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But he has confided to somebody,
who confided it to me, who now confide it to you, that Miss Florence ceased to
be beautiful in his eyes when she sneered at the plainness of the Miss Blands'
muslin dresses. "And it is real ivy in their hair, Mr. Blorage, so they can't
have gone to any great expense to do honor to your ball." And Miss Florence
glanced down at her own dress.
"I like them all the better for
it," stoutly answered Dick.
As to Miss Fanny, she was so
astonished at the impertinence of such people as the Blands thrusting themselves
into society so much above them! And her star descended at the instant when she
was thus overcome.
Mr. Blorage accomplished his
dances with Fanny and with Florence, but did not accomplish his dance with Gatty
Bland. For on the instant that he claimed her hand Dr. Evans (sent of by his
wife presently after dinner) returned from taking care of Mrs. Bland.
"Oh! Mr. Blorage, I must go—thank
you so much for the happiest evening I ever spent, and the prettiest sight I
"No no no, you must not go; a
quadrille takes only twenty minutes to dance."
"But mamma is alone now, and I
should be quite unhappy all that twenty minutes, even though dancing with you.
But there is Jenny, she dances so well, and she loves it so much, and —don't
think me conceited, Mr. Blorage—she is so pretty."
"She is the prettiest girl in the
room—but one," says Mr. Blorage in a whisper. And as he assists Gatty to put on
her cloak he sees her, with unspeakable admiration, tie her little laced
handkerchief over her head and under her chin, and look so indescribably like
the dear darling little creature of his vision that he longs—infamous as is (of
course) the thought—to clasp her, then and there, to his heart! But instead of
doing so he flies back to the ball-room and engages Jenny out of hand. Thus
Gatty, when she went home, was able to tell her mother that she took a last peep
at the beautiful scene, and saw kind Mr. Blorage asking Jenny to dance, and
Jenny looking as pretty as even those two lovely cousins Florence and Fanny.
"They say Mr. Blorage is to marry one of them, mamma, but I hope not."
"Oh, my Gatty!"
"Well, mamma, you know I see a
good deal of them here and there, and I am sure they are only pretty girls. They
do not appreciate his great noble generous heart. But now, mamma, to bed you
must go. No more excitement for you to-night."
Happily the excitement in the
little family lasted a good many days, and afforded food for conversation
morning, noon, and night. Indeed it was yet as fresh as ever when, one morning,
the post brought a piece of news that fairly surpassed the house-warming—a
nomination to the Blue-coat School in favor of no less a personage than Master
Albert Bland. The commotion in that cottage—Well! It's a blessed thing to want
something, for then you can duly appreciate the favor of having it. And it is a
blessed thing to be rich, and liberal withal, for then you can bestow the favor
so appreciated. Meantime Mr. Blorage divided his time pretty equally between his
little office at the Bank, Dr. Evans's, the house belonging to the father of
Florence, and the abode within which dwelt the lovely Fanny's aunt. And all
these visits, combined with the still existing effects of his dream, ended in
The first consequence occurred to
the self-satisfied William. His slow brother Dick acquired the ridiculous habit
of demanding what Bill did with those sums of money he was forever borrowing?
And—unkindest thing of all—Mr. Richard insinuated, nay, he more than insinuated,
he plainly told Mr. William Blorage that he expected such sums to be repaid in
future. And to show that this was no idle threat, he produced a ledger, wherein
a debtor and creditor account was drawn up between Mr. Richard Blorage and Mr.
William Blorage: which account displayed a state of account so alarming to Mr.
William that he reformed rather. Imagine Mr. Dick's pleasure when William,
Billy, or Bill applied in sober seriousness for that post of junior of all the
junior clerks, whilom so despised by him!
Second important consequence. Mr.
Richard Blorage committed a piece of extravagance. He caused to be executed for
himself a statuette in white marble. Any orderers of statues, or other things to
be made after a fashion of their own, may calculate what an enormous sum Mr.
