Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Philosopher Dick

Chapter XIX

page 514

Chapter XIX.

A general rendezvous at Sunnydowns was the post-office at the time of the arrival of the daily mail, about five o'clock of the afternoon. No sooner had Cobb & Co.'s coach and three, for the little dusty "pill-box" of a conveyance, swinging on its leather springs, generally had a unicorn team, driven up to the wooden shanty attached to the public-house, but set apart for the reception of Her Majesty's mails, as indicated by a placard over its only window, than a commotion took place throughout the "township," and a numerous and heterogeneous concourse of the inhabitants might be seen flocking towards the centre of attraction.

The "upper ten," taken literally, for the élite of the place, all told, did not yet number a baker's dozen, would generally put in a strong appearance, advancing leisurely with dignified composure, but keeping somewhat aloof from the common throng, while the "small fry" would congregate eagerly round the steaming horses to watch Tommy the mailman toss the ribbons page 515carelessly towards the slatternly groom in attendance, and then deposit, not without something of a gallant flourish, the mail-bags into the hands of the rosy-cheeked and broad-smiling postmistress, who would stand with outstretched arms ready to receive them.

Sometimes, when the bags were heavy, Tommy, who was the pink of politeness, would insist on himself conveying the precious burden into the office, with a pleasant nod to the blushing damsel, who would trip in after him.

Then the passengers, of whom there was generally a good load, would alight, and between shaking the dust off their clothes, and shaking hands with numerous acquaintances present to greet them, and otherwise stretching their limbs, and all talking together, they would be kept busily engaged until Tommy returned to fossick out their respective bags and parcels, and settle up any small monetary transactions with regard to fares and charges. Then, by way of returning thanks for their safe arrival, the whole party would adjourn to the bar close by to indulge in some copious libations to the goddess Fortune. For, in those early days of universal boon companionship and unsophisticated manners, all good men and true drank together. It was considered a mean thing to drink alone; it was considered meaner page 516still not to drink at all. To drink was the common lot of all; it was also the common bond, the great leveller. Every ordinary event of daily life had to be initiated and concluded with potations, and no occurrence was deemed too insignificant to justify that festive formality. Every bargain had to be sealed with a "nobbler;" it was the stamp which, according to the laws of good-fellowship, had to be put upon it to render it valid; every dispute had to be settled over the bottle, which, if it led to many rows, was also the universal peace-maker. People drank to show their respect, they drank to show their love, they drank to show their wit. They also drank to hide their lack of wit, for the silent drinkers, with an occasional "shout," would pass for right good company, and drink, like charity, covered a multitude of sins. People drank success to their friends, they drank confusion to their enemies; they drank long life to the living, they drank to the memory of the dead. They drank because they were thirsty, or because their friends were thirsty, or out of compliment to somebody else, or because it was about time for a "nip." They drank as an "appetiser" before meals, and as a "digester" after meals; they drank to warm the "inner man," and also to keep him cool. They opened the day with a "doctor," to stimulate page 517their waking energies; and when, after many drinks, their daily course was run, they ended up with a "night-cap" to welcome rest. The man who would not drink, unless a professed teetotaller, was no man, only a thing. He was called "proud," and that was considered a mortal sin—the one offence that could not be forgiven him.

While the travellers and their friends, and their friends' friends, were partaking of the customary refreshment, and while the busy postmistress was sorting the letters for delivery at the little window, in half an hour's time, the notables of the place on the one side, and the commonalty on the other side, would congregate and fraternise, and indulge in their respective bits of gossip.

From all quarters people came dropping in. Young gentlemen riders, in breeches and gaiters and long white puggaries tied round their hats, with ends waving gaily behind them, would come cantering up from the neighbouring stations. Young folks and old fogies, in all sorts of conveyances, from the flashy American buggy to some queer old lumbering gig of the last century, would drive up through the crowd amidst a general discharge of greetings and friendly banter; or a grander turn-out—a four-in-hand conducted by one of the rich "nobs" of the district— page 518could be seen whirling along the dusty road and sweeping round to the hotel door with imposing dash. Ladies also on horseback—for everybody rode in those days—their graceful figures showing to advantage in the dark tight habit, and their pretty fresh faces shaded under a "wide-awake" hat, would frequently grace the proceedings with their welcome presence, and be heard mingling their silvery laugh with the general hubbub of conversation.

