« ZurückWeiter »
without the misleading " John Smith," most unlikely to be identified with the Ascott Leaf of old.
"I never should have known you, sir!" said Elizabeth, truthfully, when her astonishment had a little subsided; "but I am very glad to see you. Oh, how thankful your aunts will be!"
"Do you think so? I thought it was quite the contrary. But it does not matter; they will never hear of me, unless you tell them—and I believe I may trust you. You would not betray me, if only for the sake of that poor fellow yonder?"
"Now, tell me something about my aunts, especially my Aunt Johanna."
And sitting down in the sunshine, with his arm upon the back of the bench, and his hand hiding his eyes, the poor prodigal listened in silence to everything Elizabeth told him; of bis Aunt Selina's marriage and death, and of Mr. Lyon's return, and of the happy home at Liverpool.
"They are all quite happy, then?" said he, at length; "they seem to have begun to prosper ever since they got rid of me. Well, I'm glad of it. I only wanted to hear of them from you. I shall never trouble them any more. You'll keep my secret, I know. And now I must go, for I have not a minute more to spare. Good-by, Elizabeth."
With a humility nnd friendliness, strange enough in Ascott Leaf, he held out his hand —empty, for he had nothing to give now— to his aunt's old servant. But Elizabeth detained him.
"Don't go, sir; please, don't; not just yet." And then she added, with an earnest respectfulness that touched the heart of the poor, shabby man, "I hope you'll pardon the liberty I take. I'm only a servant, but I knew you when you were a boy, Mr. Leaf; and if you would trust me, if you would let me be of use to you in any way—if only because you were so good to him there."
« Poor Tom Cliffe; he was not a bad fellow; he liked me rather, I think; and I was able to doctor him, and help him a little. Heigh-ho; it's a comfort to think I ever did any good to anybody."
Ascott sighed, drew his rusty coat-sleeve across his eyes, and sat contemplating his boots, which were anything but dandy boots now.
THI&O SERIES. LIVING AGE. 962.
"Elizabeth, what relation was Tom to
you? If I had known you were acquainted
I with him I should have been afraid to go
I near him; but I felt sure, though he came
from Stowbury, he did not guess who I was;
j he only knew me as Mr. Smith; and he
never once mentioned you. Was ho your
cousin, or what?"
Elizabeth considered a moment, and then told the simple fact; it could not matter now.
"I was once going to be married to him, I but he saw somebody he liked better, and married her."
"Poor girl; poor Elizabeth!"
Perhaps nothing could have shown the great change in Ascott more than the tone in which he uttered these words; a tone of entire respect and kindly pity, from which he never once departed during that conversation, and many, many others, so long as their confidential relations lasted.
"Now, sir, would you be so kind as to tell me something about yourself? I'll not repeat anything to your aunts, if you don't wish it."
Ascott yielded. He had been so long, so utterly forlorn. He sat down beside Elizabeth, and then, with eyes often averted, and I with many breaks between, which she had to fill up as best she could, he told her all his story, even to the sad secret of all, which had caused him to run away from home, and hide himself in the last place where they would have thought he was, the safe wilderness of London. There, carefully disguised, he had lived decently while his money lasted, and then, driven step by step to the brink of destitution, he had offered himself for employment in the lowest grade of his own profession, and been taken as assistant by the not overscrupulous chemist and druggist in that not too respectable neighborhood of Westminster, with a salary of twenty pounds a year.
"And I actually live upon it!" added he, with a bitter smile. "I can't run into debt; for who would trust me? And I dress in rags almost, as you see. And I get my meals how and where I can; and I sleep under the shop-counter. A pretty life for Mr. Ascott Leaf, isn't it now? What would my aunts say if they knew it?"
"They would say it was an honest life, and 'that they were not a bit ashamed of you."
Asco'tt drew himself up a little, and his chest heaved visibly under the close-buttoned, threadbare coat.
"Well, at least it is a life that makes nobody else miserable."
Ay, that wonderful teacher, Adversity,
"Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in its head,"
had left behind this jewel in the young man's heart. A disguised, beggared outcast, he had found out the value of an honest name; forsaken, unfriended, he had learned the preciousness of home and love; made a servan^ of, tyrannized over, and held in low esteem, he had been taught by hard experience the secret of true humility and charity —the esteeming of others better than himself.
Not with all natures does misfortune Bo work, but it did with his. He had sinned; he had paid the cost of his sin in bitter suffering; but the result was cheaply bought, and he already began to feel that it was so.
"Yes," said he, in answer to a question of Elizabeth's, "I really am, for some things, happier than I used to be. I feel more like what I was in the old days, when I was a little chap at Stowbury! Poor old Stowbury! I often think of the place in a way that's perfectly ridiculous. Still, if anything happened to me, I should like my aunts to know it, and that I didn't forget them."
