Part 3 out of 4
"If you do not mind painting before me," said the visitor, "I should be
glad if you would continue while I look into this picture."
The visitor held his tongue.
At first the silence made the artist uneasy, but by degrees it began to
give him pleasure; whoever this was, it was not one of the flies that had
hitherto stung him, nor the jackdaws that had chattered him dead.
Glorious silence! he began to paint under its influence like one
Half an hour passed thus.
"What is the price of this work of art?"
"I take it," said his visitor, quietly.
What, no more difficulty than that? He felt almost disappointed at
gaining his object so easily.
"I am obliged to you, sir; much obliged to you," he added, for he
reflected what eighty pounds were to him just then.
"It is my descendants who are obliged to you," replied the gentleman;
"the picture is immortal!"
These words were an epoch in the painter's life.
The grave, silent inspection that had preceded them, the cool,
deliberate, masterly tone in which they were said, made them oracular to
Words of such import took him by surprise.
He had thirsted for average praise in vain.
A hand had taken him, and placed him at the top of the tree.
He retired abruptly, or he would have burst into tears.
He ran to his mother.
"Mother," said he, "I am a painter; I always thought so at bottom, but I
suppose it is the height of my ideas makes me discontented with my work."
"What has happened?'
"There is a critic in my room. I had no idea there was a critic in the
creation, and there is one in my room.
"Has he bought your picture, my poor boy?" said Mrs. Gatty,
To her surprise he replied:
"Yes! he has got it; only eighty pounds for an immortal picture."
Mrs. Gatty was overjoyed, Gatty was a little sad; but, reviving, he
professed himself glad; the picture was going to a judge.
"It is not much money," said he, "but the man has spoken words that are
ten thousand pounds to me."
He returned to the room; his visitor, hat in hand, was about to go; a few
words were spoken about the art of painting, this led to a conversation,
and then to a short discussion.
The newcomer soon showed Mr. Charles Gatty his ignorance of facts.
This man had sat quietly before a multitude of great pictures, new and
old, in England.
He cooled down Charles Gatty, Esq., monopolist of nature and truth.
He quoted to him thirty painters in Germany, who paint every stroke of a
landscape in the open air, and forty in various nations who had done it
in times past.
"You, sir," he went on, "appear to hang on the skirts of a certain
clique, who handle the brush well, but draw ill, and look at nature
through the spectacles of certain ignorant painters who spoiled canvas
four hundred years ago.
"Go no further in that direction.
"Those boys, like all quacks, have one great truth which they disfigure
with more than one falsehood.
"Hold fast their truth, which is a truth the world has always possessed,
though its practice has been confined to the honest and laborious few.
"Eschew their want of mind and taste.
"Shrink with horror from that profane _culte de laideur,_ that 'love of
the lopsided,' they have recovered from the foul receptacles of decayed
He reminded him further, that "Art is not imitation, but illusion; that a
plumber and glazier of our day and a medieval painter are more alike than
any two representatives of general styles that can be found; and for the
same reason, namely, that with each of these art is in its infancy; these
two sets of bunglers have not learned how to produce the illusions of
To all this he added a few words of compliment on the mind, as well as
mechanical dexterity, of the purchased picture, bade him good morning,
and glided away like a passing sunbeam.
"A mother's blessing is a great thing to have, and to deserve," said Mrs.
Gatty, who had rejoined her son.
"It is, indeed," said Charles. He could not help being struck by the
He had made a sacrifice to his mother, and in a few hours one of his
troubles had melted away.
In the midst of these reflections arrived Mr. Saunders with a note.
The note contained a check for one hundred and fifty pounds, with these
lines, in which the writer excused himself for the amendment: "I am a
painter myself," said he, "and it is impossible that eighty pounds can
remunerate the time expended on this picture, to say nothing of the
We have treated this poor boy's picture hitherto with just contempt, but
now that it is gone into a famous collection, mind, we always admired it;
we always said so, we take our oath we did; if we have hitherto deferred
framing it, that was merely because it was not sold.
MR. GATTY'S PICTURE, AT PRESENT IN THE COLLECTION OF LORD IPSDEN!
There was, hundreds of years ago, a certain Bishop of Durham, who used to
fight in person against the Scotch, and defeat them. When he was not with
his flock, the northern wolves sometimes scattered it; but when the holy
father was there with his prayers and his battle-ax, England won the day!
This nettled the Scottish king, so he penetrated one day, with a large
band, as far as Durham itself, and for a short time blocked the prelate
up in his stronghold. This was the period of Mr. Gatty's picture.
Whose title was:
_"Half Church of God, half Tower against the Scot."_
In the background was the cathedral, on the towers of which paced to and
fro men in armor, with the western sun glittering thereon. In the center,
a horse and cart, led by a boy, were carrying a sheaf of arrows, tied
with a straw band. In part of the foreground was the prelate, in a half
suit of armor, but bareheaded; he was turning away from the boy to whom
his sinking hand had indicated his way into the holy castle, and his
benignant glance rested on a child, whom its mother was holding up for
his benediction. In the foreground the afternoon beams sprinkled gold on
a long grassy slope, corresponding to the elevation on which the
cathedral stood, separated by the river Wear from the group; and these
calm beauties of Nature, with the mother and child, were the peaceful
side of this twofold story.
Such are the dry details. But the soul of its charm no pen can fling on
paper. For the stately cathedral stood and lived; the little leaves
slumbered yet lived; and the story floated and lived, in the potable gold
of summer afternoon.
To look at this painted poem was to feel a thrill of pleasure in bare
existence; it went through the eyes, where paintings stop, and warmed the
depths and recesses of the heart with its sunshine and its glorious air.
"WHAT is in the wind this dark night? Six Newhaven boats and twenty boys
and hobbledehoys, hired by the Johnstones at half a crown each for a
"What is it for?"
"I think it is a smuggling lay," suggested Flucker, "but we shall know
all in good time."
"Smuggling!" Their countenances fell; they had hoped for something more
nearly approaching the illegal.
"Maybe she has fand the herrin'," said a ten-year-old.
"Haw! haw! haw!" went the others. "She find the herrin', when there's
five hundred fishermen after them baith sides the Firrth."
The youngster was discomfited.
In fact the expedition bore no signs of fishing.
The six boats sailed at sundown, led by Flucker. He brought to on the
south side of Inch Keith, and nothing happened for about an hour.
Then such boys as were awake saw two great eyes of light coming up from
Granton; rattle went the chain cable, and Lord Ipsden's cutter swung at
anchor in four fathom water.
A thousand questions to Flucker.
A single puff of tobacco-smoke was his answer.
And now crept up a single eye of light from Leith; she came among the
boats; the boys recognized a crazy old cutter from Leith harbor, with
Christie Johnstone on board.
"What is that brown heap on her deck?"
"A mountain of nets--fifty stout herring-nets."
_Tunc manifesta fides._
A yell burst from all the boys.
"He's gaun to tak us to Dunbar."
"Half a crown! ye're no blate."
Christie ordered the boats alongside her cutter, and five nets were
dropped into each boat, six into Flucker's.
The depth of the water was given them, and they were instructed to shoot
their nets so as to keep a fathom and a half above the rocky bottom.
A herring net is simply a wall of meshes twelve feet deep, fifty feet
long; it sinks to a vertical position by the weight of net twine, and is
kept from sinking to the bottom of the sea by bladders or corks. These
nets are tied to one another, and paid out at the stern of the boat. Boat
and nets drift with the tide; if, therefore, the nets touched the rocks
they would be torn to pieces, and the fisherman ruined.
And this saves the herring--that fish lies hours and hours at the very
bottom of the sea like a stone, and the poor fisherman shall drive with
his nets a yard or two over a square mile of fish, and not catch a
herring tail; on the other hand, if they rise to play for five minutes,
in that five minutes they shall fill seven hundred boats.
At nine o'clock all the boats had shot their nets, and Christie went
alongside his lordship's cutter; he asked her many questions about
herring fishery, to which she gave clear answers, derived from her
father, who had always been what the fishermen call a lucky fisherman;
that is, he had opened his eyes and judged for himself.
Lord Ipsden then gave her blue lights to distribute among the boats, that
the first which caught herring might signal all hands.
This was done, and all was expectation. Eleven o'clock came--no signal
from any boat.
Christie became anxious. At last she went round to the boats; found the
boys all asleep except the baddish boy; waked them up, and made them all
haul in their first net. The nets came in as black as ink, no sign of a
There was but one opinion; there was no herring at Inch Keith; they had
not been there this seven years.
At last, Flucker, to whom she came in turn, told her he was going into
two fathom water, where he would let out the bladders and drop the nets
on their cursed backs.
A strong remonstrance was made by Christie, but the baddish boy insisted
that he had an equal right in all her nets, and, setting his sail, he ran
into shoal water.
Christie began to be sorrowful; instead of making money, she was going to
throw it away, and the ne'er-do-weel Flucker would tear six nets from the
Flucker hauled down his sail, and unstepped his mast in two fathom water;
but he was not such a fool as to risk his six nets; he devoted one to his
experiment, and did it well; he let out his bladder line a fathom, so
that one half his net would literally be higgledy-piggledy with the
rocks, unless the fish were there _en masse._
No long time was required.
In five minutes he began to haul in the net; first, the boys hauled in
the rope, and then the net began to approach the surface. Flucker looked
anxiously down, the other lads incredulously; suddenly they all gave a
yell of triumph--an appearance of silver and lightning mixed had glanced
up from the bottom; in came the first two yards of the net--there were
three herrings in it. These three proved Flucker's point as well as three
They hauled in the net. Before they had a quarter of it in, the net came
up to the surface, and the sea was alive with molten silver. The upper
half of the net was empty, but the lower half was one solid mass of fish.
The boys could not find a mesh, they had nothing to handle but fish.
At this moment the easternmost boat showed a blue light.
"The fish are rising," said Flucker, "we'll na risk nae mair nets."
Soon after this a sort of song was heard from the boat that had showed a
light. Flucker, who had got his net in, ran down to her, and found, as he
suspected, that the boys had not power to draw the weight of fish over
They were singing, as sailors do, that they might all pull together; he
gave them two of his crew, and ran down to his own skipper.
The said skipper gave him four men.
Another blue light!
Christie and her crew came a little nearer the boats, and shot twelve
The yachtsmen entered the sport with zeal, so did his lordship.
The boats were all full in a few minutes, and nets still out.
Then Flucker began to fear some of these nets would sink with the weight
of fish; for the herring die after a while in a net, and a dead herring
What was to be done?
They got two boats alongside the cutter, and unloaded them into her as
well as they could; but before they could half do this the other boats
They came to one of them; the boys were struggling with a thing which no
stranger would have dreamed was a net.
Imagine a white sheet, fifty feet long, varnished with red-hot silver.
There were twenty barrels in this single net. By dint of fresh hands they
got half of her in, and then the meshes began to break; the men leaned
over the gunwale, and put their arms round blocks and masses of fish, and
so flung them on board; and the codfish and dogfish snapped them almost
out of the men's hands like tigers.
At last they came to a net which was a double wall of herring; it had
been some time in the water, and many of the fish were dead; they tried
their best, but it was impracticable; they laid hold of the solid
herring, and when they lifted up a hundred-weight clear of the water,
away it all tore, and sank back again.
They were obliged to cut away this net, with twenty pounds sterling in
her. They cut away the twine from the head-ropes, and net and fish went
to the bottom.
All hands were now about the cutter; Christie's nets were all strong and
new; they had been some time in the water; in hauling them up her side,
quantities of fish fell out of the net into the water, but there were
She averaged twelve barrels a net.
Such of the yawls as were not quite full crept between the cutter and the
nets, and caught all they wanted.
The projector of this fortunate speculation suddenly announced that she
was very sleepy.
Flucker rolled her up in a sail, and she slept the sleep of infancy on
board her cutter.
When she awoke it was seven o'clock in the morning, and her cutter was
creeping with a smart breeze about two miles an hour, a mile from
The yacht had returned to Granton, and the yawls, very low in the water,
were creeping along like snails, with both sails set.
The news was in Edinburgh long before they landed. They had been
discerned under Inch Keith at the dawn.
And the manner of their creeping along, when there was such a breeze,
told the tale at once to the keen, experienced eyes that are sure to be
scanning the sea.
Donkey-carts came rattling down from the capital.
Merchants came pelting down to Newhaven pier.
The whole story began to be put together by bits, and comprehended. Old
Johnstone's cleverness was recalled to mind.
The few fishermen left at Newhaven were ready to kill themselves.
Their wives were ready to do the same good office for La Johnstone.
Four Irish merchants agreed to work together, and to make a show of
competition, the better to keep the price down within bounds.
It was hardly fair, four men against one innocent unguarded female.
But this is a wicked world.
Christie landed, and proceeded to her own house; on the way she was met
by Jean Carnie, who debarrassed her of certain wrappers, and a
handkerchief she had tied round her head, and informed her she was the
pride of Newhaven.
She next met these four little merchants, one after another.
And since we ought to dwell as little as possible upon scenes in which
unguarded innocence is exposed to artful conspiracies, we will put a page
or two into the brute form of dramatic dialogue, and so sail through it
_1st Merchant._ "Where are ye going, Meggie?"
_Christie Johnstone._ "If onybody asks ye, say ye dinna ken."
_1st Mer._ "Will ye sell your fish?"
_Christie._ "Suner than gie them."
_1st Mer._ "You will be asking fifteen shillin' the cran."
_Christie._ "And ten to that."
_1st Mer._ "Good-morning."
_2d Mer._ "Would he not go over fifteen shillings? Oh, the thief o' the
world!-- I'll give sixteen."
_3d Mer._ "But I'll give eighteen."
_2d Mer._ "More fool you! Take him up, my girl."
_Christie._ "Twenty-five is my price the day."
_3d Mer._ "You will keep them till Sunday week and sell their bones."
_[Exeunt the three Merchants. Enter 4th Merchant._
_4th Mer._ "Are your fish sold? I'll give sixteen shillings."
_Christie._ "I'm seeking twenty-five, an' I'm offered eighteen.
_4th Mer._ "Take it." _[Exit._
_Christie._ "They hae putten their heads thegither."
Here Flucker came up to her, and told her there was a Leith merchant
looking for her. "And, Custy," said he, "there's plenty wind getting up,
your fish will be sair hashed; put them off your hands, I rede ye."
_Christie._ "Ay, lad! Flucker, hide, an' when I play my hand sae, ye'll
run in an cry, 'Cirsty, the Irishman will gie ye twenty-two schellin the
_Flucker._ "Ye ken mair than's in the catecheesm, for as releegious as ye
The Leith merchant was Mr. Miller, and this is the way he worked.
_Miller (in a mellifluous voice)._ "Are ye no fatigued, my deear?"
_Christie (affecting fatigue)._ "Indeed, sir, and I am."
_Miller._ "Shall I have the pleasure to deal wi' ye?"
_Christie._ "If it's your pleasure, sir. I'm seekin' twenty-five
_Miller (pretending not to hear)._ "As you are a beginner, I must offer
fair; twenty schellin you shall have, and that's three shillings above
_Christie._ "Wad ye even carted herrin with my fish caller fra' the sea?
and Dunbar--oh, fine! ye ken there's nae herrin at Dunbar the morn; this
is the Dunbar schule that slipped westward. I'm the matirket, ye'll hae
to buy o' me or gang to your bed" _(here she signaled to Flucker)._ "I'll
no be oot o' mine lang."
_Enter Flucker hastily, crying:_ "Cirsty, the Irishman will gie ye
"I'll no tak it," said Christie.
"They are keen to hae them," said Flucker; and hastily retired, as if to
treat further with the small merchants.
On this, Mr. Miller, pretending to make for Leith, said, carelessly,
"Twenty-three shillings, or they are not for me."
"Tak the cutter's freight at a hundre' cran, an' I'm no caring," said
"They are mine!" said Mr. Miller, very sharply. "How much shall I give
you the day?"
"Auchty pund, sir, if you please--the lave when you like; I ken ye, Mr.
While counting her the notes, the purchaser said slyly to her:
"There's more than a hundred cran in the cutter, my woman."
"A little, sir," replied the vender; "but, ere I could count them till ye
by baskets, they would lose seven or eight cran in book,* your gain, my
"You are a vara intelligent young person," said Mr. Miller, gravely.
"Ye had measured them wi' your walking-stick, sir; there's just ae scale
ye didna wipe off, though ye are a carefu' mon, Mr. Miller; sae I laid
the bait for ye an' fine ye took it."
Miller took out his snuff-box, and tapping it said:
"Will ye go into partnership with me, my dear?"
"Ay, sir!" was the reply. "When I'm aulder an' ye're younger."
At this moment the four merchants, believing it useless to disguise their
co-operation, returned to see what could be done.
"We shall give you a guinea a barrel."
"Why, ye offered her twenty-two shillings before."
"That we never did, Mr. Miller."
"Haw! haw!" went Flucker.
Christie looked down and blushed.
Eyes met eyes, and without a word spoken all was comprehended and
silently approved. There was no nonsense uttered about morality in
connection with dealing.
Mr. Miller took an enormous pinch of snuff, and drew for the benefit of
all present the following inference:
MR. MILLER'S APOTHEGM.
"Friends and neighbors! when a man's heed is gray with age and thoucht
_(pause)_ he's just fit to go to schule to a young lass o' twenty."
There was a certain middle-aged fishwife, called Beeny Liston, a tenant
of Christie Johnstone's; she had not paid her rent for some time, and she
had not been pressed for it; whether this, or the whisky she was in the
habit of taking, rankled in her mind, certain it is she had always an ill
word for her landlady.
She now met her, envied her success, and called out in a coarse tone:
"Oh, ye're a gallant quean; ye'll be waur than ever the noo."
"What's wrang, if ye please?" said the Johnstone, sharply.
Reader, did you ever see two fallow bucks commence a duel?
They strut round, eight yards apart, tails up, look carefully another way
to make the other think it all means nothing, and, being both equally
sly, their horns come together as if by concert.
Even so commenced this duel of tongues between these two heroines.
Beeny Liston, looking at everybody but Christie, addressed the natives
who were congregating thus:
"Did ever ye hear o' a decent lass taking the herrin' oot o' the men's
mooths?--is yon a woman's pairt, I'm asking ye?"
On this, Christie, looking carefully at all the others except Beeny,
inquired with an air of simple curiosity:
"Can onybody tell me wha Liston Carnie's drunken wife is speakin' till?
no to ony decent lass, though. Na! ye ken she wad na hae th' impudence!"
"Oh, ye ken fine I'm speakin' till yoursel'."
Here the horns clashed together.
"To me, woman?" _(with admirably acted surprise.)_ "Oo, ay! it will be
for the twa years' rent you're awin me. Giest!"
_Beeny Liston._ "Ye're just the impudentest girrl i' the toon, an' ye hae
proved it the day" (her arms akimbo).
_Christie (arms akimbo)._ "Me, impudent? how daur ye speak against my
charackter, that's kenned for decency o' baith sides the Firrth."
_Beeny (contemptuously)._ "Oh, ye're sly enough to beguile the men, but
we ken ye."
_Christie._ "I'm no sly, and" _(drawing near and hissing the words)_ "I'm
no like the woman Jean an' I saw in Rose Street, dead drunk on the
causeway, while her mon was working for her at sea. If ye're no ben your
hoose in ae minute, I'll say that will gar Liston Carnie fling ye ower
the pier-head, ye fool-moothed drunken leear--Scairt!"*
*A local word; a corruption from the French _Sortez._
If my reader has seen and heard Mademoiselle Rachel utter her famous
_Sortez,_ in "Virginie," he knows exactly with what a gesture and tone
the Johnstone uttered this word.
_Beeny (in a voice of whining surprise)._ "Hech! what a spite Flucker
Johnstone's dochter has taen against us."
_Beeny (in a coaxing voice, and moving a step)._ "Aweel! what's a' your
paession, my boenny woman?"
Beeny retired before the thunder and lightning of indignant virtue.
Then all the fishboys struck up a dismal chant of victory.
"Yoo-hoo--Custy's won the day--Beeny's scair_tit,"_ going up on the last
Christie moved slowly away toward her own house, but before she could
reach the door she began to whimper--little fool.
Thereat chorus of young Athenians chanted:
"Yu-hoo! come back, Beeny, ye'll maybe win yet. Custy's away gree_tin"_
_(going up on the last syllable)._
"I'm no greetin, ye rude bairns," said Christie, bursting into tears, and
retiring as soon as she had effected that proof of her philosophy.
It was about four hours later; Christie had snatched some repose. The
wind, as Flucker prognosticated, had grown into a very heavy gale, and
the Firth was brown and boiling.
Suddenly a clamor was heard on the shore, and soon after a fishwife made
her appearance, with rather a singular burden.
Her husband, ladies; _rien que cela._
She had him by the scruff of the neck; he was _dos-'a-dos,_ with his
booted legs kicking in the air, and his fists making warlike but idle
demonstrations and his mouth uttering ineffectual bad language.
This worthy had been called a coward by Sandy Liston, and being about to
fight with him, and get thrashed, his wife had whipped him up and carried
him away; she now flung him down, at some risk of his equilibrium.
"Ye are not fit to feicht wi' Sandy Liston," said she; "if ye are for
feichtin, here's for ye."
As a comment to this proposal, she tucked up the sleeves of her short
gown. He tried to run by her; she caught him by the bosom, and gave him a
violent push, that sent him several paces backward; he looked half
fierce, half astounded; ere he could quite recover himself, his little
servant forced a pipe into his hand, and he smoked contented and
Before tobacco the evil passions fall, they tell me.
The cause of this quarrel soon explained itself; up came Sandy Liston,
cursing and swearing.
"What! ye hae gotten till your wife's; that's the place for ye; to say
there's a brig in distress, and ye'll let her go on the rocks under your
noses. But what are ye afraid o'? there's na danger?"
"Nae danger!" said one of the reproached, "are ye fou?"
"Ye are fou wi' fear yoursel'; of a' the beasts that crawl the airth, a
cooward is the ugliest, I think."
"The wifes will no let us," said one, sulkily.
"It's the woman in your hairts that keeps ye," roared Sandy hoarsely;
"curse ye, ye are sure to dee ane day, and ye are sure to be----!" (a
past participle) "soon or late, what signifies when? Oh! curse the hour
ever I was born amang sic a cooardly crew." _(Gun at sea.)_
"She speaks till ye, hersel'; she cries for maircy; to think that, of a'
that hear ye cry, Alexander Liston is the only mon mon enough to answer."
"You are mistaken, Mr. Alexander Liston," said a clear, smart voice,
whose owner had mingled unobserved with the throng; "there are always men
to answer such occasions; now, my lads, your boats have plenty of beam,
and, well handled, should live in any sea; who volunteers with Alexander
Liston and me?"
The speaker was Lord Ipsden.
The fishwives of Newhaven, more accustomed to measure men than poor
little Lady Barbara Sinclair, saw in this man what in point of fact he
was--a cool, daring devil, than whom none more likely to lead men into
mortal danger, or pull them through it, for that matter.
They recognized their natural enemy, and collected together against him,
like hens at the sight of a hawk.
"And would you really entice our men till their death?"
"My life's worth as much as theirs, I suppose.
"Nae! your life! it's na worth a button; when you dee, your next kin will
dance, and wha'll greet? but our men hae wife and bairns to look till."
_(Gun at sea.)_
"Ah! I didn't look at it in that light," said Lord Ipsden. He then
demanded paper and ink; Christie Johnstone, who had come out of her
house, supplied it from her treasures, and this cool hand actually began
to convey a hundred and fifty thousand pounds away, upon a sheet of paper
blowing in the wind; when he had named his residuary legatee, and
disposed of certain large bequests, he came to the point--
"Christie Johnstone, what can these people live on? two hundred a year?
living is cheap here--confound the wind!"
"Twahundred? Fifty! Vile count."
"Don't call me vile count. I am Ipsden, and my name's Richard. Now, then,
be smart with your names."
Three men stepped forward, gave their names, had their widows provided
for, and went for their sou'westers, etc.
"Stay," said Lord Ipsden, writing. "To Christina Johnstone, out of
respect for her character, one thousand pounds."
"Richard! dinna gang," cried Christie, "oh, dinna gang, dinna gang, dinna
gang; it's no your business."
"Will you lend me your papa's Flushing jacket and sou'wester, my dear? If
I was sure to be drowned, I'd go!"
Christie ran in for them.
In the mean time, discomposed by the wind, and by feelings whose
existence neither he, nor I, nor any one suspected, Saunders, after a
sore struggle between the frail man and the perfect domestic, blurted
"My lord, I beg your lordship's pardon, but it blows tempestuous."
"That is why the brig wants us," was the reply.
"My lord, I beg your lordship's pardon," whimpered Saunders. "But, oh! my
lord, don't go; it's all very well for fishermen to be drowned; it is
their business, but not yours, my lord."
"Saunders, help me on with this coat."
Christie had brought it.
"Yes, my lord," said Saunders, briskly, his second nature reviving.
His lordship, while putting on the coat and hat, undertook to cool Mr.
Saunders's aristocratic prejudices.
"Should Alexander Liston and I be drowned," said he, coolly, "when our
bones come ashore, you will not know which are the fisherman's and which
the viscount's." So saying, he joined the enterprise.
"I shall pray for ye, lad," said Christie Johnstone, and she retired for
Saunders, with a heavy heart, to the nearest tavern, to prepare an
account of what he called "Heroism in High Life," large letters, and the
usual signs of great astonishment!!!!! for the _Polytechnic Magazine._
The commander of the distressed vessel had been penny-wise. He had
declined a pilot off the Isle of May, trusting to fall in with one close
to the port of Leith; but a heavy gale and fog had come on; he knew
himself in the vicinity of dangerous rocks; and, to make matters worse,
his ship, old and sore battered by a long and stormy voyage, was leaky;
and unless a pilot came alongside, his fate would be, either to founder,
or run upon the rocks, where he must expect to go to pieces in a quarter
of an hour.
The Newhaven boat lay in comparatively smooth water, on the lee side of
Our adventurers got into her, stepped the mast, set a small sail, and ran
out! Sandy Liston held the sheet, passed once round the belaying-pin, and
whenever a larger wave than usual came at them, he slacked the sheet, and
the boat, losing her way, rose gently, like a cork, upon seas that had
seemed about to swallow her.
But seen from the shore it was enough to make the most experienced wince;
so completely was this wooden shell lost to sight, as she descended from
a wave, that each time her reappearance seemed a return from the dead.
The weather was misty--the boat was soon lost sight of; the story remains
IT was an hour later; the natives of the New Town had left the pier, and
were about their own doors, when three Buckhaven fishermen came slowly up
from the pier; these men had arrived in one of their large fishing-boats,
which defy all weather.
The men came slowly up; their petticoat trousers were drenched, and their
neck-handkerchiefs and hair were wet with spray.
At the foot of the New Town they stood still and whispered to each other.
There was something about these men that drew the eye of Newhaven upon
In the first place a Buckhaven man rarely communicates with natives of
Newhaven, except at the pier, where he brings in his cod and ling from
the deep sea, flings them out like stones, and sells them to the
fishwives; then up sail and away for Fifeshire.
But these men evidently came ashore to speak to some one in the town.
They whispered together; something appeared to be proposed and demurred
to; but at last two went slowly back toward the pier, and the eldest
remained, with a fisherman's long mackintosh coat in his hand which the
others had given him as they left him.
With this in his hand, the Buckhaven fisherman stood in an irresolute
posture; he looked down, and seemed to ask himself what course he should
"What's wrang?" said Jean Carnie, who, with her neighbors, had observed
the men; "I wish yon man may na hae ill news."
"What ill news wad he hae?" replied another.
"Are ony freends of Liston Carnie here?" said the fisherman.
"The wife's awa' to Granton, Beeny Liston they ca' her--there's his
house," added Jean, pointing up the row.
"Ay," said the fisherman, "I ken he lived there."
"Lived there!" cried Christie Johnstone. "Oh, what's this?"
"Freends," said the man, gravely, "his boat is driving keel uppermost in
Kircauldy Bay. We passed her near enough to read the name upon her."
"But the men will have won to shore, please God?"
The fisherman shook his head.
"She'll hae coupit a mile wast Inch Keith, an' the tide rinning aff the
island an' a heavy sea gaun. This is a' Newhaven we'll see of them
_(holding up the coat)_ "till they rise to the top in three weeks' time."
The man then took the coat, which was now seen to be drenched with water,
and hung it up on a line not very far from its unfortunate owner's house.
Then, in the same grave and subdued tone in which he had spoken all
along, he said, "We are sorry to bring siccan a tale into your toon," and
slowly moved off to rejoin his comrades, who had waited for him at no
great distance. They then passed through the Old Town, and in five
minutes the calamity was known to the whole place.
After the first stupor, the people in the New Town collected into knots,
and lamented their hazardous calling, and feared for the lives of those
that had just put to sea in this fatal gale for the rescue of strangers,
and the older ones failed not to match this present sorrow with others
within their recollection.
In the middle of this, Flucker Johnstone came hastily in from the Old
Town and told them he had seen the wife, Beeny Liston, coming through
The sympathy of all was instantly turned in this direction.
"She would hear the news."
"It would fall on her like a thunderclap."
"What would become of her?"
Every eye was strained toward the Old Town, and soon the poor woman was
seen about to emerge from it; but she was walking in her usual way, and
they felt she could not carry her person so if she knew.
At the last house she was seen to stop and speak to a fisherman and his
wife that stood at their own door.
"They are telling her," was then the cry.
Beeny Liston then proceeded on her way.
Every eye was strained.
No! they had not told her.
She came gayly on, the unconscious object of every eye and every heart.
The hands of this people were hard, and their tongues rude, but they
shrunk from telling this poor woman of her bereavement--they thought it
kinder she should know it under her own roof, from her friends or
neighbors, than from comparative strangers.
She drew near her own door.
And now a knot collected round Christie Johnstone, and urged her to
undertake the sad task.
"You that speak sa learned, Christie, ye should tell her; we daur na."
"How can I tell her?" said Christie, turning pale. "How will I tell her?
She took one trembling step to meet the woman.
Beeny's eye fell upon her.
"Ay! here's the Queen o' Newhaven," cried she, in a loud and rather
coarse voice. "The men will hae ta leave the place now y' are turned
fisherman, I daur say."
"Oh, dinna fieicht on me! dinna fieicht on me!" cried Christie,
"Maircy on us," said the other, "auld Flucker Johnstone's dochter turned
humble. What next?"
"I'm vexed for speaking back till ye the morn," faltered Christie.
"Hett," said the woman carelessly, "let yon flea stick i' the wa'. I
fancy I began on ye. Aweel, Cirsty," said she, falling into a friendlier
tone; "it's the place we live in spoils us--Newhaven's an impudent toon,
as sure as deeth.
"I passed through the Auld Toon the noo--a place I never speak in; an' if
they did na glower at me as I had been a strange beast.
"They cam' to their very doors to glower at me; if ye'll believe me, I
"At the hinder end my paassion got up, and I faced a wife East-by, and I
said, 'What gars ye glower at me that way, ye ignorant woman?' ye would
na think it, she answered like honey itsel'. 'I'm askin' your paarrdon,'
says she; and her mon by her side said, 'Gang hame to your ain hoose, my
woman, and Gude help ye, and help us a' at our need,' the decent mon.
'It's just there I'm for,' said I, 'to get my mon his breakfast.'"
All who heard her drew their breath with difficulty.
The woman then made for her own house, but in going up the street she
passed the wet coat hanging on the line.
She stopped directly.
They all trembled--they had forgotten the coat--it was all over; the coat
would tell the tale.
"Aweel," said she, "I could sweer that's Liston Carnie's coat, a droukit
wi' the rain; then she looked again at it, and added, slowly, "if I did
na ken he has his away wi' him at the piloting." And in another moment
she was in her own house, leaving them all standing there half stupefied.
Christie had indeed endeavored to speak, but her tongue had cloven to her
While they stood looking at one another, and at Beeny Liston's door, a
voice that seemed incredibly rough, loud and harsh, jarred upon them; it
was Sandy Liston, who came in from Leith, shouting:
"Fifty pounds for salvage, lasses! is na thaat better than staying
cooard-like aside the women?"
"Whisht! whisht!" cried Christie.
"We are in heavy sorrow; puir Liston Cairnie and his son Willy lie deed
at the bottom o' the Firrth."
"Gude help us!" said Sandy, and his voice sank.
"An', oh, Sandy, the wife does na ken, and it's hairt-breaking to see
her, and hear her; we canna get her tell't; ye're the auldest mon here;
ye'll tell her, will ye no, Sandy?"
"No, me, that' I will not!"
"Oh, yes; ye are kenned for your stoot heart, an' courage; ye come fra'
facing the sea an' wind in a bit yawl."
"The sea and the wind," cried he, contemptuously; "they be ----, I'm used
wi' them; but to look a woman i' the face, an' tell her her mon and her
son are drowned since yestreen, I hae na coorage for that."
All further debate was cut short by the entrance of one who came
expressly to discharge the sad duty all had found so difficult. It was
the Presbyterian clergyman of the place; he waved them back. "I know, I
know," said he, solemnly. "Where is the wife?"
She came out of her house at this moment, as it happened, to purchase
something at Drysale's shop, which was opposite.
"Beeny," said the clergyman, "I have sorrowful tidings."
"Tell me them, sir," said she, unmoved. "Is it a deeth?" added she,
"It is!--death, sudden and terrible; in your own house I must tell it
you--(and may God show me how to break it to her)."
He entered her house.
"Aweel," said the woman to the others, "it maun be some far-awa cousin,
or the like, for Liston an' me hae nae near freends. Meg, ye idle fuzzy,"
screamed she to her servant, who was one of the spectators, "your pat is
no on yet; div ye think the men will no be hungry when they come in fra'
"They will never hunger nor thirst ony mair," said Jean, solemnly, as the
bereaved woman entered her own door.
There ensued a listless and fearful silence.
Every moment some sign of bitter sorrow was expected to break forth from
the house, but none came; and amid the expectation and silence the waves
dashed louder and louder, as it seemed, against the dike, conscious of
what they had done.
At last, in a moment, a cry of agony arose, so terrible that all who
heard it trembled, and more than one woman shrieked in return, and fled
from the door, at which, the next moment, the clergyman stood alone,
collected, but pale, and beckoned. Several women advanced.
"One woman," said he.
Jean Carnie was admitted; and after a while returned.
"She is come to hersel'," whispered she; "I am no weel mysel'." And she
passed into her own house.
Then Flucker crept to the door to see.
"Oh, dinna spy on her," cried Christie.
"Oh, yes, Flucker," said many voices.
"He is kneelin'," said Flucker. "He has her hand, to gar her kneel
tae--she winna--she does na see him, nor hear him; he will hae her. He
has won her to kneel--he is prayin, an' greetin aside her. I canna see
noo, my een's blinded."
"He's a gude mon," said Christie. "Oh, what wad we do without the
Sandy Liston had been leaning sorrowfully against the wall of the next
house; he now broke out:
"An auld shipmate at the whale-fishing!!! an' noow we'll never lift the
dredging sang thegither again, in yon dirty detch that's droowned him; I
maun hae whisky, an' forget it a'."
He made for the spirit-shop like a madman; but ere he could reach the
door a hand was laid on him like a vise. Christie Johnstone had literally
sprung on him. She hated this horrible vice--had often checked him; and
now it seemed so awful a moment for such a sin, that she forgot the wild
and savage nature of the man, who had struck his own sister, and
seriously hurt her, a month before--she saw nothing but the vice and its
victim, and she seized him by the collar, with a grasp from which he in
vain attempted to shake himself loose.
"No! ye'll no gang there at siccan a time."
"Hands off, ye daft jaud," roared he, "or there'll be another deeth i'
At the noise Jean Carnie ran in.
"Let the ruffian go," cried she, in dismay. "Oh, Christie, dinna put your
hand on a lion's mane."
"Yes, I'll put my hand on his mane, ere I'll let him mak a beast o'
"Sandy, if ye hurt her, I'll find twenty lads that will lay ye deed at
"Haud your whisht," said Christie, very sharply, "he's no to be
Sandy Liston, black and white with rage, ground his teeth together, and
said, lifting his hand, "Wull ye let me go, or must I tak my hand till
"No!" said Christie, "I'll no let ye go, _sae look me i' the face;
Flucker's dochter, your auld comrade, that saved your life at Holy Isle,
think o' his face--an' look in mines--an' strike me!!!"_
They glared on one another--he fiercely and unsteadily; she firmly and
Jean Carnie said afterward, "Her eyes were like coals of fire."
"Ye are doing what nae mon i' the toon daur; ye are a bauld, unwise
"It's you mak me bauld," was the instant reply. "I saw ye face the mad
sea, to save a ship fra' the rocks, an' will I fear a mon's hand, when I
can save" _(rising to double her height)_ "my feyther's auld freend fra'
the puir mon's enemy, the enemy o' mankind, the cursed, cursed drink? Oh,
Sandy Liston, hoow could ye think to put an enemy in your mooth to steal
awa your brains!"
"This 's no Newhaven chat; wha lairns ye sic words o' power?"
"A deed mon!"
"I would na wonder, y' are no canny; she's ta'en a' the poower oot o' my
body, I think." Then suddenly descending to a tone of abject submission,
"What's your pleesure, Flucker Johnstone's dochter?"
She instantly withdrew the offending grasp, and, leaning affectionately
on his shoulder, she melted into her rich Ionic tones.
"It's no a time for sin; ye'll sit by my fire, an' get your dinner; a
bonny haggis hae I for you an' Flucker, an' we'll improve this sorrowfu'
judgment; an' ye'll tell me o' auld times--o' my feyther dear, that
likeit ye weel, Sandy--o' the storrms ye hae weathered, side by side--o'
the muckle whales ye killed Greenland way--an' abune a', o' the lives ye
hae saved at sea, by your daurin an' your skell; an', oh, Sandy, will na
that be better as sit an' poor leequid damnation doown your throat, an'
gie awa the sense an' feeling o' a mon for a sair heed and an ill name?"
"I'se gang, my lamb," said the rough man, quite subdued; "I daur say
whisky will no pass my teeth the day."
And so he went quietly away, and sat by Christie's fireside.
Jean and Christie went toward the boats.
Jean, after taking it philosophically for half a minute, began to
"What's wrang?" said Christie.
"Div ye think my hairt's no in my mooth wi' you gripping yon fierce
Here a young fishwife, with a box in her hand, who had followed them,
pulled Jean by the coats.
"Hets," said Jean, pulling herself free.
The child then, with a pertinacity these little animals have, pulled
"Hets," said Christie, freeing herself more gently.
"Ye suld mairry Van Amburgh," continued Jean; "ye are just such a lass as
he is a lad."
Christie smiled proudly, was silent, but did not disown the comparison.
The little fishwife, unable to attract attention by pulling, opened her
box, and saying, "Lasses, I'll let ye see my presoner. Hech! he's
boenny!" pulled out a mouse by a string fastened to his tail and set him
in the midst for friendly admiration.
"I dinna like it--I dinna like it!" screamed Christie. "Jean, put it
away--it fears me, Jean!" This she uttered (her eyes almost starting from
her head with unaffected terror) at the distance of about eight yards,
whither she had arrived in two bounds that would have done no discredit
to an antelope.
"Het," said Jean, uneasily, "hae ye coowed you savage, to be scared at
the wee beastie?"
Christie, looking askant at the animal, explained: "A moose is an awesome
beast--it's no like a mon!" and still her eye was fixed by fascination
upon the four-footed danger.
Jean, who had not been herself in genuine tranquillity, now turned
savagely on the little Wombwelless. "An' div ye really think ye are to
come here wi' a' the beasts i' the Airk? Come, awa ye go, the pair o'
These severe words, and a smart push, sent the poor little biped off
roaring, with the string over her shoulder, recklessly dragging the
terrific quadruped, which made fruitless grabs at the shingle.--_Moral._
Don't terrify bigger folk than yourself.
Christie had intended to go up to Edinburgh with her eighty pounds, but
there was more trouble in store this eventful day.
Flucker went out after dinner, and left her with Sandy Liston, who was in
the middle of a yarn, when some one came running in and told her Flucker
was at the pier crying for her. She inquired what was the matter. "Come,
an' ye'll see," was all the answer. She ran down to the pier. There was
poor Flucker lying on his back; he had slipped from the pier into a boat
that lay alongside; the fall was considerable; for a minute he had been
insensible, then he had been dreadfully sick, and now he was beginning to
feel his hurt; he was in great anguish; nobody knew the extent of his
injuries; he would let nobody touch him; all his cry was for his sister.
At last she came; they all made way for her; he was crying for her as she
"My bairn! my bairn!" cried she, and the poor little fellow smiled, and
tried to raise himself toward her.
She lifted him gently in her arms--she was powerful, and affection made
her stronger; she carried him in her arms all the way home, and laid him
on her own bed. Willy Liston, her discarded suitor, ran for the surgeon.
There were no bones broken, but his ankle was severely sprained, and he
had a terrible bruise on the loins; his dark, ruddy face was streaked and
pale; but he never complained after he found himself at home.
Christie hovered round him, a ministering angel, applying to him with a
light and loving hand whatever could ease his pain; and he watched her
with an expression she had never noticed in his eye before.
At last, after two hours' silence, he made her sit in full view, and then
he spoke to her; and what think you was the subject of his discourse?
He turned to and told her, one after another, without preface, all the
loving things she had done to him ever since he was five years old. Poor
boy, he had never shown much gratitude, but he had forgotten nothing,
Christie was quite overcome with this unexpected trait; she drew him
gently to her bosom, and wept over him; and it was sweet to see a brother
and sister treat each other almost like lovers, as these two began to
do--they watched each other's eye so tenderly.
This new care kept the sister in her own house all the next day; but
toward the evening Jean, who knew her other anxiety, slipped in and
offered to take her place for an hour by Flucker's side; at the same time
she looked one of those signals which are too subtle for any but woman to
Christie drew her aside, and learned that Gatty and his mother were just
coming through from Leith; Christie ran for her eighty pounds, placed
them in her bosom, cast a hasty glance at a looking-glass, little larger
than an oyster-shell, and ran out.
