BY THE AUrHOR OF
"MISS TOOSEY'S MISSION"
E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
31 WEST TWENTY-THIRD STREET
BY E. P. DUTTON & COMPANY
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"THIRD-CLASS forward! Here you
are, mum. Plenty of room this way!
Now, then! that ain't third, that's first.
Come, look alive All right behind there? "
Doors bang, a whistle--and the train
The guard had thrust into a third-class
carriage, already nearly full, a band-
box with a blue spotted handkerchief
round it, and a bunch of Michaelmas
daisies, southernwood, and rosemary
tucked under the knot at the top; a
marketing-basket, one flap of which was
raised by a rosy-cheeked apple emitting
a powerful smell; a bundle done up in
a handkerchief of the same pattern as
that round the bandbox, only bright
yellow; a large cotton umbrella of a
pale green color, with a decided waist
to it, and a pair of pattens!
Anything else? Oh yes, of course!
there was an old woman who belonged
to the things, but she was so small and
frightened and overwhelmed that she ap-
peared quite a trifle beside her belongings,
and might easily have been overlooked
She remained just where the guard
had pushed her, standing in the carriage,
clutching as many of her things as she
could keep hold of, and being jerked by
the motion of the train, now against a
burly bricklayer, and now against his
red-faced wife who sat opposite, while
her dazzled, blinking eyes followed the
hedges and banks that whirled past, and
her breath came with a catch and a gasp
every time a bridge crossed the line, as
if it were a wave coming over her. Her
fellow-travellers watched her in silence
at first, having rather resented her
entrance, as the carriage was already
sufficiently full; but when a sudden lurch
of the train sent her violently forward
against a woman, from whom she can-
noned off against the bricklayer and
flattened her drawn black-satin bonnet
out of all shape, the man found his
tongue, which was a kind one, though
slow in moving.
"Hold hard, missus! he said; "we
don't pay nothing extra for sitting down,
so maybe you could stow some of them
traps of yours under the seat, and make
it kind of more comfortable all round.
Here, mother, lend a hand with the old
lady's things, can't you? That's my
missus, mum, that is, my better arf,
as the saying is, and no chap needn't
wish for a better, though I say it as
This remark produced a playful kick,
and a "Get along with you from the
red-faced wife, which did not show it
was taken amiss, but that she was pleased
with the delicate compliment, and she
helped to arrange the various baskets
and bundles with great energy and good-
"Now that's better, ain't it? Now you
can just set yourself down. Lor' bless the
woman! whatever is she frightened at?"
For the bustling arrangements 'were
seriously alarming to the old woman,
who was not sure that a sudden move-
ment might not upset the train, or that,
if she let go of anything in an unguarded
moment, she might not fall out and be
whirled off like those hurrying blackberry-
bushes or patches of chalk on the em-
bankment, though, indeed, it was only
her pattens and umbrella that she was
clutching as her one protection.
The first thing that roused her from her
daze of fear was the bricklayer's little boy
beginning to cry, or, as his mother called
it, "to beller," in consequence of his
mother's elbow coming sharply in contact
with his head; and, at the sound, the old
woman's hand let go of the umbrella and
felt for the marketing-basket, and drew
out one of the powerful, yellow apples,
and held it out towards the sufferer.
The bellerin stopped instantaneously
at such a refreshing sight, even while the
mouth was wide open and two tears forc-
ing their way laboriously out of the eyes.
Finding that she could accomplish this
gymnastic feat without any dangerous
results, the old woman seemed to gain
more confidence, seated herself more
comfortably, straightened her bonnet,
smiled at the bricklayer, nodded to the
little boy, and, by the time the train
stopped at the next station, felt herself
quite a bold and experienced traveller.
"This ain't London, I take it?" she
asked, in a little, thin, chirrupy voice.
"London? bless you! no. If you're
bound for London you'll have another
five hours to go before you can get
Oh, yes, I know as it's a terrible long
way off, but we seemed coming along at
such a pace as there wasn't no knowing."
You ain't used to travelling, seem-
Oh! I've been about as much as most
folks. I've been to Martel a smartish few
times when Laddie was there, and once
I went to Bristol when I was a gal keep-
ing company with my master, but that
ain't yesterday, you'll be thinking."
Martel's a nice place, I've heard tell."
"So it be; but it's a terrible big place,
You'll find London a pretty sight
I know London pretty well, though
I haven't never been there, for Laddie,
he's been up there nigh about fifteen year,
and he's told me a deal about it. I know
as it's all rubbish what folks say about
the streets being paved with gold and such
like, though the young folks do get took
in; but Laddie, he says to me, 'Mother,'
says he, 'London is paved with hard
work like any other town, but,' he says,
'good honest work is worth it's weight
in gold any day; so it's something
more than a joke, after all."
The old woman grew garrulous as the
train rushed along. Laddie was a subject,
evidently, upon which her tongue could
not help being eloquent.
An old hen with one chick," the brick-
layer whispered to his wife; but they
listened good-naturedly enough to the
stories of the wonderful baby, who had
been larger, fatter, and stronger than any
baby before or since, who had taken notice,
begun teething, felt his feet, run off and
said daddy at an incredibly early period.
Mrs. Bricklayer nodded her head and
said, Really, now and Well, I never "
inwardly, however, reserving her fixed
opinion that the infant bricklayers had
outdone the wonderful laddie in every
detail of babyhood.
Father Bricklayer could not restrain a
mighty yawn in the middle of a prolonged
description of how Laddie's gums were
lanced; but at this juncture they reached
the station which was the destination of
the bricklayer and his family, so the old
woman was not wounded by the discovery
of their want of thorough interest, and
she parted from them with-great regret,
feeling that she had lost some quite old
friends in them.
But she soon found another listener,
and a more satisfactory one, in a young
woman, whom she had hardly noticed be-
fore, as she sat in the opposite corner of
the carriage with her head bent down,
neither speaking or being spoken to. She
had a very young baby wrapped in her
shawl, and as one by one the other pas-
sengers left the carriage and she was left
alone with the old woman, the two solitary
creatures drew together in the chill No-
vember twilight, and, by and by, the wee
baby was in the old woman's arms, and
the young mother, almost a child herself,
was telling her sad little story and hearing
Laddie's story in return. There never had
been such a son; he had got on so won-
derfully at school, and had been a favorite
with every one parson and schoolmas-
ter; "such a head-piece the lad had! "
"Was Laddie his real name? "
"Why, no!" he were christened John
Clement, after his father and mine, but
he called himself Laddie' before ever he
could speak plain, and it stuck to him.
His father was for making a schoolmaster
of him, but Laddie he didn't take to
that, so we sent him into Martel to the
chemist there to be shop-boy, and Mr.
Stokes, the gentleman as keeps the shop,
took to him wonderful, and spoke of him
to one and another, saying how sharp he
were, and such, till at last one of the
doctors took him up and taught him a
lot; and when he went up to London he
offered to take Laddie, and said as he'd
take all the expense, and as he'd make a
man of him. He come to see me himself,
he did, and talked me over, for I was a
bit loath to let him go, for 'twas the year
as the master died; he died just at fall,
and Laddie went at Christmas, and I was
feeling a bit unked and lonesome."
Were that long ago?"
"Yes; 'twere a goodish time fifteen
year come Christmas."
But you'll have seen him many a time
Well, no, I ain't. Many's the time as
he's been coming down, but something
always come between. Once he had fixed
the very day and all, and then he were
called off on business to Brighton or
somewhere. That were a terrible disap-
pointment to the boy; my heart were
that sore for him as I nearly forgot how
much I'd been longing for it myself."
