Page images
PDF
EPUB

FATHER AND SON.

me

courses

A friend of mine, with whom I lately compared end of my fishing-rod against the heavy oak churchyards' experiences, gave a little table and dark wooden partition, till at last narrative of one. I give it in his own words : came hurrying forth from an inner chamber a

Arriving about dark one evening I observed little old woman, whose sharp shrivelled" face a general agitation, as if a beebive were pouring showed no mood of sweet complacency; but a forth its swarming colonists; and as I proceeded few words intimating my intention of staying at down the straggling street towards the sign of her house that night smoothed as if by inagić "The Jolly Miller," the whole population of half the wrinkles in her face, and put her in such the place seemed streaming in the opposite good humour that she would fain have installed direction of the churchyard which I had me into the chilling magnificence of the parlour, passed at the entrance of the village. Men, whose sanded floor and dismal fireless gratë women, and children were hurrying along with nodding with plumes of fennel, like the an appearance of eager trepidation, and there enchanted helmet in the castle of Otranto, was a general hum of voices, though everyone I was obliged to glance at, though the first seemed to speak below his natural key. The glimpse sent me back with shivering eagerness children were running along close to their to the comforts of the kitchen hearth, where at mothers, holding fast by their gowns, and last I was permitted to settle myself; while every minute pressing nearer and looking up mine hostess spread for me a little clean 'table in their faces with eyes of fearful inquiry. As with a snow-white cloth, and set about preparing the different groups scudded swiftly past me I my savoury supper of fried eggs and rashers.; caught the disjointed words, "A ghost !" and It was not till I had despatched two "The churchyard,” and “Old Andrew," and of these, with a proportionate quantum of good Ten feet high," and "Very awful.” ale, that I found leisure while attacking the Half tempted as I

turn with picturesque ruins of a fine old Cheshire cheese, the stream and wind up my day's sport with to question my hostess respecting those signs a ghost hunt, but the sign of " The Jolly of popular agitation which had excited my Miller” waving before me and the brown loaf curiosity. My inquiry set wide open the floodand foaming can so naturally depicted thereon, gates of her eloquence and inclination. were irresistible attractions to a poor Piscator “Well I might ask,” she said ; but for her who had fasted since early morning, and who part she was almost ashamed to tell me what as day declined had followed the windings of fools the folks made of themselves-her master the stream for many a weary mile to seek rest among 'em-who was old enough to know and refreshment at the village hostelry. It was better, Lord help himn! than to set off night well for me that I arrived not in equestrian after night galloping after a ghost, with Bob equipage, for neither landlord nor ostler were Ostler at his heels and that idle hussey Beckey visible about the large old house or the adjacent leaving her to mind the house and look to stable-yard; but I needed not such attendance, everything, and be robbed and murdered for so stooping with my shoulder-load of rod, what they knew and for what quotha ?". She basket, and landing-net as I stept down one wished when their time came they might lie step into the low heavy old porch, I passed half as quiet in their graves as old Andrew did straight on to the kitchen, where a blazing fire in his for all their nonsensical talk about his in the huge gaping chimney gave me a cheerful walking o' nights. welcome, though neither there nor in the adjoin- I waited patiently till the "Larum" had uning taproom could I espy signs of any living wound itself; then, taking up that part of the creature. So I called lastily and thumped the invective which more in mediately related to the

was to

[ocr errors]

haunted churchyard and its quiet tenant, I got | ample time for consideration the favoured suitor the old lady gradually into the mood of story- was not kept long on the rack of uncertainty; telling; and from after•gleanings from the and the third Sunday, which completed the bans, other inhabitants of the village I succeeded in saw Miss Dinah installed as Andrew Cleave's stringing together a tolerably connected narra- mistress of his hitherto lonely dwelling. He had tive.