Blorage paid for his statue. It must be ethereal-looking (he said), it must have
extended wings, it must be lightly poised on one foot; but, above all, it must
have a slightly turned-up nose, and a little lace hankerchief tied under the
These consequences came to pass
ten years ago. On the night of the thirty-first of December, one thousand eight
hundred and sixty-two, let us take a peep into Mr. Blorage's house. Let us take
a peep at Mr. Blorage in his dining-room. Dinner is over, wine and dessert are
on table. The Chair is at the upper end of the room; above the chair is a
lovely. statuette on a carved oaken bracket.
Dick is reading the paper; so, at
the same time, is some one else. Dick holds the paper in his right hand; his
left hand clasps a little tiny hand of the said some one else: while the matcher
to that small hand of the same some one else turns the leaves of the paper, so
that Dick feels he has no want of another hand. If the owner of the small hand
gets to the bottom of the page first—which she invariably does, being a
woman—she lays her head confidingly on Dick's shoulder, and seems very well
content to let it stay there as long as Dick chooses.
"But, hark! There is a noise
overhead; a baize door closes with a muffled sound; there is a pattering of
little feet, and there is a joyful chorus of little voices. Dick puts down the
paper; his companion, flying to the door, opens it; in rush half a dozen small
rosy boys and girls. (Most of these little children have noses of a slightly
Mamma prepares their dessert.
There is a chair wanting at the table. In default of the missing chair, mamma
wheels forward the Chair, and sits down in it.
"Papa, papa! Mamma is in the
Chair of Truth," cries a child.
Clearly Mr. Blorage must have
told his dream in the family circle.
"Then let us question her," says
papa. "Mamma, are you happy?"
"Happy, as angels are said to
"Do you love us?"
"As (under God) my chief good, my
"Have you ever repented marrying
This time the question is only
answered by the surcharged eyes; expressive and loving eyes are
often more ready to overflow from
perfect happiness than from distress or pain.
IT will have been, 'ere now,
perceived that I sold the foregoing writings. From the fact of their being
printed in these pages, the inference will, 'ere now, have been drawn by the
reader, (may I add the gentle reader?) that I sold them to One who never yet—*
Having parted with the writings
on most satisfactory terms—for in opening negotiations with the present Journal
was I not placing myself in the hands of One of whom it may be said, in the
words of Another—** I resumed my usual functions. But I too soon discovered that
peace of mind had fled from a brow which, up to that time, Time had merely took
the hair off, leaving an unruffled expanse within.
It were superfluous to veil
it—the brow to which I allude is my own.
Yes, over that brow uneasiness
gathered like the sable wing of the fabled bird, as—as no doubt will be easily
identified by all right-minded individuals. If not, I am unable, on the spur of
the moment, to enter into particulars of him. The reflection that the writings
must now inevitably get into print, add that He might yet live and meet with
them, sat like the Hag of Night upon my jaded form. The elasticity of my spirits
departed. Fruitless was the Bottle, whether Wine or Medicine. I had recourse to
both, and the effect of both upon my system was witheringly lowering.
In this state of depression, into
which I subsided when I first began to revolve what could I ever say if He—the
unknown—was to appear in the Coffee Room and demand reparation, I one forenoon
in this last November received a turn that appeared to be given me by the finger
of Fate and Conscience, hand in hand. I was alone in the Coffee Room and had
just poked the fire into a blaze, and was standing with my back to it, trying
whether heat would penetrate with soothing influence to the Voice within, when a
young man in a cap, of an intelligent countenance though requiring his hair cut,
stood before me.
"Mr. Christopher, the Head
The young man shook his hair out
of his vision—which it impeded—took a packet from his breast, and handing it
over to me, said, with his eye (or did I dream?) fixed with a lambent meaning on
me, "THE PROOFS."
