Part 2 out of 3
"There is sorrow and trouble in sickness, is there not?" he
demanded, with a laugh.
The wondering student answered, "Yes."
"In its unrest, in its anxiety, in its suspense, in all its train
of physical and mental miseries?" said the Chemist, with a wild
unearthly exultation. "All best forgotten, are they not?"
The student did not answer, but again passed his hand, confusedly,
across his forehead. Redlaw still held him by the sleeve, when
Milly's voice was heard outside.
"I can see very well now," she said, "thank you, Dolf. Don't cry,
dear. Father and mother will be comfortable again, to-morrow, and
home will be comfortable too. A gentleman with him, is there!"
Redlaw released his hold, as he listened.
"I have feared, from the first moment," he murmured to himself, "to
meet her. There is a steady quality of goodness in her, that I
dread to influence. I may be the murderer of what is tenderest and
best within her bosom."
She was knocking at the door.
"Shall I dismiss it as an idle foreboding, or still avoid her?" he
muttered, looking uneasily around.
She was knocking at the door again.
"Of all the visitors who could come here," he said, in a hoarse
alarmed voice, turning to his companion, "this is the one I should
desire most to avoid. Hide me!"
The student opened a frail door in the wall, communicating where
the garret-roof began to slope towards the floor, with a small
inner room. Redlaw passed in hastily, and shut it after him.
The student then resumed his place upon the couch, and called to
her to enter.
"Dear Mr. Edmund," said Milly, looking round, "they told me there
was a gentleman here."
"There is no one here but I."
"There has been some one?"
"Yes, yes, there has been some one."
She put her little basket on the table, and went up to the back of
the couch, as if to take the extended hand--but it was not there.
A little surprised, in her quiet way, she leaned over to look at
his face, and gently touched him on the brow.
"Are you quite as well to-night? Your head is not so cool as in
"Tut!" said the student, petulantly, "very little ails me."
A little more surprise, but no reproach, was expressed in her face,
as she withdrew to the other side of the table, and took a small
packet of needlework from her basket. But she laid it down again,
on second thoughts, and going noiselessly about the room, set
everything exactly in its place, and in the neatest order; even to
the cushions on the couch, which she touched with so light a hand,
that he hardly seemed to know it, as he lay looking at the fire.
When all this was done, and she had swept the hearth, she sat down,
in her modest little bonnet, to her work, and was quietly busy on
"It's the new muslin curtain for the window, Mr. Edmund," said
Milly, stitching away as she talked. "It will look very clean and
nice, though it costs very little, and will save your eyes, too,
from the light. My William says the room should not be too light
just now, when you are recovering so well, or the glare might make
He said nothing; but there was something so fretful and impatient
in his change of position, that her quick fingers stopped, and she
looked at him anxiously.
"The pillows are not comfortable," she said, laying down her work
and rising. "I will soon put them right."
"They are very well," he answered. "Leave them alone, pray. You
make so much of everything."
He raised his head to say this, and looked at her so thanklessly,
that, after he had thrown himself down again, she stood timidly
pausing. However, she resumed her seat, and her needle, without
having directed even a murmuring look towards him, and was soon as
busy as before.
"I have been thinking, Mr. Edmund, that YOU have been often
thinking of late, when I have been sitting by, how true the saying
is, that adversity is a good teacher. Health will be more precious
to you, after this illness, than it has ever been. And years
hence, when this time of year comes round, and you remember the
days when you lay here sick, alone, that the knowledge of your
illness might not afflict those who are dearest to you, your home
will be doubly dear and doubly blest. Now, isn't that a good, true
She was too intent upon her work, and too earnest in what she said,
and too composed and quiet altogether, to be on the watch for any
look he might direct towards her in reply; so the shaft of his
ungrateful glance fell harmless, and did not wound her.
"Ah!" said Milly, with her pretty head inclining thoughtfully on
one side, as she looked down, following her busy fingers with her
eyes. "Even on me--and I am very different from you, Mr. Edmund,
for I have no learning, and don't know how to think properly--this
view of such things has made a great impression, since you have
been lying ill. When I have seen you so touched by the kindness
and attention of the poor people down stairs, I have felt that you
thought even that experience some repayment for the loss of health,
and I have read in your face, as plain as if it was a book, that
but for some trouble and sorrow we should never know half the good
there is about us."
His getting up from the couch, interrupted her, or she was going on
to say more.
"We needn't magnify the merit, Mrs. William," he rejoined
slightingly. "The people down stairs will be paid in good time I
dare say, for any little extra service they may have rendered me;
and perhaps they anticipate no less. I am much obliged to you,
Her fingers stopped, and she looked at him.
"I can't be made to feel the more obliged by your exaggerating the
case," he said. "I am sensible that you have been interested in
me, and I say I am much obliged to you. What more would you have?"
Her work fell on her lap, as she still looked at him walking to and
fro with an intolerant air, and stopping now and then.
"I say again, I am much obliged to you. Why weaken my sense of
what is your due in obligation, by preferring enormous claims upon
me? Trouble, sorrow, affliction, adversity! One might suppose I
had been dying a score of deaths here!"
"Do you believe, Mr. Edmund," she asked, rising and going nearer to
him, "that I spoke of the poor people of the house, with any
reference to myself? To me?" laying her hand upon her bosom with a
simple and innocent smile of astonishment.
"Oh! I think nothing about it, my good creature," he returned. "I
have had an indisposition, which your solicitude--observe! I say
solicitude--makes a great deal more of, than it merits; and it's
over, and we can't perpetuate it."
He coldly took a book, and sat down at the table.
She watched him for a little while, until her smile was quite gone,
and then, returning to where her basket was, said gently:
"Mr. Edmund, would you rather be alone?"
"There is no reason why I should detain you here," he replied.
"Except--" said Milly, hesitating, and showing her work.
"Oh! the curtain," he answered, with a supercilious laugh. "That's
not worth staying for."
She made up the little packet again, and put it in her basket.
Then, standing before him with such an air of patient entreaty that
he could not choose but look at her, she said:
"If you should want me, I will come back willingly. When you did
want me, I was quite happy to come; there was no merit in it. I
think you must be afraid, that, now you are getting well, I may be
troublesome to you; but I should not have been, indeed. I should
have come no longer than your weakness and confinement lasted. You
owe me nothing; but it is right that you should deal as justly by
me as if I was a lady--even the very lady that you love; and if you
suspect me of meanly making much of the little I have tried to do
to comfort your sick room, you do yourself more wrong than ever you
can do me. That is why I am sorry. That is why I am very sorry."
If she had been as passionate as she was quiet, as indignant as she
was calm, as angry in her look as she was gentle, as loud of tone
as she was low and clear, she might have left no sense of her
departure in the room, compared with that which fell upon the
lonely student when she went away.
He was gazing drearily upon the place where she had been, when
Redlaw came out of his concealment, and came to the door.
"When sickness lays its hand on you again," he said, looking
fiercely back at him, "--may it be soon!--Die here! Rot here!"
"What have you done?" returned the other, catching at his cloak.
"What change have you wrought in me? What curse have you brought
upon me? Give me back MYself!"
"Give me back myself!" exclaimed Redlaw like a madman. "I am
infected! I am infectious! I am charged with poison for my own
mind, and the minds of all mankind. Where I felt interest,
compassion, sympathy, I am turning into stone. Selfishness and
ingratitude spring up in my blighting footsteps. I am only so much
less base than the wretches whom I make so, that in the moment of
their transformation I can hate them."
As he spoke--the young man still holding to his cloak--he cast him
off, and struck him: then, wildly hurried out into the night air
where the wind was blowing, the snow falling, the cloud-drift
sweeping on, the moon dimly shining; and where, blowing in the
wind, falling with the snow, drifting with the clouds, shining in
the moonlight, and heavily looming in the darkness, were the
Phantom's words, "The gift that I have given, you shall give again,
go where you will!"
Whither he went, he neither knew nor cared, so that he avoided
company. The change he felt within him made the busy streets a
desert, and himself a desert, and the multitude around him, in
their manifold endurances and ways of life, a mighty waste of sand,
which the winds tossed into unintelligible heaps and made a ruinous
confusion of. Those traces in his breast which the Phantom had
told him would "die out soon," were not, as yet, so far upon their
way to death, but that he understood enough of what he was, and
what he made of others, to desire to be alone.
This put it in his mind--he suddenly bethought himself, as he was
going along, of the boy who had rushed into his room. And then he
recollected, that of those with whom he had communicated since the
Phantom's disappearance, that boy alone had shown no sign of being
Monstrous and odious as the wild thing was to him, he determined to
seek it out, and prove if this were really so; and also to seek it
with another intention, which came into his thoughts at the same
So, resolving with some difficulty where he was, he directed his
steps back to the old college, and to that part of it where the
general porch was, and where, alone, the pavement was worn by the
tread of the students' feet.
The keeper's house stood just within the iron gates, forming a part
of the chief quadrangle. There was a little cloister outside, and
from that sheltered place he knew he could look in at the window of
their ordinary room, and see who was within. The iron gates were
shut, but his hand was familiar with the fastening, and drawing it
back by thrusting in his wrist between the bars, he passed through
softly, shut it again, and crept up to the window, crumbling the
thin crust of snow with his feet.