no reason to repent his choice, for Dame Fortune Andrew Cleave, whose remains had been had hooked together for once two kindred souls. interred the preceding week in Redburn church And it seemed as if Andrew bad only reunited yard, was the oldest man in its large and to himself a sometime divided portion of his populous parish, and had been one of the most own nature, so marvellously did he and his prosperous among its numerous class of thriving prudent Dinah sympathise in their views, habits, and

industrious husbandmen. His little and principles.' Thrist-thrift—tbrift and the property, which had descended from father accumulation of worldly substance was the end to son for many generations, consisted of a and aim of all their thoughts, dreams, and large and comfortable cottage, situated on the undertakings; yet they were rigidly just and remote verge of the village common, a productive honest in all their dealings, even beyond the garden, and a few fields which he cultivated strict letter of the law, of which they scorned to 80 successfully rising up early and late taking take advantage in a doubtful matter, and Andrew rest, that by the time he had attained the Cleave had been known more than once to come middle period of life he was enabled to rent a forward to the assistance of the distressed (on good score more acres; bad got together a pretty security indeed), but on more liberal terms than stock of cattle ; had built a barn; and enclosed could bave been expected from one of his a rick yard; and drove as fine a team as any parsimonious habits, or than were offered by in the parish; and was generally addressed by persons of more reputed generosity. Moreover, the title of “Farmer Cleave;" then-and not he was accounted a very religious man, and he till then--and still with great deliberation, he surely accounted himself “a very pious Chrisbegan to look about him for a partner. A tian;" as if a sad and grave aspect, solemn help meet, in the true homely sense of the word, speech much abouuding in scriptural phrases, was the wife he desired, and it was all “Love's slow delivery, erect deportment, and unsocial labour lost" that many a wealthy farmer's reserve, constitute fair claims to this distinction ; Haunting daughter and many a gay damsel of moreover, he was a regular church-goer and the second table from my lords and the squires indefatigable reader of the bible (of the old testa. set their caps at wary Andrew and spoke sweet ment and the epistles in particular), fasted words to him when chance threw them in his rigidly on all days appointed by the church, path, and looked sweet looks at him when he boxed the ears of all the little boys who whistled sat within eye-shot at church in his own old within his hearing on Sabbaths and Saints' oaken pew hard by the clerk's desk, with his days, said immoderately long graces before and tall bony person erect as a poker and his coal after meals, and sang bymns by the hour, though black hair combed smooth down over his he had no more voice than a cracked pitcher and forehead, till it met the intersecting line of two not ear enough to distinguish between the tunes straight jetty eyebrows almost meeting over the of the 100th psalm and" Molly, put the kettle bigh-curved nose and overhanging a pair of on.”. eyes dark, keen, and lustrous; but withal, of It had been the misfortune of Andrew a severe and saturnine expression, well in keep- Cleave to have imbibed from his parents narrow ing with that of the closely.compressed lips views of Christianity, and their early death had and angular jaws. Those lips were not made left him an unsociable being, unloving, unloved to utter tender nonsense, nor those eyes for and unconnected, till he changed his single for a ogling; and the latter were sharp and deceiving married life. “ Habits are stubborn things," and enough to find out such qualitications as he had by the time a man is turned of forty his ruling laid out to himself as indispensable in his destined passions grow so haughty there is no clipping of spouse, though money was not a paramount his wings. Now Andrew was forty-three when consideration, yet a small matter by way of he entered the pale of matrimony, and the staid portion could not come amiss. And Andrew Dinah, three years his senior, had no wish to clip naturally weighed in with her other perfections them, being his very counterpart-his “mutual the twenty years' savings of the vicar's house- head” in all essential points ; so without a spark keeper, whose age was about his own and who of what silly swains and simple maidens call love, was acknowledged to be the best housewife in our serious couple jogged on together in a perfect the parish, having come from a famous cheese railroad of monotonous conformity, and Andrew country, whose fashions she had successfully Cleave might have gone to the grave unconscious introduced at Redburn Vicarage.

