Imágenes de páginas


Senger ?"

but how far more reprehensible something towards his mother's would it be to quarrel with the face comfort." of the man who cuts it?"

“I think you never take sugar," It is just possible that Sir Arthur said she, smiling faintly; was as much mystified by his own for a while you made a convert of illustration as was Tony, for each Alice." continued for some minutes to look Was there ever a more commonat the other in a state of hopeless place remark? and yet it sent the bewilderment, The thought of one blood to poor Tony's face and temmystery, however, recalled another, ples, and overwhelmed him with and Tony remembered his mother's confusion. “You know that the note.

girls are both away ?” "By the way, sir, I have a letter “It's a capital thing they've given here for you from my mother," said him," said Sir Arthur trying to he, producing it.

extract from his wife even the semSir Arthur put on his spectacles blance of an interest in the young leisurely, and began to peruse it. fellow's career, It seemed very brief, for in an in- " What is it?" asked she. stant he had returned it to his poc- “How do they call you ? are you ket. “I conclude you know nothing a Queen's messenger, or a Queen's of the contents of this?” said he, courier, or à Foreign Office mesquietly. “Nothing whatever.”

“I'm not quite sure. I believe, " It is of no consequence. You we are messengers, but whose I may simply tell Mrs. Butler from me don't remember.' that I will call on her by an early “They have the charge of all the day; and now, won't you come despatches to the various embassies and have a cup of tea? Lady Lyle and legations in every part of the will expect to see you in the draw. world,” said Sir Arthur, pompously. ing-room."

“How addling it must be - how Tony would have refused, if he confusing.' knew how; even in his old days he “Why so? You don't imagine had been less on terms of intimacy that they have to retain them, and with Lady Lyle than any others of report them orally, do the family, and she had at times a "Well, I'm afraid I did,” said sort of dignified stateliness in her she, with a little simper that seemed manner that checked him greatly. to say, What did it signify either

“Here's Tony Butler come to way? take a cup of tea with you, and say " They'd have made a most ungood-bye,” said Sir Arthur, as he lucky selection in my case,' led him into the drawing room. Tony, laughing, “if such had been

"Oh, indeed! I am too happy to the duty." see him," said she, laying down her “Do you think you shall like book; while, with a very chilly it ?” smile, she added, “ And where is Mr. “I suppose I shall. There is so Butler bound for this time?” And very little I'm really fit for, that simple as the words were, she con- I look on this appointment as trived to impart to them a meaning piece of rare luck. I fancy I'd as though she had said, 'What new rather have gone into the armyscheme or project has he now ? a cavalry regiment, for instance." What wild-goose chase is he at pre- “ The most wasteful and extrasent engaged in ?'

vagant career a young fellow could Sir Arthur came quickly to the select,” said Sir Arthur, smarting rescue, as he said, “He's going to under some recent and not overtake up an appointment under the pleasant experiences, Crown; and, like a good and pru- * The uniform is so becoming, dent lad, to earn his bread, and do too,” said she, languidly.


” said



young Butler."

“It is far and away beyond any As she did so, his colour, at first crimpretension of my humblc fortune, son, gave way to an asby paleness, madam,” said 'lony, proudly, for and he seemed like one about to there was an impertinent careless- faint. “ After all,” said she, “perness in her manner that stung him haps it was a mere flirtation that to the quick.

people magnified into marriage.” “Ah, yes,” sighed she; "and the "It was not even that,” gasped army, too, is not the profession for he out, hoarsely. "I am overstay, one who wants to marry.”

ing my time, and my mother will Tony again felt bis cheek on fire, be waiting tea for me," muttered but he did not utter a word as she he; and with some scarcely intelwent on, “And reports say some- ligible attempts at begging to be thing like this of you, Mr. Butler.” remembered to Alice and Bella, be

What, Tony! how is this? I took his leave, and hurried away. never heard of it before," cried Sir While Tony, with a heart almost Arthur.

bursting with agony, wended his “ Nor I, sir."

way towards home, Lady Lyle reCome, come. It is very indis- sumed her novel, and Sir Arthur creet of me, I know," said Lady took up the Times.' After about Lyle; " but as we are in such a half an hour's reading he laid secret committee here at this mo- down the paper, and said, “I hope ment, I fancied I might venture to there is no truth in that story about offer my congratulations."

Congratulations! on what would “Not a word of it," said she, be the lad's ruin! Why, it would dryly. be downright insanity. I trust * Not a word of it! but I thought there is not a word of truth in it."

you believed it." “I repeat, sir, that I hear it all “Nothing of the kind. It was for the first time."

a lesson the young gentleman has “I conclude, then, I must have long needed, and I was only waitbeen misinformed."

ing for a good opportunity to give “Might I be bold enough to it." ask from what quarter the rumour “I don't understand you. What reached you, or with whom they do you mean by a lesson ?" mated me?"

