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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 5 - Chapter 1
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The Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 5 - Chapter 1 Post by :Joshua_Rose Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :3086

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The Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 5 - Chapter 1


In setting off the next morning, the Boots, whose heart I had won by an extra sixpence for calling me betimes, good-naturedly informed me that I might save a mile of the journey, and have a very pleasant walk into the bargain, if I took the footpath through a gentleman's park, the lodge of which I should see about seven miles from the town.

"And the grounds are showed too," said the Boots, "if so be you has a mind to stay and see 'em. But don't you go to the gardener,--he'll want half a crown; there's an old 'Oman at the lodge who will show you all that's worth seeing--the walks and the big cascade--for a tizzy. You may make use of my name," he added proudly,--"Bob, boots at the 'Lion.' She be a haunt o' mine, and she minds them that come from me perticklerly."

Not doubting that the purest philanthropy actuated these counsels, I thanked my shock-headed friend, and asked carelessly to whom the park belonged.

"To Muster Trevanion, the great parliament man," answered the Boots. "You has heard o' him, I guess, sir?"

I shook my head, surprised every hour more and more to find how very little there was in it.

"They takes in the 'Moderate Man's Journal' at the 'Lamb:' and they say in the tap there that he's one of the cleverest chaps in the House o' Commons," continued the Boots, in a confidential whisper. "But we takes in the 'People's Thunderbolt' at the 'Lion,' and we knows better this Muster Trevanion: he is but a trimmer,--milk and water,--no horator,--not the right sort; you understand?" Perfectly satisfied that I understood nothing about it, I smiled, and said, "Oh, yes!" and slipping on my knapsack, commenced my adventures, the Boots bawling after me, "Mind, sir, you tells haunt I sent you!"

The town was only languidly putting forth symptoms of returning life as I strode through the streets; a pale, sickly, unwholesome look on the face of the slothful Phoebus had succeeded the feverish hectic of the past night; the artisans whom I met glided by me haggard and dejected; a few early shops were alone open; one or two drunken men, emerging from the lanes, sallied homeward with broken pipes in their mouths; bills, with large capitals, calling attention to "Best family teas at 4s. a pound;" "The arrival of Mr. Sloinan's caravan of wild beasts;" and Dr. Do'em's "Paracelsian Pills of Immortality," stared out dull and uncheering from the walls of tenantless, dilapidated houses in that chill sunrise which favors no illusion. I was glad when I had left the town behind me, and saw the reapers in the corn-fields, and heard the chirp of the birds. I arrived at the lodge of which the Boots had spoken,--a pretty rustic building half-concealed by a belt of plantations, with two large iron gates for the owner's friends, and a small turn-stile for the public, who, by some strange neglect on his part, or sad want of interest with the neighboring magistrates, had still preserved a right to cross the rich man's domains and look on his grandeur, limited to compliance with a reasonable request, mildly stated on the notice-board, "to keep to the paths." As it was not yet eight o'clock, I had plenty of time before me to see the grounds; and profiting by the economical hint of the Boots, I entered the lodge and inquired for the old lady who was haunt to Mr. Bob. A young woman, who was busied in preparing breakfast, nodded with great civility to this request, and hastening to a bundle of clothes which I then perceived in the corner, she cried, "Grandmother, here's a gentleman to see the cascade."

The bundle of clothes then turned round and exhibited a human countenance, which lighted up with great intelligence as the granddaughter, turning to me, said with simplicity. "She's old, honest cretur, but she still likes to earn a sixpence, sir;" and taking a crutch-staff in her hand, while her granddaughter put a neat bonnet on her head, this industrious gentlewoman sallied out at a pace which surprised me.

I attempted to enter into conversation with my guide; but she did not seem much inclined to be sociable, and the beauty of the glades and groves which now spread before my eyes reconciled me to silence.