Although I smelt my coat-tails
singeing at the fire, I had not the power to withdraw them. The young man put
the packet in my faltering grasp, and repeated—let me do him the justice to add,
"THE PROOFS. A. Y. R."
With these words he departed.
A. Y. R.? And You Remember. Was
that his meaning? At Your Risk. Were the letters short for that reminder?
Anticipate Your Retribution. Did they stand for that warning? Outdacious Youth
Repent? But no; for that, a O was happily wanting, and the vowel here was a A.
I opened the packet and found
that its contents were the foregoing writings printed, just as the reader (may I
add the discerning reader?) peruses them. In vain was the reassuring whisper—A.
Y. R., All the Year Round—it could not cancel the Proofs. Too appropriate name.
The Proofs of my having sold the Writings.
My wretchedness daily increased.
I had not thought of the risk I ran, and the defying publicity I put my head
into, until all was done, and all was in print. Give up the money to be off the
bargain, and prevent the publication, I could not. My family was down in the
world, Christmas was coming on, a brother in the hospital and a sister in the
rheumatics could not be entirely neglected. And it was not only ins in the
family that had told on the resources of one unaided Waitering; outs were not
wanting. A brother out of a situation, and another brother out of money to meet
an acceptance, and another brother out of his mind, and another brother out at
New York (not the same, though it might appear so), had really and truly brought
me to a stand till I could turn myself round: I got worse and worse in my
meditations, constantly reflecting "The Proofs," and reflecting that when
Christmas drew nearer, and the Proofs were published, there could be no safety
from hour to hour but that He might confront me in the Coffee Room, and in the
face of day and his country demand his rights.
The impressive and unlooked-for
catastrophe toward which I dimly pointed the reader (shall I add, the highly
intellectual reader?) in my first remarks, now rapidly approaches.
It was November still, but the
last echoes of the Guy-Foxes had long ceased to reverberate. We was
slack—several joints under our average mark, and wine of course proportionate.
So slack had we become at last, that Beds Nos. 26, 27, 28, and 31 having took
their six o'clock dinners and dozed over their respective pints, had drove away
in their respective Hansoms for their respective Night Mail-Trains, and left us
I had took the evening paper to
No. 6 table—which is warm and most to be preferred—and lost in the all-absorbing
topics of the day, had dropped into a slumber. I was recalled to consciousness
by the well-known intimation, "Waiter!" and replying "Sir!" found a gentleman
standing at No. 4 table. The reader (shall I add, the observant reader?) will
please to notice the locality of the gentleman—at No. 4 table.
He had one of the new-fangled
uncollapsable bags in his hand (which I am against, for I don't see why you
shouldn't collapse, when you are about it, as your fathers collapsed before
you), and he said:
"I want to dine, waiter. I shall
sleep here tonight."
"Very good, Sir. What will you
take for dinner, Sir?"
"Soup, bit of codfish, oyster
sauce, and the joint."
"Thank you, Sir."
I rang the chamber-maid's bell,
and Mrs. Pratchett marched in, according to custom, demurely carrying a lighted
flat candle before her, as if she was one of a long public procession, all the
other members of which was invisible.
In the mean while the gentleman
had gone up to the mantle-piece, right in front of the fire, and laid his
forehead against the mantle-piece (which it is a low one, and brought him into
the attitude of leap-frog), and had heaved a tremenjous sigh. His hair was long
and lightish; and when he laid his
*The remainder of this
complimentar sentence editorially struck out.
**The remainder of this
complimentary parenthesis editorially struck out.
forehead against the mantle-piece
his hair all fell in a dusty fluff together over his eyes; and when he now
turned round and lifted up his head again, it all fell in a dusty fluff together
over his ears. This give him a wild appearance, similar to a blasted heath.
"Oh! The chamber-maid. Ah!" He
was turning something in his mind. "To be sure. Yes. I won't go up stairs now,
if you will take my bag. It will be enough for the present to know my
number.—Can you give me 24 B?"
