Abbildungen der Seite


"If he comes back!” said Sarah, only A month, perhaps, went by, and Sahalf aloud. She admitted in that mo- rah received a letter from her cousin ment to herself that, if he did not, in Cawnpore. For some reason or somehow, it would be a blow to her. other, she could not bring herself at

They discussed the beauty of the sen- first to tell her aunt that it had come, timents and of the writing.

but shut herself into her room and “He was always an honest poor fel- opened it, sitting on her bed. There ler,” said Mrs. Barry, who had seen fell out a photograph of a man in unihim twenty years ago, and, if she would form-young, slender, gallant-looking. but have admitted it, was slightly misty She drew her breath hard. It was in her recollections. "An' a han'some James. By the time that she had read boy, too-very.”

the letter, she was almost stupefied. "About how old, aunt?” said Sarah. Sarah rose, and, with scarlet cheeks,

"Sure, how would I know?" said the went slowly into the kitchen. old woman. "He's full young, I know; "Aunt," she said breathlessly, “I've something about the one age as your- heard from my Cousin James, an' he's self, I s'pose."

comin' home, really; an' he says he's She would not rest until Sarah was so much taken with my picture, he set down with squared elbows to the makes bold to send me his, an' to hope table to write to James Barry in Cawn. I will drop him a line to say if he may pore, and tell him all the news.

start payin' me his addresses.” "Say 'tis yourself that's writin',” the "Well!” said Mrs. Barry. “Fallen old woman enjoined her. "He'll be in love with your photo, an' comin' pleased, for look at the interest he home to wed you—'tis like a fairy tale!" takes in ye already!"

Then Sarah held out James's photo"Ah, now, aunt!” exclaimed Sarah, graph to her aunt. blushing.

"Isn't he beautiful?" she said under "Have ye a photo of yourself ?” said her breath. “But,” she faltered, “don't Mrs. Barry.

he look very young? Indeed, he's Sarah admitted that she had two; younger than I thought." one taken about two years ago, the The old woman held the portrait other-a good many years since. close up to her eyes.

"Bring the two of 'em to me!" com- “That's him," she said. "Oh, that's manded her aunt.

him; 'tis the image of him; a lovely boy Sarah brought them, blushing and he always was.” Sarah began to move trembling. The old woman looked out of the room.

“Where are you from one face to the other.

goin'?” said her aunt. “Ah, I wouldn't say the last was like "Goin' to write to him!” said Sarah you, at all,” said Mrs. Barry, with de- shyly. "He's lonesome man, he cision. “Send him the other."

says." So Sarah laid aside the worn, tired, "An' what'll ye say to him?" inand pathetic portrait of the spinster of quired the old woman, watching her thirty-six, and folded up the picture of curiously. the happy-hearted girl of twenty-three. If ye don't mind, aunt, I'd rather

"He'll never come back to see if it's not say," Sarah answered. like,” she said to herself, as she ad- And so a regular correspondence bedressed the letter. "And the men are gan between Sarah Cogan and James so simple about women's dress, he'll Barry. They wrote for three months never know those sleeves were worn by every mail. He sent her a silk fifteen years ago."

handkerchief, and postcards of Indian


towns. She sent him a tie that she had knitted, and postcards representing Irish scenes.

At the end of the three months James wrote again to Sarah.

"Aunt, he's coming home-he'll be here in three weeks' time," said Sarah; "an' he-he says he's comin' back to marry me, an' I'm to meet him at the station, an' not to tell any one in the village, at all. 'Tis to be a surprise, he says. Isn't it all very sthrange?" she murmured. “Indeed, aunt, I don't know myself at all I don't know what's come to me!"

The old woman was overwhelmed with delight.

"What did I tell you!" she chuckled. "Didn't I say ye bad time enough before you?”

Sarah went upstairs to put her hair in curl-papers against the day when James Barry should come back. For three weeks her hair was never out of papers, and she washed her face three times a day.

At last the day of James Barry's home-coming had arrived. The train which Sarah had promised him to meet was due at half-past twelve. By a quarter past she was walking up and down the platform in her Sunday dress. She was quite certain she should recognize James. “A tall, slender boy, clean-shaved, with curly hair, an' very gallant-looking," she kept repeating to herself. But she was not quite so sure that he would recognize her immediately.

"Fifteen years,” she said to herself, "do make a differ to a woman, an' like enough he'll be lookin' out for those sleeves."

She took his photograph out of her pocket, and, as she gazed at it, alarm quickened in her. "He's very young. lookin'” she murmured half aloud; “no more than a boy; indeed, I'm in dread he'll find me too old for him altogether."

The signal for James's train went down. Sarah was filled with alarm. “I'm more of an age to be his mother than his wife," she said to herself. As the train came in, she felt almost faint with fear.

“A tall, slender boy, clean-shaved, an' very gallant-lookin'," she repeated, and the words seemed to sound her own doom in her ears.

