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At length his eye hit upon a paragraph silence. Then he approached the that seemed suddenly to draw his table, and his eye caught the welllieart up into his throat; producing a thumbed volume of Burns' Justice, sensation that made him involuntarily open at the head “ FORGERY!"clap his hand upon his neck.
and the quicksighted Gammon saw how « Oh, Gaminon!!” he muttered, matters stood at a glance-the prodrawing off his glasses, sinking back cess by which the result he had just in his chair, and looking towards the witnessed had been arrived at. door that opened into Gamimon's • Well, Mr Quirk, what new varoom ; in which direction he extended gary, now?" he enquired, with an air his right arm, and shook his fist. of smiling curiosity. “ You precious villain!"_" I've an “ Vagary be!" growled old uncommon inclination," at length Quirk, sullenly, without moving in thought he, “ to go down slap to his chair. Yorkshire-say nothing to any body Gammon stood for a moment or -make peace with the enemy, and two eyeing him with a keen scrutiny. knock up the whole thing !- For a “What!" at length he enquired, goodcouple of thousand pounds-a trifle to humoredly,“ do you then really grudge the Aubreys, I'm sure. Were 1 in his me any share in the little enterprise ?" place, I shouldn't grudge it ; and why “ Eh?" quickly interrupted Quirk, should ho?-By Jove," he got a little pricking up his ears. “ Do you intend heated" that would be, as Gammon to play Mackivel? eh ?” has it, a master move! and confined, “ What must you go down alone egad! to the master mind that to Yatton for, Gammon?” enquired thought of it !- Why should he ever Quirk, anxiously. know of the way in which the thing “ Why, simply as a sort of pioneer blew up ?-Really 'twould be worth to reconnoitre the churchyardhalf the money to do Gammon so eh ? I thought it might have been of hollow for once-by George it would ! service ; but if"-Gammon, that would slip Caleb “ Gammon, Gammon, your hand! Quirk's neck so slyly into the halter, I understand,” replied Quirk, eviindeed!”
dently vastly relieved—most cordially “ I'll tell you what, Mr Quirk," shaking the cold hand of Gammon. said Gammon, suddenly re-entering “ But understand, Mr Quirk,” said the room after about an hour's ab. he, in a very peremptory manner, sence, during which he too had, like “no one upon earth is to know of my his senior partner, been revolving visit to Yatton except yourself." many things in his mind_" it has He received a solemn pledge to that occurred to me, that I had better im- effect; and presently the partners semediately go down to Yatton, alone.” parated, a little better satisfied with
Hereat Mr Quirk opened both his each other. Though not a word eyes and his mouth to their very wid. passed between them for several days est; got very red in the face; and afterwards on the topic chiefly disstared at his placid partner with a cussed during the interview above mingled expression of fear and wonder. described, the reader may easily ima“ Hang me, Gammon!” at length he gine that neither of them dropped it exclaimed, desperately, slapping his from his thoughts. Mr Quirk paid fist upon the table_“ if I don't think one or two visits to the neighbourhood you're the very devil himself!"-and of Houndsditch, (a perfect hotbed of he sunk back in his chair, verily be clients,) where resided two or three lieving, in the momentary confusion gentlemen of the Jewish persuasion, of his thoughts, that what had been who had been placed, from time to passing through his mind was known time, under considerable obligations to Gammon; or that what had been by the firm of Quirk, Gammon, and passing through his (Quirk's) mind, Snap, in respect of professional ser. had also been occurring to Gammon, vices rendered both to themselves and who had resolved upon being before- to their friends. One of them, in parhand in putting his purposes into exe- ticular, had a painful consciousness cution. Gammon was at first com- that it was in old Mr Quirk's power pletely confounded by Quirk's recep. at any time, by a whisper, to place his tion of him, and stood for a few mo- the aforesaid Israelite's-neck in an ments, with his hands elevated, in unsightly noose that every now and then might be seen dangling from a and feeble, supported by Mr Aubrey beam opposite Debtor's Door, New- and Kate, she first entered the beds gate, about eight o'clock in the morn. room of the venerable sufferer. What ing; him, therefore, every considera- a difference, indeed, was there between tion of interest and of gratitude com- the appearance of all of them at that bined to render subservient to the moment, and on the Christmas day reasonable wishes of Mr Quirk. He when, a happy group, they were cheerwas a most ingenious little fellow, and fully enjoying the festivities of the had a great taste for the imitative arts season ! Kate was now pale, and -so strong a taste, in fact, that it had somewhat thinner; her beautiful feas once or twice placed him in some jeo- tures exhibited a careworn expres. pardy with the Goths and Vandals of sion; yet there was a serene lustre in the law, who characterised the noble her blue eye, and a composed resoluart in which he excelled by a very tion in her air, which bespoke the ugly and formidable word, and an. superiority of her soul. What it had nexed the most barbarous penalties to cost her to bear with any semblance its practice. What passed between of self-possession, or fortitude, the sad him and old Quirk on the occasion of spectacle now presented by her motheir interviews, I know not; but one ther! What å tender and vigilant afternoon, the latter, on returning to nurse was she, to one who could no his office, without saying any thing to longer be sensible of, or appreciate, any body, having bolted
