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represents with much humour my honest friend's condition:
Let Rufus weep, rejoice, stand, sit, or walk,
[Baron Houghton, Richard Monckton Milnes, F.S.A., D.C.L., born 19th June, 1809. Poet, politician, and miscellaneous writer. Graduated at Trinity College, Cambridge; elected M. P. for Pontefract, 1837, and raised to the peerage 1863. Whilst giving earnest attention to politics and to many social questions, Lord Houghton has earned wide fame as a poet and biographer His chief works are, Poems of Many Years; Poems Legendary and Historical: Palm Leaves; Letters and Literary Remains of John Keats, &c. One of his critics says: "Delicate fancy, warm sympathy with human suffering, and keen observation of the human heart characterize his poetical works."]
Eyes which can but ill define
Follow yon majestic train
As the heart of childhood brings
Youthful Hope's religious fire,
Many a growth of pain and care,
On that deep-retiring shore
Tombs where lonely love repines,
Oh! we would not, if we could, Wake the sleep of Long-ago!
Though the doom of swift decay
Who is Silvia? What is she,
That all our swains commend her? Holy, fair, and wise is she,
The heavens such grace did lend her, That she might admired be.
Is she kind as she is fair?
For beauty lives with kindness: Love doth to her eyes repair,
To help him of his blindness; And, being helped, inhabits there.
Then to Silvia let us sing,
That Silvia is excelling; She excels each mortal thing, Upon the dull earth dwelling: To her let us garlands bring.
-From The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
[J. W. De Forest, a contributor to the principal American magazines, chiefly in prose, but occasionally
in verse. He has written numerous short tales and sketches of adventure and travel. Amongst his more important works are, History of the Indians of Connecti
cut from the earliest known Period to 1850; Oriental Acquaintance, a series of letters from Asia Minor; European Acquaintance, sketches of people in Europe, &c.]
"What a singular odour!" soliloquized Miss Holeum, snuffing the air with a slight tremor of disgust about her nostrils.
She said odour instead of smell, because she was a teacher of several years' standing in one of the common schools of New York, and had learned in the exercise of her profession to express herself with an elegance of the Johnsonian species. She was accustomed to remark to her scholars, "Before you speak, always consider not only your thoughts, but also the language in which you propose to give them utterance."
She was at this moment ascending the third staircase of the cheap, plain, and even seedy lodging-house in which she had her parlour bedroom-kitchen-or, in other words, her one room in which she studied, slept, and did such small cooking as was needed for her tea and breakfast. In this simple fashion she had lived for years, not merely because her earnings were small, and not at all because she was stingy, but mainly because she was a noble, unselfish woman, who had it at heart to educate a youthful orphan cousin.
"It is burning charcoal," she added, after an instant. "Can it be that some poor mortal is seeking his death?"
School-teaching alone had not given her the wisdom to reach this suspicion. She was a reader of novels; she had an imagination, and a native longing after the unusual; she was capable of conceiving a suicide, and of conceiving herself as saving him. Where a practical, common-sense man would merely have smelt fire, this fanciful, impulsive woman scented a tragedy of the heart. We shall see which of these two characters best suited the exigency that was now agonizing in this bare and musty old lodging-house. The wildest imagination is sometimes the truest common-sense.
"It may be that young foreigner," thought Janet Holcum. She ran up another flight of stairs, hurried along a musty, dusty passage, and stopped before a door marked by dirty fingers. Timorous and modest, she looked at it with hesitation as well as anxiety; but the
charcoal fumes were stronger here, and began to make her sick and faint; she felt that she could not hesitate long. After rapping and receiving no answer, she put her mouth to the keyhole and called, also without effect.
Oh dear! what shall I do?" she groaned, confident now that a tragedy was passing within, and looking about her vainly for help. She had already learned that this fifth story was unoccupied except by the pale, slovenly, haggard young foreigner, whose step she had frequently heard pacing to and fro for hours over her head. As she remembered that he was a man, and that she had never been introduced to him, she thought of running downstairs and summoning some other man to save him. But the poisonous air demanded instant action; she tried the lock unavailingly, and then flung herself desperately against the door; the miserable bolt-catch gave way, and she was within. Unable to breathe in the mephitic atmosphere of the room, she rushed across it, opened a window, and thrust her head out. Looking back from this position she saw something which made her shudder.
