صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

on his health. A loud voice was hateful, and a hearty laugh an abomination to him. The uncle and aunt who lived in the land where the boys were sent to grow in stature, if not in grace, were too much engrossed with their own plots and plans, and too deeply interested in keeping the young Considines in their neighbourhood, to dwell upon the possible advantages that might have accrued to the lads from a return to their father's guardianship. And in this way, and in a complete separation between the strangely ill brought-up sons and their valetudinarian father, the boyhood and youth of the former passed away.

Letters came from time to time to , letters that told that the boys were well, and were being educated with a due regard to the virtue of economy; and then, later still, and when the parent had forgotten in his self-engrossment that the need for money increases with age, and that his sons at nineteen and twenty were no longer children, there came demands for money which made old Considine quiver like a reed shaken by the wind, and sent him forth to his well-loved readingroom, to forget his parental anxieties behind the newspaper that he delighted in. But money he would not give at least not more than was sufficient for the support, maintenance, and education of a rich man's children. A bare two hundred pounds a-year for each, was all that he could be induced to part with; and on that income the younger son—a fine, frank-hearted, spirited young fellow, married. His wife was a pretty French girl from the Basque provinces, and her family was one of the very smallest of the petite noblesse. She was a good wife while she lived, but that was only long enough to make her husband the father of a boy named Juan,—of whom more anon.

The widower of the poor little Juanita was for a while inconsolable ; but he was young to grief as to everything else, and an opportunity offering for a roving expedition with



some sporting acquaintances to the Rocky Mountains, he joined the band, hoping thus to forget his sorrows.

Considerable was his success among the buffaloes and other wild beasts in the Far West; and he was returning to reap, in the recital of his adventures, the reward of his exertions, when fever seized him, and having only the medical advice of the kindly squaws, and the use of the simple medicines within their reach, he succumbed to the Enemy. A few murmured words in a language they understood not, a sigh or two for the friends who had left him there to die, and a wild wish for his Juanita, and all was over. They buried him under a live oak by the river side, and taking up their burthens, left him there alone.

It was long ere the news reached the old man in England, and when it came, he was not greatly grieved. But the short seclusion required by decency irritated him, and he was observed to be more than usually fractious when he appeared again in the world,


The little Juan was taken possession of by his Basque relations; but his education as an Englishman was defrayed by his paternal grandfather, who continued to dole out for his benefit the same annual sum that had sufficed for the father's wants.

And thus the years of nearly half a century passed noiselessly and almost uneventfully away for the aged hypochondriac.

The passion for money had increased upon him, for he was a miser now; and the little world in which he lived, knew it, and did not shun him. Had he been only well off' and penurious, he would have been scouted as a

screw;' but he was a millionaire, so he was caressed and respected. His son was no longer a young man, for he himself had arrived within a few of the fourscore years, when the strength of man becomes a labour and a sorrow. He had not seen his son for near upon fifty years, and sometimes doubted whether he were alive ; for tales had reached him, which had made him shudder, as much with self-reproach as with nervous trepidation; and the suspense that he endured was daily telling upon a weakened mind and a cowardly nature.

In the very outskirts of the town of Lwas a small and low public-house, and occasionally to that house there came from foreign parts, a man whose aspect and whose habits told of continental sojourn, but whose speech was that of an Englishman. His stay was always short, a two days' visit at the most ; and he was invariably accompanied by a young lad who never spoke, and whose face was completely concealed from observation. The man, whose name (as he gave it) was Peters, had but one acquaintance in the town, and that one was Mr. Considine.

Whenever the mysterious visitor, and his still more mysterious companion made their appearance at the Cock and Bottle, it was well known to the landlord thereof and to all his household, that a closed vehicle would be ordered without delay, and that the two (man

« السابقةمتابعة »