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    Ch. 3 - The Gift Reversed

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    Chapter 3
    Previous Chapter
    Night was still heavy in the sky. On open plains, from hill-tops,
    and from the decks of solitary ships at sea, a distant low-lying
    line, that promised by-and-by to change to light, was visible in
    the dim horizon; but its promise was remote and doubtful, and the
    moon was striving with the night-clouds busily.

    The shadows upon Redlaw's mind succeeded thick and fast to one
    another, and obscured its light as the night-clouds hovered between
    the moon and earth, and kept the latter veiled in darkness. Fitful
    and uncertain as the shadows which the night-clouds cast, were
    their concealments from him, and imperfect revelations to him; and,
    like the night-clouds still, if the clear light broke forth for a
    moment, it was only that they might sweep over it, and make the
    darkness deeper than before.

    Without, there was a profound and solemn hush upon the ancient pile
    of building, and its buttresses and angles made dark shapes of
    mystery upon the ground, which now seemed to retire into the smooth
    white snow and now seemed to come out of it, as the moon's path was
    more or less beset. Within, the Chemist's room was indistinct and
    murky, by the light of the expiring lamp; a ghostly silence had
    succeeded to the knocking and the voice outside; nothing was
    audible but, now and then, a low sound among the whitened ashes of
    the fire, as of its yielding up its last breath. Before it on the
    ground the boy lay fast asleep. In his chair, the Chemist sat, as
    he had sat there since the calling at his door had ceased--like a
    man turned to stone.

    At such a time, the Christmas music he had heard before, began to
    play. He listened to it at first, as he had listened in the
    church-yard; but presently--it playing still, and being borne
    towards him on the night air, in a low, sweet, melancholy strain--
    he rose, and stood stretching his hands about him, as if there were
    some friend approaching within his reach, on whom his desolate
    touch might rest, yet do no harm. As he did this, his face became
    less fixed and wondering; a gentle trembling came upon him; and at
    last his eyes filled with tears, and he put his hands before them,
    and bowed down his head.

    His memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble, had not come back to him;
    he knew that it was not restored; he had no passing belief or hope
    that it was. But some dumb stir within him made him capable,
    again, of being moved by what was hidden, afar off, in the music.
    If it were only that it told him sorrowfully the value of what he
    had lost, he thanked Heaven for it with a fervent gratitude.

    As the last chord died upon his ear, he raised his head to listen
    to its lingering vibration. Beyond the boy, so that his sleeping
    figure lay at its feet, the Phantom stood, immovable and silent,
    with its eyes upon him.

    Ghastly it was, as it had ever been, but not so cruel and
    relentless in its aspect--or he thought or hoped so, as he looked
    upon it trembling. It was not alone, but in its shadowy hand it
    held another hand.

    And whose was that? Was the form that stood beside it indeed
    Milly's, or but her shade and picture? The quiet head was bent a
    little, as her manner was, and her eyes were looking down, as if in
    pity, on the sleeping child. A radiant light fell on her face, but
    did not touch the Phantom; for, though close beside her, it was
    dark and colourless as ever.

    "Spectre!" said the Chemist, newly troubled as he looked, "I have
    not been stubborn or presumptuous in respect of her. Oh, do not
    bring her here. Spare me that!"

    "This is but a shadow," said the Phantom; "when the morning shines
    seek out the reality whose image I present before you."

    "Is it my inexorable doom to do so?" cried the Chemist.

    "It is," replied the Phantom.

    "To destroy her peace, her goodness; to make her what I am myself,
    and what I have made of others!"

    "I have said seek her out," returned the Phantom. "I have said no
    more."

    "Oh, tell me," exclaimed Redlaw, catching at the hope which he
    fancied might lie hidden in the words. "Can I undo what I have
    done?"

    "No," returned the Phantom.

    "I do not ask for restoration to myself," said Redlaw. "What I
    abandoned, I abandoned of my own free will, and have justly lost.
    But for those to whom I have transferred the fatal gift; who never
    sought it; who unknowingly received a curse of which they had no
    warning, and which they had no power to shun; can I do nothing?"

    "Nothing," said the Phantom.

    "If I cannot, can any one?"

    The Phantom, standing like a statue, kept its gaze upon him for a
    while; then turned its head suddenly, and looked upon the shadow at
    its side.

    "Ah! Can she?" cried Redlaw, still looking upon the shade.

    The Phantom released the hand it had retained till now, and softly
    raised its own with a gesture of dismissal. Upon that, her shadow,
    still preserving the same attitude, began to move or melt away.

    "Stay," cried Redlaw with an earnestness to which he could not give
    enough expression. "For a moment! As an act of mercy! I know
    that some change fell upon me, when those sounds were in the air
    just now. Tell me, have I lost the power of harming her? May I go
    near her without dread? Oh, let her give me any sign of hope!"

    The Phantom looked upon the shade as he did--not at him--and gave
    no answer.

    "At least, say this--has she, henceforth, the consciousness of any
    power to set right what I have done?"

    "She has not," the Phantom answered.

    "Has she the power bestowed on her without the consciousness?"

    The phantom answered: "Seek her out."

    And her shadow slowly vanished.

    They were face to face again, and looking on each other, as
    intently and awfully as at the time of the bestowal of the gift,
    across the boy who still lay on the ground between them, at the
    Phantom's feet.

    "Terrible instructor," said the Chemist, sinking on his knee before
    it, in an attitude of supplication, "by whom I was renounced, but
    by whom I am revisited (in which, and in whose milder aspect, I
    would fain believe I have a gleam of hope), I will obey without
    inquiry, praying that the cry I have sent up in the anguish of my
    soul has been, or will be, heard, in behalf of those whom I have
    injured beyond human reparation. But there is one thing--"

    "You speak to me of what is lying here," the phantom interposed,
    and pointed with its finger to the boy.

    "I do," returned the Chemist. "You know what I would ask. Why has
    this child alone been proof against my influence, and why, why,
    have I detected in its thoughts a terrible companionship with
    mine?"

