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care to know by what magic all this mis- tremendous must have been the excite chief befell poor Tom Fairfax, turn ment produced, by this specimen of over the leaf, my story is at your ser- modern romance, among the tadpoles ! vice.
Determined to keep all business
thoughts at bay. an attempt at conversation with my next neighbor followed; but he was & surly fellow, and would have little to say to me.
In this state of things there seemed but one resource open to me; I began to scan my fellowpassengers more
closely. The I have already observed that it was a prospect, in this respect, was neither bet bright warm morning of the month of ter nor worse than what might present orations and fire-crackers, when I took itself in any other train of cars. It was a seat in the northern train of cars. commonplace enough, the commonplace, After reading the morning papers—a however, of Yankeeland, and the middle duty which every American holds sa- of the nineteenth century. There was a cred as the Turk his morning salaam to fair proportion of worthy-looking folks Mecca-I began to look about me, in of different ages and conditions, minthat agreeable mood which the prospect gled with a dash of rowdyism, washed of a fortnight's holiday must always and unwashed. Three-fourths of the afford a hard-working fellow like myself. mon, with care-worn faces, were readThe cars were full, crowded, indeed; but ing newspapers of different shadesthere was neither form por voice fami- political and religious. About half the liar to me, in the long double row of women were overdressed-some of thom passengers. I took a look at the coun- glaringly so. A goodly number of try through the window at my elbow; children were eating candy, and some a succession of swamp views, with a fore
grown-up persons were zealously cherground of ditches and wood-pilos, varied ishing national dyspepsia in the samo by an occasional eating-house or some way. Immediately before me sat a desperate attempt at a Gothic cottage, group of lads and lassos--young Ameall this was not particularly interesting. rica in its rustic guise-evidently bound The track was new, and as flat and pro- on a frolic. The girls were very fine, the saic as the most utilitarian stockholder youths very spruce : it was pleasant to need desire. The prospect, such as it see their merry faces, and funny to hear was, moreover, was soon shut out by the their comments; but I could not help clouds of dust which, as the dew dried wishing that they were a degree less under the bot July sun, soon threat- confiding in the discretion of their ened to stifle us. There was no remedy neighbors-jokes, love-affairs, family. but closing the blinds, and turning eyes secrets, were alike shouted out with ear. and attention within. I tried reading. piercing frankness. A poor German The book in my pocket, one of the last emigrant mother and her two chubby and most fiercely puffod of home-made girls pleased me, from the broad, goodnovels, proved contemptibly weak and natured honesty of their expression, and, ridiculous—impossible to read more ere long, they excited my compassion than half a page of such stuff; having not a little, when I discovered that all made, in vain, several vigorous plunges these had fallen into the clutches of the after a grain of common sense, I threw Yankee Mormon in their rear. This the volume out of the window, and, as last venerable character chanced to it chanced to alight in a roadside ditob, share the same bench with a blue
ooated Shaker—the two most opposite spectable appearance, somewhat infirm extremes to which fanaticism has yet in his bearing, occupied the outer seat, gone among us-being thus thrown and near the window sat a lady. The cheek-by-jowl into the same faces of both travelers were turned Further down, too, I discovered an- away from me; but there was something other ill-favored growth of the soil, a in the general appearance of each that lusus natura, a tragi-comic creature, a produced a most agreeable impression Bloomer in full costume.
at the first glance, there was something Half an hour may have passed in this of fitness, quiet self.possession, ease, idle review, when suddenly my eye fell and dignity in refreshing contrast with on two passengers hitherto unuoticed. their immediate neighbors. A rear Between the giddy heads of the young view of the human creature may be group of rustics, beyond the Mormon
very strongly marked with individual and the Shaker, flanked on one side by character-the back has a sort of phy. the Bloomer, on the other by some very siognomy of its own ofton very frank dazzling millinery, I discovered two and truth-telling; even the minute travelers, who immediately fixed my lines and shades of character may froattention. An elderly man of very re- quently be distinctly traced there.
Backs of all kinds are seen passing alluded to struck me as highly favorable. along the public thoroughfares; some Thoroughly respectable, sensible, gonare bold and bullying, others shy and tlemanly, was the aspect of the old man. sensitive; one is sturdy and resolute, The lady by bis side was, at first, someanother timid and wavering; this is bon- thing of an enigma. A sketch taken est, that treacherous. One looks sens- frum nature, at the moment, would have ible, its comrade is painfully silly; bere given a plain straw-hat, & dark veil you have conceit transparent through thrown over it, and a light summer every thread of web and woof, yonder is shawl covering the shoulders in easy, hypocrisy peering, double-faced, over careless folds ; but there was a neatness, its own shoulder-blades; here, with his a modesty, a degree of quiet good sense, hands behind his back, you have Good. a simple elegance in these plain mateman Positive, there, in a very loose fit, is rials, that contrasted charmingly with Neighbor Waverer, who never knows the bold oddity of the Bloouver neighhis own mind. Your purse-proud backs bor on one side, and the glaringly oxare quite numerous, and so, alas! are travagant millivery fluttering in the poverty-stricken backs.
back-ground. I could not succeed in Now, a rearview of the travelers just catching the faintest glimpse of the
lady's face. Several times the gentle- respectful attention to the elderly gentloman, while conversing with her, turned man at her side, whether father, uncle, his head sufficiently for me to have a or guardian, bespoke good-breeding, and good three-quarter view of fine elderly good principle, too, according to my in
. features ; but io vain I watched for the terpretation. same good luck with regard to his com- The heat was now oppressive, and panion—the envious veil Avated between the lady, making a fruitless attempt
The slight character of the ma- to raise one of the unmanageable winterials, however, became only an addi. dows, common in cars,
was assisted tional incentive to closer study. We by the Shaker in her rear; the civil lawyers delight in investigating doubt- bow of thanks which followed was ful points, and I succeeded in persuad- another proof of good manners. Two ing myself that it would be an exercise dull-looking, unruly, and not overclean of professional acumen to make out a children occupied the seat before her, portrait, mental and physical, of the lady and, turning their snubby faces—which before me, from the few scanty facts the I had not the least desire to see-seem. case presented.
ed lost in admiration of their neighCuvier immortalized himself, on some bor: “She is probably pretty-must occasion, by a scientific description, certainly bave a good expression--chiladmirable in its completeness and ac- dren's instincts are safe in such points," curacy, of some unknown antediluvian was my mute remark. The same littlo monster of whose frame he possessed pests were constantly dropping a but a single bone. Without even the gingerbread, or a bit of candy, or a tip of an ear, or the point of a finger handkerchief on the lady's lap, or at to help me, would it be possible to her feet; she kindly restored these difcome to sound conclusions as to the ferent objects several times, but at last nature of a woman who was an en- I saw a reproving shake of the head, tire stranger to me? Were hat, veil, and a warning finger raised, as if to enand shawl to do in this case what the join better behavior: “ Amiable, cerclaw did for Cuvier and his monster ? tainly, und yet not without decision Not entirely. Hat, veil, and shawl may when necessary,” was my conclusion. sometimes prove more than the owner Good reader, thou art smiling ; 80 be it. is aware of, even as regards intellectual I maintain, at the point of the pen, that, and moral qualities ; but the reader although these minute traits, and others must not forget that, in the present in- of the same kind, which I spare you, stance, the figure over which this dra- were in themselves each trifling, yet pery was thrown was no automaton, no there was a harmony pervading them mere milliner's doll; there was life in all, which proved that they filowed from it, there was a brain of some sort within the nature of the individual, and not the straw hat, there was a heart, good, merely from accident. How much fur. bad, or indifferent, beneath the shawl- ther this mute investigation of character, and these higher attributes of the hu- this interesting car-study, might have man being might reveal themselves, I carried me that morning, I cannot say; chose to believe, in what, at the distance but I fully resolved that when we that divided us, must prove, however, reached the next station at G--, a little more than mute pantomime. In glimpse of the fair stranger's face short, the materials were just sufficient must be obtained : “And we shall to excite all the ingenuity at my com- soon be at G--!" I exclaimed to mand, while they were not too slight for myself. some positive results. That neat straw But the halt came even sooner than hat, the simple shawl, so easily worn, was expected. We never reached the the plain veil, were again passed in re- station at G-- Suddenly, in the vicw, and seen, as before, beyond a midst of our swift course, there came maze of very gorgeous millinery, again a fearful shock, a tremendous crashpleased me : “A woman of good sense and the ill-fated journey of that day and education, clearly !" I mentally ex- was at an end. A sound of crashing claimed. Another scrutiny excited my wood and iron, human shrieks, a stunadmiration still further; the quiet mo- ping blow, acute pain followed by utter desty of her manner, the simple, natural insensibility, are my only recollections grace of her movements, few and unob- of the disastrous collision which then trusive as these were, charmed me. The took place—the details of which, as I afterwards learned them, I spare the “Watercold water !" I feebly exreader.
claimed, with the little strength I could Hours passed, during which I lay command. wholly unconscious. It was late in the The female figure started, and turned morning when I partially recovered my towards me with a movement of surfaculties. On opening my eyes, the ob- prise. jects about me seemed all strange, but “ He is reviving-give him water, a vague impression was received that I Emily, it cannot possibly injure him," was in bed, in some barn or out- said the person reclining on the bench. house. It was, in fact, one of the shan- In another moment a cup of fresb ties, or huts of the Irish laborers, on water was put to my lips, and a low, the road. At first I believed myself compassionate voice_aroused my halfalone ; but an indistinct view of two torpid attention ; " Here is water, sir, figrires followed- an elderly man reclin- cool water, fresh from the spring." ing on a bench, and a female figure bend- I opened the eyes which debility and ing over him.