But he'll have wrote? "
"Bless you, yes; he's a terrible one for
his mother, he is. He've not written so
much of late, maybe; but then folks is
that busy in London they hasn't the time
to do things as we has in the country;
but I'll warrant he've written to me every
time he had a spare moment; and so
when I sees old Giles, the postman, come
up, and I says, 'Anything for me, master?'
and he says, 'Nothing for you to-day,
mum' (for I were always respected in
Sunnybrook from a girl up), I thinks to
myself, thinks I, it ain't for want of the
will as my Laddie hasn't wrote.' And
then the presents as he'd send me, bless
his heart! Bank-notes it were at first,
till he found as I just paid 'em into the
bank and left 'em there; for what did
I want with bank-notes? And then he
sent me parcels of things-silk gownds
fit for a duchess, and shawls all the
colors of the rainbow, till I almost began
to think he'd forgot what sort of an old
body I be. Just to think of the likes of
me in such fine feathers! And there
were flannel enough for a big family, and
blankets; and then he sent tea and sugar,
I don't know how many pounds of it; but
it were good and no mistake, and I'd like
a cup of it now for you and me, my dear."
"And have he sent for you now to
come and live with him?"
"No, he don't know nothing about it,
and I mean to take him all by surprise.
Old Master Heath, as my cottage belongs
to, died this summer, and the man as
took his farm wants my cottage for his
shepherd, and he give me notice to quit.
I felt it a bit and more, for I'd been in
that cottage thirty-five year, spring and
fall, and I knows every crack and cranny
about it, and I fretted terrible at first;
but at last I says to myself, Don't you
go for to fret, go right off to Laddie,
and he'll make a home for you, and glad; '
and so I just stored my things away and
come right off."
He've been doing well in London? "
Well, my Laddie's a gentleman He's
a regular doctor, and keeps a carriage,
and has a big house and servants. Mr.
Mason, our parish doctor, says as he's
one of the first doctors in London, and
that I may well be proud of him. Bless
me! how .pleased the boy will be to see
his old mother! Maybe I shall see him
walking in the streets, but if I don't I'll
find his house and creep in at the back
door so as he shan't see me, and tell the
gal to say to the doctor (doctor, indeed !
my Laddie!) as some one wants to see
him very particular. And then"-
The old woman broke down here half-
sobbing, half-laughing, with an anticipa-
tion too tenderly, ecstatically sweet for
words. My dear," she said, as she
wiped her brimming eyes, "I've thought
of it and dreamt of it so long, and to
think as I should have lived to see it!"
The expectations of her travelling com-
panion were far less bright, though she
had youth to paint the future with bright
hopes, and only nineteen winters to throw
into the picture dark shadows of fore-
boding. She had been well brought up
and gone into comfortable service, and
her life had run on in a quiet, happy
course, till she met with Harry Joyce.
"Folks says all manner of ill against
him," said the girl's trembling voice, but
he were always good to me. I didn't
know much about him except as he
liked me and I liked him dearly, for
he come from London at fair-time and
he stopped about the place doing odd
jobs, and he come after me constant.
My mistress were sore set against him,
but I were pretty near mad about him, so
we was married without letting any folks
at home know nought about it. Oh, yes !
we was married all right.
I've got my lines, as I could show you
as there wasn't no mistake about it; and
it were all happy enough for a bit, and he
got took on as ostler at the George; and
there wasn't a steadier, better-behaved
young feller in the place. But, oh dear!
it didn't last long. He came in one day
and said as how he'd lost his place and
was going right off to London to get
work there. I didn't say never a word,
but I got up and begun to put our bits
of things together; and then he says
as he'd best go first. and find a place
for me, and I must go home to my
mother. I thought it would have broke
my heart, I did, to part with him; but
he stuck to it, and I went home.
"Our village is nigh upon eight mile
from Merrifield, and I'd never heard a
word from mother since I wrote to tell
them I was wed. When I got home that
day I almost thought as they'd have shut
the door on me. A story had got about
as I wasn't married at all, and had brought
shame and trouble on my folks, and my
coming home like that made people talk
all the more, though I showed them my
lines and told my story truthful.
"Well, mother took me in, and I bided
there till my baby was born, and she and
father was good to me, I'll not say as
they wasn't; but they were always uneasy
and suspicious-like about Harry, and I
got sick of folks looking and whispering,
as if I ought to be ashamed when I had
nought to be ashamed of. And I wrote
to Harry more than once to say as I'd
rather come to him if he'd a hole to put
me in; and he always wrote to bid me
bide a bit longer, till baby come; and
then I just wrote and said I must come
anyhow, and so set off. But, oh! I feel
skeered to think of London, and Harry
maybe not glad to see me."
It was dark by this time, and the
women peering out could often only see
the reflection of their own faces in the
windows or ghostly puffs of smoke
flitting past. Now and then little points
of light in the darkness told of homes
where there Were warm hearths and
bright lights; and once, up above, a star
showed, looking kindly and home-like to
the old woman. Every bit as if it
were that very same star as comes out
over the elm-tree by the pond, but that
ain't likely all this way off."
But soon the clouds covered the
friendly star, and a fine rain fell, splash-
ing the windows with tiny drops, and
making the lights outside blurred and
hazy. And then the scattered lights
drew closer together, and the houses
formed into rows, and gas lamps marked
out perspective lines; and then there
were houses bordering the line on either
side instead of banks and hedges, and
then the train stopped, and a damp and
steaming ticket-collector opened the
door, letting in a puff of fog, and de-
manded the tickets, and was irritated to
a great pitch of exasperation by the
fumbling and slowness of the two
women, who had put their tickets away
in some place of extra safety and for-
gotten where that place was.
And then in another minute the train
was in Paddington; gas, and hurry, and
noise, porters, cabs, and shrieking engines
- a nightmare, indeed, to the dazzled
country eyes and the deafened country
IN a quiet, old-fashioned street near
Portman Square .there is a door with a
brass plate upon it, bearing the name
" Dr. Carter." The door is not singular
in possessing a brass plate, for almost
every house in the street displays one,
being inhabited nearly entirely by
doctors and musical professors.
I do not attempt to explain why it is
so, whether that part of London is espe-
cially unhealthy, and so requires constant
and varied medical advice, or whether
there is something, in the air conducive
to harmony; or whether the musical
professors attract the doctors, or the
doctors the professors, I leave to more
learned heads to discover, only hazarding
the suggestion that, perhaps, the highly-
strung musical nerves may be an in-
teresting study to the faculty, or that
music may have charms to soothe the
savage medical breast, or drive away the
evil spirits of the dissecting-room.
Anyhow, the fact remains that North
Crediton Street is the resort of doctors
and musical men, and that on one of the
doors stands the plate of Dr. Carter.
It was an old-fashioned, substantially-
built house, built about the beginning of
the last century, when people knew how
to build solidly, if not beautifully; it
had good thick walls, to which you
might whisper a secret without confiding
it to your next-door neighbor, and firm,
well-laid floors, on which you might
dance, if you had a mind to, without
fear of descending suddenly into the
basement. There were heavy frames to
the windows, and small squares of glass,
and wooden staircases with thick, twisted
banisters a house, altogether, at which
housemaids looked with contempt as
something infinitely less genteel than
the splendid mansions" of lath and
plaster, paint and gilding, which are run
up with such magic speed now-a-days.
We have no need to ring the bell and
disturb the soft-voiced, deferential man-
servant out of livery, from the enjoy-
ment of his evening paper in the pantry,
for we can pass uninvited and unannounced
into Dr. Carter's consulting-room, and
take a look at it and him.