Among the local magnates, Mr. Beaumont, the stipendiary magistrate, was always one of the first to arrive on the scene. He was conspicuous by his white and benevolent head and his green umbrella. He was extremely affable to his own set and condescendingly polite to his inferiors, and he had generally some little witticism to deliver on the leading events of the day. Stirling, the sub-inspector of police, in undress uniform, but looking fierce even when off duty, would next stroll up, render a military salute to the President of the Bench, and indulge with him in a few rather stiff and formal exchanges of civilities having special reference to matters of law and order.

The parson was rarely absent. He was a kindly, bustling sort of a man, with extreme activity, but who never did anything. He was noticeable by his animated manner and his pendent coat tails, which in page 519the sudden and rapid evolutions of his body were always flapping about his legs. Overflowing with Christian amity towards all men, and anxious to exhibit the lively interest he took in his flock, he had got into a way of shaking hands vigorously with all comers, without distinction of persons, age, or sex. This was a friendly process which, to judge from the appearance of the poor man, as he might be seen bobbing round a crowd, with his arm pumping in front, and his coat tails flying behind, must have necessitated considerable muscular exertion. The grip too of some of the "'orny' anded" sons of toil, when expressive of hearty good-will, was sufficient at times to bring tears into the reverend gentleman's eyes.

In every society—even to that of savages—the comic element is more or less represented, and every circle, however small, has its funny man. At Sunny-downs Mr. Joe Tippings held that enviable position by universal consent, although it must be admitted that in the bar-parlour he had a dangerous rival in the "sporting snob." Tippings was the repository of all the "good things" which ever found their way into this quiet and remote settlement.

A good joke was thought a lot of in those days; it travelled slowly, was eagerly intercepted on its page 520passage, and the first to get it was deemed a fortunate man. But Tippings laid himself specially out for catching jokes, and he retailed the best collection of them of any known joker in the country. Some he obtained surreptitiously by letter from town, others he filched from the comic papers, but it was always suspected that the best local hits were communicated to him, through some mysterious process and by special arrangement, by Tommy the mailman. At any rate he was generally in possession of "the latest thing out" fully ten minutes before anybody else in the township, and that ten minutes was always actively employed, and afforded him doubtless the supreme bliss of each twenty-four hours.

He was a squat man with a rubicund face, profusely freckled, carroty hair, and little grey eyes, that were ever on the wink. He belonged to a wheat-buying establishment, and was in charge of a local agency, so it was perhaps not to be wondered at that he dealt so largely in chaff.

It was Christmas Eve. An unusually large gathering was awaiting the arrival of the mail, and more than ordinary excitement seemed to animate the crowd.

An enormous coach, with five horses to it, and a guard perched up behind in a red coat and with a page 521trumpet, had been placed on the road in honour of the occasion. It was crammed inside, and on the boxes at front and back, while the top was closely packed with the serried ranks of a noisy crew whose spirits seemed to be as elevated as their seats. They heralded their progress through the township with shouts and hurrahs, intermingled with shrill whistling and snatches of song, until at the near approach to their destination, when the uproarious hubbub became absorbed or concentrated in a vociferous outburst of "Cheer, boys, cheer," which inspiriting strain was taken up by every throat, and responded to by the crowd of bystanders, and drowned even the mighty cracking of the driver's whip and the fierce blast of the guard's horn.

When the coach drew up before the post-office door there seemed to be no end to the outflowing of its contents; passengers kept emerging from its hidden recesses like the articles from a conjuror's hat, and those on the top kept tumbling down in breakneck style. There was a troop of schoolboys returning home for the holidays, and hugged, on alighting, by gushing parents on the look-out for them. There was a number of business men from town, who had forsaken their dusty desks and daily worries for a brief respite of indolence and country air. page 522There were many local people returning to their own firesides, with huge packets of good things for the festive season and presents for the little ones.

A universal spirit of satisfaction and good-humour prevailed. The hotel was bedecked with green branches and festoons of native holly, and a sort of triumphal arch, made of boughs interwoven together, had been erected over the front entrance.

The shops and stores, in which an active business was being done preparatory to a general closing up for several days, were also profusely decorated with flags and greenery, and Chinese lanterns hung about in all directions ready for the evening illumination.