"Hech! What pleased the auld wife will be to see he has a lass that can
mak auchty pund in a morning."
This was Christie's notion.
At sight of them she took out the banknotes, and with eyes glistening and
cheeks flushing she cried:
"Oh, Chairles, ye'll no gang to jail--I hae the siller!" and she offered
him the money with both hands, and a look of tenderness and modesty that
embellished human nature.
Ere he could speak, his mother put out her hand, and not rudely, but very
coldly, repelling Christie's arm, said in a freezing manner:
"We are much obliged to you, but my son's own talents have rescued him
from his little embarrassment."
"A nobleman has bought my picture," said Gatty, proudly.
"For one hundred and fifty pounds," said the old lady, meaning to mark
the contrast between that sum and what Christie had in her hand.
Christie remained like a statue, with her arms extended, and the
bank-notes in her hand; her features worked--she had much ado not to cry;
and any one that had known the whole story, and seen this unmerited
repulse, would have felt for her; but her love came to her aid, she put
the notes in her bosom, sighed and said:
"I would hae likeit to hae been the first, ye ken, but I'm real pleased."
"But, mother," said Gatty, "it was very kind of Christie all the same.
Oh, Christie!" said he, in a tone of despair.
At this kind word Christie's fortitude was sore tried; she turned away
her head; she was far too delicate to let them know who had sent Lord
Ipsden to buy the picture.
While she turned away, Mrs. Gatty said in her son's ear:
"Now, I have your solemn promise to do it here, and at once; you will
find me on the beach behind these boats--do it."
The reader will understand that during the last few days Mrs. Gatty had
improved her advantage, and that Charles had positively consented to obey
her; the poor boy was worn out with the struggle--he felt he must have
peace or die; he was thin and pale, and sudden twitches came over him;
his temperament was not fit for such a battle; and, it is to be observed,
nearly all the talk was on one side. He had made one expiring
struggle--he described to his mother an artist's nature; his strength,
his weakness--he besought her not to be a slave to general rules, but to
inquire what sort of a companion the individual Gatty needed; he lashed
with true but brilliant satire the sort of wife his mother was ready to
see him saddled with--a stupid, unsympathizing creature, whose ten
children would, by nature's law, be also stupid, and so be a weight on
him till his dying day. He painted Christie Johnstone, mind and body, in
words as true and bright as his colors; he showed his own weak points,
her strong ones, and how the latter would fortify the former.
He displayed, in short, in one minute, more intellect than his mother had
exhibited in sixty years; and that done, with all his understanding, wit
and eloquence, he succumbed like a child to her stronger will--he
promised to break with Christie Johnstone.
When Christie had recovered her composure and turned round to her
companions, she found herself alone with Charles.
"Chairles," said she, gravely.
"Christie," said he, uneasily.
"Your mother does na like me. Oh, ye need na deny it; and we are na
together as we used to be, my lad."
"She is prejudiced; but she has been the best of mothers to me,
"Circumstances compel me to return to England."
(Ah, coward! anything but the real truth!)
"Aweel, Chairles, it will no be for lang."
"I don't know; you will not be so unhappy as I shall--at least I hope
"Hoow do ye ken that?"
"Christie, do you remember the first night we danced together?"
"And we walked in the cool by the seaside, and I told you the names of
the stars, and you said those were not their real names, but nicknames we
give them here on earth. I loved you that first night."
"And I fancied you the first time I set eyes on you."
"How can I leave you, Christie? What shall I do?"
"I ken what I shall do," answered Christie coolly; then, bursting into
tears, she added, "I shall dee! I shall dee!"
"No! you must not say so; at least I will never love any one but you."
"An' I'll live as I am a' my days for your sake. Oh, England! I hae
likeit ye sae weel, ye suld na rob me o' my lad--he's a' the joy I hae!"
"I love you," said Gatty. "Do you love me?"
All the answer was, her head upon his shoulder.
"I can't do it," thought Gatty, "and I won't! Christie," said he, "stay
here, don't move from here." And he dashed among the boats in great
He found his mother rather near the scene of the late conference.
"Mother," said he, fiercely, like a coward as he was, "ask me no more, my
mind is made up forever; I will not do this scoundrelly, heartless,
beastly, ungrateful action you have been pushing me to so long."
"Take care, Charles, take care," said the old woman, trembling with
passion, for this was a new tone for her son to take with her. "You had
my blessing the other day, and you saw what followed it; do not tempt me
to curse an undutiful, disobedient, ungrateful son."
"I must take my chance," said he, desperately, "for I am under a curse
any way! I placed my ring on her finger, and held up my hand to God and
swore she should be my wife; she has my ring and my oath, and I will not
perjure myself even for my mother."
"Your ring! Not the ruby ring I gave you from your dead father's
finger--not that! not that!"
"Yes! yes! I tell you yes! and if he was alive, and saw her, and knew her
goodness, he would have pity on me, but I have no friend; you see how ill
you have made me, but you have no pity; I could not have believed it;
but, since you have no mercy on me, I will have the more mercy on myself;
I marry her to-morrow, and put an end to all this shuffling and
maneuvering against an angel! I am not worthy of her, but I'll marry her
"Stay!" said the old woman, in a terrible voice; "before you destroy me
and all I have lived for, and suffered, and pinched for, hear me; if that
ring is not off the hussy's finger in half an hour, and you my son again,
I fall on this sand and--"
"Then God have mercy upon me, for I'll see the whole creation lost
eternally ere I'll wrong the only creature that is an ornament to the
He was desperate; and the weak, driven to desperation, are more furious
than the strong.
It was by Heaven's mercy that neither mother nor son had time to speak
As they faced each other, with flaming eyes and faces, all self-command
gone, about to utter hasty words, and lay up regret, perhaps for all
their lives to come, in a moment, as if she had started from the earth,
Christie Johnstone stood between them!
Gatty's words, and, still more, his hesitation, had made her quick
intelligence suspect. She had resolved to know the truth; the boats
offered every facility for listening--she had heard every word.
She stood between the mother and son.
They were confused, abashed, and the hot blood began to leave their
She stood erect like a statue, her cheek pale as ashes, her eyes
glittering like basilisks, she looked at neither of them.
She slowly raised her left hand, she withdrew a ruby ring from it, and
dropped the ring on the sand between the two.
She turned on her heel, and was gone as she had come, without a word
They looked at one another, stupefied at first; after a considerable
pause the stern old woman stooped, picked up the ring, and, in spite of a
certain chill that the young woman's majestic sorrow had given her, said,
placing it on her own finger, "This is for your wife!!!"
"It will be for my coffin, then," said her son, so coldly, so bitterly
and so solemnly that the mother's heart began to quake.
"Mother," said he calmly, "forgive me, and accept your son's arm.
"I will, my son!"
"We are alone in the world now, mother."
Mrs. Gatty had triumphed, but she felt the price of her triumph more than
her victory. It had been done in one moment, that for which she had so
labored, and it seemed that had she spoken long ago to Christie, instead
of Charles, it could have been done at any moment.
Strange to say, for some minutes the mother felt more uneasy than her
son; she was a woman, after all, and could measure a woman's heart, and
she saw how deep the wound she had given one she was now compelled to
Charles, on the other hand, had been so harassed backward and forward,
that to him certainty was relief; it was a great matter to be no longer
called upon to decide. His mother had said, "Part," and now Christie had
said, "Part"; at least the affair was taken out of his hands, and his
first feeling was a heavenly calm.
In this state he continued for about a mile, and he spoke to his mother
about his art, sole object now; but after the first mile he became
silent, _distrait;_ Christie's pale face, her mortified air, when her
generous offer was coldly repulsed, filled him with remorse. Finally,
unable to bear it, yet not daring to speak, he broke suddenly from his
mother without a word, and ran wildly back to Newhaven; he looked back
only once, and there stood his mother, pale, with her hands piteously
lifted toward heaven.
By the time he got to Newhaven he was as sorry for her as for Christie.
He ran to the house of the latter; Flucker and Jean told him she was on
the beach. He ran to the beach! he did not see her at first, but,
presently looking back, he saw her, at the edge of the boats, in company
with a gentleman in a boating-dress. He looked--could he believe his
eyes? he saw Christie Johnstone kiss this man's hand, who then, taking
her head gently in his two hands, placed a kiss upon her brow, while she
seemed to yield lovingly to the caress.
Gatty turned faint, sick; for a moment everything swam before his eyes;
he recovered himself, they were gone.
He darted round to intercept them; Christie had slipped away somewhere;
he encountered the man alone!