(O Conscience, what a Adder art
Mrs. Pratchett allotted him the
room, and took his bag to it. He then went back before the fire, and fell a
biting his nails.
"Waiter!" biting between the
words, "give me," bite, "pen and paper; and in five minutes," bite, "let me
have, if you please," bite, "a," bite, "Messenger."
Unmindful of his waning soup, he
wrote and sent off six notes before he touched his dinner. Three were City;
three West-End. The City letters were to Cornhill, Ludgate-hill, and Farringdon
Street. The West-End letters were to Great Marlborough Street, New Burlington
Street, and Piccadilly. Every body was systematically denied at every one of the
six places, and there was not a vestige of any answer. Our light porter
whispered to me when he came back with that report; "All Booksellers."
But before then he had cleared
off his dinner and his bottle of wine. He now—mark the concurrence with the
document formerly given in full! —knocked a plate of biscuits off the table with
his agitated elber (but without breakage), and demanded boiling
Now fully convinced that it was
Himself, I perspired with the utmost freedom. When he become flushed with the
heated stimulant referred to, he again demanded pen and paper, and passed the
succeeding two hours in producing a manuscript, which he put in the fire when
completed. He then went up to bed, attended by Mrs. Pratchett. Mrs. Pratchett
(who was aware of my emotions) told me on coining down that she had noticed his
eye rolling into every corner of the passages and staircase, as if in search of
his Luggage, and that, looking back as she shut the door of 24 B, she perceived
him with his coat already thrown off immersing himself bodily under the
bedstead, like a chimley-sweep before the application of machinery.
The next day—I forbear the
horrors of that night —was a very foggy day in our part of London, insomuch that
it was necessary to light the Coffee Room gas. We was still alone, and no
feverish words of mine can do justice to the fitfulness of his appearance as he
sat at No, 4 table, increased by there being something wrong with the meter.
Having again ordered his dinner
he went out, and was out for the best part of two hours. Inquiring on his return
whether any of the answers had arrived, and receiving an unqualified negative,
his instant call was for mulligatawny, the cayenne pepper, and orange brandy.
Feeling that the mortal struggle
was now at hand, I also felt that I must be equal to him, and with that view
resolved that whatever he took I would take. Behind my partition, but keeping my
eye on him over the curtain, I therefore operated on Mulligatawny, Cayenne
Pepper, and Orange Brandy. And at a later period of the day, when he again said
"Orange Brandy," I said so too, in a lower tone, to George, my Second Lieutenant
(my First was absent on leave), who acts between me and the bar.
Throughout that awful day he
walked about the Coffee Room continually. Often he came close up to may
partition, and then his eye rolled within, too evidently in search of any signs
of his Luggage. Half past six came, and I laid his cloth. He ordered a bottle of
old Brown. I likewise ordered a bottle of old Brown. He drank his, I drank mine
(as nearly as my duties would permit), glass for glass against his. He topped
with coffee and a small glass. I topped with coffee and a small glass. He dozed.
I dozed. At last, "Waiter!" —and he ordered his bill. The moment was now at hand
when we two must be locked in the deadly grapple.
Swift as the arrow from the bow I
had formed my resolution: in other words, I had hammered it out between nine and
nine. It was, that I would be the first to open up the subject with a full
acknowledgment, and would offer any gradual settlement within my power. He paid
his bill (doing what was right by attendance) with his eye rolling about him to
the last, for any tokens of his Luggage. One only time our gaze then met, with
the lustrous fixedness (I believe I am correct in imputing that character to
it?) of the well-known Basilisk. The decisive moment had arrived.
With a tolerable steady hand,
though with humility, I laid The Proofs before him.
"Gracious Heavens!" he cries out,
leaping up and catching hold of his hair. "What's this! Print!"