    "This," said the Phantom, pointing to the boy, "is the last,
    completest illustration of a human creature, utterly bereft of such
    remembrances as you have yielded up. No softening memory of
    sorrow, wrong, or trouble enters here, because this wretched mortal
    from his birth has been abandoned to a worse condition than the
    beasts, and has, within his knowledge, no one contrast, no
    humanising touch, to make a grain of such a memory spring up in his
    hardened breast. All within this desolate creature is barren
    wilderness. All within the man bereft of what you have resigned,
    is the same barren wilderness. Woe to such a man! Woe, tenfold,
    to the nation that shall count its monsters such as this, lying
    here, by hundreds and by thousands!"

    Redlaw shrank, appalled, from what he heard.

    "There is not," said the Phantom, "one of these--not one--but sows
    a harvest that mankind MUST reap. From every seed of evil in this
    boy, a field of ruin is grown that shall be gathered in, and
    garnered up, and sown again in many places in the world, until
    regions are overspread with wickedness enough to raise the waters
    of another Deluge. Open and unpunished murder in a city's streets
    would be less guilty in its daily toleration, than one such
    spectacle as this."

    It seemed to look down upon the boy in his sleep. Redlaw, too,
    looked down upon him with a new emotion.

    "There is not a father," said the Phantom, "by whose side in his
    daily or his nightly walk, these creatures pass; there is not a
    mother among all the ranks of loving mothers in this land; there is
    no one risen from the state of childhood, but shall be responsible
    in his or her degree for this enormity. There is not a country
    throughout the earth on which it would not bring a curse. There is
    no religion upon earth that it would not deny; there is no people
    upon earth it would not put to shame."

    The Chemist clasped his hands, and looked, with trembling fear and
    pity, from the sleeping boy to the Phantom, standing above him with
    his finger pointing down.

    "Behold, I say," pursued the Spectre, "the perfect type of what it
    was your choice to be. Your influence is powerless here, because
    from this child's bosom you can banish nothing. His thoughts have
    been in 'terrible companionship' with yours, because you have gone
    down to his unnatural level. He is the growth of man's
    indifference; you are the growth of man's presumption. The
    beneficent design of Heaven is, in each case, overthrown, and from
    the two poles of the immaterial world you come together."

    The Chemist stooped upon the ground beside the boy, and, with the
    same kind of compassion for him that he now felt for himself,
    covered him as he slept, and no longer shrank from him with
    abhorrence or indifference.

    Soon, now, the distant line on the horizon brightened, the darkness
    faded, the sun rose red and glorious, and the chimney stacks and
    gables of the ancient building gleamed in the clear air, which
    turned the smoke and vapour of the city into a cloud of gold. The
    very sun-dial in his shady corner, where the wind was used to spin
    with such unwindy constancy, shook off the finer particles of snow
    that had accumulated on his dull old face in the night, and looked
    out at the little white wreaths eddying round and round him.
    Doubtless some blind groping of the morning made its way down into
    the forgotten crypt so cold and earthy, where the Norman arches
    were half buried in the ground, and stirred the dull sap in the
    lazy vegetation hanging to the walls, and quickened the slow
    principle of life within the little world of wonderful and delicate
    creation which existed there, with some faint knowledge that the
    sun was up.

    The Tetterbys were up, and doing. Mr. Tetterby took down the
    shutters of the shop, and, strip by strip, revealed the treasures
    of the window to the eyes, so proof against their seductions, of
    Jerusalem Buildings. Adolphus had been out so long already, that
    he was halfway on to "Morning Pepper." Five small Tetterbys, whose
    ten round eyes were much inflamed by soap and friction, were in the
    tortures of a cool wash in the back kitchen; Mrs. Tetterby
    presiding. Johnny, who was pushed and hustled through his toilet
    with great rapidity when Moloch chanced to be in an exacting frame
    of mind (which was always the case), staggered up and down with his
    charge before the shop door, under greater difficulties than usual;
    the weight of Moloch being much increased by a complication of
    defences against the cold, composed of knitted worsted-work, and
    forming a complete suit of chain-armour, with a head-piece and blue
    gaiters.

    It was a peculiarity of this baby to be always cutting teeth.
    Whether they never came, or whether they came and went away again,
    is not in evidence; but it had certainly cut enough, on the showing
    of Mrs. Tetterby, to make a handsome dental provision for the sign
    of the Bull and Mouth. All sorts of objects were impressed for the
    rubbing of its gums, notwithstanding that it always carried,
    dangling at its waist (which was immediately under its chin), a
    bone ring, large enough to have represented the rosary of a young
    nun. Knife-handles, umbrella-tops, the heads of walking-sticks
    selected from the stock, the fingers of the family in general, but
    especially of Johnny, nutmeg-graters, crusts, the handles of doors,
    and the cool knobs on the tops of pokers, were among the commonest
    instruments indiscriminately applied for this baby's relief. The
    amount of electricity that must have been rubbed out of it in a
    week, is not to be calculated. Still Mrs. Tetterby always said "it
    was coming through, and then the child would be herself;" and still
    it never did come through, and the child continued to be somebody
    else.

    The tempers of the little Tetterbys had sadly changed with a few
    hours. Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby themselves were not more altered than
    their offspring. Usually they were an unselfish, good-natured,
    yielding little race, sharing short commons when it happened (which
    was pretty often) contentedly and even generously, and taking a
    great deal of enjoyment out of a very little meat. But they were
    fighting now, not only for the soap and water, but even for the
    breakfast which was yet in perspective. The hand of every little
    Tetterby was against the other little Tetterbys; and even Johnny's
    hand--the patient, much-enduring, and devoted Johnny--rose against
    the baby! Yes, Mrs. Tetterby, going to the door by mere accident,
    saw him viciously pick out a weak place in the suit of armour where
    a slap would tell, and slap that blessed child.

    Mrs. Tetterby had him into the parlour by the collar, in that same
    flash of time, and repaid him the assault with usury thereto.

    "You brute, you murdering little boy," said Mrs. Tetterby. "Had
    you the heart to do it?"

    "Why don't her teeth come through, then," retorted Johnny, in a
    loud rebellious voice, "instead of bothering me? How would you
    like it yourself?"

    "Like it, sir!" said Mrs. Tetterby, relieving him of his
    dishonoured load.

    "Yes, like it," said Johnny. "How would you? Not at all. If you
    was me, you'd go for a soldier. I will, too. There an't no babies
    in the Army."