The fire, to which he had directed the boy last night, shining
brightly through the glass, made an illuminated place upon the
ground. Instinctively avoiding this, and going round it, he looked
in at the window. At first, he thought that there was no one
there, and that the blaze was reddening only the old beams in the
ceiling and the dark walls; but peering in more narrowly, he saw
the object of his search coiled asleep before it on the floor. He
passed quickly to the door, opened it, and went in.
The creature lay in such a fiery heat, that, as the Chemist stooped
to rouse him, it scorched his head. So soon as he was touched, the
boy, not half awake, clutching his rags together with the instinct
of flight upon him, half rolled and half ran into a distant corner
of the room, where, heaped upon the ground, he struck his foot out
to defend himself.
"Get up!" said the Chemist. "You have not forgotten me?"
"You let me alone!" returned the boy. "This is the woman's house--
The Chemist's steady eye controlled him somewhat, or inspired him
with enough submission to be raised upon his feet, and looked at.
"Who washed them, and put those bandages where they were bruised
and cracked?" asked the Chemist, pointing to their altered state.
"The woman did."
"And is it she who has made you cleaner in the face, too?"
"Yes, the woman."
Redlaw asked these questions to attract his eyes towards himself,
and with the same intent now held him by the chin, and threw his
wild hair back, though he loathed to touch him. The boy watched
his eyes keenly, as if he thought it needful to his own defence,
not knowing what he might do next; and Redlaw could see well that
no change came over him.
"Where are they?" he inquired.
"The woman's out."
"I know she is. Where is the old man with the white hair, and his
"The woman's husband, d'ye mean?" inquired the boy.
"Ay. Where are those two?"
"Out. Something's the matter, somewhere. They were fetched out in
a hurry, and told me to stop here."
"Come with me," said the Chemist, "and I'll give you money."
"Come where? and how much will you give?"
"I'll give you more shillings than you ever saw, and bring you back
soon. Do you know your way to where you came from?"
"You let me go," returned the boy, suddenly twisting out of his
grasp. "I'm not a going to take you there. Let me be, or I'll
heave some fire at you!"
He was down before it, and ready, with his savage little hand, to
pluck the burning coals out.
What the Chemist had felt, in observing the effect of his charmed
influence stealing over those with whom he came in contact, was not
nearly equal to the cold vague terror with which he saw this baby-
monster put it at defiance. It chilled his blood to look on the
immovable impenetrable thing, in the likeness of a child, with its
sharp malignant face turned up to his, and its almost infant hand,
ready at the bars.
"Listen, boy!" he said. "You shall take me where you please, so
that you take me where the people are very miserable or very
wicked. I want to do them good, and not to harm them. You shall
have money, as I have told you, and I will bring you back. Get up!
Come quickly!" He made a hasty step towards the door, afraid of
"Will you let me walk by myself, and never hold me, nor yet touch
me?" said the boy, slowly withdrawing the hand with which he
threatened, and beginning to get up.
"And let me go, before, behind, or anyways I like?"
"Give me some money first, then, and go."
The Chemist laid a few shillings, one by one, in his extended hand.
To count them was beyond the boy's knowledge, but he said "one,"
every time, and avariciously looked at each as it was given, and at
the donor. He had nowhere to put them, out of his hand, but in his
mouth; and he put them there.
Redlaw then wrote with his pencil on a leaf of his pocket-book,
that the boy was with him; and laying it on the table, signed to
him to follow. Keeping his rags together, as usual, the boy
complied, and went out with his bare head and naked feet into the
Preferring not to depart by the iron gate by which he had entered,
where they were in danger of meeting her whom he so anxiously
avoided, the Chemist led the way, through some of those passages
among which the boy had lost himself, and by that portion of the
building where he lived, to a small door of which he had the key.
When they got into the street, he stopped to ask his guide--who
instantly retreated from him--if he knew where they were.
The savage thing looked here and there, and at length, nodding his
head, pointed in the direction he designed to take. Redlaw going
on at once, he followed, something less suspiciously; shifting his
money from his mouth into his hand, and back again into his mouth,
and stealthily rubbing it bright upon his shreds of dress, as he
Three times, in their progress, they were side by side. Three
times they stopped, being side by side. Three times the Chemist
glanced down at his face, and shuddered as it forced upon him one
The first occasion was when they were crossing an old churchyard,
and Redlaw stopped among the graves, utterly at a loss how to
connect them with any tender, softening, or consolatory thought.
The second was, when the breaking forth of the moon induced him to
look up at the Heavens, where he saw her in her glory, surrounded
by a host of stars he still knew by the names and histories which
human science has appended to them; but where he saw nothing else
he had been wont to see, felt nothing he had been wont to feel, in
looking up there, on a bright night.
The third was when he stopped to listen to a plaintive strain of
music, but could only hear a tune, made manifest to him by the dry
mechanism of the instruments and his own ears, with no address to
any mystery within him, without a whisper in it of the past, or of
the future, powerless upon him as the sound of last year's running
water, or the rushing of last year's wind.
At each of these three times, he saw with horror that, in spite of
the vast intellectual distance between them, and their being unlike
each other in all physical respects, the expression on the boy's
face was the expression on his own.
They journeyed on for some time--now through such crowded places,
that he often looked over his shoulder thinking he had lost his
guide, but generally finding him within his shadow on his other
side; now by ways so quiet, that he could have counted his short,
quick, naked footsteps coming on behind--until they arrived at a
ruinous collection of houses, and the boy touched him and stopped.
"In there!" he said, pointing out one house where there were
shattered lights in the windows, and a dim lantern in the doorway,
with "Lodgings for Travellers" painted on it.
Redlaw looked about him; from the houses to the waste piece of
ground on which the houses stood, or rather did not altogether
tumble down, unfenced, undrained, unlighted, and bordered by a
sluggish ditch; from that, to the sloping line of arches, part of
some neighbouring viaduct or bridge with which it was surrounded,
and which lessened gradually towards them, until the last but one
was a mere kennel for a dog, the last a plundered little heap of
bricks; from that, to the child, close to him, cowering and
trembling with the cold, and limping on one little foot, while he
coiled the other round his leg to warm it, yet staring at all these
things with that frightful likeness of expression so apparent in
his face, that Redlaw started from him.
"In there!" said the boy, pointing out the house again. "I'll
"Will they let me in?" asked Redlaw.
"Say you're a doctor," he answered with a nod. "There's plenty ill
Looking back on his way to the house-door, Redlaw saw him trail
himself upon the dust and crawl within the shelter of the smallest
arch, as if he were a rat. He had no pity for the thing, but he
was afraid of it; and when it looked out of its den at him, he
hurried to the house as a retreat.
"Sorrow, wrong, and trouble," said the Chemist, with a painful
effort at some more distinct remembrance, "at least haunt this
place darkly. He can do no harm, who brings forgetfulness of such
With these words, he pushed the yielding door, and went in.
There was a woman sitting on the stairs, either asleep or forlorn,
whose head was bent down on her hands and knees. As it was not
easy to pass without treading on her, and as she was perfectly
regardless of his near approach, he stopped, and touched her on the
shoulder. Looking up, she showed him quite a young face, but one
whose bloom and promise were all swept away, as if the haggard
winter should unnaturally kill the spring.
With little or no show of concern on his account, she moved nearer
to the wall to leave him a wider passage.
"What are you?" said Redlaw, pausing, with his hand upon the broken
"What do you think I am?" she answered, showing him her face again.
He looked upon the ruined Temple of God, so lately made, so soon
disfigured; and something, which was not compassion--for the
springs in which a true compassion for such miseries has its rise,
were dried up in his breast--but which was nearer to it, for the
moment, than any feeling that had lately struggled into the
darkening, but not yet wholly darkened, night of his mind--mingled
a touch of softness with his next words.
"I am come here to give relief, if I can," he said. "Are you
thinking of any wrong?"
She frowned at him, and then laughed; and then her laugh prolonged
itself into a shivering sigh, as she dropped her head again, and
hid her fingers in her hair.
"Are you thinking of a wrong?" he asked once more.
"I am thinking of my life," she said, with a monetary look at him.
He had a perception that she was one of many, and that he saw the
type of thousands, when he saw her, drooping at his feet.
"What are your parents?" he demanded.
"I had a good home once. My father was a gardener, far away, in
"Is he dead?"
"He's dead to me. All such things are dead to me. You a
gentleman, and not know that!" She raised her eyes again, and
laughed at him.
"Girl!" said Redlaw, sternly, "before this death, of all such
things, was brought about, was there no wrong done to you? In
spite of all that you can do, does no remembrance of wrong cleave
to you? Are there not times upon times when it is misery to you?"
So little of what was womanly was left in her appearance, that now,
when she burst into tears, he stood amazed. But he was more
amazed, and much disquieted, to note that in her awakened
recollection of this wrong, the first trace of her old humanity and
frozen tenderness appeared to show itself.
He drew a little off, and in doing so, observed that her arms were
black, her face cut, and her bosom bruised.
"What brutal hand has hurt you so?" he asked.
"My own. I did it myself!" she answered quickly.
"It is impossible."
"I'll swear I did! He didn't touch me. I did it to myself in a
passion, and threw myself down here. He wasn't near me. He never
laid a hand upon me!"
In the white determination of her face, confronting him with this
untruth, he saw enough of the last perversion and distortion of
good surviving in that miserable breast, to be stricken with
remorse that he had ever come near her.