that hearts were made for any other parpose than Miss Dinah was a staid quiet person, not to circulate the blood if the truth of a son in the given to gadding and gossiping. “Marry in second year of his vnion had not opened up in haste and repent at leisure” was another of his bosom such a fountain of love and tenderness Andrew's favourite sayings ; so he took another as gushed out like water from the flinty rock, year to consider the matter. But as all things and became thenceforth the master-passion and earthly come to an end, so did Andrew Cleave's humanizing feeling of liis stern and powerful wooing, and as the discreet Dinah had bad i character, The mother's fondness and she was

a

n

227

a

one.

a fond mother-was nothing compared with that the folly and sinfulness of immoderate grief, towith which the father doated on his babe; and gether with sundry apposite remarks befitting his he would rock the cradle or hush it in his arms, own circumstances and a few proverbial illustraor sing to it by the hour, though the lullaby tions and observations, such as “Misfortunes seldom varied from the 100th psalm ; and as he never come alone,” for my poor dame was taken danced it to the same exhilarating tune it was a at night and the old gander was found dead in wonder that the little Josiah clapped his hands the morning; and be failed not to sum up, as and crowed with antic mirth instead of comport. sonrces of rational consolation that it had ing himself with the solemnity of a parish clerk pleased the Lord to spare her till the boy ran in swaddling clothes. It was strange and pleasant alone, and Daizey's calf was weaned and all the to observe how the new and holy feeling of bacon cured. parental love penetrated like a fertilizing dew the So Andrew buried his wife and was comforted, hitherto hard insensible nature of Andrew and from the night of her death he took his little Cleave; how it extended its sweet influence be- son to his own bed and laid him in his mother's yond the exciting object, the infant darling, to place; and long and fervent were the prayers be his fellow-creatures in general, disposing his ejaculated before he went to rest, bending beheart to kindliness and pity, and almost to side his sleeping child, and cautious and tender sociability ; in the latter virtue he made so great as a mother's kiss was that he imprinted on its progress as to invite a few neighbours to the innocent brow before he turned himself to christening feast, charging his dame to treat them slumber. Early, in the morning an elderly handsomely to the best of everything, and he him- widow, who had been used to cook his vituals self, for the first time in his life on hospitable and set the cottage to rights before bis marriage, thoughts intent, pressed, audsmiled, and played the came to take up and tend the boy, and get courteous host to a miracle ; and sometimes on breakfast for him and his father; and she was his way home of an evening he would stop and now detained through the day in the care of exchange a few words with an acquaintance at household concerns and of the motherless little his cottage door, attracted by the sight of some She was a good and tender fostermother chubby boy, with whose short limbs and infant and a careful manager withal, falling readily into vigour he would compare in his mind's eye the Andrew's ways and likings, a woman of few healthful beauty of his own urchin. But great, words, and content with little more than her indeed, was the amazement of Mrs. Cleave when meat and drink; and he had a feeling of snug Andrew, who had always set bis face like a flint satisfaction in locking her out every evening against the whole tribe of mendicants, making it when she betook herself to sleep at her own a rule not only to chase them from his own door cottage. Then was Andrew wont to turn back but to consign them if possible to the whole- to his own solitary hearth, not evincing much some correction of the parish stocks, actually went taste for social enjoyment or any disposition the length of bestowing a comfortable meal, a again to barter his secure state of single blessednight's shelter in an outhouse, and a bed ofness for a chance in the inatrimonial lottery ; clean straw on a soldier's widow who was from which, having drawn a first-rate prize, it would travelling with her babe in her arms towards the have been presumptuous to expect a second. far-distant home of its dead father. Mrs. Cleave What with Jenny's help and his own ability he stared in strange perplexity, and said something had not lived so long a bachelor without having about charity beginning at home and “coming to acquired some skill in housewifery. want," and harbouring idle husseys and their on very comfortably, and for a living object to brats; but Andrew was peremptory, for his eye care for and to love, the little Josiah was to him bad glanced from the poor soldier's fatherless wife, child, companion, everything; so Andrew babe to the cherished creature at that time continued faithful as a widowed turtle to the nestling in bis own bosom. So the widow was memory of his deceased Dinah, and the motherwarmed and fed, and left a blessing on her less boy throve as lustily as if he had continued benefactor ;, who, on his part, failed not to to thrive under the maternal wing; he was in accompany his parting “God speed you !" and truth a fine sturdy little fellow, full of life and the small piece of money which accompanied it glee, and yet, as like Andrew as “two peas ;" with an impressive lecture on the sinfulness of “the very moral of his father," said old Jenny, want and pauperism, and a comfortable assurance “only not so solemn like.” He had Andrew's that they were always deserved manifestations of jetty eyebrows and black eyes, deep set under divine displeasure.