There was a painter's easel; on the easel was a picture with its face turned from her; behind the easel, on the floor of one corner of the room, was a wretched bed, and on this, the chest and head concealed by the picture, lay the motionless form of a man. The moment Janet had drawn one long breath of the out-ofdoor air she hastened to this terrible corner. No time to look at the man-no leisure to query whether he were alive or dead-she lifted him by the shoulders, dragged him to the window, and seated him by it in a chair. Her only distinct consciousness as to his condition was that the temple which dropped against her cheek was not entirely cold.
But the appearance of the suicide, as she held him up in the chair, was alarming. His face ash-coloured, his lips blue and contracted, his head drooping helplessly on one shoulder, he seemed to be already in another world. She scarcely noticed that he did not look to be more than twenty-five years of age; that his long, curling, yellow hair, although neglected, was beautiful; that his wasted and ghastly features were classic in outline. Two or three times she called loudly for assistance-"Help! Murder!" But outside there was only a wilderness of roofs; inside, the musty old lodginghouse seemed another desert. She was left alone with her awful question of death or life.
Presently her enigma responded. The response was only a sigh, but it came from this side of the tomb it was the triumph of nature over
supernature, the hail of a soul returning from the shades. The man was already breathing, and it was not long before he opened his eyes. Into these eyes Janet sent her sweetest and most pitiful smile, seeking thereby to encourage the sick and sorrowful spirit within. Not a word was uttered, for the one was as yet too ill to speak, and the other felt that here was a misery too profound to be questioned. After a while, seeing that her patient could hold up his head, Janet hastened to the pan of charcoal, which was still burning, and deluging it with water from a pitcher, extinguished its poisonous embers. When she returned to the window the invalid looked in her face with so much intelligence that she ventured to address him.
"You will be better soon," she said. air of the room is becoming purified. that charcoal which made you ill." "Yes, it was te sharcoal," replied the young man, with a marked German accent.
"I haf but one drubble," he replied. is life."
"The It was
"I hope that you will be more careful about it in future," she continued, believing that she was talking to a would-be suicide, but not quite certain of it.
"I subbose so," was the weak-voiced, indifferent, non-committal answer.
She looked anxiously into the fine face which was now beginning to reassume somewhat of its natural colour and beauty.
"If you are suffering under any trouble," she said, "I trust and desire that you will tell me of it. Perhaps I can aid you.'
Wicked as the sentiment seemed to her, the man who uttered it did not seem wicked, but only pitiable. In the quivering droop of his lip, and in the fixed but unseeing stare of his blue eyes, there was a profound anguish and a calm desperation which made her think of the unsounded, motionless waters of the Dead Sea covering ruined cities. She had never before seen such sorrow; at least she had never before seen sorrow expressed with such frankness; and the spectacle impressed her the more terribly because of its novelty.
on the North River which she had visited and which she instantly recognized. Although unfinished, she was so little a judge of painting that she did not perceive that, and she thought it beautifully done. Of a sudden it occurred to her womanly wit and sensibility that here was something whereby she might gain a hold upon this victim of despair and draw him back to a willingness to live.
"Did you do this?" she asked. "Are you a painter?"
The youth now rose, steadied himself with difficulty, rubbed his forehead and his eyes, struck his hand repeatedly on the back of his neck, obviously confused, dizzy, and in pain. Janet felt that feminine delicacy ordered her to leave him; but she did not dare, lest he should rekindle his charcoal. Turning away in order to gain time for reflection, she found herself near the easel, and she examined the picture. It was a landscape representing a scene
His face brightened the merest trifle as he caught her look of interest.
Oh, but you have time," she urged eagerly. "It" You shall have time."
He eyed her meditatively, earnestly, and solemnly, as if querying whether he should tell her his miserable story. While he hesitated this excellent Janet Holeum was praying in her heart that Heaven would guide him toward goodness and safety.
"See here," he said at last, "I will dell you someting. You haf saved my life. I will dell you why I wanted to die. I had no money. I could not get food. I could not bay for my room. I had had drubbles pevore-over in Chermany. Und now I had not a cent in my bocket. So at last I tires out, und I gives it up. I lights my sharcoal, und I lies down to sleep it out. That is my shtory." In spite of his strong German accent he was sublime, and terrible, and pitiable. The tears rushed into Janet's eyes, and stepping suddenly forward she caught both his hands, as if she would prevent him by force from again attempting his life.