"Sorrow, wrong, and trouble!" he muttered, turning his fearful gaze
away. "All that connects her with the state from which she has
fallen, has those roots! In the name of God, let me go by!"
Afraid to look at her again, afraid to touch her, afraid to think
of having sundered the last thread by which she held upon the mercy
of Heaven, he gathered his cloak about him, and glided swiftly up
Opposite to him, on the landing, was a door, which stood partly
open, and which, as he ascended, a man with a candle in his hand,
came forward from within to shut. But this man, on seeing him,
drew back, with much emotion in his manner, and, as if by a sudden
impulse, mentioned his name aloud.
In the surprise of such a recognition there, he stopped,
endeavouring to recollect the wan and startled face. He had no
time to consider it, for, to his yet greater amazement, old Philip
came out of the room, and took him by the hand.
"Mr. Redlaw," said the old man, "this is like you, this is like
you, sir! you have heard of it, and have come after us to render
any help you can. Ah, too late, too late!"
Redlaw, with a bewildered look, submitted to be led into the room.
A man lay there, on a truckle-bed, and William Swidger stood at the
"Too late!" murmured the old man, looking wistfully into the
Chemist's face; and the tears stole down his cheeks.
"That's what I say, father," interposed his son in a low voice.
"That's where it is, exactly. To keep as quiet as ever we can
while he's a dozing, is the only thing to do. You're right,
Redlaw paused at the bedside, and looked down on the figure that
was stretched upon the mattress. It was that of a man, who should
have been in the vigour of his life, but on whom it was not likely
the sun would ever shine again. The vices of his forty or fifty
years' career had so branded him, that, in comparison with their
effects upon his face, the heavy hand of Time upon the old man's
face who watched him had been merciful and beautifying.
"Who is this?" asked the Chemist, looking round.
"My son George, Mr. Redlaw," said the old man, wringing his hands.
"My eldest son, George, who was more his mother's pride than all
Redlaw's eyes wandered from the old man's grey head, as he laid it
down upon the bed, to the person who had recognised him, and who
had kept aloof, in the remotest corner of the room. He seemed to
be about his own age; and although he knew no such hopeless decay
and broken man as he appeared to be, there was something in the
turn of his figure, as he stood with his back towards him, and now
went out at the door, that made him pass his hand uneasily across
"William," he said in a gloomy whisper, "who is that man?"
"Why you see, sir," returned Mr. William, "that's what I say,
myself. Why should a man ever go and gamble, and the like of that,
and let himself down inch by inch till he can't let himself down
"Has HE done so?" asked Redlaw, glancing after him with the same
uneasy action as before.
"Just exactly that, sir," returned William Swidger, "as I'm told.
He knows a little about medicine, sir, it seems; and having been
wayfaring towards London with my unhappy brother that you see
here," Mr. William passed his coat-sleeve across his eyes, "and
being lodging up stairs for the night--what I say, you see, is that
strange companions come together here sometimes--he looked in to
attend upon him, and came for us at his request. What a mournful
spectacle, sir! But that's where it is. It's enough to kill my
Redlaw looked up, at these words, and, recalling where he was and
with whom, and the spell he carried with him--which his surprise
had obscured--retired a little, hurriedly, debating with himself
whether to shun the house that moment, or remain.
Yielding to a certain sullen doggedness, which it seemed to be a
part of his condition to struggle with, he argued for remaining.
"Was it only yesterday," he said, "when I observed the memory of
this old man to be a tissue of sorrow and trouble, and shall I be
afraid, to-night, to shake it? Are such remembrances as I can
drive away, so precious to this dying man that I need fear for HIM?
No! I'll stay here."
But he stayed in fear and trembling none the less for these words;
and, shrouded in his black cloak with his face turned from them,
stood away from the bedside, listening to what they said, as if he
felt himself a demon in the place.
"Father!" murmured the sick man, rallying a little from stupor.
"My boy! My son George!" said old Philip.
"You spoke, just now, of my being mother's favourite, long ago.
It's a dreadful thing to think now, of long ago!"
"No, no, no;" returned the old man. "Think of it. Don't say it's
dreadful. It's not dreadful to me, my son."
"It cuts you to the heart, father." For the old man's tears were
falling on him.
"Yes, yes," said Philip, "so it does; but it does me good. It's a
heavy sorrow to think of that time, but it does me good, George.
Oh, think of it too, think of it too, and your heart will be
softened more and more! Where's my son William? William, my boy,
your mother loved him dearly to the last, and with her latest
breath said, 'Tell him I forgave him, blessed him, and prayed for
him.' Those were her words to me. I have never forgotten them,
and I'm eighty-seven!"
"Father!" said the man upon the bed, "I am dying, I know. I am so
far gone, that I can hardly speak, even of what my mind most runs
on. Is there any hope for me beyond this bed?"
"There is hope," returned the old man, "for all who are softened
and penitent. There is hope for all such. Oh!" he exclaimed,
clasping his hands and looking up, "I was thankful, only yesterday,
that I could remember this unhappy son when he was an innocent
child. But what a comfort it is, now, to think that even God
himself has that remembrance of him!"
Redlaw spread his hands upon his face, and shrank, like a murderer.
"Ah!" feebly moaned the man upon the bed. "The waste since then,
the waste of life since then!"
"But he was a child once," said the old man. "He played with
children. Before he lay down on his bed at night, and fell into
his guiltless rest, he said his prayers at his poor mother's knee.
I have seen him do it, many a time; and seen her lay his head upon
her breast, and kiss him. Sorrowful as it was to her and me, to
think of this, when he went so wrong, and when our hopes and plans
for him were all broken, this gave him still a hold upon us, that
nothing else could have given. Oh, Father, so much better than the
fathers upon earth! Oh, Father, so much more afflicted by the
errors of Thy children! take this wanderer back! Not as he is, but
as he was then, let him cry to Thee, as he has so often seemed to
cry to us!"
As the old man lifted up his trembling hands, the son, for whom he
made the supplication, laid his sinking head against him for
support and comfort, as if he were indeed the child of whom he
When did man ever tremble, as Redlaw trembled, in the silence that
ensued! He knew it must come upon them, knew that it was coming
"My time is very short, my breath is shorter," said the sick man,
supporting himself on one arm, and with the other groping in the
air, "and I remember there is something on my mind concerning the
man who was here just now, Father and William--wait!--is there
really anything in black, out there?"
"Yes, yes, it is real," said his aged father.
"Is it a man?"
"What I say myself, George," interposed his brother, bending kindly
over him. "It's Mr. Redlaw."
"I thought I had dreamed of him. Ask him to come here."
The Chemist, whiter than the dying man, appeared before him.
Obedient to the motion of his hand, he sat upon the bed.
"It has been so ripped up, to-night, sir," said the sick man,
laying his hand upon his heart, with a look in which the mute,
imploring agony of his condition was concentrated, "by the sight of
my poor old father, and the thought of all the trouble I have been
the cause of, and all the wrong and sorrow lying at my door, that--
Was it the extremity to which he had come, or was it the dawning of
another change, that made him stop?
"--that what I CAN do right, with my mind running on so much, so
fast, I'll try to do. There was another man here. Did you see
Redlaw could not reply by any word; for when he saw that fatal sign
he knew so well now, of the wandering hand upon the forehead, his
voice died at his lips. But he made some indication of assent.
"He is penniless, hungry, and destitute. He is completely beaten
down, and has no resource at all. Look after him! Lose no time!
I know he has it in his mind to kill himself."
It was working. It was on his face. His face was changing,
hardening, deepening in all its shades, and losing all its sorrow.
"Don't you remember? Don't you know him?" he pursued.
He shut his face out for a moment, with the hand that again
wandered over his forehead, and then it lowered on Redlaw,
reckless, ruffianly, and callous.
"Why, d-n you!" he said, scowling round, "what have you been doing
to me here! I have lived bold, and I mean to die bold. To the
Devil with you!"
And so lay down upon his bed, and put his arms up, over his head
and ears, as resolute from that time to keep out all access, and to
die in his indifference.
If Redlaw had been struck by lightning, it could not have struck
him from the bedside with a more tremendous shock. But the old
man, who had left the bed while his son was speaking to him, now
returning, avoided it quickly likewise, and with abhorrence.
"Where's my boy William?" said the old man hurriedly. "William,
come away from here. We'll go home."
"Home, father!" returned William. "Are you going to leave your own
"Where's my own son?" replied the old man.
"Where? why, there!"
"That's no son of mine," said Philip, trembling with resentment.
"No such wretch as that, has any claim on me. My children are
pleasant to look at, and they wait upon me, and get my meat and
drink ready, and are useful to me. I've a right to it! I'm
"You're old enough to be no older," muttered William, looking at
him grudgingly, with his hands in his pockets. "I don't know what
good you are, myself. We could have a deal more pleasure without
"MY son, Mr. Redlaw!" said the old man. "MY son, too! The boy
talking to me of MY son! Why, what has he ever done to give me any
pleasure, I should like to know?"
"I don't know what you have ever done to give ME any pleasure,"
said William, sulkily.
"Let me think," said the old man. "For how many Christmas times
running, have I sat in my warm place, and never had to come out in
the cold night air; and have made good cheer, without being
disturbed by any such uncomfortable, wretched sight as him there?
Is it twenty, William?"
