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"P.S. -- I fancied there was the slightesting been so consumedly occupied with possible peculiarity in your speech last business, and with Jollification subsenight. Just an elaborate show of distinct. quently, in these latter days. ness - a remarkably correct delivery - an “We have had supper parties, sioging exquisite appreciation of the beauty of the parties, dinner parties, headaches, rather, language, with the faintest smack of wine in the morning, &c. But the week must running through it. This was mere fancy, not pass over without saying Hail to Leigh I suppose?"
• Last week we were to have met at the The letter following takes us behind the Procters', but I forgot and you were ill. scenes a little, giving some insight into Can we not meet anywhere this week? the modus operandi of that laboratory, so For instance, to-morrow at five, there will 10 speak, whence issued so many happy be two woodcocks, presented by Mr. J. results,
O'Connell, and you shall have a bit or not “ Tavistock House, Friday, Fourth May, 1855. as you like, and with or without an answer. * MY DEAR HUNT, - I have been so "My dear Hunt, I wish you an H.N.Y. constantly engaged and occupied since I
“ Yours ever, came home from Paris, that I have never
“ W. M. THACKERAY." (as you know) got to your teapot, though I
The few lines which follow in the beau. have very often (as you don't know) paved tiful, clear, well-known handwriting, are the road to Hammersmith with good in headed with neither date nor address, and tentions.
are unpunctuated throughout. "I am now, to boot, in the wandering unsettled — restless — uncontroullable
MY DEAR HUNT, [sic] state of being about to begin a new
“Though we never meet we should book. At such a time I am as infirm of pur.
If you could and if pose as Macbeth, as errant as Mad Tom,
Will you take your dinner here
On the last day of the year? and as rugged as Timon. I sit down to
And believe me Hunt my dear work, do nothing, get up and walk a dozen
Yours for ever and a day miles, come back and sit down again next Doubleyouem Thackeray." day, again do nothing and get up, go down a Railroad, find a place where I resolve to
With which absurd scribble, probably stay for a month, come home next morn- dashed off on the spur of the moment, í ing, go strolling about for hours and hours,
will bring my remarks concerning Leigh
Hunt to a conclusion. reject all engagements to have my time to myself, get tired of myself, and yet can't
It will be seen that other notable percome out of myself to be p'easant to any into this paper, but their letters, in all their
sons besides himself have found their way body else.
"In which disjointed state I am afraid varied points of interest, were addressed to trust myself to the chance of verbally to one individual, who thus becomes the thanking you for the delightful volume connecting link between them all. you have sent me, within so short an interval after its receipt as may save me from the suspicion of having neglected it. “Therefore, I write to thank you for it
From Temple Bar. to assure you that, even in my unlaid.
AUNT ANNE. Ghost-like plight, I have renewed with the
CHAPTER III. utmost pleasure my acquaintance with those old friends.
FLORENCE sat thinking over Walter's “ Faithfully yours,
hint concerning his health. She had suc. “ CHARLES DICKENS." ceeded in frighteping herself a good deal; Here are two short letters from Thack with him that rest and change would not
for there was really nothing the matter eray when in a convivial frame of mind, set right. She remembered all the years one referring to a coming, and the other he had been constantly at work, for even to a passing year, and both containing in in their holidays he had taken away somevitations to dinner,
thing he wanted to get done, and for the
“3 January, 1847. first time she realized how great the strain “ MY DEAR HUNT, - I have not only must have been upon him. “ He must not had time to thank you for the Jar of long for a change," she thought, "for a Honey :' but I have not even tasted any break in his life, an upsetting of its pres. of it — nor of Tennyson's Medley - hav- ent programme. The best thing of all
“ Are you
would be a sea voyage. That would do voice, “I felt that I must see you and him a world of good.” She fancied him Walter again,” and she folded Mrs. Hib. on board a P. and O., walking up and bert to her heart. down the long deck, drinking in life and “I am very glad to see you, Aunt Anne,” strength. How vigorous he would grow; Florence answered simply. how sun-burnt and handsome, and how quite well, and are you staying in London ? delightful it would be to see him return. But you are in deep mourning; I hope She hoped that Mr. Fisher would offer you have not had any very sad loss ?” him a special correspondentship for a The tears came into the poor old lady's time, or something that would break the eyes. routine of his life and give him the ex- "My dear,” she said still more tremucitement and pleasure that a spell of rest lously than before, “ you are evidently not and complete change would entail. She aware of my great bereavement; but I would talk to Mr. Fisher herself, she might have knowo that, for if you had thought. He always liked arranging other been you would have written to me. people's lives ; he was so clever in setting Florence, I am a widow; I am alone in things right for any one who consulted the world.” him, and so hopeful; and no doubt he had Mrs. Hibbert put her hands softly on noticed already that Walter was looking Auot Aone's and kissed her, ill.