"I t'ank you," was the simple response of a man whose sensibility and quickness enabled
"Yes, I am a bainter," he answered. "Let me turn it to the light for you," he added. with a courtesy of manner strangely at variance with his coarse and even dirty clothing. “You see it is not vinished yet," he went on, looking kindly at her, as if he detected her ignorance of art and pitied her for it.
"I know the place," she said, forcing a smile of encouragement. "I have had the pleasure of visiting it. How well you have represented it"
"So you haf peen there?" he replied, with just the faintest possible smile of gratification "It is a pewtiful spot."
Why don't you sell it?"
"What! sell it so? It is not vinished." "Then why don't you finish it?” she added, trembling with anxiety to make him promise to do so.
"I haf not time," he said, his gloom returning.
him to understand sympathy which had not been uttered.
"You must not do this again," she urged as soon as she could speak. "I will see that you have friends. You shall have time to finish your picture. I will help you sell it. Have you eaten to-day?"
"I haf no abbedide."
"I am opliged," he answered as he followed her. "But you must excuse my abbearance," he added, glancing at his ragged clothing, stained with grease and daubed with paint. "I am not fit for the gombany of a lady."
"I am only a poor schoolmistress," she smiled. "And in you I can respect the artist."
He bowed with a courteous grace, which gave him the air of a gentleman, in spite of his wretched raiment.
She understood that he had not eaten, and present, and, moreover, haste seemed to be the tears shone in her eyes again. more important than plenty. She lighted her "Come down to my room," she said. "You gas stove, got her tea ready, and set out a store must. You can take some tea, at any rate. of graham crackers, butter, and cheese. Then Come down and sit with me, at least, while I followed a moderate repast and a conversation eat." which lasted well into the evening.
Arrived in her little parlour-bedroom with this strange companion, Janet Holcum's heart fluttered. It was the first time that a man had been with her there alone. If visitors should arrive what would they think? Of course it would be impossible to explain that here was a gentleman whom she had caught trying to commit suicide, and whom she had undertaken to cure of his self-destroying propensities by means of tea and sympathy. Moreover, what would this man himself think of her! She was squeamish about situations because (and here we come to a fact which I have not hitherto dared to mention)-well. she was squeamish because she was an old maid.
It is curious, but it is none the less true, that a woman of thirty-eight is usually more fastidious about appearances, and even about realities, than a girl of eighteen. Enlightening meditations, perhaps some dangers avoided, perhaps some scandals innocently incurred, a habit of life which has become a governing motive, are the explanations of this singular phenomenon. Well, Janet Holcum, being thirty-eight years of age, blushed and was troubled at the thought of being alone with this handsome man of twenty-five, although he might be looked upon as little more than a ghost returned from beyond the grave. Presently her natural good sense, strengthened by a perfect uprightness of heart, came to her support.
"Pshaw!" she thought, "I am old enough
to be his aunt; besides, I am saving him from death. Let who will blame me, I am doing my duty."
Having had lunch that day, she had proposed to go without dinner, and consequently she had slight provision for a meal. She might have run out to make purchases, but she was afraid to leave her Tartar to himself for the
Drawn out by sympathy, the guest told his whole story. His name, he stated, was Ernst Rodolf Hartmann, and he was the youngest son of an official in the civil service of Prussia. Carried away by the liberal ideas so common among European students, he had attached himself, after leaving the university of Berlin, to a secret club of republicans, whose object was to substitute democracy for the Hohenzollerns. The club had been ferreted out by the police; Ernst and two or three other members had been condemned to a brief imprisonment: moreover, he had been disinherited and disowned by his father, a furious loyalist. Worst of all, a beautiful girl to whom he was betrothed had, during his confinement, been driven or coaxed into a marriage with some old baron. This last sorrow, which he related with childlike candour and simplicity, made Janet Holcum blush to her ears even while her heart throbbed with pity.
When he rose to return to his room he seemed to be at least temporarily reconciled to the struggle of life.
"I will dry it a leetle longer if you will gif me a hand," he said. "I will go to bainting again."
"Oh! how can you talk of it so coolly!" she exclaimed with heartfelt solemnity and even with horror. "Don't you know that what you have done to-day is very wicked? Forgive me," she added instantly, remembering how miserable he had been, and looking with pity at his wasted face. By the way, she talked very little of her Johnsonese to this man; for, in the first place, she supposed that he, being a foreigner, might not understand it; and secondly, she had to be so earnest with him that only the simplest words seemed suitable.
