« 上一頁繼續 »
he had no notion of taking her without dia Street, musing and mousing over the any of the funds her father had to bestow. various schemes that occurred to his ferIt was arranged between them that his tile brain for increasing the profits of his paternal consent should be asked, and the business. He had already bought cotton die or live of matrimony should depend pretty largely on speculation. Should on that. But, with confidence, or what he monopolize further, make a grand is sometimes called brass, enough to put rush in stocks, or join the church and get any sort of question, it was impossible large trust-funds into his hands on the for Chip Dartmouth to state the case to strength of his reputation for piety? All old Mr. Hopkins as it was. Having ob- these and a hundred other questions were tained a private interview, he grasped getting rapidly and shrewdly discussed in the old gentleman by the hand with an his mind, when a rather stubbed man, air as familiar as it was apparently cor- with a square, homely face and vinegar dial.
expression, opened, or partly opened, the “ Ah! I am very glad to see you, Mr. little glass door of the counting-room, and, Hopkins, for I have been thinking what looking round it more greedily than hopea fool I must be not to pay my addresses fully, said, to Miss Millicent; and I can take no
“You don't want the cargo of the steps, you know, without your consent.”
• Orion' at a bargain ?” “ You can take none with it, Sir," was “ Can't say I do. But walk in, Capthe emphatic reply of the severe parent tain Grant, — walk in !” with a sort of annihilating look. “I ad- Captain Grant did walk in, though he mire your prudence and frankness, my said it was no use talking, if Chip didn't young friend; but, till you show yourself want the cotton. Chip saw instinctively, a merchant of my own sort, I beg you
in the sad, acid look of his visitor, that he will excuse me and my family from any was anxious to sell, and could be made to of the steps you contemplate. Good- take a despondent view of the market. morning, Sir,-good-morning !”
Taking him by the button, he said, rathThe showing-out was irresistible, leav- er patronizingly, ing nothing more to be said.
“ I know, Captain, you ship-owners Chip now resolved that he would double want to keep your ships at work at his diligence in making money, out of something besides storage. But look spite to the father, if not lovo for the there,” pointing to the bales of cotton daughter. The old fogy's wealth he would filling the immense floor; “multiply that have at any rate, and Millicent with it, pile by four and add the basements of if possible, as a sort of bonus. So, ob- two churches, and you see a reason why taining an interview with his fair intend- I should not buy above the level of the ed and intending, at the earliest moment, market. Now, taking that into considerwithout revealing a hint of his own dip- ation, what do you ask for your two hunlomatic blunder, he told her that her fa- dred and fifty bales in the • Orion ?'” ther had refused his consent to their un
“ Seven cents." ion because his fortune was not sufficient, “I know somebody who would feel and she must not expect to see him again rich, if he could sell at that,” returned till it was so, which he fancied would be Chip, with a queer grin. No, no, Capin a much shorter time than the old gen- tain Grant, that won't do at all. Prices tleman supposed.
are sinking. If I should buy at that figure, Chip had not long to wait for a chance every sign of margin would fade out in a to strike the first blow in carrying out his fortnight. I haven't five bales that have new resolution of fast trading. The day been bought at any such price." after his memorable rebuff, he was sit- It was true, he had not; for they had ting in the choky little counting-room of been bought at seven-and-a-half and a crammed commission-warehouse in In- eight.
"Well, I will say six-and-a-half at six- one of the short ones ayont the twal, and ty days, to you,” said the humiliated sleep reigned everywhere except in the Grant.
daily-newspaper-offices and in the most “ My dear Sir,” replied Chip, “ you fashionable of the grog-shops. Besides don't begin to tempt me.
I must burn Chip, the only living thing in Devonall my foreign correspondence and for- shire Street was a thinly-clad stripling, get the facts before I can begin to look with a little roll of yellowish tissue-paper at anything beyond six cents and ninety in his hand, knocking and shaking feebly days."
at a door which grimly refused to open. Ninety days won't do," said Mr. His powers of endurance were evidently Grant, tersely. “If we must sacrifice, giving way, and his grief had become it must be for something a bank will look both vocal and fluent in the channel of at, Mr. Dartmouth. But I want the ship his infant years. cleared, and if you will say six at two “ What's the matter, my boy?” asked months for the whole, it's a bargain, bad Chip,—" locked out, hey ?” as it is for me.”
