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plied Mr. Scroggins; “ tell me, for Heaven's sake, is it anything human, or what?”
My uncle, who lacked not courage, pointed his pistol to the inanimate object to which his attention had been directed, and, cautiously approaching, ascertained that it was a human being.
“ Thank Heaven!” piously ejaculated Mr. Scroggins; and, sliding out at the foot of his bed, he snatched up the lamp, and hastening over with it, held it before the face of the figure at his feet. My uncle had no sooner caught a glimpse of the features, than he burst into a fit of laughter, from which he did not recover for several minutes, during which I also gained courage enough to sneak over to ascertain the cause of it. At length he recovered his utterance :
"A capital joke,” cried he in an ecstasy; "ha! ha! ha! capital, capital; why it's old Cookey! She's been walking in her sleep again, I ’spose, ha! ha! ha! Poor soul! she's fainted. Tom! bring over a glass of water and take care of her. And then go down and see what the matter is with Cæsar, the noisy rascal!”
The mystery was now cleared up. The room in which we had betaken ourselves to rest had, for nearly half a century, been occupied by Betty the cook, who had kindly relinquished it for that night in favour of Mr Scroggins and myself, and who, feeling rather uncomfortable, it is presumed, in her new quarters, had taken it into her head to pay us the visit which excited so much alarm. It is hardly necessary to add, that the yells I had heard arose from the dog, which was confined in the lower part of the house, and who had, probably, been essaying a duett with“ rude Boreas,” or had been scared from his usual decorum by the nasal performance of Mr. Scroggins.
W. A. W.
BY MAJOR CALDER CAMPBELL.
And thou art TWENTY-ONE! of bliss
The ignorance of boyhood-fooled
And grasp the hand of friendship; it
'Tis a bright age! a season rife
I do remember me when I
In a quiet country town, situated in one of the midland English counties, there resided many years ago a surgeon of the name of Ford. He was the only child of a neighbouring farmer, who after educating his son for the profession of medicine, was able to leave him but a small capital, which the young surgeon invested in the purchase of a commodious and pleasant house, well adapted for the exercise of his profession. Early in life Mr. Ford married an intelligent and amiable woman, whose prudence and ability were of essential service to her husband. They had two children, twin daughters, Martha and Mary by name, who received, under the judicious superintendence of their mother, an education well suited to their station in society, fitting them more especially for the duties and pleasures of domestic life. The town of Hawton was not only small, but inconsiderable; yet as it was in the midst of an agricultural district, inhabited by farmers, who were for the most part in thriving circumstances, Mr. Ford had a good practice, and was enabled to support his family in much comfort and respectability. The doctor's little establishment could boast not only a maid servant, but a boy, whose showy livery impressed the good country folks with a high idea of their surgeon's claims to gentility. - Mrs. Ford was a person of retired habits, not fond of much visiting; and, in truth, she found sufficient occupation in superintending her household affairs, compounding medicines, keeping her husband's books, and instructing her little girls. Nevertheless, as Mr. Ford was of a social turn of mind, and considered it politic to keep up an extensive acquaintance, she did not hesitate to comply with his wishes in this respect; and her visiting list included most of the respectable inhabitants of Hawton and its vicinity. A happy and prosperous family were the Fords for many years, and then a blight seemed to fall upon their prospects, the cause of which was for a time carefully concealed from public view, though its effects were but too visible in the allered demeanour and habits of the female members of the household. As the daughters grew up, instead of seeking the society suitable to their age and station, they appeared to shrink from notice, and lived in the strictest seclusion; and when after, as long a period as decency would permit, the rites of hospitality were exchanged between the surgeon's family and their neighbours, there was an anxious and careworn expression in the face of the wife, and an uneasy apprehensiveness in the manners of the daughters, which did not fail to excite the comments of their ac
