Part 4 out of 4
_Lady Barb._ "Did I not tell you? browner and more impudent; but tell
me," said she, resuming her sly, satirical tone, "how is it that you, who
used to be the pink of courtesy, dance and sing over the wreck of my
"Because they are not wrecked."
"I thought I told you my specie is gone down in the _Tisbe."_
_Ipsden._ "But the _Tisbe_ has not gone down."
_Lady Barb._ "I tell you it is."
_Ipsden._ "I assure you it is not."
_Lady Barb._ "It is not?"
_Ipsden._ "Barbara! I am too happy, I begin to nourish such sweet hopes
once more. Oh, I could fall on my knees and bless you for something you
said just now."
Lady Barbara blushed to the temples.
"Then why don't you?" said she. "All you want is a little enthusiasm."
Then recovering herself, she said:
"You kneel on wet sand, with black trousers on; that will never be!!!"
These two were so occupied that they did not observe the approach of a
stranger until he broke in upon their dialogue.
An Ancient Mariner had been for some minutes standing off and on,
reconnoitering Lord Ipsden; he now bore down, and with great rough,
roaring cordiality, that made Lady Barbara start, cried out:
"Give me your hand, sir--give me your hand, if you were twice a lord.
"I couldn't speak to you till the brig was safe in port, and you slipped
away, but I've brought you up at last; and--give me your hand again, sir.
I say, isn't it a pity you are a lord instead of a sailor?"
_Ipsden._ "But I am a sailor."
_Ancient Mariner._ "That ye are, and as smart a one as ever tied a
true-lover's knot in the top; but tell the truth--you were never nearer
losing the number of your mess than that day in the old _Tisbe."_
_Lady Barb._ "The old _Tisbe!_ Oh!"
_Ipsden._ "Do you remember that nice little lurch she gave to leeward as
we brought her round?"
_Lady Barb._ "Oh, Richard!"
_Ancient Mariner._ "And that reel the old wench gave under our feet,
north the pier-head. I wouldn't have given a washing-tub for her at that
_Ipsden._ "Past danger becomes pleasure, sir. _Olim et hoec meminisse_--I
beg your pardon, sir."
_Ancient Mariner (taking off his hat with feeling)._ "God bless ye, sir,
and send ye many happy days, and well spent, with the pretty lady I see
alongside; asking your pardon, miss, for parting pleasanter company--so
I'll sheer off."
And away went the skipper of the _Tisbe,_ rolling fearfully. In the heat
of this reminiscence, the skipper of the yacht (they are all alike, blue
water once fairly tasted) had lost sight of Lady Barbara; he now looked
round. Imagine his surprise!
Her ladyship was in tears.
"Dear Barbara," said Lord Ipsden, "do not distress yourself on my
"It is not your fe-feelings I care about; at least, I h-h-hope not; but I
have been so unjust, and I prided myself so on my j-ju-justice."
"Oh! if you don't, I don't. I hate myself, so it is no wonder you h-hate
"I love you more than ever."
"Then you are a good soul! Of course you know I always _l_-esteemed you,
"No! I had an idea you despised me!"
"How silly you are! Can't you see? When I thought you were not
perfection, which you are now, it vexed me to death; you never saw me
affront any one but you?"
"No, I never did! What does that prove?"
"That depends upon the wit of him that reasons thereon." (Coming to
"I love you, Barbara! Will you honor me with your hand?"
"No! I am not so base, so selfish. You are worth a hundred of me, and
here have I been treating you _de haut en bas._ Dear Richard, poor
Richard. Oh! oh! oh!" (A perfect flood of tears.)
"Barbara! I regret nothing; this moment pays for all."
"Well, then, I will! since you keep pressing me. There, let me go; I must
be alone; I must tell the sea how unjust I was, and how happy I am, and
when you see me again you shall see the better side of your cousin
She was peremptory. "She had her folly and his merits to think over," she
said; but she promised to pass through Newhaven, and he should put her
into her pony-phaeton, which would meet her there.
Lady Barbara was only a fool by the excess of her wit over her
experience; and Lord Ipsden's love was not misplaced, for she had a great
heart which she hid from little people. I forgive her!
The resolutions she formed in company with the sea, having dismissed
Ipsden, and ordered her flunky into the horizon, will probably give our
viscount just half a century of conjugal bliss.
As he was going she stopped him and said: "Your friend had browner hands
than I have hitherto conceived possible. _To tell the truth,_ I took them
for the claws of a mahogany table when he grappled you--is that the term?
_C'est e'gal_--I like him--"
She stopped him again. "Ipsden, in the midst of all this that poor man's
ship is broken. I feel it is! You will buy him another, if you really
love me--for I like him."
And so these lovers parted for a time; and Lord Ipsden with a bounding
heart returned to Newhaven. He went to entertain his late _vis-'a-vis_ at
Meantime a shorter and less pleasant _rencontre_ had taken place between
Leith and that village.
Gatty felt he should meet his lost sweetheart; and sure enough, at a turn
of the road Christie and Jean came suddenly upon him.
Jean nodded, but Christie took no notice of him; they passed him; he
turned and followed them, and said, "Christie!"
"What is your will wi' me?" said she, coldly.
"I--I-- How pale you are!"
"I am no very weel."
"She has been watching over muckle wi' Flucker," said Jean.
Christie thanked her with a look.
