« AnteriorContinuar »
change.” “Of weather?” asked Miss Tox, in her simplicity. “Of everything, of course we must. It's a world of change. What is there that does not change ? Even the silkworm changes into all sorts of things continually."
4. “My Louisa is ever happy in her illustrations." " You are so kind, Lucretia, as to say so; and to think so, I believe. I hope neither of us may have any cause to lessen our opinion of each other.” — “I am sure of it,” returned Miss Tox. “Pardon me, my dear Louisa, but have I caught sight of the manly form of Mr. Chick in the carriage?" · He is there,” said Mrs. Chick ; “ but pray leave him there. He has his newspaper.” — “My Louisa knows that any approach to ceremony would be out of the question."
5. “Florence * has returned home also,” said Mrs Chick, after sitting silent for some time; and really Florence is a great deal too old now to lead that solitary life to which she has been accustomed. I should have very little respect for anybody who could advocate a different opinion.
6. “If she 's a strange girl, and if my brother Paul cannot feel perfectly comfortable in her society, what is the reply ? That he must make an effort. We have always been a family remarkable for effort. Paul is at the head of the family; almost the only representative of it left, --- for what am I? I am of no consequence
7. “My dearest love!” remonstrated Miss Tox. - Mrs. Chick dried her eyes, which were for the moment overflowing, and proceeded : -"And consequently he is more than ever bound to make an effort. And although his having done so comes upon me with a sort of shock, I often wish
heart was a marble slab, or a stone
8. My sweet Louisa !” remonstrated Miss Tox again. “Still, it is a triumph for me to know that he is so true to himself, and to his name of Dombey; I only hope that she may be worthy of the name too."
My dear Louisa,” said Miss Tox, “ will it be the least satisfaction to observe, in reference to that remark, that I, as a humble individual, think your sweet niece in every way most promising ?” — “If," said Mrs. Chick, with solemn patience, “I have not expressed myself with clearness, the fault, of course, is mine ; I therefore go back, and
that was not intended to relate to Florence.”
10. “Indeed!” returned Miss Tox. “No," said Mrs.
* Florence is the daughter of Mr. Dorbey.
Chick, decisively.- “Pardon, my dear ; I cannot have understood it. I fear I am dull.” - When I speak, Lucretia, of her being worthy of the name, I speak of my brother Paul's second wife. I believe I have already said, in effect, that it is his intention to marry a second wife.”
11. Miss Tox left her seat in a hurry, and went to her plants; clipping among the stems and leaves with as little favor as a barber working at so many pauper heads of hair. " Whether she will be fully sensible of the distinction conferred upon her,” said Mrs. Chick, in a lofty tone, « is quite another question. I hope she may be. We are bound to think well of one another in this world, and I hope she may be. I have not been advised with, myself. If I had been advised with, I have no doubt
advice would have been cavalierly received, and therefore it is infinitely better as it is. I much prefer it as it is.”
12. Miss Tox, with head bent down, still clipped among the plants. Mrs. Chick, with energetic shakings of her own head from time to time, continued to hold forth, as if in defiance of somebody.
13. “If my brother Paul had consulted with me, which he sometimes does,- or, rather, sometimes used to do; for he will naturally do that no more now, and this is a circumstance which I regard as a relief from responsibility," said Mrs. Chick, hysterically, “ for I thank Heaven I am not jealous,here Mrs. Chick again shed tears, “if my brother Paul had come to me, and said, 'Louisa, what kind of qualities would you advise me to look out for in a wife?' I should hate certainly answered, · Paul, you must have family, you must have beauty, you must have dignity, you must have connection.' Those are the words I should have used. You might have led me to the block immediately afterwards," said Mrs. Chick, as if that consequence were highly probable, “ but I should have used them. I should have said, · Paul ! to marry a second time without family! You to marry without beauty! You to marry without dignity! You to marry without connection! There is nobody in the world, not mad, who could dream of daring to entertain such a preposterous idea!!!
14. Miss Tox stopped clipping, and, with her head among the plants, listened attentively. Perhaps Miss Tox thought there was hope in this exordium, and the warmth of Mrs. Chick.
15. " I should have adopted this course of argument,” pur
PARXER'S FOURTH READER.
.“ not pos
sued the discreet lady, “ because I trust I am not a fool. I make no claim to be considered a person of superior intellect - though I believe some people have been extraordinary enough to consider me so; one so little humored as I am woulă
very soon be disabused of any such notion; but I trust I am not a downright fool.
16. “And to tell me,” said Mrs. Chick, with ineffable disdain, “ that my brother, Paul Dombey, could ever contemplate the possibility of uniting himself to anybody, — I don't care who, —" she was more sharp and emphatic in that short clause than in any other part of her discourse, sessing these requisites, would be to insult what understanding I have got, as much as if I was to be told that I was born and bred an elephant, which I may be told next,” said Mrs. Chick, with resignation. • It would n't surprise me, at all. I expect it.”
17. In the moment's silence that ensued, Miss Tox's scissors gave a feeble clip or two; but Miss Tox's face was still invisible, and Miss Tox's morning gown was agitated. Mrs. Chick looked sideways at her, through the intervening plants; and went on to say, in a tone of bland conviction, and as one dwelling on a point of fact that hardly required to be stated,
“ Therefore, of course, my brother Paul has done what was to be expected of him, and what anybody might have foreseen he would do, if he entered the marriage state again.