    Mr. Tetterby, who had arrived upon the scene of action, rubbed his
    chin thoughtfully, instead of correcting the rebel, and seemed
    rather struck by this view of a military life.

    "I wish I was in the Army myself, if the child's in the right,"
    said Mrs. Tetterby, looking at her husband, "for I have no peace of
    my life here. I'm a slave--a Virginia slave:" some indistinct
    association with their weak descent on the tobacco trade perhaps
    suggested this aggravated expression to Mrs. Tetterby. "I never
    have a holiday, or any pleasure at all, from year's end to year's
    end! Why, Lord bless and save the child," said Mrs. Tetterby,
    shaking the baby with an irritability hardly suited to so pious an
    aspiration, "what's the matter with her now?"

    Not being able to discover, and not rendering the subject much
    clearer by shaking it, Mrs. Tetterby put the baby away in a cradle,
    and, folding her arms, sat rocking it angrily with her foot.

    "How you stand there, 'Dolphus," said Mrs. Tetterby to her husband.
    "Why don't you do something?"

    "Because I don't care about doing anything," Mr. Tetterby replied.

    "I am sure _I_ don't," said Mrs. Tetterby.

    "I'll take my oath _I_ don't," said Mr. Tetterby.

    A diversion arose here among Johnny and his five younger brothers,
    who, in preparing the family breakfast table, had fallen to
    skirmishing for the temporary possession of the loaf, and were
    buffeting one another with great heartiness; the smallest boy of
    all, with precocious discretion, hovering outside the knot of
    combatants, and harassing their legs. Into the midst of this fray,
    Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby both precipitated themselves with great
    ardour, as if such ground were the only ground on which they could
    now agree; and having, with no visible remains of their late soft-
    heartedness, laid about them without any lenity, and done much
    execution, resumed their former relative positions.

    "You had better read your paper than do nothing at all," said Mrs.
    Tetterby.

    "What's there to read in a paper?" returned Mr. Tetterby, with
    excessive discontent.

    "What?" said Mrs. Tetterby. "Police."

    "It's nothing to me," said Tetterby. "What do I care what people
    do, or are done to?"

    "Suicides," suggested Mrs. Tetterby.

    "No business of mine," replied her husband.

    "Births, deaths, and marriages, are those nothing to you?" said
    Mrs. Tetterby.

    "If the births were all over for good, and all to-day; and the
    deaths were all to begin to come off to-morrow; I don't see why it
    should interest me, till I thought it was a coming to my turn,"
    grumbled Tetterby. "As to marriages, I've done it myself. I know
    quite enough about THEM."

    To judge from the dissatisfied expression of her face and manner,
    Mrs. Tetterby appeared to entertain the same opinions as her
    husband; but she opposed him, nevertheless, for the gratification
    of quarrelling with him.

    "Oh, you're a consistent man," said Mrs. Tetterby, "an't you? You,
    with the screen of your own making there, made of nothing else but
    bits of newspapers, which you sit and read to the children by the
    half-hour together!"

    "Say used to, if you please," returned her husband. "You won't
    find me doing so any more. I'm wiser now."

    "Bah! wiser, indeed!" said Mrs. Tetterby. "Are you better?"

    The question sounded some discordant note in Mr. Tetterby's breast.
    He ruminated dejectedly, and passed his hand across and across his
    forehead.

    "Better!" murmured Mr. Tetterby. "I don't know as any of us are
    better, or happier either. Better, is it?"

    He turned to the screen, and traced about it with his finger, until
    he found a certain paragraph of which he was in quest.

    "This used to be one of the family favourites, I recollect," said
    Tetterby, in a forlorn and stupid way, "and used to draw tears from
    the children, and make 'em good, if there was any little bickering
    or discontent among 'em, next to the story of the robin redbreasts
    in the wood. 'Melancholy case of destitution. Yesterday a small
    man, with a baby in his arms, and surrounded by half-a-dozen ragged
    little ones, of various ages between ten and two, the whole of whom
    were evidently in a famishing condition, appeared before the worthy
    magistrate, and made the following recital:'--Ha! I don't
    understand it, I'm sure," said Tetterby; "I don't see what it has
    got to do with us."

    "How old and shabby he looks," said Mrs. Tetterby, watching him.
    "I never saw such a change in a man. Ah! dear me, dear me, dear
    me, it was a sacrifice!"

    "What was a sacrifice?" her husband sourly inquired.

    Mrs. Tetterby shook her head; and without replying in words, raised
    a complete sea-storm about the baby, by her violent agitation of
    the cradle.

    "If you mean your marriage was a sacrifice, my good woman--" said
    her husband.

    "I DO mean it" said his wife.

    "Why, then I mean to say," pursued Mr. Tetterby, as sulkily and
    surlily as she, "that there are two sides to that affair; and that
    I was the sacrifice; and that I wish the sacrifice hadn't been
    accepted."

    "I wish it hadn't, Tetterby, with all my heart and soul I do assure
    you," said his wife. "You can't wish it more than I do, Tetterby."

    "I don't know what I saw in her," muttered the newsman, "I'm sure;-
    -certainly, if I saw anything, it's not there now. I was thinking
    so, last night, after supper, by the fire. She's fat, she's
    ageing, she won't bear comparison with most other women."

    "He's common-looking, he has no air with him, he's small, he's
    beginning to stoop and he's getting bald," muttered Mrs. Tetterby.

    "I must have been half out of my mind when I did it," muttered Mr.
    Tetterby.

    "My senses must have forsook me. That's the only way in which I
    can explain it to myself," said Mrs. Tetterby with elaboration.

    In this mood they sat down to breakfast. The little Tetterbys were
    not habituated to regard that meal in the light of a sedentary
    occupation, but discussed it as a dance or trot; rather resembling
    a savage ceremony, in the occasionally shrill whoops, and
    brandishings of bread and butter, with which it was accompanied, as
    well as in the intricate filings off into the street and back
    again, and the hoppings up and down the door-steps, which were
    incidental to the performance. In the present instance, the
    contentions between these Tetterby children for the milk-and-water
    jug, common to all, which stood upon the table, presented so
    lamentable an instance of angry passions risen very high indeed,
    that it was an outrage on the memory of Dr. Watts. It was not
    until Mr. Tetterby had driven the whole herd out at the front door,
    that a moment's peace was secured; and even that was broken by the
    discovery that Johnny had surreptitiously come back, and was at
    that instant choking in the jug like a ventriloquist, in his
    indecent and rapacious haste.