"I hope it is not--not--"
"Nae fears, lad," said she, briskly; "I dinna think that muckle o' ye."
"And I think of nothing but you," said he.
A deep flush crimsoned the young woman's brow, but she restrained
herself, and said icily: "Thaat's very gude o' ye, I'm sure."
Gatty felt all the contempt her manners and words expressed. He bit his
lips. The tear started to his eye. "You will forget me," said he. "I do
not deserve to be remembered, but I shall never forget you. I leave for
England. I leave Newhaven forever, where I have been so happy. I am going
at three o'clock by the steamboat. Won't you bid me good-by?" He
approached her timidly.
"Ay! that wull do," cried she; "Gude be wi' ye, lad; I wish ye nae ill."
She gave a commanding gesture of dismissal; he turned away, and went
sadly from her. She watched every motion when his back was turned.
"That is you, Christie," said Jean; "use the lads like dirt, an' they
think a' the mair o' ye."
"Oh, Jean, my hairt's broken. I'm just deeing for him."
"Let me speak till him then," said Jean; "I'll sune bring him till his
marrow-banes;" and she took a hasty step to follow him.
Christie held her fast. "I'd dee ere I'd give in till them. Oh, Jean! I'm
a lassie clean flung awa; he has neither hairt nor spunk ava, yon lad!"
Jean began to make excuses for him. Christie inveighed against him. Jean
spoke up for him with more earnestness.
Now observe, Jean despised the poor boy.
Christie adored him.
So Jean spoke for him, because women of every degree are often one solid
mass of tact; and Christie abused him, because she wanted to hear him
RICHARD, LORD VISCOUNT IPSDEN, having dotted the seashore with sentinels,
to tell him of Lady Barbara's approach, awaited his guest in the
"Peacock"; but, as Gatty was a little behind time, he placed Saunders
sentinel over the "Peacock," and strolled eastward; as he came out of the
"Peacock," Mrs. Gatty came down the little hill in front, and also
proceeded eastward; meantime Lady Barbara and her escort were not far
from the New Town of Newhaven, on their way from Leith.
Mrs. Gatty came down, merely with a vague fear. She had no reason to
suppose her son's alliance with Christie either would or could be
renewed, but she was a careful player and would not give a chance away;
she found he was gone out unusually early, so she came straight to the
only place she dreaded; it was her son's last day in Scotland. She had
packed his clothes, and he had inspired her with confidence by arranging
pictures, etc., himself; she had no idea he was packing for his departure
from this life, not Edinburgh only.
She came then to Newhaven with no serious misgivings, for, even if her
son had again vacillated, she saw that, with Christie's pride and her own
firmness, the game must be hers in the end; but, as I said before, she
was one who played her cards closely, and such seldom lose.
But my story is with the two young fishwives, who, on their return from
Leith, found themselves at the foot of the New Town, Newhaven, some
minutes before any of the other persons who, it is to be observed, were
approaching it from different points; they came slowly in, Christie in
particular, with a listlessness she had never, known till this last week;
for some days her strength had failed her--it was Jean that carried the
creel now--before, Christie, in the pride of her strength, would always
do more than her share of their joint labor. Then she could hardly be
forced to eat, and what she did eat was quite tasteless to her, and sleep
left her, and in its stead came uneasy slumbers, from which she awoke
quivering from head to foot.
Oh! perilous venture of those who love one object with the whole heart.
This great but tender heart was breaking day by day.
Well, Christie and Jean, strolling slowly into the New Town of Newhaven,
found an assemblage of the natives all looking seaward; the fishermen,
except Sandy Liston, were away at the herring fishery, but all the boys
and women of the New Town were collected; the girls felt a momentary
curiosity; it proved, however, to be only an individual swimming in
toward shore from a greater distance than usual.
A little matter excites curiosity in such places.
The man's head looked like a spot of ink.
Sandy Liston was minding his own business, lazily mending a skait-net,
which he had attached to a crazy old herring-boat hauled up to rot.
Christie sat down, pale and languid, by him, on a creepie that a lass who
had been baiting a line with mussels had just vacated; suddenly she
seized Jean's arm with a convulsive motion; Jean looked up--it was the
London steamboat running out from Leith to Granton Pier to take up her
passengers for London. Charles Gatty was going by that boat; the look of
mute despair the poor girl gave went to Jean's heart; she ran hastily
from the group, and cried out of sight for poor Christie.
A fishwife, looking through a telescope at the swimmer, remarked: "He's
coming in fast; he's a gallant swimmer, yon--
"Can he dee't?" inquired Christie of Sandy Liston.
"Fine thaat," was the reply; "he does it aye o' Sundays when ye are at
"It's no oot o' the kirk window ye'll hae seen him, Sandy, my mon," said
a young fishwife.
"Rin for my glass ony way, Flucker," said Christie, forcing herself to
take some little interest.
Flucker brought it to her, she put her hand on his shoulder, got slowly
up, and stood on the creepie and adjusted the focus of her glass; after a
short view, she said to Flucker:
"Rin and see the nook." She then leveled her glass again at the swimmer.
Flucker informed her the nook said "half eleven"--Scotch for "half past
Christie whipped out a well-thumbed almanac.
"Yon nook's aye ahint," said she. She swept the sea once more with her
glass, then brought it together with a click, and jumped off the stool.