I have seen many fine places since then, but I do not remember to have seen a landscape more beautiful in its peculiar English character than that which I now gazed on. It had none of the feudal characteristics of ancient parks, with giant oaks, fantastic pollards, glens covered with fern, and deer grouped upon the slopes; on the contrary, in spite of some fine trees, chiefly beech, the impression conveyed was, that it was a new place,--a made place. You might see ridges on the lawns which showed where hedges had been removed; the pastures were parcelled out in divisions by new wire fences; young plantations, planned with exquisite taste, but without the venerable formality of avenues and quin-cunxes, by which you know the parks that date from Elizabeth and James, diversified the rich extent of verdure; instead of deer, were short-horned cattle of the finest breed, sheep that would have won the prize at an agricultural show. Everywhere there was the evidence of improvement, energy, capital, but capital clearly not employed for the mere purpose of return. The ornamental was too conspicuously predominant amidst the lucrative not to say eloquently: "The owner is willing to make the most of his land, but not the most of his money."

But the old woman's eagerness to earn sixpence had impressed me unfavorably as to the character of the master. "Here," thought I, "are all the signs of riches; and yet this poor old woman, living on the very threshold of opulence, is in want of a sixpence."

These surmises, in the indulgence of which I piqued myself on my penetration, were strengthened into convictions by the few sentences which I succeeded at last in eliciting from the old woman.

"Mr. Trevanion must be a rich man?" said I. "Oh, ay, rich eno'!" grumbled my guide.

"And," said I, surveying the extent of shrubbery or dressed ground through which our way wound, now emerging into lawns and glades, now belted by rare garden-trees, now (as every inequality of the ground was turned to advantage in the landscape) sinking into the dell, now climbing up the slopes, and now confining the view to some object of graceful art or enchanting Nature,--"and," said I, "he must employ many hands here: plenty of work, eh?"

"Ay, ay! I don't say that he don't find work for those who want it. But it ain't the same place it wor in my day."

"You remember it in other hands, then?"

"Ay, ay! When the Hogtons had it, honest folk! My good man was the gardener,--none of those set-Lip fine gentlemen who can't put hand to a spade."

Poor faithful old woman!

I began to hate the unknown proprietor. Here clearly was some mushroom usurper who had bought out the old simple, hospitable family, neglected its ancient servants, left them to earn tizzies by showing waterfalls, and insulted their eyes by his selfish wealth.

"There's the water all spilt,--it warn't so in my day," said the guide.

A rivulet, whose murmur I had long heard, now stole suddenly into view, and gave to the scene the crowning charm. As, relapsing into silence, we tracked its sylvan course, under dripping chestnuts and shady limes, the house itself emerged on the opposite side,--a modern building of white stone, with the noblest Corinthian portico I ever saw in this country.

"A fine house indeed," said I. "Is Mr. Trevanion here much?"

"Ay, ay! I don't mean to say that he goes away altogether, but it ain't as it wor in my day, when the Hogtons lived here all the year round in their warm house,--not that one."

Good old woman, and these poor banished Hogtons, thought I,--hateful parvenu! I was pleased when a curve in the shrubberies shut out the house from view, though in reality bringing us nearer to it. And the boasted cascade, whose roar I had heard for some moments, came in sight.

Amidst the Alps, such a waterfall would have been insignificant, but contrasting ground highly dressed, with no other bold features, its effect was striking, and even grand. The banks were here narrowed and compressed; rocks, partly natural, partly no doubt artificial, gave a rough aspect to the margin; and the cascade fell from a considerable height into rapid waters, which my guide mumbled out were "mortal deep."

"There wor a madman leapt over where you be standing," said the old woman, "two years ago last June."

"A madman! why," said I, observing, with an eye practised in the gymnasium of the Hellenic Institute, the narrow space of the banks over the gulf,--"why, my good lady, it need not be a madman to perform that leap."

And so saying, with one of those sudden impulses which it would be wrong to ascribe to the noble quality of courage, I drew back a few steps, and cleared the abyss. But when from the other side I looked back at what I had done, and saw that failure had been death, a sickness came over me, and I felt as if I would not have releapt the gulf to become lord of the domain.

"And how am I to get back?" said I, in a forlorn voice to the old woman, who stood staring at me on the other side. "Ah! I see there is a bridge below."

"But you can't go over the bridge, there's a gate on it; master keeps the key himself. You are in the private grounds now. Dear, dear! the squire would be so angry if he knew. You must go back; and they'll see you from the house! Dear me! dear, dear! What shall I do? Can't you leap back again?"

Moved by these piteous exclamations, and not wishing to subject the poor old lady to the wrath of a master evidently an unfeeling tyrant, I resolved to pluck up courage and releap the dangerous abyss.

