Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

was be indeed very full awake Dear me, dear me! it seems like while Tony blondered out his ex- yesterday;" and he closed his eyes, coses for disturbing bim.

and seemed lost in reverie; but if "My dear Tony, not a word of he really felt it like yesterday, he this. It is a real pleasure to see would have remembered how insoyou. I was taking a nap, just be- lently the superb aide-de-camp cause I bad nothing better to do treated the meek civilian of the We are all alone here now, and the period, and bow immeasurably place feels strange enough in the above Mr. Lyle of those days stood solitude. Mark gone the girls the baoghty Captain Butler of the away-and no one left bat Lady Governor-General's staff. Lyle and myself. There's your old “The soldiers used to fancy they friend ; tbai's some of the '32 cla- had the best of it, Tony; but, I take ret; fill your glass, and tell me that it, we civilians won the race at last;" you are come to pass some days and his eyes ranged over the vast with us."

room, with the walls covered by “I wish I was, sir; but I lave pictures, and the sideboard loaded come to say good-bye. I'm off to with massive plate, while the array morrow for London."

of decanters on the small spider"For London! What! another table beside hinn suggested largely freak, Tony ?

of good living. " Scarcely a freak, sir,” said he “A very old friend of mine, Jos. smiling. "They've telegraphed to Hughes -- he was salt assessor at me to come up and report myself Bussorabad-once remarked to me, for service at the Foreign Office. "Lyle,' said he, "a man must maké “As a Minister, eb?"

bis choice in life, whether he pre“No, sir; a Messenger."

fers a brilliant start or a good finish, * An excellent tbing, too; a capi- for he cannot have both.' Take tal thing. A man must begin some your pleasure when young, and you where, you know. Everyone is must consent to work when old ; not as lucky as I was, to start with but if you set out vigorously, deterclose on twelve hondred a year. I mined to labour hard in early life, wasn't twenty when I landed at when you come to my age, Tony, Calcotta, Tony-& mere boy!" you inay be able to enjoy your rest”Here the baronet filled his glass, and and here he waved his hand round, drank it off with a solempity that as though to show the room in seemed as if it were a silent toast which they sat—"to enjoy your rest, to his own health, for in his own not without dignity." estimation he merited that honour, Tony was an attentive listener, very few men having done more and Sir Arthur was flattered, and for themselves than he had; not went on. “I am sincerely glad to that he had not been over-grateful, have the opportunity of these few however, to the fortune of his early moments with you. I am an old days in this boastful acknowledg- pilot, so to say, on the sea you are ment, since it was in the humble about to venture upon; and really, capacity of an admiral's secretary- the great difficulty. young fellows they called them clerks in those bave in life is, that the men who days-he had first found himself in know the whole thing from end to the Indian Ocean, a mere accident end will not be honest in giving leading to his appointment on shore their experiences. There is a cerand all his subsequent good fortune. tain 'snobbery-I have no other * Yes, Tony," continued he, “I word for it — that prevents their started at what one calls a bigh confessing to small begionings. ruog of the ladder. It was then They don't like telling how humble I first saw your father; he was they were at the start; and wbat is about the same age you are now. the consequence? The value of the He was on Lord Dollington's staff. whole lesson is lost! Now, I bave

no sach scruples, Tony. Good you to take this step; but if you family connections and relatives of bad a friend- man of rank and influence I bad; I cannot deny it. station-one whose position your I suppose there are scores of men uncle could not but acknowledge as would have coolly sat down and at least the equal of his own" said to their right honourable cou “He could be no friend of mine sin or their noble uncle, *Help me who should open any negotiations to this-get me that;' but such on my part with a relation who was not my mode of procedure. bas treated my mother so uncourNo, sir; I resolved to be my own teously, sir." patron, and I went to India."

“I think you are under a misWben Sir Arthur said this, he take, Tony. "Mrs Butler told me looked as though his words were: that it was rather her own fault “I volunteered to lead the assault. tban Sir Omerod's that some sort It was I that was first up the of reconciliation was not effected. breach. But, after all, Tony, I can't Indeed, she once showed me a letget the boys to believe this." Now ter from your uncle when she was these boys were his three sons, two in trouble about those Canadian of them middle-aged, wbite-headed, bonds." liverless men in Upper India, and “Yes, yes, I know it all," said the third that gay dragoon with Tony, rising, as if all his patience whom we have had some slight was at last exhausted. “I bave read acquaintance.

the letter you speak of; he offered to "I have always said to the boys, send ber five or six hundred pounds, Don't lie down on your bigh re- br to give it, I forget wbich; and lations.'” Had he alded that they he was to take me!--here he burst would bave found them a most un- into a fit of laughter that was alcomfortable bed, he would not bave most hysterical in its harsh mockbeen beyond the truth. “Do as I ery-"to take me. I don't know did, and see how gladly, ay, and what he was to do with me, for how proudly, they will recognise I believe he has turned Papist, you. 'I say the same to you, Tony. Jesuit, or what not; perhaps i You have, I am told, some family was to have been made a priest, or connections that might be turoed to a triar; at all events I was to have account?"

been brougbt up dependent on his "None, sir; not one," broke in bounty--abad scheme for each of Tony, boldly.

us. He would not have been very "Well

, there is that Sir Omerod proud of his protegé; and, if I Butler. I don't suspect he is a koow myself, I don't think I'd man of much actual influence. He have been very grateful to my prois, I take it, a bygone."

tector. My dear mother, bowerer, ** I know nothing of him; nor had too much of the mother in do I want to know anything of her to listen to it, and she told him him," said Tony, pushing his glass so, perbaps too plainly for his refined from him, and looking as though notions in matters of phraseology; the conversation were one he would for he trumped and wrote no more to gladly change for any other topic; us." but it was not so easy to tear Sir " Which is exactly the reason why Arthur from such theme, and he a friend, speaking from the eminence went on.

which a certain station confers, might " It would not do for you, per- be able to place matters on a better haps, to make any advances towards and more profitable footing." him."

"Not with my consent, sir, de“I should like to see myself!” pend upon it," said Tony, fiercely. said Tony, half choking with angry “My dear Tony, there is a valgar impatience.

adage about the impolicy of quar"I repeat, it would not do for relling with one's bread and buiter;

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; "and 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 sem. Sir 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 a Foreign Office mesquietly.

senger ?” "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 you?” 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," said 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; wbile, 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 a 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 army scheme 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.

“It is far and away beyond any As she did so, his colour, at first crimpretension of my humble fortune, son, gave way to an asby paleness, madam," said 'l'ony, proudly, for and be 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, boarsely. "I am overstay. one who wants to marry."

ing my time, and my mother will Tony again felt his 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 re“Come, 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."

young Butler." “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 arily 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. be 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.

& 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, I aspired to be 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 miraculcus 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 no answer, Tony ; being engaged to the minister's the matter was just this, I wanted daughter, and told me - and, as I & trifle of an advance from the bank, saw, with truth-how thoroughly it just to give you a little money when wonld 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 so. 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 sneer 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.” bi »

“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 he 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 wcrds, eight

« AnteriorContinuar »