    "These children will be the death of me at last!" said Mrs.
    Tetterby, after banishing the culprit. "And the sooner the better,
    I think."

    "Poor people," said Mr. Tetterby, "ought not to have children at
    all. They give US no pleasure."

    He was at that moment taking up the cup which Mrs. Tetterby had
    rudely pushed towards him, and Mrs. Tetterby was lifting her own
    cup to her lips, when they both stopped, as if they were
    transfixed.

    "Here! Mother! Father!" cried Johnny, running into the room.
    "Here's Mrs. William coming down the street!"

    And if ever, since the world began, a young boy took a baby from a
    cradle with the care of an old nurse, and hushed and soothed it
    tenderly, and tottered away with it cheerfully, Johnny was that
    boy, and Moloch was that baby, as they went out together!

    Mr. Tetterby put down his cup; Mrs. Tetterby put down her cup. Mr.
    Tetterby rubbed his forehead; Mrs. Tetterby rubbed hers. Mr.
    Tetterby's face began to smooth and brighten; Mrs. Tetterby's began
    to smooth and brighten.

    "Why, Lord forgive me," said Mr. Tetterby to himself, "what evil
    tempers have I been giving way to? What has been the matter here!"

    "How could I ever treat him ill again, after all I said and felt
    last night!" sobbed Mrs. Tetterby, with her apron to her eyes.

    "Am I a brute," said Mr. Tetterby, "or is there any good in me at
    all? Sophia! My little woman!"

    "'Dolphus dear," returned his wife.

    "I--I've been in a state of mind," said Mr. Tetterby, "that I can't
    abear to think of, Sophy."

    "Oh! It's nothing to what I've been in, Dolf," cried his wife in a
    great burst of grief.

    "My Sophia," said Mr. Tetterby, "don't take on. I never shall
    forgive myself. I must have nearly broke your heart, I know."

    "No, Dolf, no. It was me! Me!" cried Mrs. Tetterby.

    "My little woman," said her husband, "don't. You make me reproach
    myself dreadful, when you show such a noble spirit. Sophia, my
    dear, you don't know what I thought. I showed it bad enough, no
    doubt; but what I thought, my little woman!--"

    "Oh, dear Dolf, don't! Don't!" cried his wife.

    "Sophia," said Mr. Tetterby, "I must reveal it. I couldn't rest in
    my conscience unless I mentioned it. My little woman--"

    "Mrs. William's very nearly here!" screamed Johnny at the door.

    "My little woman, I wondered how," gasped Mr. Tetterby, supporting
    himself by his chair, "I wondered how I had ever admired you--I
    forgot the precious children you have brought about me, and thought
    you didn't look as slim as I could wish. I--I never gave a
    recollection," said Mr. Tetterby, with severe self-accusation, "to
    the cares you've had as my wife, and along of me and mine, when you
    might have had hardly any with another man, who got on better and
    was luckier than me (anybody might have found such a man easily I
    am sure); and I quarrelled with you for having aged a little in the
    rough years you have lightened for me. Can you believe it, my
    little woman? I hardly can myself."

    Mrs. Tetterby, in a whirlwind of laughing and crying, caught his
    face within her hands, and held it there.

    "Oh, Dolf!" she cried. "I am so happy that you thought so; I am so
    grateful that you thought so! For I thought that you were common-
    looking, Dolf; and so you are, my dear, and may you be the
    commonest of all sights in my eyes, till you close them with your
    own good hands. I thought that you were small; and so you are, and
    I'll make much of you because you are, and more of you because I
    love my husband. I thought that you began to stoop; and so you do,
    and you shall lean on me, and I'll do all I can to keep you up. I
    thought there was no air about you; but there is, and it's the air
    of home, and that's the purest and the best there is, and God bless
    home once more, and all belonging to it, Dolf!"

    "Hurrah! Here's Mrs. William!" cried Johnny.

    So she was, and all the children with her; and so she came in, they
    kissed her, and kissed one another, and kissed the baby, and kissed
    their father and mother, and then ran back and flocked and danced
    about her, trooping on with her in triumph.

    Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby were not a bit behind-hand in the warmth of
    their reception. They were as much attracted to her as the
    children were; they ran towards her, kissed her hands, pressed
    round her, could not receive her ardently or enthusiastically
    enough. She came among them like the spirit of all goodness,
    affection, gentle consideration, love, and domesticity.

    "What! are YOU all so glad to see me, too, this bright Christmas
    morning?" said Milly, clapping her hands in a pleasant wonder. "Oh
    dear, how delightful this is!"

    More shouting from the children, more kissing, more trooping round
    her, more happiness, more love, more joy, more honour, on all
    sides, than she could bear.

    "Oh dear!" said Milly, "what delicious tears you make me shed. How
    can I ever have deserved this! What have I done to be so loved?"

    "Who can help it!" cried Mr. Tetterby.

    "Who can help it!" cried Mrs. Tetterby.

    "Who can help it!" echoed the children, in a joyful chorus. And
    they danced and trooped about her again, and clung to her, and laid
    their rosy faces against her dress, and kissed and fondled it, and
    could not fondle it, or her, enough.

    "I never was so moved," said Milly, drying her eyes, "as I have
    been this morning. I must tell you, as soon as I can speak.--Mr.
    Redlaw came to me at sunrise, and with a tenderness in his manner,
    more as if I had been his darling daughter than myself, implored me
    to go with him to where William's brother George is lying ill. We
    went together, and all the way along he was so kind, and so
    subdued, and seemed to put such trust and hope in me, that I could
    not help trying with pleasure. When we got to the house, we met a
    woman at the door (somebody had bruised and hurt her, I am afraid),
    who caught me by the hand, and blessed me as I passed."

    "She was right!" said Mr. Tetterby. Mrs. Tetterby said she was
    right. All the children cried out that she was right.

