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NOW-A-DAYS. Well! certainly ours is a wonderful age, And its record, when writ, will be no common page: Almost vanquish'd is distance by land and by sea You may keep an engagement in London to tea; Or call on a cousin in Canada West, And return while the season is yet at its best; You may run up the Nile in a short month's vacation, Or visit the shores of each old classic nation, Or take Palestine's thrice-hallow'd coasts in your way, And have time at Jerusalem to make a short stay! The Antipodes now are well-nigh within hail, And a journey to India's no marvellous tale! A rebellion springs up in our empire of Ind, And Layard, unseated, soon makes up his mind His leisure to use, and enliven his lot, By searching the matter right out on the spot! While our troops sudden pour over desert and main, Like eager Crusaders bound eastward again! No longer our cock-boats are toss'd on the tide But miniature towns on its vast bosom ride, Conveying their thousands o'er wide miles of sea, With such comfort and ease as at home scarce may be; While that monster of monsters nigh puzzled them all, Asleep on her cradles just down by Millwall The orator's words of weird eloquence fall 'Mid the congregate wisdom of Westminster Hall; But, while yet hard discussing stiff matters of state, Or plunged head and ears in some tangled debate, The close-letter'd pages are off and away To city and hamlet, ere breaks the young day: And hard-plodding burghers, and men of the quill, Of cabal' and of party,' are taking their fillDividing the time 'twixt the sheet and the 'rolls,' Till the summoning work-day hour rapidly tolls. · All this is the work of our good servant steam Surpassing the stretch of old Poesy's dream! But what shall we say of the Telegraph wire, Whose swift-fleeting pinions no distance can tire, Which flashes our words, while we rest quiet at home, From London to Moscow, from Marseilles to Rome; Which, alike o'er the desert, or under the wave, Bears its message of wonder, to kill or to save; Which, speeding on wings, not less viewless than thought, Speaks the word, quick and sure, that proud Science bath taught; The heart, rack'd to breaking, relieves of its cares, And teaches the merchant the worth of his wares; Thrills from nation to nation the wants of mankind, And leaves the wild wind lagging breathless behind ? The wild-rushing courier, and swift-dashing train, Are nought to the speed of this mystical chain, The weathercock whirl of the changes on 'Change Are instant divulged o'er the wide kingdom's range. The swindler astute doesn't think it quite 'fun, When he finds, after all his smart doings, he's done; He doesn't just welcome with satisfied pride His kind friends at the end of his snug railway ride! As for 'News of the World'-why, it fies through the air, And knocks the poor sparrows quite stupid with fear !
In the hurry, sometimes, its own brain it gets muddled,
May carry them right to the shores of the moon!
M. G. M.
a biscuit or a piece of toast; she can bring both, and I will eat whichever looks most
tempting: it is a dreadful thing not to have Mr Stanwood was a broken merchant; any appetite." prosperous and influential once, but now for- So it is, love; but I am glad you are not gatten upon 'Change. His wife was a con- hungry now, because-probably you rememfirmed invalid; and Ollie, the third and last ber what day this is ?' member of his small family, was an elderly How should I? all the days are alike to woman who had served them in better days, Yet Mrs Stanwood remembered very and dow acting as cook, chambermaid, nurse, well. and financier at once, had but one aim in life, 'It is the first of April, and Bessie is comto prop the falling glory of the Stanwoods. ing home to live; she left us for boarding.
Yet there were others who belonged to the school, you know, some time before our refamily, but, up to the time of our narrative, verse of fortune, and must remember her had taken little part in its discouragements home as it once was; the change will be a dis. and sorrows. Alas, it had no joys! Mrs appointment to the poor young thing.' And Stanwood remained in her darkened room Mr Stanwood's voice trembled. Many a time week after week; Mr Stanwood sat below, his heart yearned for the absent child who in his easy-chair with the torn damask cover, was suffering banishment on account of her and read books of romance and poetry week mother's nerves; and now he feared that the after week; and week after week in the unattractive home would estrange her from kitchen, poor old Ollie toiled like a giantess him even more than absence had done. to produce for them a suitable degree of com- Well, Charles, what do you expect of me?' fort with the scanty means at her command. asked Mrs Stanwood, in an injured tone. Hope, faith, and with them cheerfulness, had Let her come; we have done our best; I forsaken the household, when its wealth, and have sold my jewellery to pay the last school luxury, and troops of friends had departed. bills; what can she ask more?'
