« AnteriorContinuar »
filled with gaily-dressed folk, many of the men in black and white also. But with what a different object had they thus attired themselves, for this was a wedding party ; the other had been a funeral one. It was a fashionable affair, too. No end of soldiers, quantities of grand ladies in superb costumes. How those stupid men smirked and bowed as they handed the females out, or saluted them at the top of the steps. I fear my ill-temper showed itself, I hope not unjustly, against these foreigners. After that solemn sight of only a few minutes before, my frame of mind revolted at their silly manners, particularly at the ways of those kid-gloved dandies in evening dress. They looked so silly and childish : in broad daylight, too. After what you told us the other day, I looked out carefully for the bride. You are right. In her case there was no love indeed for the man who was to wed her. She looked so pale and listless as she stepped out after the old, white-headed warrior, presumably her father. No vestige of emotion or excitement about that girl ; she was little more in years. She walked up the steps and into the sacred edifice as she might have done into a theatre
-graceful and beautiful to look upon truly, yet how cold, how unmoved, how worldly. Then the doors closed on the crowd, and if you remember dear, we got up and left before it came out again."
"And the lesson you have tried to read from these scenes, little Dot ?"
"A useful one, to bring most solemn thoughts in its wake, a lesson to lay to heart and profit by. I have tried to gather from these incidents a warning how the giving way to such worldly matters as these last detailed may come even nigh to an interference with the most sacred things of His, not of ours, how custom, usage, fashion, call it what you may, can even supplant in human minds the duty, yes, duty, owed by all to Him alone without whose will these frail mortals exist not. Great-heart, Great-heart, my own dear friend, to think that thus the things of man and God can come together! that death and His property must give way thus before the things of this sinful world !"
So poor little Dot cried aloud, as she wrung her hands in grief over the weakness of this race she visited. The man could only fold the child to his breast and kiss her tears away, with many a soothing caress.
After the round of all the sights, when they had visited endless churches, picture galleries, and palaces in and out of the city; when the children's eyes had feasted on many strange and wonderful sights; after they had been taught many lessons, then the visit came to an end. The time had flown by. It seemed incredible that they had been away a fortnight ; but they had. So one morning early they started off back again from whence they had come, not by the same route, by another, where the smallest possible amount of sea-passage was secured for Trixie's sake. Without any more startling adventures, and without this time encountering any homeward-going Rooks, “conducted” or otherwise, they reached in due time that other great city they seemed to have left but yesterday. Once more they were in Lowther Street, during the dull, unfashionable season, when, like it, all its neighbours were supposed to be empty; when the Modern Babylon was pictured so often as a dreary waste.
With all the din at the railway station, the bustle of the roads, the flaring gas in the shopwindows, the shouts of those who made up the never-ceasing traffic, that assertion was contradicted flatly at any rate.
Thus Trixie and Dot slumbered once more on English soil.
TORY GREAT-HEART TOLD THE CHILDREN
THE STORY GREAT-HEART TOLD THE CHILDREN
TRIXIE and Dot had been persistent in their
endeavours to extract from Great-heart something as to that past history of his, which seemed to have saddened his after life so much. He, in his turn, had been equally determined to preserve a strict silence on the subject ; but he gave in at last, as what mortal man would not with two such little people tormenting him ? As he jumped one on to each knee on a evening when their visit was drawing to a close, he said,
“Now, before we part, do you really want to know anything more than you do already about so worthless a being as myself ?."
“Oh, yes, indeed, indeed we do ! " came eagerly from his listeners.
"And if I were to gratify your feminine curiosity, little ones, and tell you a part, mind that only, of what it has been my lot to go through, will you promise to try and keep that same to yourselves ? Not that merely ; but to profit thereby in the way that it is my most earnest wish you should do ?”
Again, with renewed emphasis, came the affirmative response.
“ So be it,” said Great-heart, and his face became so sad-looking that Dot's heart smote her for her selfishness; but Trixie showed only an eager attention, so the gentler child was fain to hold her peace. “So be it,” repeated the man, "and let me ask you, as you listen, to endeavour to cast from your minds any thoughts of my identity with him you hear about. Think of it as of what might happen to any one of God's creatures, nothing more ; remember well too that he does not complain, but takes such good chastening as he has received with all meekness and resignation ; then perchance may you gain a better lesson, I more patient listeners.” The children nestled closer as Great-heart continued,
"I will pass quickly over the narrative of childhood, when, fostered by a loving mother's care, the happy days sped swiftly by. Then we were far from rich in worldly goods ; yet bravely did my sweet parent breast the adverse stream ; resigned was she to all reverses of fortune ; along