    "Ah, but there's more than that," said Milly. "When we got up
    stairs, into the room, the sick man who had lain for hours in a
    state from which no effort could rouse him, rose up in his bed,
    and, bursting into tears, stretched out his arms to me, and said
    that he had led a mis-spent life, but that he was truly repentant
    now, in his sorrow for the past, which was all as plain to him as a
    great prospect, from which a dense black cloud had cleared away,
    and that he entreated me to ask his poor old father for his pardon
    and his blessing, and to say a prayer beside his bed. And when I
    did so, Mr. Redlaw joined in it so fervently, and then so thanked
    and thanked me, and thanked Heaven, that my heart quite overflowed,
    and I could have done nothing but sob and cry, if the sick man had
    not begged me to sit down by him,--which made me quiet of course.
    As I sat there, he held my hand in his until he sank in a doze; and
    even then, when I withdrew my hand to leave him to come here (which
    Mr. Redlaw was very earnest indeed in wishing me to do), his hand
    felt for mine, so that some one else was obliged to take my place
    and make believe to give him my hand back. Oh dear, oh dear," said
    Milly, sobbing. "How thankful and how happy I should feel, and do
    feel, for all this!"

    While she was speaking, Redlaw had come in, and, after pausing for
    a moment to observe the group of which she was the centre, had
    silently ascended the stairs. Upon those stairs he now appeared
    again; remaining there, while the young student passed him, and
    came running down.

    "Kind nurse, gentlest, best of creatures," he said, falling on his
    knee to her, and catching at her hand, "forgive my cruel
    ingratitude!"

    "Oh dear, oh dear!" cried Milly innocently, "here's another of
    them! Oh dear, here's somebody else who likes me. What shall I
    ever do!"

    The guileless, simple way in which she said it, and in which she
    put her hands before her eyes and wept for very happiness, was as
    touching as it was delightful.

    "I was not myself," he said. "I don't know what it was--it was
    some consequence of my disorder perhaps--I was mad. But I am so no
    longer. Almost as I speak, I am restored. I heard the children
    crying out your name, and the shade passed from me at the very
    sound of it. Oh, don't weep! Dear Milly, if you could read my
    heart, and only knew with what affection and what grateful homage
    it is glowing, you would not let me see you weep. It is such deep
    reproach."

    "No, no," said Milly, "it's not that. It's not indeed. It's joy.
    It's wonder that you should think it necessary to ask me to forgive
    so little, and yet it's pleasure that you do."

    "And will you come again? and will you finish the little curtain?"

    "No," said Milly, drying her eyes, and shaking her head. "You
    won't care for my needlework now."

    "Is it forgiving me, to say that?"

    She beckoned him aside, and whispered in his ear.

    "There is news from your home, Mr. Edmund."

    "News? How?"

    "Either your not writing when you were very ill, or the change in
    your handwriting when you began to be better, created some
    suspicion of the truth; however that is--but you're sure you'll not
    be the worse for any news, if it's not bad news?"

    "Sure."

    "Then there's some one come!" said Milly.

    "My mother?" asked the student, glancing round involuntarily
    towards Redlaw, who had come down from the stairs.

    "Hush! No," said Milly.

    "It can be no one else."

    "Indeed?" said Milly, "are you sure?"

    "It is not -" Before he could say more, she put her hand upon his
    mouth.

    "Yes it is!" said Milly. "The young lady (she is very like the
    miniature, Mr. Edmund, but she is prettier) was too unhappy to rest
    without satisfying her doubts, and came up, last night, with a
    little servant-maid. As you always dated your letters from the
    college, she came there; and before I saw Mr. Redlaw this morning,
    I saw her. SHE likes me too!" said Milly. "Oh dear, that's
    another!"

    "This morning! Where is she now?"

    "Why, she is now," said Milly, advancing her lips to his ear, "in
    my little parlour in the Lodge, and waiting to see you."

    He pressed her hand, and was darting off, but she detained him.

    "Mr. Redlaw is much altered, and has told me this morning that his
    memory is impaired. Be very considerate to him, Mr. Edmund; he
    needs that from us all."

    The young man assured her, by a look, that her caution was not ill-
    bestowed; and as he passed the Chemist on his way out, bent
    respectfully and with an obvious interest before him.

    Redlaw returned the salutation courteously and even humbly, and
    looked after him as he passed on. He dropped his head upon his
    hand too, as trying to reawaken something he had lost. But it was
    gone.

    The abiding change that had come upon him since the influence of
    the music, and the Phantom's reappearance, was, that now he truly
    felt how much he had lost, and could compassionate his own
    condition, and contrast it, clearly, with the natural state of
    those who were around him. In this, an interest in those who were
    around him was revived, and a meek, submissive sense of his
    calamity was bred, resembling that which sometimes obtains in age,
    when its mental powers are weakened, without insensibility or
    sullenness being added to the list of its infirmities.

    He was conscious that, as he redeemed, through Milly, more and more
    of the evil he had done, and as he was more and more with her, this
    change ripened itself within him. Therefore, and because of the
    attachment she inspired him with (but without other hope), he felt
    that he was quite dependent on her, and that she was his staff in
    his affliction.

    So, when she asked him whether they should go home now, to where
    the old man and her husband were, and he readily replied "yes"--
    being anxious in that regard--he put his arm through hers, and
    walked beside her; not as if he were the wise and learned man to
    whom the wonders of Nature were an open book, and hers were the
    uninstructed mind, but as if their two positions were reversed, and
    he knew nothing, and she all.

    He saw the children throng about her, and caress her, as he and she
    went away together thus, out of the house; he heard the ringing of
    their laughter, and their merry voices; he saw their bright faces,
    clustering around him like flowers; he witnessed the renewed
    contentment and affection of their parents; he breathed the simple
    air of their poor home, restored to its tranquillity; he thought of
    the unwholesome blight he had shed upon it, and might, but for her,
    have been diffusing then; and perhaps it is no wonder that he
    walked submissively beside her, and drew her gentle bosom nearer to
    his own.

    When they arrived at the Lodge, the old man was sitting in his
    chair in the chimney-corner, with his eyes fixed on the ground, and
    his son was leaning against the opposite side of the fire-place,
    looking at him. As she came in at the door, both started, and
    turned round towards her, and a radiant change came upon their
    faces.

    "Oh dear, dear, dear, they are all pleased to see me like the
    rest!" cried Milly, clapping her hands in an ecstasy, and stopping
    short. "Here are two more!"

    Pleased to see her! Pleasure was no word for it. She ran into her
    husband's arms, thrown wide open to receive her, and he would have
    been glad to have her there, with her head lying on his shoulder,
    through the short winter's day. But the old man couldn't spare
    her. He had arms for her too, and he locked her in them.

    "Why, where has my quiet Mouse been all this time?" said the old
    man. "She has been a long while away. I find that it's impossible
    for me to get on without Mouse. I--where's my son William?--I
    fancy I have been dreaming, William."

    "That's what I say myself, father," returned his son. "I have been
    in an ugly sort of dream, I think.--How are you, father? Are you
    pretty well?"

    "Strong and brave, my boy," returned the old man.

    It was quite a sight to see Mr. William shaking hands with his
    father, and patting him on the back, and rubbing him gently down
    with his hand, as if he could not possibly do enough to show an
    interest in him.

    "What a wonderful man you are, father!--How are you, father? Are
    you really pretty hearty, though?" said William, shaking hands with
    him again, and patting him again, and rubbing him gently down
    again.

    "I never was fresher or stouter in my life, my boy."

    "What a wonderful man you are, father! But that's exactly where it
    is," said Mr. William, with enthusiasm. "When I think of all that
    my father's gone through, and all the chances and changes, and
    sorrows and troubles, that have happened to him in the course of
    his long life, and under which his head has grown grey, and years
    upon years have gathered on it, I feel as if we couldn't do enough
    to honour the old gentleman, and make his old age easy.--How are
    you, father? Are you really pretty well, though?"

    Mr. William might never have left off repeating this inquiry, and
    shaking hands with him again, and patting him again, and rubbing
    him down again, if the old man had not espied the Chemist, whom
    until now he had not seen.

    "I ask your pardon, Mr. Redlaw," said Philip, "but didn't know you
    were here, sir, or should have made less free. It reminds me, Mr.
    Redlaw, seeing you here on a Christmas morning, of the time when
    you was a student yourself, and worked so hard that you were
    backwards and forwards in our Library even at Christmas time. Ha!
    ha! I'm old enough to remember that; and I remember it right well,
    I do, though I am eight-seven. It was after you left here that my
    poor wife died. You remember my poor wife, Mr. Redlaw?"

    The Chemist answered yes.

    "Yes," said the old man. "She was a dear creetur.--I recollect you
    come here one Christmas morning with a young lady--I ask your
    pardon, Mr. Redlaw, but I think it was a sister you was very much
    attached to?"

    The Chemist looked at him, and shook his head. "I had a sister,"
    he said vacantly. He knew no more.

    "One Christmas morning," pursued the old man, "that you come here
    with her--and it began to snow, and my wife invited the lady to
    walk in, and sit by the fire that is always a burning on Christmas
    Day in what used to be, before our ten poor gentlemen commuted, our
    great Dinner Hall. I was there; and I recollect, as I was stirring
    up the blaze for the young lady to warm her pretty feet by, she
    read the scroll out loud, that is underneath that pictur, 'Lord,
    keep my memory green!' She and my poor wife fell a talking about
    it; and it's a strange thing to think of, now, that they both said
    (both being so unlike to die) that it was a good prayer, and that
    it was one they would put up very earnestly, if they were called
    away young, with reference to those who were dearest to them. 'My
    brother,' says the young lady--'My husband,' says my poor wife.--
    'Lord, keep his memory of me, green, and do not let me be
    forgotten!'"

    Tears more painful, and more bitter than he had ever shed in all
    his life, coursed down Redlaw's face. Philip, fully occupied in
    recalling his story, had not observed him until now, nor Milly's
    anxiety that he should not proceed.

    "Philip!" said Redlaw, laying his hand upon his arm, "I am a
    stricken man, on whom the hand of Providence has fallen heavily,
    although deservedly. You speak to me, my friend, of what I cannot
    follow; my memory is gone."

    "Merciful power!" cried the old man.

    "I have lost my memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble," said the
    Chemist, "and with that I have lost all man would remember!"

    To see old Philip's pity for him, to see him wheel his own great
    chair for him to rest in, and look down upon him with a solemn
    sense of his bereavement, was to know, in some degree, how precious
    to old age such recollections are.

    The boy came running in, and ran to Milly.

    "Here's the man," he said, "in the other room. I don't want HIM."

    "What man does he mean?" asked Mr. William.

    "Hush!" said Milly.

    Obedient to a sign from her, he and his old father softly withdrew.
    As they went out, unnoticed, Redlaw beckoned to the boy to come to
    him.

    "I like the woman best," he answered, holding to her skirts.

    "You are right," said Redlaw, with a faint smile. "But you needn't
    fear to come to me. I am gentler than I was. Of all the world, to
    you, poor child!"

    The boy still held back at first, but yielding little by little to
    her urging, he consented to approach, and even to sit down at his
    feet. As Redlaw laid his hand upon the shoulder of the child,
    looking on him with compassion and a fellow-feeling, he put out his
    other hand to Milly. She stooped down on that side of him, so that
    she could look into his face, and after silence, said:

    "Mr. Redlaw, may I speak to you?"

    "Yes," he answered, fixing his eyes upon her. "Your voice and
    music are the same to me."

    "May I ask you something?"

    "What you will."

    "Do you remember what I said, when I knocked at your door last
    night? About one who was your friend once, and who stood on the
    verge of destruction?"

    "Yes. I remember," he said, with some hesitation.

    "Do you understand it?"

    He smoothed the boy's hair--looking at her fixedly the while, and
    shook his head.

    "This person," said Milly, in her clear, soft voice, which her mild
    eyes, looking at him, made clearer and softer, "I found soon
    afterwards. I went back to the house, and, with Heaven's help,
    traced him. I was not too soon. A very little and I should have
    been too late."

    He took his hand from the boy, and laying it on the back of that
    hand of hers, whose timid and yet earnest touch addressed him no
    less appealingly than her voice and eyes, looked more intently on
    her.

    "He IS the father of Mr. Edmund, the young gentleman we saw just
    now. His real name is Longford.--You recollect the name?"