“I have very long suspected that “Oh, as to your choice, I hear it was a great piece of imprudence she is a very nice girl indeed, on our part to encourage the intiadmirably brought up and well edu- macy of this young man here, and cated — everything but rich; but of to give him that position of familicourse that fact is well known to arity which he obtained amongst you. Men in her father's position us; but I trusted implicitly to the are seldom affluent."

immeasurable distance that sepa“And who could possibly have rated him from our girls, to secure taken the trouble to weave all this us against danger. That clever man romance about me?” said Tony, of the world, Mr. Maitland, how. flushing not the less deeply that ever, showed me I was wrong. he suspected it was Dolly Stewart He was not a week here till he saw who was indicated by the descrip- enough to induce him to give me tion.

à warning; and though at first he * One of the girls, I forget which, thought it was Bella's favour he told me.

Where she learned it, Í aspired to, he afterwards perceived forget, if I ever knew; but I re- it was to Alice he directed his atmember that the story had a sort tentions.” of completeness about it that looked “I can't believe this possible. like truth.” Was it accident or in- Tony would never dare such a piece tention that made Lady Lyle fix her of presumption.' eyes steadily on Tony as she spoke ? "You forget two things, Sir


Arthur. This young fellow fancies repining and complaining just as if that his good birth makes him the it wasn't my own supplication that equal of any one; and, secondly, was listened to." Alice, in her sense of independence, Perhaps Tony was not in a huis exactly the girl to do a folly, and mour to discuss a nice question of imagine it to be heroic; so Mait- ethical meaning, for he abruptly land himself said to me, and it was said, “Sir Arthur Lyle read your perfectly miraculous how well he note over, and said he'd call one of read her whole nature. And in- these days and see you. I suppose deed it was he who suggested to he meant with the answer.” me to charge Tony Butler with

“There was answer, Tony; being engaged to the minister's the matter was just this—I wanted daughter, and told me — and, as I a trifle of an advance from the bank, saw, with truth-how thoroughly it just to give you a little money when would test his suspicions about him, you'd have to go away; and Tom I thought he was going to faint- M'Elwain, the new

manager, not he really swayed back and forwards knowing me perhaps, referred the when I said that it was one of the matter to Sir Arthur, which was girls from whom I had the story." not what I wished or intended, and

"If I could only believe this, he so I wrote and said sc. Perhaps I should never cross the threshold said so a little too curtly, as if I again. Such insolence is, however, was too proud, or the like, to accept incredible."

a favour at Sir Arthur's hands; for "That's a man's way of regard- he wrote me a very beautiful letter ing it; and however you şneer at —it went home to my heart-about our credulity, it enables us to see his knowing your father long ago, scores of things that your obstinacy when they were both lads, and had is blind to. I am sincerely glad he the wide world before them; and is going away.'

alluding very touchingly to the Lord's "So am 1-now; and I trust, in bounties to himself-blessing him my heart, we have seen the last of with a full garner.” bim.”

“I hope you accepted nothing " How tired you look, my poor from him," broke in Tony, roughly. Tony!” said his mother, as he en- “No, Tony; for it happened that tered the cottage and threw himself James Hewson, the apothecary, had heavily and wearily into a chair. a hundred pounds that he wanted

"I am tired, mother-very tired to lay out on a safe mortgage, and and jaded."

so I took it, at six per cent, and "I wondered what kept you so gave him over the deeds of the little long, Tony; for I had time to pack place here." your trunk, and to put away all “For a hundred pounds! Why, your things, and when it was done it's worth twelve hundred at least, and finished, to sit down and sorrow mother!” over your going away. Oh, Tony “What a boy it is!” said she, dear, aren't we ungrateful crea- laughing. "I merely gave him his tares, when we rise up in rebellion right to claim the one hundred that against the very mercies that are be advanced, Tony dear; and my vouchsafed us, and say, Why was note to Sir Arthur was to ask him my prayer granted me? I am sure to have the bond, or whatever it is 'it was many and many a night, as called, rightly drawn up and witI knelt down, I begged the Lord nessed, and at the same time to thank would send you some calling or him heartily for his own kind readiother, that you might find means ness to serve me." of an honest living, and a line of “I hate a mortgage, mother. I life that wouldn't disgrace the stock don't feel as if the place was our you came from; and now that He own any longer." has graciously heard me, here I am “Your father's own werds, eighteen years ago, when he drew all the to do, is to pay off that debt, money he had out of the agent's mother. Who knows but I may hands, and paid off the debt on this be able, before the year is over! little spot here. 'Nelly,' said he,' But I'm glad you didn't take it “I can look out of the window now, from Sir Arthur.” and not be afraid of seeing a man “You're as proud as your father, coming up

the road to ask for his Tony," said she, with her eyes full interest.'

of tears; "take care that you're as " It's the very first thing I'll try good as he was, too."


When Tony Butler found himself “All right; we want you," said inside of the swinging glass-door at the other, still writing ; "wait an inDowning Street, and in presence of stant." So saying, he wrote on for the august Mr. Willis, the porter, it several minutes at a rapid pace, seemed as if all the interval since muttering the words as his pen he had last stood in the same place traced them; at last he finished, had been a dream. The head-porter and, descending from his high seat, looked up from his Times,' and passed across the room, opened a with a severity that showed he had door which led into another room, neither forgotten nor forgiven, said, and called out, “Messengers' room - first pair “The messenger come, sir ! ” corridor — third door on the left." "Who is he?" shouted a very There was an unmistakable dignity harsh voice. in the manner of the speaker which “First for Madrid, sir," said the served to show Tony not merely youth, examining a slip of paper he that his former offence remained had just taken from his pocket. unpardoned, but that his entrance “His name?" shouted out the into public life had not awed or im- other again. pressed in any way the stern official. "Poynder, sir.”

