« 上一页继续 »
pretty difficult navigation it was too, among trap-doors, and boxes, and broken steps, and what not; and arter a while we enters a great onfarnished barn of a room alongside of the stage, and there was the players, and dancers, and singers, and ever so many actin' people. Well, it was a wonderful sight too ; p'raps in all my born days I never see anything to equal it. I never was so staggered. I don't think all my starin' put together, would come up to the great big endurin' stare I then gave. I was onfakilised, that's a fact. I stood for the whole blessed space of five minutes without movin' or speakin'. At last one of the dancin' galls came a-figerin' up to me a-hornpipin', and a-singin', and dropt me a low curtshee. — Well, my old rooster, said she, the next time you see me, I hope you will know me; where did you larn manners, starin' so like all possest. — Well, I warn't much used to town-bred galls, and it took me all aback that, and struck me up all of a heap, so I couldn't stir or speak.-Oh fie, Julia, said another, how can you! and then comin' up and tappin' me on the shoulder with her fan, to wake me up like, said she, — Pray, my good fellar, “Does your mother know you 're out? ” — The whole room burst out a-larfin' at me; but no, move or speak I couldn't, for I was spell-bound, I do believe. There I stood, as stiff as a frozen nigger, and all I could say to myself was, “ Heavens and airth!”.
At last another gall, the best and lightest dancer of them all, and one that I rather took a leetle fancy to on the stage, she was so uncommon spry and ac-tive, took a flyin' lep right into the middle of the room, and lit down on one foot; and then, balancin' herself as she did on the stage, with her hands, stretched the other foot away out ever so far behind her. Well, arter perchin' that way a minit or so, as a bird does on a sprig of a tree, she sprung agin, right forrard, and brought herself bolt upright on both feet jist afore me.-What will you give me, my young coon, said she, if I show you the way? - What way? said I, at last, a-scratchin' of my head, and a-plucking up spunk enough to find my tongue.--The way out, said she, for you seem as if you sorter lost your road when you came in here. I thought every one in the room would have gone into fits, they larfed so; they fairly screetched till they most loosen'd their teeth, all but her, and she looked as quiet as a baby.
Well done, Angelica, said the Major; what a wicked little devil you be! and he put his arm round her waist and kissed her; and then said he, waiter, half-a-dozen of iced champaigne here to pay for Mr. Slick's footin'; and if he and them galls didn't tuck in the wine in great style it's a pity, that's all. Well, a glass or two of liquor onloosed the hinges of my tongue, and sot me all right agin, and I jined in the joke and enjoyed the larf as well as the best of them ; for it won't do to get cross when fellers are running of their rigs; it only makes them wus.
Arter a while we left the theatre to go home, and as we progressed down street, says the Major to me, well, Slick, says he, how did you like them little angels, the dancin' galls? You seem as amazed as if you was jist born into the world, and looked rather struck with them, I thought, pitikilarly Angelica ; a neat little article that, ain't she? There's no nonsense about her; she is as straight as a shingle in her talk, right up and down, and no pretence. I guess she has put “ Sy Tupper's spermaceti ” quite out, hante she?-It puts all creation out, said I ; I never was so stumpt afore since I was raised from a seedlin'. Heavens and airth! only to think them nasty, tawdry, faded, yaller, jaded, painted drabs was the beautiful dancin' galls of the theatre ! and them old, forrerd, impudent heifers was the modest, graceful, elegant little cherubs that was on the stage an hour afore ; and then to think them nasty daubs was like Genesee Falls ! Lord ! I could paint them pictur' scenes better myself, with a nigger wench's house-mop, I could, I snore.--Exactly, says the Major; you have been“ behind the scenes," you see, Sam, and you have got a lesson not to trust to appearances altogether.-Rael life is one thing, and stage representation is another. The world “ behind the scenes,” and what is exhibited on the boord, is as different as day is from night. It tante all gold that glitters in this life, I can tell you. Jist so it is with “Sy Tupper's young spermaceti ;” for I see you want to spikilate in iles there.