No, — bo-hoo. No, Sir, the door's “ Not a bargain for me to be in a hur- blowed to and froze up, and I can't git ry about; but I'll think of it. Hold on
this pos'crip' up to the office.” till to-morrow. But, on the whole, you "Oh, oh! you're the telegraph-boy, needn't do that. It wouldn't be an ob
are you?” ject.”
Yes, Sir.” * But I will do
if you say so, till “ Most froz’n, aren't you ?' noon to-morrow."
0-00-00, that I be, Sir." “: Better say five-and-three-fourths and Here a very bright idea struck Chip, have it done to-day,” said Chip, " for I and he inquired, may not give that to-morrow. But if you " Is this all that's coming ?” hold on, and I buy anything at six, it “ Boo-hoo. Yes, Sir. They've sent shall be
good-night once before, and this is the Captain Grant, beginning to believe pos’crip'
. The wires is shut off now, and that he should, after all, sell a little above some of the papers is shut off, too; for the bottom of the market, took his leave I've been to three before this, and can't for bis home among the Waltham hills, git into nary one on 'em.” a little less grouty than when he entered. “ Never mind, my poor fellow; I be
That same night, Chip, after having long up here. I'll take the sheets and dropped in at numerous resorts of the send 'em round to all the other papers fast men, in most of which somewhat of
that are open. Never mind; you take his conscience, such as it was, dropped that, and go right home to your mothout, was proceeding homeward through Devonshire Street, with the brightest of “ Thank you, Sir," said the shivering his wits still about him. It was a raw Jad, and, giving up the yellow roll and night, one of the rawest ever got up by a taking the loose coppers offered him in belated equinoctial, with almost nothing the quickest possible time, he scampered stirring in the streets but the wind, and off around the corner of Water Street the loose shutters and old remnants of and left Chip in company with two tempsummer awnings left to its tender mer- tations. cies. Æolus, with these simple instru- “ Now,” thought Chip," it will be cerments of sound, added to the inany sharp tainly a clean and gentlemanly thing, if, corners of city architecture, managed to after having relieved this poor little devil get up something of a symphony, enough of his trouble and responsibility, I should almost to make up for the nocturnal oblige the still poorer devil of a concern cats, now retired to silence and the snug- up-stairs by giving 'em this poste ript of gest attainable quarters. The hour was foreign news, which, by working so late,
they will probably have exclusively. That as well as cheaper, to use the early train would be most truly honest, benevolent, than to hire a special team. and philanthropic. It would make at Arrived in Waltham, to his great resleast one newspaper my friend, and, on ation, it appeared, after much inquiry, the whole, it is something of a tempta- that Captain Grant lived full three miles tion. But let me see what it will cost." from the station,-and what was worse,
Giving the black door a vigorous push, every omnibus, back, buggy, and doghe entered, and by the gas-burner on the cart was engaged for a muster in one first landing discovered that the postcript direction or a cattle-show in another. in his possession gave the state of the Nothing on wheels could be hired at any Liverpool cotton-market a day later than price,—at least, none could be found in the body of the dispatch, which had al- an hour's search from one hotel or liveryready gone into type, and, what was more stable to another. Chip, whose sleepless to the purpose, announced a rise of a night and meditated fraud had not left penny-and-a-half on the pound. Chip much of the saint in him, swore the whole clutched the gauzy sheets in his fist, of Waltham as deep as grimmest view closed the door as softly as possible, and of predestination would allow. And he yielded himself a doomed captive to temp- restrained himself from being still more tation number two. Here was a little profane only lest his wrath should awak. fortune on the cotton he had in store at en inconvenient suspicions. After all, any rate, and, if he really had in his grasp
there was one old tavern a little way out, all the news of the rise, he might make where possibly a one-horse affair could by it a plump ten thousand dollars out be raised. The Birch House was a sort of Captain Grant's “ Orion.”
