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pockets, whence he presently extracted, with an air of modest triumph, a well-stored silk-net purse.
This done, they next proceeded to make free with Waddilove's hat and wig, and would even have reduced him to the attractive state of nature in which Adam was before the Fall, had not their intentions been frustrated by a loud trumpet-like snore from the sleeper, which startled their delicate nerves to such a degree, that they flew off across the common, as if, to quote Byron's well-known words, "the speed of thought were in their limbs."
Miles, mean-time, continued buried in profound repose, but about eleven o'clock he awoke, and, starting to his feet, looked about him with a countenance of as much wonder as Abon Hassan showed, when he found himself sitting up, broad awake, in the Caliph Haroun's state-bed. He soon, however, recovered his self-possession, and, being refreshed by his nap, and goaded to further peripatetic exertions by an appetite of wondrous potency, he gave a preliminary jump or so, by way of taking the starch-like stiff ness out of his knees, and then set out on his return to Caversham, no longer apprehensive of losing his way, for the moon shed down a steady radiance on the common, and enabled him to see that he was only separated from the right track by a patch of marshy ground, on the edge of which rose the grassy tumulus whereon he had made his bed.
Just as he was about to start, feeling an uncommon coolness-say, rather, a decided chill-in his upper story, he put his hand to his forehead, when, to his inexpressible astonishment, he discovered that he was minus hat and wig. How was this? Was there witchcraft in the case? Had Puck or Robin Goodfellow being trying their hands at petty larceny, or some vagabond zephyr taken a fancy to the articles in question? No, no; there had been no agency of this sort at work, as the bereaved Waddilove soon found to his cost, when on feeling for his watch, in order to see what o'clock it was, he ascertained that this too had gone, most likely to keep company with his hat and wig; and that his purse also had taken the opportunity of playing truant! I forbear, from conscious incapacity, to describe the paroxysms of rage into which Miles was thrown on making these
untoward discoveries; suffice it to say, that after firing off volleys of oaths, like minute-guns, till he was nearly black in the face with the effort, he took out his pocket-handkerchief, tied it about his bald shiny pate, after the fashion of an old Irish applewoman, and then hurried along his road, taking those fidgety, petulant, and irregular steps, which men are wont to take when labouring under unusual nervous excitement.
Nearly opposite the cross-road to Myrtle Lodge, there was a swinggate, from which ran a winding public footpath through Caversham park. This park terminated in a stile not far from the entrance to the village, and as it cut off a considerable elbow of the road, Miles, who had missed it on his way out to the Lodge, now determined to avail himself of it, it being a matter of infinite consequence to him to reach the public-house, and secure supper and a bed, before they should shut up for the night. As he maintained a smart pace, and was no longer incommoded by the heat, the night being cool and the wind fresh, he made very satisfactory progress, and had already got as far as the park preserves, which the footpath skirted, descending thence into a gradual bushy hollow, when he was startled by the sound of whispers at no great distance from him, which was almost immediately followed by the discharge of a gun. Now, it happened that the pacific Waddilove had the same invincible horror of fire-arms that King James had of a drawn sword; he could not even look a gun in the face without a shudder; judge, then, of his consternation when he heard this sudden discharge, together with a rustling among the preserves, as though a gang of poachers were emerging upon the footpath! Overmastered by his apprehensions, and taking for granted that, if he should be seen, he would instantly be shot for a gamekeeper, and not have the mistake cleared up till he lay stretched like a cock partridge on the ground, with a score or so of small shot buried in his epigastrium, he abruptly quitted the path, and plunging down into the thick copse near it, doubled himself up, hedge-hog fashion, heedless of the brambles and stinging-nettles which gave him any thing but a gracious reception.