the broad projecting brow; but they looked out Just as the little Josiah had reached his second with roguish mirth from their shadowy cells, and year, Andrew Cleave was called on to resign the the raven hair that like his father's almost wife of his bosom, who went the way of all flesh. touched his straight eyebrows clung clustering After a short but sharp illness she had so fully over them and round his little flat poll in a realized all the calculations that had decided luxuriance of rich close glossy curls; his mouth Andrew to choose ber for his mate, that he was shaped like his father's, too, but Andrew's regretted her loss very sincerely; but resignation, could never, even his childhood, have relapsed inas he justly observed, was the duty of a Christian, to such an expression of dimpled mirth as the and Andrew was wonderfully resigned and boy's did ere it burst into that infectious composed even in the early days of his bereave- gladness which rings to one's heart's core like a ment, throwing out many edifying comments on peal of merry bells, He was a fine little fellow,

He got

[ocr errors]

and at five years old the joy and pride of his , check his son's mischievous and restless doating father; not only for his vigorous beauty propensities. Great was the father's horror and but for his quick parts and wonderfnl forward consternation in detectiog him in the very act ness in learning, for Andrew was a scholar, and of making faces at the vicar bimself, whose had early taken in band his son's education; unfortunate obliquity of vision had excited the so that at that age he could spell out passages in boy's monkey talent of mimicry, and at last the any printed book, could say the Lord's Prayer young rebel was suddenly and for ever deposed and the belief, and a great part of the ten from his lofty station on the seat beside his commandments, though he stuck fast at the father, for having taken a sly opportunity of thirty-nine articles and the Athanasian creed, pinning the hind bow of an old lady's bonnet to which his father bad thought it expedient to in the back of her pew, whereby her bald head was clude among his theological studies. It was the cruelly exposed to the eyes of the congregation proudest day of Andrew's life when, for the first as she rose up with unsuspecting innocence at time, he led his little son by the hand up the the Gloria patri. At home, too, Andrew soon aisle of his parish church into his own pew and discovered that his parental cares were likely to lifted the boy upon the seat beside him; where, multiply in full proportion to his parental pleaso well had he been tutored and so profound sures. Little Josiah was quick at learning, but was his childish awe, that he stood stock still of so volatile a spirit, that in the midst of one with his new red prayer-book held open in his of his father's finest moral declamations he two little chubby hands, and his eyes immovably would dart off after a butterfy or mount astride fixed, not on the book, but on his father's face. on the old sheep-dog; and at last, when All eyes were turned on the boy, for a comical sharply rebuked for his irreverent antics, look little figure did the young Josial exhibit that up piteously into his father's face and yawn Sabbath-day.

