into which of the phrase " or any other man" caused the audience the highest delight; a lady known as the “fascinating Mrs. Somebody," with & voice enough to fill the International Exhibition, who laid her finger on her lip and shouted something about “Do, dear, do, dear, do ;"_all these I saw in the course of that eventful night, and all these are, I believe, still to the fore for the amusement and delectation of Mossoo. I don't think they would amuse him; I don't think that all the resources of the various establishments which advertise themselves in


beloved Era,—say, for instance (don't hold me responsible for the sense, grammar, or any thing, they are all quotations) La Reine de Gymnaste, the Marvels of Peru, the Brothers Shapcott, led by the smallest drummer in the world, the fascinating serio-comic, the irresistibly funny fellow, the favourite characteristic singer, and the world-famed double duettists,—would have much effect on Mossoo; and I believe he would be adamant even to the charms of the inimitable burlesque extravaganza of “Aint She Werry Shy ?" No, the music-halls won't do, clearly, and we must try somewhere else.

What, then, can we do with him? Shall we take him to see the national sports of our country, le boxe Anglais ? Here is a chance; for this bill informs us that, in order to “Honour the Brave," all the pluck of Old England is going to rally round Bill Somebody, after his gallant mill with Tom Somebody else. This way, Mossoo, keep close to me, and button your coat, for the hangers-on of the noble science, the scum floating round the head-punchers and nose-breakers, have their own notions of appropriation, and, if you don't look out, that noble gold watch, with chain and bréloques, bought from Leroy, will infallibly be confiscated. Not very lively, is it, Mossoo ? genial smell of gas, orange-peel, and humanity, and not too much light. That's the platform where the men spar, and that little man in the tight trousers is the introducer and master of the ceremonies. See, here are two of the gladiators in their Jersey shirts, and with the gloves on. They set to smartly enough, and I think Mossoo likes this; his little eyes twinkle and his nostrils dilate; there is quite enough of the savage animal in Mossoo to make such a sight as this yield him gratification, though he pretends to think it low and brutal, forgetting the savate and one or two other little institutions which he has left at home.

No, Mossoo ! I cannot take you to the combats des coqs, because there are none now publicly held; and I am not of that noble set of which Sir Charles Cochin and Viscount Spurrier are, I believe, distinguished mem. bers, and which yet both breeds birds and has secret fighting matches. Neither am 1—and I would I were for your sake—one of the intimates of Rumkinson, known as “Count Rumkinson,” partner in the drapery firm of Rumkinson, Reps, and Grodenapp, who in his private capacity is wildly devoted to sport of a certain kind, and whose "place" at Chingford is a wonder. Out beyond the stables-the stables are wonders in themselves—there is a circular brick building, lined with polished oak,


and fitted up all round with dens, cages, hutches, and kennels. Here, as they tell me, are to be found dogs of every known kind, from toy-terriers and long-eared King Charles's to the boule-dogue (out of whom you've made so much capital, Mossoo), with his retroussé nose and general amiability of expression. In the centre of this room is a circle of polished oak standing some three feet high, and forming a pit, in the interior of which have many pleasant combats been held,-civil war between the dogs, aggressive onslaught on rats,-fine, slim-bodied, flat-headed rats, brought out of the hold of an East Indiaman, and endowed with fighting power and lifetenacity perfectly marvellous; and here too, on state occasions, when some of Rumkinson's particular friends have been dining with him, has a badger (who lives on the premises) been deposited at the bottom of a barrel placed on its side, and thence“ drawn,” after a terrific combat, by the dogs. This is what I could show you at Rumkinson's, Mossoo, if I knew that worthy, but I don't; and though we could see the rat mangling and other delicacies in the purlieus of Hoxton, and the penetralia of St. Luke's, I don't think either you or I would be much edified.

So still the problem, Given Mossoo, how to amuse him, remains unanswered. I allow Cremorne,--allow it to be better, so far as my recollection serves me, than any thing any Mossoo has in his own country in the way of public gardens. I know that from the top of Richmond Hill, by the Star and Garter, he will see a panorama of beauty,-a blending of wood, water, and meadow-land, which shall dwarf St. Germain even in his prejudiced eyes, and be incomparably superior to any thing else of the same kind. I know the effect of the chestnuts at Bushey, and the lovely promenade by Virginia Water; I know the solemn grandeur of Windsor Castle, and the glorious river-bordered landscape of the Thames between Richmond and Reading. But Mossoo, by temperament and habit, requires more highly-peppered amusement than these afford; and still I ask, Where shall we find it for him?


Aurora Floyd.



The first week in July brought James Conyers, the new trainer, to Mellish Park. John had made no particular inquiries as to the man's character of any of his former employers, as a word from Mr. Pastern was all-sufficient.

Mr. Mellish had endeavoured to discover the cause of Aurora's agitation at the reading of Mr. Pastern's letter. She had fallen like a dead creature at his feet; she had been hysterical throughout the remainder of the day, and delirious in the ensuing night, but she had not uttered one word calculated to throw any light upon the secret of her strange manifestation of emotion.

Her husband sat by her bedside upon the day after that on which she had fallen into the death-like swoon; watching her with a grave, anxious face, and earnest eyes that never wandered from her own.

He was suffering very much the same agony that Talbot Bulstrode had endured at Felden on the receipt of his mother's letter. The dark wall was slowly rising and separating him from the woman he loved. He was now to discover the tortures known only to the husband whose wife is parted from him by that which has more power to sever than any width of land or wild extent of ocean-a secret.

He watched the pale face lying on the pillow; the large, black, baggard eyes, wide open, and looking blankly out at the far-away purple tree-tops in the horizon ; but there was no clue to the mystery in any line of that beloved countenance; there was little more than an expression of weariness, as if the soul, looking out of that white face, was so utterly enfeebled as to have lost all power to feel any thing but a vague yearning

for rest.

The wide casement-windows were open, but the day was hot and oppressive-oppressively still and sunny; the landscape sweltering under a yellow haze, as if the very atmosphere had been opaque with melted gold. Even the roses in the garden seemed to feel the influence of the blazing summer sky, dropping their heavy heads like human sufferers from headache. The mastiff Bow-wow, lying under an acacia upon the lawn, was as peevish as any captious elderly gentleman, and snapped spitefully at a frivolous butterfly that wheeled, and spun, and threw summersaults about the dog's head. Beautiful as was this summer's day, it was one on which people are apt to lose their tempers, and quarrel with each other, by reason of the heat; every man feeling a secret conviction that his neighbour is in some way to blame for the sultriness of the atmosphere, and that it would be cooler if he were out of the way. It was one of those days on which invalids are especially fractious, and hospital-nurses




[ocr errors]

so there's

murmur at their vocation; a day on which third-class passengers travelling long distances by excursion-train are savagely clamorous for beer at every station, and hate each other for the narrowness and hardness of the carriageseats, and for the inadequate means of ventilation provided by the Railway Company; a day on which stern business-men revolt against the ceaseless grinding of the wheel, and, suddenly reckless of consequences, rush wildly to the Crown and Sceptre, to cool their overheated systems with water souchy and still hock; an abnormal day, upon which the machinery of every-day life gets out of order, and runs riot throughout twelve suffocating hours.

John Mellish, sitting patiently by his wife's side, thought very little of the summer weather. I doubt if he knew whether the month was January or June. For him earth only held one creature, and she was ill and in distress-distress from which he was powerless to save herdistress the very nature of which he was ignorant.

His voice trembled when he spoke to her.
“My darling, you have been very ill,” he said.

She looked at him with a smile so unlike her own that it was more painful to him to see than the loudest agony of tears, and stretched out her hand. He took the burning hand in his, and held it while he talked to her.

“Yes, dearest, you have been ill; but Morton says the attack was merely hysterical, and that yon will be yourself again to-morrow, no occasion for anxiety on that score. What grieves me, darling, is to see that there is something on your mind; something which has been the real cause of your illness.”

She turned her face upon the pillow, and tried to snatch her hand from his in her impatience, but he held it tightly in both his own.

“ Does my speaking of yesterday distress you, Aurora ?” he asked gravely.

“ Distress me? Oh, no!"

“ Then tell me, darling, why the mention of that man, the trainer's name, had such a terrible effect upon you.”

“ The doctor told you that the attack was hysterical,” she said coldly; " I suppose I was hysterical and nervous yesterday.”

“But the name, Aurora, the name. This James Conyers, who is he?" He felt the hand he held tighten convulsively upon his own, as he mentioned the trainer's name.

“Who is this man? Tell me, Aurora. For God's sake, tell me the truth.”

She turned her face towards him once more, as he said this.

"If you only want the truth from me, John, you must ask me nothing. Remember what I said to you at the Château d'Arques. It was a secret that parted me from Talbot Bulstrode. You trusted me then, John,—you must trust me to the end; or if you cannot trust me” -she stopped suddenly, and the tears welled slowly up to her large, mournful

eyes, as she looked at her husband.

“What, dearest ?"
“We must part; as Talbot and I parted.”

“Part !" he cried; “my love, my love! Do you think there is any thing upon this earth strong enough to part us, except death? Do you think that any combination of circumstances, however strange, however inexplicable, would ever cause me to doubt your honour; or to tremble for my own ? Could I be here if I doubted you ? could I sit by your side, asking you these questions, if I feared the issue ? Nothing shall shake my confidence; nothing can. But have pity on me; think how bitter a grief it is to sit here, with your hand in mine, and to know that there is a secret between us. Aurora, tell me,--this man, this Conyers, -what is he, and who is he?"

"You know that as well as I do. A groom once; afterwards a jockey; and now a trainer.” “ But


know him?" “I have seen him." " When ?” Some

years ago, when he was in my father's service." John Mellish breathed more freely for a moment. The man had been & groom at Felden Woods, that was all. This accounted for the fact of Aurora's recognising his name, but not for her agitation. He was no nearer the clue to the mystery than before.

“ James Conyers was in your father's service,” he said thoughtfully; " but why should the mention of his name yesterday have caused you such emotion ?

“ I cannot tell you."

“ It is another secret, then, Aurora,” he said reproachfully; "or has this man any thing to do with the old secret of which you told me at the Château d'Arques ?”

She did not answer him.
“Ah, I see; I understand, Aurora,” he added, after a pause. “This

. man was a servant at Felden Woods; a spy, perhaps; and he discovered the secret, and traded upon it, as servants often have done before. This caused your agitation at hearing his name. You were afraid that he would come here and annoy you, making use of this secret to extort money, and keeping you in perpetual terror of him. I think I can understand it all. I am right; am I not ?"

She looked at him with something of the expression of a hunted animal that finds itself at bay.

“Yes, John."
" This man-this groom---knows something of of the secret.”

John Mellish turned away his head, and buried his face in his hands. What cruel anguish! what bitter degradation! This man, a groom, a servant, was in the confidence of his wife, and had such power to harass and alarm her, that the very mention of his name was enough to cast

“ He does."

« VorigeDoorgaan »