:
"An' oh, my boenny, boenny lad, may ye be wi' the rich upon the airth a'
your days--AND WI' THE PUIR IN THE WARLD TO COME!"
His lordship's tongue refused him the thin phrases of society.
"Farewell for the present," said he, and he went quietly away.
He paced thoughtfully home.
He had drunk a fact with every sentence; and an idea with every fact.
For the knowledge we have never realized is not knowledge to us--only
With the banished duke, he now began to feel, "we are not alone unhappy."
This universal world contains other guess sorrows than yours,
viscount--_scilicet_ than unvarying health, unbroken leisure, and
Then this woman's eloquence! bless me! he had seen folk murmur politely
in the Upper House, and drone or hammer away at the Speaker down below,
with more heat than warmth.
He had seen nine hundred wild beasts fed with peppered tongue, in a
menagerie called _L'Assemble' Nationale._
His ears had rung often enough, for that matter. This time his heart
He had been in the principal courts of Europe; knew what a handful of
gentlefolks call "the World"; had experienced the honeyed words of
courtiers, the misty nothings of diplomatists, and the innocent prattle
of mighty kings.
But hitherto he seemed to have undergone gibberish and jargon:
Gibberish and jargon--Political!
Gibberish and jargon--Social!
Gibberish and jargon--Theological!
Gibberish and jargon--Positive!
People had been prating--Jess had spoken.
But, it is to be observed, he was under the double effect of eloquence
and novelty; and, so situated, we overrate things, you know.
That night he made a provision for this poor woman, in case he should die
before next week.
"Who knows?" said he, "she is such an unlucky woman." Then he went to
bed, and whether from the widow's blessing, or the air of the place, he
slept like a plowboy.
Leaving Richard, Lord Ipsden, to work out the Aberford problem--to
relieve poor people, one or two of whom, like the Rutherford, were
grateful, the rest acted it to the life--to receive now and then a visit
from Christina Johnstone, who borrowed every mortal book in his house,
who sold him fish, invariably cheated him by the indelible force of
habit, and then remorsefully undid the bargain, with a peevish entreaty
that "he would not be so green, for there was no doing business with
him"--to be fastened upon by Flucker, who, with admirable smoothness and
cunning, wormed himself into a cabin-boy on board the yacht, and
To cruise in search of adventures, and meet nothing but disappointments;
to acquire a browner tint, a lighter step, and a jacket, our story moves
for a while toward humbler personages.
JESS RUTHERFORD, widow of Alexander Johnstone--for Newhaven wives, like
great artists, change their conditions without changing their names--was
known in the town only as a dour wife, a sour old carline. Whose fault?
Do wooden faces and iron tongues tempt sorrow to put out its snails'
She hardly spoke to any one, or any one to her, but four days after the
visit we have described people began to bend looks of sympathy on her, to
step out of their way to give her a kindly good-morrow; after a bit, fish
and meal used to be placed on her table by one neighbor or another, when
she was out, and so on. She was at first behindhand in responding to all
this, but by degrees she thawed to those who were thawing to her. Next,
Saunders called on her, and showed her a settlement, made for her
benefit, on certain lands in Lanarkshire. She was at ease for life.
The Almighty had seen her all these years.
But how came her neighbors to melt?
Because a nobleman had visited her.
Not exactly, dear novel-reader.
This was it.
That same night, by a bright fire lighting up snowy walls, burnished
copper, gleaming candlesticks, and a dinner-table floor, sat the mistress
of the house, Christie Johnstone, and her brother, Flucker.
She with a book, he with his reflections opposite her.
"Lassie, hae ye ony siller past ye?"
"Ay, lad; an' I mean to keep it!" The baddish boy had registered a vow to
the contrary, and proceeded to bleed his flint (for to do Christie
justice the process was not very dissimilar). Flucker had a versatile
genius for making money; he had made it in forty different ways, by land
and sea, tenpence at a time.
"I hae gotten the life o' Jess Rutherford till ye," said he.
"I'm seeking half a crown for 't," said he.
Now, he knew he should never get half a crown, but he also knew that if
he asked a shilling, he should be beaten down to fourpence.
So half a crown was his first bode.
The enemy, with anger at her heart, called up a humorous smile, and
saying, "An' ye'll get saxpence," went about some household matter; in
reality, to let her proposal rankle in Flucker.