“I didn't know, I had no idea, and “ But he is quite well; it is nothing Walter had not but overwork, and that can soon be set “I knew it. Don't think that I have right
wronged either you or him. I knew that There was a double knock at the street you were ignorant of all that had hapdoor.
pened to me or you would have written io It was only eleven o'clock, too early for express your sympathy, though, if you visitors. Florence left off thinking of had, I might not even have received your Walter to wonder who it could be. The letter, for I have been homeless, too,” door was opened and shut, the servant's Mrs. Baines said sadly. She stopped for footsteps going up to the drawing-room a moment, then watching Florence in. were followed by others so soft that they tently she vent on in a choking voice, could scarcely be heard at all.
" Mr. Baines has been dead more than “ Mrs. Baines, ma'am. She told me to eight months. He died as he had lived, say that she was most anxious to see my darling. He thought of you both you.”
three weeks before his death,” and her “Mrs. Baines ?” Florence exclaimed left eye winked. absently. It was so long since she had “It was very kind of him," Florence seen Aunt Anne, and she had never heard said gratefully; "and you, dear Aunt her called by her formal name that for the Anne," she asked gently, “are you stay. moment she was puzzled. Then she re-ing in London for the present? Where membered and went up quickly to meet are you living? her visitor.
It seemed as if Aunt Anne gathered up Aunt Anne was sitting on the little yel. all her strength to answer. low couch near the window. She looked “My dear, I am in London because I thin and spare, as she had done at am destitute -.destitute, Florence, and Brighton, but she had a woebegone air and I have to work for my living." now that had not belonged to her then. Her piece was too much astonished to She was in deep mourning; there was a answer for a minute. mass of crape on her bonnet, and a limp But, Aunt Anne," she exclaimed, cashmere shawl clung about her shoul. • how can you work? what can you have ders. She rose slowly as Florence en strength to do, you poor dear?” tered, but did not advance a single step. Aunt Anne hesitated a moment; she
She stretched out her arms; the black winked again in an absent, unconscious shawl gave them the appearance of wings; manner, and then answered with great they made her look, as she stood with her solemnity, back to the light, like a large bat. But “I have accepted a post at South Kenthe illusion was only momentary, and then sington as chaperon to a young married the wan face, the many wrinkles and the lady whose husband is abroad. She has nervous twitch of the left eye all helped a young sister staying with her, and her to make an effect that was pathetic husband does not approve of their being enough.
alone without some older person to pro. “ Florence," she said in a tremulous tect them." LIVING AGE. VOL. LXXIX. 4062
“ It is very brave of you to go out into the old lady could not be left to the wide the world now,” Florence said admiringly. world's tender mercies. Florence knew
“My dear, it would be most repugnant but little of her husband's relations, except to me to be a burden to any one, even to that he had no near or intimate ones left, those who love me best; inat is why — but there might be some outlying cousins why I did it, Florence."
sufficiently near to Aunt Anne to make " And are they kind to you? do they their helping her a moral obligation. treat you quite properly?” Mrs. Hibbert Have you no friends - no relations at inquired anxiously.
all, dear Aunt Anne?" she asked. The old lady drew herself up and an. With a long sigh Mrs. Baines answered: swered severely:
“ Florence” - she gave a gulp before “I should not stay with them an hour she went on, as if to show that what she if they ever forgot whai was due to me. had to tell was almost too sad to be put They treat me with the greatest respect." into words — “Sir William Rammage is
“ But why have you been obliged to my own cousin, he has thousands and do this, you poor Aunt Anne? Had Mr. thousands a year, and he refuses to allow Baines no money to leave you?”
me anything. I went to him when I first Aunt Anne's mouth twitched as she came to London and begged him to give heard the Mr. Baines, but Florence had me a small income so that I might not be never thought of him as anything else, obliged to go out into the world; but he and when the two last words slipped out said that he had so many claims upon him she felt it would be better to go on and that it was impossible. Yet he and I were not to notice her mistake.
babes together; we lay in the same cradle “No, my love, at his death his income once, while our mothers stood over us, ceased; there was barely enough for im- hand in hand. But though we had not mediate expenses, and then - and then I mei since we were six years old till I went had to go out into the world."
to him in my distress a few months ago, It was terrible to see how keenly Aunt he refused to do anything for me. Anne suffered ; how fully alive she was “ Have you been in London long then, to the sad side of her own position. Poor Aunt Anne ?" old lady, it was impossible to help feeling “I have been here five months, Florvery much for her, Florence thought. ence. I took a lodging on the little means
“And had he no relations at all who I had left, and then and then I had to could help you, dear?" she asked, won- struggle as best I could." dering that none should have held out a “ You should have come to us before, helping hand.