When you double Cape Horn, as yer in hopes for to do,
There's a-plenty of sparm whale on the coast of Peru. What a life for a man, to be the wick of an ile lamp, ain't it? and have your wife snuffing you with her fingers. It's as bad as having your onquestionable ugly nose pulled.-Oh yes, take her by all means, only get “ behind the scenes ” first; you have only seed her yet of an evenin', and then she was actin' rigged out for a party, a-smilin' and a'doin' sweet and pretty, and a-wearin' of her company-face, and singin' like a canary-bird. But go into “ the green-room,” see her of a mornin', get a peep at a family scene, drop in on 'em of a sudden, onexpected like, and see the old cat and her kitten a-caterwaulin' and clapper-clawin' each other till they make the fur fly, and you will be jist as much dumfoundered as you was at the dancin' galls : you won't know her, that's a fact ; you 'll find that your beautiful “ spermaceti” has turned out nothin' but tallow, and damn bad tallow too. Such critturs run more nor half away to waste, and give more grease than light, by a long chalk. But come, said he, s'posin' you and me settle our little account, for short reckonings make long friends, as the sayin' is. First, there is your five-dollar bet; then six bottles of iced champaigne, at three dollars each, is eighteen dollars more ; and then two dollars for tickets, makes a total of twenty-five dollars; do you undercumstand ? Come into the iseter shop here, and plank the pewter, and I will go sheers with you for a supper of iseters. It's a considerable of a dear lesson that; but it's the best you ever got, I know.-Dear! said I, a countin' out of the money to him, I guess it is dear. If all my schoolin' in town-ways is to cost at that rate, I guess I'll have more larnin' than capital when I get thro' my trainin'. Twenty-five dollars for bein' made a fool on' for them dancin' galls to laugh at for two hours, what a pretty go that is, ain't it? I must say, I don't thank you a bit, Major ; it warn't pretty at all.—Who the devil axed you for thanks! said he; you have done better, you have paid for it, man, and boughten wit is always the best ; but you will thank one for it some o' these days, see if you don't. It's better to be made a fool on for two hours than for life. I have known a feller silly enough to marry a dancin' gall afore now; but then he'd never been “behind the scenes," as you have ; yes, it's a valuable lesson that. Your old fogey of a parson that you are always a-talkin' of, old Hop, Hope, something or other, may preach away to you till he is blind, but he can't larn you anything equal to that. It's a lesson from life, and a lesson from life is worth a hundred sarmons. In everything a'most, Sam, in this
world, consider you are either deceived or liable to be deceived, and that you can't trust even the evidence of your own senses, unless you “ look behind the scenes.” But come, said he, preachin' is not my trade ; let us walk into half a bushel of these iseters; they are rael salts, they come from Nova Scotia, and better than any we have, or the British either; and we sot to and did justice to them, at least he did, you may depend. He walked 'em into him as a duck does a June bug. He could open, pepper, and swaller a dozen to my one, for somehow I never could get my knife into the jinte of one until arter half an hour's bunglin'- I hadn't got the knack. — You don't seem to like them, said he at last, a-drawin' breath and a-swallerin' a gill of pure whiskey ; p'raps you are too patriotic to eat Blue-nose's iseters, and perfer the free citizens of our own beds ? —No, said I, it tante that; I can't open them, they are so uncommon tight about the jaws. -Hem ! said he, I forgot that. You never seed an iseter, I do suppose, or a dancin' gall nother afore to-night. Do as I do, younker; this is the way, freeze down solid to it, square up to it, as if you was a-goin' to have an all out-door fight of it, and he slipped 'em out o' the shells into his mouth as fast as a man dealin' cards, until he fairly finished all we had. You don't drink, said he, now that's not wholesome; you ought to take enough of the neat liquor to make 'em float light on the stomach ; and he jist tipt off the balance of the whiskey without winkin'. Ah! said he, making a wry face, that's no go ; that last iseter was not good, it's upsot me a-most ; call for some more, and I'll be in agin in a minit; I must go into the air, for I feel dizzy.Well, I called for some more iseters and some more whiskey, and I sot and worked away at my leisure, and waited for him to come back and pay his share of the shot. Well, I waited and waited for ever so long, till I e'en aʼmost fell asleep, and still no Major. At last I began to get tired, so I knocks on the table with the handle of a knife for the nigger help. Snowball, says I, have you seen anything of the Major? where on airth is he? I'm waitin' for him to settle the bill.- Massa hab to wait den one berry long time, sar: de last iseter, sar, he always fix Major’s flint, sar, and make him cut his stick. You won't see him no more, sar, and he grinned from ear to ear like a chessy-cat. De bill is four dollar, massa, and a quarter-dollar for Snowball. — Hem! says I to myself, a nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse: I see it now, I'm bilked; so I paid it, and said no more on the subject. That was another “ peep behind the scenes," that “he who incurs jinte expenses should look to the honesty and solvency of his partners."