'What could I do?" he asked. "A gentleman may not pe a peggar. Pesides, I was not a bainter at home. Mein faders were to make of me a panker. Bainting was merely my fancy.
I had no hope of success in it.
"Will you promise to come to take break- she absolutely forced him to take. fast with me?"
see him walking the streets with a red nose and fingers. It was in vain for him to refuse;
Meantime small profits from his brush. The picture which she had thought perfect really had
He took her hand, and before she could guess what he meant to do he kissed it. Notwith standing the perfect simplicity of his manner, notwithstanding that the action was obviously a mere expression of civility and gratitude, Janet Holeum, who had never before had her hand kissed, blushed again until it seemed to her that her hair was turning scarlet. Without, noticing her confusion, this ragged gentleman said sweetly "Goot night," and bowed himself out of the room.
"I bromise—upon my honour." "Remember now-upon your honour. Good but five or six days' work upon it, and needed night." a month more. And when it was done it brought only twenty-five dollars. It was of no use for her to scold the picture-dealer for his sharpness, and to endeavour to move his pity by telling him the tale of the German's poverty. The man of art replied that it was not a known name; that paintings sold in the American market mainly by force of reputation; that he had his own living to make, and that she might take the money or leave it.
"If he can do a figure-picture, and do it first-rate," said this rational monster, "I can be more liberal with him. There are so many landscapes. Every American artist can make landscapes."
From this good-night forward Janet was burdened and blessed with another labour of love. She had a suicide to reform-a soul without hope to fill with hope-a man without work to provide with work-a lover of lager to satisfy with black tea-a brand to snatch from all sorts of burnings. It was not only a heavy load to carry, but a delicate one to handle. Her orphan, as she soon began to call him, must not eat in her room for fear of Mrs. Grundy. She must content herself with letting him go to cheap restaurants for his dinner, and with occasionally carrying him a cup of tea to wash down the dry bread which she knew was his only supper. As for converse, she firmly invited him to see her every Sunday evening; she sometimes dropped into his den to look at his work and cheer him on with it; oftener still, she took a walk with him in the hall or an evening promenade in the streets.
She was proud of herself, and yet ashamed of herself. It struck her as almost indelicate that she should support a man, especially a young and handsome one. Moreover, her labour of love was a fearful expense compared with her small income. She was soon obliged to draw on her savings'-bank deposit, and that had always been kept in a consumptive state by the needs of her girl cousin. At first she thought of getting up a subscription for her painter, or of interesting some rich school committeeman in his behalf; but very shortly she took such a fancy to him that she did not want any one else to earn a claim to his gratitude; and so she went on paying out her savings for his necessities. When winter arrived and fuel must be had, she bought it for him, although he tried to do without. Next came an overcoat, and a pair of mittens, and some heavy underclothing, because she could not bear to
On this hint Ernst commenced a figure pie ture. It was his forte; he had simply tried a landscape because he had judged that to be the favourite genre in America; he had known that he could not hope to excel in it. A beautiful group was soon sketched, representing a scene from King Philip's war, the interior of a cabin lighted by its own flames, a beautiful girl in the grasp of Wampanoag warriors, a father and brother struggling manfully against her captors, and in the near back-ground, faintly seen through the shattered door, a coming relief of Puritan riders. Janet Holeum, the patriotic New Englander, was delighted with what she thought already a perfect success, and wanted to sell the group as it was.
"No," judged Ernst. "I cannot avvord to waste virst impressions. This is the most divvicult bart of the bainting, though the quickest. But it will need a long time make it goot enough. It will need all winter,” he concluded, with a piteously apologetical glance at Janet.
'Go on," she said, flushing with the noble heart-beat of self-sacrifice as she caught sight of this mute appeal. "This time I know you will triumph. We can live till it is done."
"Heaven pless you!" he replied, taking her hand and kissing it by force. "You are the noplest woman upon the earth."
The kiss and the praise brought a deeper blush than one often sees on such a pale, sallow face as that of Janet. For we must come now to a weighty secret; we must make an avowal which is almost tragic. Not content with dowering this poor stranger with her worldly wealth, Janet had already begun to give him