There is nothing remarkable about the
room: a bookcase full of medical and
scientific books a large writing-table with
pigeon-holes for papers, and a stetho-
scope on the top; a reading-lamp with
a green shade, and an india-rubber tube
to supply it with gas from the burner
above; a side-table with more books and
papers, and small galvanic battery; large
india-rubber plant in the window; framed
photographs of eminent physicians and
surgeons over the mantel-piece; a fire
burning low in the grate; a thick Tur-
key carpet, and heavy leather chairs,-
and there you have an inventory of the
furniture to arrange before your mind's
eye, if you think it worth while.
There is something remarkable in the
man, John Clement Carter, M.D., but I
cannot give you an inventory of him,
or make a broker's list of eyes and
forehead, nose and mouth. He is not
a regularly handsome man, not one that
a sculptor would model or an artist
paint, but his is a face that you never
forget if you have once seen it; there
is something about him that makes
people move out of his path involun-
tarily, and strangers ask, Who is that? "
Power is stamped in his deep-set eyes
and the firm lines of mouth and chin, -
power which gives beauty even to an ugly
thing, throwing a grandeur and dignity
round a black, smoky engine, or a huge,
ponderous steam-hammer. Indeed, power
is beauty, for there is no real beauty in
weakness, physical or mental.
His eyes had the beauty of many doc-
tors' eyes, kind and patient, from ex-
perience of human weakness and trouble
of all sorts; keen and penetrating, as
having looked through the mists of pain
and disease, searching for hope, ay, and
finding it, too, sometimes, where other
men could only find despair; brave and
steady, as having met death constantly
face to face; clear and good, as having
looked through the glorious glass of
science, and seen, more plainly the more
he looked, the working of the Everlasting
Arms; for surely when science brings
confusion and doubt, it proves that the
eye of the beholder is dim or distorted,
or that he is too ignorant to use the
But there is a different look in his
eyes to-night; pain, and trouble, and
weakness are far from his thoughts,
and he is not gazing through the glass
of science, though he has a Medical
Review open before him, and a paper-
knife in his hand to cut the leaves; his
eyes have wandered to a bunch of Rus-
sian violets in a specimen glass on the
table, and he is looking through rose-
colored spectacles at a successful past,
a satisfactory present, and a beautiful
I need not tell my readers that this
Dr. John Clement Carter was the Somer-
setshire boy whom good Dr. Savile had
taken by the hand, and whose talents
had made the ladder which carried him
up to eminence. The kind old doctor
liked to tell the story over a glass of
port wine to the friends round his
shining mahogany (he was old-fashioned,
and thought scorn of claret and dinners
a la Russc). I was the making of the
man," he would say, and I'm as proud
of him, by Jove, sir! as if he were a
son of my own."
It is quite as difficult to rise in the
world gracefully as to come down; but
every one agreed that John Carter
managed to do it, and just from this
reason, that there was no pretence about
him. He did not obtrude his low origin
on every one, forcing it on people's at-
tention with that fidgety uneasiness
which will have people know it if they
are interested in the subject or not, which
is only one remove from the unworthy
pride that tries to hide it away altogether.
Neither did he boast of it as some-
thing very much to his credit, but to
any one who cared to know he would
say, My family were poor working-
people in Somersetshire, and I don't
even know if I had a grandfather, and
I owe everything to Dr. Savile." And
he would say it with a smile and a
quiet manner, as if it were nothing to
be ashamed of and nothing to be proud
of, but just a fact which was hardly of
interest; and his manner somehow made
people feel that birth and breeding were
after all mere insignificant circumstances
of life, and of no account by the side of
talent and success. He's a good fellow,
John Carter, and a clever fellow, too, with-
out any humbug about him," the men
said, and the women thought much the
same, though they expressed it differently.
Indeed, the glimpse of his early
humble country life, so simply given,
without any pretence or concealment,
grew to be considered an effective pic-
turesque background which showed up
to advantage his present success and
dignified position. It was quite true
that there was no humbug or conceal-
ment about him, that was the very truth
he told; and yet, somehow, as time
went on, the words lost the full meaning
they had to him at first.
Don't you know if you use the same
words frequently they get almost mechan-
ical -even in our prayers, alas! they are
no longer the expression of our feeling,
but the words come first and the feeling
follows, or does not follow? And then,
don't you know sometimes how we hear
with other people's ears, and see with
other people's eyes?
And so John Carter, when he said those
simple, truthful words, grew to see the
picturesque background, the thatched cot-
tage, and the honeysuckle-covered porch,
and the grand old patriarch with white
hair, one of nature's noblemen, leaning on
his staff and blessing his son; and he
gradually forgot the pigsty close to the
cottage door, and father in a dirty green
smock and hobnailed boots, doing what
he called mucking it out," and stopping
to wipe the heat from his brow with a
snuffy, red cotton handkerchief.
But come back from the pigsty to the
violets which are scenting the consulting-
room and luring Dr. Carter, not un-
willingly, from the Mcdical Review to
thoughts of the giver.
Her name is Violet, too, and so are her
eyes, though the long lashes throw such
a shadow that you might fancy they were
black themselves. It is not every one
indeed, it is John Carter alone, who
is privileged to look straight down into
those eyes, and see the beauty of their
color; only he, poor, foolish fellow,
forgets to take advantage of his oppor-
tunity, and only notices the great love
for him that shines there and turns his
brain with happiness.
His hand trembles as he stretches it to
take the specimen glass, and the cool,
fragrant flowers lightly touch his lip as
he raises them to his face. Pshaw! I
hear you say reminding me of my
own words, there is no beauty in weak-
ness, and this is weakness indeed a
sensible man, past the heyday and folly
of youth, growing maudlin and sentimental
over a bunch of violets No, reader, it
is power the strongest power on earth
- the power of love.
He had been used to say that his
profession was his lady-love, and he had
looked on with wondering, incredulous
eyes at the follies and excesses of young
lovers; he was inclined to think it was
a mild form of mania, and required
And so he reached five-and-thirty un-
scathed, and slightly contemptuous of
others less fortunate than himself, when,
one day, a girl's violet eyes, looking shyly
at him through dark lashes, brought him
down once and forever from his pedestal
of fancied superiority, and before he could
collect his arguments, or reason himself
out of it, he was past cure, -hopelessly,
helplessly, foolishly in love.
They had been engaged for two days; it
was two days since this clever young doc-
tor, this rising, successful man, with such
stores of learning, such a solid intellect,
such a cool, calm brain, had stood blushing
and stammering before a girl of eighteen.
If I were to write down the words he said,
you would think my hero an idiot pure and
simple; the most mawkish and feeble
twaddle of the most debased of penny
periodicals was vastly superior to what
Dr. Carter stammered out that day. But
is not this generally the case?
Beautiful poetical love-scenes are fre-
quent in plays and books, but very rare in
real life. There is not one love-scene in a
thousand that would bear being taken
down in short-hand, printed in plain, black
type, and read by critical eyes through
common-place spectacles. Nevertheless,
the feelings are no doubt sublime, though
the words may be ridiculous. He was quite
another man altogether (happily for him)
when he went to Sir John Meredith, and
told him plainly that he was no match for
his daughter as far as birth went.
My good fellow," the sensible little
baronet answered, there are only about
ten families in England that can put their
pedigree by the side of the Merediths, and
it don't seem to me to make much dif-
ference, if you rise from the ranks your-
self, or if your father or grandfather did
I can scarcely claim even to be a gen-
tleman," the young man went on, feeling
pretty sure of success by that time.
Not another word, my dear boy; not
another word. I respect your candor, and
I esteem you very highly as an honest man
the noblest work of God, you know,
eh ? though I'd like to hear any one say
that you were not a gentleman as well.