Her quick intelligence viewed the matter differently from all the others.
"Noow," cried she, smartly, "wha'll lend me his yawl?"
"Hets! dinna be sae interferin', lassie," said a fishwife.
"Hae nane o' ye ony spunk?" said Christie, taking no notice of the woman.
"M' uncle's yawl is at the pier-head; ye'll get her, my woman," said a
"A schell'n for wha's first on board," said Christie, holding up the
"Come awa', Flucker, we'll hae her schell'n;" and these two worthies
instantly effected a false start.
"It's no under your jackets," said Christie, as she dashed after them
like the wind.
"Haw! haw! haw!" laughed Sandy.
"What's her business picking up a mon against his will?" said a woman.
"She's an awfu' lassie," whined another. The examination of the swimmer
was then continued, and the crowd increased; some would have it he was
rapidly approaching, others that he made little or no way.
"Wha est?" said another.
"It's a lummy," said a girl.
"Na! it's no a lummy," said another.
Christie's boat was now seen standing out from the pier. Sandy Liston,
casting a contemptuous look on all the rest, lifted himself lazily into
the herring-boat and looked seaward. His manner changed in a moment.
"The Deevil!" cried he; "the tide's turned! You wi' your glass, could you
no see yon man's drifting oot to sea?"
"Hech!" cried the women, "he'll be drooned--he'll be drooned!"
"Yes; he'll be drooned!" cried Sandy, "if yon lassie does na come
alongside him deevelich quick--he's sair spent, I doot."
Two spectators were now added to the scene, Mrs. Gatty and Lord Ipsden.
Mrs. Gatty inquired what was the matter.
"It's a mon drooning," was the reply.
The poor fellow, whom Sandy, by aid of his glass, now discovered to be in
a wornout condition, was about half a mile east of Newhaven pier-head,
and unfortunately the wind was nearly due east. Christie was standing
north-northeast, her boat-hook jammed against the sail, which stood as
flat as a knife.
The natives of the Old Town were now seen pouring down to the pier and
the beach, and strangers were collecting like bees.
"After wit is everybody's wit!!!"--_Old Proverb._
The affair was in the Johnstone's hands.
"That boat is not going to the poor man," said Mrs. Gatty, "it is turning
its back upon him."
"She canna lie in the wind's eye, for as clever as she is," answered a
"I ken wha it is," suddenly squeaked a little fishwife; "it's Christie
Johnstone's lad; it's yon daft painter fr' England. Hech!" cried she,
suddenly, observing Mrs. Gatty, "it's your son, woman."
The unfortunate woman gave a fearful scream, and, flying like a tiger on
Liston, commanded him "to go straight out to sea and save her son."
Jean Carnie seized her arm. "Div ye see yon boat?" cried she; "and div ye
mind Christie, the lass wha's hairt ye hae broken? aweel, woman--_it's
just a race between deeth and Cirsty Johnstone for your son._
The poor old woman swooned dead away; they carried her into Christie
Johnstone's house and laid her down, then hurried back--the greater
terror absorbed the less.
Lady Barbara Sinclair was there from Leith; and, seeing Lord Ipsden
standing in the boat with a fisherman, she asked him to tell her what it
was; neither he nor any one answered her.
"Why doesn't she come about, Liston ?" cried Lord Ipsden, stamping with
anxiety and impatience.
"She'll no be lang," said Sandy; "but they'll mak a mess o' 't wi' ne'er
a man i' the boat."
"Ye're sure o' thaat?" put in a woman.
"Ay, about she comes," said Liston, as the sail came down on the first
tack. He was mistaken; they dipped the lug as cleverly as any man in the
"Hech! look at her hauling on the rope like a mon," cried a woman. The
sail flew up on the other tack.
"She's an awfu' lassie,". whined another.
"He's awa," groaned Liston, "he's doon!"
"No! he's up again," cried Lord Ipsden; "but I fear he can't live till
the boat comes to him."
The fisherman and the viscount held on by each other.
"He does na see her, or maybe he'd tak hairt."
"I'd give ten thousand pounds if only he could see her. My God, the man
will be drowned under our eyes. If he but saw her!!!"
The words had hardly left Lord Ipsden's lips, when the sound of a woman's
voice came like an AEolian note across the water.
"Hurraih!" roared Liston, and every creature joined the cheer.
"She'll no let him dee. Ah! she's in the bows, hailing him an' waving the
lad's bonnet ower her head to gie him coorage. Gude bless ye, lass; Gude
Christie knew it was no use hailing him against the wind, but the moment
she got the wind she darted into the bows, and pitched in its highest key
her full and brilliant voice; after a moment of suspense she received
proof that she must be heard by him, for on the pier now hung men and
women, clustered like bees, breathless with anxiety, and the moment after
she hailed the drowning man, she saw and heard a wild yell of applause
burst from the pier, and the pier was more distant than the man. She
snatched Flucker's cap, planted her foot on the gunwale, held on by a
rope, hailed the poor fellow again, and waved the cap round and round her
head, to give him courage; and in a moment, at the sight of this,
thousands of voices thundered back their cheers to her across the water.
Blow, wind--spring, boat--and you, Christie, still ring life toward those
despairing ears and wave hope to those sinking eyes; cheer the boat on,
you thousands that look upon this action; hurrah! from the pier; hurrah!
from the town; hurrah! from the shore; hurrah! now, from the very ships
in the roads, whose crews are swarming on the yards to look; five minutes
ago they laughed at you; three thousand eyes and hearts hang upon you
now; ay, these are the moments we live for!