Flucker lighted his pipe slowly, as one who would not do a sister the
injustice to notice so trivial a proposition.
He waited fresh overtures.
They did not come.
Christie resumed her book.
Then the baddish boy fixed his eye on the fire, and said softly and
thoughtfully to the fire, "Hech, what a heap o' troubles yon woman has
This stroke of art was not lost. Christie looked up from her book;
pretended he had spoken to her, gave a fictitious yawn, and renewed the
negotiation with the air of one disposed to kill time.
She was dying for the story.
Commerce was twice broken off and renewed by each power in turn.
At last the bargain was struck at fourteen-pence.
Then Flucker came out, the honest merchant.
He had listened intently, with mercantile views.
He had the widow's sorrows all off pat.
He was not a bit affected himself, but by pure memory he remembered where
she had been most agitated or overcome.
He gave it Christie, word for word, and even threw in what dramatists
call "the business," thus:
"Here ye suld greet--"
"Here ye'll play your hand like a geraffe."
"Geraffe? That's a beast, I'm thinking."
"Na; it's the thing on the hill that makes signals."
"Telegraph, ye fulish goloshen!"
"Oo ay, telegraph! Geraffe 's sunest said for a'."
Thus Jess Rutherford's life came into Christie Johnstone's hands.
She told it to a knot of natives next day; it lost nothing, for she was a
woman of feeling, and by intuition an artist of the tongue. She was the
best _raconteur_ in a place where there are a hundred, male and female,
who attempt that art.
The next day she told it again, and then inferior narrators got hold of
it, and it soon circulated through the town.
And this was the cause of the sudden sympathy with Jess Rutherford.
As our prigs would say:
"Art had adopted her cause and adorned her tale."
THE fishing village of Newhaven is an unique place; it is a colony that
retains distinct features; the people seldom intermarry with their Scotch
Some say the colony is Dutch, some Danish, some Flemish. The character
and cleanliness of their female costume points rather to the latter.
Fish, like horse-flesh, corrupts the mind and manners.
After a certain age, the Newhaven fishwife is always a blackguard, and
ugly; but among the younger specimens, who have not traded too much, or
come into much contact with larger towns, a charming modesty, or else
slyness (such as no man can distinguish from it, so it answers every
purpose), is to be found, combined with rare grace and beauty.
It is a race of women that the northern sun peachifies instead of
On Sundays the majority sacrifice appearance to fashion; these turn out
rainbows of silk, satin and lace. In the week they were all grace, and no
stays; now they seem all stays and no grace. They never look so ill as
when they change their "costume" for "dress."
The men are smart fishermen, distinguished from the other fishermen of
the Firth chiefly by their "dredging song."
This old song is money to them; thus:
Dredging is practically very stiff rowing for ten hours.
Now both the Newhaven men and their rivals are agreed that this song
lifts them through more work than untuned fishermen can manage.
I have heard the song, and seen the work done to it; and incline to think
it helps the oar, not only by keeping the time true, and the spirit
alive, but also by its favorable action on the lungs. It is sung in a
peculiar way; the sound is, as it were, expelled from the chest in a sort
of musical ejaculations; and the like, we know, was done by the ancient
gymnasts; and is done by the French bakers, in lifting their enormous
dough, and by our paviors.
The song, in itself, does not contain above seventy stock verses, but
these perennial lines are a nucleus, round which the men improvise the
topics of the day, giving, I know not for what reason, the preference to
such as verge upon indelicacy.
The men and women are musical and narrative; three out of four can sing a
song or tell a story, and they omit few opportunities.
Males and females suck whisky like milk, and are quarrelsome in
proportion. The men fight (round-handed), the women fleicht or scold, in
the form of a teapot--the handle fixed and the spout sawing the air.
A singular custom prevails here.
The maidens have only one sweetheart apiece!!!
So the whole town is in pairs.
The courting is all done on Saturday night, by the lady's fire. It is
hard to keep out of a groove in which all the town is running; and the
Johnstone had possessed, as mere property--a lad!
She was so wealthy that few of them could pretend to aspire to her, so
she selected for her chattel a young man called Willy Liston; a youth of
an unhappy turn--he contributed nothing to hilarity, his face was a
kill-joy--nobody liked him; for this female reason Christie distinguished
He found a divine supper every Saturday night in her house; he ate, and
sighed! Christie fed him, and laughed at him.