the door, took her attentions! How that sweet girl out of his pocket several little pieces humoured all her mother's little ec. of paper, containing pretty little pic- centricities and occasional excitement, turesque devices of a fragmentary and accommodated herself to every character, with antique letters and varying phasis of her mental malady! figures on them-crumbling pieces of She had so schooled her sensibilities stone, some looking more and some and feelings as to be able to maintain less sunk in the ground, and over. perfect cheerfulness and composure in grown with grass : possibly they were her mother's presence, on occasions designs for ornaments be added to which forced her brother, and his shathat tasteful structure, Alibi House- ken wife, to turn aside with an eye of possibly intended to grace Miss Quirk's agony-overcome by some touching album. However this might be, after speech or wayward action of the unhe had looked at them and carefully conscious sufferer, who constantly imacompared them one with another for gined herself, poor soul! to be living some time, he folded them up in a over again her early married life; and sheet of paper, sealed it up-with cer- that in her little grandchildren she tainly not the steadiest hand in the beheld Mr Aubrey and Kate as in world—and then deposited it in an their childhood ! She would gently iron safe.
chide Mr Aubrey, her husband, for Yatton, the recovery of which was his prolonged absence, asking many the object of these secret and formi- times a day whether he had returned dable movements and preparations, from London. Every morning old not to say machinations, was all this Jacob Jones was shown into her chamwhile the scene of deep affliction. The ber, at the hour at which he had been lamentable condition of his mother accustomed, in happier days, to attend plunged MrAubrey, his wife and sister, upon her. The faithful old man's eyes into profounder grief than had been would be blinded with tears, and his occasioned by the calamity which voice choked, as he was asked how menaced them all in common. Had Peggy got over her yesterday's jours he been alone, he would have encoun. ney; and listened to questions, mesa tered the sudden storm of adversity sages, and directions, which had been with unshrinking, nay cheerful firm, familiar to him twenty years before, ness; but could it be so, when he had about villagers and tenants who had ever before him those whose ruin was long lain mouldering in their humble involved in his own ?- Poor Mrs Au- graves—their way thither cheered and brey, his wife, having been two or smoothed by her Christian charity three weeks confined to her bed, du. and benevolence! 'Twas a touching ring which time certain fond hopes sight to see her two beautiful grandof the husband had been blighted, was children, in whose company she dealmost overpowered, when, languid lighted, brought, with a timorous and half-reluctant air, into her presence and shake her head mournfully. Old How strange must have seemed to Jacob Jones, not being introduced at them the gaiety of the motionless the accustomed hour, she asked for figure always lying in the bed ; a him. When he made his appearance, gaiety which, though gentle as gentle she gazed at him for a moment or two, could be, yet sufficed not to assure the with a puzzled eye, exclaiming, “ Jalittle things, or set them at their ease. cob! Jacob! is it you ?" in a very Though her mild features ever smiled low tone ; and then she closed her upon them, and her voice was cheer- eyes, apparently falling asleep. Thus ful, still 'twas from a prostrate figure passed the day; her daughter and that never moved, and was always daughter-in law sitting on either side the surrounded by calm, quiet figures, with bed, where they had so long kept their sorrowful constraint in their counte- anxious and affectionate vigils-Mr nances and gestures! Charles would Aubrey sitting at the foot of the bed stand watching her, with apprehensive —and Dr Goddart and Mr Whateley eye-the finger of one hand raised to in frequent attendance. Towards the his lip, while his other retained the evening, Dr Tatham also, as had been hand that had brought him in, as if his daily custom through her illness, fearful of its quitting hold of him; the appeared, and in a low tone read over few words he could be brought to the service for the visitation of the speak were in a subdued tone and sick. Shortly afterwards Mr Aubrey hurried utterance :-and when, having was obliged to quit the chamber, in been lifted up to kiss his grandmamma, order to attend to some very pressing he and his sister were taken out of the matters of business; and he had been chamber, their little breasts would engaged for nearly an hour, intending heave a sigh which showed how re. almost every moment to return to his lieved they were from their recent mother's chamber, when Dr Tatham constraint.
