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advantage is likely to be spoiled and to become a matter of indifference to the world, when, in the form advocated by its inventor, it would be quickly recognised and its utility would most probably be soon appreciated. All that need be done is to place the scheme fairly before the public and give it a fair trial. Mr. Fawcett, our present Postmaster-General, should look more closely to this.
The authoress of The Queen of Connaught at the Connaught Theatre! Alliteration and synonymy have a dramatic as well as literary application. The Nine Days' Queen, from the pen of Mr. Robert Buchanan, is a step in the right direction towards the elevation of stage pieces. It is powerful and poetic. Miss Jay promises exceedingly well, and patient perseverance, coupled with the strength which time and care will give to her physique, should take Miss Jay to a very prominent position in her newly-chosen profession.
I have not yet seen Mr. Buchanan's new novel, but should it be as uncommon as his first and last, “ The Shadow of a Sword," it should do well.
The “ Romance of Surgery ” will be continued, as a rule, every alternate month. “Fashions and Follies," and the section of “Pro Bono Publico" dealing with foods, sanatory preparations, &c., will appear in our next number.
Story of a Sin.
By the Author of "COMIN' THRO' THE RYE.'
CHAPTER X. My thoughtless youth was wing'd with vain desires, My manhood oft misled by wandering fires. ARLY on the Friday morning Mr. Eyre's father had
another seizure, and his death was hourly expected throughout the day.
Mr. Eyre nevertheless concluded his letter to Madcap, and posted it himself, after which he returned to take his place by his father's side—a place which the beribboned one had yielded since she had realised that it would not be in the old man's power, even if he had the will, to confer any further benefits
Death! Mr. Eyre had faced it often, and had no fear of it, but he had never before been compelled to watch the slow tightening of the grisly hand on its prey, and he turned from the sight impatiently, as he would have done from that of a boa constrictor swallowing a rabbit-a disagreeable sight, however necessary. Probably there is no sight on earth more painful
than the death of an old, unloved, depraved person
.. the very incapacity to feel sorrow makes the onlooker's heart but the bitterer and harder; while the death of a little child, that is too young even to lisp out its mother's name, may lift that same heart to an agony of pain that will teach it the divinest lesson it shall ever learn. There it lies—at once our pain, our punishment and our joy
. all that we might have been, all that we can never be, we seem to see in the little flickering life before us .... in that tiny hand lie possibilities that were once our own, and that one by one we have missed or flung away, and between him and us come a thousand subtle vivid suggestions that never pass betwixt us and other faces that we love. . . We cannot see God's hand, but a hushed, yearning fear is upon us, and we dare not rail against Him, or cry aloud as we hold upon our knees the little shape that has never sinned nor struggled, never vexed our hearts, or needed to beg our forgiveness. As the cry rises involuntarily that we may be permitted to give our own life for the child, midway the answer silences it. “ Yours is little-his so much !” and the prayer changes on our lips to one for ourselves, we being so much more in need of prayer than he. And so he remains to us all our lives long the might have been of our tears—the little snowy sail set to the ocean of eternity, that has reached alone an anchorage that the most eager of us may never hope to win, and the spot in our heart that baby hand has touched remains ever vital, while that memory may hold us back from sin, and influence us for good to our dying day.
But by the death-bed of such an one as old Mr. Eyre we feel scant impulse to pray. His deeds have gone before, and our words follow in mockery-here are no potentialities for good, but realities of accomplished evil, and we shrink from importuning God for this man, who never dreamed of importuning Him for himself.
But to his son this ghastly, unconscious face was more pregnant of meaning than that of any child could have been, for here was that unmistakable might-have-been to which his own life had pointed till Madcap had come to him to prove how
Men may rise on stepping stones
Of their dead selves to higher things, for to this, or a violent death standing, was the end to which most of the Eyres came. It seemed their lot to live a vie
orageuse, and die before the cup of life was drunk to the last dregs; while with Byron might each of them have exclaimed, “I will work the mine of my youth to the last vein of the ore, and then-good night-I have lived, and I am content.”