As she neither fed nor laughed at any other man, some twenty were
bitterly jealous of Willy Liston, and this gave the blighted youth a
cheerful moment or two.
But the bright alliance received a check some months before our tale.
Christie was _heluo librorum!_ and like others who have that taste, and
can only gratify it in the interval of manual exercise, she read very
intensely in her hours of study. A book absorbed her. She was like a
leech on these occasions, _non missura cutem._ Even Jean Carnie, her
co-adjutor or "neebor," as they call it, found it best to keep out of her
way till the book was sucked.
One Saturday night Willy Liston's evil star ordained that a gentleman of
French origin and Spanish dress, called Gil Blas, should be the
Willy Liston arrived.
Christie, who had bolted the door, told him from the window, civilly
enough, but decidedly, "She would excuse his company that night."
"Vara weel," said Willy, and departed.
Next Saturday--no Willy came.
Ditto the next. Willy was waiting the _amende._
Christie forgot to make it.
One day she was passing the boats, Willy beckoned her mysteriously; he
led her to his boat, which was called "The Christie Johnstone"; by the
boat's side was a paint pot and brush.
They had not supped together for five Saturdays.
Ergo, Mr. Liston had painted out the first four letters of "Christie," he
now proceeded to paint out the fifth, giving her to understand, that, if
she allowed the whole name to go, a letter every blank Saturday, her
image would be gradually, but effectually, obliterated from the heart
My reader has done what Liston did not, anticipate her answer. She
recommended him, while his hand was in, to paint out the entire name,
and, with white paint and a smaller brush, to substitute some other
female appellation. So saying, she tripped off.
Mr. Liston on this was guilty of the following inconsistency; he pressed
the paint carefully out of the brush into the pot. Having thus economized
his material, he hurled the pot which contained his economy at "the
Johnstone," he then adjourned to the "Peacock," and "away at once with
love and reason."
Thenceforth, when men asked who was Christie Johnstone's lad, the answer
used to be, "She's seeking ane." _Quelle horreur!!_
Newhaven doesn't know everything, but my intelligent reader suspects,
and, if confirming his suspicions can reconcile him to our facts, it will
soon be done.
But he must come with us to Edinburgh; it's only three miles.
A LITTLE band of painters came into Edinburgh from a professional walk.
Three were of Edinburgh--Groove, aged fifty; Jones and Hyacinth, young;
the latter long-haired.
With them was a young Englishman, the leader of the expedition, Charles
His step was elastic, and his manner wonderfully animated, without
"A bright day," said he. "The sun forgot where he was, and shone;
everything was in favor of art."
"Oh, dear, no," replied old Groove, "not where I was"
"Why, what was the matter?"
"The flies kept buzzing and biting, and sticking in the work. That's the
worst of out o' doors!"
"The flies! is that all? Swear the spiders in special constables next
time," cried Gatty. "We shall win the day;" and light shone into his
"The world will not always put up with the humbugs of the brush, who, to
imitate Nature, turn their back on her. Paint an out o' door scene
indoors! I swear by the sun it's a lie! the one stupid, impudent lie that
glitters among the lies of vulgar art, like Satan among Belial, Mammon
and all those beggars.
"Now look here; the barren outlines of a scene must be looked at, to be
done; hence the sketching system slop-sellers of the Academy! but the
million delicacies of light, shade, and color can be trusted to memory,
"It's a lie big enough to shake the earth out of her course; if any part
of the work could be trusted to memory or imagination, it happens to be
the bare outlines, and they can't. The million subtleties of light and
color; learn them by heart, and say them off on canvas! the highest angel
in the sky must have his eye upon them, and look devilish sharp, too, or
he shan't paint them. I give him Charles Gatty's word for that."
"That's very eloquent, I call it," said Jones.
"Yes," said poor old Groove, "the lad will never make a painter."
"Yes, I shall, Groove; at least I hope so, but it must be a long time
"I never knew a painter who could talk and paint both," explained Mr.