In the bar of the Royal Mail Hotel a roaring trade was being done, and there the noise and jollity was at its height. Poor Jim, the barman, was run off his legs in his frantic attempts to serve half-a-dozen obstreperous customers at once and to be in several places at the same time. His smooth shining face was bathed in profuse perspiration, and was in itself a sight to excite a feeling of thirst in all beholders, and to stimulate the demand for cooling drinks. Out of sympathy for his sweltering condition, most of the revellers insisted upon his drinking with them, and at the rate that was going poor Jim would soon have been under the bar instead of behind it, but for a page 523device which the honest fellow hit upon of keeping a special bottle of coloured water, labelled "Kinnahan's whisky," by his side, from which he drank fair, without any heel-taps, and was thus able to preserve his equilibrium, while pledging his patrons and sweeping the additional sixpences into the till. Cheery old M'Donald, the popular landlord, had also to come in for much liquor and vigorous hand-shaking, which he supplemented with hearty congratulations in broad Scotch to all comers, and interminable good wishes for a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Doctor Valentine and his friend Raleigh had sauntered forth, arm in arm, towards the post-office, and mingled with the lively throng.

They were received with warm greetings on all sides. The Doctor was popular already, for, although he did not drink nearly as much as his predecessor, yet he fully made up for any deficiency in that respect by his invariable attention and kindness to his patients. The active sympathy which he ever displayed in the cause of need and suffering, as well as his racy humour, even when contrasted with a certain gruffness of manner and outspoken plainness of speech, had made a favourable impression. Raleigh was comparatively a stranger, but he had been well spoken of, and he had arrived on the spot at the page 524nick of time to reap all the available patronage of the place. The post of clerk to the district council board happened to be vacant; he had sent in his application, and had been appointed forthwith. It was indeed a fortunate circumstance for all parties concerned; lucky for Raleigh to drop into a suitable place which left him his prized independence and afforded him ample leisure, and a good thing for the district to secure the services of so competent a man for the slender salary which appertained to the office. But every little helps, and if the pay was small, the duties were correspondingly light. Then the stipendiary magistrate happened to require a clerk for the local court, and he gladly availed himself of the opportunity of offering the post, with its modest emoluments, to the new-comer.

Attached to that office was the Government appointment of registrar of births, deaths, and marriages, with a fee of £10 a-year and a few other sundry perquisites, and all these fell to the philosopher. Had he been greedy for more, he might, while in the swim, have hooked up a few additional billets, for the position of collector of rates was offered to him; he might have obtained the privilege of licensing all the dogs in the neighbourhood, of impounding stray cattle, and of inspecting nuisances. But Raleigh was easily page 525satisfied, nor was he ambitious of monopolising in his own person all the civic functions of the corporation.

"I am certainly in luck's way," he exclaimed to his friend Valentine. "I have only been a fortnight in the place, and already have I become a public functionary of the first magnitude, with a perfect roll of appointments and a princely income of £150 a year. Was ever poor mortal favoured before with so sudden and glorious a rise? And all through you, dear friend."

"The remuneration for your multifarious duties is absurdly small," replied the Doctor; "but it is something of a stand-by, and you will still remain your own master, and have plenty of spare time. I expect you to supplement your income largely by your brush. The few pictures of yours I have been able to show about here have been much admired, and I could get you a £100 worth of orders for local sketches within a week."

"I feel," replied the other humorously, "all my old love of art reviving under such altered prospects."

Raleigh thus found himself all of a sudden an object of respectful curiosity to the crowd; he was now a public personage, he was hailed as the coming man, and great things were expected from him.

He was welcomed all in a breath by the five mem-page 526bers of the district board, whom he met all together in unofficial but mysterious confabulation over some local matter. After shaking hands all round, the chairman, who was a tall, wizen-faced old lawyer, with an unctuous effusiveness of speech, remarked to him sotto voce that it would be a matter of inexpressible comfort to the board to possess the services of a scholar. For the old gentleman prided himself much on his smattering of classic lore, and it had been a cause of infinite vexation to him that his little quotations from Horace had hitherto fallen on unappreciative ears, as none of the other councillors understood a word of Latin. Now he rejoiced in the prospect of being able to hold forth for the edification of the clerk. Raleigh bowed his acknowledgments.