When the people got out of the carriages, she leant back in the shade, keenly watching every one of them. There were several slender boys, and some she knew, and some were greeted by friends; but none of them seemed to be looking for any one. At last the station was deserted, save of one person, a well-dressed, white-haired man, who glanced about him keenly, and frowned in a kind of apprehension. The train had gone, but James had not come!

But perhaps he had missed the connection, and was coming on by the twelve-fifty-three. Sarah determined she would wait for this. She sat down on a bench, and gazed in front of her, dreaming woman's thoughts.

The bench rocked at the other end, rousing her suddenly, and she perceived that the white-haired man had bestowed himself upon it, at a little distance from her. He, too, was staring rather dismally before him. Sarah sighed deeply. He sighed at the same time, and their eyes met.

""Tis a nuisance," exclaimed the white-haired man, “to be expectin' some one, an' then to find 'em not come, isn't it?"

Her eyes flashed back understanding at him.

"That's what I'm doin',” she said. "Are you?"

“Ay,” he replied; and added in an undertone: “But I suppose I may as well wait for a few minutes longermaybe she's late, an' she'd be disappointed if she didn't find me here."

that ye

[ocr errors]

Sarah found him sympathetic.

"An' ye don't know, child," he con"Times change, don't they?" she said, cluded, "what a load is off my mind to with the impulse of a young girl. “An'


ye the homely body yourself with them!"

are." "That's true," he assented eagerly. Sarah turned towards him a mo• 'Tis almost an awful thought."

ment. “Isn't it?" she exclaimed.

"Ah, don't be mockin' me!" she “Ye are in dread to meet the friends said. ye have left, for fear they'll remark the He drew her gently into the waitingdifference," the man went on medi- room, and closed the door. tatively. “Now, what would ye say "Why would I mock ye?" he said to the case of a man that had been softly. "Faith, an' all the time that I through rough times, an' got a bit gray was comin' home, 'twas frettin' me an' worn, an' was comin' back to somethin' terrible to be thinkin' of th' claim a beautiful young gerrl

injustice I was doin' a beautiful young Sarah started.

gerrl-askin' her to join her life to a *Or worse, sir!" she exclaimed. gray-haired ould feller's. I was in "Think of the case of a middlin’-aged dread to meet you, for fear ye'd get a woman, that was expectin' to meet a great shock when ye saw me." han'some young boy she was promised Sarah lifted her eyes, which were to, but had never set eyes on."

still full of a young girl's simplicity, to The white-haired man turned and his. looked at her shrewdly.

“Ye were," she said wonderingly, "in "Is that your case, ma'am ?" he said. dread to meet me? Oh, but ye don't The blood rushed to her face.

know what I was goin' through when “Well, 'tis,” she admitted.

the train came in, thinkin' I'd see your “An' t'other case," said the

face fall when ye looked at me; thinkin' calmly, "is my own."

ye'd turn away from me!" She rose.

By a sudden instinct he "Listen to me, child,” said James. rose too.

He took her hands. "How will ye for"Ye're not Sarah Cogan?” he cried. give me the trick I played on you? I

“An' ye're not James Barry?” Sarah was in dread when I saw your beautisaid.

ful picture to send ye the portrait of a He drew a tremendous sigh of what battered old soldier." seemed to Sarah bitter disappointment. "Oh, James,” she said, half-sobbing,

“Ah, dear, now," he exclaimed " 'twas me that began it, by sending you frankly; “ye're not at all the girl I was my portrait that was taken fifteen expectin' ye to be."

years ago, when I had the recent one Sarah Cogan turned her face away, an' all!" and drew back into the shadow of the He took, and held, her hands. station-house.

"Does it matter so much, child ?” he "I know, I know," she murmured said. "For 'tis child ye seem to mebrokenly. "I am ashamed to look ye child, an' home, an' the ould counthry, in the face."

an' my own hearthside. I'm a lone“For three months,” went on James some ould feller, Sarah, an' women's Barry cheerfully, “I'd been picturin' looks don't signify much to me, but I'm you a sunny-faced merry-lookin' gerrl longin' for some one to take the loneof twenty-two, or that—"

some feel out o' me heart. Why, child, She turned her face still further from what's this?" him.

She was sobbing.


" "Tisn't-'tisn't the disappointment,” he went on, “that I'm not young an' han'some?"

The London Magazine.

“No, no," she said, brushing her tears away; "but 'tis the relief, James, an' the joy that ye are not!"

Rosamund Langbridge.





EDITOR AND PART PROPRIETOR. In January 1865 Peter began to hint proposals for an open and closer connection with the “Observer." I did not altogether like his business ways. The considerably increased revenues of the paper did not with perfect regularity run in the direction of producing my weekly 158. Peter never said "No" when I looked in for money on the Saturday afternoon, nor did he make any excuse for delay, nor promise of early payment. He used to lean one elbow on the counter of the shop and, in his low tone, with a peculiar smile on his thin lips and a far-away look in his watery blue small eyes, he changed the subject.