"Sir," I replied, in a calming
voice, and bending forward, "I humbly acknowledge to being the unfortunate cause
of it. But I hope, Sir, that when you have heard the circumstances explained,
and the innocence of my intentions—"
To any amazement I was stopped
short by his catching me in both his arms, and pressing me to his breast-bone;
where I must confess to my face (and particular nose) having undergone some
temporary vexation from his wearing his coat buttoned high up, and his buttons
being uncommon hard.
"Ha, ha, ha!" he cries, releasing
me with a wild laugh, and grasping my hand. "What is your name, my Benefactor?"
"My name, Sir" (I was crumpled,
and puzzled to make him out), "is Christopher: and I hope, Sir, that as such
when you've heard my ex—"
"In print!" he exclaims again,
dashing the proofs over and over as if he was bathing in them. "In print!! Oh,
Christopher! Philanthropist! Nothing can recompense you—but what sum of money
would be acceptable to you?"
I had drawn a step back from him,
or I should have suffered from his buttons again.
"Sir, I assure you I have been
already well paid, and—"
"No, no, Christopher! Don't talk
like that! What sum of money would be acceptable to you, Christopher? Would you
find twenty pounds acceptable, Christopher?"
However great my surprise, I
naturally found words to say, "Sir, I am not aware that the man was ever yet
born without more than the average amount of water on the brain, as would not
find twenty pound acceptable. But—extremely obliged to you, Sir, I'm sure;" for
he had tumbled it out of his purse and crammed it in my hand in two bank-notes;
"but I could wish to know, Sir, if not intruding, how I have merited this
"Know then, my Christopher," he
says, "that from boyhood's hour I have unremittingly and unavailingly
endeavored to get into print.
Know, Christopher, that all the Booksellers alive—and several dead—have refused
to put me into print. Know, Christopher, that I have written unprinted Reams.
But they shall be read to you, my friend and brother. You sometimes have a
Seeing the great danger I was in,
I had the presence of mind to answer, "Never!" To make it more final, I added,
"Never! Not from the cradle to the grave."
"Well," says he, thinking no more
about that, and chuckling at his proofs again. "But I am in print! The first
flight of ambition emanating from my father's lowly cot is realized at length!
The golden bowl!"—he was getting on—"struck by the magic hand, has emitted a
complete and perfect sound! When did this happen, my Christopher?"
"Which happen, Sir?"
"This," he held it out at
arm's-length to admire it. "this Per-rint."
When I had given him may detailed
account of it, he grasped me by the hand again, and said:
"Dear Christopher, it should be
gratifying to you to know that you are an instrument in the hands of Destiny.
Because you are."
A passing Something of a
melancholy cast put it into my head to shake it, and to say: "Perhaps we all
"I don't mean that," he answered;
"I don't take that wide range; I confine myself to the special case. Observe me
well, my Christopher! Hopeless of getting rid, through any effort of my own, of
any of the manuscripts among my Luggage—all of which, send them where I would,
were always coming back to me—it is now some seven years since I left that
Luggage here, on the desperate chance, either that the too too faithful
manuscripts would come back to me no more, or that some one less accursed than I
might give them to the world. You follow me, my Christopher?"
"Pretty well, Sir." I followed
him so far as to judge that he had a weak head, and that the Orange the Boiling
and Old Brown combined was beginning to tell. (The old Brown being heady is best
adapted to seasoned cases.)
"Years elapsed, and those
compositions slumbered in dust. At length Destiny, choosing her agent from all
mankind, sent You here, Christopher, and lo! the Casket was burst asunder, and
the Giant was free!"
He made hay of his hair after he
said this, and he stood a tip-toe.