"Nigher forty, it seems," he muttered. "Why, when I look at my
father, sir, and come to think of it," addressing Redlaw, with an
impatience and irritation that were quite new, "I'm whipped if I
can see anything in him but a calendar of ever so many years of
eating and drinking, and making himself comfortable, over and over
"I--I'm eighty-seven," said the old man, rambling on, childishly
and weakly, "and I don't know as I ever was much put out by
anything. I'm not going to begin now, because of what he calls my
son. He's not my son. I've had a power of pleasant times. I
recollect once--no I don't--no, it's broken off. It was something
about a game of cricket and a friend of mine, but it's somehow
broken off. I wonder who he was--I suppose I liked him? And I
wonder what became of him--I suppose he died? But I don't know.
And I don't care, neither; I don't care a bit."
In his drowsy chuckling, and the shaking of his head, he put his
hands into his waistcoat pockets. In one of them he found a bit of
holly (left there, probably last night), which he now took out, and
"Berries, eh?" said the old man. "Ah! It's a pity they're not
good to eat. I recollect, when I was a little chap about as high
as that, and out a walking with--let me see--who was I out a
walking with?--no, I don't remember how that was. I don't remember
as I ever walked with any one particular, or cared for any one, or
any one for me. Berries, eh? There's good cheer when there's
berries. Well; I ought to have my share of it, and to be waited
on, and kept warm and comfortable; for I'm eighty-seven, and a poor
old man. I'm eigh-ty-seven. Eigh-ty-seven!"
The drivelling, pitiable manner in which, as he repeated this, he
nibbled at the leaves, and spat the morsels out; the cold,
uninterested eye with which his youngest son (so changed) regarded
him; the determined apathy with which his eldest son lay hardened
in his sin; impressed themselves no more on Redlaw's observation,--
for he broke his way from the spot to which his feet seemed to have
been fixed, and ran out of the house.
His guide came crawling forth from his place of refuge, and was
ready for him before he reached the arches.
"Back to the woman's?" he inquired.
"Back, quickly!" answered Redlaw. "Stop nowhere on the way!"
For a short distance the boy went on before; but their return was
more like a flight than a walk, and it was as much as his bare feet
could do, to keep pace with the Chemist's rapid strides. Shrinking
from all who passed, shrouded in his cloak, and keeping it drawn
closely about him, as though there were mortal contagion in any
fluttering touch of his garments, he made no pause until they
reached the door by which they had come out. He unlocked it with
his key, went in, accompanied by the boy, and hastened through the
dark passages to his own chamber.
The boy watched him as he made the door fast, and withdrew behind
the table, when he looked round.
"Come!" he said. "Don't you touch me! You've not brought me here
to take my money away."
Redlaw threw some more upon the ground. He flung his body on it
immediately, as if to hide it from him, lest the sight of it should
tempt him to reclaim it; and not until he saw him seated by his
lamp, with his face hidden in his hands, began furtively to pick it
up. When he had done so, he crept near the fire, and, sitting down
in a great chair before it, took from his breast some broken scraps
of food, and fell to munching, and to staring at the blaze, and now
and then to glancing at his shillings, which he kept clenched up in
a bunch, in one hand.
"And this," said Redlaw, gazing on him with increased repugnance
and fear, "is the only one companion I have left on earth!"
How long it was before he was aroused from his contemplation of
this creature, whom he dreaded so--whether half-an-hour, or half
the night--he knew not. But the stillness of the room was broken
by the boy (whom he had seen listening) starting up, and running
towards the door.
"Here's the woman coming!" he exclaimed.
The Chemist stopped him on his way, at the moment when she knocked.
"Let me go to her, will you?" said the boy.
"Not now," returned the Chemist. "Stay here. Nobody must pass in
or out of the room now. Who's that?"
"It's I, sir," cried Milly. "Pray, sir, let me in!"
"No! not for the world!" he said.
"Mr. Redlaw, Mr. Redlaw, pray, sir, let me in."
"What is the matter?" he said, holding the boy.
"The miserable man you saw, is worse, and nothing I can say will
wake him from his terrible infatuation. William's father has
turned childish in a moment, William himself is changed. The shock
has been too sudden for him; I cannot understand him; he is not
like himself. Oh, Mr. Redlaw, pray advise me, help me!"
"No! No! No!" he answered.
"Mr. Redlaw! Dear sir! George has been muttering, in his doze,
about the man you saw there, who, he fears, will kill himself."
"Better he should do it, than come near me!"
"He says, in his wandering, that you know him; that he was your
friend once, long ago; that he is the ruined father of a student
here--my mind misgives me, of the young gentleman who has been ill.
What is to be done? How is he to be followed? How is he to be
saved? Mr. Redlaw, pray, oh, pray, advise me! Help me!"
All this time he held the boy, who was half-mad to pass him, and
let her in.
"Phantoms! Punishers of impious thoughts!" cried Redlaw, gazing
round in anguish, "look upon me! From the darkness of my mind, let
the glimmering of contrition that I know is there, shine up and
show my misery! In the material world as I have long taught,
nothing can be spared; no step or atom in the wondrous structure
could be lost, without a blank being made in the great universe. I
know, now, that it is the same with good and evil, happiness and
sorrow, in the memories of men. Pity me! Relieve me!"
There was no response, but her "Help me, help me, let me in!" and
the boy's struggling to get to her.
"Shadow of myself! Spirit of my darker hours!" cried Redlaw, in
distraction, "come back, and haunt me day and night, but take this
gift away! Or, if it must still rest with me, deprive me of the
dreadful power of giving it to others. Undo what I have done.
Leave me benighted, but restore the day to those whom I have
cursed. As I have spared this woman from the first, and as I never
will go forth again, but will die here, with no hand to tend me,
save this creature's who is proof against me,--hear me!"
The only reply still was, the boy struggling to get to her, while
he held him back; and the cry, increasing in its energy, "Help! let
me in. He was your friend once, how shall he be followed, how
shall he be saved? They are all changed, there is no one else to
help me, pray, pray, let me in!"
CHAPTER III--The Gift Reversed
Night was still heavy in the sky. On open plains, from hill-tops,
and from the decks of solitary ships at sea, a distant low-lying
line, that promised by-and-by to change to light, was visible in
the dim horizon; but its promise was remote and doubtful, and the
moon was striving with the night-clouds busily.
The shadows upon Redlaw's mind succeeded thick and fast to one
another, and obscured its light as the night-clouds hovered between
the moon and earth, and kept the latter veiled in darkness. Fitful
and uncertain as the shadows which the night-clouds cast, were
their concealments from him, and imperfect revelations to him; and,
like the night-clouds still, if the clear light broke forth for a
moment, it was only that they might sweep over it, and make the
darkness deeper than before.
Without, there was a profound and solemn hush upon the ancient pile
of building, and its buttresses and angles made dark shapes of
mystery upon the ground, which now seemed to retire into the smooth
white snow and now seemed to come out of it, as the moon's path was
more or less beset. Within, the Chemist's room was indistinct and
murky, by the light of the expiring lamp; a ghostly silence had
succeeded to the knocking and the voice outside; nothing was
audible but, now and then, a low sound among the whitened ashes of
the fire, as of its yielding up its last breath. Before it on the
ground the boy lay fast asleep. In his chair, the Chemist sat, as
he had sat there since the calling at his door had ceased--like a
man turned to stone.
At such a time, the Christmas music he had heard before, began to
play. He listened to it at first, as he had listened in the
church-yard; but presently--it playing still, and being borne
towards him on the night air, in a low, sweet, melancholy strain--
he rose, and stood stretching his hands about him, as if there were
some friend approaching within his reach, on whom his desolate
touch might rest, yet do no harm. As he did this, his face became
less fixed and wondering; a gentle trembling came upon him; and at
last his eyes filled with tears, and he put his hands before them,
and bowed down his head.
His memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble, had not come back to him;
he knew that it was not restored; he had no passing belief or hope
that it was. But some dumb stir within him made him capable,
again, of being moved by what was hidden, afar off, in the music.
If it were only that it told him sorrowfully the value of what he
had lost, he thanked Heaven for it with a fervent gratitude.
As the last chord died upon his ear, he raised his head to listen
to its lingering vibration. Beyond the boy, so that his sleeping
figure lay at its feet, the Phantom stood, immovable and silent,
with its eyes upon him.
Ghastly it was, as it had ever been, but not so cruel and
relentless in its aspect--or he thought or hoped so, as he looked
upon it trembling. It was not alone, but in its shadowy hand it
held another hand.
And whose was that? Was the form that stood beside it indeed
Milly's, or but her shade and picture? The quiet head was bent a
little, as her manner was, and her eyes were looking down, as if in
pity, on the sleeping child. A radiant light fell on her face, but
did not touch the Phantom; for, though close beside her, it was
dark and colourless as ever.
"Spectre!" said the Chemist, newly troubled as he looked, "I have
not been stubborn or presumptuous in respect of her. Oh, do not
bring her here. Spare me that!"
"This is but a shadow," said the Phantom; "when the morning shines
seek out the reality whose image I present before you."
"Is it my inexorable doom to do so?" cried the Chemist.
"It is," replied the Phantom.
"To destroy her peace, her goodness; to make her what I am myself,
and what I have made of others!"
"I have said seek her out," returned the Phantom. "I have said no
"Oh, tell me," exclaimed Redlaw, catching at the hope which he
fancied might lie hidden in the words. "Can I undo what I have
"No," returned the Phantom.