I didn't grudge the money for what I larned that night, altho' it came to a horrid sum, too-twenty-nine dollars and a quarter-for it's worth every cent of it, that's a fact. But what did touch me to the quick was this: he drew the wool over my eyes so about Desire Tupper, that I gin up a-going there, and then he cut in there and got the prize hisself-he did upon my soul ! All that talk about her temper was made out of whole cloth, and got up a-purpose, along with her nick-name of “Spermaceti,” to put me out of consait of her, and it answered the purpose most beautiful. Yes, he did me most properly all the way through the chapter ; but, p'raps, it will all turn out right in the long run, for I was too young then to marry, or to handle so much money, for light come is plaguy apt to turn out “light go;" but, at the time, I was most peskily ryled, I tell you; and if I had d-seed him while I was so oncommon wrathy, I do believe, in my soul, 1
should have tanned his jacket for him, so that he would have been a caution to behold. I am a good-nater'd man, and can bear spittin' on; but hang me if I can stand and have it rubbed in that way. I didn't know what to do when I got home, whether to tell the story or not; but I knew it would leake out, and thought my own varsion of it would be the best, so I jist ups and tells father all about it, from first to last.—He is a nasty, dirty, low-lived, mean feller, says father, and a disgrace to the commission, though one comfort is, he ain't a reglar, and never seed sarvice, and I dispise an officer that has never smelt powder. No man in the country but a veteran desarves the name of soldier, and them, it ain't no vanity to say, are the first troops in the univarse,—for the British have whipped all the world, and we whipped them.-Yes, he is a scoundrel, said the old man ; but still the information you got is worth havin'. It is a knowledge of the world, and that is invaluable; although, from what I've seed in the wars, I am most afeerd a man of the world ain't a man of much heart in a gineral way. Still the knowin' it is worth the larnin' it. Acquire it, Sam, if you can; but you mustn't pay too dear for it. Now the Major gin more for his wit than you. - Possible ? said I; why, how is that? Why, says father, he bought his at the expense of his character, and the leastest morsel of character in the world is worth more nor all that is to be larnt “ behind the scenes.”
Hay and corn.
Fruit and wine.
Ice and snow.
Given to us ev'ry year,
As they each in turn appear.
Spring and Summer, Autumn, Winter.
Reappearance of an unexpected customer ; together with what passed at a certain
interview. Day had pretty well broken as our hero trudged back homewards alone. It was one of those dull, leaden, misty, and chilly mornings, by no means calculated to raise the spirits of any one situated as was poor Colin.
Scarcely knowing what to do, he turned off at the top of Cheapside, walked into a well-known coffeehouse in the vicinity of the Post-office, and ordered breakfast. Two or three tables occupied the room, at which a few early risers were sitting quaffing coffee from cups that held half a pint each, and which, from their shape, might readily have been mistaken for so many half-pint pots of ale. Well-fingered books were scattered about, and magazines, fitted into temporary covers, lay in piles upon the broad chimneypiece. Shortly, the morning papers were brought in by a lad with a bundle of them under his arm, a circumstance productive of a momentary scramble on the part of those who were anxious to possess themselves of the intelligence of the day, before departing to their occupations. Colin's breakfast was introduced by a little active boy; and scarcely had our hero begun stirring the mysteriouslooking fluid before him with an old dingy pewter spoon, than he involuntarily started, as though he had received the shock of an overcharged battery. The spoon dropped from his hand, and his hand upon his coffee-cup, and upset it. He had heard the voice of Jerry Clink in another part of the room, savagely demanding more toast, and another pint of very hot coffee, as he had had enough cold water already !
Were voices from the dead in the habit of calling for hot coffee in early breakfast houses, Colin would have felt assured that he heard one on the present occasion ; since it appeared, if not absolutely impossible, at least the height of improbability, that the veritable Jerry Clink himself could be there in his own proper person. There, however, he assuredly was ; a fact which his grandson soon confirmed, when he peeped round a projecting corner, and beheld the man with whom he had recently had so fierce a struggle sitting in his wet clothes, and minus his coat, within a very short distance of him.
For reasons sufficiently obvious, Colin suffered him to take his meal, and afterwards his departure, without making his own presence known to him. Anxious, however, not wholly to lose sight of him again, as the liberation of Mr. Woodruff appeared to depend upon him, though in a manner yet unaccounted for, our hero quietly dodged him, until he observed him enter an old clothes shop in the Goswell road, from which, after a time, he again emerged with a coat on,-new to the present possessor, though old in the opinion of the gentleman whose shoulders it had last adorned.