There, go along! shake hands! God
bless you You'll find Violet in the draw-
ing-room. Sly little puss but I saw what
was coming- and mind you dine with us
this evening at seven sharp old-fash-
ioned folk, old-fashioned hours."
I think the wary baronet also respected
Dr. Carter's income, and esteemed very
highly his success, and having weighed
the advantages of family and birth against
success and income, had found that the
latter were the more substantial in the
And so Dr. Carter was dreaming rosy
dreams that evening in his quiet room, as
was fit and proper after two days' wander-
ing in fairyland with Violet Meredith. But
as the scent of the violets had led him to
think of the giver, so it drew his thoughts
away from her again back to springtime
many years ago at Sunnybrook, and the
bank where the earliest violets grew in the
sheltered lane leading to the Croft Farm.
Did ever violets smell so sweet as those?
He remembered one afternoon, after school,
going to fetch the milk from the farm, and
the scent luring him across the little runlet
by the side of the path, which was swollen
into a small, brawling brook by the lately-
thawed snow. He set down the can safely
before he made the venture, and Dr. Carter
laughed softly to himself to think how
short and fat the legs were that found the
little stream such a mighty stride.
He was busy diving for the flowers among
the layers of dead elm-leaves, which the
blustering autumn winds had blown there,
when a sound behind him caused him to
look round, and there was the can upset,
and the young foxhound quartered at the
Croft licking up the white pool from the
In his anger, and fear, and haste he
slipped as he tried to jump back, and
went full length into the stream, and
scrambled out in a sad plight, went
home crying bitterly, with a very wet
pinafore, and dirty face, and empty milk-
can, with the cause of his mishap, the
sweet violets, still clasped unconsciously
in his little scratched hand.
And his mother--ah! she was always
a good mother! He could remember still
the comforting feeling of mother's apron
wiping away dirt and tears, and the sound
of her voice bidding him "Never mind!
and hush up like a good little Laddie."
His heart felt very warm just then towards
that mother of his, and he made up his
mind that, cost what trouble it might, he
would go down and see her before he was
married, if it were only for an hour or
two, just to make sure that she was
comfortable, and not working about and
wearing herself out.
His conscience pricked him a little at
the thought of what a pleasure the sight
of him would have been to the old woman,
and how year after year had slipped away
without his going down. But still a com-
forting voice told him that he had been
substantially a good son, and .it was
accident and not intention that had kept
him away. Anyhow," he said to himself,
" another month shall not pass without
my seeing my mother."
At this moment the deferential man
knocked at the door and aroused Dr.
Carter to the consciousness of how far his
wandering thoughts had carried him from
his consulting-room and Mledical Review.
What is it, Hyder?"
"Please, sir, there's some one wishes
to see you. I told her as it was too
late, and you was engaged very partic-
ular, but she wouldn't be put off nohow,
What is her name?"
There was a slight smile disturbing the
usually unruffled serenity of Mr. Hyder's
face, as if he had a lingering remembrance
of something amusing.
She didn't give no name, sir, and she
wouldn't say what she wanted, though I
asked if a message wouldn't do; but she
said her business was too particular for
What sort of a person is she?"
The corners of the man's mouth
twitched, and he had to give a little cough
to conceal an incipient chuckle.
"Beg your pardon, sir. She appears
to be from the country, sir. Quite a
countrified, homely, old body, sir."
Perhaps the odor of the violets and
the country memories they had called up
made him more amiably inclined; but
instead of the sharp, decided refusal the
servant expected, "Tell her it is long past
my time for seeing patients, and I am
busy, and she must call again to-morrow,"
he said, "Well, show her in," and the
man withdrew in surprise.
Countrified, homely, old.body." Some-
how the description brought back to his
mind his mother, coming down the brick
path from the door at home, with her
Sunday bonnet on, and her pattens in
her hand, and the heavy-headed double
stocks and columbines tapping against
her short petticoats.
The doctor said it to himself, and even
while he smiled the door was pushed open,
and before him he saw, with a back-
ground of the gas-lit hall and the re-
spectful Hyder, by this time developed
into an uncontrollable grin, his mother,
in her Sunday bonnet and with her
pattens in her hand.
READER, think of some lovely picture
of rustic life, with tender lights and
pleasant shadows, with hard lines softened,
and sharp angles touched into gentle
curves, with a background of picturesque,
satisfying appropriateness, with the magic
touches that bring out the beauty and
refinement and elegance of the scene,
which are really there, and that subtly
tone down all the roughness, and awk-
wardness, and coarseness which are also
And then, imagine it, if you can, chang-
ing under your very eyes, with glaring
lights and heavy shadows, deepening,
and sharpening, and hardening wrinkles,
and angles, and lines, exaggerating defects,
bringing coarseness and age and ugliness
into painful prominence, and taking away
at a sweep the pretty, rural background
which might have relieved and soothed
the 'eye, and putting a dull, common-
place, incongruous one in its place.
It was something of this sort that hap-
pened to John Carter that night, when the
picture he had been painting with the
sweet lights of love and childhood's fan-
cies, and the tender shadows of memory
throwing over it all soft tones of long ago
and.far away, suddenly stood before him
in unvarnished reality, with all the gla-
mour taken away, an every-day fact in
his present London life.
I am glad to write it of him, that,
for the first minute, pleasure was the
uppermost feeling in his mind. First
thoughts are often the best and purest.
He started up saying, "Mother! why,
mother! in the same tone of glad
surprise as he would have done fifteen
years before if she had come unexpectedly
into the shop at Martel; he did not even
think if the door were closed, or what
Mr. Hyder would think; he did not
notice that she was crumpled and dirty
with travel, or that she put her pattens
down on his open book and upset the
glass of violets; he just took hold of
her trembling, hard-worked hands, and
kissed her furrowed old cheek, wet with
tears of unutterable joy, and repeated,
" Mother why, mother "
I am glad to write it of him, glad that
she had that great happiness, realizing the
hopes and longings of years past, con-
soling in days to come when she had to
turn back to the past for comfort, or for-
ward to the time of perfect satisfaction.
There are these exquisite moments in
life, let people say what they will of
the disappointments and vanity of the
world, when hope is realized, desire
fulfilled; but it is just for a moment, no
more, just for a foretaste of the joys that
shall be hereafter, when every moment
of the long years of eternity will be still
more full and perfect, when we shall
"wake up" and be satisfied."
She was clinging meanwhile to his
arm sobbing out Laddie, my boy,
Laddie!" with her eyes too dim with
tears to see his face clearly, or to notice
how tall, and grand, and handsome her
boy was grown, and what a gentleman.
Presently, when she was seated in the
arm-chair and had got her breath again,
and wiped her foolish old eyes, she was
able to hunt in her capacious pocket for
the silver-rimmed spectacles that had de-
scended from her father, old Master Pullen
in the almshouses, and that Laddie re-
membered well, as being kept in the old
Family Bible, and brought out with great
pomp and ceremony on Sunday evenings.
"I must have a good look at you,
Laddie boy," she said.
And then I think her good angel must
have spread his soft wing between the
mother and son (though to her mind it
seemed only like another tear dimming
her sight, with a rainbow light on it),
to keep her from seeing the look that
was marring that son's face. All the
pleasure was gone, and embarrassment
and disquiet had taken its place.
"However did you come, mother?"
he said, trying his best to keep a certain
hardness and irritation out of his voice.
I come by the train, dear," the old
woman answered, and it did terrify me
more nor a bit at first, I'll not go for to
deny; but, bless you I soon got over it,
and them trains is handy sort of things
when you gets used to 'em.