And now dead silence. The boat is within fifty yards, they are all three
consulting together round the mast; an error now is death; his forehead
only seems above water.
"If they miss him on that tack?" said Lord Ipsden, significantly, to
"He'll never see London Brigg again," was the whispered reply.
They carried on till all on shore thought they would run over him, or
past him; but no, at ten yards distant they were all at the sail, and had
it down like lightning; and then Flucker sprang to the bows, the other
boy to the helm.
Unfortunately, there were but two Johnstones in the boat; and this boy,
in his hurry, actually put the helm to port, instead of to starboard.
Christie, who stood amidships, saw the error; she sprang aft, flung the
boy from the helm and jammed it hard-a-starboard with her foot. The boat
answered the helm, but too late for Flucker; the man was four yards from
him as the boat drifted by.
"He's a deed mon!" cried Liston, on shore.
The boat's length gave one more little chance; the after-part must drift
nearer him--thanks to Christie. Flucker flew aft; flung himself on his
back, and seized his sister's petticoats.
"Fling yourself ower the gunwale," screamed he. "Ye'll no hurt; I'se haud
She flung herself boldly over the gunwale; the man was sinking, her nails
touched his hair, her fingers entangled themselves in it, she gave him a
powerful wrench and brought him alongside; the boys pinned him like
Christie darted away forward to the mast, passed a rope round it, threw
it the boys, in a moment it was under his shoulders. Christie hauled on
it from the fore thwart, the boys lifted him, and they tumbled him,
gasping and gurgling like a dying salmon, into the bottom of the boat,
and flung net and jackets and sail over him to keep the life in him.
Ah! draw your breath all hands at sea and ashore, and don't try it again,
young gentleman, for there was nothing to spare; when you were missed at
the bow two stout hearts quivered for you; Lord Ipsden hid his face in
his two hands, Sandy Liston gave a groan, and, when you were grabbed
astern, jumped out of his boat and cried:
"A gill o' whisky for ony favor, for it's turned me as seeck as a doeg."
He added: "He may bless yon lassie's fowr banes, for she's ta'en him oot
o' Death's maw, as sure as Gude's in heaven!"
Lady Barbara, who had all her life been longing to see perilous
adventures, prayed and trembled and cried most piteously; and Lord
Ipsden's back was to her, and he paid no attention to her voice; but when
the battle was won, and Lord Ipsden turned and saw her, she clung to his
arm and dried her tears; and then the Old Town cheered the boat, and the
New Town cheered the boat, and the towns cheered each other; and the
Johnstones, lad and lass, set their sail, and swept back in triumph to
the pier; so then Lady Barbara's blood mounted and tingled in her veins
like fire. "Oh, how noble!" cried she.
"Yes, dearest," said Ipsden. "You have seen something great done at last;
and by a woman, too!"
"Yes," said Barbara, "how beautiful! oh! how beautiful it all is; only
the next one I see I should like the danger to be over first, that is
The boys and Christie, the moment they had saved Gatty, up sail again for
Newhaven; they landed in about three minutes at the pier.
TIME. From Newhaven town to pier on foot: 1 m. 30 sec. First tack: 5 m.
30 sec. Second tack, and getting him on board: 4 m. 0 sec. Back to the
pier, going free: 3 m. 30 sec.
Total: 14 m. 30 sec.
They came in to the pier, Christie sitting quietly on the thwart after
her work, the boy steering, and Flucker standing against the mast, hands
in his pockets; the deportment this young gentleman thought fit to assume
on this occasion was "complete apathy"; he came into port with the air of
one bringing home the ordinary results of his day's fishing; this was, I
suppose, to impress the spectators with the notion that saving lives was
an every-day affair with La Famille Johnstone; as for Gatty, he came to
himself under his heap of nets and jackets and spoke once between Death's
jaw and the pier.
"Beautiful!" murmured he, and was silent. The meaning of this observation
never transpired, and never will in this world. Six months afterward,
being subjected to a searching interrogatory, he stated that he had
alluded to the majesty and freedom of a certain _pose_ Christie had
adopted while hailing him from the boat; but, reader, if he had wanted
you and me to believe it was this, he should not have been half a year
finding it out--_increduli odimus!_ They landed, and Christie sprang on
shore; while she was wending her way through the crowd, impeded by
greetings and acclamations, with every now and then a lass waving her
kerchief or a lad his bonnet over the heroine's head, poor Mrs. Gatty was
receiving the attention of the New Town; they brought her to, they told
her the good news--she thanked God.
The whole story had spread like wildfire; they expostulated with her,
they told her now was the time to show she had a heart, and bless the
She rewarded them with a valuable precept.
"Mind your own business!" said she.
"Hech! y' are a dour wife!" cried Newhaven.
The dour wife bent her eyes on the ground.
The people were still collected at the foot of the street, but they were
now in knots, when in dashed Flucker, arriving by a short cut, and
crying: "She does na ken, she does na ken, she was ower moedest to look,
I daur say, and ye'll no tell her, for he's a blackguard, an' he's just
making a fule o' the puir lass, and if she kens what she has done for
him, she'll be fonder o' him than a coow o' her cauf."