"Very well," said Gatty. "Then I'll say but one word more, and it is
this. The artifice of painting is old enough to die; it is time the art
was born. Whenever it does come into the world, you will see no more dead
corpses of trees, grass and water, robbed of their life, the sunlight,
and flung upon canvas in a studio, by the light of a cigar, and a
"How much do you expect for your picture?" interrupted Jones.
"What has that to do with it? With these little swords" (waving his
brush), "we'll fight for nature-light, truth light, and sunlight against
a world in arms--no, worse, in swaddling clothes."
"With these little swerrds," replied poor old Groove, "we shall cut our
own throats if we go against people's prejudices."
The young artist laughed the old daubster a merry defiance, and then
separated from the party, for his lodgings were down the street.
He had not left them long, before a most musical voice was heard, crying:
"A caallerr owoo!"
And two young fishwives hove in sight. The boys recognized one of them as
"Is he in love with her?" inquired Jones.
Hyacinth the long-haired undertook to reply.
"He loves her better than anything in the world except Art. Love and Art
are two beautiful things," whined Hyacinth.
"She, too, is beautiful. I have done her," added he, with a simper.
"In oil?" asked Groove.
"In oil? no, in verse, here;" and he took out a paper.
"Then hadn't we better cut? you might propose reading them," said poor
"Have you any oysters?" inquired Jones of the Carnie and the Johnstone,
who were now alongside.
"Plenty," answered Jean. "Hae ye ony siller?"
The artists looked at one another, and didn't all speak at once.
"I, madam," said old Groove, insinuatingly, to Christie, "am a friend of
Mr. Gatty's; perhaps, on that account, you would _lend_ me an oyster or
"Na," said Jean, sternly.
"Hyacinth," said Jones, sarcastically, "give them your verses, perhaps
that will soften them."
Hyacinth gave his verses, descriptive of herself, to Christie. This
youngster was one of those who mind other people's business.
_Alienis studiis delectatus contempsit suum._
His destiny was to be a bad painter, so he wanted to be an execrable
All this morning he had been doggreling, when he ought to have been
daubing; and now he will have to sup off a colored print, if he sups at
Christie read, blushed, and put the verses in her bosom.
"Come awa, Custy," said Jean.
"Hets," said Christie, "gie the puir lads twarree oysters, what the waur
will we be?"
So they opened the oysters for them; and Hyacinth the long-haired looked
down on the others with sarcastico-benignant superiority. He had
conducted a sister art to the aid of his brother brushes.
"The poet's empire, all our hearts allow; But doggrel's power was never
known till now."
AT the commencement of the last chapter, Charles Gatty, artist, was going
to usher in a new state of things, true art, etc. Wales was to be painted
in Wales, not Poland Street.
He and five or six more youngsters were to be in the foremost files of
truth, and take the world by storm.
This was at two o'clock; it is now five; whereupon the posture of
affairs, the prospects of art, the face of the world, the nature of
things, are quite the reverse.
In the artist's room, on the floor, was a small child, whose movements,
and they were many, were viewed with huge dissatisfaction by Charles
Gatty, Esq. This personage, pencil in hand, sat slouching and morose,
looking gloomily at his intractable model.
Things were going on very badly; he had been waiting two hours for an
infantine pose as common as dirt, and the little viper would die first.
Out of doors everything was nothing, for the sun was obscured, and to all
appearance extinguished forever.
"Ah! Mr. Groove," cried he, to that worthy, who peeped in at that moment;
you are right, it is better to plow away upon canvas blindfold, as our
grandfathers--no, grandmothers--used, than to kill ourselves toiling
after such coy ladies as Nature and Truth."
"Aweel, I dinna ken, sirr," replied Groove, in smooth tones. "I didna
like to express my warm approbation of you before the lads, for fear of
making them jealous."
"They be-- No!"
"I ken what ye wad say, sirr, an it wad hae been a vara just an'
sprightly observation. Aweel, between oursels, I look upon ye as a young
gentleman of amazing talent and moedesty. Man, ye dinna do yoursel
justice; ye should be in th' Academy, at the hede o' 't."
"Mr. Groove, I am a poor fainting pilgrim on the road, where stronger
spirits have marched erect before me."
"A faintin' pelgrim! Deil a frights o' ye, ye're a brisk and bonny lad.
Ah, sirr, in my juvenile days, we didna fash wi nature, and truth, an the
"The like! What is like nature and truth, except themselves?"