Haughty, brilliant, with a dark peculiar beauty as coveted by men as it was dangerous to women, the Eyres for the last hundred years had been an enigma to the world, and perhaps to themselves; yet though their deeds were eccentric to the verge of madness, none could point to a single instance of insanity in the family, and as time went on the world gave up wondering, and accepted the Eyres as a race of beings too distinct from ordinary human beings to be judged by the canons that ruled mankind.
There had been a time when they differed in no way from their neighbours, by whom they were respected as folks not too clever to make other people look foolish, nor yet too virtuous to grudge a pleasant vice or two to those who could afford them; but with the advent of a certain Lady Sara Villiers in the family, both the fortunes and character of the Eyre family underwent a striking change.
Her sons grew up wild and turbulent as young hawks reared in a dove's nest, perplexing their quiet father by their lawless ways; but when it was discovered that their eccentricity at home took the shape of extraordinary mental ability at school and college, their mother gloried in them and their successes more than ever, and would tell her husband how this marked increase of intellectual power in the Eyre family had come to it solely through herself. And then it is said he would shake his head, and tell her significantly that the line that divides the man of genius from the madman is thin as a hair, and he would whisper something in her ear at which she would turn pale, and later on unlock from a secret drawer a letter that she knew by heart.
Her portrait hangs in the west gallery of the hall--a brilliant gipsy face with dark mocking eyes, and a little scarlet mouth in which pride and determination lurk; and so vividly was her dark beauty reproduced in her sons and their children after them, that in the county the resemblance of father to son in the Eyre family gradually passed into a proverb.
There was, too, a strong similarity of character henceforth in the whole race; it was as though the force, whether for good or evil, that manifested itself in them wrote itself as indelibly on their minds as on their faces, so that what the father had
been it was safe to foretell the son would be; and up to the present time, with one exception only, this had invariably proved to be the case.
Lady Sara lived to weep bitter tears of shame and see her pride laid in the dust, and a portrait of him who laid it there hangs beside her on the wall--a slim young fellow, whose dark face is a masculine copy of her own, but with more heart in the eyes, and something in the keen intellectual glance that distinguished Madcap's husband, the present master of the Hall.
He was Lady Sara's favourite grandson, and his successes at college had been so brilliant as to cause a certain great man to single him out for his especial consideration, and even to express an intention of bringing him forward in public life at the earliest possible opportunity.
Brandon, covered with honours and excited by his hopes, retired in company with half a dozen of his friends to the Hall, there to indulge in those amusements that, with the Eyres, invariably alternated with periods of absorbing study and intensest application. On this occasion a great deal of highplay and drinking went forward, till the young host, proverbially unlucky at games of chance, had lost a larger sum of money than he could possibly repay to Musgrave, a man unpopular with the rest for more reasons than one; and on a certain night Musgrave won more heavily than usual, his pocket-book scarcely containing the bank-notes he crammed into it, together with an IO U from Brandon for a thousand pounds. The poor lad-he was but little more-on passing Musgrave's
— room that night, and hearing himself called, paused to exchange a few words with his guest, who in his presence put the notes away in an escritoire near his bed, and Brandon noted with unconscious accuracy that it was the fourth drawer, and also the shape of the handle, which was different to that of the others; and so, brooding heavily on his losses, he went his way,
Next morning, as they sat at breakfast, Musgrave, as if by accident, pulled out his pocket-book, then made a sudden exclamation that drew all eyes upon him. “Good God!” he cried, “I am robbed. The notes are gone!"
, “Impossible,” said Brandon, rousing himself. “Why, man, I saw you with my own eyes place them in the escritoire last night-the fourth drawer, I think. I remember noticing the handle."
“ Did I ?” said Musgrave, affecting to look puzzled. “I