The noise he made, as he went
and, in the spectral moving shadows flung by the stirred trees across his path, beheld the signs of a lurking enemy.
crashing into the heart of the thicket, caught the quick ears of the poachers, who, darting out from the preserves on the other side of the footpath, stood looking anxiously about them, and whispering to each other, as though doubtful whether the sound of their gun had started a spy or a hare. Intense was Miles's agitation while he heard these scamps, among other equally significant threats, announce their intention, when once they got a glimpse of him, to "do for him"-"riddle him like a cullender" -" bring him down at a long shot""pitch him into the Thames, with a big stone tied about his neck," &c. ; and he inwardly vowed that, should he but escape the perils of this memorable night, he would never again venture so far from home-not even in a coach, much less the accursed town-tub-were he to be bribed by the daintiest dinner that epicure ever sat down to. No, he would cut the acquaintance of every one who lived more than a hundred yards from Reading. While he was thus settling the course of conduct he would adopt, in the event of his getting safely out of his present ticklish scrape, the moon became suddenly overcast; whereupon the poachers, eager to avail themselves of the favouring gloom to pursue their vocation in the preserves, and satisfied by this time that the noise they had heard was merely occasioned by the starting of a hare, withdrew again to the spot which they had so lately quitted.
Miles waited till they had all left the footpath, and were lost to sight in the leafy and tangled preserves, and then stealing cautiously back into the road, like a shy old badger out of his hole, he stood listening for a few seconds, after which he flew at his utmost speed along the road, with outstretched neck, and both hands clapped instinctively upon his hind quarters, so as to act as a sort of protecting shield in case he should chance to receive an ignominious shot in the rear. Away, away he flew, insensible alike to fatigue and hunger, so completely had fear got the better of every other sensation. As the wind rose and fell, sighing among the pines and beeches, and whirling the dead leaves by hundreds into the air, he fancied he heard the quick tramp of footsteps behind him; mistook the hooting of the owl for the yells of his pursuers;
It must have been a rare treat to a lover of the grotesque, to have seen this adipose fugitive scouring along in a steeple-chase style, and taking big bouncing leaps like a ram, while the broad flaps of his black coat streamed in the wind, and his mouth stood ajar like the shell of a dead oyster. What cares he for distance or difficulty? The trunk of a fallen elm lies across his road; he is over it in a jiffey; and comes down on the other side with all the agility of a dancing-master. Further on, a brawling brooklet threatens to impede his progress; in he plunges, halfway up to his knees, and scrambles out again, refreshed rather than incommoded by his partial bath. Thus, copse after copse, slope after slope, are passed; now he descends into a shady dell; now he winds round the brow of a verdant hill, whence he may catch a fine view of the park that extends to the bank of the Thames, affording shelter to large herds of deer, and magnificently timbered with giant oaks, who have bid defiance to the storms of centuries, and heard the roar of Cromwell's cannon against the walls of Reading Abbey; and now, all danger passed, he halts to rest himself on the stile which, as I have before observed, abuts on the main road, just at the entrance of Caversham.
Waddilove reached the village as the church clock was striking the last chime of midnight. As he passed along the main street, its irregular rows of houses wore a cold, staring, and even ghastly aspect in the imperfect moonlight, and nothing was audible but the rippling of the near Thames against the arches of the bridge, or the occasional growl of some drowsy watch-dog. Under other circumstances, Miles's imagination would have been forcibly impressed by the dead. solitude of this hushed hamlet through which he moved, the only living being, startling the echoes of night by his tread; but his late adventures had, for the time being, given him quite a surfeit of romance.
On coming to the public-house, he found, as might have been anticipated, that it was shut up, and that not the slightest glimmer of a light was to be seen in any of the rooms. Determin
ed, nevertheless, on gaining admittance, he banged away at the door for full ten minutes; but finding this of no avail, he bawled out the landlord's name, and then let fly a handful of small stones and gravel against his bedroom windows. This had the desired effect, for presently the lattice was cautiously thrown open, and a man's head, enveloped in a worsted nightcap, thrust through the aperture. "Who's there?" enquired the landlord, in a peevish tone of voice full of sleep.
"Tis I," replied Miles.
"A friend of Captain Capulet, Mr Waddilove of Wallington Lane, near Reading. I've been unexpectedly detained in the neighbourhood, and want some supper and a bed, for it's too late to think of returning home to-night." "Humph!-supper and a bed! You'll get neither the one nor the other here, so be off with you-I ain't going to open my door at this hour to fellows without a hat; you may be a thief for aught I know; "-and with these words, the landlord shut to the window.
Nothing daunted by this repulse, Miles discharged a second shower of gravel against the window, hoping by such means to bully the churl into a surrender. But he knew not the man he had to deal with; for no sooner had he taken aim for the third time against the casement, than it was again opened, and down came the saponaceous contents of a wash-hand basin on his head!
It was past one o'clock when a market-cart, laden with fruit and vegetables, stopped at Waddilove's door, and a gentleman descended from it, pale as the turnips among which he had been seated, shaking in every joint from excessive jolting, his clothes begrimed with dust, and a handkerchief tied about his head, looking as rumpled as though a quart of water had been but just wrung out of it. And this pitiable sample of humanity was Miles Waddilove, Esquire! Alas, how changed from that Miles quantum mutatus ab illo Hectore!
who but eight hours before had left his home, smiling and sunny, in all the consciousness of a captivating costume! He had met the cart as he was crawling, snail-like, along the main road, after leaving Caversham bridge, and had bargained with the driverwho was on his way to Reading, to be in time for the morrow's market— for a seat among his vegetables, by way of a dignified finale to his walk of upwards of ten miles, and the mishaps consequent upon it.
After his recognition by his housekeeper, which was a task of no ordinary difficulty, Miles hurried into his study, and throwing himself on a sofa, ordered up all the cold meat in the pantry, made a prodigious supper, which he washed down with a bottle of his very oldest Madeira, and then plunged into bed, where he soon fell into the soundest sleep ever, perhaps, enjoyed by a sedentary gentleman on the shady side of forty. Had he taken laudanum, or, what is equivalent to laudanum, subjected himself to the perusal of Doctor Bowring's edition of Bentham, his slumber could not possibly have been more profound. When he rose at a late hour next day, in a state of more vigorous health, bating a slight stiffness in his limbs, than he had known for some months, he found his medical man waiting for him in the breakfast parlour, whom he instantly acquainted with all the sufferings he had undergone on the preceding night. To his great astonishment, the apothecary, so far from condoling with him on his involuntary peripatetic achievements, had actually the hardihood to congratulate him; and even went the length of assuring him that notwithstanding his fatigues and vexations-he might consider himself a very lucky fellow, inasmuch as the walk, by giving a wholesome stimulus to his nervous system, and producing a corresponding energy of action in the blood, had most likely saved him from an attack of hypochondriacism, thereby exemplifying the truth of the old adage-"out of evil cometh good."
A FAMILY CONTINENTAL TOUR, AND ITS RESULTS.
IN SIX GLIMPSES.
GLIMPSE THE FIRST-HOME.
"I WISH it were all over, and we safe back again here," said Mr Hartwell to his good lady, as they sat at a breakfast parlour window of the family seat in which he was born, and overlooked his own park and the pleasant country beyond.
"Really, my dear," observed Mrs Hartwell in reply, "to confess the truth to you, I do sometimes fancy that I wish the very same thing; but still I am quite sure that we must have a very great deal of enjoyment during our tour. Only think with what delight all our neighbours speak of the different places they have seen, while we can only sit and listen, and have nothing to say."
"Ah, well!" sighed Mr Hartwell, "the die is cast; and so, go we must, I suppose now, though for my part I care no more about foreign places nor foreigners than they care about me."
"As to that, my dear, I don't suppose we differ much; but then you know we must see them, or else we cannot say so.
"If there was any chance of being believed, I really think I could stretch a point and say so' without going, as a queer old gentleman recommended to his son, rather than risk his neck by descending into a coal-pit."
The good lady laughed; and then, for the five hundredth time, alluded to the advantages their daughter Jane would derive from the trip, though her notions of their precise nature and extent were by no means very distinct. How many English of late years have toiled and travelled about the Continent with the same odd inducements! In the library under the same roof, two younger persons were conversing upon the same topic.
"I certainly am pleased at the idea of going abroad," said Jane Hartwell, "I will not for a moment deny it. Indeed, as society now is, a tour forms part of one's-what shall I call it ?— finishing' my good governess might have said;-but you understand me, I'm sure-and so, grave sir," she added, while a playful light sparkled
in her bright black eyes, 66 you may expect, when you meet us at Paris on our return, to find me quite a different sort of person."
"I trust not,” replied Edward Drayton, mournfully; no, no, Jane! remain what you are! I would not have you changed-no, not in any respect."
“Thank you, Edward, that's very flattering. Well, well, I believe you, notwithstanding; but hark ye, sir, changed' is a word of strong import, when spoken with foreboding tone, and a countenance so dismal as that which I have the honour-nay, don't be so very sensitive!I mean the pleasure of seeing before me,-I don't like the word changed.' It implies suspicion, and you, less than all others, ought to make use of it to me, whom you have known so long;" and she added reproachfully, 66 you cannot seriously imagine that a few months' absence from home can, by any possibility, effect a change worth speaking of in my character, my sentiments, or my feelings."
"No, dear Jane, I will not; but I cannot look calmly forward to the six long dreary months of separation, when you will be I know not where, and associated with I know not whom."
"Why, really, my good gentleman, you talk as if I was going to undertake an expedition into the interior of Africa, among savages, instead of travelling over roads, along which, hundreds of our own acquaintance have passed before us; and among people who claim to be even more civilized and polite than ourselves."
"If I were but permitted to write to you, Jane!"
"Hush, hush, Edward! be content; let us keep one of our promises unbroken, at least. As for the other". and she hesitated and blushed.
"It is unbroken, dearest Jane!Do not imagine that any thing you may have chanced to say in the con. fidence of our friendship, as to what you might be prevailed on to do un
The language of the eyes cannot be transferred to paper; but hers were most eloquent as she smiled and looked up in his face, and said :
"That is poor sophistry, Edward! But let it pass. There is my hand once more! What I have said, I will never retract. We understand each other ;”—and her head sank upon his shoulder.
"Dear, generous, noble-minded girl!" he exclaimed." Yes, yes, I ought to be, and I will be, content!"
It need scarcely be said that these young people were lovers; but a few words are necessary to explain their position at this juncture.
Edward Drayton had "spoken to the old folks" some months before; and the result of his passionate representations and protestations, and their calm deliberations and consultations, was, that they pronounced the young folks to be too young to think seriously, or judge correctly, upon a subject of so great importance. This decision, of course, appeared exceedingly ridiculous to the young gentleman, who was then within a few months of the completion of his twentieth year. But the elders were inexorable; and he was compelled to pledge his word of honour that he would neither correspond with the young lady when ab
sent, nor urge his suit when present, nor receive or exchange any promises from, or with her, until the expiration of his minority. This was an unpalatable exaction; but as the only alternative was strict exclusion from the roof beneath which she dwelt, he submitted with indifferent grace, and so was permitted to pay occasional friendly visits during the vacations, as he was now pursuing his studies at Oxford.
Similar restrictions were placed upon Jane; and it was understood by all parties, that, if all parties continued to be of the same mind at the end of the period of probation—then, and not till then, the matter was to be taken into more serious consideration.
How completely the young people had acted up to the letter, if not to the spirit, of this engagement, has been already seen; and the elders were perfectly satisfied with the wisdom and propriety of their arrangement.
Under these circumstances they separated. The young gentleman returned to Oxford to complete his terms, and Mr and Mrs Hartwell and their daughter went upon the Continent; and, erelong, discovered that all the places and things which they were desirous of saying they had seen, could not possibly be seen in six months. When that period had expired, they were at Geneva, in the pleasant month of October.
GLIMPSE THE SECOND.-GEneva.
"It may sound like a contradiction, my dear Charlotte," said Jane Hartwell to a young lady with whom she was walking beneath the trees of an elevated promenade' called 'La Treille,' but certainly so it is. The last six months have passed away most rapidly, and yet I feel as if I had been very much longer away from England."
"Well, I'm no philosopher, but I suppose the latter feeling comes over you when thinking of a certain person," observed Miss Byrne, who from a chance acquaintance had become an intimate, and then a confidential friend, merely because her father and self had been travelling over the same ground as our tourists, and, conse
quently, they were frequently thrown together.
"No, no! It is not that!" exclaimed Jane, rather hastily. "I wish you would not be always teasing me about such nonsense!"
"Well, well! Then it sha'n't be teased," said Charlotte, playfully. "But, if it is not that, I'm sure I can't tell what it is."
"Then I think I can," observed Jane, in an unusually serious tone. "I have been questioning myself very closely, as my good governess taught me in former days, and I am not satisfied with the result."
Why, my dear girl! what can you mean? You, who are all goodness and innocence !"