I was a good deal put to, though, when
we got to London station, there seemed
such a many folks about, and they did
push and hurry a body so. I don't know
whatever I should adone if a gentleman
hadn't come and asked me where I wanted
to get to. He were a tallish man with
whiskers, a bit like Mr. Jones over at
Martel, and I daresay you knows him;
but he were terrible kind, however."
John Carter did not stop to explain
that there were many tallish men with
whiskers in London.
"Why didn't you write and say you
were coming? "
"Well, there! I thought as I'd give
you a surprise, and I knew as you'd be
worrying about the journey and thinking
as I'd not be able to manage; but I'm
not such a helpless old body, after all,
"Who have you left in charge of the
Why, I've give it up altogether.
Farmer Harris, he wanted it for his
shepherd, and he give me notice. That's
why I came all on a sudden like. I
says to myself, says I, Laddie's got a
home and a welcome for his old mother,
and it's only because he thought as I
was pretty nearly growed to the old
place, and couldn't abear to leave it,
that he ain't said as I must come and
keep house for him long ago. But, bless
you! I've been thinking so of the
pleasure of seeing you again that I've
pretty nearly forgot as I was leaving my
master's grave and all."
And when must you go back? "
Not till you gets tired of me, Laddie,
or till you takes me to lay me by the
old master, for I'd like to lay there, if
so be as you can manage it, for I've
heard tell as it costs a mort of money
buryin' folks out of the parish as they
dies in, and maybe it mightn't be just
convenient to you."
John Carter busied himself with making
the fire burn up into a blaze, while his
mother rambled on, telling him little bits
of village gossip about people he had
long since forgotten or never heard of, or
describing her journey, which was a far
greater exploit in the old woman's eyes
than Lieutenant Cameron's walk across
Africa; or dwelling on the delight of
seeing him again.
He paid little heed to what she said,
pretending to be intent on placing a
refractory piece of coal in a certain
position, or coaxing an uncertain little
flame into steadiness, but his head was
busy trying to form some plan for getting
himself out of his difficult position.
He did not want to hurt her, or to be
unkind in any way; but it was altogether
out of the question having her there to
live with him. It would ruin all his pros-
pects in life, his position in his profession
and in society; as to his engagement, he
did not venture to allow himself even to
think of Violet just then.
He knew some doctors whose mothers
lived with them, and kept house for
them, received their guests, and sat at the
head of their table; but they were ladies,
very different. The very idea of his
mother with three or four servants under
her was an absurdity. And this thought
brought Hyder's grin before his mind.
What had happened when his mother
arrived? Had she committed herself and
him frightfully by her behavior? No
doubt that impudent rascal was giving a
highly facetious account of it all to the
maids in the kitchen. Chattering mag-
pies! 'And how they would pass it on!
How Mary Jane would describe it
through the area gate to the milk-woman
next morning, and cook add a pointed
word or two from the front steps as she
cleaned them! He could almost smell the
wet hearthstone and hear the clinking of
the tin milk-pails as Biddy hooked them to
the yoke and passed on with the story of
his degradation. And he could fancy what
a choice morsel it would make for Hyder
to tell Sir John Meredith's solemn red-
nosed butler, behind his hand, in a hoarse
whisper, with winks to emphasize strong
points, and an occasional jerk of the
thumb over the shoulder and a careful
avoidance of names.
This thought was too much for his feel-
ings, and the tongs went down with an
ominous clatter into the fender, making
the old woman jump nearly off her chair,
and cutting short a story about the dis-
temper among Squire Wellow's pigs.
"There; it brought my heart into my
mouth pretty near, and set me all of a
tremble. I reckon as I'm a little bit tired,
and it have shook up my nerves like, and
a little do terrify one so."
The sight of her white, trembling old
face touched her son's and doctor's heart
under the fine, closely-woven, well-cut
coat of fine gentlemanliness and worldly
wisdom which he was buttoning so closely
You are quite tired out, mother," he
said; you shall have some tea and go to
bed. I can't have you laid up, you know."
"There, now! if I wasn't thinking as
a dish of tea would be the nicest thing
in the world and for you to think of it!
Ah! you remembers what your mother
likes, bless you! "
In that moment he had quickly made
up his mind that at any rate it was
too late for that night to do anything
but just make her comfortable; to-mor-
row something must be done without
delay, but there was ten striking, and
she was evidently quite worn out. lHe
must say something to silence those
jays of servants, and get her off to
bed, and then he could sit down and
arrange his plans quietly; for the sud-
denness of the emergency had confused
and muddled him.
"I'll tell them to get some tea," he
said; "you sit still and rest." And then
he rang the bell decidedly and went out
into the hall, closing the doors behind
him. He had never felt so self-conscious
and uncomfortable as when the man-
servant came up the kitchen stairs and
stood as deferentially as ever before him.
He felt as if he had not got entire con-
trol of voice, eyes, or hands. His eyes
seemed to avoid looking at the man's
face in spite of him, and his voice tried
hard to be apologetic and entreating of its
own accord. That would never do.
He thrust his obtrusive hands into his
pockets, and drew up his head, and looked
sharply at the man straight in the eyes
with a fight-you-for-2d." expression, or
"every bit as if I owed him a quarter's
rent," as Hyder said afterwards, and he
spoke in a commanding, bullying tone,
"IS THE' 1-A1DY GOING TO STOP ULIE NIGIIT, SIRi?"'
very unlike his usual courteous behavior
to servants, imagining that by this he con-
veyed to the man's mind that he was
quite at his ease, and that nothing unusual
Look here," he said, "I want tea at
once in the dining-room, and tell cook
to send up some cold meat. I suppose
it's too late for cutlets, or anything like
Is the lady going to stop the night,
The words stung Dr. Carter so that
he would have liked to have kicked the
man down the kitchen stairs, but he luckily
Yes, she is. The best bedroom must
be got ready, and a fire lighted, and
everything made as comfortable as
possible. Do you hear?"
Yes, sir." The man hesitated a second
to see if there were any further orders,
and Dr. Carter half turned, looking
another way, as he added, She is a very
old friend and nurse of mine when I was
a child, and I want her to be made
comfortable. She will only be here this
He felt as he turned the handle of the
consulting-room door that he had really
done it rather well on the whole, and
carried it off with a high hand, and
not told any falsehood after all, for was
she not his oldest friend and his most
natural nurse? In reality he had never
looked less like a gentleman, and Hyder
saw it too.
They say a man is never a hero to his
own valet. I do not know if this includes
men-servants in general; but certain it
is that, up to this time, Dr. Carter had
kept the respect of his servant. I know
as he ain't a swell," Mr. Hyder would
say to the coterie of footmen who met
in the bar of the snug little "public"
round the corner; but for all that he
ain't a bad master neither, and as far as
my experience serves, he's as good a gent
as any of them, and better any day than
them dandy half-pay captings as locks
up their wine and cigars, and sells their
old clothes, and keeps their men on
scraps, and cusses and swears as if they
was made of nothing else."
But as Hyder went to his pantry that
night, he shook his head with a face of
supreme disgust. "That's what I call
nasty! he said. I'm disappointed in
that man. I thought better of him than
this comes to. Well, well! blood tells
after all. What's bred in the bone will
come out in the flesh sooner or later.
Nurse, indeed! Get along! You don't
humbug me, my gent!"
There were no signs, however, of these
moralizings in the pantry, or the fuller dis-
cussion that followed in the kitchen when
he announced that supper was ready.
Do ye have your victuals in the kit-
chen now, Laddie? the old woman said.
"Well, there! it is the most comfortable
to my thinking, though gentle-folks do
live in their best parlors constant."
Hyder discreetly drew back, and Dr.