"Vara true, sirr; vara true, and sae I doot I will never attain the
height o' profeeciency ye hae reached. An' at this vara moment, sir,"
continued Groove, with delicious solemnity and mystery, "ye see before
ye, sir, a man wha is in maist dismal want--o' ten shellen!" (A pause.)
"If your superior talent has put ye in possession of that sum, ye would
obleege me infinitely by a temporary accommodation, Mr. Gaattie."
"Why did you not come to the point at once?" cried Gatty, bruskly,
"instead of humbling me with undeserved praise. There." Groove held out
his hand, but made a wry face when, instead of money, Gatty put a sketch
into his hand.
"There," said Gatty, "that is a lie!"
"How can it be a lee?" said the other, with sour inadvertence. "How can
it be a lee, when I hae na spoken ?"
"You don't understand me. That sketch is a libel on a poor cow and an
unfortunate oak-tree. I did them at the Academy. They had never done me
any wrong, poor things; they suffered unjustly. You take them to a shop,
swear they are a tree and a cow, and some fool, that never really looked
into a cow or a tree, will give you ten shillings for them."
"Are ye sure, lad?"
"I am sure. Mr. Groove, sir, if you can not sell a lie for ten shillings
you are not fit to live in this world; where is the lie that will not
sell for ten shillings?"
"I shall think the better o' lees all my days; sir, your words are
inspeeriting." And away went Groove with the sketch.
Gatty reflected and stopped him.
"On second thoughts, Groove, you must not ask ten shillings; you must ask
twenty pounds for that rubbish."
"Twenty pund! What for will I seek twenty pund?"
"Simply because people that would not give you ten shillings for it will
offer you eleven pounds for it if you ask twenty pounds."
"The fules," roared Groove. "Twenty pund! hem!" He looked closer into it.
"For a'," said he, "I begin to obsairve it is a work of great merit. I'll
seek twenty pund, an' I'll no tak less than fifteen schell'n, at
The visit of this routine painter did not cheer our artist.
The small child got a coal and pounded the floor with it like a machine
incapable of fatigue. So the wished-for pose seemed more remote than
The day waxed darker instead of lighter; Mr. Gatty's reflections took
also a still more somber hue.
"Even Nature spites us," thought he, "because we love her."
"Then cant, tradition, numbers, slang and money are against us; the least
of these is singly a match for truth; we shall die of despair or paint
cobwebs in Bedlam; and I am faint, weary of a hopeless struggle; and one
man's brush is truer than mine, another's is bolder--my hand and eye are
not in tune. Ah! no! I shall never, never, never be a painter."
These last words broke audibly from him as his head went down almost to
A hand was placed on his shoulder as a flake of snow falls on the water.
It was Christie Johnstone, radiant, who had glided in unobserved.
"What's wrang wi' ye, my lad?"
"The sun is gone to the Devil, for one thing."
"Hech! hech! ye'll no be long ahint him; div ye no think shame."
"And I want that little brute just to do so, and he'd die first."
"Oh, ye villain, to ca' a bairn a brute; there's but ae brute here, an'
it's no you, Jamie, nor me--is it, my lamb?"
She then stepped to the window.
"It's clear to windward; in ten minutes ye'll hae plenty sun. Tak your
tools noo." And at the word she knelt on the floor, whipped out a paper
of sugar-plums and said to him she had christened "Jamie." "Heb! Here's
sweeties till ye." Out went Jamie's arms, as if he had been a machine and
she had pulled the right string.
"Ah, that will do," said Gatty, and sketched away.
Unfortunately, Jamie was quickly arrested on the way to immortality by
his mother, who came in, saying:
"I maun hae my bairn--he canna be aye wasting his time here."
This sally awakened the satire that ever lies ready in piscatory bosoms.
"Wasting his time! ye're no blate. Oh, ye'll be for taking him to the
college to laern pheesick--and teach maenners."
"Ye need na begin on me," said the woman. "I'm no match for Newhaven."
So saying she cut short the dispute by carrying off the gristle of
"Another enemy to art," said Gatty, hurling away his pencil.
The young fishwife inquired if there were any more griefs. What she had
heard had not accounted, to her reason, for her companion's depression.
"Are ye sick, laddy?" said she.
"No, Christie, not sick, but quite, quite down in the mouth."
