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"Yes, Heaven has left me both," said Mary, with a sadness that startled her hearer.
"It is no boast," continued she, abstractedly, and with a softness rare even in her sex.
"It was I who said so, not yourself," said Sir Jacob, blandly; "and you have only one motive"
"Love!" she exclaimed, with melting eyes, whose glimmer was like the opal clouded in its own beauty.
"We have all some trial or another," said the baronet. "Cheer up, dear lady; and if you ever want a friend, there will be one in reserve."
"But it distresses me to reflect that I may be taking advantage of your goodness," said Mary; "for you are performing a greater act of kindness than you yourself are aware of."
"So much the better," replied Sir Jacob. "Do not let that stand in your way."
Perhaps I ought to tell you why, but I dare not," said Mary. "Nor do I desire to hear; it is enough for me that the lad is a gentleman, and as I profess to be one myself, why we may take the rest on good faith."
"Let me tell you thus much: though deserted, he is of gentle, nay, almost of noble, birth."
"We are off this afternoon to Tofts Hall," interposed Sir Jacob. "Shall we take him with us?"
"Not so soon-not quite so soon," murmured Mary, in a sort of dream.
"You cannot like parting with him so suddenly; that I am not surprised at."
She scarce heard the words, but dreamed on and wandered. "I think now," said the baronet, "you had better let him come at once," for he mistook her reverie for hesitation.
"My mother is sick; when she recovers I will bring the child, and place him myself at the school."
The baronet respected her resolution, bidding her remember that he should hold her fast to her word.
The end was gained-could it be said fairly? Perhaps with as much candour as was wise; more on her part than was within the limit of her licence. Still a march had been stolen on events, the opportunity had been devised by the strategist, and its fruits were forced. Genius is permitted to govern by such means, but its triumphs are often checked, or it would be rampant and ride rough-shod over the deluded. The nemesis may descend on those who are not the plotters; they who reap the harvest sown for them in the dark must take the evil with the good.
And now it is to be told with sorrow that the tax had to be
paid by her who derived benefit from this important issue of her residence at Northport, and of the long wished-for dissolution! It was a rate levied on the affections; in a word, it was the rate of mortality-not a poor one, but one of heavy returns. It was issued every autumn from those salt marshes, and was demanded of many to make up a little sum. There was no kneading of pockets, and telling it to call again! It was an epidemic; those who incurred it paid the debt of nature, and were called victims; and that to a certain extent was true.
Mrs. Fairfax, though not piquante, still kind and religious, was carried off by this fever in her prime, with unspeakable troubles in her heart; not, however, without hearing the happy tidings of hope from her daughter's lips, that Johnny had found the friend he needed.
She was the first victim; and her end should have been a solemn warning to others who laughed all day long in taverns for a week, to commemorate their recent triumph. To them the native typhus might almost have been thought to come as a joke; they had no other care than to drink and be merry, many still having their bribes unchanged in the pockets when they fell sick and died; the tens and twenties reserved as an endowment for neighbours, though fraternity had been given to the dogs.
Next amongst this class of victims was mine host; he died delirious with an hurrah, respected by all who knew him. (R. I. P.)
But not to be diverted from a truer sorrow, let us return to where hearts were divided that had never before beat apart. Such grief as Mary Prentis had to pass through is not convulsive, it has not its relief in the sob and the tear; it paralyses the mind, and puts nature into a suit of mourning. What was the hope now that had so lately glowed? It was in ashes; a hurricane had swept over its remains. Hope! could that emotion return? It might live again, but where was the light that it had shed over a morrow that brought death!
Those who exist for novelty may prefer a new sorrow to an old, a fresh condolence to the forgotten one, and the happy release to the lingering disease. Let them prosper in the crapes of fashion with their polished jets; let them weep with onyx eyes! But as a single death to the thinking is the end of all mankind, so is it to the living the end of time itself; the joys of life stop suddenly, and the curtain of night descends.
Yet children have a strange idea of death, it does not paralyse, it excites their souls. Johnny was led by his mother into the blinded chamber to look on saintly features, and a coffin, the unhorsed chariot of death. The white steeds and the impatient soul that sped them on were gone; having outstripped the sun in his
race, and borne an immortal to the realms of bliss, they were browsing quietly on the plains of heaven.
It was a strange idea; its duration a moment, when it was replaced.
He conceived that he was admitted to a glimpse of eternal Their mode of business and the scale on which they were conducted bewildered him. The foreign correspondence, so to say, of earth with the other world; the summons, the departure, the journey afar, he had not before conceived a transaction so vast and awful.
It was a strange idea; its duration a moment, when he felt sick, turned faint and pale. The room turned round; was the office where these marvels were settled about to be whirled away?
His mother caught him in her arms and bore him from the chamber.
Nancy placed him on a sofa at the open window, sprinkled him with water, put hartshorn to his nose, and he revived.
"Yesterday," said he to the adoring Nancy, who could have wept at the paleness that overspread his brow, "yesterday I was on the eve of a journey; I thought it was a long way to Tofts Hall; what must it seem then on the eve of a journey beyond the tomb?"