of seedy, dried-up, quiet, out-of-the-way this end he must be sure that not a lisp inn, whose sign-post stood forth like a of the rise would be published in the
window without sash, the rectangular ligmorning papers, and he must see Cap- neous picture of a man driving cattle to tain Grant and close his bargain for the Brighton having long ago been blown “ Orion's” cargo before the wires should out of its lofty setting and split to pieces begin to furnish additional news by the by the fall. What was the use of replac“ Africa” to the evening papers. They
ing it? No one was likely to call, who would not, after obtaining such news, lose did not already know that the Widow a moment in parading it on their bulletin- Birch still kept tavern there, and just boards, and Captain Grant might get hold how she kept it. It was doubtful if a new of it before reaching the little counting- sign would attract a single new customer. room in India Street. Chip, of course, Indeed, since the advent of railroads, a saw what to do, and did it. Waiting in customer was not a common occurrence one of the little “meals-at-all-hours" any way, though there still remained a loons till he heard the churning of the few that could be depended on, like the press-engines, he sallied out and bought Canada geese, in their season, and their of the overloaded carriers the earliest custom was handsomely profitable. The copies of the morning papers, and made house, a white wooden one, with greenish himself sure that the foreign news did blinds, had two low stories, the first of not disclose any change of the cotton- which was nearly level with the ground. market. The next thing was to transfer There was a broad, low entry running himself to Captain Grant's residence in through the middle, and on either side Waltham,-exactly whereabout in Wal- two rather spacious square rooms. One tham he did not know, but, of course, he of those in front had a well-sanded, wellcould easily find out,-and, without excit- worn pine floor, with a very thirsty-looking the grouty old salt's suspicions of false ing counter across one corner, supportplay, make sure of the cotton at his own ing a sort of palisadle that appeared to price. On the whole, he thought it safer, fortify nothing at all,-a place, however,
which had evidently been moist enough “But you didn't tell me to fry them in the olden times. In the other front now, mother,” said Laura. room was a neat carpet, plain, old-fash- “ But I told you to fix 'em all ready to ioned furniture, and a delightful little fry.” plantation of fresh and cozy flower-pots, Well, mother,” replied Laura, “ I'll surrounding a vase full of gold-fishes, come as soon as these things are set to and overhung by a bright-eyed, mellow- rights. It won't do to leave them just throated canary, the whole of that paradise being doubtless under the watch “ Well, it's always just so," said the and care of little Laura Birch. This maternal Birch. “I must do myself, was the ladies' parlor,—the grand recep- I see. Don't be all day, Laury, - now tion-room, also, of any genteel male guest, don't !” should one for a wonder appear. Little She disappeared, muttering something Laura, however, was no longer as little about “them plaguy flower-pots.” as she had been,—though just as innocent, In point of fact, Chip Dartmouth was and ten times as bewitching to most peo- all this while in the aforesaid dry barple who knew her. You could not but room, engaged in an earnest colloquy particularly wish her well, the moment with Frank Birch, a grown-up son of the her glad, hopeful, playful, confiding, half- landlady, a youth just entered on the inroguish eye met yours. With the most dependent platform of twenty-one, Laura conscientious resolution to make herself being three years younger. Chip had useful, under her mother's thrifty admin- arrived rather out of breath and excited, istration, in the long, clean New Eng. having got decidedly ahead of the amenland kitchen which stretched away be- ities that would have been particularly hind the square dining-room, interposed expedient under the circumstances. Apbetween it and the dry bar-room, she had proaching a door of the bar-room, which a taste for books and a passion for flow- opened near its corner towards the barn, ers, which absorbed most of her thoughts, and which stood open at the time, he and gained her more chidings from her descried Frank within busily engaged mother for their untimely manifestations mending harness. than her handiest services gained thanks “ Hallo! young man, I say, hurry up or any signs of grateful recognition. She that job, for I've no time to lose.” and the flowers, including the bird and “ Well, I'm glad on't," retorted Frank, the fishes, seemed to belong to the same hardly looking up from his work, “ for I sisterhood. She had copied their fashion ha'n't." of dress and behavior, rather than the “ Look here !” said Chip, entering, Parisian or any imported style,—and so " you're the man I've been looking for. her art, being all learned from Nature, I must have a ride to Captain Grant's, was quite natural. On the very morn- straight off, at your own price.” ing in question, she was engaged in giv- “ Maybe you must, but I'm goin' to the ing this little conservatory the benefit of Concord cattle-show, and Captain Grant's her thorough skill and affectionate re- is four miles out of the way. I can't think gard, when good Dame Birch broke in of goin' round, for I shall be too late, any upon her with,
way.” Why, Laury, what are you thinking “ Never mind that, my young friend, about? It's always just so. Here is a if you 'r 'n such a hurry, put on the gentleman in the bar-room, and he's a'- string and look to me for the damage.” most sure to order breakfast, and them Maybe you can't pay it,” replied cels isn't touched, and not a thing ready Frank, looking rather scornful. but cold victuals and pie. Them eels “ The Devil !” exclaimed Chip, would be so nice and genteel! and you all the Waltham people born idiots ?” know they won't keep."