CHRISTIE'S situation requires to be explained.
On leaving Gatty and his mother, she went to her own house. Flucker--who
after looking upon her for years as an inconvenient appendage, except at
dinnertime, had fallen in love with her in a manner that was half
pathetic, half laughable, all things considered--saw by her face she had
received a blow, and raising himself in the bed, inquired anxiously,
"What ailed her?"
At these kind words, Christie Johnstone laid her cheek upon the pillow
beside Flucker's and said:
"Oh, my laamb, be kind to your puir sister fra' this hoor, for she has
naething i' the warld noo but yoursel'."
Flucker began to sob at this.
Christie could not cry; her heart was like a lump of lead in her bosom;
but she put her arm round his neck, and at the sight of his sympathy she
panted heavily, but could not shed a tear--she was sore stricken.
Presently Jean came in, and, as the poor girl's head ached as well as her
heart, they forced her to go and sit in the air. She took her creepie and
sat, and looked on the sea; but, whether she looked seaward or landward,
all seemed unreal; not things, but hard pictures of things, some moving,
some still. Life seemed ended--she had lost her love.
An hour she sat in this miserable trance; she was diverted into a better,
because a somewhat less dangerous form of grief, by one of those trifling
circumstances that often penetrate to the human heart when inaccessible
to greater things.
Willy the fiddler and his brother came through the town, playing as they
went, according to custom; their music floated past Christie's ears like
some drowsy chime, until, all of a sudden, they struck up the old English
air, "Speed the Plow."
Now it was to this tune Charles Gatty had danced with her their first
dance the night they made acquaintance.
Christie listened, lifted up her hands, and crying:
"Oh, what will I do? what will I do?" burst into a passion of grief.
She put her apron over her head, and rocked herself, and sobbed bitterly.
She was in this situation when Lord Ipsden, who was prowling about,
examining the proportions of the boats, discovered her.
"Some one in distress--that was all in his way."
"Madam!" said he.
She lifted up her head.
"It is Christie Johnstone. I'm so glad; that is, I'm sorry you are
crying, but I'm glad I shall have the pleasure of relieving you;" and his
lordship began to feel for a check-book.
"And div ye really think siller's a cure for every grief!" said Christie,
"I don't know," said his lordship; "it has cured them all as yet."
"It will na cure me, then!" and she covered her head with her apron
"I am very sorry," said he; "tell me" _(whispering),_ "what is it? poor
"Dinna speak to me; I think shame; ask Jean. Oh, Richard, I'll no be lang
in this warld!!!"
"Ah!" said he, "I know too well what it is now; I know, by sad
experience. But, Christie, money will cure it in your case, and it shall,
too; only, instead of five pounds, we must put a thousand pounds or two
to your banker's account, and then they will all see your beauty, and run
"How daur ye even to me that I'm seekin a lad?" cried she, rising from
her stool; "I would na care suppose there was na a lad in Britain." And
off she flounced.
"Offended her by my gross want of tact," thought the viscount.
She crept back, and two velvet lips touched his hand. That was because
she had spoken harshly to a friend.
"Oh, Richard," said she, despairingly, "I'll no be lang in this warld."
He was touched; and it was then he took her head and kissed her brow, and
said: "This will never do. My child, go home and have a nice cry, and I
will speak to Jean; and, rely upon me, I will not leave the neighborhood
till I have arranged it all to your satisfaction."
And so she went--a little, a very little, comforted by his tone and
Now this was all very pretty; but then seen at a distance of fifty yards
it looked very ugly; and Gatty, who had never before known jealousy, the
strongest and worst of human passions, was ripe for anything.
He met Lord Ipsden, and said at once, in his wise, temperate way:
"Sir, you are a villain!"
_Gatty._ "You are a villain!"
_Ipsden._ "How do you make that out?"
_Gatty._ "But, of course, you are not a coward, too."
_Ipsden (ironically)._ "You surprise me with your moderation, sir."
_Gatty._ "Then you will waive your rank--you are a lord, I believe-and
give me satisfaction."
_Ipsden._ "My rank, sir, such as it is, engages me to give a proper
answer to proposals of this sort; I am at your orders."
_Gatty._ "A man of your character must often have been called to an
account by your victims, so--so--" (hesitating) "perhaps you will tell me
the proper course."
_Ipsden. "I_ shall send a note to the castle, and the colonel will send
me down somebody with a mustache; I shall pretend to remember mustache,
mustache will pretend he remembers me; he will then communicate with your
friend, and they will arrange it all for us."
_Gatty._ "And, perhaps, through your licentiousness, one or both of us
will be killed."
_Ipsden._ "Yes! but we need not trouble our heads about that--the seconds
_Gatty._ "I have no pistols."
_Ipsden._ "If you will do me the honor to use one of mine, it shall be at
_Gatty._ "Thank you."
_Ipsden._ "To-morrow morning?"
_Gatty._ "No. I have four days' painting to do on my picture, I can't die
till it is finished; Friday morning."
_Ipsden._ "(He is mad.) I wish to ask you a question, you will excuse my
curiosity. Have you any idea what we are agreeing to differ about?"
_Gatty._ "The question does you little credit, my lord; that is to add
insult to wrong."
He went off hurriedly, leaving Lord Ipsden mystified.
He thought Christie Johnstone was somehow connected with it; but,
conscious of no wrong, he felt little disposed to put up with any insult,
especially from this boy, to whom he had been kind, he thought.
His lordship was, besides, one of those good, simple-minded creatures,
educated abroad, who, when invited to fight, simply bow, and load two
pistols, and get themselves called at six; instead of taking down tomes
of casuistry and puzzling their poor brains to find out whether they are
gamecocks or capons, and why.
As for Gatty, he hurried home in a fever of passion, begged his mother's
pardon, and reproached himself for ever having disobeyed her on account
of such a perfidious creature as Christie Johnstone.
He then told her what he had seen, as distance and imagination had
presented it to him; to his surprise the old lady cut him short.
"Charles," said she, "there is no need to take the girl's character away;
she has but one fault--she is not in the same class of life as you, and
such marriages always lead to misery; but in other respects she is a
worthy young woman--don't speak against her character, or you will make
my flesh creep; you don't know what her character is to a woman, high or
By this moderation, perhaps she held him still faster.
Friday morning arrived. Gatty had, by hard work, finished his picture,
collected his sketches from nature, which were numerous, left by
memorandum everything to his mother, and was, or rather felt, as ready to
die as live.
He had hardly spoken a word or eaten a meal these four days; his mother
was in anxiety about him. He rose early, and went down to Leith; an hour
later, his mother, finding him gone out, rose and went to seek him at
Meantime Flucker had entirely recovered, but his sister's color had left
her cheeks. The boy swore vengeance against the cause of her distress.
On Friday morning, then, there paced on Leith Sands two figures.
One was Lord Ipsden.
The other seemed a military gentleman, who having swallowed the mess-room
poker, and found it insufficient, had added the ramrods of his company.
The more his lordship reflected on Gatty, the less inclined he had felt
to invite a satirical young dog from barracks to criticise such a
_rencontre;_ he had therefore ordered Saunders to get up as a
field-marshal, or some such trifle, and what Saunders would have called
incomparable verticality was the result.
The painter was also in sight.
While he was coming up, Lord Ipsden was lecturing Marshal Saunders on a
point on which that worthy had always thought himself very superior to
his master--"Gentlemanly deportment."
"Now, Saunders, mind and behave like a gentleman, or we shall be found
"I trust, my lord, my conduct--"
"What I mean is, you must not be so overpoweringly gentleman-like as you
are apt to be; no gentleman is so gentleman as all that; it could not be
borne, _c'est suffoquant;_ and a white handkerchief is unsoldier-like,
and nobody ties a white handkerchief so well as that; of all the vices,
perfection is the most intolerable." His lordship then touched with his
cane the generalissimo's tie, whose countenance straightway fell, as
though he had lost three successive battles.
Gatty came up.
"Where is your second, sir?" said the mare'chal.
"My second?" said Gatty. "Ah! I forgot to wake him--does it matter?"
"It is merely a custom," said Lord Ipsden, with a very slightly satirical
manner. "Savanadero," said he, "do us the honor to measure the ground,
and be everybody's second."
Savanadero measured the ground, and handed a pistol to each combatant,
and struck an imposing attitude apart.
"Are you ready, gentlemen?" said this Jack-o'-both-sides.
"Yes!" said both.
Just as the signal was about to be given, an interruption occurred. "I
beg your pardon, sir," said Lord Ipsden to his antagonist; "I am going to
take a _liberty--a great liberty_ with you, but I think you will find
your pistol is only at half cock."