"But," he reminded himself in a
state of great excitement, "we must sit up all night, my Christopher. I must
correct these Proofs for the press. Fill all the inkstands and bring me several
He smeared himself and he smeared
the Proof,. the night through, to that degree, that when Sol give him warning to
depart (in a four-wheeler), few could have said which was them, and which was
him, and which was blots. His last instructions was, that I should instantly run
and take his corrections to the office of the present Journal. I did so. They
most likely will not appear in print, for I noticed a message being brought
round from Beaufort Printing House while I was a throwing this concluding
statement on paper, that the ole resources of that establishment was unable to
make out what they meant. Upon which a certain gentleman in company, as I will
not more particularly name—but of whom it will be sufficient to remark, standing
on the broad basis of a wave-girt isle, that whether we regard him in the light
of—* laughed, and put the corrections in the fire.
BOMBARDMENT OF FREDERICKSBURG.
WE illustrate this memorable
event, which took place on Thursday, December 11, on pages
The following extracts from the correspondence of the Herald and Times will
serve to explain our pictures. The Herald writer, on 11th, says:
Last evening, at sundown, the
movement commenced. Batteries hastened to the front, wagon trains here removed
from the vicinity of the anticipated battle, the ponderous pontoons joined the
current flurrying river-ward, and night closed down upon us bright and
beautiful, with our pulses throbbing quick with eager expectations. Artillery
never seemed to rumble so noisily before, and the sharp cluck of the iron axles
echoed far and near, as if in league with the enemy. Down by the river every
thing was as quiet as peace. Our pickets, composed of the Fifty-first
Pennsylvania regiment, sat listlessly about their fires, watching the rebel
sentries and crunching hard tack, The river swept smoothly by, placid as the sky
above, and just over there, so close one almost wished to tell them of their
error, stood the rebel sentries, while a soothing movement of rushing waters in
the rapids up stream swelled softly down the valley. From the thresholds of the
city the sharp yelp of curs rang now and then discordantly upon the ear; but
with the batteries in position the cause of their outcry would be removed, and
silence again settle down upon the town, broken only by the tones of the
town-clock telling the midnight hours. And so the time slipped alone. The moon
climbed higher up, and the falling dew whitened into frost upon our pouches,
while the horses, restless in the chill night air, moved to and fro uneasily in
At two o'clock our pickets were
withdrawn, and at three the pontoon train drove down to the water. Lumber was
noiselessly piled upon the ground, and the huge boats slid from off their
trucks. Then we hear a splashing in the river—a dark pathway lengthens out upon
the Silver surface, shadows flit here and there along its track, the lusty blows
of hammers re-echo from side to side. And yet no sound comes from the enemy.
"Have they evacuated the place?" "Are we not to fight here after all?" is asked.
Suddenly, Crack! crack! crack! from a hundred muskets tells us the ball is
opened. A cry of pain comes up the bank from the gallant engineers, mules dash
off, with pontoons thundering after, across the plot; the musketry grows louder
and the whiz of bullets more frequent; frightened teamsters fly, panic-stricken,
and the artillery horses plunge at the caissons. Suddenly, boom! goes a
gun—another and another, until thirty pieces are pouring shot and shell upon the
devoted city. Graham, who did so gloriously at
Antietam; Kirby, with Ricketts's old
Bull Run battery; Miller, Duren, Tyler, Smith,
Hazard, Kinsey, and Dickson, all join in the uproar, and musketry is lost to the
ear in the mighty roar that re-echoes again and again from hill to hill.
Gradually the fire slackens, and the engineers again attempt the completion of
the bridge, but in vain; and after a third trial they fall back, bearing in
their arms their wounded, dead, and dying.
It was designed to lay down two
bridges at once, one at the lower and the other at the upper end of the city.
The enemy, posted in the houses and cellars, upon the bank of the river, were
safe from our infantry, and maintained a continuous fire. Our infantry returned
the fire spiritedly, but finding it impossible to drive the rebels from their
cover, finally withdrew, leaving the disposition of the enemy to our artillery.
By this time it was sunrise. The
engineers (Fiftieth New York) and the Fifty-seventh and Sixty-sixth New York
regiments had suffered heavily, and the wounded (Next
*The remainder of this
complimentary parenthesis editorially struck out.