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door was open, and he was stretched upon a small half brokendown sofa. I felt much shocked, as my regard for the worthy Puff was great. I busied myself immediately about him, and my endeavours were crowned with success, for a very few minutes after I had begun to rub the palms of his hands he opened his eyes, and murmured, in a weak voice,
"Water, water, I am dying!
Seized with heartfelt grief and anxiety at the idea of losing my old friend, I hastened to do all that in my confusion I could think of to gratify his wish. So I laid hold of a caraff half full of water, and poured its contents partly into his mouth, partly over his whole face. To my extreme joy, it seemed as if my water-cure had worked wonders on the old gentleman, for he became, or at least appeared to become, a little better, and the best proof of this was that he asked me with kind concern,
"How goes it with Diana?"
Thereupon I began eagerly to relate to him all my various sufferings. It did my poor oppressed mind good to find a friendly and sympathising ear into which to pour my sorrows and disappointments; I sat looking straight before me as I spoke, but when my long narration was finished, and I turned my eyes towards the old man, I beheld that he was dead!
Who shall describe my consternation when I made this discovery? Who shall depict the fearful pallor of the dead, which, as it were, communicated itself to my cheeks from those of the beatified sleeper? I can only exclaim, with our undying Andersen, "Would that I were a painter!" No words of mine can shadow forth this scene; the pen falls powerless from my hand, when thought would endeavour to form itself into words to represent this heartrending picture.
For eight days after that evening I was not for a moment my own master, being obliged, as heir of everything possessed by the deceased, and executor testamenti, to attend to all that which, in our days, is needful in order to commit any one to the grave. When I read the last will of the blessed departed I was exceedingly moved, for the worthy major had constituted me his heir that I might have the means of bringing out my poem, which he hoped would open the way for me to the greatest earthly good fortune. The only stipulation he made was, that I should take care of Trofast, as long as the old dog lived.
"That I will!" I exclaimed, in much emotion. "It is the least I can do in return for his kindness."
So then I was his only heir! How often had I not envied those who were so fortunate as to be placed in such a position! And see! I had been promoted to this dignity without having laboured to obtain it. This thought—why should I conceal it?—
very much mitigated the distress I felt at losing my faithful old friend.
As soon as the good Major Puff had been carried to his long home, and deposited in the earth, borne thither by sundry noncommissioned officers, and I had returned thanks in the newspaper, not only to the invited and the uninvited who had shown him the respect of attending his burial (there were but five of them altogether), but also to the worthy clergyman who had delivered a funeral oration, a beautiful and heart-stirring discourse, full of praises of the deceased, and of the fine qualities which Puff had never possessed-as soon as all these ceremonies were over, I thought it time to inquire into the amount of Puff's property, and to search for secret depositories, where I hoped to find what was not to be found in his usual keeping places-namely, money, bonds, &c. &c. But in vain! At length, when I had taken into account all his effects, and reckoned up their value, I ascertained that the whole of my inheritance, which was to have enabled me to publish my "Endymion and Diana," was a deficit of about three marks and eight skillings, which, as sole heir, I had to pay out of my own pocket.
Thus vanished my last hope! From that time forwards my poem lay untouched in the corner of the desk it had at first occupied. Whenever my eyes fell upon the unlucky "Endymion and Diana" I heaved a deep sigh, for I always grieved that I had not got it published. When I am dead and gone-I almost wept at the thought--my muse's great, impressive, and charming offspring may be transferred to a grocer's shop, and some one or other fragment of my poem may delight the servant-girls of a future period, when they occasionally smooth out the yellow crumpled paper which is put round their parcels, and read a portion of my master work, which in this way may be published after my death, though I could not find a publisher for it during my life!
CHRISTINE; OR, COMMON-PLACE PEOPLE.
BY JANET ROBERTSON.