Carter whispered with a crimson flush
all over his face, Hush, we'll have our
talk when this fellow is out of the way.
Don't say anything till then."
The old woman looked much surprised,
but at last concluded that there was
something mysterious against the charac-
ter of the very civil-spoken young man
as opened the door," and so she kept
silence while her son led her into the
dining-room, where tea was spread with,
what appeared to the old woman, royal
magnificence of white damask and shining
"You can go," the doctor said. "I
will ring if we want anything."
He don't look such a baddish sort of
young man," she said, when the door
closed behind the observant Hyder; and
he seems to mind what you says pretty
sharp. I thought as he was a gent hisself
when he opened the door, as he hadn't
got red breeches or gaiters or nothing,
but I suppose you will put him into
livery by and by?"
Now, mother, you must have some
tea. And you are not to talk till you
have eaten something. Here! I'll pour
out the tea; for the glories of the silver
teapot were drawing her attention from
its reviving contents. I hope they have
made it good. Ah! I remember well
what tea you used to make in that little
brown teapot at home."
It was very easy and pleasant to be
kind to her, and make much of her now,
when no one else was there. He enjoyed
waiting on her and seeing her brighten up
and revive under the combined influence
of food, and warmth, and kindness. He
liked to hear her admire and wonder at
everything, and he laughed naturally
and boyishly at her odd, little innocent
remarks. If they two could have been
always alone together, with no spying
eyes and spiteful tongues, it would have
been all right and pleasant; but as it
was, it was quite impossible, and out of
It ain't the teapot, Laddie, as does it.
It's just to let it stand till it's drawed
thorough and no longer. Put it on the
hob for ten minutes, say I, but that's
enough. I don't like stewed tea, and,
moreover, it ain't wholesome neither.
This is a fine room, Laddie, and no mis-
take. Why, the parson ain't got one to
hold a candle to it. I'd just like some of
the Sunnybrook folk to have a look at it.
It would make them open their eyes
wide, I warrant! to see me a-setting
here like a lady, with this here carpet as
soft as anything, and them curtains, and
pictures, and all! I wonder whatever they
would say if they could see? I suppose,
now, as there's a washus or a place out
behind somewhere for them servants?"
Dr. Carter laughed at the idea of Mrs.
Treasure, the cook, and the two smart
housemaids, let alone Mr. Hyder, being
consigned to a wash-house at the back,
and he explained the basement arrange-
"Underground. Well! I never did! But
I think I've heard tell of underground
kitchens before, but I never would believe
it. It must be terrible dark for the poor
things, and damp, moreover; and how
poor, silly gals is always worriting to get
places in London, passes me! "
Presently, when they had done tea, and
gone back into the consulting-room, when
the old woman was seated in the arm-chair,
with her feet on the fender, and her gown
turned up over her knees, Dr. Carter
drew his chair up near hers, and prepared
for his difficult task.
Mother," he said, laying one of his
hands caressingly on her arm (he was
proud of his hands it was one of his
weaknesses that they were gentleman's
hands, white and well-shaped, and there
was a plain gold strap-ring on the little
finger, which hit exactly the right medium
between 'severity and display, as a gentle-
man's ring should),- Mother, I wish you
had written to tell me you were coming."
She took his hand between both her
own, hard and horny, with the veins
standing up like cord on the backs,
rough and misshapen with years of hard
work, but with a world of tender mother's
love in every touch, that made his words
stick in his throat and nearly choke him.
"I knew as you'd be pleased to see
me, Laddie, come when I might or how
"Of course I'm glad to see you,
mother, very glad; and I was thinking
just before you came in that I would
run down to Sunnybrook to see you just
And then he went on to explain how
different London life was to that at
Sunnybrook, and how she would never
get used to it or feel happy there, talk-
ing quickly and wrapping up his mean-
ing in so many words and elaborations
that at the end of half an hour the old
woman had no more idea of what he
meant than she had at the beginning,
and was fairly mystified. She had a
strange way, too, of upsetting all his
skilful arguments with a simple word or
"Different from Sunnybrook? Yes,
sure; but she'd get used to it like other
folks. Not happy? Why she'd be happy
anywhere with her Laddie. There, don't
you fret yourself about me; as long as
you're comfortable I don't mind nothing."
How could he make her understand
and see the gulf that lay between them
-her life and his? It needed much
plainer speaking; a spade must be called
a spade, and, somehow, it looked a very
much more ugly spade when it was so
called. How soon did she catch his
He hardly knew, for he could not bear
to look into her face and see the smile fade
from her lips and the brightness from her
eyes. He only felt her hand suddenly clasp
his more tightly, as if he had tried to draw
it away from her, and she grew silent, while
he talked on quickly and nervously, telling
her they would go together to-morrow and
find a little snug cottage not far from Lon-
don, with everything pretty and comfort-
able that heart could wish for, and a little
maid to do the work, so that she need
never lay her hand to anything; and how
he would come to see her often, very
often, perhaps once a week. Still never
a word for or against, of pleasure or of
pain, till he said: -
You would like it, mother, wouldn't
And then she answered slowly and
I'm aweary, Laddie, too tired like for
new plans; and maybe, dearie, too old."
You must go to bed," he said, with a
burst of overwhelming compunction. I
ought not to have let you stop up like
this. I should have kept what I had to
say till to-morrow when you were rested.
Come, think no more of it to-night, every-
thing will look brighter to-morrow. I'll
show you your bedroom."
And so he took her upstairs, such a
lot of stairs to the old country legs; but
her curiosity overcame her fatigue suffi-
ciently to make her peep into the double
drawing-room, where the gas-lamp in the
street threw weird lights and shadows on
the ceiling and touched unexpectedly on
parts of mirrors or gilded cornices, giving
a mysterious effect to the groups of fur-
niture and the chandelier hanging in its
'Tis mighty fine she said, but an
unked place to my mind; like a church-
Her bedroom did not look unked,"
however, with a bright fire burning, and
the inviting chintz-curtained bed and the
crisp muslin-covered toilet-table, with two
candles lighted. In the large looking-
glass on the toilet-table the figure of the
little old woman was reflected among the
elegant comfort of the room, looking all
the more small and shabby, and old, and
out of place in contrast with her sur-
"Now make haste to bed, there's a
good old mother; my room is next to
this, if you want anything, and I shall
soon come up to bed. I hope you'll be
very comfortable. Good-night."
And then he left her with a kiss, and
she stood for some minutes quite still,
looking at the scene reflected in the glass
before her, peering curiously and atten-
tively at it.
And so Laddie is ashamed of his old
mother," she said softly, with a little sigh;
"and it ain't no wonder !"
As Dr. Carter sat down again in his
consulting-room by himself, he told him-
self that he had done wisely, though he
had felt and inflicted pain, and still felt
very sore and ruffled. But it was wisest,
and practically kindest and best for her
in the end, more surely for her happiness
and comfort; so there was no need to
regret it, or for that tiresome little feeling
in one corner of his heart that seemed
almost like remorse. This is no story-
book world of chivalry, romance, and
poetry, and to get on in it you must just
lay aside sentimental fancies and act by
the light of reason and common sense.
And then he settled down to arrange the
details of to-morrow's plans, and jotted
down on a piece of paper a few memo-
randa of suitable places, times of trains,
etc., and resolved that he would spare no
pains or expense in making her thoroughly
comfortable. He even wrote a note or two
to put off some appointments, and felt quite
gratified with the idea that he was sacri-
ficing something on his mother's account.
The clock struck two as he rose to
go up to bed, and he went up feeling
much more composed and satisfied with
himself, having pretty successfully argued
and reasoned down his troublesome,
morbid misgivings. He listened at his
mother's door, but all was quiet; and he
made haste into bed himself, feeling he
had gone through a good deal that day.