so disconsolately, that Andrew's iron jaws were Andrew Cleave had a sovereign contempt for fain to sympathize with the infectious grimace to petticoats, though of course he bad never hinted their owner'e infinite annoyance. At mealtimes so much in his late wife's hearing, and could ill it was almost impossible to keep his little hands brook that his son and heir should be igno. from the platter, while his father pronounced a miniously trammelled even in swaddling clothes. long and comprehensive grace, ordering down So soon, therefore, as a change was feasible, far blessings from above by the bushel, with an sooner than old Jenny allowed it to be so, the especial supplication for the virtues of abstinboy was emancipated from his effeminate habili- ence and forbearance, and so far from continuing ments, and made a man of—a little man complete, to take pride in the manly dignity of his in coat, waistcoat, and breeches, made after the raiment, it became necessary to dock his waistprecise fashion of his father's, who had set the coat flaps and the long skirts of his week-day iailor to work in his own kitchen (under his own coat; the pockets of the former being invariably eye), and on a half worn-out suit of his own crammed with pebbles, worms, brown sugar, clothes, out of which enough remained in snails, cock chafers, and all manner of abominexcellent preservation to furnish a complete ations; and in the latter it was not only his equipment for the man in miniature. So little laudable custom to squat bimself in the mud and Josial's Sunday suit consisted of a long-tailed mire, but being of an imitative and inventive coat of dark blue broad cloth, lapelled back with genius, and having somewhere read a history of two rows of large gilt basket-work buttons, a red the beavers, he forth with began to practise their plush waistcoat (the month being July), brown ingenious mode of land-carriage, by dragging corduroy breeches with knee buckles, gray loads of rubbish behind him on the aforesaid worsted stockings, and large new square-toed coat-tails. As he slid along in a sitting posture shoes with a pair of heavy silver buckles, once greatly did Andrew Cleave marvel that a son of belonging to his mother, that covered his little his should evince such unseemly propensities, feet quite across, like a couple of pack-saddles, having perpetually before his eyes an example touched the ground as he walked on either side of sober seriousness and strict propriety; but, of them. Added to this a stiff broad-brimmed nevertheless, he doted on the boy with unabated beaver (padded within all round to fit his tiny fondness; toiled for him; dreamed of him; pate), under the shadow of which the baby face lived in him; idolized him-yes, Andrew Cleave, was scarce discoverable, and the whole diminu. who had been wont to hold so powerfully on the tive person proved like a walking mushroom. sin and folly of idol worship, he set up in his Proud was the boy of his first appearance, 80 heart an earthly image and unconsciously exalted equipped before the assembled congregation, it above his Maker. and very proud was Andrew Cleave, who felt as Andrew's cottage was situated on the extreme if now indeed be might assume to himself be- verge of a large and lonely common, which fore the elder of his people the honour of being separated it from the village of Rebburn; and it father to a manchild. From that time forth was also at a considerable distance from any little Josiah led in his father's hand came other babitation. He had no difficulty, thereregularly to church; but alas ! his after demean- fore, in keeping the boy aloof from all interour during service by no means realized the course with the village children, or indeed, with promise of that solemn propriety wherewith he any person save himself and old Jenny except comported himself on his first appearance; and in his company. This had an unfavourable it soon required Andrew's utmost vigilance to effect on his own character, repressing all those

a

a

kindlier and more social feelings which had syllable of his intentions; and yet more than struggled into being when the hard surface was once he had taken him on his knee to tell him partially thawed by the new sense of parental of the approaching change; but something tenderness; but now he guarded him as misers always occurred to defer the execution of his hoard their gold. The boy, thus debarred from project. The boy stopped his mouth with kisses, all communication save with his father and old or he prattled so there was no getting in a Jenny, was nevertheless as happy as any child word edgeways, or it would do as well in the of the same age; he was full of animal spirits evening when he came home from the fields ; and invention, and completely ruled old Jenny but then, the young one came running to meet in the absence of his father ; and except at him, and had also so much to ask and tell, that Jesson times and on Sundays, had acquired more the important communication was still delayed. ascendancy over that stern father himself than in the morning, before he rose from his pillow Andrew any way suspected.