"Oh, yes, never fear," said I, therefore. "What's been done once ought to be done twice, if needful. Just get out of my way, will you?"

And I receded several paces over a ground much too rough to favor my run for a spring. But my heart knocked against my ribs. I felt that impulse can do wonders where preparation fails.

"You had best be quick, then," said the old woman.

Horrid old woman! I began to esteem her less. I set my teeth, and was about to rush on, when a voice close beside me said,--

"Stay, young man; I will let you through the gate."

I turned round sharply, and saw close by my side, in great wonder that I had not seen him before, a man, whose homely (but not working) dress seemed to intimate his station as that of the head-gardener, of whom my guide had spoken. He was seated on a stone under a chestnut-tree, with an ugly cur at his feet, who snarled at me as I turned.

"Thank you, my man," said I, joyfully. "I confess frankly that I was very much afraid of that leap."

"Ho! Yet you said, what can be done once can be done twice."

"I did not say it could be done, but ought to be done."

"Humph! That's better put."

Here the man rose; the dog came and smelt my legs, and then, as if satisfied with my respectability, wagged the stump of his tail.

I looked across the waterfall for the old woman, and to my surprise saw her hobbling back as fast as she could. "Ah!" said I, laughing, "the poor old thing is afraid you'll tell her master,--for you're the head gardener, I suppose? But I am the only person to blame. Pray say that, if you mention the circumstance at all!" and I drew out half a crown, which I proffered to my new conductor.

He put back the money with a low "Humph! not amiss." Then, in a louder voice, "No occasion to bribe me, young man; I saw it all."

"I fear your master is rather hard to the poor Hogtons' old servants."

"Is he? Oh! humph! my master. Mr. Trevanion you mean?"


"Well, I dare say people say so. This is the way." And he led me down a little glen away from the fall. Everybody must have observed that after he has incurred or escaped a great danger, his spirits rise wonderfully; he is in a state of pleasing excitement. So it was with me. I talked to the gardener a coeur ouvert, as the French say; and I did not observe that his short monosyllables in rejoinder all served to draw out my little history,--my journey, its destination, my schooling under Dr. Herman, and my father's Great Book. I was only made somewhat suddenly aware of the familiarity that had sprung up between us when, just as, having performed a circuitous meander, we regained the stream and stood before an iron gate set in an arch of rock-work, my companion said simply: "And your name, young gentleman? What's your name?"

I hesitated a moment; but having heard that such communications were usually made by the visitors of show places, I answered: "Oh! a very venerable one, if your master is what they call a bibliomaniac--Caxton."

"Caxton!" cried the gardener, with some vivacity; "there is a Cumberland family of that name--"

"That's mine; and my Uncle Roland is the head of that family."

"And you are the son of Augustine Caxton?"

"I am. You have heard of my dear father, then?"

"We will not pass by the gate now. Follow me,--this way;" and my guide, turning abruptly round, strode up a narrow path, and the house stood a hundred yards before me ere I recovered my surprise.

"Pardon me," said I, "but where are we going, my good friend?"

"Good friend, good friend! Well said, sir. You are going amongst good friends. I was at college with your father; I loved him well. I knew a little of your uncle too. My name is Trevanion."

Blind young fool that I was! The moment my guide told his name, I was struck with amazement at my unaccountable mistake. The small, insignificant figure took instant dignity; the homely dress, of rough dark broadcloth, was the natural and becoming dishabille of a country gentleman in his own demesnes. Even the ugly cur became a Scotch terrier of the rarest breed.

My guide smiled good-naturedly at my stupor; and patting me on the shoulder, said,--

"It is the gardener you must apologize to, not me. He is a very handsome fellow, six feet high."

I had not found my tongue before we had ascended a broad flight of stairs under the portico, passed a spacious hall adorned with statues and fragrant with large orange-trees, and, entering a small room hung with pictures, in which were arranged all the appliances for breakfast, my companion said to a lady, who rose from behind the tea-urn: "My dear Ellinor, I introduce to you the son of our old friend Augustine Caxton. Make him stay with us as long as he can. Young gentleman, in Lady Ellinor Trevanion think that you see one whom you ought to know well; family friendships should descend."