Another member, of less pretensions, expressed his gratification that their new secretary possessed some literary abilities. "T'other chap," he remarked, alluding to their late functionary, "was a right good un at getting in the cash, and all there at bossing them 'ere road men, but he warn't much of a penman, and his spelling was awful." Raleigh bowed again. A third member of the board also accosted him. This was a podgy, pert, consequential and red-headed little man—a storekeeper in the district—and he page 527insisted in presenting his congratulations with a great show of formality. He said that it would be very satisfactory to the board to possess a secretary who was a mathematician. Raleigh shook his head, and remarked that he could hardly lay a claim to any such distinguished title. "But you can cipher, I suppose," exclaimed the little man impressively, "and could manage the rule-of-three, vulgar fractions, and such like?" Raleigh admitted that his mathematical studies had reached that far. "It is vastly important," observed the councillor, with dignified emphasis, "for through ignorance of accounts we have got into trouble. Last year we met to distribute the government grant-in-aid, and we voted it all away in fractions, sir—you understand, in fractions; that's where the trouble came in. We gave one-third to the north districts, one-fourth for Mount Pleasance, one-fourth for the Bay Road, one-third for the central ward, one-fifth"——

"Hold hard," cried the philosopher; "that exceeds the total already."

"Have you twigged it already?" asked the other, with surprise. "We have only found it out quite lately, owing to a lot of our cheques having been returned to us dishonoured. A great scandal, sir; an awful disgrace."

page 528

"What a shame! Why don't you remove your account to some other bank?"

"Precisely what I proposed doing," replied the little man emphatically. "I tabled a motion to that effect to mark our sense of the indignity, but it couldn't be done, sir, it couldn't be done, for" (this was communicated in a discreet whisper) "we have a heavy overdraft."

"Oh, I see!" observed the philosopher; "that alters the case. The bank has you there, or rather—you have the bank. Still, being a corporate body, you needn't mind; nobody can do anything to you, although somebody ought to hang for it."

"You are right," observed the councillor, with dignity; "somebody ought to hang for it, so we suspended the clerk. But it was all through the fractions!"

The fourth member was a dreamy-looking man with long hair, who announced himself as the president of a newly organised philharmonic society, and a devotee to music. He had heard with pleasure that Raleigh was an amateur musician, and he therefore proposed at once to secure his services. The fifth and last member was a taciturn man; he shook hands, but said nothing, so the philosopher concluded that he must be the member of the opposition.

As Raleigh strolled away with the Doctor he re-page 529marked, "I have found out now how I came to be elected unanimously against all local competitors; I got one vote for Latin, one for writing, one for arithmetic, and one for the flute. The fifth man merely voted with an overwhelming majority."

They next accosted Mr. Beaumont. That person-age received his new clerk with marked affability, and expressed his gratification that he should be associated with a gentleman and a man of education. "My late official," he observed, "was not a bad fellow in his way, but fearfully ignorant, and he was always putting his foot in it. It is not long ago that we had to hold an inquest on an unfortunate man who had committed suicide while in his right mind. I urged the jury, out of Christian charity, to make him insane, but they wouldn't, and they returned a verdict in accordance with the evidence. My clerk, however, refused to record it; he protested to me that it was absurd. 'Why,' says he, 'here's a poor devil goes and strings himself up to a rafter in a hayloft, and these fools want to make out that he fell o'er the sea' (felo-de-se). Now, you know, one gets to be quite frightened of a man like that."

The company laughed, but Raleigh thought he had heard something of the sort before.

"Hullo! here comes Tippings," cried the Doctor.

page 530

"He is wriggling about like a man in the throes of a fit of cholic."

"Poor fellow!" said Mr. Beaumont, "he is probably about to be delivered of a joke. It generally works upon him that way. What is it, Tippings?"

"Ha, ha! what do you think?" blurted out the funny man, while going through a few more contortions. "Can any of you tell me why our friend Rhodes ought to be the best pleased man in the country?"

"I don't know the man," said Raleigh.

"I do, which makes it all the more difficult," remarked Mr. Beaumont, "for he is one of the most miserable of men."

"I give it up," quoth the Doctor.

"Why, because the provincial council last night voted a thousand pounds for the diversion of roads (Rhodes). Not bad, is it?" And the delighted punster rolled off to administer the dose to the next comer.