entered, as Mr Aubrey was subscribHow wofully changed was every ing his name to a letter, and, with a thing in the once cheerful old hall! little earnestness, said—“ Come, my Mr Aubrey sitting in the library, in- friend, let us return to your mother; tently engaged upon books and papers methinks she is on the eve of some - Mrs Aubrey and Kate now and then, decisive change : the issue is with arm in arm, walking slowly up and God." Within a very few moments down the galleries, or one of the they were both at the bedside of Mrs rooms, or the hall, not with their Aubrey. A large chamber - lamp, former sprightly gaiety, but pensive, standing on a table at a little distance and often in tears, and then returning from the bed, diffused a soft light over to the chamber of their suffering pa- the room, rendering visible at a glance rent. All this was sad work, indeed, the silent and sad group collected and seemed, as it were, to herald in round the bed, all with their eyes dicoming desolation !
rected towards the venerable figure But little variation occurred, for se- who lay upon it. Mr Aubrey sat beveral weeks, in the condition of Mrs side his wife, close to his mother; and Aubrey, except that she grew visibly taking her thin, emaciated hand' into feebler. On morning, however, his own, gently rais it to his lips. about six weeks after her seizure, from She seemed dozing ; but his action apcertain symptoms the medical men in- peared to rouse her for a moment. timated their opinion that some im- Presently she fixed her eye upon him, portant change was on the eve of take its expression, the while, slowly but ing place, for which they prepared the perceptibly changing, and exciting family. She had been very restless strange feelings within him. He during the night. After frequent in. trembled, and removed not his eye tervals of uneasy sleep, she would from hers. He turned very pale--for awake with evident surprise and be the whole expression of his mother's wilderment. Sometimes a peculiar countenance, which was turned full smile would fit over her emaciated towards him, was changing. Through features ; at others, they would be the clouded windows of the falling faovercast with gloom, and she would bric, behold! its long-imprisoned tenseem struggling to suppress tears. Her ant, the soul, had arisen from its voice, too, when she spoke, was feeble torpor, and was looking at him. Reaand tremulous; and she would sigh, son was re-appearing. It was, indeed,
his mother, and in her right mind, that “ I do, my son! Weep not for was gazing at him. He scarcely me; I am old, and am summoned breathed. At length surprise and ap- away from among you "-She ceased, prehension yielded before a gush of as if from exhaustion ; and no one tenderness and love. With what an spoke for some minutes. unutterable look was his mother at that “ It may be that God hath roused moment regarding him! His lip qui- me, as it were, from the dead, to comvered-his
overflowed-and, as he fort my sorrowful children with words felt her fingers very gently compress- of hope," said Mrs Aubrey, with ing his own, his tears fell down. much more power and distinctness Gently leaning forward, he kissed her than before. “Hope ye, then, in God; cheek, and sunk on one knee beside for ye shall yet praise him who is the bed.
the health of your countenance, and “ Is it you, my son?” said she, in your God!” a very low tone, but in her own voice, 66 We will remember, my mother, and it stirred up instantly a thousand your words!" faltered her son. fond recollections, almost overpower. 6. Yes, my son—if days of darking him. He kissed her hand with ness be at hand”-She ceased. Again fervent energy, but spoke not. She Mr Whateley placed to her white continued gazing at him with mingled lips a glass with some reviving solemnity and fondness. Her eye fluid-looking ominously at Mr Auseemed brightening as it remained fix brey, as he found that she continued ed upon him. Again she spoke, in a insensible. Miss Aubrey sobbed very low but clear voice
every audibly; indeed, all present were thrilling word being heard by every powerfully affected. Again Mrs Auone around her—" Or ever the silver brey revived, and swallowed a few cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be drops of wine and water. A heavenly broken, or the pitcher be broken at the serenity diffused itself over her emafountain, or the wheel broken at the ciated features. cistern,-Then shall the dust return to " We shall meet again, my loves ! the earth as it was ; and the spirit shall I can no longer see you with the eyes return unto God who gave it.” It of"- Mr Whateley observing a sudwould be in vain to attempt to describe den change, came nearer to her. the manner in which these words were “ Peace! peace !” she murmured, spoken; and which fell upon those almost inarticulately. A dead silence who heard them as though they were ensued, interrupted only by smothered listening to one from the dead. sobs. Her children sunk on their
“ My mother !--my mother!” at knees, and buried their faces in their length faltered Aubrey.
hands, trembling. • God bless thee, my son!” said Mr Whateley made a silent signal she, solemnly. “ And Catharine, my to Dr Tatham, that life had ceased daughter-God bless thee"- she that the beloved spirit had passed away. presently added, gently turning round " The Lord gave, and the Lord hath her head towards the quarter whence taken away : blessed be the name of a stifled sob issued from Miss Aubrey, the Lord 1” said Dr Tatham, with who rose, trembling, and leaning over, tremulous solemnity. Mrs Aubrey kissed her mother. 5 Agnes, are you and Miss Aubrey, no longer able to here-and your little ones ? - God restrain their feelings, wept bitterly ; bless " _Her voice got fainter, and and, overpowered with grief, were her eyes closed. Mr Whateley gave supported out of the room by Dr her a few drops of ether, and she pre- Tatham and Mr Aubrey. As soon sently revived.
