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The Willow Tree,
The Siren and the Friar, .
The Death of the Poor,
The Mother on the Anniversary of her
by J. T. Ouseley
A Tale of Transmigration-addressed by a
THE ADVENTURES OF MR. LEDBURY AND HIS
BY ALBERT SMITH.
WITH AN ILLUSTRATION BY JOHN LEECH.
Of the journey home.
ENGLAND!-there is a sturdy look about the very word-a kind of touch-me-if-you-dare expression, which almost forces you to imagine, that a few hardy letters of the alphabet had combined together to make a stand against any idle meddlers who wished to disturb their order. The word is a symbol of the nation, and the unflinching letters have their prototypes in the people who compose it.
A fine bracing wind was rollicking about the Nore, tumbling the waves over each other in reckless jollity, or blowing them off in clouds of spray, and rattling amidst the sails and cordage of the vessel, as the City of Boulogne, with all her steam on, and her sails set, entered the mouth of the Thames, bearing her cargo of foreign importations, and homeward-bound travellers. A glow of happy excitement was upon every face; and, as the banks of the river came nearer and nearer on either side, and the little villages and churchspires appeared, one after another, upon the shore, there arose ten thousand old associations, and thoughts of Christmas and its revelry, and all those loved ones who made home home, whose dear voices had not fallen upon the ear for so long a time, although their images had ever been present to the heart. The very water seemed endowed with life and feeling, and leaped and danced so merrily round the prow, and sparkled so joyously in the bright sunbeams, as it was thrown back again to its parent deep in laughing foam, that every drop appeared a messenger of greeting and affection to welcome the wanderers home.
"Round the Foreland" is at all seasons a passage of extreme uneasiness to voyagers of delicate fibre and nervous temperament; but, when the packet arrived in the comparatively still water of the river, the passengers became somewhat reassured, and one by one appeared upon deck. Mr. Ledbury and Jack Johnson were amongst the number; for, having seen all that they considered worth observing in Paris, and, moreover, discovering that the treasury was commencing to run rather low, were now returning to London. And, indeed, Mr. Ledbury was anxious to eat his Christmas-dinner at home, and drink his elder wine "on his own hearth," as he expressed himself, (which Jack Johnson defined as meaning inside the fender, amongst the fire-irons,) so that their proceedings had at last been somewhat hurried. Had they been less so, we might have related how they gave a farewell party in their old rooms to their old
companions; how Aimée, Jules, and Henri came to the office of the "Aigle," in the Place de la Bourse, to see them off; how Aimée was very sorrowful indeed at parting with them; and how Jules consoled her with a two-franc dinner in the Palais Royal, after they had gone; and, finally, how Mr. Ledbury felt one pang, and one only, at returning, which arose from his not having been able to achieve a pair of mustachios during his stay, which would have rendered him so distinguished when he walked through Islington on the first Sunday after his return. We would have related all these things at length, and many more besides; but we wished to follow the adventures of our hero as closely as time would allow; and all this would have taken up so much space, that we should have experienced some little difficulty in coming up with him again. So the reader must please to imagine these events, in any fashion most congenial to his own fancy; and having, in company with the two travellers, given a long good-b'ye to Paris,-perhaps for ever,—we will all meet again, Ledbury, Johnson, the reader, and ourself, on board the steam-boat which is now conveying them up the river on their return voyage.
Jack Johnson, who appeared endowed with a singular propensity always to sit on out-of-the-way and uncomfortable situations, had perched himself on the top of a pile of luggage, and was now, in company with Ledbury, making out the various localities as they appeared on the edge of the river.
"There's old Gravesend!" cried Jack, as he recognised the piers of what the guide-books call "this agreeable place of salubrious recreation."
"And there's Rosherville! further on," continued Ledbury. " I say, Jack, the dancing there won't go down after the Chaumiére, will it ?"
"Not exactly," replied Jack. Wouldn't Aimée's waltzing make Mr. Baron Nathan stare?—wouldn't it put him on his mettle?—and wouldn't he try to cut her out in his Egg-shell and Tea-service Crackovienne, or his Chinese Fandango in scale-armour and handcuffs?"
"Purfleet,” observed Mr. Ledbury, as they proceeded, "is stated by the guides to be a quiet resort for invalids, unwilling to encounter the bustle of a large watering-place. There is sufficient gunpowder in the stores to produce an effect as far as London, if it exploded."
"I have read so in the Penny Hand-book for Travellers, and Coast Companion,'" said Johnson. "I suppose that accounts for the rapid communication with all parts of Kent' which Purfleet enjoys, according to the same authority."
"How very like old acquaintances all the names and signs look along the edge of the river," remarked Ledbury.
"Very," returned Johnson; "and what a time it is since we have seen BARCLAY AND Co.'s ENTIRE' painted up! It beats the Commerce des Vins that we have left all to nothing. But, however, we must not abuse Paris, now we have come away from it."
"Certainly not," returned Ledbury. "I was very happy there, and saw quite enough to think about all my life afterwards. I wonder how they are all getting on!"
This led their conversation back again to France, and they soon