Tony passed on, mounted the “I beg your pardon,” suggested stairs, and sauntered along a very Tony, mildly. ** I'm Butler, not ill kept corridor, not fully certain Poynder." whether it was the third, fourth, or *Who's talking out there—what's fifth door he was in search of, or that uproar ?" screamed the voice, on what hand.

After about half very angrily. an hour passed in the hope of see- " He says he's not for Madrid, ing one to direct him, he made sir. It's a mistake,” cried the youth. bold to knock gently at a door. To “No; you misunderstand me," his repeated summons no answer whispered Tony. “I only said I was was returned, and he tried another, not Poynder.' when a shrill voice cried “Come " He says he's in Poynder's place, in." He entered and saw a slight, sir." sickly-looking youth, very elabo- “I'll stop this system of substirately dressed, seated at a table tutes !” cried the voice. “Send him writing The room

a large in here." one, very dirty, ill-furnished, and "Go in there," said the youth, disorderly.

with a gesture of his thumb, and his * Well, what is it?" asked the face at the same time wore an exyoung gentleman, without lifting his pression which said as plain as any head or his eyes from the desk. words could have spoken, “And

"Could you tell me," said Tony, you'll see how you like it." courteously, “where I ought to go? As Tony entered, he found himI'm Butler, an extra messenger, self standing face to face to the and I have been summoned to at- awful official, Mr. Brand, the same tend and report here this morning.” who had reported to the Minister


his intended assault on Willis the days of mighty patronage are gone porter. "Aw! what's all this about ?” by ; the public require to be served said Mr. Brand, pompously. “You by competent officials

. We are not are Mr.-Mr.

in the era of Castlereaghs and Van"Mr. Butler," said Tony, quietly, sittarts. If you can satisfy the but with an air of determination. Commissioners, you may come back

"And instead of reporting your here; if you cannot, you may go self, you come here to say that you back to-to whatever life you were have exchanged with Poynder." leading before, and were probably

"I never heard of Poynder till most fit for. As for you, Mr. Blount, three minutes ago.'

I told you before that on the first "You want, however, to take his occasion of your attempting to exjourney, sir. You call yourself first ercise here that talent for intrigue for Madrid ?"

on which you pride yourself, and "I do nothing of the kind. I of which Ňr. Vance told me you have come here because I got a were a proficient, I should report telegram two days ago. I know you. I now say, sir—and bear in nothing of Poynder, and just as mind I say so openly, and to yourlittle about Madrid."

self, and in presence of your friend “Oh-aw! you're Butler! I re- here—I shall do so this day." member all about you now; there "May I explain, sir?" is such a swarm of extras appointed, “You may not, sir—withdraw!" that it's impossible to reinember The wave of the hand that accomnames or faces. You're the young panied this order evidently in. gentleman who — who; yes, yes, I cluded Tony, but he held his ground remember it all; but bave you undismayed, while the other fell passed the civil-service examiners?” back, overwhelmed with shame and

“No; I was preparing for the confusion. examination when I received that Not deigning to be aware of message, and came off at once." Tony's continued presence in the "Well

, you'll present yourself at room, Mr. Brand again addressed Burlington House. Mr. Blount will himself to his writing materials, make out the order for you; you when a green-cloth door at the can go up the latter end of this back of the room opened, and Mr. week, and we shall want you im- Vance entered, and, advancing to mediately."

where the other sat, leaned over his "But I am not ready. I was chair and whispered some words Heading for this examination when in his ear. “You'll find I'm right," your telegram came, and I set off at muttered he as he finished. the instant."

“And where's the Office to go “ Blount, Mr. Blount!" screamed to?” burst out the other, in a tone out the other, angrily; and as the of ill-repressed passion-"will you affrighted youth presented himself, just tell me that? Where's the all pale and trembling, he went on, Office to go—if this continues ?" "What's the meaning of this, sir ? “That's neither your affair nor You first attempt to pass this per- mine," whispered Vance.

" These son off for Poynder; and when that sort of things were done before we scheme fails, you endeavour to slip were born, and they will be done bim into the service without warrant after we're in our graves!" or qua ification. He tells me him- “And is he to walk 'in here, and sell he knows nothing."

say, 'I'm first for service; I don't “Very little, certainly, but I don't care whether you like it or not?'" remember telling you so," said “He's listening to you all this Toriy.

while — are you aware of that?” " And do you imagine, sir, that a whispered Vance ; on which the brarado about your ignorance is the other grew very red in the face, took sure road to advancement? I can off his spectacles, wiped and replaced tell you, young gentleinan, that the them, and then, addressing Tony,

« AnteriorContinuar »