Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

away to execute the command; “ come Kitty, child, we must arrange our dress a little," and with a haughty bow to the chambermaid, she ascended to her chamber.

When, this momentous affair being finished, Mrs. Doctor Yellowchops came down stairs again, she found her spouse gloomily awaiting her at the bottom of the table. Most women would either have endeavoured to win their husband from dispiriting thoughts, at such a time, or have wisely taken no notice of it, but, not so Mrs. Yellowchops, who having already buckled on her connubial armour, was burning to achieve a victory at the outset.

“You pay me a very high compliment, sir,” she said, with a sour smile, "to carry that funereal face about with you, on your wedding-day.”

“I cannot help it, ma'am," retorted the doctor, who was recklessly indifferent now, to what he said ; “when people feel that they have committed a great mistake, and have suffered a heavy misfortune, it is scarcely to be expected that they can look merry, much less feel so, ma'am.”

The withering contempt with which she heard the poor idiot say this,—his forced courage oozing out with every word, until at length, the speech died away in a hollow whisper, were in the strongest possible contrast.

“I feel obliged to you for such a compliment, just now,” she said, in her usual tone, though she was deadly pale, as she heard him; "and as you dare me to the struggle, I will not flinch from it; I need scarcely tell you, Doctor Yellowchops,for unless you are even blinder than I give you credit for,that this ill-assorted match of ours was not of my seeking."

The doctor sat mute and crestfallen, listening to her, without even once looking up; he was, in fact, the very picture of misery.

If there should be any shortcomings on my part, sir, you have no one but yourself and Mr. Pestlepolge to thank for it; you knew that, when I married you,—and now, our confidence, short and fleeting as it has been, is over, and for the time to come I steel my heart against you. I know your temper and disposition even better than you do yourself ; your sordid, truckling parsimony, your mean and pitiful economy shall have no advocate in me, sir! As long as I remain at the head of your establishment, I will not permit any interference with my discretion on these points; in marrying you—I tell you it plainly, -I did so, only to escape from the hateful dependence, I was subjected to, in Mr. Hutton's house, and I will scarcely consent to continue the same miserable vassalage, now that I have a claim upon you, sir !"

“Were I as rich, my love, as I deserve to be," stammered the doctor.

Pray don't have the hypocrisy to use such transparent falsehoods, sir,” she said, with a scornful smile; " for my own part I hate you too cordially, to reciprocate such endearments, and have no wish to hear you bestow them; as for your merits —,"

“Well my dear,” faltered Doctor Yellowchops, a transient feeling of his old tyranny getting the mastery over his terrors; “ Well, madam !” he reiterated, almost sternly.

“And well, sir !” she retorted, rapidly, as she shoved the plate, she had been filling for him, towards his hand; "as for your merits, when I discover them, I may subscribe to your lamentations, for their being so badly recognised and remunerated; until then, I must be permitted to hold them in con

tempt.”

And without deigning to notice his abject humility, this charming bride continued her meal, displaying to her discomfited spouse, an appetite, the keenness of which was probably rendered more acute, by the triumphant encounter she had just been engaged in.

“You had better give me your purse," she said, as if a sudden thought had struck her, as they arose from the table ; "every husband who confides in the prudence of his wife, entrusts her with that."

“But, madam, the trouble," he cried, in desperation.

“I care nothing for that, sir; if you repose that confidence in your wife, you ought to do," and she seemed to tremble with conscious virtue, as she spoke, “you would give it to me instantly ; but you do not believe in female honesty," and with a scornful gesture, she swept past him, and made her little preparations for retiring for the night.

With a mighty sigh, the unhappy Yellowchops drew his tolerably well-filled purse from his pocket, and handed it to her, with reluctant and unwilling fingers.

“ Have you counted it ?” she demanded, balancing it daintily on her finger.

“Counted it, my love!” he reiterated, with an air of astonishment.

“Yes, sir, I said counted it !” she retorted, standing before him, terrible as a Medusa, and almost petrifying him to stone. “I asked

you

if
you

had counted it, Doctor Yellowchops." “N-o-, my love,” he said, gulphing down the lie, “ It had been my amusement, and his voice faltered as he said it, and he even ventured to look sentimental through all his misery, “ during our courtship, to lay aside whatever I saved from my professional earnings, to stock that purse against this time.”

Heaven help him, poor fellow! with all his coarse vulgarity, I could almost pity the poor wretch, as I imagine him adding with a sort of mental agony to himself, "little imagining as I did so, what a being I was saving these bright guineas up for!”

She heard him with a sneer that froze the sentiment that was lingering about his purple visage, as rapidly as the summer lightning scorches the green bough it smites, and turning away, sought her nuptial couch, with none of those tender endearments we bachelors, in our happy ignorance, imagine brides are in the habit of bestowing upon their transported better-halves, merely warning him to come early to bed, and on no account to venture to disturb her slumbers.