He was just turning over to sleep when
his door opened softly and his mother
came in-such a queer, funny, old figure,
with a shawl wrapped round her and a
very large nightcap on -one of the old-
fashioned sort, with very broad, flapping
frills. She had a candle in her hand, and
set it down on the table by his bed. He
jumped up as she came in.
"Why, mother, what's the matter? Not
in bed? Are you ill?"
"There, there lie down; there ain't
nothing wrong. But I've been listening
for ye this long time. 'Tis fifteen year
and more since I tucked you up in bed,
and you used to say as you never slept
so sweet when I didn't do it."
She made him lie down, and smoothed
his pillow, and brushed his hair off his
forehead, and tucked the clothes round
him, and kissed him as she spoke, -
"And I thought as I'd like to do it
for you once more. Good-night, Laddie,
And then she went away quickly, and
did not hear him call "Mother! 0
mother! after her, for the carefully
tucked-in clothes were flung off and Lad-
die was out of bed, with his hand on the
handle of the door, and then-second
thoughts being cooler, if not better -"she
had better sleep," Dr. Carter said, and got
back into bed.
But sleep did not come at his call;
he tossed about feverishly and restlessly,
with his mind tossing hither and thither
as much as his body, the strong wind of
his pride and will blowing against the
running tide of his love and conscience,
and making a rough sea between them,
which would not allow of any repose.
And which of them was the strongest?
After long and fierce debate with him-
self he came to a conclusion which at
all events brought peace along with it.
" Come what may," he said, I will keep
my mother with me, let people say or
think what they will; even if it costs me
Violet herself, as most likely it will. I
can't turn my mother out in her old age,
so there's an end of it." And there and
then he went to sleep.
It must have been soon after this that
he woke with a start, with a sound in
his ears like the shutting of the street-
door. It was still quite dark, night to
Londoners, morning to country people,
who were already going to their work
and labor, and Dr. Carter turned himself
over and went to sleep again, saying,
" It was my fancy or a dream," while his
old mother stood shivering in the cold
November morning outside his door,-mur-
I'll never be a shame to my boy, my
Laddie; God bless him!
WHEN Dr. Carter opened his door next
morning he found his mother's room
empty, and it seemed almost as if the
events of the night before had. been a bad
dream; only the basket of apples and the
bandbox, still tied up in the spotted hand-
kerchief, confirmed his recollections, and
when he went down, the pattens, still on
his writing-table, added their testimony.
But where was his mother?
All the servants could tell him was that
they had found her bedroom door open
when they came down in the morning, and
the front door unbarred and unbolted,
and that was all.
She has gone back to Sunnybrook,"
he said to himself, with a very sore
heart; she saw what a miserable, base-
hearted cur of a son she had, who
grudged a welcome and a shelter to her
who would have given her right hand to
keep my little finger from aching. God
forgive me for wounding the brave old
heart! I will go and bring her back;
she will be ready to forgive me nearly
before I speak."
He looked at the train paper, and found
there was an early, slow train by which his
mother must have gone, and an express
that would start in about an hour, and
reach Martel only a quarter of an hour
after the slower one. This just gave him
time to make arrangements for his en-
gagements, and write a line to Violet, say-
ing he was unexpectedly called away from
London, but that he would come to her
immediately on his return, for he had
much to tell and explain. The cab was
at the door to take him to the station, and
everything was ready, and he was giving
his last directions to Mr. Hyder.
"I shall be back to-morrow, Hyder,
without fail, and I shall bring my mother
with me." He brought out the word even
now with an effort, and hated himself for
the flush that came up into his face, but
he went on firmly, That was my mother
who was here last night, and no man ever
had a better."
I don't know how it happened, but
everything seemed topsy-turvy that morn-
ing; for all at once Dr. Carter found him-
self shaking hands with Hyder before he
knew what he was about, and the deferen-
tial, polite Hyder, whose respect had al-
ways been slightly tinged with contempt,
was saying, with tears in his eyes, In-
deed, sir, I see that all along; and I don't
think none the worse of you, but a deal
the better for saying it out like a man;
and me and cook and the gals will do
our best to make the old lady comfortable,
that we will! "
Dr. Carter felt a strange, dream-like
feeling as he got into the cab. Every one
and everything seemed changed, and he
could not make it out; even Hyder seemed
something more than an excellent servant.
It was quite a relief to his mind, on his re-
turn next day, to find Hyder the same im-
perturbable person as before, and the little
episode of hand-shaking and expressed
sympathy not become a confirmed habit.
It was a trifling relief even in the
midst of his anxiety and disappointment,
for he did not find his mother at Sunny-
brook, nor did she arrive by either of the
trains that followed the one he came by,
though he waited the arrival of several at
Martel. So he came back to London,
feeling that he had gone on the wrong
tack, but comforting himself with the
thought that he would soon be able to
trace her out wherever she had gone.
But it was not so easy as he expected;
the most artful and experienced criminal,
escaping from justice, could not have gone
to work more skilfully than the old woman
did quite unconsciously. All his inquiries
were fruitless; she had not been seen or
noticed at Paddington, none of the houses
or shops about had been open or astir at
that early morning hour.
Once he thought he had a clue, but it
came to nothing, and, tired and dispirited,
he was obliged, very unwillingly, to put the
matter into the hands of the police, who un-
dertook with great confidence to find the
old woman before another day was past.
It was with a very haggard, anxious
face that he came into the pretty drawing-
room in Harley Street, where Violet sprang
up from her low chair by the fire, to meet
him. How pretty she was! how sweet!
how elegant and graceful every movement
and look, every detail of her dress !
His eyes took in every beauty lovingly,
as one who looks his last on something
dearer than life, and then lost all conscious-
ness of any other beauty, in the surpassing
beauty of the love for him in her eyes.
She stretched out both her soft hands to
him, with the ring he had given her, the
only ornament on them, and said, Tell
me about it."
Do you not know some voices that have
a caress in every word and a comfort in
every tone? Violet Meredith's was such
I have come for that," he said, and he
would not trust himself to take those hands
in his, or to look any longer into her face
but he went to the fire and looked into
the red caves among the glowing coals. I
have come to tell you about my mother.
I have deceived you shamefully."
And then he told her of his mother, de-
scribing her as plainly and carefully as he
could, trying to set aside everything fanci-
ful or picturesque, and yet do justice to
the kind, simple, old heart, trying to make
Violet see the great difference between the
old countrywoman and herself. And then
he told her of her having come to him, to
end her days under her son's roof. "I
could not.ask you to live with her," he
She had clasped her hands around his
arm shyly, for it was only a few days since
she had had to hide away her love, like a
stolen treasure, out of sight.
It is too late to think of that," she said
with a little coaxing laugh; too late, foi
you asked me to be your wife a week ago.
Yes, John,"- the name came still with a
little hesitation, "a whole week ago,
and I will not let you off. And then, I
have no mother of my own; she died be-
fore I can remember, and it will be so nice
to have one, for she will like me for your
sake, won't she? And what does it mat-
ter what she is like, you silly, old John ? -
she is your mother, and that is quite
enough for me.
And don't you think I love you more
ridiculously than ever because you are so
good and noble and true to your old mother,
and are not ashamed of her because she is
not just exactly like other people? And
she laid her soft cheek against his sleeve,
by her clasped hands, as she spoke.
But he drew away with almost a shudder.
" Love me less, then, Violet; hate me, for I
was ashamed of her; I was base and cow-
ardly and untrue, and I wanted to get her
out of the way so that no one should know,
not even you, and I hurt and wounded her
- her who would have done anything for
her 'Laddie,' as she calls me--and she
went away disappointed and sad and sorry,
and I cannot find her."