SEVEN years have now passed over the dramatis personæ of this history, and the neglected child of Dunkeld, in an undisturbed flow of prosperity, has become the mother of two little girls since the birth of her boy. Emmeline has likewise made Guy the happy father of a son. When the duties of his profession permit him to be in England, the admiral's house in Devonshire is the permanent residence of the young pair; but when obliged to be at sea, the youthful wife, her darling child, and the old sailor are almost constant guests at Berlington Castle. There, surrounded by their much-loved relatives and friends the noble host and hostess live-when at home-a truly patriarchal life, but if obliged to be absent to meet the various calls upon their distinguished station, Mrs. Mordaunt en pendant to the Signora Cypriani at the beautiful villa Zernini-acts as chaletaine in the fine old mansion, where she receives and entertains the lovely daughter of the house and her idolising old uncle, the admiral. How different a family circle from that in Ainslie-place! where the lady who aimed at surpassing everybody in her sphere, sits in sombre state in her sumptuously furnished apartment, with her once handsome and worshipping husband beside her sunk to a state of idiotcy, and the sour and silly Rachel, in mock dignity and severe superciliousness, looking the worst possible version of an old maid in a married woman. What had occasioned Mr. Douglas's premature imbecility no one could be quite sure, but there was no doubt that his decay of intellect came on after a visit to the lunatic asylum to which Captain Seymour had been consigned, and where-as both incurable and dangerous--he is destined to remain a prisoner. Although he was considered more than usually tranquil on the occasion in question, an attendant-who was always obliged to be present in case of any access of violence-reported that the patient with the cunning and malice for which mad people are so remarkable-had said some things which had singularly agitated the generally stoical Mrs. Douglas, and shaken her husband's nerves. After his return to his house in Edinburgh, it was observed that Mr. Douglas lived much more apart from his wife than he had ever done before; that he sometimes kept walking for hours together backwards and forwards in his library
talking to himself, and on one occasion had been overheard to mutter, "Can it be so; can it really be so? to try to poison the sick and helpless child, and that child now a countess, the most beautiful, accomplished, admired woman in England, and my own sister!" Poor unhappy man! it was not that sister's amiable character that awakened his remose-it was her high place in the world and her unbounded popularity! When at meals with his wife, he often regarded her stealthily, as if he sought to convince himself of the truth of some dreadful suspicion, and when he became confirmed in his weakened state of mind, he sometimes took her hand in his, and faltered out piteously, "Say, only say, Bessy, that you could not do it!" At similar moments Mrs. Douglas grew ghastly white, and, although quivering with suppressed emotion, never failed to try to soothe him while pretending not to understand the meaning of his words. Whether it arose from some lingering feeling of gratitude for past devotion, or from a fear of his betraying the thoughts that haunted his mind, she constantly attended on him herself permitting no participation whatever in the duty that she could possibly avoid-always sleeping in the same apartment, and never leaving him alone with any of the few intimates who frequented the house. Sometimes, however, she could not help quitting him for a few minutes when her daughter was in the room, but seldom failed on her return to find him weeping like a child, for Rachel's harsh temper, uncorrected in any way by warmth of heart, could not brook his wailing folly, and she was often guilty of saying cruel and cutting things in order to quell his querulous and teasing ramblings of imagination. But it was Guy whom Mrs. Douglas dreaded the most to see, for when he came to visit his father, the spirit of the prematurely old man lighted up into a blaze of paternal pride when gazing on the noble form and beaming open countenance before him, and he became not only loquacious, but sometimes even startling in what he said, often asking for his beautiful sister, the Countess of Berlington, and her lovely daughter, Lady Emmeline Temple -for with a singular confusion of ideas he thought of Emmeline as Christine's daughter, rather than of her being his son's wife. Soon after his marriage, Guy brought her to see his family, but it was conducive to no good, for her delicate and feeling nature shrank like a sensitive plant when it came in contact with the repulsive characters of Mrs. Douglas and Rachel, while the little Seymour, the image of his villainous father-in spite of her inherent love for everything young and helpless-inspired her with disgust. Accumstomed as she also was, in the polished circle of which she was a member, to everything being refined by the purifying elements of heart, sense, and good taste; she fre
quently was much amused-in rather a wicked way-with Rachel's paltry endeavours to be great, and sometimes could not control a smile of contempt when she saw her pick up a note from the silver salver handed to her by her own footman, and heard her read aloud with complacency, "The Honourable Mrs. Seymour," remarking at the same time that the missive must be for her as if any one doubted the dignity which she had purFor her miserable father-in-law, Emchased at so dear a rate. meline felt sincere pity, and always sought to soothe him by her softness of manner and gentle attentions, but the gratification he evidently experienced from the influence of her melting sympathy, sometimes threatened to have dangerous consequences; and one day, after having gazed at her carnestly for a few seconds, he suddenly said, "Tell me, is the charming Christine like you? if so, how could any one think of taking her life, and by poison too ?"
Unhappy man! he forgot in his imbecility that he himself had shed on the promise of her youth a more deadly poison than laudanum-the poison of neglect and injustice, which had threatened to inflict the pains of a lingering death throughout a whole lifetime. Mrs. Douglas was so alarmed by this speech, that she immediately withdrew Guy and his young wife, who were altogether unconscious of the truth, telling them that her husband was subject to bad dreams, and that when they occurred they haunted him until he persuaded himself they were real events which had taken place. Assuming her most plausible manner, she expatiated upon the necessity of keeping him henceforth quiet and retired from the world, professing to be in hopes that by avoiding all excitement his mind might ultimately regain its former tone; thus giving her son and his bride to understand that their future visits would not be desirable. Naturally of an innocent and child-like disposition, and quite new to the bad side of human nature-except in her mother's case, which she sedulously tried to forget-Emmeline was totally unsuspicious of any hidden motive for this statement on the lady's part, but not so Guy; he was startled and roused to an observation which led him to the conviction that some painful and cloaked mystery existed. His heart sank within him, he grew as cold in his manner as he felt alienated in his feelings, and without further delay in Scotland than to see the few people whom he reckoned friends, he returned with his joyous and fondly attached young wife to England, in the firm determination never again voluntarily to seekwith her, at least a family circle where there was nothing to love, and much that was calculated to awaken doubts of the darkest description.
We must leave the wretched party in Ainslie Place to the pro-