Just at that moment there was a violent commotion in the crowd, as the Commodore, with Mrs. Wylde, made a sudden appearance on the scene in a buggy and pair, effected an evolution with the nearest shave to a capsize which had ever been seen, and ended in running the pole of his carriage through the post-office window and frightening the poor little post-mistress into a fit.

page 531

The Commodore was a sailor of a swaggering and boisterous temperament. According to his own oft-repeated account, he was a man of note, although nobody had ever heard of him; he had accomplished deeds of surprising valour, for which he had not received the Victoria Cross, and he had been distinguished in cutting-out expeditions of fabulous daring while serving in foreign parts; but a mystery hung over the time and place of these wonderful exploits. Whatever he may have done at sea, it had to be confessed that on land he turned out to be a complete failure, and his style of driving was more novel than reassuring. He had a way of twisting the reins round each fist, holding his arms wide apart, and then driving "with both hands," as he called it. A sort of twin-screw-propelling system not well suited to the road, for it had led to numerous collisions and brought about several total wrecks, and his escape from personal damage in these frequent spills was attributed more to the hardness of his head than to any other mitigating circumstance.

The Commodore swore some tremendous oaths over the present mishap; but he appeared elated at having caused a sensation, and he evidently looked upon himself as the hero of the hour. Mrs. Wylde went into hysterics, and had to be carried in a faint-page 532ing condition by many willing arms into the hotel, where she was devotedly attended to by the Doctor and a select company of ladies, and anxiously inquired after by the whole assembly. As she had received no injury whatever, it was assumed by those who knew her best that the gratifying éclat she had occasioned would go a long way to make up for the fright. This sensational incident brought the proceedings to an end, and shortly afterwards the crowd dispersed.

"I have been wavering in my own mind for the past week," said the Doctor to his friend Raleigh, as they were returning home, "with whom we should eat our Christmas dinner. I have had half-a-dozen invitations for the festive occasion, and we shall have to give offence to five of our would-be entertainers, and probably get an indigestion in any case."

"Why not refuse them all?" replied his companion. "For my part I don't care to be entertained by strangers, and would prefer sitting down with you to a cold joint of beef, with pickles, and a bottle of claret, to the most sumptuous repast they could offer us."

"My dear child, you are at present under my fostering care, and I cannot allow you to indulge any longer in these unsociable and sedentary tendencies; they are bad for you. Be a recluse no longer. I page 533must introduce you into our society, such as it is; and if you get nothing else out of it, you may get some good fooling, which is most essential to a happy existence. Now, let me see. First, there are the Wyldes, who are a great institution. Mrs. Wylde took it for granted that we should go to them, and she simply stormed at me when I attempted to plead a previous engagement. Just now, when I was unfastening her dress, for she was terribly tightly laced up, she whispered in my ear not to mind, and added, "I shall expect you to-morrow." This reassured me as to the extent of the shock she had received, but I did not want to give her another one by saying no. However, we won't go. The fact is, it would be rather an infliction for you to be boxed up with the Commodore for the whole afternoon. He is right enough for an hour or so over his cups, when the punch acts as a corrective to digest his many lies, but sober he is oppressive. Mrs. Wylde I consider delightful, but I don't fancy you are much taken with her."

"Besides," remarked Raleigh with a sly look, "you know the adage—Two's company, three's none."

"Oh, as to that," replied the Doctor, "you are altogether out of it. I have given up that sort of thing long ago. I remain a spectator only. She is a desperate flirt, but she knows better than to try it page 534on with me. But the woman amuses me. I like to note the workings of the devil within her, and I sympathise with her sufferings, which are genuine, if nothing else is."

"You carry your love of character diagnosis rather far at times," observed the other; "I am sure you chaffed her unmercifully the other day, and made me feel quite uncomfortable. You began by describing her love of admiration, and she took it all in good part. Then you went on to a few telling illustrations of how she made desperate love to the captain of the last man-of-war that called here, and not satisfied with captivating him, managed to monopolise the attention of three lieutenants, and to make serious inroads into the budding affections of a couple of poor little middies. How, upon her return home, surfeited with adulation, if nothing worse, languishing and love-sick, she would turn her attention to cultivating a little local sentiment; set her cap at the major, make a fool of the old schoolmaster, cause a disruption in the parson's peaceful family, and break the match between young Sparks and Miss Bella by appropriating that youthful Adonis to herself at the last pic-nic, to the rage and despair of the neglected fiancée. How, having captivated all hearts in the upper circle, she had then descended to devastate the page 535affections of the more humble classes, and had caused a split between Tompkins the grocer and his lawful wife, a fight between the two telegraph boys, and had utterly crushed out poor little Wagtail, the 'sporting snob'"——

"I didn't go as far as that—did I, Dick?"

