Imágenes de páginas

een 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 was 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 Mr. 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 ingentleman who — who; yes, yes, I cluded Tony, but he held his ground remember it all; but have 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 feading 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 self 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 Tony.

while — are you aware of that ?" "And do you imagine, sir, that a whispered Vance; on which the bravado 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,


[ocr errors]

said, away,

sir - leave the a certain degree of compassion as Office."

he said, “Well, well, do your best"Mr. Brand means that


do your best--none can do more." need not wait," said Vance, ap "It's two o'clock. I'll go out proaching 'lony. "All you have and have a cigar with you, if you to do is to leave your town address don't mind," said Blount to Tony. here, in the outer office, and come “We're quite close to the Park here up once or twice a day.

and a little fresh air will do me good. "And as to this examination," "Come along," said Tony, who, said Tony, stoutly, “it's better I out of compassion, had already a should say once for all -"

sort of half-liking for the much-suf"It's better you should just say fering young fellow, nothing at all," said the other, good "I wish Skeffy was here," said humouredly, as he slipped his arm Tony, as they went down-stairs. inside of Tony's and led him away. “Do you know Skeff Damer, “You sec," whispered he, "my then?” friend Mr. Brand is hasty."

“Know him ! I believe he's about “I should think he is hasty !”. the fellow I like best in the world." growled out Tony.

“So do 1," cried the other, warm“But he is a warm-hearted - a ly; "he hasn't his equal living — truly warm-hearted man

he's the best hearted and he's the "Warm enough he seems.” cleverest fellow I ever met."

“When you know him bet And now they both set to, as ter"

really only young friends ever do, "I don't want to know him to extol a loved one with that heartibetter!” burst in Tony. "I got ness that neither knows limit nor into a scrape already with just such measure. What a good fellow he another: he was collector for the was – how much of this, withont port of Derry, and I threw him out the least of that -how unspoiled of the window, and all the blame too in the midst of the flattery he was laid upon me!”

met with ! "If you just saw him as Well

, that certainly was hard," I did a few days back," said Tony, said Vance, with a droll twinkle of calling up in memory Skeffy's hearty his eye-"I call that very hard." enjoyment of their humble cottage

"So do I, aster the language he life. used to me, saying all t..e while, "If you but knew how they I'm no duellist--I'm not for a saw- think of him in the Office," said pit, with coffee and pistols for two, Blount, whose voice actually trein, and all that vulgar slang about bled as he touched on the holy of murder and suchlike."

holies. “And was he much hurt ?"

* Confound the Office !” cried "No; not much. It was only Tony. “Yes; don't look shocked. his collar-bone and one rib, I think — I hate that dreary old house, and I I forget now-for I had to go over detest the grim old fellows inside to Skye, and stay there a good part of it." of the summer."

"They're severe, certainly," mut"Mr. Blourt, take down this gen- tered the other, in a deprecatory tleman's address, and show him tone. where he is to wait; and don't-" “Severe isn't the name for it. here he lowered his voice, so that They insult -- they outrage that's the remainder of his speech was in- what they do. I take it that you audible to Tony.

and the other young fe lows here ** Not if I can help it, sir," are gentlemen, and I ask, Why do plied Blount; "but if you knew you bear it-why do you put up how hard it is !"

with it? Perhaps you like it, how. There was something almost pite- ever?" ous in the youth's face as he spoke; “No; we don't like it," said he, and indeed Vance seemed moved to with an honest simplicity.



“Then, I ask again, why do you “Oh, I can do that much at stand it?”

least," said he, modestly, “though “I believe we stand it just because I'm not a clever fellow like Skeffy; we can't help it."

but I must go back, or I shall catch "Can't help it!"

it.' Look in the day after to-mor“What could we do? What row.” would you do?" asked Blount.

“And let us dine together; that "I'd go straight at the first man is, you will dine with me," said that insulted me, and say, Retract Tony. The other acceded freely, that, or I'll pitch you over the ban- and they parted.

That magnetism by which young " That's all very fine with you fellows are drawn instantaneously fellow's who have great connections towards each other, and feel someand powerful relatives ready to thing that if not friendship is closestand by you and pull you out of ly akin to it, never repeats itself in any scrape, and then, if the worst after life. We grow more cautious comes, have means enough to live about our contracts as we grow oldwithout work. That will do very er. I wonder do we make better well for you and Skeffy. Skeffy bargains ? . will have six thousand a year one If Tony was then somewhat disof these days. No one can keep couraged by his reception at the him out of Digby Damer's estate; Office, he had the pleasure of thinkand you, for aught I know, may ing he was compensated in that have more."

new-found friend who was so fond "I haven't sixpence, nor the ex- of Skeffy, and who could talk away pectation of sixpence in the world. as enthusiastically about him as If I am plucked at this examination himself. “Now for M'Gruder and I may go and enlist, or turn navvy, Canon Row, wherever that may be," or go and sweep away the dead said he, as he sauntered along; “ I'll leaves like that fellow yonder.” certainly go and see him, if only "Then take my advice, and don't to shake hands with a fellow that

showed such good blood.'” There "Go up, where ?"