"I do not ask for restoration to myself," said Redlaw. "What I
abandoned, I abandoned of my own free will, and have justly lost.
But for those to whom I have transferred the fatal gift; who never
sought it; who unknowingly received a curse of which they had no
warning, and which they had no power to shun; can I do nothing?"
"Nothing," said the Phantom.
"If I cannot, can any one?"
The Phantom, standing like a statue, kept its gaze upon him for a
while; then turned its head suddenly, and looked upon the shadow at
"Ah! Can she?" cried Redlaw, still looking upon the shade.
The Phantom released the hand it had retained till now, and softly
raised its own with a gesture of dismissal. Upon that, her shadow,
still preserving the same attitude, began to move or melt away.
"Stay," cried Redlaw with an earnestness to which he could not give
enough expression. "For a moment! As an act of mercy! I know
that some change fell upon me, when those sounds were in the air
just now. Tell me, have I lost the power of harming her? May I go
near her without dread? Oh, let her give me any sign of hope!"
The Phantom looked upon the shade as he did--not at him--and gave
"At least, say this--has she, henceforth, the consciousness of any
power to set right what I have done?"
"She has not," the Phantom answered.
"Has she the power bestowed on her without the consciousness?"
The phantom answered: "Seek her out."
And her shadow slowly vanished.
They were face to face again, and looking on each other, as
intently and awfully as at the time of the bestowal of the gift,
across the boy who still lay on the ground between them, at the
"Terrible instructor," said the Chemist, sinking on his knee before
it, in an attitude of supplication, "by whom I was renounced, but
by whom I am revisited (in which, and in whose milder aspect, I
would fain believe I have a gleam of hope), I will obey without
inquiry, praying that the cry I have sent up in the anguish of my
soul has been, or will be, heard, in behalf of those whom I have
injured beyond human reparation. But there is one thing--"
"You speak to me of what is lying here," the phantom interposed,
and pointed with its finger to the boy.
"I do," returned the Chemist. "You know what I would ask. Why has
this child alone been proof against my influence, and why, why,
have I detected in its thoughts a terrible companionship with
"This," said the Phantom, pointing to the boy, "is the last,
completest illustration of a human creature, utterly bereft of such
remembrances as you have yielded up. No softening memory of
sorrow, wrong, or trouble enters here, because this wretched mortal
from his birth has been abandoned to a worse condition than the
beasts, and has, within his knowledge, no one contrast, no
humanising touch, to make a grain of such a memory spring up in his
hardened breast. All within this desolate creature is barren
wilderness. All within the man bereft of what you have resigned,
is the same barren wilderness. Woe to such a man! Woe, tenfold,
to the nation that shall count its monsters such as this, lying
here, by hundreds and by thousands!"
Redlaw shrank, appalled, from what he heard.
"There is not," said the Phantom, "one of these--not one--but sows
a harvest that mankind MUST reap. From every seed of evil in this
boy, a field of ruin is grown that shall be gathered in, and
garnered up, and sown again in many places in the world, until
regions are overspread with wickedness enough to raise the waters
of another Deluge. Open and unpunished murder in a city's streets
would be less guilty in its daily toleration, than one such
spectacle as this."
It seemed to look down upon the boy in his sleep. Redlaw, too,
looked down upon him with a new emotion.
"There is not a father," said the Phantom, "by whose side in his
daily or his nightly walk, these creatures pass; there is not a
mother among all the ranks of loving mothers in this land; there is
no one risen from the state of childhood, but shall be responsible
in his or her degree for this enormity. There is not a country
throughout the earth on which it would not bring a curse. There is
no religion upon earth that it would not deny; there is no people
upon earth it would not put to shame."
The Chemist clasped his hands, and looked, with trembling fear and
pity, from the sleeping boy to the Phantom, standing above him with
his finger pointing down.
"Behold, I say," pursued the Spectre, "the perfect type of what it
was your choice to be. Your influence is powerless here, because
from this child's bosom you can banish nothing. His thoughts have
been in 'terrible companionship' with yours, because you have gone
down to his unnatural level. He is the growth of man's
indifference; you are the growth of man's presumption. The
beneficent design of Heaven is, in each case, overthrown, and from
the two poles of the immaterial world you come together."
The Chemist stooped upon the ground beside the boy, and, with the
same kind of compassion for him that he now felt for himself,
covered him as he slept, and no longer shrank from him with
abhorrence or indifference.
Soon, now, the distant line on the horizon brightened, the darkness
faded, the sun rose red and glorious, and the chimney stacks and
gables of the ancient building gleamed in the clear air, which
turned the smoke and vapour of the city into a cloud of gold. The
very sun-dial in his shady corner, where the wind was used to spin
with such unwindy constancy, shook off the finer particles of snow
that had accumulated on his dull old face in the night, and looked
out at the little white wreaths eddying round and round him.
Doubtless some blind groping of the morning made its way down into
the forgotten crypt so cold and earthy, where the Norman arches
were half buried in the ground, and stirred the dull sap in the
lazy vegetation hanging to the walls, and quickened the slow
principle of life within the little world of wonderful and delicate
creation which existed there, with some faint knowledge that the
sun was up.
The Tetterbys were up, and doing. Mr. Tetterby took down the
shutters of the shop, and, strip by strip, revealed the treasures
of the window to the eyes, so proof against their seductions, of
Jerusalem Buildings. Adolphus had been out so long already, that
he was halfway on to "Morning Pepper." Five small Tetterbys, whose
ten round eyes were much inflamed by soap and friction, were in the
tortures of a cool wash in the back kitchen; Mrs. Tetterby
presiding. Johnny, who was pushed and hustled through his toilet
with great rapidity when Moloch chanced to be in an exacting frame
of mind (which was always the case), staggered up and down with his
charge before the shop door, under greater difficulties than usual;
the weight of Moloch being much increased by a complication of
defences against the cold, composed of knitted worsted-work, and
forming a complete suit of chain-armour, with a head-piece and blue
It was a peculiarity of this baby to be always cutting teeth.
Whether they never came, or whether they came and went away again,
is not in evidence; but it had certainly cut enough, on the showing
of Mrs. Tetterby, to make a handsome dental provision for the sign
of the Bull and Mouth. All sorts of objects were impressed for the
rubbing of its gums, notwithstanding that it always carried,
dangling at its waist (which was immediately under its chin), a
bone ring, large enough to have represented the rosary of a young
nun. Knife-handles, umbrella-tops, the heads of walking-sticks
selected from the stock, the fingers of the family in general, but
especially of Johnny, nutmeg-graters, crusts, the handles of doors,
and the cool knobs on the tops of pokers, were among the commonest
instruments indiscriminately applied for this baby's relief. The
amount of electricity that must have been rubbed out of it in a
week, is not to be calculated. Still Mrs. Tetterby always said "it
was coming through, and then the child would be herself;" and still
it never did come through, and the child continued to be somebody
The tempers of the little Tetterbys had sadly changed with a few
hours. Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby themselves were not more altered than
their offspring. Usually they were an unselfish, good-natured,
yielding little race, sharing short commons when it happened (which
was pretty often) contentedly and even generously, and taking a
great deal of enjoyment out of a very little meat. But they were
fighting now, not only for the soap and water, but even for the
breakfast which was yet in perspective. The hand of every little
Tetterby was against the other little Tetterbys; and even Johnny's
hand--the patient, much-enduring, and devoted Johnny--rose against
the baby! Yes, Mrs. Tetterby, going to the door by mere accident,
saw him viciously pick out a weak place in the suit of armour where
a slap would tell, and slap that blessed child.
Mrs. Tetterby had him into the parlour by the collar, in that same
flash of time, and repaid him the assault with usury thereto.
"You brute, you murdering little boy," said Mrs. Tetterby. "Had
you the heart to do it?"
"Why don't her teeth come through, then," retorted Johnny, in a
loud rebellious voice, "instead of bothering me? How would you
like it yourself?"
"Like it, sir!" said Mrs. Tetterby, relieving him of his
"Yes, like it," said Johnny. "How would you? Not at all. If you
was me, you'd go for a soldier. I will, too. There an't no babies
in the Army."
Mr. Tetterby, who had arrived upon the scene of action, rubbed his
chin thoughtfully, instead of correcting the rebel, and seemed
rather struck by this view of a military life.
"I wish I was in the Army myself, if the child's in the right,"
said Mrs. Tetterby, looking at her husband, "for I have no peace of
my life here. I'm a slave--a Virginia slave:" some indistinct
association with their weak descent on the tobacco trade perhaps
suggested this aggravated expression to Mrs. Tetterby. "I never
have a holiday, or any pleasure at all, from year's end to year's
end! Why, Lord bless and save the child," said Mrs. Tetterby,
shaking the baby with an irritability hardly suited to so pious an
aspiration, "what's the matter with her now?"
Not being able to discover, and not rendering the subject much
clearer by shaking it, Mrs. Tetterby put the baby away in a cradle,
and, folding her arms, sat rocking it angrily with her foot.
"How you stand there, 'Dolphus," said Mrs. Tetterby to her husband.
"Why don't you do something?"
"Because I don't care about doing anything," Mr. Tetterby replied.
"I am sure _I_ don't," said Mrs. Tetterby.