"Oh, Flucker! we maun tell her, it's her lad, her ain lad, she saved,"
expostulated a woman.
"Did ever my feyther do a good turn till ye?" cried Flucker. "Awel, then,
ye'll no tell the lassie, she's weel as she is; he's gaun t' Enngland the
day. I cannie gie ye a' a hidin'," said he, with an eye that flashed
volumes of good intention on a hundred and fifty people; "but I am
feytherless and motherless, an' I can fa' on my knees an' curse ye a' if
ye do us sic an ill turn, an' then ye'll see whether ye'll thrive."
"We'll no tell, Flucker, ye need na curse us ony way."
His lordship, with all the sharp authority of a skipper, ordered Master
Flucker to the pier, with a message to the yacht; Flucker _qua_ yachtsman
was a machine, and went as a matter of course. "I am determined to tell
her," said Lord Ipsden to Lady Barbara.
"But," remonstrated Lady Barbara, "the poor boy says he will curse us if
"He won't curse me."
"How do you know that?"
"Because the little blackguard's grog would be stopped on board the yacht
if he did."
Flucker had not been gone many minutes before loud cheering was heard,
and Christie Johnstone appeared convoyed by a large detachment of the Old
Town; she had tried to slip away, but they would not let her. They
convoyed her in triumph till they saw the New Town people, and then they
turned and left her.
She came in among the groups, a changed woman--her pallor and her
listlessness were gone--the old light was in her eye, and the bright
color in her cheek, and she seemed hardly to touch the earth.
"I'm just droukit, lasses," cried she, gayly, wringing her sleeve. Every
eye was upon her; did she know, or did she not know, what she had done?
Lord Ipsden stepped forward; the people tacitly accepted him as the
vehicle of their curiosity.
"Who was it, Christie?"
"I dinna ken, for my pairt!"
Mrs. Gatty came out of the house.
"A handsome young fellow, I hope, Christie?" resumed Lord Ipsden.
"Ye maun ask Flucker," was the reply. "I could no tak muckle notice, ye
ken," putting her hand before her eye, and half smiling.
"Well! I hear he is very good-looking; and I hear you think so, too."
She glided to him and looked in his face. He gave a meaning smile. The
poor girl looked quite perplexed. Suddenly she gave a violent start.
"Christie! where is Christie?" had cried a well-known voice. He had
learned on the pier who had saved him--he had slipped up among the boats
to find her--he could not find his hat--he could not wait for it--his
dripping hair showed where he had been--it was her love whom she had just
saved out of Death's very jaws.
She gave a cry of love that went through every heart, high or low, young
or old, that heard it. And she went to him, through the air it seemed;
but, quick as she was, another was as quick; the mother had seen him
first, and she was there. Christie saw nothing. With another cry, the
very keynote of her great and loving heart, she flung her arms
round--Mrs. Gatty, who was on the same errand as herself.
"Hearts are not steel, and steel is bent; Hearts are not flint, and flint
The old woman felt Christie touch her. She turned from her son in a
moment and wept upon her neck. Her lover took her hand and kissed it, and
pressed it to his bosom, and tried to speak to her; but all he could do
was to sob and choke--and kiss her hand again.
"My daughter!" sobbed the old woman.
At that word Christie clasped her quickly; and then Christie began to
"I am not a stone," cried Mrs. Gatty.
"I gave him life; but you have saved him from death. Oh, Charles, never
make her repent what she has done for you."
She was a woman, after all; and prudence and prejudice melted like snow
before her heart.
There were not many dry eyes--least of all the heroic Lady Barbara's.
The three whom a moment had made one were becoming calmer, and taking one
another's hands for life, when a diabolical sound arose--and what was it
but Sandy Liston, who, after furious resistance, was blubbering with
explosive but short-lived violence? Having done it, he was the first to
draw everybody's attention to the phenomenon; and affecting to consider
it a purely physical attack, like a _coup de soleil,_ or so on, he
proceeded instantly to Drysel's for his panacea.
Lady Barbara enjoined Lord Ipsden to watch these people, and not to lose
a word they said; and, after she had insisted upon kissing Christie, she
went off to her carriage. And she too was so happy, she cried three
distinct times on her way to Edinburgh.
Lord Ipsden, having reminded Gatty of his engagement, begged him to add
his mother and Christie to the party, and escorted Lady Barbara to her
So then the people dispersed by degrees.
"That old lady's face seems familiar to me," said Lord Ipsden, as he
stood on the little natural platform by the "Peacock." "Do you know who
she is, Saunders?"
"It is Peggy, that was cook in your lordship's uncle's time, my lord. She
married a green-grocer," added Saunders, with an injured air.
"Hech! hech!" cried Flucker, "Christie has ta'en up her head wi' a cook's
Mrs. Gatty was ushered into the "Peacock" with mock civility by Mr.
Saunders. No recognition took place, each being ashamed of the other as
The next arrival was a beautiful young lady in a black silk gown, a plain
but duck-like plaid shawl, who proved to be Christie Johnstone, in her
When they met, Mrs. Gatty gave a little scream of joy, and said: "Oh, my
child; if I had seen you in that dress, I should never have said a word
"Pars minima est ipsa puella sui!"
His lordship stepped up to her, took off his hat, and said: "Will Mrs.
Gatty take from me a commission for two pictures, as big as herself, and
as bonny?" added he, doing a little Scotch. He handed her a check; and,
turning to Gatty, added, "At your convenience, sir, _bien entendu."_
"Hech! it's for five hundred pund, Chairles."
"Good gear gangs in little book,"* said Jean.
"Ay, does it," replied Flucker, assuming the compliment.
"My lord!" said the artist, "you treat Art like a prince; and she shall
treat you like a queen. When the sun comes out again, I will work for you
and fame. You shall have two things painted, every stroke loyally in the
sunlight. In spite of gloomy winter and gloomier London, I will try if I
can't hang nature and summer on your walls forever. As for me, you know I
must go to Gerard Dow and Cuyp, and Pierre de Hoogh, when my little sand
is run; but my handwriting shall warm your children's children's hearts,
sir, when this hand is dust." His eye turned inward, he walked to and
fro, and his companions died out of his sight--he was in the kingdom of
His lordship and Jean entered the "Peacock," followed by Flucker, who
merely lingered at the door to moralize as follows:
"Hech! hech! isna thaat lamentable? Christie's mon's as daft as a drunk
But one stayed quietly behind, and assumed that moment the office of her
"Ay!" he burst out again, "the resources of our art are still unfathomed!
Pictures are yet to be painted that shall refresh men's inner souls, and
help their hearts against the artificial world; and charm the fiend away,
like David's harp!! The world, after centuries of lies, will give nature
and truth a trial. What a paradise art will be, when truths, instead of
lies, shall be told on paper, on marble, on canvas, and on the boards!!!"
"Dinner's on the boarrd," murmured Christie, alluding to Lord Ipsden's
breakfast; "and I hae the charge o' ye," pulling his sleeve hard enough
to destroy the equilibrium of a flea.
"Then don't let us waste our time here. Oh, Christie!"
"What est, my laddy?"
"I'm so preciously hungry!!!!"
* Come away.
Off they ran, hand in hand, sparks of beauty, love and happiness flying
all about them.
"THERE is nothing but meeting and parting in this world!" and you may be
sure the incongruous personages of our tale could not long be together.
Their separate paths had met for an instant in one focus, furnished then
and there the matter of an eccentric story, and then diverged forever.
Our lives have a general current, and also an episode or two; and the
episodes of a commonplace life are often rather startling; in like manner
this tale is not a specimen, but an episode of Lord Ipsden and Lady
Barbara, who soon after this married and lived like the rest of the _beau
monde._ In so doing, they passed out of my hands; such as wish to know
how viscounts and viscountesses feed and sleep, and do the domestic (so
called), and the social (so called), are referred to the fashionable
novel. To Mr. Saunders, for instance, who has in the press one of those
cerberus-leviathans of fiction, so common now; incredible as folio to
future ages. Saunders will take you by the hand, and lead you over
carpets two inches thick--under rosy curtains--to dinner-tables. He will
_fete_ you, and opera you, and dazzle your young imagination with
_e'p'ergnes,_ and salvers, and buhl and ormolu. No fishwives or painters
shall intrude upon his polished scenes; all shall be as genteel as
himself. Saunders is a good authority; he is more in the society, and far
more in the confidence of the great, than most fashionable novelists. Mr.
Saunders's work will be in three volumes; nine hundred and ninety
In other words, this single work of this ingenious writer will equal in
bulk the aggregate of all the writings extant by Moses, David, Solomon,
Isaiah, and St. Paul!!!
I shall not venture into competition with this behemoth of the _salon;_ I
will evaporate in thin generalities.
Lord Ipsden then lived very happily with Lady Barbara, whose hero he
straightway became, and who nobly and poetically dotes upon him. He has
gone into political life to please her, and will remain there--to please
himself. They were both very grateful to Newhaven; when they married they
vowed to visit it twice a year, and mingle a fortnight's simple life with
its simple scenes; but four years have passed, and they have never been
there again, and I dare say never will; but when Viscount Ipsden falls in
with a brother aristocrat who is crushed by the fiend _ennui,_ he
remembers Aberford, and condenses his famous recipe into a two-edged
hexameter, which will make my learned reader laugh, for it is full of
"Diluculo surgas! miseris succurrere discas!!"
Flucker Johnstone meditated during breakfast upon the five hundred
pounds, and regretted he had not years ago adopted Mr. Gatty's
profession; some days afterward he invited his sister to a conference.
Chairs being set, Mr. Flucker laid down this observation, that near
relations should be deuced careful not to cast discredit upon one
another; that now his sister was to be a lady, it was repugnant to his
sense of right to be a fisherman and make her ladyship blush for him; on
the contrary, he felt it his duty to rise to such high consideration that
she should be proud of him.
Christie acquiesced at once in this position, but professed herself
embarrassed to know how such a "ne'er-do-weel" was to be made a source of
pride; then she kissed Flucker, and said, in a tone somewhat inconsistent
with the above, "Tell me, my laamb!"
Her lamb informed her that the sea has many paths; some of them
disgraceful, such as line or net fishing, and the periodical laying down,
on rocky shoals, and taking up again, of lobster-creels; others, superior
to anything the dry land can offer in importance and dignity and general
estimation, such as the command of a merchant vessel trading to the East
or West Indies. Her lamb then suggested that if she would be so good as
to launch him in the merchant-service, with a good rig of clothes and
money in his pocket, there was that in his head which would enable him to
work to windward of most of his contemporaries. He bade her calculate
upon the following results: In a year or two he would be second mate, and
next year first mate, and in a few years more skipper! Think of that,
lass! Skipper of a vessel, whose rig he generously left his sister free
to determine; premising that two masts were, in his theory of navigation,
indispensable, and that three were a great deal more like Cocker than
two. This led to a general consultation; Flucker's ambition was discussed
and praised. That modest young gentleman, in spite of many injunctions to
the contrary, communicated his sister's plans for him to Lord Ipsden, and
affected to doubt their prudence. The bait took; Lord Ipsden wrote to his
man of business, and an unexpected blow fell upon the ingenious Flucker.
He was sent to school; there to learn a little astronomy, a little
navigation, a little seamanship, a little manners, etc.; in the mysteries
of reading and writing his sister had already perfected him by dint of
"the taws." This school was a blow; but Flucker was no fool; he saw there
was no way of getting from school to sea without working. So he literally
worked out to sea. His first voyage was distinguished by the following
peculiarities: Attempts to put tricks upon this particular novice
generally ended in the laugh turning against the experimenters; and
instead of drinking his grog, which he hates, he secreted it, and sold it
for various advantages. He has been now four voyages. When he comes
ashore, instead of going to haunts of folly and vice, he instantly bears
up for his sister's house--Kensington Gravel-pits--which he makes in the
following manner: He goes up the river--Heaven knows where all--this he
calls running down the longitude; then he lands, and bears down upon the
Gravel-pits; in particular knowledge of the names of streets he is
deficient, but he knows the exact bearings of Christie's dwelling. He
tacks and wears according as masonry compels him, and he arrives at the
gate. He hails the house, in a voice that brings all the inhabitants of
the row to their windows, including Christie; he is fallen upon and
dragged into the house. The first thing is, he draws out from his boots,
and his back, and other hiding-places, China crape and marvelous silk
handkerchiefs for Christie; and she takes from his pocket a mass of
Oriental sugar-plums, with which, but for this precaution, she knows by
experience he would poison young Charley; and soon he is to be seen
sitting with his hand in his sister's, and she lookng like a mother upon
his handsome, weather-beaten face, and Gatty opposite, adoring him as a
specimen of male beauty, and sometimes making furtive sketches of him.
And then the tales he always brings with him; the house is never very
dull, but it is livelier than ever when this inexhaustible sailor casts
anchor in it.
The friends (chiefly artists) who used to leave at 9:30, stay till
eleven; for an intelligent sailor is better company than two lawyers, two
bishops, three soldiers, and four writers of plays and tales, all rolled
together. And still he tells Christie he shall command a vessel some day,
and leads her to the most cheering inferences from the fact of his
prudence and his general width-awake; in particular he bids her contrast
with him the general fate of sailors, eaten up by land-sharks,
particularly of the female gender, whom he demonstrates to be the worst
enemies poor Jack has; he calls these sunken rocks, fire-ships and other
metaphors. He concludes thus: "You are all the lass I mean to have till
I'm a skipper, and then I'll bear up alongside some pretty, decent lass,
like yourself, Christie, and we'll sail in company all our lives, let the
wind blow high or low." Such is the gracious Flucker become in his
twentieth year. Last voyage, with Christie's aid, he produced a sextant
of his own, and "made it twelve o'clock" (with the sun's consent, I
hope), and the eyes of authority fell upon him. So, who knows? perhaps he
may one day, sail a ship; and, if he does, he will be prouder and happier
than if we made him monarch of the globe.
To return to our chiefs; Mrs. Gatty gave her formal consent to her son's
marriage with Christie Johnstone.
There were examples. Aristocracy had ere now condescended to wealth;
earls had married women rich by tallow-importing papas; and no doubt, had
these same earls been consulted in Gatty's case, they would have decided
that Christie Johnstone, with her real and funded property, was not a
villainous match for a green grocer's son, without a rapp;* but Mrs.
Gatty did not reason so, did not reason at all, luckily, her heart ran
away with her judgment, and, her judgment ceasing to act, she became a
*A diminutive German coin.
The case was peculiar. Gatty was a artist _pur sang_--and Christie, who
would not have been the wife for a _petit maitre,_ was the wife of wives
He wanted a beautiful wife to embellish his canvas, disfigured hitherto
by an injudicious selection of models; a virtuous wife to be his crown; a
prudent wife to save him from ruin; a cheerful wife to sustain his
spirits, drooping at times by virtue of his artist's temperament; an
intellectual wife to preserve his children from being born dolts and bred
dunces, and to keep his own mind from sharpening to one point, and so
contracting and becoming monomaniacal. And he found all these qualities,
together with the sun and moon of human existence--true love and true
religion--in Christie Johnstone.
In similar cases, foolish men have set to work to make, in six months,
their diamond of nature, the exact cut and gloss of other men's pastes,
and, nervously watching the process, have suffered torture; luckily
Charles Gatty was not wise enough for this; he saw nature had
distinguished her he loved beyond her fellows; here, as elsewhere, he had
faith in nature--he believed that Christie would charm everybody of eye,
and ear, and mind, and heart, that approached her; he admired her as she
was, and left her to polish herself, if she chose. He did well; she came
to London with a fine mind, a broad brogue, a delicate ear; she observed
how her husband's friends spoke, and in a very few months she had toned
down her Scotch to a rich Ionic coloring, which her womanly instinct will
never let her exchange for the thin, vinegar accents that are too
prevalent in English and French society; and in other respects she
caught, by easy gradation, the tone of the new society to which her
marriage introduced her, without, however, losing her charming self.