In addition to his temporal concerns in High Street, Peter a local preacher. He was always dressed in black, rather rusty in color but clerical in cut. He also appeared, weekday and Sunday, in a white neckcloth. The dreamy look that overcast his countenance when I mentioned my 158., in conjunction with his reflective attitude supported by the counter, was, I fancy, reminiscent of his pulpit manner. However it be, my wages were always in arrear till I bit upon the idea of taking them out in books. To this Peter made po objection, and I daresay I got much more benefit from this method of payment than if he had awakened out of his reverie and handed me the pieces of silver. I have at this day a copy of Tennyson's poems, bound in calf (price 188.), of which I thus became possessed. Also a delightful pocket edi.

tion of Shakespeare, bound in red morocco, bearing the imprimature of Bradbury, Evans & Co., Bouverie Street. I often wondered since, sitting at the “Punch" table with my old friend William Bradbury in the vice-chair, whether Peter ever paid for the book ? I am afraid not.

As the result of many conversations, Peter and I came to an urderstanding. I would undertake the editorship of the "Observer” only on condition that I had a share in the property. It was finally arranged that I was to be editor and manager at a salary of 1501. a year; that I was to become part-proprietor, paying down a sum of 501. and contributing to capital not less than 501. a year. I find these particulars in the shorthand diary I kept at this time. Either the entries are incomplete or the proceedings were extremely hazy. What share in the concern I was to un. dertake or what was the estimated value of the property does not appear. I had no one to advise me, and seem to have taken the initiative in carrying out the arrangement. I got a little hundy volume of the “Law of Partnership," which I carefully studied. I drew up a form of agreement einbodying our proposals, which, after much shilly-shallying, Peter signed.

All being ready, I gave Mr. Watton notice to leave the “Chronicle," and, being free from the engagement, set to Work to start the "Observer” on a new basis. It came out in enlarged form in March of this year (1865), the circulation going up in exhilarating fashion, The movenient was steadily main

tained through several weeks. There is the next week. I find the entry in my no doubt that, had I had assistance in journal: “Got away from the office a the commercial department, the enter- little before five this morning"—that is, prise would have succeeded, and I of course, having been at work all the should have lapsed into the proprietor- previous day and up all night. Beship of a country paper.

Outside the fore a month had sped I began to see printing-room there was literally no- the impossibility of accomplishing the body but myself. I did the editing, task I had undertaken with so light a sub-editing, reporting, leader-writing heart. Working all through the day, reading of proofs, and collecting of ad- far into the night on Wednesdays and vertisements. Early in our career I Thursdays, and all night on Fridays, ! not only saw the paper to press at any kept the thing going, even improved hour between midnight and two in the its position. morning, but I stayed on the premises I might have staggered along under till at least sufficient sheets · were the weight of the “Observer," but I pulled off the machine to meet the could not also carry Peter père et fils. early local demand.

Except in writing leaders on all possiA primitive hand-press, worked by a ble subjects, work that came to me by large flywheel, sufficed for the needs of rature, I had to feel my way at every the paper in its early days. The circu. step. Vine months earlier I had never lation was now large enough to justify been inside a printing-office, had no a steam press, and one was ordered. experience of newspaper work, either For the first week or two we had the editorial or managerial. Now I was hand-press worked by relays of men. both editor and manager, and had not As I found that the relays were in the a soul to whom I might turn for counhabit of simultaneously withdrawing sel or instruction. I pegged away and for intervals of rest, and there was no would doubtless have gone on till I had one else to look after them. I spent the physically broken down but for night between the editorial room and barmless little incident in Peter's cathe cellar where the edition was being reer. He had reached the end of his ground out. Afterwards we had a financial tether, lengthened a little by steam press and a very smart engineer, my 501., and was, as he with one of his and I was relieved from this addition ineffable smiles one morning informed to miscellaneous duties.

me, "going through the Bankruptcy The first issue of what was practi. Court." cally the new paper came out on Satur- In my ignorance I declared that he day, April 29, 1865. I find in my diary should not drag the “Observer" with the entry: "Up all night at work. him, my poor progeny that was, in About four o'clock this morning I spite of all, beginning to feel its feet. asked Peter's son, who had undertaken Peter's creditors chiefly lived in Lon. the overseership of the printing office, don, and, learning that a meeting was how much more there

to set. fixed for a particular day, I resolved to "Five columns," said he. That with attend it. I posted off to London and our staff would bring the paper ont found the office where the meeting was about noon. Told him to put in some held. I do not know now where it was blocks; got the paper out soon after situated, but well remember walking eight o'clock, looking very nice and into the room and finding half a dozen with a show of advertisements that gentlemen sitting round a table discuswill astonish some people.”

sing Peter and the possibility of getMatters seem to have improved by ting at any of his pence. I think I

[ocr errors]


« ZurückWeiter »