"But, sir," asked Elizabeth, earnestly, "do you never mean to go near your aunts again?"
"I can't say ; it all depends upon circumtances. I suppose," he added, "if, as is said, one's sin is sure to find one out, the same rule goes by contraries. "It seems poor Cliffe once spoke of me to a district visitor, the only visitor he ever had; and this gentleman, hearing of the inquest, came yesterday to inquire about him of me; and the end was that he offered me a situation with a person he knew, a very respectable chemUt in Tottenham Court Road."
"And shall you go?"
"To be sure. I've learned to be thankful for small mercies. Nobody will find me out or recognize me. You didn't. Who knows? I may even have the honor of dispensing drugs to Uncle Ascott of Russell Square.
"But," said Elizabeth, after a pause, " you
will not always remain as John Smith, druggist's shopman, throwing away all your good education and position and name?"
"Elizabeth," said he, in an humbled tone, "how dare I ever resume my own name and get back my rightful position while Peter Ascott lives? Can you or anybody point out a way?"
,She thought the question over in her clear head; clear still, even at this hour, when she had to think for others, though all personal feeling and interest were buried in that grave over which the sexton was now laying the turf that would soon grow smoothly green.
"If I might advise, Mr. Leaf, I should say, save up all your money, and then go, just as you are, with an honest, bold front, right into my master's, house, with the fifty pounds in your hand"
"By Jove, you've hit it!" cried Ascott, starting up. "What a thing a woman's head is! I've turned over scheme after scheme, but I never once thought of any so simple as that. Bravo, Elizabeth! You're a remarkable woman."
She smiled—a very sad smile—but still she felt glad. Anything that she could possibly do for any creature belonging to her dear mistresses seemed to this faithful servant the natural and bounden duty of her life.
Long after the young man, whose mercurial temperament no trouble could repress, had gone away in excellent spirits, leaving her an address where she could always find him, and give him regular news of his aunts, though he made her promise to give them, as yet, no tidings in return, Elizabeth sat still, watching the sun decline and the shadows lengthen over the field of graves. In the calmness and beauty of this solitary place an equal calm seemed to come over her; a sense of how wonderfully events had linked themselves together and worked themselves out; how even poor Tom's mournful death had brought about this meeting, which might end in restoring to her beloved mistresses their lost sheep, their outcast, miserable boy. She did not reason the matter out, but she felt it, and felt that in making her in some degree his instrument God had been very good to her in the midst of her desolation.
It seemed Elizabeth's lot always to have to put aside her own troubles for the trouble of somebody else. Almost immediately after Tom Cliffe's death her little Henry fell ill with scarlatina, and remained for many months in a state of health so fragile as to engross all her thought and care. It was with difficulty that she contrived a few times to go for Henry's medicines to the shop where "John Smith " served.
She noticed that every time he looked healthier, brighter, freer from that aspecl of broken-down respectability which had touched her so much. He did not dress any better, but still "the gentleman" in him could never be hidden or lost, and he said his master treated him "like a gentleman," which was apparently a pleasant novelty.
"I have some time to myself also. Shop shuts at nine, and I get up at 5 P.m.—bless us! what would my Aunt Hilary say? And it's not for nothing. There are more ways than one of turning an honest penny, when a young fellow really sets about it. Elizabeth, you used to be a literary character
yourself; look into the and the"
(naming two popular magazines), "and if you find a series of especially clever papers on sanitary reform, and so on, I did 'em!"
He slapped his chest with Ascott's merry laugh of old. It cheered Elizabeth for a long while afterward.
By and by she had to take little Henry to Brighton, and lost sight of "John Smith" for some time longer.
It was on a snowy February day, when, having brought the child home quite strong, and received unlimited gratitude and guineas from the delighted father, Master Henry's faithful nurse stood in her usual place at the dining-room door, waiting for the interminable grace of "only five minutes more " to be over, and her boy carried ignominiously but contentedly to bed.
The footman knocked at the door. "A young man wanting to speak to master on particular business."
"Let him send in his name."
"He says you wouldn't know it, sir."
"Show him in, then. Probably a case of charity, as usual. Oh!"
And Mr. Ascott's opinion was confirmed by the appearance of the shabby young man with the long beard, whom Elizabeth did not wonder he never recognized in the least.
She ought to have retired, and yet she
could not. She hid herself partly behind the door, afraid of passing Ascott; dreading alike to wound him hy recognition or non-recognition. But he took no notice. He seemed excessively agitated.
"Come a-begging, young man, I suppose? Wants a situation, as hundreds do, and think that I have half the clerkships in the city at my disposal, and that I am made of money besides. But it's no good, I tell you, sir; I never give nothing to strangers, except— Here, Henry, my son, take that person there this half-crown."
And the little boy, in his pretty purple velvet frock and his prettier face, trotted across the room and put the money into poor Ascott's hand. He took it; and then, to the astonishment of Master Henry, and the still greater astonishment of his father, lifted up the child and kissed him.
"Young man, young fellow"
"I see you don't know me, Mr. Ascott, and it's not surprising. But I have come to repay you this," he laid a fifty-pound note down on the table. "Also to thank you earnestly for not prosecuting me, and to say"
"Good God ! "—the sole expletive Peter Ascott had been heard to use for long. "Ascott Leaf, is that you? I thought you were in Australia, or dead, or something!"
"No, I'm alive and here, more's the pity perhaps. Except that I have lived to pay you back what I cheated you out of. What you generously gave me I can't pay, though I may some time. Meantime, I have brought you this. It's honestly earned. Yes "—observing the keen, doubtful look, " though I have hardly a coat to my back, I assure you it's honestly earned."
Mr. Ascott made no reply. He stooped over the bank-note, examined it, folded it, and put it into his pocket-book; then, after another puzzled investigation of Ascott, cleared his throat.
"Mrs. Hand, you had better take Master Henry up-stairs."
An hour after, when little Henry had long been sound asleep, and she was sitting at her usual evening sewing in her solitary nursery, Elizabeth learned that the " shabby young man " was still in the dining-room with Mr. Ascott, who had rung for tea and some cold meat with it. And the footman stated, with undisguised amazement, that the shabby young man was actually sitting at the same table with master!
Elizabeth smiled to herself, and held her tongue. Now, as ever, she always kept the secrets of the family.
About ten o'clock she was summoned to the dining-room.
There stood Peter- Ascott, pompous as ever, but with a certain kindly good-humor lightening his heavy face, looking condescendingly around him, and occasionally rubbing his hands slowly together, as if he were exceedingly well pleased with himself. There stood Ascott Leaf, looking bright and handsome in spite of his shabbiness, and quite at his ease—which small peculiarity was never likely to be knocked out of him under the most depressing circumstances.
He shook hands with Elizabeth warmly.
"I wanted to ask you if you have any message for Liverpool. I go there to-morrow on business for Mr. Ascott, and afterward I shall probably go and see my aunts." He faltered a moment, but quickly shook the emotion off. "Of course, I shall tell them all about you, Elizabeth. Any special message, eh?"
"Only my duty, sir, and Master Henry is quite well again," said Elizabeth, formally, and dropping her old-fashioned courtesy; after which, as quickly as she could, she slipped out of the dining-room.
But long, long after, when all the house
was gone to bed, she stood at the nursery window, looking down upon the trees of the square, that stretched their motionless arms up into the moonlight sky—just such a moonlight as it was once, more than three years ago, the night little Henry was born. And she recalled all the past, from the day when Miss Hilary hung up her bonnet for her in the house-place at Stowbury; the dreary life at No. 15; the Sunday nights when she and Tom Cliffe used to go wandering round and round the square.
"Poor Tom," said she to herself, thinking of Ascott Leaf, and how happy he had looked, and how happy his aunts would be to-morrow. "Well, Tom would be glad too, if he knew all."
But happy as everybody was, there was nothing so close to Elizabeth's heart as the one grave over which the snow was now lying, white and peaceful, out at Kensal Green.
Elizabeth is still living—which is a great blessing, for nobody could well do without her. She will probably attain a good old age; being healthy and strong, very equable in temper now, and very cheerful too, in her quiet way. Doubtless, she will yet have Master Henry's children climbing her knees, and calling her "Mammy Lizzie."
But she will never marry. She never loved anybody but Tom.
That "the old order changeth, giving place to new," never had a more startling affirmation than the opening, a few days since, of the new line of railway between Smyrna and Ephesus. Would any one expect to be shot by steam along that"road, or to hear goods-trade managers expatiating upon the prohability—indeed, extreme desirableness—of developing the carrying business in the Menander Valley, or n traffic-manager enlarging upon the transit of Turkish or nuasi'-Turkish folks by omnibus through the Saladin 1'ass as not so profitable to n railway company as their going by way of Ephosus? One feels a little more at home when the first-named functionary refers to the 70,000 camel-loads of figs that are estimated as the season's production in those regions. Seventy thousand camel-loads of figs!—what a glorious sound it has I Fifty thousand bales of cotton, another product, is well enough, and would he
thankfully welcomed here just now; hnt 70,000 camel-loads of Smyrna figs coming by way of Ephesus reads like a bit of old Ryoaut, of that potent individual Busheqnius, or, better still, Marco Polo's far-off predecessor William de Kuhruquis, who, priest as he was, ever had an eye open for trade. As it is, the "express," even at twenty-five miles an hour, would strain the credulity of the magic-believing Ephesians: Mnximus, the Emperor Julian's teacher in magic, would not pretend to do this thing. Truly, a return-ticket from Smyrna to Ephesus and back in 100 minutes would have had a value incalculable to Antony, and worth nil the litene E;ihesice are said to have been to Croesus, who escaped the pyre by them. This is almost enough to make the many-bosomed Diana, the "stock" of the Ephcsians, re-appear in her temp\e.—Athenixum.
From The Examiner. j troduction of Spanish rule began their
Travdt in Peru and India, while Superin- misfortunes. Mr. Markham, however, in tending the Collection of Cinchona Plants Opposition to the popular notion, endorses and Seeds tn South America, and their In- vf Ti i , _»• iu »n.v u troduction into India. By Clements R. I ^ HelPs s asserti°" tha' " 'he hu°«ane a»d Markham, F.S.A., F.R.G.S., Corr. Mem. of the University of Chile, Author of
"Cuzco and Lima." With Maps and Illustrations. Murray.
In Mr. Markham's work as secretary of the Hakluyt Society and editor of some of its publications, we have lately had to notice
benevolent laws, which emanated from time to time from the Home Government, ren
dered the sway of the Spanish monarchs over the conquered nations as remarkable for mildness as any, perhaps, that has ever been recorded in the pages of history." The fault lay with the subordinates, who, being
the advantages arising from personal ac- ! as a body untrustworthy, rapacious, and requaintance with a considerable portion of morsclessly cruel, were so far removed from South America, obtained in the course of his the fountain of justice that the benign laws antiquarian and ethnological explorations in j became a dead letter, and the natives, during that region. The same knowledge made , three hundred years, were ground to the him an efficient agent of the Indian Govern- earth. It has been so in our own day with
merit in its commendable project for introducing the Peruvian bark into India. The undertaking, urged by Dr. Forbes Royle in 1839 as necessary for the supply of a drug indispensable in the treatment of Indian fevers, was unsuccessfully entered upon in 1852, and, owing to the special difficulties of the work, might never have been resumed but for the proffered services of Mr. Markham. Under Lord Stanley's direction, however, a new attempt was made in 1859, and its complete success, after three years' labor, is recorded in a book which also sketches faithfully and effectively the past and present condition of Peru and its inhabitants.
The wealth and refinement of Peru under its Incas are fully detailed by Prescott. Mr. Markham describes traces of a much more ancient civilization. One district, on the north side of the Lake of Umayu, is covered with ruins, four of them being towers of finely cut masonry, with-the sides of the atones skilfully dovetailed. The most perfect of the four has a broad rounded cornice and a vaulted roof, with a vaulted chamber underneath containing human bones. On another is a great lizard, the national animal of the early Indians, carved in relief on a stone measuring six feet by three. The only tradition that Mr. Markham could glean from the people in the neighborhood was, that in the middle of the eleventh century a man and woman, calling themselves thechil
Mr. Markham contradicts the statement, requently made, that since the war of independence Peru has been in a constant state these primitive people, called Aymaras, en-1 of civil war, and shows that, of the thirtyjoyed peace and multiplied. With tho in- j seven years and a half of its life as a repub
dren of the sun, came and founded the Empire of the Incas among the earlier residents. Under the dominion of their brother Indians
Cuban slavery. The laws of Spain being more merciful, the Spanish slaveholders less merciful, than those of Carolina. The first tyrants known to the Peruvians were Pizarro, who rebelled against the government which bade him be friendly to the Indians, and Belalcazar, who evaded his orders after a fashion which gave foundation to the Spanish proverb, " He obeys, but fulfils not." The example of the one or the other wrs followed by all their successors, and consequently the population declined in two centuries from thirty millions to three. In recent times, and especially since the establishment of independence in Peru, the natives have fared better. "So far as my experience extends," says Mr. Markham, "and after a careful consideration of the subject, I can see no grounds for resigning the hope that a brighter future is yet in store for the land of the Incas."
The entire population of Peru is at present rather under two millions; the laboring people being chiefly Indians, with a proportion of negroes and zambos, a caste between the two, and the upper classes comprising a very few of pure Spanish descent, a few pure Indians, and a large body of half-castes. The Indian blood carries with it much energy, and at any rate equal ability with that derived from Europe; and the whole nation is described as quick and intelligent, very iospitai.i , and forgiving, but fickle and volatile, often indolent, and rarely persevering.