My host said these last words in an imposing tone, and then pounced on a letter-bag on the table, drew forth an immense heap of letters and newspapers, threw himself into an armchair, and seemed perfectly forgetful of my existence.

The lady stood a moment in mute surprise, and I saw that she changed color from pale to red, and red to pale, before she came forward with the enchanting grace of unaffected kindness, took me by the hand, drew me to a seat next to her own, and asked so cordially after my father, my uncle, my whole family, that in five minutes I felt myself at home. Lady Ellinor listened with a smile (though with moistened eyes, which she wiped every now and then) to my artless details. At length she said,--

"Have you never heard your father speak of me,--I mean of us; of the Trevanions?"

"Never," said I, bluntly; "and that would puzzle me, only my dear father, you know, is not a great talker."

"Indeed! he was very animated when I knew him," said Lady Ellinor; and she turned her head and sighed.

At this moment there entered a young lady so fresh, so blooming, so lovely that every other thought vanished out of my head at once. She came in singing, as gay as a bird, and seeming to my adoring sight quite as native to the skies.

"Fanny," said Lady Ellinor, "shake hands with Mr. Caxton, the son of one whom I have not seen since I was little older than you, but whom I remember as if it were but yesterday."

Miss Fanny blushed and smiled, and held out her hand with an easy frankness which I in vain endeavored to imitate. During breakfast, Mr. Trevanion continued to read his letters and glance over the papers, with an occasional ejaculation of "Pish!" "Stuff!" between the intervals in which he mechanically swallowed his tea, or some small morsels of dry toast. Then rising with a suddenness which characterized his movements, he stood on his hearth for a few moments buried in thought; and now that a large-brimmed hat was removed from his brow, and the abruptness of his first movement, with the sedateness of his after pause, arrested my curious attention, I was more than ever ashamed of my mistake. It was a careworn, eager, and yet musing countenance, hollow-eyed and with deep lines; but it was one of those faces which take dignity and refinement from that mental cultivation which distinguishes the true aristocrat, namely, the highly educated, acutely intelligent man. Very handsome might that face have been in youth, for the features, though small, were exquisitely defined; the brow, partially bald, was noble and massive, and there was almost feminine delicacy in the curve of the lip. The whole expression of the face was commanding, but sad. Often, as my experience of life increased, have I thought to trace upon that expressive visage the history of energetic ambition curbed by a fastidious philosophy and a scrupulous conscience; but then all that I could see was a vague, dissatisfied melancholy, which dejected me I knew not why.

Presently Trevanion returned to the table, collected his letters, moved slowly towards the door, and vanished.

His wife's eyes followed him tenderly. Those eyes reminded me of my mother's, as I verily believe did all eyes that expressed affection. I crept nearer to her, and longed to press the white hand that lay so listless before me.

"Will you walk out with us?" said Miss Trevanion, turning to me. I bowed, and in a few minutes I found myself alone. While the ladies left me, for their shawls and bonnets, I took up the newspapers which Mr. Trevanion had thrown on the table, by way of something to do. My eye was caught by his own name; it occurred often, and in all the papers. There was contemptuous abuse in one, high eulogy in another; but one passage in a journal that seemed to aim at impartiality, struck me so much as to remain in my memory; and I am sure that I can still quote the sense, though not the exact words. The paragraph ran somewhat thus:--

"In the present state of parties, our contemporaries have not unnaturally devoted much space to the claims or demerits of Mr. Trevanion. It is a name that stands unquestionably high in the House of Commons; but, as unquestionably, it commands little sympathy in the country. Mr. Trevanion is essentially and emphatically a member of parliament. He is a close and ready debater; he is an admirable chairman in committees. Though never in office, his long experience of public life, his gratuitous attention to public business, have ranked him high among those practical politicians from whom ministers are selected. A man of spotless character and excellent intentions, no doubt, he must be considered; and in him any cabinet would gain an honest and a useful member. There ends all we can say in his praise. As a speaker, he wants the fire and enthusiasm which engage the popular sympathies. He has the ear of the House, not the heart of the country. An oracle on subjects of mere business, in the great questions of policy he is comparatively a failure. He never embraces any party heartily; he never espouses any question as if wholly in earnest. The moderation on which he is said to pique himself often exhibits itself in fastidious crotchets and an attempt at philosophical originality of candor which has long obtained him, with his enemies, the reputation of a trimmer. Such a man circumstances may throw into temporary power; but can he command lasting influence? No. Let Mr. Trevanion remain in what Nature and position assign as his proper post,--that of an upright, independent, able member of parliament; conciliating sensible men on both sides, when party runs into extremes. He is undone as a cabinet minister. His scruples would break up any government; and his want of decision--when, as in all human affairs, some errors must be conceded to obtain a great good--would shipwreck his own fame."

