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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 7 - Chapter 4
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The Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 7 - Chapter 4 Post by :sixchute Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :3309

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The Caxtons: A Family Picture - Part 7 - Chapter 4


Everything in this world is of use, even a black thing crawling over the nape of one's neck! Grim unknown, I shall make of thee--a simile!

I think, ma'am, you will allow that if an incident such as I have described had befallen yourself, and you had a proper and lady-like horror of earwigs (however motherly and fond of their offspring), and also of early hornets,--and indeed of all unknown things of the insect tribe with black heads and two great horns, or feelers, or forceps, just by your ear,--I think, ma'am, you will allow that you would find it difficult to settle back to your former placidity of mood and innocent stitch-work. You would feel a something that grated on your nerves and cr'd-cr'd "all over you like," as the children say. And the worst is, that you would be ashamed to say it. You would feel obliged to look pleased and join in the conversation, and not fidget too much, nor always be shaking your flounces and looking into a dark corner of your apron. Thus it is with many other things in life besides black insects. One has a secret care, an abstraction, a something between the memory and the feeling, of a dark crawling cr which one has never dared to analyze. So I sat by my another, trying to smile and talk as in the old time, but longing to move about, and look around, and escape to my own solitude, and take the clothes off my mind, and see what it was that had so troubled and terrified me; for trouble and terror were upon me. And my mother, who was always (Heaven bless her!) inquisitive enough in all that concerned her darling Anachronism, was especially inquisitive that evening. She made me say where I had been, and what I had done, and how I had spent my time; and Fanny Trevanion (whom she had seen, by the way, three or four times, and whom she thought the prettiest person in the world), oh, she must know exactly what I thought of Fanny Trevanion!

And all this while my father seemed in thought; and so, with my arm over my mother's chair, and my hand in hers, I answered my mother's questions, sometimes by a stammer, sometimes by a violent effort at volubility; when at some interrogatory that went tingling right to my heart I turned uneasily, and there were my father's eyes fixed on mine, fixed as they had been when, and none knew why, I pined and languished, and my father said, "He must go to school;" fixed with quiet, watchful tenderness. Ah, no! his thoughts had not been on the Great Work; he had been deep in the pages of that less worthy one for which he had yet more an author's paternal care. I met those eyes and yearned to throw myself on his heart and tell him all. Tell him what? Ma'am, I no more knew what to tell him than I know what that black thing was which has so worried me all this blessed evening!

"Pisistratus," said my father, softly, "I fear you have forgotten the saffron bag."

"No, indeed, sir," said I, smiling.

"He," resumed my father, "he who wears the saffron bag has more cheerful, settled spirits than you seem to have, my poor boy."

"My dear Austin, his spirits are very good, I think," said my mother, anxiously.

My father shook his head; then he took two or three turns about the room.

"Shall I ring for candles, sir? It is getting dark; you will wish to read."

"No, Pisistratus, it is you who shall read; and this hour of twilight best suits the book I am about to open to you."

So saying, he drew a chair between me and my mother and seated himself gravely, looking down a long time in silence, then turning his eyes to each of us alternately.

"My dear wife," said he, at length, almost solemnly, "I am going to speak of myself as I was before I knew you."

Even in the twilight I saw that my mother's countenance changed.

"You have respected my secrets, Katherine, tenderly, honestly. Now the time is come when I can tell them to you and to our son."

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PART VII CHAPTER IIIHere we three are seated round the open window--after dinner--familiar as in the old happy time--and my mother is talking low, that she may not disturb my father, who seems in thought-- Cr-cr-crrr-cr-cr! I feel it--I have it. Where! What! Where! Knock it down; brush it off! For Heaven's sake, see to it! Crrrr-crrrrr--there--here--in my hair--in my sleeve--in my ear--cr-cr. I say solemnly, and on the word of a Christian, that as I sat down to begin this chapter, being somewhat in a brown study, the pen insensibly slipped from my hand, and leaning back in my chair,