was no one quality which Tony "Don't go up to be examined; could prize higher than this. The just wait here in town ; don't show man who could take a thrashing in too often at the Office, but come good part, and forgive him who gave up of a morning about twelve, I'm it, must be a fine fellow, he thought; generally down here by that time, and I'm not disposed to say he was There will be a great press for mes- wrong. sengers soon, for they have made a The address was 27 Canon Street, regulation about one going only so City; and it was a long way off, and far, and another taking up his bag the day somewhat spent when he and handing it on to a third ; and reached it. the consequence is, there are three “Mr. M'Gruder ?" asked Tony, of now stuck fast at Marseilles, and a blear-eyed man, at a small faded two at Belgrade, and all the Con- desk in a narrow office. stantinople despatches have gone “Inside!” said he, with a jerk of round by the Cape. Of course, as his thumb; and Tony pushed his I say, they'll have to alter this, and way into a small room, so crammed then we shall suddenly want every with reams of paper that there was fellow we can lay hands on; so all barely space to squeeze a passage you have to do is just to be ready, to a little writing-table next the and I'll take care to start you at the window. first chance."

"Well, sir, your pleasure," said " You're a good fellow," cried M'Gruder, as Tony came forward. Tony, grasping his hand; "if you “You forget me, I see; my name only knew what a bad swimmer it is Butler." was you picked out of the water." “Eh ! what! I ought not to for.

[ocr errors]

get you," said he, rising, and grasp- of his own rise from very humble ing the other's hand warmly; "how beginnings to a condition of reasonare you? when did you come up to ably fair comfort and sufficiency. .. town? You see the eye is all right; "I'm in rags, ye see, Mr. Butler," it was a bit swollen for more than a said he; “my father was in rags fortnight, though. Hech sirs! but before me.” you have hard knuckles of your “In rags !” cried Tony, looking own."

at the stout sleek broadcloth beside It was not easy to apologise for him. the rough treatment he had inflict- “I mean," said the other, “I'm ed, and Tony blundered and stam- in the rag trade, and we supply the mered in his attempts to do so; but paper-mills; and that's why my M‘Gruder laughed it all off with brother Sam lives away in Italy, perfect good-humour, and said, "My Italy is a rare place for rags—I take wife will forgive you too, one of it they must have no other wear, these days, but not just yet; and for the supply is inexhaustible-and so we'll go and have a bit o' so Sam lives in a seaport they cail dinner our two selves down the Leghorn; and the reason I speak of river. Are you free to-day ?" it to you is, that if this messenger

Tony was quite free and ready trade breaks down under you, or to go anywhere; and so away they that ye'd not like it, there's Sam went, at first by river steamer and there would be ready and willing then by a cab, and then across some to lend you a hand; he'd like a low-lying fields to a small solitary fellow o' your stamp, that would house close to the Thames--“Shads, go down amongst the wild places chops, and fried-fish house," over on the coast, and care little about the door, and a pleasant odour of the wild people that live in them. each around the premises.

Mayhap this would be beneath you, "Ain't we snug here? no track- though?" said he, after a moment's ing a man this far," said M'Gruder, pause. as he squeezed into a bench be- “I'm above nothing at this mohind a fixed table in a very small ment except being dependent; I room. “I never heard of the wo- don't want to burden my mother." man that ran her husband to earth “Dolly told us about your fine down here."

relations, and the high and mighty That this same sense of security folk ye belong to." had a certain value in M'Gruder's “Ay, but they don't belong to estimation was evident, for he more me - there's the difference," said than once recurred to the sentiment Tony, laughing; then added, in a as they sat at dinner.

more thoughtful tone, “I never The tavern was a rare place for suspected that Dolly spoke of me.” “hollands," as M'Gruder said ; and “That she did, and very often they sat over a peculiar brew for too. Indeed I may say that she which the house was fained, but of talked of very little else. It was which Tony's next day's experiences Tony this and Tony that; and Tony do not encourage me to give the went here and Tony went there; receipt to my readers. The cigars, till one day Sam could bear it no too, albeit innocent of duty, might longer — for you see Sam was mad have been better ; but all these, in love with her, and said over and like some other pleasures we know over again that he never met her of, only were associated with sorrow equal. Sam says to me, 'Bob,' says in the future. Indeed, in the cor- he, 'I can't bear it anymore.' dial freedom that bound them they •What is it,' says I, that you can't thought very little of either. They bear?'— for I thought it was some. had grown to be very confidential; thing about the drawback duty on and M'Gruder, after inquiring what mixed rags he was meaning. But Tony proposed to himself by way of no, sirs; it was that he was wild a livelihood, gave him a brief sketch wi' jealousy, and couldn't bear her

« AnteriorContinuar »