as it was known that the venerable “ God hath been very good to you, mother of Mr Aubrey was no more, madam,” said Dr Tatham, observing universal reverence was testified for her eye fixed upon him, “to restore her memory, and sympathy for the you thus to your children.”
afflicted survivors, by even those, high " I have been long absent-long !- and low, in the remoter parts of the I wake, my children, but to bid you neighbourhood who had no personal farewell, for ever, upon earth.” acquaintance with the family. Two
“ Say not so, my mother-my pre. or three days afterwards, Mr Plume, cious mother !" exclaimed her son, in the undertaker, who had received vain endeavouring to suppress his orders from Mr Aubrey to provide a emotions.
simple and unexpensive funeral, subs
mitted to him a list of more than now going to lay her beside him again, thirty names of the nobility and gen. They enter the little churchyard, and try of the country, who had sent to are met by good Dr Tatham, in his him to know whether it would be surplice, bareheaded, and with book agreeable to the family for them to in hand; with full eye and quivering be allowed to attend Mrs Aubrey's re. lip he slowly precedes the body into mains to the grave.
After much con- the church. His voice frequently sideration, Mr Aubrey accepted of trembles, and sometimes he pauses, this spontaneous tribute of respect to while reading the service. Now they the memory of his mother. 'Twas a are standing bareheaded at the vault's memorable and melancholy day on mouth–the last sad rites are being which the interment took place—one performed ; and probably, as is thinknever to be forgotten at Yatton. ing the chief mourner, over the last What can be more chilling than the of his race who will rest in that tomb! gloomy bustle of a great funeral, espe. Long after the solemn ceremony cially in the country; and when the was over, the little churchyard re. deceased is one whose memory is en. mained filled with mournful groups of shrined in the holiest feelings of all villagers and tenants, who pressed forwho knew her? What person was ward to the dark mouth of the vault, there, for miles around, who could not to take their last look at the coffin speak of the courtesies, the charities, which contained the remains of her the goodness of Madam Aubrey ? whose memory would live long in all
When the ear heard her, then it their hearts. “ Ah, dear old madam," Blessed her ; and when the eye saw her, quoth Jonas Higgs to himself, as he it gave witness to her:
finished his dreary day's labours, by Because she delivered the poor that temporarily closing up the mouth of cried, and the fatherless, and him that the vault, “ they might have turned had none to help him.
thee, by-and-by, out of yonder hall, The blessing of him that was really but they shall not touch thee here? to perish came upon her, and she caused Thus died, and was buried, Madam the widow's heart to sing for joy. Aubrey ; and she is not yet forgotten.
She was eyes to the blind, and feet How desolate seemed the hall, the was she to the lame.
next morning, to the bereaved inmates, She was a mother to the poor. as, dressed in deep mourning, they
Pale as death, the chief mourner, met at the cheerless breakfast table! wrapped in his black cloak, is stepping Aubrey kissed his wife and sisterinto the mourning-coach.
No one who could hardly answer his brief speaks to him: his face is buried in his enquiries. The gloom occasioned handkerchief; his heart seems break throughout the hall, for the last ten ing. He thinks of her whose dear days, by the blinds being constantly dust is before him ;-then of the be- drawn down, now that they were loved beings whom he has left alone drawn up, had given way to a staring in their agony till his return_his wife light and distinctness, that almost and sister. The procession is moving startled and offended the eyes of those slowly on-long, silent rows of the whose hearts were dark with sorrow tenantry and villagers, old and young, as ever. Every object reminded them male and female—not a dry eye among of the absence of one e_whose chair them, nor a syllable spoken-stand on stood empty in its accustomed place. each side of the way ; no sound heard There, also, was her Bible, on the little but of horses' feet, and wheels crush- round table near the window. The ing along the wet gravel-for the day mourners seemed relieved by the enis most gloomy and inclement. As trance, by-and-by, of the children: they quit the gates, carriage after car- but they also were in mourning! Let riage follows in the rear; and the sor. us, however, withdraw from this scene rowful crowd increases around them. of suffering, where every object, every Many have in their hands the bibles recollection, every association, causes and prayer- books which had been the wounded heart to bleed afresh. given them by her who now lies in Great troubles seem coming upon yonder hearse ; and a few can recol- them; and now that they have buried lect the day when the late lord of their dead out of their sight, and when Yatton led her along from the church time shall begin to pour his balm into to the hall, his young and blooming their present smarting wounds, I bride, in pride and joy--and they are doubt not that they will look those