The miserable feeling that weighed him down was so strong within him, that he could not even summon up sufficient resolution to assume a gay demeanour whilst the waiter was removing the supper things, but sat with a newspaper before him, mentally recalling all that had passed between them since they had entered the room. On chancing to approach him, the man noticed that the paper was upside down, and venturing to peep over the top, he perceived that the doctor's face was leaning on his breast as if he was asleep; he was not, however, for had he been ever so weary and exhausted, there was a demon tugging at his heart, that would have effectually driven away the repose he stood so much in need of.

When the man had gone, he got up and opened the door, for in his present state he felt as if he was smothered for want of air; and then sitting down again in the draught, fell into another painful reverie. Upon my word I pity the poor, ugly, vulgar, deluded vagabond his feelings at such a moment, but the truth must be told, and I dare not flinch from narrating what occurred in the sequel.

Doctor Yellowchops was thinking of many things : of his first wife, and his treatment of her; of his second, and her treatment of him-how his ears tingled as he thought of all she had just been saying; of his marriage, and his debts; all were mingled together in a confused mass in his brain, for he was just in that state when a man cannot think clearly, let him even strive his hardest, --when his attention was caught by a peculiar sound in an adjoining room, and he looked up and listened.

The sound had caught his ear from the first, for it was sufficiently loud and singular; but in the pre-occupation of his mind, he had never noticed it until now. He listened, at first, carelessly, then more keenly, for he was beginning to feel interested in the sharp clink and clicking rattle that invariably preceded the deep curse, the low, strange buzz, and the uproarious shout of delight. August, 1848.-Vol. LII.-N0. Ccviii.

ми

458

Marmaduke Hutton; or, The Poor Relation.

Then changing colour as he did so, and looking hurriedly round, lest she should see him—although there was little fear of that, for Medusa was already in bed, priming herself for the curtain-lecture she intended favouring him with—he began to grope eagerly in his pockets, clutching nervously, as he did so, at a couple of coins, which he drew up with trembling fingers, and carried to the light, for his eyes were so dim with apprehension, that he could not be certain they were gold until he had done so.

Then putting on his hat, and buttoning his coat, with the two gold pieces still lying in his damp, hot hands, he stumbled out of the room.

He was so nervous at what he was about to do-for the doctor was not a gambler at heart, and nothing but that bad woman's infamous behaviour, and his own utter misery and despair could have driven him to it — that he lingered in the passage for several minutes after he had taken his resolution, and was at length only driven into the gambling room, by hearing one of the waiters approaching.

Amongst the crowd of eager men that flocked about the table, there was little fear of any one scanning the appearance of a new comer very rigidly, and the doctor for some minutes got hustled about from one end to the other, in rather a rough manner. They were playing rouge et noir, and for some time there was employment enough for him, in watching the different effects the game had upon those with whom he found himself so abruptly thrown in contact.

Here, a spare, thin man, with a flat chest, and wild, bright eyes, was staking his last shilling, with silent despair, upon the red, his lips moving inaudibly, as he watched the progress of the game, but whether in prayer or malediction, who but himself could tell ?—there, a stout, jovial-looking fellow, with a loud oath, and a hateful chuckle, was shovelling a heap of gold into a capacious pocket, eyeing every idle hand

that came within his grasp with a glittering eye of jealousy.

“I always bet upon the black,” he cried, exultingly; "always on the black, gentlemen," and having secured his winnings, he gulphed down at a draught a large glass of brandy.

“A sovereign on the black,” said Doctor Yellowchops, in a hoarse whisper, laying down one of his coveted coins, which had surely been placed in his pocket on this eventful evening by some demon, to work his ruin; “I back the black."

“You'll win, sir; I drink to your success," cried the stout gentleman, nodding to him; "here, waiter! a glass of brandy to this gentleman," pointing to our friend.

“You always back the black, don't you ? " said the doctor, in the same hoarse whisper, with bis eye rivetted on the table; “always the black ! always the black !”

“Always the black, sir !” echoed his new acquaintance, thrusting the glass of brandy into his hand, and scanning his coarse, purple visage, lit up with two small bloodshot eyes, and thinking how ugly he looked with that large, loose mouth and pendulous double chin; "but come, drink, my dear fellow, to your own luck!”

“The black's a winner again!” cried a dozen voices, some eager, and some savagely disappointed in their tones.

There, take up your winnings and stake again,” whispered the doctor's new friend, with rather a scornful glance at the solitary sovereign the banker threw towards our friend. “Black again, against the field.”

“ The doctor staked again, soon-won twice, thrice, many times, in quick succession. His new friend had plied him so industriously with brandy, that he very soon became very tipsy, but not, however, before he had still sense enough left to retire from the rouge et noir table, the winner of twenty pounds. What happened after that, he had not the most distant perception of, for he was, to confess the truth, very drunk indeed.

There were others there who were quite as much intoxicated as he was, and who had lost into the bargain; so that he was not to be pitied so much, after all.

I LOVE TO SEE A MERRY BAND.

BY MRS. CRAWFORD.

me.

I love to see a merry band

Beneath the good old tree,
That grows upon my father's land,

The land he left
His heart it was a kindly one;

He'd bow his locks of snow,
To be the playmate of his son,

In days long, long ago.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »