Meet us on:
Welcome to Read Print! Sign in with
or
to get started!
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "They have been at a great feast of languages, and stolen the scraps."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy

    by Charles Dickens
    • Rate it:
    Launch Reading Mode
    CHAPTER I--MRS. LIRRIPER RELATES HOW SHE WENT ON, AND WENT OVER

    Ah! It's pleasant to drop into my own easy-chair my dear though a little
    palpitating what with trotting up-stairs and what with trotting down, and
    why kitchen stairs should all be corner stairs is for the builders to
    justify though I do not think they fully understand their trade and never
    did, else why the sameness and why not more conveniences and fewer
    draughts and likewise making a practice of laying the plaster on too
    thick I am well convinced which holds the damp, and as to chimney-pots
    putting them on by guess-work like hats at a party and no more knowing
    what their effect will be upon the smoke bless you than I do if so much,
    except that it will mostly be either to send it down your throat in a
    straight form or give it a twist before it goes there. And what I says
    speaking as I find of those new metal chimneys all manner of shapes
    (there's a row of 'em at Miss Wozenham's lodging-house lower down on the
    other side of the way) is that they only work your smoke into artificial
    patterns for you before you swallow it and that I'd quite as soon swallow
    mine plain, the flavour being the same, not to mention the conceit of
    putting up signs on the top of your house to show the forms in which you
    take your smoke into your inside.

    Being here before your eyes my dear in my own easy-chair in my own quiet
    room in my own Lodging-House Number Eighty-one Norfolk Street Strand
    London situated midway between the City and St. James's--if anything is
    where it used to be with these hotels calling themselves Limited but
    called unlimited by Major Jackman rising up everywhere and rising up into
    flagstaffs where they can't go any higher, but my mind of those monsters
    is give me a landlord's or landlady's wholesome face when I come off a
    journey and not a brass plate with an electrified number clicking out of
    it which it's not in nature can be glad to see me and to which I don't
    want to be hoisted like molasses at the Docks and left there telegraphing
    for help with the most ingenious instruments but quite in vain--being
    here my dear I have no call to mention that I am still in the Lodgings as
    a business hoping to die in the same and if agreeable to the clergy
    partly read over at Saint Clement's Danes and concluded in Hatfield
    churchyard when lying once again by my poor Lirriper ashes to ashes and
    dust to dust.

    Neither should I tell you any news my dear in telling you that the Major
    is still a fixture in the Parlours quite as much so as the roof of the
    house, and that Jemmy is of boys the best and brightest and has ever had
    kept from him the cruel story of his poor pretty young mother Mrs. Edson
    being deserted in the second floor and dying in my arms, fully believing
    that I am his born Gran and him an orphan, though what with engineering
    since he took a taste for it and him and the Major making Locomotives out
    of parasols broken iron pots and cotton-reels and them absolutely a
    getting off the line and falling over the table and injuring the
    passengers almost equal to the originals it really is quite wonderful.
    And when I says to the Major, "Major can't you by _any_ means give us a
    communication with the guard?" the Major says quite huffy, "No madam it's
    not to be done," and when I says "Why not?" the Major says, "That is
    between us who are in the Railway Interest madam and our friend the Right
    Honourable Vice-President of the Board of Trade" and if you'll believe me
    my dear the Major wrote to Jemmy at school to consult him on the answer I
    should have before I could get even that amount of unsatisfactoriness out
    of the man, the reason being that when we first began with the little
    model and the working signals beautiful and perfect (being in general as
    wrong as the real) and when I says laughing "What appointment am I to
    hold in this undertaking gentlemen?" Jemmy hugs me round the neck and
    tells me dancing, "You shall be the Public Gran" and consequently they
    put upon me just as much as ever they like and I sit a growling in my
    easy-chair.

    My dear whether it is that a grown man as clever as the Major cannot give
    half his heart and mind to anything--even a plaything--but must get into
    right down earnest with it, whether it is so or whether it is not so I do
    not undertake to say, but Jemmy is far out-done by the serious and
    believing ways of the Major in the management of the United Grand
    Junction Lirriper and Jackman Great Norfolk Parlour Line, "For" says my
    Jemmy with the sparkling eyes when it was christened, "we must have a
    whole mouthful of name Gran or our dear old Public" and there the young
    rogue kissed me, "won't stump up." So the Public took the shares--ten at
    ninepence, and immediately when that was spent twelve Preference at one
    and sixpence--and they were all signed by Jemmy and countersigned by the
    Major, and between ourselves much better worth the money than some shares
    I have paid for in my time. In the same holidays the line was made and
    worked and opened and ran excursions and had collisions and burst its
    boilers and all sorts of accidents and offences all most regular correct
    and pretty. The sense of responsibility entertained by the Major as a
    military style of station-master my dear starting the down train behind
    time and ringing one of those little bells that you buy with the little
    coal-scuttles off the tray round the man's neck in the street did him
    honour, but noticing the Major of a night when he is writing out his
    monthly report to Jemmy at school of the state of the Rolling Stock and
    the Permanent Way and all the rest of it (the whole kept upon the Major's
    sideboard and dusted with his own hands every morning before varnishing
    his boots) I notice him as full of thought and care as full can be and
    frowning in a fearful manner, but indeed the Major does nothing by halves
    as witness his great delight in going out surveying with Jemmy when he
    has Jemmy to go with, carrying a chain and a measuring-tape and driving I
    don't know what improvements right through Westminster Abbey and fully
    believed in the streets to be knocking everything upside down by Act of
    Parliament. As please Heaven will come to pass when Jemmy takes to that
    as a profession!

    Mentioning my poor Lirriper brings into my head his own youngest brother
    the Doctor though Doctor of what I am sure it would be hard to say unless
    Liquor, for neither Physic nor Music nor yet Law does Joshua Lirriper
    know a morsel of except continually being summoned to the County Court
    and having orders made upon him which he runs away from, and once was
    taken in the passage of this very house with an umbrella up and the
    Major's hat on, giving his name with the door-mat round him as Sir
    Johnson Jones, K.C.B. in spectacles residing at the Horse Guards. On
    which occasion he had got into the house not a minute before, through the
    girl letting him on the mat when he sent in a piece of paper twisted more
    like one of those spills for lighting candles than a note, offering me
    the choice between thirty shillings in hand and his brains on the
    premises marked immediate and waiting for an answer. My dear it gave me
    such a dreadful turn to think of the brains of my poor dear Lirriper's
    own flesh and blood flying about the new oilcloth however unworthy to be
    so assisted, that I went out of my room here to ask him what he would
    take once for all not to do it for life when I found him in the custody
    of two gentlemen that I should have judged to be in the feather-bed trade
    if they had not announced the law, so fluffy were their personal
    appearance. "Bring your chains, sir," says Joshua to the littlest of the
    two in the biggest hat, "rivet on my fetters!" Imagine my feelings when
    I pictered him clanking up Norfolk Street in irons and Miss Wozenham
    looking out of window! "Gentlemen," I says all of a tremble and ready to
    drop "please to bring him into Major Jackman's apartments." So they
    brought him into the Parlours, and when the Major spies his own curly-
    brimmed hat on him which Joshua Lirriper had whipped off its peg in the
    passage for a military disguise he goes into such a tearing passion that
    he tips it off his head with his hand and kicks it up to the ceiling with
    his foot where it grazed long afterwards. "Major" I says "be cool and
    advise me what to do with Joshua my dead and gone Lirriper's own youngest
    brother." "Madam" says the Major "my advice is that you board and lodge
    him in a Powder Mill, with a handsome gratuity to the proprietor when
    exploded." "Major" I says "as a Christian you cannot mean your words."
    "Madam" says the Major "by the Lord I do!" and indeed the Major besides
    being with all his merits a very passionate man for his size had a bad
    opinion of Joshua on account of former troubles even unattended by
    liberties taken with his apparel. When Joshua Lirriper hears this
    conversation betwixt us he turns upon the littlest one with the biggest
    hat and says "Come sir! Remove me to my vile dungeon. Where is my
    mouldy straw?" My dear at the picter of him rising in my mind dressed
    almost entirely in padlocks like Baron Trenck in Jemmy's book I was so
    overcome that I burst into tears and I says to the Major, "Major take my
    keys and settle with these gentlemen or I shall never know a happy minute
    more," which was done several times both before and since, but still I
    must remember that Joshua Lirriper has his good feelings and shows them
    in being always so troubled in his mind when he cannot wear mourning for
    his brother. Many a long year have I left off my widow's mourning not
    being wishful to intrude, but the tender point in Joshua that I cannot
    help a little yielding to is when he writes "One single sovereign would
    enable me to wear a decent suit of mourning for my much-loved brother. I
    vowed at the time of his lamented death that I would ever wear sables in
    memory of him but Alas how short-sighted is man, How keep that vow when
    penniless!" It says a good deal for the strength of his feelings that he
    couldn't have been seven year old when my poor Lirriper died and to have
    kept to it ever since is highly creditable. But we know there's good in
    all of us,--if we only knew where it was in some of us,--and though it
    was far from delicate in Joshua to work upon the dear child's feelings
    when first sent to school and write down into Lincolnshire for his pocket-
    money by return of post and got it, still he is my poor Lirriper's own
    youngest brother and mightn't have meant not paying his bill at the
    Salisbury Arms when his affection took him down to stay a fortnight at
    Hatfield churchyard and might have meant to keep sober but for bad
    company. Consequently if the Major _had_ played on him with the garden-
    engine which he got privately into his room without my knowing of it, I
    think that much as I should have regretted it there would have been words
    betwixt the Major and me. Therefore my dear though he played on Mr.
    Buffle by mistake being hot in his head, and though it might have been
    misrepresented down at Wozenham's into not being ready for Mr. Buffle in
    other respects he being the Assessed Taxes, still I do not so much regret
    it as perhaps I ought. And whether Joshua Lirriper will yet do well in
    life I cannot say, but I did hear of his coming, out at a Private Theatre
    in the character of a Bandit without receiving any offers afterwards from
    the regular managers.

    Mentioning Mr. Baffle gives an instance of there being good in persons
    where good is not expected, for it cannot be denied that Mr. Buffle's
    manners when engaged in his business were not agreeable. To collect is
    one thing, and to look about as if suspicious of the goods being
    gradually removing in the dead of the night by a back door is another,
    over taxing you have no control but suspecting is voluntary. Allowances
    too must ever be made for a gentleman of the Major's warmth not relishing
    being spoke to with a pen in the mouth, and while I do not know that it
    is more irritable to my own feelings to have a low-crowned hat with a
    broad brim kept on in doors than any other hat still I can appreciate the
    Major's, besides which without bearing malice or vengeance the Major is a
    man that scores up arrears as his habit always was with Joshua Lirriper.
    So at last my dear the Major lay in wait for Mr. Buffle, and it worrited
    me a good deal. Mr. Buffle gives his rap of two sharp knocks one day and
    the Major bounces to the door. "Collector has called for two quarters'
    Assessed Taxes" says Mr. Buffle. "They are ready for him" says the Major
    and brings him in here. But on the way Mr. Buffle looks about him in his
    usual suspicious manner and the Major fires and asks him "Do you see a
    Ghost sir?" "No sir" says Mr. Buffle. "Because I have before noticed
    you" says the Major "apparently looking for a spectre very hard beneath
    the roof of my respected friend. When you find that supernatural agent,
    be so good as point him out sir." Mr. Buffle stares at the Major and
    then nods at me. "Mrs. Lirriper sir" says the Major going off into a
    perfect steam and introducing me with his hand. "Pleasure of knowing
    her" says Mr. Buffle. "A--hum!--Jemmy Jackman sir!" says the Major
    introducing himself. "Honour of knowing you by sight" says Mr. Buffle.
    "Jemmy Jackman sir" says the Major wagging his head sideways in a sort of
    obstinate fury "presents to you his esteemed friend that lady Mrs. Emma
    Lirriper of Eighty-one Norfolk Street Strand London in the County of
    Middlesex in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Upon which
    occasion sir," says the Major, "Jemmy Jackman takes your hat off." Mr.
    Buffle looks at his hat where the Major drops it on the floor, and he
    picks it up and puts it on again. "Sir" says the Major very red and
    looking him full in the face "there are two quarters of the Gallantry
    Taxes due and the Collector has called." Upon which if you can believe
    my words my dear the Major drops Mr. Buffle's hat off again. "This--"
    Mr. Buffle begins very angry with his pen in his mouth, when the Major
    steaming more and more says "Take your bit out sir! Or by the whole
    infernal system of Taxation of this country and every individual figure
    in the National Debt, I'll get upon your back and ride you like a horse!"
    which it's my belief he would have done and even actually jerking his
    neat little legs ready for a spring as it was. "This," says Mr. Buffle
    without his pen "is an assault and I'll have the law of you." "Sir"
    replies the Major "if you are a man of honour, your Collector of whatever
    may be due on the Honourable Assessment by applying to Major Jackman at
    the Parlours Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings, may obtain what he wants in full
    at any moment."

    When the Major glared at Mr. Buffle with those meaning words my dear I
    literally gasped for a teaspoonful of salvolatile in a wine-glass of
    water, and I says "Pray let it go no farther gentlemen I beg and beseech
    of you!" But the Major could be got to do nothing else but snort long
    after Mr. Buffle was gone, and the effect it had upon my whole mass of
    blood when on the next day of Mr. Buffle's rounds the Major spruced
    himself up and went humming a tune up and down the street with one eye
    almost obliterated by his hat there are not expressions in Johnson's
    Dictionary to state. But I safely put the street door on the jar and got
    behind the Major's blinds with my shawl on and my mind made up the moment
    I saw danger to rush out screeching till my voice failed me and catch the
    Major round the neck till my strength went and have all parties bound. I
    had not been behind the blinds a quarter of an hour when I saw Mr. Buffle
    approaching with his Collecting-books in his hand. The Major likewise
    saw him approaching and hummed louder and himself approached. They met
    before the Airy railings. The Major takes off his hat at arm's length
    and says "Mr. Buffle I believe?" Mr. Buffle takes off _his_ hat at arm's
    length and says "That is my name sir." Says the Major "Have you any
    commands for me, Mr. Buffle?" Says Mr. Buffle "Not any sir." Then my
    dear both of 'em bowed very low and haughty and parted, and whenever Mr.
    Buffle made his rounds in future him and the Major always met and bowed
    before the Airy railings, putting me much in mind of Hamlet and the other
    gentleman in mourning before killing one another, though I could have
    wished the other gentleman had done it fairer and even if less polite no
    poison.

    Mr. Buffle's family were not liked in this neighbourhood, for when you
    are a householder my dear you'll find it does not come by nature to like
    the Assessed, and it was considered besides that a one-horse pheayton
    ought not to have elevated Mrs. Buffle to that height especially when
    purloined from the Taxes which I myself did consider uncharitable. But
    they were _not_ liked and there was that domestic unhappiness in the
    family in consequence of their both being very hard with Miss Buffle and
    one another on account of Miss Buffle's favouring Mr. Buffle's articled
    young gentleman, that it _was_ whispered that Miss Buffle would go either
    into a consumption or a convent she being so very thin and off her
    appetite and two close-shaved gentlemen with white bands round their
    necks peeping round the corner whenever she went out in waistcoats
    resembling black pinafores. So things stood towards Mr. Buffle when one
    night I was woke by a frightful noise and a smell of burning, and going
    to my bedroom window saw the whole street in a glow. Fortunately we had
    two sets empty just then and before I could hurry on some clothes I heard
    the Major hammering at the attics' doors and calling out "Dress
    yourselves!--Fire! Don't be frightened!--Fire! Collect your presence of
    mind!--Fire! All right--Fire!" most tremenjously. As I opened my
    bedroom door the Major came tumbling in over himself and me, and caught
    me in his arms. "Major" I says breathless "where is it?" "I don't know
    dearest madam" says the Major--"Fire! Jemmy Jackman will defend you to
    the last drop of his blood--Fire! If the dear boy was at home what a
    treat this would be for him--Fire!" and altogether very collected and
    bold except that he couldn't say a single sentence without shaking me to
    the very centre with roaring Fire. We ran down to the drawing-room and
    put our heads out of window, and the Major calls to an unfeeling young
    monkey, scampering by be joyful and ready to split "Where is it?--Fire!"
    The monkey answers without stopping "O here's a lark! Old Buffle's been
    setting his house alight to prevent its being found out that he boned the
    Taxes. Hurrah! Fire!" And then the sparks came flying up and the smoke
    came pouring down and the crackling of flames and spatting of water and
    banging of engines and hacking of axes and breaking of glass and knocking
    at doors and the shouting and crying and hurrying and the heat and
    altogether gave me a dreadful palpitation. "Don't be frightened dearest
    madam," says the Major, "--Fire! There's nothing to be alarmed at--Fire!
    Don't open the street door till I come back--Fire! I'll go and see if I
    can be of any service--Fire! You're quite composed and comfortable ain't
    you?--Fire, Fire, Fire!" It was in vain for me to hold the man and tell
    him he'd be galloped to death by the engines--pumped to death by his over-
    exertions--wet-feeted to death by the slop and mess--flattened to death
    when the roofs fell in--his spirit was up and he went scampering off
    after the young monkey with all the breath he had and none to spare, and
    me and the girls huddled together at the parlour windows looking at the
    dreadful flames above the houses over the way, Mr. Buffle's being round
    the corner. Presently what should we see but some people running down
    the street straight to our door, and then the Major directing operations
    in the busiest way, and then some more people and then--carried in a
    chair similar to Guy Fawkes--Mr. Buffle in a blanket!

    My dear the Major has Mr. Buffle brought up our steps and whisked into
    the parlour and carted out on the sofy, and then he and all the rest of
    them without so much as a word burst away again full speed leaving the
    impression of a vision except for Mr. Buffle awful in his blanket with
    his eyes a rolling. In a twinkling they all burst back again with Mrs.
    Buffle in another blanket, which whisked in and carted out on the sofy
    they all burst off again and all burst back again with Miss Buffle in
    another blanket, which again whisked in and carted out they all burst off
    again and all burst back again with Mr. Buffle's articled young gentleman
    in another blanket--him a holding round the necks of two men carrying him
    by the legs, similar to the picter of the disgraceful creetur who has
    lost the fight (but where the chair I do not know) and his hair having
    the appearance of newly played upon. When all four of a row, the Major
    rubs his hands and whispers me with what little hoarseness he can get
    together, "If our dear remarkable boy was only at home what a delightful
    treat this would be for him!"

    My dear we made them some hot tea and toast and some hot brandy-and-water
    with a little comfortable nutmeg in it, and at first they were scared and
    low in their spirits but being fully insured got sociable. And the first
    use Mr. Buffle made of his tongue was to call the Major his Preserver and
    his best of friends and to say "My for ever dearest sir let me make you
    known to Mrs. Buffle" which also addressed him as her Preserver and her
    best of friends and was fully as cordial as the blanket would admit of.
    Also Miss Buffle. The articled young gentleman's head was a little light
    and he sat a moaning "Robina is reduced to cinders, Robina is reduced to
    cinders!" Which went more to the heart on account of his having got
    wrapped in his blanket as if he was looking out of a violinceller case,
    until Mr. Buffle says "Robina speak to him!" Miss Buffle says "Dear
    George!" and but for the Major's pouring down brandy-and-water on the
    instant which caused a catching in his throat owing to the nutmeg and a
    violent fit of coughing it might have proved too much for his strength.
    When the articled young gentleman got the better of it Mr. Buffle leaned
    up against Mrs. Buffle being two bundles, a little while in confidence,
    and then says with tears in his eyes which the Major noticing wiped, "We
    have not been an united family, let us after this danger become so, take
    her George." The young gentleman could not put his arm out far to do it,
    but his spoken expressions were very beautiful though of a wandering
    class. And I do not know that I ever had a much pleasanter meal than the
    breakfast we took together after we had all dozed, when Miss Buffle made
    tea very sweetly in quite the Roman style as depicted formerly at Covent
    Garden Theatre and when the whole family was most agreeable, as they have
    ever proved since that night when the Major stood at the foot of the Fire-
    Escape and claimed them as they came down--the young gentleman
    head-foremost, which accounts. And though I do not say that we should be
    less liable to think ill of one another if strictly limited to blankets,
    still I do say that we might most of us come to a better understanding if
    we kept one another less at a distance.

    Why there's Wozenham's lower down on the other side of the street. I had
    a feeling of much soreness several years respecting what I must still
    ever call Miss Wozenham's systematic underbidding and the likeness of the
    house in Bradshaw having far too many windows and a most umbrageous and
    outrageous Oak which never yet was seen in Norfolk Street nor yet a
    carriage and four at Wozenham's door, which it would have been far more
    to Bradshaw's credit to have drawn a cab. This frame of mind continued
    bitter down to the very afternoon in January last when one of my girls,
    Sally Rairyganoo which I still suspect of Irish extraction though family
    represented Cambridge, else why abscond with a bricklayer of the Limerick
    persuasion and be married in pattens not waiting till his black eye was
    decently got round with all the company fourteen in number and one horse
    fighting outside on the roof of the vehicle,--I repeat my dear my ill-
    regulated state of mind towards Miss Wozenham continued down to the very
    afternoon of January last past when Sally Rairyganoo came banging (I can
    use no milder expression) into my room with a jump which may be Cambridge
    and may not, and said "Hurroo Missis! Miss Wozenham's sold up!" My dear
    when I had it thrown in my face and conscience that the girl Sally had
    reason to think I could be glad of the ruin of a fellow-creeter, I burst
    into tears and dropped back in my chair and I says "I am ashamed of
    myself!"

    Well! I tried to settle to my tea but I could not do it what with
    thinking of Miss Wozenham and her distresses. It was a wretched night
    and I went up to a front window and looked over at Wozenham's and as well
    as I could make it out down the street in the fog it was the dismallest
    of the dismal and not a light to be seen. So at last I save to myself
    "This will not do," and I puts on my oldest bonnet and shawl not wishing
    Miss Wozenham to be reminded of my best at such a time, and lo and behold
    you I goes over to Wozenham's and knocks. "Miss Wozenham at home?" I
    says turning my head when I heard the door go. And then I saw it was
    Miss Wozenham herself who had opened it and sadly worn she was poor thing
    and her eyes all swelled and swelled with crying. "Miss Wozenham" I says
    "it is several years since there was a little unpleasantness betwixt us
    on the subject of my grandson's cap being down your Airy. I have
    overlooked it and I hope you have done the same." "Yes Mrs. Lirriper"
    she says in a surprise, "I have." "Then my dear" I says "I should be
    glad to come in and speak a word to you." Upon my calling her my dear
    Miss Wozenham breaks out a crying most pitiful, and a not unfeeling
    elderly person that might have been better shaved in a nightcap with a
    hat over it offering a polite apology for the mumps having worked
    themselves into his constitution, and also for sending home to his wife
    on the bellows which was in his hand as a writing-desk, looks out of the
    back parlour and says "The lady wants a word of comfort" and goes in
    again. So I was able to say quite natural "Wants a word of comfort does
    she sir? Then please the pigs she shall have it!" And Miss Wozenham and
    me we go into the front room with a wretched light that seemed to have
    been crying too and was sputtering out, and I says "Now my dear, tell me
    all," and she wrings her hands and says "O Mrs. Lirriper that man is in
    possession here, and I have not a friend in the world who is able to help
    me with a shilling."

    It doesn't signify a bit what a talkative old body like me said to Miss
    Wozenham when she said that, and so I'll tell you instead my dear that
    I'd have given thirty shillings to have taken her over to tea, only I
    durstn't on account of the Major. Not you see but what I knew I could
    draw the Major out like thread and wind him round my finger on most
    subjects and perhaps even on that if I was to set myself to it, but him
    and me had so often belied Miss Wozenham to one another that I was
    shamefaced, and I knew she had offended his pride and never mine, and
    likewise I felt timid that that Rairyganoo girl might make things
    awkward. So I says "My dear if you could give me a cup of tea to clear
    my muddle of a head I should better understand your affairs." And we had
    the tea and the affairs too and after all it was but forty pound,
    and--There! she's as industrious and straight a creeter as ever lived and
    has paid back half of it already, and where's the use of saying more,
    particularly when it ain't the point? For the point is that when she was
    a kissing my hands and holding them in hers and kissing them again and
    blessing blessing blessing, I cheered up at last and I says "Why what a
    waddling old goose I have been my dear to take you for something so very
    different!" "Ah but I too" says she "how have _I_ mistaken _you_!" "Come
    for goodness' sake tell me" I says "what you thought of me?" "O" says
    she "I thought you had no feeling for such a hard hand-to-mouth life as
    mine, and were rolling in affluence." I says shaking my sides (and very
    glad to do it for I had been a choking quite long enough) "Only look at
    my figure my dear and give me your opinion whether if I was in affluence
    I should be likely to roll in it?" That did it? We got as merry as
    grigs (whatever _they_ are, if you happen to know my dear--_I_ don't) and
    I went home to my blessed home as happy and as thankful as could be. But
    before I make an end of it, think even of my having misunderstood the
    Major! Yes! For next forenoon the Major came into my little room with
    his brushed hat in his hand and he begins "My dearest madam--" and then
    put his face in his hat as if he had just come into church. As I sat all
    in a maze he came out of his hat and began again. "My esteemed and
    beloved friend--" and then went into his hat again. "Major," I cries out
    frightened "has anything happened to our darling boy?" "No, no, no" says
    the Major "but Miss Wozenham has been here this morning to make her
    excuses to me, and by the Lord I can't get over what she told me." "Hoity
    toity, Major," I says "you don't know yet that I was afraid of you last
    night and didn't think half as well of you as I ought! So come out of
    church Major and forgive me like a dear old friend and I'll never do so
    any more." And I leave you to judge my dear whether I ever did or will.
    And how affecting to think of Miss Wozenham out of her small income and
    her losses doing so much for her poor old father, and keeping a brother
    that had had the misfortune to soften his brain against the hard
    mathematics as neat as a new pin in the three back represented to lodgers
    as a lumber-room and consuming a whole shoulder of mutton whenever
    provided!

    And now my dear I really am a going to tell you about my Legacy if you're
    inclined to favour me with your attention, and I did fully intend to have
    come straight to it only one thing does so bring up another. It was the
    month of June and the day before Midsummer Day when my girl Winifred
    Madgers--she was what is termed a Plymouth Sister, and the Plymouth
    Brother that made away with her was quite right, for a tidier young woman
    for a wife never came into a house and afterwards called with the
    beautifullest Plymouth Twins--it was the day before Midsummer Day when
    Winifred Madgers comes and says to me "A gentleman from the Consul's
    wishes particular to speak to Mrs. Lirriper." If you'll believe me my
    dear the Consols at the bank where I have a little matter for Jemmy got
    into my head, and I says "Good gracious I hope he ain't had any dreadful
    fall!" Says Winifred "He don't look as if he had ma'am." And I says
    "Show him in."

    The gentleman came in dark and with his hair cropped what I should
    consider too close, and he says very polite "Madame Lirrwiper!" I says,
    "Yes sir. Take a chair." "I come," says he "frrwom the Frrwench
    Consul's." So I saw at once that it wasn't the Bank of England. "We
    have rrweceived," says the gentleman turning his r's very curious and
    skilful, "frrwom the Mairrwie at Sens, a communication which I will have
    the honour to rrwead. Madame Lirrwiper understands Frrwench?" "O dear
    no sir!" says I. "Madame Lirriper don't understand anything of the
    sort." "It matters not," says the gentleman, "I will trrwanslate."

    With that my dear the gentleman after reading something about a
    Department and a Marie (which Lord forgive me I supposed till the Major
    came home was Mary, and never was I more puzzled than to think how that
    young woman came to have so much to do with it) translated a lot with the
    most obliging pains, and it came to this:--That in the town of Sons in
    France an unknown Englishman lay a dying. That he was speechless and
    without motion. That in his lodging there was a gold watch and a purse
    containing such and such money and a trunk containing such and such
    clothes, but no passport and no papers, except that on his table was a
    pack of cards and that he had written in pencil on the back of the ace of
    hearts: "To the authorities. When I am dead, pray send what is left, as
    a last Legacy, to Mrs. Lirriper Eighty-one Norfolk Street Strand London."
    When the gentleman had explained all this, which seemed to be drawn up
    much more methodical than I should have given the French credit for, not
    at that time knowing the nation, he put the document into my hand. And
    much the wiser I was for that you may be sure, except that it had the
    look of being made out upon grocery paper and was stamped all over with
    eagles.

    "Does Madame Lirrwiper" says the gentleman "believe she rrwecognises her
    unfortunate compatrrwiot?"

    You may imagine the flurry it put me into my dear to be talked to about
    my compatriots.

    I says "Excuse me. Would you have the kindness sir to make your language
    as simple as you can?"

    "This Englishman unhappy, at the point of death. This compatrrwiot
    afflicted," says the gentleman.

    "Thank you sir" I says "I understand you now. No sir I have not the
    least idea who this can be."

    "Has Madame Lirrwiper no son, no nephew, no godson, no frrwiend, no
    acquaintance of any kind in Frrwance?"

    "To my certain knowledge" says I "no relation or friend, and to the best
    of my belief no acquaintance."

    "Pardon me. You take Locataires?" says the gentleman.

    My dear fully believing he was offering me something with his obliging
    foreign manners,--snuff for anything I knew,--I gave a little bend of my
    head and I says if you'll credit it, "No I thank you. I have not
    contracted the habit."

    The gentleman looks perplexed and says "Lodgers!"

    "Oh!" says I laughing. "Bless the man! Why yes to be sure!"

    "May it not be a former lodger?" says the gentleman. "Some lodger that
    you pardoned some rrwent? You have pardoned lodgers some rrwent?"

    "Hem! It has happened sir" says I, "but I assure you I can call to mind
    no gentleman of that description that this is at all likely to be."

    In short my dear, we could make nothing of it, and the gentleman noted
    down what I said and went away. But he left me the paper of which he had
    two with him, and when the Major came in I says to the Major as I put it
    in his hand "Major here's Old Moore's Almanac with the hieroglyphic
    complete, for your opinion."

    It took the Major a little longer to read than I should have thought,
    judging from the copious flow with which he seemed to be gifted when
    attacking the organ-men, but at last he got through it, and stood a
    gazing at me in amazement.

    "Major" I says "you're paralysed."

    "Madam" says the Major, "Jemmy Jackman is doubled up."

    Now it did so happen that the Major had been out to get a little
    information about railroads and steamboats, as our boy was coming home
    for his Midsummer holidays next day and we were going to take him
    somewhere for a treat and a change. So while the Major stood a gazing it
    came into my head to say to him "Major I wish you'd go and look at some
    of your books and maps, and see whereabouts this same town of Sens is in
    France."

    The Major he roused himself and he went into the Parlours and he poked
    about a little, and he came back to me and he says, "Sens my dearest
    madam is seventy-odd miles south of Paris."

    With what I may truly call a desperate effort "Major," I says "we'll go
    there with our blessed boy."

    If ever the Major was beside himself it was at the thoughts of that
    journey. All day long he was like the wild man of the woods after
    meeting with an advertisement in the papers telling him something to his
    advantage, and early next morning hours before Jemmy could possibly come
    home he was outside in the street ready to call out to him that we was
    all a going to France. Young Rosycheeks you may believe was as wild as
    the Major, and they did carry on to that degree that I says "If you two
    children ain't more orderly I'll pack you both off to bed." And then
    they fell to cleaning up the Major's telescope to see France with, and
    went out and bought a leather bag with a snap to hang round Jemmy, and
    him to carry the money like a little Fortunatus with his purse.

    If I hadn't passed my word and raised their hopes, I doubt if I could
    have gone through with the undertaking but it was too late to go back
    now. So on the second day after Midsummer Day we went off by the morning
    mail. And when we came to the sea which I had never seen but once in my
    life and that when my poor Lirriper was courting me, the freshness of it
    and the deepness and the airiness and to think that it had been rolling
    ever since and that it was always a rolling and so few of us minding,
    made me feel quite serious. But I felt happy too and so did Jemmy and
    the Major and not much motion on the whole, though me with a swimming in
    the head and a sinking but able to take notice that the foreign insides
    appear to be constructed hollower than the English, leading to much more
    tremenjous noises when bad sailors.

    But my dear the blueness and the lightness and the coloured look of
    everything and the very sentry-boxes striped and the shining rattling
    drums and the little soldiers with their waists and tidy gaiters, when we
    got across to the Continent--it made me feel as if I don't know what--as
    if the atmosphere had been lifted off me. And as to lunch why bless you
    if I kept a man-cook and two kitchen-maids I couldn't got it done for
    twice the money, and no injured young woman a glaring at you and grudging
    you and acknowledging your patronage by wishing that your food might
    choke you, but so civil and so hot and attentive and every way
    comfortable except Jemmy pouring wine down his throat by tumblers-full
    and me expecting to see him drop under the table.

    And the way in which Jemmy spoke his French was a real charm. It was
    often wanted of him, for whenever anybody spoke a syllable to me I says
    "Non-comprenny, you're very kind, but it's no use--Now Jemmy!" and then
    Jemmy he fires away at 'em lovely, the only thing wanting in Jemmy's
    French being as it appeared to me that he hardly ever understood a word
    of what they said to him which made it scarcely of the use it might have
    been though in other respects a perfect Native, and regarding the Major's
    fluency I should have been of the opinion judging French by English that
    there might have been a greater choice of words in the language though
    still I must admit that if I hadn't known him when he asked a military
    gentleman in a gray cloak what o'clock it was I should have took him for
    a Frenchman born.

    Before going on to look after my Legacy we were to make one regular day
    in Paris, and I leave you to judge my dear what a day _that_ was with
    Jemmy and the Major and the telescope and me and the prowling young man
    at the inn door (but very civil too) that went along with us to show the
    sights. All along the railway to Paris Jemmy and the Major had been
    frightening me to death by stooping down on the platforms at stations to
    inspect the engines underneath their mechanical stomachs, and by creeping
    in and out I don't know where all, to find improvements for the United
    Grand Junction Parlour, but when we got out into the brilliant streets on
    a bright morning they gave up all their London improvements as a bad job
    and gave their minds to Paris. Says the prowling young man to me "Will I
    speak Inglis No?" So I says "If you can young man I shall take it as a
    favour," but after half-an-hour of it when I fully believed the man had
    gone mad and me too I says "Be so good as fall back on your French sir,"
    knowing that then I shouldn't have the agonies of trying to understand
    him, which was a happy release. Not that I lost much more than the rest
    either, for I generally noticed that when he had described something very
    long indeed and I says to Jemmy "What does he say Jemmy?" Jemmy says
    looking with vengeance in his eye "He is so jolly indistinct!" and that
    when he had described it longer all over again and I says to Jemmy "Well
    Jemmy what's it all about?" Jemmy says "He says the building was repaired
    in seventeen hundred and four, Gran."

    Wherever that prowling young man formed his prowling habits I cannot be
    expected to know, but the way in which he went round the corner while we
    had our breakfasts and was there again when we swallowed the last crumb
    was most marvellous, and just the same at dinner and at night, prowling
    equally at the theatre and the inn gateway and the shop doors when we
    bought a trifle or two and everywhere else but troubled with a tendency
    to spit. And of Paris I can tell you no more my dear than that it's town
    and country both in one, and carved stone and long streets of high houses
    and gardens and fountains and statues and trees and gold, and immensely
    big soldiers and immensely little soldiers and the pleasantest nurses
    with the whitest caps a playing at skipping-rope with the bunchiest
    babies in the flattest caps, and clean table-cloths spread everywhere for
    dinner and people sitting out of doors smoking and sipping all day long
    and little plays being acted in the open air for little people and every
    shop a complete and elegant room, and everybody seeming to play at
    everything in this world. And as to the sparkling lights my dear after
    dark, glittering high up and low down and on before and on behind and all
    round, and the crowd of theatres and the crowd of people and the crowd of
    all sorts, it's pure enchantment. And pretty well the only thing that
    grated on me was that whether you pay your fare at the railway or whether
    you change your money at a money-dealer's or whether you take your ticket
    at the theatre, the lady or gentleman is caged up (I suppose by
    government) behind the strongest iron bars having more of a Zoological
    appearance than a free country.

    Well to be sure when I did after all get my precious bones to bed that
    night, and my Young Rogue came in to kiss me and asks "What do you think
    of this lovely lovely Paris, Gran?" I says "Jemmy I feel as if it was
    beautiful fireworks being let off in my head." And very cool and
    refreshing the pleasant country was next day when we went on to look
    after my Legacy, and rested me much and did me a deal of good.

    So at length and at last my dear we come to Sens, a pretty little town
    with a great two-towered cathedral and the rooks flying in and out of the
    loopholes and another tower atop of one of the towers like a sort of a
    stone pulpit. In which pulpit with the birds skimming below him if
    you'll believe me, I saw a speck while I was resting at the inn before
    dinner which they made signs to me was Jemmy and which really was. I had
    been a fancying as I sat in the balcony of the hotel that an Angel might
    light there and call down to the people to be good, but I little thought
    what Jemmy all unknown to himself was a calling down from that high place
    to some one in the town.

    The pleasantest-situated inn my dear! Right under the two towers, with
    their shadows a changing upon it all day like a kind of a sundial, and
    country people driving in and out of the courtyard in carts and hooded
    cabriolets and such like, and a market outside in front of the cathedral,
    and all so quaint and like a picter. The Major and me agreed that
    whatever came of my Legacy this was the place to stay in for our holiday,
    and we also agreed that our dear boy had best not be checked in his joy
    that night by the sight of the Englishman if he was still alive, but that
    we would go together and alone. For you are to understand that the Major
    not feeling himself quite equal in his wind to the height to which Jemmy
    had climbed, had come back to me and left him with the Guide.

    So after dinner when Jemmy had set off to see the river, the Major went
    down to the Mairie, and presently came back with a military character in
    a sword and spurs and a cocked hat and a yellow shoulder-belt and long
    tags about him that he must have found inconvenient. And the Major says
    "The Englishman still lies in the same state dearest madam. This
    gentleman will conduct us to his lodging." Upon which the military
    character pulled off his cocked hat to me, and I took notice that he had
    shaved his forehead in imitation of Napoleon Bonaparte but not like.

    We wont out at the courtyard gate and past the great doors of the
    cathedral and down a narrow High Street where the people were sitting
    chatting at their shop doors and the children were at play. The military
    character went in front and he stopped at a pork-shop with a little
    statue of a pig sitting up, in the window, and a private door that a
    donkey was looking out of.

    When the donkey saw the military character he came slipping out on the
    pavement to turn round and then clattered along the passage into a back
    yard. So the coast being clear, the Major and me were conducted up the
    common stair and into the front room on the second, a bare room with a
    red tiled floor and the outside lattice blinds pulled close to darken it.
    As the military character opened the blinds I saw the tower where I had
    seen Jemmy, darkening as the sun got low, and I turned to the bed by the
    wall and saw the Englishman.

    It was some kind of brain fever he had had, and his hair was all gone,
    and some wetted folded linen lay upon his head. I looked at him very
    attentive as he lay there all wasted away with his eyes closed, and I
    says to the Major--

    "_I_ never saw this face before."

    The Major looked at him very attentive too, and he says "I never saw this
    face before."

    When the Major explained our words to the military character, that
    gentleman shrugged his shoulders and showed the Major the card on which
    it was written about the Legacy for me. It had been written with a weak
    and trembling hand in bed, and I knew no more of the writing than of the
    face. Neither did the Major.

    Though lying there alone, the poor creetur was as well taken care of as
    could be hoped, and would have been quite unconscious of any one's
    sitting by him then. I got the Major to say that we were not going away
    at present and that I would come back to-morrow and watch a bit by the
    bedside. But I got him to add--and I shook my head hard to make it
    stronger--"We agree that we never saw this face before."

    Our boy was greatly surprised when we told him sitting out in the balcony
    in the starlight, and he ran over some of those stories of former
    Lodgers, of the Major's putting down, and asked wasn't it possible that
    it might be this lodger or that lodger. It was not possible, and we went
    to bed.

    In the morning just at breakfast-time the military character came
    jingling round, and said that the doctor thought from the signs he saw
    there might be some rally before the end. So I says to the Major and
    Jemmy, "You two boys go and enjoy yourselves, and I'll take my Prayer
    Book and go sit by the bed." So I went, and I sat there some hours,
    reading a prayer for him poor soul now and then, and it was quite on in
    the day when he moved his hand.

    He had been so still, that the moment he moved I knew of it, and I pulled
    off my spectacles and laid down my book and rose and looked at him. From
    moving one hand he began to move both, and then his action was the action
    of a person groping in the dark. Long after his eyes had opened, there
    was a film over them and he still felt for his way out into light. But
    by slow degrees his sight cleared and his hands stopped. He saw the
    ceiling, he saw the wall, he saw me. As his sight cleared, mine cleared
    too, and when at last we looked in one another's faces, I started back,
    and I cries passionately:

    "O you wicked wicked man! Your sin has found you out!"

    For I knew him, the moment life looked out of his eyes, to be Mr. Edson,
    Jemmy's father who had so cruelly deserted Jemmy's young unmarried mother
    who had died in my arms, poor tender creetur, and left Jemmy to me.

    "You cruel wicked man! You bad black traitor!"

    With the little strength he had, he made an attempt to turn over on his
    wretched face to hide it. His arm dropped out of the bed and his head
    with it, and there he lay before me crushed in body and in mind. Surely
    the miserablest sight under the summer sun!

    "O blessed Heaven," I says a crying, "teach me what to say to this broken
    mortal! I am a poor sinful creetur, and the Judgment is not mine."

    As I lifted my eyes up to the clear bright sky, I saw the high tower
    where Jemmy had stood above the birds, seeing that very window; and the
    last look of that poor pretty young mother when her soul brightened and
    got free, seemed to shine down from it.

    "O man, man, man!" I says, and I went on my knees beside the bed; "if
    your heart is rent asunder and you are truly penitent for what you did,
    Our Saviour will have mercy on you yet!"

    As I leaned my face against the bed, his feeble hand could just move
    itself enough to touch me. I hope the touch was penitent. It tried to
    hold my dress and keep hold, but the fingers were too weak to close.

    I lifted him back upon the pillows and I says to him:

    "Can you hear me?"

    He looked yes.

    "Do you know me?"

    He looked yes, even yet more plainly.

    "I am not here alone. The Major is with me. You recollect the Major?"

    Yes. That is to say he made out yes, in the same way as before.

    "And even the Major and I are not alone. My grandson--his godson--is
    with us. Do you hear? My grandson."

    The fingers made another trial to catch my sleeve, but could only creep
    near it and fall.

    "Do you know who my grandson is?"

    Yes.

    "I pitied and loved his lonely mother. When his mother lay a dying I
    said to her, 'My dear, this baby is sent to a childless old woman.' He
    has been my pride and joy ever since. I love him as dearly as if he had
    drunk from my breast. Do you ask to see my grandson before you die?"

    Yes.

    "Show me, when I leave off speaking, if you correctly understand what I
    say. He has been kept unacquainted with the story of his birth. He has
    no knowledge of it. No suspicion of it. If I bring him here to the side
    of this bed, he will suppose you to be a perfect stranger. It is more
    than I can do to keep from him the knowledge that there is such wrong and
    misery in the world; but that it was ever so near him in his innocent
    cradle I have kept from him, and I do keep from him, and I ever will keep
    from him, for his mother's sake, and for his own."

    He showed me that he distinctly understood, and the tears fell from his
    eyes.

    "Now rest, and you shall see him."

    So I got him a little wine and some brandy, and I put things straight
    about his bed. But I began to be troubled in my mind lest Jemmy and the
    Major might be too long of coming back. What with this occupation for my
    thoughts and hands, I didn't hear a foot upon the stairs, and was
    startled when I saw the Major stopped short in the middle of the room by
    the eyes of the man upon the bed, and knowing him then, as I had known
    him a little while ago.

    There was anger in the Major's face, and there was horror and repugnance
    and I don't know what. So I went up to him and I led him to the bedside,
    and when I clasped my hands and lifted of them up, the Major did the
    like.

    "O Lord" I says "Thou knowest what we two saw together of the sufferings
    and sorrows of that young creetur now with Thee. If this dying man is
    truly penitent, we two together humbly pray Thee to have mercy on him!"

    The Major says "Amen!" and then after a little stop I whispers him, "Dear
    old friend fetch our beloved boy." And the Major, so clever as to have
    got to understand it all without being told a word, went away and brought
    him.

    Never never never shall I forget the fair bright face of our boy when he
    stood at the foot of the bed, looking at his unknown father. And O so
    like his dear young mother then!

    "Jemmy" I says, "I have found out all about this poor gentleman who is so
    ill, and he did lodge in the old house once. And as he wants to see all
    belonging to it, now that he is passing away, I sent for you."

    "Ah poor man!" says Jemmy stepping forward and touching one of his hands
    with great gentleness. "My heart melts for him. Poor, poor man!"

    The eyes that were so soon to close for ever turned to me, and I was not
    that strong in the pride of my strength that I could resist them.

    "My darling boy, there is a reason in the secret history of this fellow-
    creetur lying as the best and worst of us must all lie one day, which I
    think would ease his spirit in his last hour if you would lay your cheek
    against his forehead and say, 'May God forgive you!'"

    "O Gran," says Jemmy with a full heart, "I am not worthy!" But he leaned
    down and did it. Then the faltering fingers made out to catch hold of my
    sleeve at last, and I believe he was a-trying to kiss me when he died.

    * * * * *

    There my dear! There you have the story of my Legacy in full, and it's
    worth ten times the trouble I have spent upon it if you are pleased to
    like it.

    You might suppose that it set us against the little French town of Sens,
    but no we didn't find that. I found myself that I never looked up at the
    high tower atop of the other tower, but the days came back again when
    that fair young creetur with her pretty bright hair trusted in me like a
    mother, and the recollection made the place so peaceful to me as I can't
    express. And every soul about the hotel down to the pigeons in the
    courtyard made friends with Jemmy and the Major, and went lumbering away
    with them on all sorts of expeditions in all sorts of vehicles drawn by
    rampagious cart-horses,--with heads and without,--mud for paint and ropes
    for harness,--and every new friend dressed in blue like a butcher, and
    every new horse standing on his hind legs wanting to devour and consume
    every other horse, and every man that had a whip to crack crack-crack-
    crack-crack-cracking it as if it was a schoolboy with his first. As to
    the Major my dear that man lived the greater part of his time with a
    little tumbler in one hand and a bottle of small wine in the other, and
    whenever he saw anybody else with a little tumbler, no matter who it
    was,--the military character with the tags, or the inn-servants at their
    supper in the courtyard, or townspeople a chatting on a bench, or country
    people a starting home after market,--down rushes the Major to clink his
    glass against their glasses and cry,--Hola! Vive Somebody! or Vive
    Something! as if he was beside himself. And though I could not quite
    approve of the Major's doing it, still the ways of the world are the ways
    of the world varying according to the different parts of it, and dancing
    at all in the open Square with a lady that kept a barber's shop my
    opinion is that the Major was right to dance his best and to lead off
    with a power that I did not think was in him, though I was a little
    uneasy at the Barricading sound of the cries that were set up by the
    other dancers and the rest of the company, until when I says "What are
    they ever calling out Jemmy?" Jemmy says, "They're calling out Gran,
    Bravo the Military English! Bravo the Military English!" which was very
    gratifying to my feelings as a Briton and became the name the Major was
    known by.

    But every evening at a regular time we all three sat out in the balcony
    of the hotel at the end of the courtyard, looking up at the golden and
    rosy light as it changed on the great towers, and looking at the shadows
    of the towers as they changed on all about us ourselves included, and
    what do you think we did there? My dear, if Jemmy hadn't brought some
    other of those stories of the Major's taking down from the telling of
    former lodgers at Eighty-one Norfolk Street, and if he didn't bring 'em
    out with this speech:

    "Here you are Gran! Here you are godfather! More of 'em! I'll read.
    And though you wrote 'em for me, godfather, I know you won't disapprove
    of my making 'em over to Gran; will you?"

    "No, my dear boy," says the Major. "Everything we have is hers, and we
    are hers."

    "Hers ever affectionately and devotedly J. Jackman, and J. Jackman
    Lirriper," cries the Young Rogue giving me a close hug. "Very well then
    godfather. Look here. As Gran is in the Legacy way just now, I shall
    make these stories a part of Gran's Legacy. I'll leave 'em to her. What
    do you say godfather?"

    "Hip hip Hurrah!" says the Major.

    "Very well then," cries Jemmy all in a bustle. "Vive the Military
    English! Vive the Lady Lirriper! Vive the Jemmy Jackman Ditto! Vive
    the Legacy! Now, you look out, Gran. And you look out, godfather.
    _I'll_ read! And I'll tell you what I'll do besides. On the last night
    of our holiday here when we are all packed and going away, I'll top up
    with something of my own."

    "Mind you do sir" says I.