He had sunk down into Violet's low
chair, and covered up his face with his
hands, and through the fingers forced
their way the hot, burning tears, while
he told of his ineffectual efforts to find
her, and his shame and regret.
She stood listening, too pitiful and
sorry for words; longing to comfort him;
and at last she knelt down and pulled
his hands gently away, as if he might not
like to hear her use his mother's name
for him. "We will find her, never fear;
your mother and mine, Laddie." And so
she comforted him.
What an awful place London is I do
not mean awful in the sense in which the
word is used by fashionable young ladies,
or schoolboys, by whom it is applied
indiscriminately to a lark or a bore,"
into which two classes most events in
life may, according to them, be divided,
and considered equally descriptive of sud-
den death or a new bonnet.
I use it in its real meaning, full of awe,
inspiring fear and reverence, as Jacob said,
" How dreadful is this place; this great
London, with its millions of souls, with its
strange contrasts of riches and poverty,
business and pleasure, learning and igno-
rance, and the sin everywhere. Awful,
indeed and the thought would be over-
whelming in its awfulness if we could not
say also, as Jacob did, Surely the Lord is
in this place, and I knew it not," if we did
not know that there is the ladder set up,
reaching to heaven, and the angels of God
ever ascending and descending, if we did
not believe that the Lord stands above it.
It seemed a very terrible place to the
old countrywoman as she wandered
about its streets and squares, its parks
and alleys, that November day, too dazed
and stupefied to form any plan for her-
self, only longing to get out of sight, that
she might not shame her boy. She felt
no bitterness against him, for was it not
natural when he was a gentleman, and she
a poor, homely old body?
In the early morning, when the streets
were empty, except for policemen or late
revellers hurrying home, or market-carts
coming in from the country, with frosty
moisture on the heaps of cabbages, she
got on pretty well.
She had a cup of coffee at an early
coffee-stall, and no one took any notice
of her; some of those that passed were
country people too, and at that early hour
people are used to see odd, out-of-the way
figures, that would be stared at in the
height of noon.
But as the day went on, the streets
filled with hurrying people, and the shops
opened, and omnibuses and cabs began
to run, and she got into more bustling,
noisy thoroughfares, and was hustled and
pushed about and looked at, the terrors
of the situation came heavily upon her.
She tried to encourage herself with the
thought that before long she should get
out of London and reach the country,
little knowing, poor old soul! how many
miles of streets, and houses, and pave-
ments lay between her and the merest
pretence to real country.
And then, too, in that maze of streets,
where one seemed exactly like another,
her course was of a most devious charac-
ter, often describing a circle and bringing
her back through the same streets without
the old woman knowing that she was re-
tracing her steps; sometimes a difficult
crossing, with an apparently endless suc-
cession of omnibuses and carts, turned
her from her way; sometimes a quieter-
looking street with the trees of a square
showing at the end enticed her aside.
Once she actually went up North Credi-
ton Street, unconsciously and unnoticed.
She reached one of the parks at last, and
sat down very thankfully on a seat, though
it was clammy and damp, and the fog was
lurking under the gaunt, black trees, and
hanging over the thin, coarse grass, which
was being nibbled by dirty, desolate sheep,
who looked to the old woman's eyes like
" WHI.TEVER WOUL1) FOLKS SAY IF LAI)DIE'S IO.IHER 'WAS FOUND
DEAD LIKE ANY TRAMP. IN THE RO)l."D
some new kind of London animal, not to be
recognized as belonging to the same spe-
cies as the soft, fleecy white flocks on the
hill-sides and meadows of Sunnybrook.
She sat here a long time resting, doz-
ing, and trying to think. I don't want
to trouble no one, or shame no one.
I only want just to get out of the way."
She was faint and tired, and she thought
perhaps she might be going to die. It's
a bit unked to die all alone, and I'd
liefer have died in my bed comfortable-
like; but there it don't much matter, it'll
soon be all over and an end to it all."
But no! that would not do either; and
the old woman roused herself and shook
off the faintness. Whatever would folks
say if Laddie's mother was found dead
like any tramp in the road? He'd die
of shame, pretty near, to hear it in every
Poor old soul! she little knew how
people can starve, and break their hearts,
and die for want of food or love in London,
and no one be the wiser or the sadder.
It was just then she found out that her
pocket had been picked, or rather that her
purse was gone; for she did not wonder
where or how it went, and, indeed, she did
not feel the loss very acutely, though, at
home in the old days, she had turned the
house upside down and hunted high and
low and spared no pains to find a missing
It did not contain all her money, for
with good, old-fashioned caution, she had
some notes sewed up in her stays; but still
it was a serious loss, and one she would
have made a great moan over in old times.
She did not know that the sight of her
worn, old netted purse, with the rusty
steel rings, had touched a soft spot in a
heart that for years had seemed too dry
and hard for any feeling.
It had lain in the hand of an expert
London pickpocket; it was mere child's-
play taking it, it did not require any skill.
There was a bit of lavender stuck into the
rings, and he smelt and looked at it, and
then the old woman turned and looked at
him with her country eyes; and then all at
once, almost in spite of himself, he held
out the purse to her. Don't you see as
you've dropped your purse?" he said, in
a surly, angry tone, and finished with an
oath that made the old woman tremble
Sand turn pale; and he flung away, setting
his teeth and calling himself a fool.
That man was not all bad, -who is?
and his poor act of restitution is surely
put to his credit in the ledger of his life,
and will stand there when the books shall
be opened. The old woman got little
good from it, however, for the purse was
soon taken by a less scrupulous thief.
How cold it was! The old woman
shivered and drew her damp shawl round
her, and longed, oh! how bitterly, for
the old fireside, and the settle, worn and
polished by generations of shoulders, for
the arm-chair with its patchwork cushion
longed, ah how wearily, for the grave
by the churchyard wall, where the master
rests free of all his troubles, and where
"there's plenty of room for I," and
longed, too, quite as simply and patheti-
cally, for a cup of tea out of the cracked
But why should I dwell on the feelings
of a foolish, insignificant, old woman?
There are hundreds and thousands about
us whose lives are more interesting, whose
thoughts are more worth recording. "Are
not two sparrows sold for a farthing?" and
yet "Doth not God take thought for spar-
rows? then, surely so may we. Does
He indeed despise not the desires of such
as be sorrowful? even though the sorrow-
ful one be only an old, country woman,
and her desire, a cup of tea!
Then why should we call that common
and uninteresting which He pitifully be
holds? And we shall find no life that is
not full of interest, tender feeling, noble
poetry, deep tragedy, just as there is
nobody without the elaborate system of
nerves, and muscles, and veins, with which
we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
The early November dusk was coming
on before she set out on her pilgrimage
again, the darkness coming all the earlier
for the fog and the London smoke; and
then, hardly caring which way she went,
she turned her face eastward, not knowing
that she was making for the very heart of
The streets were even more crowded and
confusing than they had been in the morn-
ing, and the gas and the lighted shops, and
the noise, and her own weariness, com-
bined to increase her bewilderment.
Once as she passed round the corner
of a quieter street, some one ran up
against her and nearly threw her down;
a lady, the old woman would have
described her, smartly, even handsomely
dressed, with a bright color on her
cheeks, and glowing, restless, unhappy
eyes, and dry, feverish lips.
She spoke a hasty word of apology, and
then, all at once, gave a sharp, sudden
cry, and put her hands on the old woman's
shoulders, and looked eagerly into her
face. Then she pushed her away with
a painful, little laugh. "I thought you
were my mother," she said.
No, I never had no gals."