"I'll take my oath _I_ don't," said Mr. Tetterby.
A diversion arose here among Johnny and his five younger brothers,
who, in preparing the family breakfast table, had fallen to
skirmishing for the temporary possession of the loaf, and were
buffeting one another with great heartiness; the smallest boy of
all, with precocious discretion, hovering outside the knot of
combatants, and harassing their legs. Into the midst of this fray,
Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby both precipitated themselves with great
ardour, as if such ground were the only ground on which they could
now agree; and having, with no visible remains of their late soft-
heartedness, laid about them without any lenity, and done much
execution, resumed their former relative positions.
"You had better read your paper than do nothing at all," said Mrs.
"What's there to read in a paper?" returned Mr. Tetterby, with
"What?" said Mrs. Tetterby. "Police."
"It's nothing to me," said Tetterby. "What do I care what people
do, or are done to?"
"Suicides," suggested Mrs. Tetterby.
"No business of mine," replied her husband.
"Births, deaths, and marriages, are those nothing to you?" said
"If the births were all over for good, and all to-day; and the
deaths were all to begin to come off to-morrow; I don't see why it
should interest me, till I thought it was a coming to my turn,"
grumbled Tetterby. "As to marriages, I've done it myself. I know
quite enough about THEM."
To judge from the dissatisfied expression of her face and manner,
Mrs. Tetterby appeared to entertain the same opinions as her
husband; but she opposed him, nevertheless, for the gratification
of quarrelling with him.
"Oh, you're a consistent man," said Mrs. Tetterby, "an't you? You,
with the screen of your own making there, made of nothing else but
bits of newspapers, which you sit and read to the children by the
"Say used to, if you please," returned her husband. "You won't
find me doing so any more. I'm wiser now."
"Bah! wiser, indeed!" said Mrs. Tetterby. "Are you better?"
The question sounded some discordant note in Mr. Tetterby's breast.
He ruminated dejectedly, and passed his hand across and across his
"Better!" murmured Mr. Tetterby. "I don't know as any of us are
better, or happier either. Better, is it?"
He turned to the screen, and traced about it with his finger, until
he found a certain paragraph of which he was in quest.
"This used to be one of the family favourites, I recollect," said
Tetterby, in a forlorn and stupid way, "and used to draw tears from
the children, and make 'em good, if there was any little bickering
or discontent among 'em, next to the story of the robin redbreasts
in the wood. 'Melancholy case of destitution. Yesterday a small
man, with a baby in his arms, and surrounded by half-a-dozen ragged
little ones, of various ages between ten and two, the whole of whom
were evidently in a famishing condition, appeared before the worthy
magistrate, and made the following recital:'--Ha! I don't
understand it, I'm sure," said Tetterby; "I don't see what it has
got to do with us."
"How old and shabby he looks," said Mrs. Tetterby, watching him.
"I never saw such a change in a man. Ah! dear me, dear me, dear
me, it was a sacrifice!"
"What was a sacrifice?" her husband sourly inquired.
Mrs. Tetterby shook her head; and without replying in words, raised
a complete sea-storm about the baby, by her violent agitation of
"If you mean your marriage was a sacrifice, my good woman--" said
"I DO mean it" said his wife.
"Why, then I mean to say," pursued Mr. Tetterby, as sulkily and
surlily as she, "that there are two sides to that affair; and that
I was the sacrifice; and that I wish the sacrifice hadn't been
"I wish it hadn't, Tetterby, with all my heart and soul I do assure
you," said his wife. "You can't wish it more than I do, Tetterby."
"I don't know what I saw in her," muttered the newsman, "I'm sure;-
-certainly, if I saw anything, it's not there now. I was thinking
so, last night, after supper, by the fire. She's fat, she's
ageing, she won't bear comparison with most other women."
"He's common-looking, he has no air with him, he's small, he's
beginning to stoop and he's getting bald," muttered Mrs. Tetterby.
"I must have been half out of my mind when I did it," muttered Mr.
"My senses must have forsook me. That's the only way in which I
can explain it to myself," said Mrs. Tetterby with elaboration.
In this mood they sat down to breakfast. The little Tetterbys were
not habituated to regard that meal in the light of a sedentary
occupation, but discussed it as a dance or trot; rather resembling
a savage ceremony, in the occasionally shrill whoops, and
brandishings of bread and butter, with which it was accompanied, as
well as in the intricate filings off into the street and back
again, and the hoppings up and down the door-steps, which were
incidental to the performance. In the present instance, the
contentions between these Tetterby children for the milk-and-water
jug, common to all, which stood upon the table, presented so
lamentable an instance of angry passions risen very high indeed,
that it was an outrage on the memory of Dr. Watts. It was not
until Mr. Tetterby had driven the whole herd out at the front door,
that a moment's peace was secured; and even that was broken by the
discovery that Johnny had surreptitiously come back, and was at
that instant choking in the jug like a ventriloquist, in his
indecent and rapacious haste.
"These children will be the death of me at last!" said Mrs.
Tetterby, after banishing the culprit. "And the sooner the better,
"Poor people," said Mr. Tetterby, "ought not to have children at
all. They give US no pleasure."
He was at that moment taking up the cup which Mrs. Tetterby had
rudely pushed towards him, and Mrs. Tetterby was lifting her own
cup to her lips, when they both stopped, as if they were
"Here! Mother! Father!" cried Johnny, running into the room.
"Here's Mrs. William coming down the street!"
And if ever, since the world began, a young boy took a baby from a
cradle with the care of an old nurse, and hushed and soothed it
tenderly, and tottered away with it cheerfully, Johnny was that
boy, and Moloch was that baby, as they went out together!
Mr. Tetterby put down his cup; Mrs. Tetterby put down her cup. Mr.
Tetterby rubbed his forehead; Mrs. Tetterby rubbed hers. Mr.
Tetterby's face began to smooth and brighten; Mrs. Tetterby's began
to smooth and brighten.
"Why, Lord forgive me," said Mr. Tetterby to himself, "what evil
tempers have I been giving way to? What has been the matter here!"
"How could I ever treat him ill again, after all I said and felt
last night!" sobbed Mrs. Tetterby, with her apron to her eyes.
"Am I a brute," said Mr. Tetterby, "or is there any good in me at
all? Sophia! My little woman!"
"'Dolphus dear," returned his wife.
"I--I've been in a state of mind," said Mr. Tetterby, "that I can't
abear to think of, Sophy."
"Oh! It's nothing to what I've been in, Dolf," cried his wife in a
great burst of grief.
"My Sophia," said Mr. Tetterby, "don't take on. I never shall
forgive myself. I must have nearly broke your heart, I know."
"No, Dolf, no. It was me! Me!" cried Mrs. Tetterby.
"My little woman," said her husband, "don't. You make me reproach
myself dreadful, when you show such a noble spirit. Sophia, my
dear, you don't know what I thought. I showed it bad enough, no
doubt; but what I thought, my little woman!--"
"Oh, dear Dolf, don't! Don't!" cried his wife.
"Sophia," said Mr. Tetterby, "I must reveal it. I couldn't rest in
my conscience unless I mentioned it. My little woman--"
"Mrs. William's very nearly here!" screamed Johnny at the door.
"My little woman, I wondered how," gasped Mr. Tetterby, supporting
himself by his chair, "I wondered how I had ever admired you--I
forgot the precious children you have brought about me, and thought
you didn't look as slim as I could wish. I--I never gave a
recollection," said Mr. Tetterby, with severe self-accusation, "to
the cares you've had as my wife, and along of me and mine, when you
might have had hardly any with another man, who got on better and
was luckier than me (anybody might have found such a man easily I
am sure); and I quarrelled with you for having aged a little in the
rough years you have lightened for me. Can you believe it, my
little woman? I hardly can myself."
Mrs. Tetterby, in a whirlwind of laughing and crying, caught his
face within her hands, and held it there.
"Oh, Dolf!" she cried. "I am so happy that you thought so; I am so
grateful that you thought so! For I thought that you were common-
looking, Dolf; and so you are, my dear, and may you be the
commonest of all sights in my eyes, till you close them with your
own good hands. I thought that you were small; and so you are, and
I'll make much of you because you are, and more of you because I
love my husband. I thought that you began to stoop; and so you do,
and you shall lean on me, and I'll do all I can to keep you up. I
thought there was no air about you; but there is, and it's the air
of home, and that's the purest and the best there is, and God bless
home once more, and all belonging to it, Dolf!"
"Hurrah! Here's Mrs. William!" cried Johnny.
So she was, and all the children with her; and so she came in, they
kissed her, and kissed one another, and kissed the baby, and kissed
their father and mother, and then ran back and flocked and danced
about her, trooping on with her in triumph.
Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby were not a bit behind-hand in the warmth of
their reception. They were as much attracted to her as the
children were; they ran towards her, kissed her hands, pressed
round her, could not receive her ardently or enthusiastically
enough. She came among them like the spirit of all goodness,
affection, gentle consideration, love, and domesticity.
"What! are YOU all so glad to see me, too, this bright Christmas
morning?" said Milly, clapping her hands in a pleasant wonder. "Oh
dear, how delightful this is!"
More shouting from the children, more kissing, more trooping round
her, more happiness, more love, more joy, more honour, on all
sides, than she could bear.
"Oh dear!" said Milly, "what delicious tears you make me shed. How
can I ever have deserved this! What have I done to be so loved?"