quaintance. It is true that on such occasions the doctor was increasingly gay and convivial; yet his spirits had rather the effect of depressing than encouraging the cheerfulness of his near relatives. After a while, however, it began to be whispered that it was not at at all times prudent or even safe to follow the doctor's advice, or swallow his physic; and by degrees the news publicly transpired that the once popular surgeon of Hawton was become a confirmed drunkard. Perhaps this intelligence was the more readily believed, because a young and dashing practitioner had recently settled in the town; and this circumstance doubtless had its share in the declining practice of Mr. Ford, whose resources from this period failed rapidly, whilst disease and increasing wants followed in the train of diminished means. At the time when the twin sisters attained their sixteenth year, the health of the mother gave way, and it was found that for some time she had been suffering from disease of the heart; the too frequent result of great anxiety of mind. Martha, too, had always been a delicate child, and her ailments increased as privations and hardships succeeded to the tender care she had experienced in early life. Yet there was one loving happy spirit, the ministering angel of the falling household, Mary; who, strong in body, possessed that energetic and useful disposition of mind which loves not to dwell with regret upon the past, so much as with hope upon the future. When children, the difference between these sisters was principally in this one characteristic. Whilst Martha mourned with all the sincerity of a true penitent over her faults, and bewailed her little misfortunes, Mary's equally tender conscience found relief only in repairing what might still be remedied, and engaging with eagerness in plans of future improvement; and now, when enfeebled by disease and oppressed by care, Martha and her mother indulged in reminiscences of happier days, and in fruitless lamentations concerning their present misfortunes, Mary became the main-spring of their comfort, the stay and prop of their sinking spirits. No sooner had Mr. Ford's intemperate habits become confirmed, than his wife deemed it prudent to dismiss her maid-servant, not wishing to have any
indifferent spectator of her husband's vices, and naturally desirous to conceal them as much as possible from the world. Mary then took the place of the household drudge, and in her new occupation found relief from the unavailing sorrow which consumed her mother and sister. With tender solicitude she ministered to the wants of the invalids, and by vigilant and constant watchfulness contrived to acquire sufficient influence over the mind of her poor father to prevent his utterly neglecting the little business that remained to him. Sensible that upon his exertions depended the maintenance of her mother and sister, she submitted to perform the most humiliating services, rather than suffer him to forego
the least pittance which it still remained in his power honourably to earn. She frequently accompanied him on his country excursions, amply compensated for her toil could she but succeed in shielding him from temptation, and bringing him sober to his anxious wife. In cases of emergency, Mary would even submit to go the back way to the public-house-her father's favourite resort-and, assisted by the kind-hearted landlady, induce him to accompany her wherever his services were required.
It is true Mary felt this to be a bitter and degrading office, and she shrank from it with the sensibility natural to a modest young woman; yet the motive which excited to its performance proved powerful enough to conquer her reluctance, when extreme cases rendered it necessary.
After six years' patient endurance of her severe affliction, Mrs. Ford was released from her sufferings by death; and Mary's grief for the loss of her beloved mother was greatly augmented by its effect upon the already sinking frame of Martha, whose decline, from this period, was very rapid. It needed all Mary's habitual fortitude, aided by the consolation of a sound and healthful piety, to bear up under this new trial. The affection between the sisters appeared to acquire new strength, as they felt the time of separation drawing near, and it was but seldom that Mary could tear herself from her sister's bedside, even to perform her self-imposed duty of watching over her misguided father, who, freed from the restraint imposed by his wife's influence, was daily becoming more the victim of the degrading vice to which he had enslaved himself. It was on a cold and cheerless evening at the beginning of February, that Mary, more than usually depressed, sat watching by the bed of her now dying sister, who had, during the day, remained unconscious of the agony of her tender nurse, as she had lain in a sort of stupor from which she had with difficulty been roused to take her medicine. Hour after hour passed slowly away, and still Mary remained alone at her melancholy postnow gazing mournfully upon the death-like features of her sister, and now anxiously looking out into the still and darkened street, eagerly listening to the least noise which gave her faint hope of her father's approach. The hour of ten had just struck, when her quick ear detected the sound of a distant footstep whose unsteady progress made her heart beat quick with emotion. It approached, and passed. It was some other wretched drunkard seeking his miserable home. Mary was roused from her gloomy reverie by Martha, who, in a clear and distinct voice, asked, “Is it our father, Mary?”
“No, dearest,” she replied in a whisper, laying her head upon her sitser's pillow, which she literally watered with tears wrung from a heart overcharged with bitterness.
“Poor Mary !” said Martha, stroking the cold pale cheek of