No, not one. I married for love, as “I should have done so, my love, but you did ; that is one reason why I knew my lodging was too simple, and I was not that you would feel for me!'
in a position to receive you as I could There was a world of sadness in her have wished. I waited, hoping that Sir voice as she said the last words ; her face William would see that it was incumbent seemed to grow thinner and paler as she on him to make me an adequate allowrelated her troubles. She looked far older, ance; but he has not done so.” too, than she had done on the Brighton " And won't he do anything for you? IĚ day. The little lines about her face had he is rich he might do something tempora. become wrinkles; her hair was scantier rily, even if he won't make you a perma. and greyer; her eyes deeper set in her nent allowance. Has he done nothing?” head; her hands were the thin, dry hands Mrs. Baines shook her head sadly.
“ He sent me some port wine, my love, Florence ached for her, and pondered but port wine is always pernicious to me. things over for a moment. Walter was I wrote and told him so, but he did not not rich, and he was not strong just now, even reply. It is not four years ago since the hint of yesterday had sunk deep in her he was lord mayor of London, and yet he heart. Still, he and she must try to make will do nothing for me." this poor soul's few remaining years com- She had lost her air of distress, there fortable, if no one else could be found was a dogged dignity in her manner; on whom she had a claim. She did not she stood up and looked at her niece ; it think she would care for Aunt Anne to seemed as if, in speaking of Sir William come and live with them; she remem- Rammage, she remembered that the world bered an aunt who had lived in her girl. had used her shamefully, and she had de. hood's home, who had not been a success. termined to give it back bitter scorn for But they might for all that do something; lits indifference to her griefs.
of old age.
“ Lord mayor of London,” Mrs. Hibbert! “But, Aunt Anne " Florence berepeated, and rubbed her eyes a little ; it gan, astonished. seemed like part of a play and not a very Mrs. Baines put her hand on Florence's sane one — the old lady, her deep mourn. shoulder. ing, her winking left eye, and the sudden “There there," she said forgivingly, "I introduction of a lord mayor.
know you did not mean to hurt me, but” “Yes, lord mayor of London,” repeated and here her voice grew tender and tremMrs. Baines, “and he lets me work for my ulous again —“no one, not even you or daily bread.”
Walter, must presume, for I cannot allow "Is Walter also related to the lord it. There — kiss me," and she pulled Flor. mayor ?"
ence's head down on to her breast, while No, my love. Your Walter's grand suddenly — for there were wonderfully father married twice, I was the daughter quick transitions of feeling expressed on of the first marriage — my mother was the the old wan face all through the interview daughter of a London merchant - your - a smile that was almost joyous came to Walter's father was the son of the second ber lips. “ I am so glad to see you again, marriage."
my dear,” she said ; " I have looked for" It is too complicated to understand," ward to this day for years. I loved you Florence answered in despair. " And from the very first moment I saw you at is there no one else, Aunt Anne ? " Brighton, and I have always loved your
" There are many others, but they are Walter. I wish,” she went on, as Florindifferent as he is, they are cold and ence gently disengaged herself from the hard, Florence; that is a lesson one has black cashmere embrace, “I wish you to learn when fortune deserts one,” and could remember him a little boy as I do. the old lady shook her head mournfully. He had the darkest eyes and the lightest
“But, dear Aunt Anne," Florence said, hair in the world.” aghast at this sudden vista of the world, “ His hair is a beautiful brown now," "tell me who they are besides Sir Wil- her niece answered, rather thankfully. liam Rammage ; let Walter try what can “Yes, my love, it is,” the old lady said, be done. Surely they cannot all be as with a little glee at the young wife's pride. cold and hard as you think.”
“And so is yours. I think you have the " It is of no use, my love,” Mrs. Baines prettiest hair I ever saw." There was not said sadly.
a shade of flattery in her voice, so that * But perhaps you are mistaken, Aunt Florence was appeased after the severe Anne, and they will after all do something snub of a moment ago, and smoothed her for you. Do tell me who they are." plaits with much complacency. “ And
“Mrs. Baines drew herself up proudly, now, tell me, when will your dear one be the tears that had seemed to be on their at home, for I long to see him ? " way a minute ago must have retreated sud- “ He is very uncertain, Aunt Anne, I denly, for her eyes looked bright, and she fear he has no fixed time, but I know that spoke in a quick, determined voice. he will try and make one to see you when
“ My love,” she said, “ you must not he hears that you are in town." expect me to give you an account of all “I am sure he will,” Mrs. Baines said, my friends and relations and of what they evidently certain that there was no doubt will or will not do for me. Don't question at all about that. " Are the dear children me, my love, for I cannot allow it - I can. at home?” she inquired, “I long for a not, indeed. I have told you that I am sight of them.” destitute, that I am a widow, that I am * Shall I call them?" working for my living; and that must “Yes, my love ; it will do my heart good suffice. I am deeply attached to you and to look at them." Walter ; there is in my heart a picture Nothing loth, Florence opened the door that will never be effaced of you and him and called up-stairs : standing in our garden at Rottingdean, of “ Monty and Catty, are you there, my your going away in the sunshine with beauties? I want you, my chicks." flowers and preserve in your hands — the There was a quick patter-patter overpreserve that I myself had made. It is head, a door opened and two little voices because I love you that I have come to answered both at once :you to-day, and because I feel assured that “ We'll come, mummy, we'll come.” you love me ; but you must remember, A moment later there entered a sturdy Florence, that I am your aunt, and you boy of six, with eyes like his father's, and must treat me with proper respect and a girl of three and a half, with nut-brown consideration."
hair hanging down her back.
* We are
come, mummy," they ex- for fear I had taken cold whilst waiting claimed joyfully, as their mother, taking for the carriage.” their fat hands in hers, led them up to It seemed as if Aunt Anne had been Aunt Anoe. The old lady took them in extraordinarily lucky. her arms and kissed them.
“ And you like being with young people, “ Bless them," she said, “ bless them. I I think," Florence said, noticing how her should have known them anywhere. They sad face lighted up while she spoke of the couldn't be any one else's children. My theatre. darlings, do you know me?" Monty “It is always a pleasure to me to witdrew back a little way and looked at her ness happiness in others," Aunt Anne saucily as if he thought the question rather answered, with a long, benevolent sigh, a joke.
"and it is a comfort to know that to this “No, we don't know you,” he answered beautiful girl — for Mrs. North is only in a jovial voice, " we don't know you a four-and-twenty, my dear - my presence bit."
is beneficial and my experience of life " Bless him,” exclaimed Aunt Anne, useful. I wish you would come and call and laughed aloud for glee. “ He is so
on her." like his father, it makes me forget all my “But she might not like it. I don't see sorrows to see him. My dear children," why she should desire my acquaintance." she went on, solemnly addressing them, "She would think it the greatest honor "I did not bring you anything, but before to know anybody belonging to me." the day is finished you shall have proof “Is she an old friend, Aunt Anne, or that Aunt Anne loves you. Good-bye, my how did you know her?” Florence asked, dears, good-bye,” and she looked at their wondering at the great kindness extended mother with an expression that said plain to the old lady, and whether there was a ly, “Send them away."
deep foundation for it. She did not think Florence opened the door and the chil. it likely, from all that she had heard, that dren pattered back to the nursery. When companions were generally treated with they had gone Mrs. Baines rose.
so much consideration. For a moment "I must go too," she said sadiy, as if Aunt Anne was silent, then she answered she had overtaken her griefs and sorrows coldly :again, “ for I am no longer my own mis. “ I met her through an advertisement. tress. Remember that, dear, when you But you must not question me, you must think of me, or when you and Walter con- not indeed, Florence. I never allowed verse together."
any one to do that, and I am too old to “But it is nearly one o'clock, will you begin ; too old, and feeble, and worn out not stay and lunch? Walter might come, to allow it even from you, my love.” and he would be so glad to see you," “ But, dear Aunt Anne, I did not mean to Florence said anxiously, remembering that hurt or offend you in any way. I merely as yet she had done nothing to help the wondered, since these people were so kind old lady, and without her husband she felt to you, if they were new or old friends," it was too awkward a task to attempt. Florence said affectionately, but still a
“No, my dear, no; but sha come little stiffily, for now that she had been as. again when you least expect me, on the sured the old lady was so well provided chance of finding you at home.”
for, she felt that she might defend herself. " And is there cothing I can do for you, “ Then you must forgive me,” Mrs. Aunt Anne?” Florence asked hesitat- Baines said penitently. "I know I am ingly, “no way in which I can be useful foolishly sensitive sometimes, but in my
heart I shall never misjudge you or Wal. "No, my dear, no; but thank you and ter; be assured of that, my darling.”. bless you for your tender heart. There is She went slowly up to a little ebonynothing I want. I wish you could see framed looking -glass that was over a Mrs. North, Florence, she is kindness it bracket in an out-of-the-way corner - -it self. I have been in the house five weeks, was odd that she should even have noticed and they have never once failed to show it - and stood before it arranging her me the attention that is due to me," she bonnet, till she was a mass of blackness said with grave dignity. “We went to and woe. “My love," she said, “would Covent Garden theatre last night - I re- you permit your servant to call a cab for fused to go to Drury Lane, for I did not me? I prefer a hansom. I promised Mrs. approve of the name of the piece – they North that I would return to luncheon, insisted on giving me the best place, and and I fear that I am already a little be. were most anxious when we reached home hindhand.”.