pain had again closed, and saw, bending
over me, a face, the sweetness of whose face came near ; more than once I heard expression produced an impression of the deep voice of the gentleman stretchpleasure, even at that moment. With ed on the bench-Irish faces, some kind some difficulty I swallowed a little of the ly, some coarse and uncouth, seemed to water ; never did anything taste so de- come and go; I heard, but scarcely liciously. Revived by the draught, I understood, whispered comments on my attempted to express my thanks, while own condition, and, at length, I bad a I once more looked up inquiringly at dim impression of a parting glance from the gentle countenance. I had a singu- gentle womanly eyes, and a glimpse of lar feeling that this kindly assistant a lame old gentleman moving to the was no stranger, and yet I could not door, supported by two rough fellows, recall the face as that of an acquaint and followed by the lady. I surgical
Vague and dreamy, at best, examination of my own poor bruised and was the condition in which I remained battered body followed, then came a for hours, varied by moments of acute feeling of being borne into the open air, suffering, or entire insensibility. I and moving somewhere on wheels. heard voices about me indistinctly, and The ensuing weeks are nearly & perI had dim visions of figures moving to fect blank. Å severe operation was fol. and fro. More than once that same sweet lowed by a long illness, which many of my friends considered hopeless. It is un- highest stamp--such a book, like virtue, necessary to dwell on the details beyond must be its own reward, in this our day their results. At the end of three months and country. Luckily for thee, Tom, I was once more able to crawl about, sup- the indifferent is most likely to be thy ported by crutches, a mere wreck of what voin; proceed, therefore, and take courI had so lately boen. I actually did not age, man !" know my own face the first time I saw it With such virtuous resolutions I bobin a mirror. In fact, I seemed to have bled over the country to my little place undergone a complete metamorphosis, at “The Stumpery," and began preand it needed some time longer to ac- parations for the new state of things. custom me to the state of things brought Ere my, turnip-field had been halfabout by that fatal collision on the plowed, however, or my first volume railroad. At length, by steadily looking half-written, I was compelled to suspend matters in the face, I began to compre- my labors ; the lame leg became wholly hend clearly my present position, and unmanageable, and some further surgithe future connected with it. To ill cal work was declared necessary. A health I must accustom myself; the worthy uncle, wbo lives in New York, physicians hold out no hope of com- hearing of my hapless condition, came plete restoration. My profession must to see me. It seems he found matters be abandoned; the chest, once so sound worse than he expected--the leg more and strong, was now miserably weak. crooked; the turnip-field more SparrowTo loss of fortune I must also make grass; the first volume even more stupid up my mind : the day before the railroad than was desirable. disaster, I had become uneasy as to the "Tom, you must have a good surgeon condition of a company in which a very at once. You want society, too. You considerable portion of my property
want a nurse. It is a thousand pities was invested, and had determined to you are not married, my boy." withdraw my funds immediately, actu- My wife that might have been, sir, ally resolving in the car, that the letter, my missing better-half, is infinitely with the necessary orders to my agent, obliged to you." should be written that very evening. Well, you are welcome to either of
But the reader already knows that my girls if you can persuade one of them evening found me in no condition to to fancy you.” write; the company failed, half ruining " Fancy such a specimen of modern hundreds besides myself. The evil was civilization as the locomotive has left irretrievable, and I must now consider me, sir! I should be sorry to think there myself a poor man, compared with what was a woman in the country with such I had been. There was a little place still & wretched taste." left me in the country, a cottage and a " To speak seriously, Tom, that collisfew acres of land ; bere I determined to ion has left its mark on you for life, my set up my bachelor penates, and with a poor fellow. You know that the trial tolerable library, and my crutch for at is just over.” company, to make the best of matters. “I did not know the fact. But I "I will turn farmer ; I will take to my know already how the matter must end pen, too ; I will write. Farming and acquitted, of course. No one to writing are just the work best suited to blame. Engineers, conductors, the coma good-for-nothing fellow like myself pany--the most prudent, and scrupulous -harmless occupations for body and of men-fit to be trusted to-morrow with mind. Scanty honors, and still less thousands of human lives." profit, do they yield to-day. To raise “Yes, all acquitted !" roplied my turnips of the best quality, and write uncle, nodding. tolerable books, let that, Tom Fairfax, “Of course. That is the way we of tho Stumpery, be thy future aim. take care of life and limb in YankeeIf thy turnips are good, they will be land, to say nothing of lesser interests. eaten, and, perhaps, paid for. But, be- Was the race clearly proved !" ware lost thy books be too good-a good "Beyond all denial—a race against book, remember, is neither read nor paid time, three minutes, and a small bet for. Indifferent books may look for a depending on it." reasonable degree of prosperity, bad ** Well, it is only the thousandth 00books often meet with tremendous suc- casion on which the lifo and happiness cess, but your good book – book of the of our people have been sacrificed to the