18. “I confess it takes me rather by surprise, however gratifying; because, when Paul went out of town, I had no idea at all that he would form any attachment out of town, and he certainly had no attachment when he left here. Howeverpit seems to be extremely desirable, in every point of view. I have no doubt the mother is a most genteel and elegant creature, and I have no right whatever to dispute the policy of her living with them, which is Paul's affair, not mine; and as to Paul's choice, herself, I have only seen her picture yet, but that is beautiful indeed.
19. “Her name is beautiful, too,” said Mrs. Chick, shaking her head with energy, and arranging herself in her chair; “ Edith is at once uncommon, as it strikes me, and distinguished. Consequently, Lucretia, I have no doubt you will be happy to hear that the marriage is to take place immediately,
- of course you will,” — great emphasis again, — "and that you are delighted with this change in the condition of my brother, who has shown you a great deal of pleasant attention at various times."
20. Miss Tox made no verbal answer, but took up the little watering-pot with a trembling hand, and looked vacantly around, as if considering what article of furniture would be improved by the contents. The room door opening at this crisis of Miss Tox's feelings, she started, laughed aloud, and fell into the arms of the person entering ; happily insensible alike of Mrs. Chick's indignant countenance, and of the major at his window over the way, who had his double-barreled eye-glass in full action, and whose face and figure were dilated with Mephistophelean* joy.
21. Not so the expatriated native,t amazed supporter of Miss Tox's swooning form, who, coming straight up stairs, with a polite inquiry touching Miss Tox's health (in exact pursuance of the major's malicious instructions), had accidentally arrived in the’ very nick of time to catch the delicate burden in his arms, and to receive the contents of the little wateringpot in his shoe; both of which circumstances, coupled with his consciousness of being closely watched by the wrathful major, who had threatened the usual penalty in regard of every bone in his skin, in case of any failure, combined to render him a moving spectacle of mental and bodily distress. 22. For some moments, this afflicted foreigner remained clasping Miss Tox to his heart, with an energy of action in remarkable opposition to his disconcerted face, while that poor lady trickled slowly down upon him the very last sprinklings of the little watering-pot, as if he were a delicate exotic (which indeed he was), and might be almost expected to blow while the gentle rain descended.
* The joy of a demon. The allusion is to Mephistopheles, a demon mentioned by Goethe in his “Faust.” The true Faust was a celebrated dealer in magic, or the black art, who lived in the sixteenth century. After having spent a large fortune in chemical and alchemical experiments, according to the ridiculous notions of the age in which he lived, he made a contract with the devil for twenty-four years. A spirit (a devil, of course) was given him as a servant, with whom he traveled about, and surprised people by working wonders. The evil spirit, as the story goes, finally carried him off to the devil, to whom he had sold himself. It is, perhaps, needless to inform the young reader that the whole story is a ridiculous fabrication, and that Doctor Faust was probably a chemist better acquainted with his science than most others of his age. His remarkable knowledge, in an age of ignorance and superstition, led to the popular belief that he had dealings with the devil. Be that as it may, the puppet-shows in Germany, even at the present day, exhibit the mimic representation of Doctor Faust and his attendant demon; and the memorial of his fame is also retained in the expression so commonly used, "The Devil and Doctor Faustus.” This traditionary legend has also been preserved in Goethe's (or Göthe's) Faust, one of the greatest poems the Germans possess. It is in this poem that Faust's attendant devil is called Mephistopheles, though in the puppet-shows of the present day it is called Wagner. The young reader will bear in mind that the Faust here spoken of lived many years after the celebrated John Faust (or Fust), one of the three artists to whom the invention of printing is ascribed
† The native was a foreign servant of Major Bagstock. The major lived opposite to Miss Tox, and she had the vanity to suppose him one of her admirers.
23. Mrs. Chick, at length recovering sufficient presence of mind to interpose, commanded him to drop Miss Tox upon the sofa, and withdraw; and the exile promptly obeying, she applied herself to promote Miss Tox's recovery. But none of that gentle concern which usually characterizes the daughters of Eve in their tending of each other, none of that freemasonry in fainting, by which they are generally bound together in a mysterious bond of sisterhood, was visible in Mrs. Chick's demeanor.
24. Rather like the executioner who restores the victim to sensation previous to proceeding with the torture (or was wont to do so, in the good old times, for which all true men wear, perpetual mourning), did Mrs. Chick administer the smelling-bottle, the slapping on the hands, the dashing of cold water on the face, and the other approved remedies.
The same subject, concluded. 1. And when, at length, Miss Tox opened her eyes, and gradually became restored to animation and consciousness, Mrs. Chick drew off as from a criminal, and, reversing the precedent of the murdered King of Denmark,* regarded her more in anger than in sorrow.
2. “Lucretia!” said Mrs. Chick, “I will not attempt to disguise what I feel. My eyes are opened, all at once. 1 would n't have believed this, if a saint had told it to me.”
“I am foolish to give way to faintness,” Miss Tox faltered. I shall be better presently.
“ You will be better presently, Lucretia !" repeated Mrs. Chick, with exceeding scorn. · Do you suppose I am blind? Do you imagine I am in my
second childhood ? No, Lucretia, I am obliged to you!”
*"A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.". Hamlet.