"Who can help it!" cried Mr. Tetterby.
"Who can help it!" cried Mrs. Tetterby.
"Who can help it!" echoed the children, in a joyful chorus. And
they danced and trooped about her again, and clung to her, and laid
their rosy faces against her dress, and kissed and fondled it, and
could not fondle it, or her, enough.
"I never was so moved," said Milly, drying her eyes, "as I have
been this morning. I must tell you, as soon as I can speak.--Mr.
Redlaw came to me at sunrise, and with a tenderness in his manner,
more as if I had been his darling daughter than myself, implored me
to go with him to where William's brother George is lying ill. We
went together, and all the way along he was so kind, and so
subdued, and seemed to put such trust and hope in me, that I could
not help trying with pleasure. When we got to the house, we met a
woman at the door (somebody had bruised and hurt her, I am afraid),
who caught me by the hand, and blessed me as I passed."
"She was right!" said Mr. Tetterby. Mrs. Tetterby said she was
right. All the children cried out that she was right.
"Ah, but there's more than that," said Milly. "When we got up
stairs, into the room, the sick man who had lain for hours in a
state from which no effort could rouse him, rose up in his bed,
and, bursting into tears, stretched out his arms to me, and said
that he had led a mis-spent life, but that he was truly repentant
now, in his sorrow for the past, which was all as plain to him as a
great prospect, from which a dense black cloud had cleared away,
and that he entreated me to ask his poor old father for his pardon
and his blessing, and to say a prayer beside his bed. And when I
did so, Mr. Redlaw joined in it so fervently, and then so thanked
and thanked me, and thanked Heaven, that my heart quite overflowed,
and I could have done nothing but sob and cry, if the sick man had
not begged me to sit down by him,--which made me quiet of course.
As I sat there, he held my hand in his until he sank in a doze; and
even then, when I withdrew my hand to leave him to come here (which
Mr. Redlaw was very earnest indeed in wishing me to do), his hand
felt for mine, so that some one else was obliged to take my place
and make believe to give him my hand back. Oh dear, oh dear," said
Milly, sobbing. "How thankful and how happy I should feel, and do
feel, for all this!"
While she was speaking, Redlaw had come in, and, after pausing for
a moment to observe the group of which she was the centre, had
silently ascended the stairs. Upon those stairs he now appeared
again; remaining there, while the young student passed him, and
came running down.
"Kind nurse, gentlest, best of creatures," he said, falling on his
knee to her, and catching at her hand, "forgive my cruel
"Oh dear, oh dear!" cried Milly innocently, "here's another of
them! Oh dear, here's somebody else who likes me. What shall I
The guileless, simple way in which she said it, and in which she
put her hands before her eyes and wept for very happiness, was as
touching as it was delightful.
"I was not myself," he said. "I don't know what it was--it was
some consequence of my disorder perhaps--I was mad. But I am so no
longer. Almost as I speak, I am restored. I heard the children
crying out your name, and the shade passed from me at the very
sound of it. Oh, don't weep! Dear Milly, if you could read my
heart, and only knew with what affection and what grateful homage
it is glowing, you would not let me see you weep. It is such deep
"No, no," said Milly, "it's not that. It's not indeed. It's joy.
It's wonder that you should think it necessary to ask me to forgive
so little, and yet it's pleasure that you do."
"And will you come again? and will you finish the little curtain?"
"No," said Milly, drying her eyes, and shaking her head. "You
won't care for my needlework now."
"Is it forgiving me, to say that?"
She beckoned him aside, and whispered in his ear.
"There is news from your home, Mr. Edmund."
"Either your not writing when you were very ill, or the change in
your handwriting when you began to be better, created some
suspicion of the truth; however that is--but you're sure you'll not
be the worse for any news, if it's not bad news?"
"Then there's some one come!" said Milly.
"My mother?" asked the student, glancing round involuntarily
towards Redlaw, who had come down from the stairs.
"Hush! No," said Milly.
"It can be no one else."
"Indeed?" said Milly, "are you sure?"
"It is not -" Before he could say more, she put her hand upon his
"Yes it is!" said Milly. "The young lady (she is very like the
miniature, Mr. Edmund, but she is prettier) was too unhappy to rest
without satisfying her doubts, and came up, last night, with a
little servant-maid. As you always dated your letters from the
college, she came there; and before I saw Mr. Redlaw this morning,
I saw her. SHE likes me too!" said Milly. "Oh dear, that's
"This morning! Where is she now?"
"Why, she is now," said Milly, advancing her lips to his ear, "in
my little parlour in the Lodge, and waiting to see you."
He pressed her hand, and was darting off, but she detained him.
"Mr. Redlaw is much altered, and has told me this morning that his
memory is impaired. Be very considerate to him, Mr. Edmund; he
needs that from us all."
The young man assured her, by a look, that her caution was not ill-
bestowed; and as he passed the Chemist on his way out, bent
respectfully and with an obvious interest before him.
Redlaw returned the salutation courteously and even humbly, and
looked after him as he passed on. He dropped his head upon his
hand too, as trying to reawaken something he had lost. But it was
The abiding change that had come upon him since the influence of
the music, and the Phantom's reappearance, was, that now he truly
felt how much he had lost, and could compassionate his own
condition, and contrast it, clearly, with the natural state of
those who were around him. In this, an interest in those who were
around him was revived, and a meek, submissive sense of his
calamity was bred, resembling that which sometimes obtains in age,
when its mental powers are weakened, without insensibility or
sullenness being added to the list of its infirmities.
He was conscious that, as he redeemed, through Milly, more and more
of the evil he had done, and as he was more and more with her, this
change ripened itself within him. Therefore, and because of the
attachment she inspired him with (but without other hope), he felt
that he was quite dependent on her, and that she was his staff in
So, when she asked him whether they should go home now, to where
the old man and her husband were, and he readily replied "yes"--
being anxious in that regard--he put his arm through hers, and
walked beside her; not as if he were the wise and learned man to
whom the wonders of Nature were an open book, and hers were the
uninstructed mind, but as if their two positions were reversed, and
he knew nothing, and she all.
He saw the children throng about her, and caress her, as he and she
went away together thus, out of the house; he heard the ringing of
their laughter, and their merry voices; he saw their bright faces,
clustering around him like flowers; he witnessed the renewed
contentment and affection of their parents; he breathed the simple
air of their poor home, restored to its tranquillity; he thought of
the unwholesome blight he had shed upon it, and might, but for her,
have been diffusing then; and perhaps it is no wonder that he
walked submissively beside her, and drew her gentle bosom nearer to
When they arrived at the Lodge, the old man was sitting in his
chair in the chimney-corner, with his eyes fixed on the ground, and
his son was leaning against the opposite side of the fire-place,
looking at him. As she came in at the door, both started, and
turned round towards her, and a radiant change came upon their
"Oh dear, dear, dear, they are all pleased to see me like the
rest!" cried Milly, clapping her hands in an ecstasy, and stopping
short. "Here are two more!"
Pleased to see her! Pleasure was no word for it. She ran into her
husband's arms, thrown wide open to receive her, and he would have
been glad to have her there, with her head lying on his shoulder,
through the short winter's day. But the old man couldn't spare
her. He had arms for her too, and he locked her in them.
"Why, where has my quiet Mouse been all this time?" said the old
man. "She has been a long while away. I find that it's impossible
for me to get on without Mouse. I--where's my son William?--I
fancy I have been dreaming, William."
"That's what I say myself, father," returned his son. "I have been
in an ugly sort of dream, I think.--How are you, father? Are you
"Strong and brave, my boy," returned the old man.
It was quite a sight to see Mr. William shaking hands with his
father, and patting him on the back, and rubbing him gently down
with his hand, as if he could not possibly do enough to show an
interest in him.
"What a wonderful man you are, father!--How are you, father? Are
you really pretty hearty, though?" said William, shaking hands with
him again, and patting him again, and rubbing him gently down
"I never was fresher or stouter in my life, my boy."
"What a wonderful man you are, father! But that's exactly where it
is," said Mr. William, with enthusiasm. "When I think of all that
my father's gone through, and all the chances and changes, and
sorrows and troubles, that have happened to him in the course of
his long life, and under which his head has grown grey, and years
upon years have gathered on it, I feel as if we couldn't do enough
to honour the old gentleman, and make his old age easy.--How are
you, father? Are you really pretty well, though?"
Mr. William might never have left off repeating this inquiry, and
shaking hands with him again, and patting him again, and rubbing
him down again, if the old man had not espied the Chemist, whom
until now he had not seen.
"I ask your pardon, Mr. Redlaw," said Philip, "but didn't know you
were here, sir, or should have made less free. It reminds me, Mr.
Redlaw, seeing you here on a Christmas morning, of the time when
you was a student yourself, and worked so hard that you were
backwards and forwards in our Library even at Christmas time. Ha!
ha! I'm old enough to remember that; and I remember it right well,
I do, though I am eight-seven. It was after you left here that my
poor wife died. You remember my poor wife, Mr. Redlaw?"
The Chemist answered yes.
"Yes," said the old man. "She was a dear creetur.--I recollect you
come here one Christmas morning with a young lady--I ask your
pardon, Mr. Redlaw, but I think it was a sister you was very much
The Chemist looked at him, and shook his head. "I had a sister,"
he said vacantly. He knew no more.