"No! some of 'em are born govern
ors,” said Frank, “and Boston people Frank. “You may go to thunder with may find it out one of these days." the whole of 'em! I tell you I've set my On this, Landlady Birch intervened, foot down, and I won't take it
up taking the bar-room in her way from the own mother,-and I'm sure I won't for parlor to the kitchen.
anything that ever was or will be under " What is that you say, Frank? The gentleman can have as good a breakfast With this, he jerked up the harness and here as he can have anywhere out of went off to the barn, with an air that conBoston, I'm sure, though I say it myself. vinced Chip that the controversy between We don't have so many to cook for, and mother and son was not likely to be deso, perhaps, we take a little more pains, cided in his favor at a sufficiently early Sir,- ha! ha!”
hour to answer his purpose. But where And with that good Mrs. Birch put else should he go, or what else should he on a graciousness of smile worthy of the do? As he was a little more inclined most experienced female Boniface in An- now to bet on calmness than on passion, glo-Saxondom.
he decided to take a seat in the parlor, “ The gentleman don't want any break- and keep it, at least, till he could dispose fast, mother; he only wants a ride round of his present doubt. Easily might be to Captain Grant's, and he ha'n't got the have measured three miles over the Walmanners to ask for it, like a gentleman;- tham hills, in the bracing morning-air, he must have it. I say he mus'n't in my with his own locomotive apparatus, while buggy, for I a'n't goin' that way.” he had been looking in vain for artificial
Why, son, the gentleman of course conveyance. But if that plan had ocexpects to pay for it.”
curred to him at all at first, it would have “ Yes, Madam,” said Chip, “I am will- been dismissed with contempt as unbusiing and expect to bleed freely."
nesslike. He must not, by any possibilFrank. “ Well, I should like to know ity, appear to Captain Grant to be so what you mean by that? I don't want madly anxious to close the bargain. He your blood, or that of any other Boston did a little regret neglecting the service squirt."
of his own proper pegs, but it was now Mrs. Birch (to Chip, after a reprov- entirely too late to walk, and he must ing glance at Frank). “ I think we can ride, and at a good pace, too, or lose the accommodate you, Sir. The buggy is entire benefit of the news which the lightat the blacksmith's, and will be done in ning had so singularly confided to his half-an-hour. If you want, you can have honest hands. The feeling with which breakfast while you are waiting; and you he flung himself into that quiet, little, will find a comfortable fire in the parlor economical parlor was, probably, even to sit by, at any rate.”
more desperate than Richard's, when he With this, Mrs. Birch made her exit, offered his kingdom for a horse. It was, to hurry matters on the cook-stove. in fact, just the feeling, of all others in
“There! that's her, all over!” grumbled the world, to prevent a man's getting a Frank. “ If she can sell a meal of victuals, horse. Had he carried it into a pasture she don't care what becomes of me. But full of horses, it would have prevented I'll let her know the mare's mine, and the him from catching the tamest of them. buggy's mine, all but the harness; and I But the good intluences of the Universe, tell you, Sir, I'll see the mare drowned in that encourage and strengthen the noble Charles River and the buggy split into martyrs of truth and workers of good in kindling-wood, before you shall have a their arduous labors, do sometimes also ride to Captain Grant's this day.” help on villains to their bad ends. Nev
“ But here's a five-dollar-bill," quoth er were troubled waters more quickly Chip, displaying a small handful of bank- smoothed with oil, never were the poles notes.
of a magnet more quickly reversed, than