    "I recollect the name."

    "And the man?"

    "No, not the man. Did he ever wrong me?"

    "Yes!"

    "Ah! Then it's hopeless--hopeless."

    He shook his head, and softly beat upon the hand he held, as though
    mutely asking her commiseration.

    "I did not go to Mr. Edmund last night," said Milly,--"You will
    listen to me just the same as if you did remember all?"

    "To every syllable you say."

    "Both, because I did not know, then, that this really was his
    father, and because I was fearful of the effect of such
    intelligence upon him, after his illness, if it should be. Since I
    have known who this person is, I have not gone either; but that is
    for another reason. He has long been separated from his wife and
    son--has been a stranger to his home almost from this son's
    infancy, I learn from him--and has abandoned and deserted what he
    should have held most dear. In all that time he has been falling
    from the state of a gentleman, more and more, until--" she rose up,
    hastily, and going out for a moment, returned, accompanied by the
    wreck that Redlaw had beheld last night.

    "Do you know me?" asked the Chemist.

    "I should be glad," returned the other, "and that is an unwonted
    word for me to use, if I could answer no."

    The Chemist looked at the man, standing in self-abasement and
    degradation before him, and would have looked longer, in an
    ineffectual struggle for enlightenment, but that Milly resumed her
    late position by his side, and attracted his attentive gaze to her
    own face.

    "See how low he is sunk, how lost he is!" she whispered, stretching
    out her arm towards him, without looking from the Chemist's face.
    "If you could remember all that is connected with him, do you not
    think it would move your pity to reflect that one you ever loved
    (do not let us mind how long ago, or in what belief that he has
    forfeited), should come to this?"

    "I hope it would," he answered. "I believe it would."

    His eyes wandered to the figure standing near the door, but came
    back speedily to her, on whom he gazed intently, as if he strove to
    learn some lesson from every tone of her voice, and every beam of
    her eyes.

    "I have no learning, and you have much," said Milly; "I am not used
    to think, and you are always thinking. May I tell you why it seems
    to me a good thing for us, to remember wrong that has been done
    us?"

    "Yes."

    "That we may forgive it."

    "Pardon me, great Heaven!" said Redlaw, lifting up his eyes, "for
    having thrown away thine own high attribute!"

    "And if," said Milly, "if your memory should one day be restored,
    as we will hope and pray it may be, would it not be a blessing to
    you to recall at once a wrong and its forgiveness?"

    He looked at the figure by the door, and fastened his attentive
    eyes on her again; a ray of clearer light appeared to him to shine
    into his mind, from her bright face.

    "He cannot go to his abandoned home. He does not seek to go there.
    He knows that he could only carry shame and trouble to those he has
    so cruelly neglected; and that the best reparation he can make them
    now, is to avoid them. A very little money carefully bestowed,
    would remove him to some distant place, where he might live and do
    no wrong, and make such atonement as is left within his power for
    the wrong he has done. To the unfortunate lady who is his wife,
    and to his son, this would be the best and kindest boon that their
    best friend could give them--one too that they need never know of;
    and to him, shattered in reputation, mind, and body, it might be
    salvation."

    He took her head between her hands, and kissed it, and said: "It
    shall be done. I trust to you to do it for me, now and secretly;
    and to tell him that I would forgive him, if I were so happy as to
    know for what."

    As she rose, and turned her beaming face towards the fallen man,
    implying that her mediation had been successful, he advanced a
    step, and without raising his eyes, addressed himself to Redlaw.

    "You are so generous," he said, "--you ever were--that you will try
    to banish your rising sense of retribution in the spectacle that is
    before you. I do not try to banish it from myself, Redlaw. If you
    can, believe me."

    The Chemist entreated Milly, by a gesture, to come nearer to him;
    and, as he listened looked in her face, as if to find in it the
    clue to what he heard.

    "I am too decayed a wretch to make professions; I recollect my own
    career too well, to array any such before you. But from the day on
    which I made my first step downward, in dealing falsely by you, I
    have gone down with a certain, steady, doomed progression. That, I
    say."

    Redlaw, keeping her close at his side, turned his face towards the
    speaker, and there was sorrow in it. Something like mournful
    recognition too.

    "I might have been another man, my life might have been another
    life, if I had avoided that first fatal step. I don't know that it
    would have been. I claim nothing for the possibility. Your sister
    is at rest, and better than she could have been with me, if I had
    continued even what you thought me: even what I once supposed
    myself to be."

    Redlaw made a hasty motion with his hand, as if he would have put
    that subject on one side.

    "I speak," the other went on, "like a man taken from the grave. I
    should have made my own grave, last night, had it not been for this
    blessed hand."

    "Oh dear, he likes me too!" sobbed Milly, under her breath.
    "That's another!"

    "I could not have put myself in your way, last night, even for
    bread. But, to-day, my recollection of what has been is so
    strongly stirred, and is presented to me, I don't know how, so
    vividly, that I have dared to come at her suggestion, and to take
    your bounty, and to thank you for it, and to beg you, Redlaw, in
    your dying hour, to be as merciful to me in your thoughts, as you
    are in your deeds."

    He turned towards the door, and stopped a moment on his way forth.

    "I hope my son may interest you, for his mother's sake. I hope he
    may deserve to do so. Unless my life should be preserved a long
    time, and I should know that I have not misused your aid, I shall
    never look upon him more."

    Going out, he raised his eyes to Redlaw for the first time.
    Redlaw, whose steadfast gaze was fixed upon him, dreamily held out
    his hand. He returned and touched it--little more--with both his
    own; and bending down his head, went slowly out.

    In the few moments that elapsed, while Milly silently took him to
    the gate, the Chemist dropped into his chair, and covered his face
    with his hands. Seeing him thus, when she came back, accompanied
    by her husband and his father (who were both greatly concerned for
    him), she avoided disturbing him, or permitting him to be
    disturbed; and kneeled down near the chair to put some warm
    clothing on the boy.

    "That's exactly where it is. That's what I always say, father!"
    exclaimed her admiring husband. "There's a motherly feeling in
    Mrs. William's breast that must and will have went!"

    "Ay, ay," said the old man; "you're right. My son William's
    right!"