The wise dowager lodges hard by, having resisted an invitation to be in
the same house; she comes to that house to assist the young wife with her
experience, and to be welcome--not to interfere every minute, and tease
her; she loves her daughter-in-law almost as much as she does her son,
and she is happy because he bids fair to be an immortal painter, and,
above all, a gentleman; and she, a wifely wife, a motherly mother, and,
above all, a lady.
This, then, is a happy couple. Their life is full of purpose and
industry, yet lightened by gayety; they go to operas, theaters and balls,
for they are young. They have plenty of society, real society, not the
ill-assorted collection of a predetermined number of bodies, that blindly
assumes that name, but the rich communication of various and fertile
minds; they very, very seldom consent to squat four mortal hours on one
chair (like old hares stiffening in their hot forms), and nibbling,
sipping and twaddling in four mortal hours what could have been eaten,
drunken and said in thirty-five minutes. They are both artists at heart,
and it shocks their natures to see folks mix so very largely the
_inutile_ with the _insipidum,_ and waste, at one huge but barren
incubation, the soul, and the stomach, and the irrevocable hours, things
with which so much is to be done. But they have many desirable
acquaintances, and not a few friends; the latter are mostly lovers of
truth in their several departments, and in all things. Among them are
painters, sculptors, engineers, writers, conversers, thinkers; these
acknowledging, even in England, other gods besides the intestines, meet
often _chez_ Gatty, chiefly for mental intercourse; a cup of tea with
such is found, by experience, to be better than a stalled elk where
chit-chat reigns over the prostrate hours.
This, then, is a happy couple; the very pigeons and the crows need not
blush for the nest at Kensington Gravel-pits. There the divine
institution Marriage takes its natural colors, and it is at once pleasant
and good to catch such glimpses of Heaven's design, and sad to think how
often this great boon, accorded by God to man and woman, must have been
abused and perverted, ere it could have sunk to be the standing butt of
farce-writers, and the theme of weekly punsters.
In this pair we see the wonders a male and female can do for each other
in the sweet bond of holy wedlock. In that blessed relation alone two
interests are really one, and two hearts lie safe at anchor side by side.
Christie and Charles are friends--for they are man and wife.
Christie and Charles are lovers still--for they are man and wife.
Christie and Charles are one forever--for they are man and wife.
This wife brightens the house, from kitchen to garret, for her husband;
this husband works like a king for his wife's comfort, and for his own
fame--and that fame is his wife's glory. When one of these expresses or
hints a wish, the other's first impulse is to find the means, not the
They share all troubles, and, by sharing, halve them.
They share all pleasures, and, by sharing, double them.
They climb the hill together now, and many a canty day they shall have
with one another; and when, by the inevitable law, they begin to descend
toward the dark valley, they will still go hand in hand, smiling so
tenderly, and supporting each other with a care more lovely than when the
arm was strong and the foot firm.
On these two temperate lives old age will descend lightly, gradually,
gently, and late--and late upon these evergreen hearts, because they are
not tuned to some selfish, isolated key; these hearts beat and ring with
the young hearts of their dear children, and years hence papa and mamma
will begin life hopefully, wishfully, warmly again with each loved novice
And when old age does come, it will be no calamity to these, as it is to
you, poor battered beau, laughed at by the fair ninnies who erst laughed
with you; to you, poor follower of salmon, fox, and pheasant, whose
joints are stiffening, whose nerve is gone--whose Golgotha remains; to
you, poor faded beauty, who have staked all upon man's appetite, and not
accumulated goodness or sense for your second course; to you, poor
drawing-room wit, whose sarcasm has turned to venom and is turning to
What terrors has old age for this happy pair? it cannot make them ugly,
for, though the purple light of youth recedes, a new kind of tranquil
beauty, the aloe-blossom of many years of innocence, comes to, and sits
like a dove upon, the aged faces, where goodness, sympathy and
intelligence have harbored together so long; and where evil passions have
flitted (for we are all human), but found no resting-place.
Old age is no calamity to them. It cannot terrify them; for ere they had
been married a week the woman taught the man, lover of truth, to search
for the highest and greatest truths in a book written for men's souls by
the Author of the world, the sea, the stars, the sun, the soul; and this
book, _Dei gratia,_ will, as the good bishop sings,
"Teach them to live that they may dread The grave as little as their
It cannot make them sad, for, ere it comes loved souls will have gone
from earth and from their tender bosom, but not from their memories; and
will seem to beckon them now across the cold valley to the golden land.
It cannot make them sad, for on earth the happiest must drink a sorrowful
cup more than once in a long life, and so their brightest hopes will have
come to dwell habitually on things beyond the grave; and the great
painter, _jam Senex,_ will chiefly meditate upon a richer landscape and
brighter figures than human hand has ever painted; a scene whose glories
he can see from hence but by glimpses and through a glass darkly; the
great meadows on the other side of Jordan, which are bright with the
spirits of the just that walk there, and are warmed with an eternal sun,
and ring with the triumph of the humble and the true, and the praises of