"Thank you, my lord; what am I to do with the thing?"
"Draw back the cock so, and be ready to fire?"
He had touched the trigger as well as the cock, so off went the barker;
and after a considerable pause the field-marshal sprang yelling into the
"Hallo!" cried Mr. Gatty.
"Ah! oh! I'm a dead man," whined the general.
"Nonsense!" said Ipsden, after a moment of anxiety. "Give yourself no
concern, sir," said he, soothingly, to his antagonist--"a mere accident.
Mare'chal, reload Mr. Gatty's pistol."
"Excuse me, my lord--"
"Load his pistol directly," said his lordship, sternly; "and behave like
"My lord! my lord! but where shall I stand to be safe?"
The commander of division advanced reluctantly for Gatty's pistol.
"No, my lord!" said Gatty, "it is plain I am not a fit antagonist; I
shall but expose myself--and my mother has separated us; I have lost
her--if you do not win her some worse man may; but, oh! if you are a man,
use her tenderly."
"Christie Johnstone! Oh, sir, do not make her regret me too much! She was
my treasure, my consolation--she was to be my wife, she would have
cheered the road of life--it is a desert now. I loved her--I--I--"
Here the poor fellow choked.
Lord Ipsden turned round, and threw his pistol to Saunders, saying,
"Catch that, Saunders."
Saunders, on the contrary, by a single motion changed his person from a
vertical straight line to a horizontal line exactly parallel with the
earth's surface, and the weapon sang innoxious over him.
His lordship then, with a noble defiance of etiquette, walked up to his
antagonist and gave him his hand, with a motion no one could resist; for
he felt for the poor fellow.
"It is all a mistake," said he. "There is no sentiment between La
Johnstone and me but mutual esteem. I will explain the whole thing. _I_
admire _her_ for her virtue, her wit, her innocence, her goodness and all
that sort of thing; and _she,_ what _she_ sees in _me,_ I am sure I don't
know," added he, slightly shrugging his aristocratic shoulders. "Do me
the honor to breakfast with me at Newhaven."
"I have ordered twelve sorts of fish at the 'Peacock,' my lord," said
"Divine! (I hate fish) I told Saunders all would be hungry and none shot;
by the by, you are winged, I think you said, Saunders?"
"No, my lord! but look at my trousers."
The bullet had cut his pantaloons.
"I see--only barked; so go and see about our breakfast."
"Yes, my lord" _(faintly)._
"And draw on me for fifty pounds' worth of--new trousers."
Yes, my lord" _(sonorously)._
The duelists separated, Gatty taking the short cut to Newhaven; he
proposed to take his favorite swim there, to refresh himself before
breakfast; and he went from his lordship a little cheered by remarks
which fell from him, and which, though vague, sounded friendly--poor
fellow, except when he had a brush in hand he was a dreamer.
This viscount, who did not seem to trouble his head about class dignity,
was to convert his mother from her aristocratic tendencies or something.
_Que sais-je?_ what will not a dreamer hope?
Lord Ipsden strolled along the sands, and judge his surprise, when,
attended by two footmen, he met at that time in the morning Lady Barbara
Lord Ipsden had been so disheartened and piqued by this lady's conduct
that for a whole week he had not been near her. This line of behavior
She met him with a grand display of cordiality.
She inquired, "Whether he had heard of a most gallant action, that,
coupled with another circumstance" _(here she smiled),_ "had in part
reconciled her to the age we live in?"
He asked for further particulars.
She then informed him "that a ship had been ashore on the rocks, that no
fisherman dared venture out, that a young gentleman had given them his
whole fortune, and so bribed them to accompany him; that he had saved the
ship and the men's lives, paid away his fortune, and lighted an odious
cigar and gone home, never minding, amid the blessings and acclamations
of a maritime population."
A beautiful story she told him; so beautiful, in fact, that until she had
discoursed ten minutes he hardly recognized his own feat; but when he did
he blushed inside as well as out with pleasure. Oh! music of
music--praise from eloquent lips, and those lips the lips we love.
The next moment he felt ashamed; ashamed that Lady Barbara should praise
him beyond his merits, as he conceived.
He made a faint hypocritical endeavor to moderate her eulogium; this gave
matters an unexpected turn, Lady Barbara's eyes flashed defiance.
"I say it was a noble action, that one nursed in effeminacy (as you all
are) should teach the hardy seamen to mock at peril--noble fellow!"
"He did a man's duty, Barbara."
"Ipsden, take care, you will make me hate you, if you detract from a deed
you cannot emulate. This gentleman risked his own life to save others--he
is a hero! I should know him by his face the moment I saw him. Oh, that I
were such a man, or knew where to find such a creature!"
The water came into Lord Ipsden's eyes; he did not know what to say or
do; he turned away his head. Lady Barbara was surprised; her conscience
"Oh, dear," said she, "there now, I have given you pain--forgive me; we
can't all be heroes; dear Ipsden, don't think I despise you now as I
used. Oh, no! I have heard of your goodness to the poor, and I have more
experience now. There is nobody I esteem more than you, Richard, so you
need not look so."
"Thank you, dearest Barbara."
"Yes, and if you were to be such a goose as to write me another letter
proposing absurdities to me--"
"Would the answer be different?"
"Oh, Barbara, would you accept?"
"Why, of course not; but I would refuse civilly!"
"There, don't sigh; I hate a sighing man. I'll tell you something that I
know will make you laugh." She then smiled saucily in his face, and said,
"Do you remember Mr.----?"
_L'effronte'e!_ this was the earnest man. But Ipsden was a match for her
this time. "I think I do," said he; "a gentleman who wants to make John
Bull little again into John Calf; but it won't do."
Her ladyship laughed. "Why did you not tell us that on Inch Coombe?"
"Because I had not read _The Catspaw_ then."
_"The Catspaw?_ Ah! I thought it could not be you. Whose is it?"
"Then Mr. Jerrold is cleverer than you."
"It is possible."
"It is certain! Well, Mr. Jerrold and Lord Ipsden, you will both be glad
to hear that it was, in point of fact, a bull that confuted the advocate
of the Middle Ages; we were walking; he was telling me manhood was
extinct except in a few earnest men who lived upon the past, its
associations, its truth; when a horrid bull gave--oh--such a bellow! and
came trotting up. I screamed and ran--I remember nothing but arriving at
the stile, and lo, on the other side, offering me his arm with
_empressment_ across the wooden barrier was--"
"Well! don't you see?"
"No--oh--yes, I see!--fancy--ah! Shall I tell you how he came to get
first over? He ran more earnestly than you."
'It is not Mr. Jerrold this time, I presume," said her satirical
"No! you cannot always have him. I venture to predict your ladyship on
your return home gave this mediaeval personage his _conge'."_
"I gave it him at the stile! Let us be serious, if you please; I have a
confidence to make you, Ipsden. Frankly, I owe you some apology for my
conduct of late; I meant to be reserved--I have been rude--but you shall
judge me. A year ago you made me some proposals; I rejected them because,
though I like you--"
"You like me?"
"I detest your character. Since then, my West India estate has been
turned into specie; that specie, the bulk of my fortune, placed on board
a vessel; that vessel lost, at least we think so--she has not been heard
"My dear cousin."
"Do you comprehend that now I am cooler than ever to all young gentlemen
who have large incomes, and" (holding out her hand like an angel) "I must
trouble you to forgive me."
He kissed her lovely hand.
"I esteem you more and more," said he. "You ought, for it has been a hard
struggle to me not to adore you, because you are so improved, _mon
"Is it possible? In what respect?"
"You are browner and charitabler; and I should have been very kind to
you--mawkishly kind, I fear, my sweet cousin, if this wretched money had
not gone down in the _Tisbe."_
"Hallo!" cried the viscount.
"Ah!" squeaked Lady Barbara, unused to such interjections.
"Gone down in what?" said Ipsden, in a loud voice.
"Don't bellow in people's ears. The _Tisbe,_ stupid," cried she,
screaming at the top of her voice.
"Ri tum, ti turn, ti tum, tum, tum, tiddy, iddy," went Lord Ipsden--he
whistled a polka.
_Lady Barbara (inspecting him gravely)._ "I have heard it at a distance,
but I never saw how it was done before. _It is very, very pretty!!!!"_
_Ipsden. "Polkez-vous, madame?"_
_Lady Barb. "Si, je polke, Monsieur le Vicomte."_
They polked for a second or two.
"Well, I dare say I am wrong," cried Lady Barbara, "but I like you better
now you are a downright--ahem!--than when you were only an insipid
non-intellectual--you are greatly improved."
_Ips._ "In what respects?'