Nancy did not appear to like that strange idea, and put a stop to its duration by asking him to take a walk, and they went out together; by this means her object to refresh and divert him was accomplished. They were out on the Crouch and in the fields for two hours, when it was time to return to dinner.
The cloth was laid, and a chair placed at the table; he was to dine alone. A hare was brought in, because it was a dish that he used to like, but it was at a time when he ate it in forgetfulness of the fact that it had once been alive. He glanced at it, saw it prick its crisp cars, it challenged his imagination in the race of death. It was ready for a start to be pursued by invisible hunters, then in full chase was burnt alive as it crossed the blazing heath.
OUR LIFE IN JAPAN.*
THIS is precisely the kind of work which is wanted in regard to those strange antipodal islands, and still stranger people, yclept Japanese. We have had enough for the time being of the past history, mythology, and ethnology of these hybrid Mongols, and of the inland seas and towns, the features, the scenery, and the vegetation of the country. Without being so learned and detailed as old Kämpfer and Thunberg, M. de Chassiron has filled up a void by his admirable illustrations, and Alcock, Oliphant, and Fortune have brought information down to a late period. Messrs. Jephson and Elmhirst carry on the history to our own day, and a remarkable history it is, where a country is, from being brought into contact with Europe and America, going through the throes of a double struggle, one against pressure from without, the other from the gradual overthrow of the feudal system within. Whether a Richelieu will arise in the shape of some modern Taikun to abate the pride of semi-independent Daimos, and subject the provinces to their legitimate emperor, is not yet quite clear; but all the probabilities are in favour of such an issue, and of the long continuance of peaceful commercial relations. Acts of vandalism, superstition, and barbarity may still be occasionally perpetrated a whole people is not changed in a quarter of a century-but the Japanese are essentially an intelligent people, particularly educatable, and all the chances are in favour of progress and not of retrogression.
In the mean time, what we want are sketches of lifeintimate acquaintance with both the domestic and public habits and manners of the people-so as to be able to form some idea of their particular wants, and of their intellectual aspirations. The work before us will furnish the reader with a large fund of this particular kind of information. It is indeed a most readable and entertaining account, not only of the life led by the English in Japan, but also, which is of more importance, of the kind of life led by the Japanese themselves. So Japanese is Japan-or so Nipponese is Nippon-that while we were almost tired of that never-failing adjunct to all pictorial representations, old Fusiyama, our writers tell us that after living some time among the Japanese, one begins to share their veneration for the grand old mountain. Unless, indeed, people can enter into the feelings of those with whom they
*Our Life in Japan. By R. Mounteney Jephson and Edward Pennell Elmhirst, 9th Regiment. With Illustrations from Photographs. By Lord Walter Kerr, Signor Beato, and native Japanese drawings. London: Chapman and Hall.
are sojourning, it is quite certain that all attempts at description will be vain and futile.
Frenchmen, it is admitted, get on much better with this extraordinarily polite and punctilious people than we do. They can bow and scrape, whereas the Englishman shirks his work disgracefully, and is indeed sometimes so irreverent as to be strangely moved to mirth at what he designates as "antics"-until his own turn comes. But if the Englishman looks piteously out of his eyes, as he bows and rubs his knees-one of the minutiæ; he can admire the Japanese dress and vouch for the comfort of it, especially that of the "bettoes," or grooms-a tight-fitting flesh surtout of tattooing of the most wonderful pattern. After the heat and fever of Hong-Kong, rides and rambles in Japan, through green lanes and over wooded hills, with lovely peaceful views on every side, are things not to be despised-but not to be carried out precisely in the "betto" costume.
"Huts and kennels," as Japanese dwellings are irreverently termed, and to the consideration of which a whole chapter is devoted, concern us not. If a visitor cannot make himself comfortable in any country-barring insect visitors, as more especially ants he has himself in great part to blame. One of the first "curious" things to be seen-not an uncommon one, it appearsis an execution. Some French traveller noted a man swinging from a rope as a proof of civilisation, three or four men impaled on spikes once disgusted us with some otherwise very pretty scenery. The victim on the occasion in question, it would appear, like others of his class, put on a kind of bravado, and called out to the foreigners "to come and see how a Nippon could die!" But he was in reality much disturbed inwardly, and his features are described as being worn and distorted, and his eyeballs glazed and sunk. After decapitation the head is exposed on a scaffold, and Signor Beato's illustration of such a warning would be simply repulsive were it not the head of one of the murderers of the illfated Major Baldwin and Lieutenant Bird. We grieve to read that fearful tales are told of the tortures employed by the Nippons to extort confession or punish crimes. The fiendish ingenuity of the Roman inquisition is indeed said to be outdone by the diabolical contrivances of the acknowledged jurisdiction of Japan.
A next thing to be done is to visit the great bronze idol of Japan at Daibuts, some seventeen miles from Yokohama. The way there lays "like the path of all younger sons in fairy tales," up hill and down dale, through woods and valleys, villages and hamlets, and past peaceful farmhouses, from which chubby little children come trooping out with shrill cries of "Tojin! Tojin! stranger! stranger!" They would do as much in any other country. The children being dressed exactly like the grown-up