She scanned him thirty seconds.
What had ye till your dinner?"
"A choep, likely?"
"I think it was."
"Or maybe it was a steak?"
"I dare say it was a steak."
"Taste my girdle cake, that I've brought for ye."
She gave him a piece; he ate it rapidly, and looked gratefully at her.
"Noo, div ye no think shame to look me in the face? Ye hae na dined ava."
And she wore an injured look.
"Sit ye there; it's ower late for dinner, but ye'll get a cup tea. Doon
i' the mooth, nae wonder, when naething gangs doon your--"
In a minute she placed a tea-tray, and ran into the kitchen with a
The next moment a yell was heard, and she returned laughing, with another
"The wife had maskit tea till hersel'," said this lawless forager.
Tea and cake on the table--beauty seated by his side--all in less than a
He offered her a piece of cake.
"Na! I am no for any."
"Nor I then," said he.
"Hets! eat, I tell ye."
He replied by putting a bit to her heavenly mouth.
"Ye're awfu' opinionated," said she, with a countenance that said nothing
should induce her, and eating it almost contemporaneously.
"Put plenty sugar," added she, referring to the Chinese infusion; "mind,
I hae a sweet tooth."
"You have a sweet set," said he, approaching another morsel.
They showed themselves by way of smile, and confirmed the accusation.
"Aha! lad," answered she; "they've been the death o' mony a herrin'!"
"Now, what does that mean in English, Christie?"
"My grinders--(a full stop.)
"Which you approve--(a full stop.)
"Have been fatal--(a full stop.)
"To many fishes!"
Christie prided herself on her English, which she had culled from books.
Then he made her drink from the cup, and was ostentatious in putting his
lips to the same part of the brim.
Then she left the table, and inspected all things.
She came to his drawers, opened one, and was horror-struck.
There were coats and trousers, with their limbs interchangeably
intertwined, waistcoats, shirts, and cigars, hurled into chaos.
She instantly took the drawer bodily out, brought it, leaned it against
the tea-table, pointed silently into it, with an air of majestic
reproach, and awaited the result.
"I can find whatever I want," said the unblushing bachelor, "except
"Siller does na bide wi' slovens! hae ye often siccan a gale o' wind in
"Every day! Speak English!"
"Aweel! How _do_ you _do?_ that's Ennglish! I daur say."
"Jolly!" cried he, with his mouth full. Christie was now folding up and
neatly arranging his clothes.
"Will you ever, ever be a painter?"
"I am a painter! I could paint the Devil pea-green!"
"Dinna speak o' yon lad, Chairles, it's no canny."
"No! I am going to paint an angel; the prettiest, cleverest girl in
Scotland, 'The Snowdrop of the North.'"
And he dashed into his bedroom to find a canvas.
"Hech!" reflected Christie. "Thir Ennglish hae flattering tongues, as
sure as Dethe; 'The Snawdrap o' the Norrth!'"
GATTY'S back was hardly turned when a visitor arrived, and inquired, "Is
Mr. Gatty at home?"
"What's your will wi' him?" was the Scottish reply.
"Will you give him this?"
" What est?"
"Are you fond of asking questions?" inquired the man.
"Ay! and fules canna answer them," retorted Christie.
The little document which the man, in retiring, left with Christie
Johnstone purported to come from one Victoria, who seemed, at first
sight, disposed to show Charles Gatty civilities. "Victoria--to Charles
Gatty, greeting! (salutem)." Christie was much struck with this instance
of royal affability; she read no further, but began to think, "Victoree!
that's the queen hersel. A letter fra the queen to a painter lad! Picters
will rise i' the mairket--it will be an order to paint the bairns. I hae
brought him luck; I am real pleased." And on Gatty's return, canvas in
hand, she whipped the document behind her, and said archly, "I hae
something for ye, a tecket fra a leddy, ye'll no want siller fra this
"Ay! indeed, fra a great leddy; it's vara gude o' me to gie ye it; heh!
He did take it, looked stupefied, looked again, sunk into a chair, and
glared at it.
"Laddy!" said Christie.
"This is a new step on the downward path," said the poor painter.
"Is it no an orrder to paint the young prence?" said Christie, faintly.
"No!" almost shrieked the victim. "It's a writ! I owe a lot of money.