he would tell it as the boy lay by his side; but The interval between the boy's fourth and then his little bedfellow nestled so lovingly that seventh year was perhaps the happiest in the his voice died away into the very depths of his whole lives of father and son; but that state of heart, and the words were yet unspoken. things could not continue. Andrew Cleave had At length he hit upon an opportunity which aspiring views for his young Josiah, and it had was sure to present itself ere long. The next always been his intention to give him the best time Josiah was refractory at his lessons, that of learning; in furtherance of which purpose very moment, in the strength of his indignation, he had looked about him, almost from the hour he would tell him that he was to leave his of his son's birth, for some respectable school father's roof. Alas! that fitting occasion was wherein to place him when his own stock of in vain laid wait for. Joseph truly did his best learning became insufficient. He at last pitched to forward it; but his father could not be upon a grammar-school in the county-town angry and could not speak. At last, seriously about five miles from his own habitation, where angry with himself, humiliated at the triumph the sons of respectable tradesmen and farmers of human weakness to which he had hitherto were boarded and taught upon moderate terms; boasted himself superior, Andrew departed, one though, to do Andrew justice, saving considera- morning, to his labours earlier than usual, tions were not paramount with him when his having deputed to Jenny the task to which he son's welfare was concerned; and he was far feft himself unequal. All that morning the more anxious to ascertain that his morals, as father's ihoughts were with the child.

He well as his learning, were attended to; and be- pictured to himself the first burst of distress, side this, having ascertained that the boy would ihe inconsolable sorrow at the thought of parthave an ample amount of wholesome food, it is ing, and he longed to return and clasp the boy not wonderful that Andrew Cleave threw the to his heart and kiss off the tears from his moderate terms as the third weight into the dear face, and comfort bim with soothing words scale of determination. The greater number of and indulgent promises; but still as the fond the boys were only day-borders, but some went impulse rose within him he wrestled with it manhome on Saturdays, only to spend Sunday, and fully, and looked on his team as if to support it was Andrew's private solace to think that the himself in resolute forbearance: no wonder the separation from his child would be rendered furrows Andrew traced that day were the inost less painful by this weekly meeting. It had uneven be had ever drawn since he had guided taken him fully six months, and sundry jour- bis own plough on his own acres.

He kept neyings to and fro, to make all the arrangements firmn to his post, however, till the usual dinnerwith the master; but at last they were com- hour, and even left the field, with his labourers, pleted, and nothing remained but the trial--the without deviating from his accustomed firm debard, hard trial-of parting with that creature liberate step till, just within sight of his cottage, who constituted his all of earthly happiness: he spied the little Josiah running forward to bis wife had been taken from him, and he had meet bim.' Then again he slackened his step, for shown bimself a pattern of pious resignation, his beart shrunk from the first burst of the boy's and now he was to part with his own for a impetuous sorrow. But these feelings were season, and who could doubt that the temporary soon exchanged for those of a more irritable sacrifice would be made with stoical firmness nature when the merry urchin bounded towards and so it should was Andrew's purpose; upon him, with more than his usual exuberant glee, the strength of which he proceeded, with old and the first words he distinguished were: Jenny's advice and assistance, to make requisite “Father, father, I'm going to school. I'm preparation for the boy's equipment: nay, he going to school, father; I'm going to school ! was so far master of himself as to rebuke the When shall I go? Shall I go to-morrow? old woman's foolish fondness when she re- Shall I take my new clothes, father, and my marked how lonesome the cottage would seem hoop and lamb, and old Dobbin ?" A bitter when the dear child was gone.

And he ex

pang shot through Andrew's heart-a bitter pressed himself the more wrathfully from the revulsion of feeling it was that he experienced. consciousness of a certain rising (unwonted] He made no allowance for the volatile nature of which half choked him as he went meander- the child, its restless desire of change and love ing" on.

of novelty; he read only in the boy's exulting To the child himself he had not breathed a l rapture that this his only child-the only creature

« PreviousContinue »