    CHAPTER II--MRS. LIRRIPER RELATES HOW JEMMY TOPPED UP

    Well my dear and so the evening readings of those jottings of the Major's
    brought us round at last to the evening when we were all packed and going
    away next day, and I do assure you that by that time though it was
    deliciously comfortable to look forward to the dear old house in Norfolk
    Street again, I had formed quite a high opinion of the French nation and
    had noticed them to be much more homely and domestic in their families
    and far more simple and amiable in their lives than I had ever been led
    to expect, and it did strike me between ourselves that in one particular
    they might be imitated to advantage by another nation which I will not
    mention, and that is in the courage with which they take their little
    enjoyments on little means and with little things and don't let solemn
    big-wigs stare them out of countenance or speechify them dull, of which
    said solemn big-wigs I have ever had the one opinion that I wish they
    were all made comfortable separately in coppers with the lids on and
    never let out any more.

    "Now young man," I says to Jemmy when we brought our chairs into the
    balcony that last evening, "you please to remember who was to 'top up.'"

    "All right Gran" says Jemmy. "I am the illustrious personage."

    But he looked so serious after he had made me that light answer, that the
    Major raised his eyebrows at me and I raised mine at the Major.

    "Gran and godfather," says Jemmy, "you can hardly think how much my mind
    has run on Mr. Edson's death."

    It gave me a little check. "Ah! it was a sad scene my love" I says, "and
    sad remembrances come back stronger than merry. But this" I says after a
    little silence, to rouse myself and the Major and Jemmy all together, "is
    not topping up. Tell us your story my dear."

    "I will" says Jemmy.

    "What is the date sir?" says I. "Once upon a time when pigs drank wine?"

    "No Gran," says Jemmy, still serious; "once upon a time when the French
    drank wine."

    Again I glanced at the Major, and the Major glanced at me.

    "In short, Gran and godfather," says Jemmy, looking up, "the date is this
    time, and I'm going to tell you Mr. Edson's story."

    The flutter that it threw me into. The change of colour on the part of
    the Major!

    "That is to say, you understand," our bright-eyed boy says, "I am going
    to give you my version of it. I shall not ask whether it's right or not,
    firstly because you said you knew very little about it, Gran, and
    secondly because what little you did know was a secret."

    I folded my hands in my lap and I never took my eyes off Jemmy as he went
    running on.

    "The unfortunate gentleman" Jemmy commences, "who is the subject of our
    present narrative was the son of Somebody, and was born Somewhere, and
    chose a profession Somehow. It is not with those parts of his career
    that we have to deal; but with his early attachment to a young and
    beautiful lady."

    I thought I should have dropped. I durstn't look at the Major; but I
    know what his state was, without looking at him.

    "The father of our ill-starred hero" says Jemmy, copying as it seemed to
    me the style of some of his story-books, "was a worldly man who
    entertained ambitious views for his only son and who firmly set his face
    against the contemplated alliance with a virtuous but penniless orphan.
    Indeed he went so far as roundly to assure our hero that unless he weaned
    his thoughts from the object of his devoted affection, he would
    disinherit him. At the same time, he proposed as a suitable match the
    daughter of a neighbouring gentleman of a good estate, who was neither
    ill-favoured nor unamiable, and whose eligibility in a pecuniary point of
    view could not be disputed. But young Mr. Edson, true to the first and
    only love that had inflamed his breast, rejected all considerations of
    self-advancement, and, deprecating his father's anger in a respectful
    letter, ran away with her."

    My dear I had begun to take a turn for the better, but when it come to
    running away I began to take another turn for the worse.

    "The lovers" says Jemmy "fled to London and were united at the altar of
    Saint Clement's Danes. And it is at this period of their simple but
    touching story that we find them inmates of the dwelling of a
    highly-respected and beloved lady of the name of Gran, residing within a
    hundred miles of Norfolk Street."

    I felt that we were almost safe now, I felt that the dear boy had no
    suspicion of the bitter truth, and I looked at the Major for the first
    time and drew a long breath. The Major gave me a nod.

    "Our hero's father" Jemmy goes on "proving implacable and carrying his
    threat into unrelenting execution, the struggles of the young couple in
    London were severe, and would have been far more so, but for their good
    angel's having conducted them to the abode of Mrs. Gran; who, divining
    their poverty (in spite of their endeavours to conceal it from her), by a
    thousand delicate arts smoothed their rough way, and alleviated the
    sharpness of their first distress."

    Here Jemmy took one of my hands in one of his, and began a marking the
    turns of his story by making me give a beat from time to time upon his
    other hand.

    "After a while, they left the house of Mrs. Gran, and pursued their
    fortunes through a variety of successes and failures elsewhere. But in
    all reverses, whether for good or evil, the words of Mr. Edson to the
    fair young partner of his life were, 'Unchanging Love and Truth will
    carry us through all!'"

    My hand trembled in the dear boy's, those words were so wofully unlike
    the fact.

    "Unchanging Love and Truth" says Jemmy over again, as if he had a proud
    kind of a noble pleasure in it, "will carry us through all! Those were
    his words. And so they fought their way, poor but gallant and happy,
    until Mrs. Edson gave birth to a child."

    "A daughter," I says.

    "No," says Jemmy, "a son. And the father was so proud of it that he
    could hardly bear it out of his sight. But a dark cloud overspread the
    scene. Mrs. Edson sickened, drooped, and died."

    "Ah! Sickened, drooped, and died!" I says.

    "And so Mr. Edson's only comfort, only hope on earth, and only stimulus
    to action, was his darling boy. As the child grew older, he grew so like
    his mother that he was her living picture. It used to make him wonder
    why his father cried when he kissed him. But unhappily he was like his
    mother in constitution as well as in face, and lo, died too before he had
    grown out of childhood. Then Mr. Edson, who had good abilities, in his
    forlornness and despair, threw them all to the winds. He became
    apathetic, reckless, lost. Little by little he sank down, down, down,
    down, until at last he almost lived (I think) by gaming. And so sickness
    overtook him in the town of Sens in France, and he lay down to die. But
    now that he laid him down when all was done, and looked back upon the
    green Past beyond the time when he had covered it with ashes, he thought
    gratefully of the good Mrs. Gran long lost sight of, who had been so kind
    to him and his young wife in the early days of their marriage, and he
    left the little that he had as a last Legacy to her. And she, being
    brought to see him, at first no more knew him than she would know from
    seeing the ruin of a Greek or Roman Temple, what it used to be before it
    fell; but at length she remembered him. And then he told her, with
    tears, of his regret for the misspent part of his life, and besought her
    to think as mildly of it as she could, because it was the poor fallen
    Angel of his unchanging Love and Constancy after all. And because she
    had her grandson with her, and he fancied that his own boy, if he had
    lived, might have grown to be something like him, he asked her to let him
    touch his forehead with his cheek and say certain parting words."

    Jemmy's voice sank low when it got to that, and tears filled my eyes, and
    filled the Major's.

    "You little Conjurer" I says, "how did you ever make it all out? Go in
    and write it every word down, for it's a wonder."

    Which Jemmy did, and I have repeated it to you my dear from his writing.

    Then the Major took my hand and kissed it, and said, "Dearest madam all
    has prospered with us."

    "Ah Major" I says drying my eyes, "we needn't have been afraid. We might
    have known it. Treachery don't come natural to beaming youth; but trust
    and pity, love and constancy,--they do, thank God!"
    If you're writing a Mrs. Lirriper's Legacy essay and need some advice, post your Charles Dickens essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?