I had just got to the end of this paragraph when the ladies returned.

My hostess observed the newspaper in my hand, and said, with a constrained smile, "Some attack on Mr. Trevanion, I suppose?"

"No," said I, awkwardly; for perhaps the paragraph that appeared to me so impartial, was the most galling attack of all,--"No, not exactly."

"I never read the papers now,--at least what are called the leading articles; it is too painful. And once they gave me so much pleasure,--that was when the career began, and before the fame was made."

Here Lady Ellinor opened the window which admitted on the lawn, and in a few moments we were in that part of the pleasure-grounds which the family reserved from the public curiosity. We passed by rare shrubs and strange flowers, long ranges of conservatories, in which bloomed and lived all the marvellous vegetation of Africa and the Indies.

"Mr. Trevanion is fond of flowers?" said I.

The fair Fanny laughed. "I don't think he knows one from another."

"Nor I either," said I,--"that is, when I fairly lose sight of a rose or a hollyhock."

"The farm will interest you more," said Lady Ellinor.

We came to farm buildings recently erected, and no doubt on the most improved principle. Lady Ellinor pointed out to me machines and contrivances of the newest fashion for abridging labor and perfecting the mechanical operations of agriculture.

"Ah! then Mr. Trevanion is fond of farming?" The pretty Fanny laughed again.

"My father is one of the great oracles in agriculture, one of the great patrons of all its improvements; but as for being fond of farming, I doubt if he knows his own fields when he rides through them."

We returned to the house; and Miss Trevanion, whose frank kindness had already made too deep an impression upon the youthful heart of Pisistratus the Second, offered to show me the picture-gallery. The collection was confined to the works of English artists; and Miss Trevanion pointed out to me the main attractions of the gallery.

"Well, at least Mr. Trevanion is fond of pictures?"

"Wrong again," said Fanny, shaking her arched head. "My father is said to be an admirable judge; but he only buys pictures from a sense of duty,--to encourage our own painters. A picture once bought, I am not sure that he ever looks at it again."

"What does he then--" I stopped short, for I felt my meditated question was ill-bred.

"What does he like then? you were about to say. Why, I have known him, of course, since I could know anything; but I have never yet discovered what my father does like. No,--not even politics; though he lives for politics alone. You look puzzled; you will know him better some day, I hope; but you will never solve the mystery--what Mr. Trevanion likes."

"You are wrong," said Lady Ellinor, who had followed us into the room, unheard by us. "I can tell you what your father does more than like,--what he loves and serves every hour of his noble life,--justice, beneficence, honor, and his country. A man who loves these may be excused for indifference to the last geranium or the newest plough, or even (though that offends you more, Fanny) the freshest masterpiece by Lanseer, or the latest fashion honored by Miss Trevanion."

"Mamma!" said Fanny, and the tears sprang to her eyes. But Lady Ellinor looked to me sublime as she spoke, her eyes kindled, her breast heaved. The wife taking the husband's part against the child, and comprehending so well what the child felt not, despite its experience of every day, and what the world would never know, despite all the vigilance of its praise and its blame, was a picture, to my taste, finer than any in the collection.

Her face softened as she saw the tears in Fanny's bright hazel eyes; she held out her hand, which her child kissed tenderly; and whispering, "'T is not the giddy word you must go by, mamma, or there will be something to forgive every minute," Miss Trevanion glided from the room.

"Have you a sister?" asked Lady Ellinor.


"And Trevanion has no son," she said, mournfully. The blood rushed to my cheeks. Oh, young fool again! We were both silent, when the door opened, and Mr. Trevanion entered. "Humph!" said he, smiling as he saw me,--and his smile was charming, though rare. "Humph, young sir, I came to seek for you,--I have been rude, I fear; pardon it. That thought has only just occurred to me, so I left my Blue Books, and my amanuensis hard at work on them, to ask you to come out for half an hour,--just half an hour, it is all I can give you: a deputation at one! You dine and sleep here, of course?"

"Ah, sir, my mother will be so uneasy if I am not in town to-night!"

"Pooh!" said the member; "I'll send an express."

"Oh, no indeed; thank you."

"Why not?"

I hesitated. "You see, sir, that my father and mother are both new to London; and though I am new too, yet they may want me,--I may be of use." Lady Ellinor put her hand on my head and sleeked down my hair as I spoke.

"Right, young man, right; you will do in the world, wrong as that is. I don't mean that you'll succeed, as the rogues say,--that's another question; but if you don't rise, you'll not fall. Now put on your hat and come with me; we'll walk to the lodge,--you will be in time for a coach."

I took my leave of Lady Ellinor, and longed to say something about "compliments to Miss Fanny;" but the words stuck in my throat, and my host seemed impatient.

"We must see you soon again," said Lady Ellinor, kindly, as she followed us to the door.

Mr. Trevanion walked on briskly and in silence, one hand in his bosom, the other swinging carelessly a thick walkingstick.

"But I must go round by the bridge," said I, "for I forgot my knapsack. I threw it off when I made my leap, and the old lady certainly never took charge of it."

"Come, then, this way. How old are you?"

"Seventeen and a half."

"You know Latin and Greek as they know them at schools, I suppose?"

"I think I know them pretty well, sir."

"Does your father say so?"

"Why, my father is fastidious; however, he owns that he is satisfied on the whole."

"So am I, then. Mathematics?"

"A little."


Here the conversation dropped for some time. I had found and restrapped the knapsack, and we were near the lodge, when Mr. Trevanion said abruptly, "Talk, my young friend, talk; I like to hear you talk,--it refreshes me. Nobody has talked naturally to me these last ten years."

The request was a complete damper to my ingenuous eloquence; I could not have talked naturally now for the life of me.

"I made a mistake, I see," said my companion, good-humoredly, noticing my embarrassment. "Here we are at the lodge. The coach will be by in five minutes: you can spend that time in hearing the old woman praise the Hogtons and abuse me. And hark you, sir, never care three straws for praise or blame,--leather and prunella! Praise and blame are here!" and he struck his hand upon his breast with almost passionate emphasis. "Take a specimen. These Hogtons were the bane of the place,--uneducated and miserly; their land a wilderness, their village a pig-sty. I come, with capital and intelligence; I redeem the soil, I banish pauperism, I civilize all around me: no merit in me, I am but a type of capital guided by education,--a machine. And yet the old woman is not the only one who will hint to you that the Hogtons were angels, and myself the usual antithesis to angels. And what is more, sir, because that old woman, who has ten shillings a week from me, sets her heart upon earning her sixpences,--and I give her that privileged luxury,--every visitor she talks to goes away with the idea that I, the rich Mr. Trevanion, let her starve on what she can pick up from the sightseers. Now, does that signify a jot? Good-by! Tell your father his old friend must see him,--profit by his calm wisdom; his old friend is a fool sometimes, and sad at heart. When you are settled, send me a line to St. James's Square, to say where you are. Humph! that's enough."

Mr. Trevanion wrung my hand, and strode off.

I did not wait for the coach, but proceeded towards the turn-stile, where the old woman (who had either seen, or scented from a distance that tizzy of which I was the impersonation),--

"Hushed in grim repose, did wait her morning prey."

My opinions as to her sufferings and the virtues of the departed Ho-tons somewhat modified, I contented myself with dropping into her open palm the exact sum virtually agreed on. But that palm still remained open, and the fingers of the other clawed hold of me as I stood, impounded in the curve of the turn-stile, like a cork in a patent corkscrew.

"And threepence for nephy Bob," said the old lady.

"Threepence for nephew Bob, and why?"

"It is his parquisites when he recommends a gentleman. You would not have me pay out of my own earnings; for he will have it, or he'll ruin my bizziness. Poor folk must be paid for their trouble."

Obdurate to this appeal, and mentally consigning Bob to a master whose feet would be all the handsomer for boots, I threaded the stile and escaped.

Towards evening I reached London. Who ever saw London for the first time and was not disappointed? Those long suburbs melting indefinably away into the capital forbid all surprise. The gradual is a great disenchanter. I thought it prudent to take a hackney-coach, and so jolted my way to the Hotel, the door of which was in a small street out of the Strand, though the greater part of the building faced that noisy thoroughfare. I found my father in a state of great discomfort in a little room, which he paced up and down like a lion new caught in his cage. My poor mother was full of complaints: for the first time in her life, I found her indisputably crossish. It was an ill time to relate my adventures.

I had enough to do to listen. They had all day been hunting for lodgings in vain. My father's pocket had been picked of a new India handkerchief. Primmins, who ought to know London so well, knew nothing about it, and declared it was turned topsy-turvy, and all the streets had changed names. The new silk umbrella, left for five minutes unguarded in the hall, had been exchanged for an old gingham with three holes in it.

It was not till my mother remembered that if she did not see herself that my bed was well aired I should certainly lose the use of my limbs, and therefore disappeared with Primmins and a pert chambermaid, who seemed to think we gave more trouble than we were worth, that I told my father of my new acquaintance with Mr. Trevanion.

He did not seem to listen to me till I got to the name "Trevanion." He then became very pale, and sat down quietly. "Go on," said he, observing I stopped to look at him.

When I had told all, and given him the kind messages with which I had been charged by husband and wife, he smiled faintly; and then, shading his face with his hand, he seemed to muse, not cheerfully, perhaps, for I heard him sigh once or twice.

"And Ellinor," said he at last, without looking up,--"Lady Ellinor, I mean; she is very--very--"

"Very what, sir?"

"Very handsome still?"

"Handsome! Yes, handsome, certainly; but I thought more of her manner than her face. And then Fanny, Miss Fanny, is so young!"

"Ah!" said my father, murmuring in Greek the celebrated lines of which Pope's translation is familiar to all,--

"'Like leaves on trees, the race of man is found, Now green in youth, now withering on the ground.'

"Well, so they wish to see me. Did Ellinor--Lady Ellinor--say that, or her--her husband?"

"Her husband, certainly; Lady Ellinor rather implied than said it."

"We shall see," said my father. "Open the window; this room is stifling."

I opened the window, which looked on the Strand. The noise, the voices, the trampling feet, the rolling wheels, became loudly audible. My father leaned out for some moments, and I stood by his side. He turned to me with a serene face. "Every ant on the hill," said he, "carries its load, and its home is but made by the burden that it bears. How happy am I! how I should bless God! How light my burden! how secure my home!"

My mother came in as he ceased. He went up to her, put his arm round her waist and kissed her. Such caresses with him had not lost their tender charm by custom: my mother's brow, before somewhat ruffled, grew smooth on the instant. Yet she lifted her eyes to his in soft surprise.

"I was but thinking," said my father, apologetically, "how much I owed you, and how much I love you!"

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The Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 5 - Chapter 2 The Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 5 - Chapter 2

The Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 5 - Chapter 2
PART V CHAPTER IIAnd now behold us, three days after my arrival, settled in all the state and grandeur of our own house in Russell Street, Bloomsbury, the library of the Museum close at hand. My father spends his mornings in those lata silentia, as Virgil calls the world beyond the grave. And a world beyond the grave we may well call that land of the ghosts,--a book collection. "Pisistratus," said my father one evening, as he arranged his notes before him and rubbed his spectacles, "Pisistratus, a great library is an awful place! There, are interred all the remains of

The Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 4 - Chapter 3 The Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 4 - Chapter 3

The Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 4 - Chapter 3
PART IV CHAPTER III"It is Lombard Street to a China orange," quoth Uncle Jack. "Are the odds in favor of fame against failure so great? You do not speak, I fear, from experience, brother Jack," answered my father, as he stooped down to tickle the duck under the left ear. "But Jack Tibbets is not Augustine Caxton. Jack Tibbets is not a scholar, a genius, a wond--" "Stop!" cried my father. "After all," said Mr. Squills, "though I am no flatterer, Mr. Tibbets is not so far out. That part of your book which compares the crania or skulls of the