"One Christmas morning," pursued the old man, "that you come here
with her--and it began to snow, and my wife invited the lady to
walk in, and sit by the fire that is always a burning on Christmas
Day in what used to be, before our ten poor gentlemen commuted, our
great Dinner Hall. I was there; and I recollect, as I was stirring
up the blaze for the young lady to warm her pretty feet by, she
read the scroll out loud, that is underneath that pictur, 'Lord,
keep my memory green!' She and my poor wife fell a talking about
it; and it's a strange thing to think of, now, that they both said
(both being so unlike to die) that it was a good prayer, and that
it was one they would put up very earnestly, if they were called
away young, with reference to those who were dearest to them. 'My
brother,' says the young lady--'My husband,' says my poor wife.--
'Lord, keep his memory of me, green, and do not let me be
Tears more painful, and more bitter than he had ever shed in all
his life, coursed down Redlaw's face. Philip, fully occupied in
recalling his story, had not observed him until now, nor Milly's
anxiety that he should not proceed.
"Philip!" said Redlaw, laying his hand upon his arm, "I am a
stricken man, on whom the hand of Providence has fallen heavily,
although deservedly. You speak to me, my friend, of what I cannot
follow; my memory is gone."
"Merciful power!" cried the old man.
"I have lost my memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble," said the
Chemist, "and with that I have lost all man would remember!"
To see old Philip's pity for him, to see him wheel his own great
chair for him to rest in, and look down upon him with a solemn
sense of his bereavement, was to know, in some degree, how precious
to old age such recollections are.
The boy came running in, and ran to Milly.
"Here's the man," he said, "in the other room. I don't want HIM."
"What man does he mean?" asked Mr. William.
"Hush!" said Milly.
Obedient to a sign from her, he and his old father softly withdrew.
As they went out, unnoticed, Redlaw beckoned to the boy to come to
"I like the woman best," he answered, holding to her skirts.
"You are right," said Redlaw, with a faint smile. "But you needn't
fear to come to me. I am gentler than I was. Of all the world, to
you, poor child!"
The boy still held back at first, but yielding little by little to
her urging, he consented to approach, and even to sit down at his
feet. As Redlaw laid his hand upon the shoulder of the child,
looking on him with compassion and a fellow-feeling, he put out his
other hand to Milly. She stooped down on that side of him, so that
she could look into his face, and after silence, said:
"Mr. Redlaw, may I speak to you?"
"Yes," he answered, fixing his eyes upon her. "Your voice and
music are the same to me."
"May I ask you something?"
"What you will."
"Do you remember what I said, when I knocked at your door last
night? About one who was your friend once, and who stood on the
verge of destruction?"
"Yes. I remember," he said, with some hesitation.
"Do you understand it?"
He smoothed the boy's hair--looking at her fixedly the while, and
shook his head.
"This person," said Milly, in her clear, soft voice, which her mild
eyes, looking at him, made clearer and softer, "I found soon
afterwards. I went back to the house, and, with Heaven's help,
traced him. I was not too soon. A very little and I should have
been too late."
He took his hand from the boy, and laying it on the back of that
hand of hers, whose timid and yet earnest touch addressed him no
less appealingly than her voice and eyes, looked more intently on
"He IS the father of Mr. Edmund, the young gentleman we saw just
now. His real name is Longford.--You recollect the name?"
"I recollect the name."
"And the man?"
"No, not the man. Did he ever wrong me?"
"Ah! Then it's hopeless--hopeless."
He shook his head, and softly beat upon the hand he held, as though
mutely asking her commiseration.
"I did not go to Mr. Edmund last night," said Milly,--"You will
listen to me just the same as if you did remember all?"
"To every syllable you say."
"Both, because I did not know, then, that this really was his
father, and because I was fearful of the effect of such
intelligence upon him, after his illness, if it should be. Since I
have known who this person is, I have not gone either; but that is
for another reason. He has long been separated from his wife and
son--has been a stranger to his home almost from this son's
infancy, I learn from him--and has abandoned and deserted what he
should have held most dear. In all that time he has been falling
from the state of a gentleman, more and more, until--" she rose up,
hastily, and going out for a moment, returned, accompanied by the
wreck that Redlaw had beheld last night.
"Do you know me?" asked the Chemist.
"I should be glad," returned the other, "and that is an unwonted
word for me to use, if I could answer no."
The Chemist looked at the man, standing in self-abasement and
degradation before him, and would have looked longer, in an
ineffectual struggle for enlightenment, but that Milly resumed her
late position by his side, and attracted his attentive gaze to her
"See how low he is sunk, how lost he is!" she whispered, stretching
out her arm towards him, without looking from the Chemist's face.
"If you could remember all that is connected with him, do you not
think it would move your pity to reflect that one you ever loved
(do not let us mind how long ago, or in what belief that he has
forfeited), should come to this?"
"I hope it would," he answered. "I believe it would."
His eyes wandered to the figure standing near the door, but came
back speedily to her, on whom he gazed intently, as if he strove to
learn some lesson from every tone of her voice, and every beam of
"I have no learning, and you have much," said Milly; "I am not used
to think, and you are always thinking. May I tell you why it seems
to me a good thing for us, to remember wrong that has been done
"That we may forgive it."
"Pardon me, great Heaven!" said Redlaw, lifting up his eyes, "for
having thrown away thine own high attribute!"
"And if," said Milly, "if your memory should one day be restored,
as we will hope and pray it may be, would it not be a blessing to
you to recall at once a wrong and its forgiveness?"
He looked at the figure by the door, and fastened his attentive
eyes on her again; a ray of clearer light appeared to him to shine
into his mind, from her bright face.
"He cannot go to his abandoned home. He does not seek to go there.
He knows that he could only carry shame and trouble to those he has
so cruelly neglected; and that the best reparation he can make them
now, is to avoid them. A very little money carefully bestowed,
would remove him to some distant place, where he might live and do
no wrong, and make such atonement as is left within his power for
the wrong he has done. To the unfortunate lady who is his wife,
and to his son, this would be the best and kindest boon that their
best friend could give them--one too that they need never know of;
and to him, shattered in reputation, mind, and body, it might be
He took her head between her hands, and kissed it, and said: "It
shall be done. I trust to you to do it for me, now and secretly;
and to tell him that I would forgive him, if I were so happy as to
know for what."
As she rose, and turned her beaming face towards the fallen man,
implying that her mediation had been successful, he advanced a
step, and without raising his eyes, addressed himself to Redlaw.
"You are so generous," he said, "--you ever were--that you will try
to banish your rising sense of retribution in the spectacle that is
before you. I do not try to banish it from myself, Redlaw. If you
can, believe me."
The Chemist entreated Milly, by a gesture, to come nearer to him;
and, as he listened looked in her face, as if to find in it the
clue to what he heard.
"I am too decayed a wretch to make professions; I recollect my own
career too well, to array any such before you. But from the day on
which I made my first step downward, in dealing falsely by you, I
have gone down with a certain, steady, doomed progression. That, I
Redlaw, keeping her close at his side, turned his face towards the
speaker, and there was sorrow in it. Something like mournful
"I might have been another man, my life might have been another
life, if I had avoided that first fatal step. I don't know that it
would have been. I claim nothing for the possibility. Your sister
is at rest, and better than she could have been with me, if I had
continued even what you thought me: even what I once supposed
myself to be."
Redlaw made a hasty motion with his hand, as if he would have put
that subject on one side.
"I speak," the other went on, "like a man taken from the grave. I
should have made my own grave, last night, had it not been for this
"Oh dear, he likes me too!" sobbed Milly, under her breath.
"I could not have put myself in your way, last night, even for
bread. But, to-day, my recollection of what has been is so
strongly stirred, and is presented to me, I don't know how, so
vividly, that I have dared to come at her suggestion, and to take
your bounty, and to thank you for it, and to beg you, Redlaw, in
your dying hour, to be as merciful to me in your thoughts, as you
are in your deeds."
He turned towards the door, and stopped a moment on his way forth.
"I hope my son may interest you, for his mother's sake. I hope he
may deserve to do so. Unless my life should be preserved a long
time, and I should know that I have not misused your aid, I shall
never look upon him more."
Going out, he raised his eyes to Redlaw for the first time.
Redlaw, whose steadfast gaze was fixed upon him, dreamily held out
his hand. He returned and touched it--little more--with both his
own; and bending down his head, went slowly out.
In the few moments that elapsed, while Milly silently took him to
the gate, the Chemist dropped into his chair, and covered his face
with his hands. Seeing him thus, when she came back, accompanied
by her husband and his father (who were both greatly concerned for
him), she avoided disturbing him, or permitting him to be
disturbed; and kneeled down near the chair to put some warm
clothing on the boy.
"That's exactly where it is. That's what I always say, father!"
exclaimed her admiring husband. "There's a motherly feeling in
Mrs. William's breast that must and will have went!"
"Ay, ay," said the old man; "you're right. My son William's
"It happens all for the best, Milly dear, no doubt," said Mr.
William, tenderly, "that we have no children of our own; and yet I
sometimes wish you had one to love and cherish. Our little dead
child that you built such hopes upon, and that never breathed the
breath of life--it has made you quiet-like, Milly."
"I am very happy in the recollection of it, William dear," she
answered. "I think of it every day."
"I was afraid you thought of it a good deal."