    "It happens all for the best, Milly dear, no doubt," said Mr.
    William, tenderly, "that we have no children of our own; and yet I
    sometimes wish you had one to love and cherish. Our little dead
    child that you built such hopes upon, and that never breathed the
    breath of life--it has made you quiet-like, Milly."

    "I am very happy in the recollection of it, William dear," she
    answered. "I think of it every day."

    "I was afraid you thought of it a good deal."

    "Don't say, afraid; it is a comfort to me; it speaks to me in so
    many ways. The innocent thing that never lived on earth, is like
    an angel to me, William."

    "You are like an angel to father and me," said Mr. William, softly.
    "I know that."

    "When I think of all those hopes I built upon it, and the many
    times I sat and pictured to myself the little smiling face upon my
    bosom that never lay there, and the sweet eyes turned up to mine
    that never opened to the light," said Milly, "I can feel a greater
    tenderness, I think, for all the disappointed hopes in which there
    is no harm. When I see a beautiful child in its fond mother's
    arms, I love it all the better, thinking that my child might have
    been like that, and might have made my heart as proud and happy."

    Redlaw raised his head, and looked towards her.

    "All through life, it seems by me," she continued, "to tell me
    something. For poor neglected children, my little child pleads as
    if it were alive, and had a voice I knew, with which to speak to
    me. When I hear of youth in suffering or shame, I think that my
    child might have come to that, perhaps, and that God took it from
    me in His mercy. Even in age and grey hair, such as father's, it
    is present: saying that it too might have lived to be old, long
    and long after you and I were gone, and to have needed the respect
    and love of younger people."

    Her quiet voice was quieter than ever, as she took her husband's
    arm, and laid her head against it.

    "Children love me so, that sometimes I half fancy--it's a silly
    fancy, William--they have some way I don't know of, of feeling for
    my little child, and me, and understanding why their love is
    precious to me. If I have been quiet since, I have been more
    happy, William, in a hundred ways. Not least happy, dear, in this-
    -that even when my little child was born and dead but a few days,
    and I was weak and sorrowful, and could not help grieving a little,
    the thought arose, that if I tried to lead a good life, I should
    meet in Heaven a bright creature, who would call me, Mother!"

    Redlaw fell upon his knees, with a loud cry.

    "O Thou, he said, "who through the teaching of pure love, hast
    graciously restored me to the memory which was the memory of Christ
    upon the Cross, and of all the good who perished in His cause,
    receive my thanks, and bless her!"

    Then, he folded her to his heart; and Milly, sobbing more than
    ever, cried, as she laughed, "He is come back to himself! He likes
    me very much indeed, too! Oh, dear, dear, dear me, here's
    another!"

    Then, the student entered, leading by the hand a lovely girl, who
    was afraid to come. And Redlaw so changed towards him, seeing in
    him and his youthful choice, the softened shadow of that chastening
    passage in his own life, to which, as to a shady tree, the dove so
    long imprisoned in his solitary ark might fly for rest and company,
    fell upon his neck, entreating them to be his children.

    Then, as Christmas is a time in which, of all times in the year,
    the memory of every remediable sorrow, wrong, and trouble in the
    world around us, should be active with us, not less than our own
    experiences, for all good, he laid his hand upon the boy, and,
    silently calling Him to witness who laid His hand on children in
    old time, rebuking, in the majesty of His prophetic knowledge,
    those who kept them from Him, vowed to protect him, teach him, and
    reclaim him.

    Then, he gave his right hand cheerily to Philip, and said that they
    would that day hold a Christmas dinner in what used to be, before
    the ten poor gentlemen commuted, their great Dinner Hall; and that
    they would bid to it as many of that Swidger family, who, his son
    had told him, were so numerous that they might join hands and make
    a ring round England, as could be brought together on so short a
    notice.

    And it was that day done. There were so many Swidgers there, grown
    up and children, that an attempt to state them in round numbers
    might engender doubts, in the distrustful, of the veracity of this
    history. Therefore the attempt shall not be made. But there they
    were, by dozens and scores--and there was good news and good hope
    there, ready for them, of George, who had been visited again by his
    father and brother, and by Milly, and again left in a quiet sleep.
    There, present at the dinner, too, were the Tetterbys, including
    young Adolphus, who arrived in his prismatic comforter, in good
    time for the beef. Johnny and the baby were too late, of course,
    and came in all on one side, the one exhausted, the other in a
    supposed state of double-tooth; but that was customary, and not
    alarming.

    It was sad to see the child who had no name or lineage, watching
    the other children as they played, not knowing how to talk with
    them, or sport with them, and more strange to the ways of childhood
    than a rough dog. It was sad, though in a different way, to see
    what an instinctive knowledge the youngest children there had of
    his being different from all the rest, and how they made timid
    approaches to him with soft words and touches, and with little
    presents, that he might not be unhappy. But he kept by Milly, and
    began to love her--that was another, as she said!--and, as they all
    liked her dearly, they were glad of that, and when they saw him
    peeping at them from behind her chair, they were pleased that he
    was so close to it.

    All this, the Chemist, sitting with the student and his bride that
    was to be, Philip, and the rest, saw.

    Some people have said since, that he only thought what has been
    herein set down; others, that he read it in the fire, one winter
    night about the twilight time; others, that the Ghost was but the
    representation of his gloomy thoughts, and Milly the embodiment of
    his better wisdom. _I_ say nothing.

    - Except this. That as they were assembled in the old Hall, by no
    other light than that of a great fire (having dined early), the
    shadows once more stole out of their hiding-places, and danced
    about the room, showing the children marvellous shapes and faces on
    the walls, and gradually changing what was real and familiar there,
    to what was wild and magical. But that there was one thing in the
    Hall, to which the eyes of Redlaw, and of Milly and her husband,
    and of the old man, and of the student, and his bride that was to
    be, were often turned, which the shadows did not obscure or change.
    Deepened in its gravity by the fire-light, and gazing from the
    darkness of the panelled wall like life, the sedate face in the
    portrait, with the beard and ruff, looked down at them from under
    its verdant wreath of holly, as they looked up at it; and, clear
    and plain below, as if a voice had uttered them, were the words.

    Lord keep my Memory green.
    Chapter 3
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