"You did indeed, and that last shot told. I turned to look at her, and found her immersed in tears and trying to stifle her sobs. It was cruel."

"Poor thing!" said the Doctor. "I didn't mean to hurt her feelings—I had no idea she was going to be so sensitive. It must have been your presence that made her so. Well, we shouldn't be too hard upon her, for she can't help it."

"Perhaps not; but I am sure she never tries. What the secret of her fascination is I can't imagine. It is certainly not good looks."

"Wait till she sets her cap at you," answered Valentine laughingly, "and then you may find out. I have my suspicions. But we will let them go for the present."

"What other invitations did we get?" asked Raleigh.

"Why, the Beaumonts for one. The old gentleman was most pressing, and he seemed rather nettled at my refusing. I must say that he gives excellent dinners. Having failed in literature, he has consoled himself with gastronomy, in which he is a decided page 536success. I believe he spends much of his time with an apron on at the range. But he is too prosy for me, and his wife and daughters are too much engrossed in admiring his prosiness. When he speaks, all the world is supposed to be hushed to hear. You will see quite enough of him in business. Then the O'Neils sent a pressing invitation, and the Dugalds likewise; but you know what that means—a wet night. Have we not forsworn all such excesses? Last, but not least, I received a most kind little note from Miss Seymour, which I accepted for both of us. You will like them—they are quite in your style. Mr. Seymour is a fine specimen of an old English gentleman of the old school. He is a retired barrister; he has seen a lot of the world and loves to talk about it; he plays chess, smokes a long pipe, and is a philosopher after his own way. His daughters are the only two girls I know of who don't expect to be made love to, and who can take a joke. Moreover, I fancy that I can trust you there."

"What do you mean?" inquired the philosopher.

"Why, my boy, I don't want you to go and do for yourself, and matrimony under your present conditions would be certain death."

"What trash you talk. You know very well that I am about the last man to make a fool of myself that page 537way. I tell you I never was in love, and never shall be. But apart from my natural disinclination to marriage, there is another and still more forcible objection—Where's the money to come from?"

"True," replied the Doctor, "but unfortunately, lovers never think of that until too late. My dear Dick, although I am hardly your senior in years, yet in other respects I am old enough to be your father, for I have known life in all its phases and seen a great deal of the world, while you are still—excuse me for telling you so—a novice. My part is about played out—yours is to be acted yet. Therefore, listen unto my words—beware of matrimony. Nothing else, save death, shall part us; but should you marry, then our friendship is severed for ever."

"I say amen to that," exclaimed Raleigh, amused; "but you need not fear. Yet don't you think that it is unwise to wish to introduce me to so much female society under these circumstances? There is an Indian proverb that says, 'If you put butter near the fire it will melt.'"

"Not at all," replied the Doctor; "we must familiarise you with the danger, so that you will be less liable to fall a victim to it. But I repeat, with the Seymours you are safe. The younger, who is an attractive girl, is already engaged to a rich young page 538squatter, and the elder, who is a good little creature, and one of the happiest natures I have ever met, is a confirmed spinster. She has refused several good offers. The girl is devoted to her old father, after that to good works. She ought to be a nun, and she would make a capital hospital nurse. But what I like her best for is that she agrees with me that matrimony is a mistake."

"Sensible young person," remarked Raleigh. "I may tell you that I have met the Miss Seymours already, but hardly to speak to. The worst of young ladies of that type is that they either become prudish or else strong-minded, and I don't know which I dislike most."

"Alice is not inclined either way. You can talk to her as you would to an old mother. Well, do you approve of my choice for our plum-pudding?"

"Dear Val, how could I do otherwise. You are one of those good fellows who never act amiss unless when it is for themselves. You can be trusted to advise in all cases. As for me, I am under your friendly care; I feel like some poor battered mariner, who from stormy seas, and after many months of misery and privation and anxious peril, has at last found refuge in the still waters of a sheltered harbour. I have but one thought, 'Here we may rest a while.'"