Let to-day be no worse than yesterday, Of course I expect nothing, but was the only prayer of those discouraged Then please go and see about my breaksouls; they never thought of improving mat- fast. Ah! suffering is hard enough without ters, and making to-day better than yester- neglect.' day. Change they dreaded, and trembled But do you not think we might have a before the very sound; for in their memory fire in the parlour, and have the piano tuned; it was wholly associated with loss.
and that you could feel well enough to be But a change was impending: Mr Stan down-stairs when Bessie arrives, and welcome wood thought of it among his books, and her?' Mrs Stanwood among her pillows, and Ollie 'I, in that cold room, not heated before among her accounts; all shrank from men- this winter?' Mrs Stanwood gained her tioning what they felt sure would bring new voice from very indignation. 'No, Charles, trial and sorrow; yet the matter must be dis- we cannot afford so many fires; and as for cussed, and one morning Mr Stanwood, sum- the piano, I broke it purposely; there is no moning his energies, entered his wife's room, need of establishing dangerous precedents firmly resolved to break the disagreeable in the beginning; and to hear piano music subject.
with my poor nerves would be distressing. Groping his way through the dark, close Bessie may as well understand at once that room, he began with his usual inquiry, she must yield a few of her own wishes to How do you feel this morning, my dear? others' necessities.' Any more comfortable?'
Mr Stanwood did not often work himself "Oh no,' in a feeble voice. 'I have had a into sufficient courage for maintaining any little less neuralgia, but I am so weak, and point, and knowing his own weakness, reache so with lying here. I thought no one solved to make the most of the present opwould ever come: it is half-an-hour past the portunity. . 'You are aware, my love, that time for taking my drops.' And she whined Bessie has lived in utter estrangement from through a long list of aches, and fears, and us; that she has been deprived of those sweet wishes; while Mr Stanwood, seeking vainly home influences, and all those manifestations for the phial which contained his wife's po- of parental love, which make the charm of tion, began opening a window-shutter, and childhood. You have not felt able to correcheerily streamed in the morning sun. spond with her, and it is hard for a man to
My dear husband, are you crazy? you write letters which interest a child, and hard blind me, with this raging headache, too! for a child to maintain much interest in pray, pray shut out that dreadful light.' strangers; truly, I cannot see that we have Then I cannot find your drops.
the smallest claim upon the poor girl's love.' 'Well, let them go; oh dear! I am not 'We have claims upon her duty; often, sure they do me any good. Did Ollie speak during her infancy and childhood, I have to you of my breakfast?'
comforted myself with the thought that she She did not; what will you have?' would grow up to repay all my anxiety and
'Not much of anything. I have no appe- care; and some time I inight lean upon her, tite; ask her to cook up something that I as she leaned upon me then: the time has will relish, and to be sure my coffee is strong, and to have it rich with cream, and ask her Completely vanquisbed, Mr Stanwood went if she has not some calf's-foot-jelly; that may back to his easy-chair just in time to meet possibly cool my mouth. That's all, except | Ollie with her breakfast waiter, which, for
the first time, seemed to him somewhat piness all went together. I do not complain; crowded for an invalid's fare; and opening his and you must learn, like your father and mybook, he wondered if Bessie must content self, to submit to the dispensations of Proherself with such unsavoury meals as his own vidence.' invariably were; and if she would be very 'You surprise me; but if we are so poor, much dismayed at first sight of her home; how does it happen that we still live in so fine and if she could possibly love him, and care a house?' for him, and comfort his old age.
'Your father's failure was the result of no mismanagement or speculation, but of losses
at sea; and his creditors were so pleased with 'Where are they? Where's somebody? the honourable manner in which he yielded Mother! Ollie ? Where's the parlour? Can everything to their demands, that they prethis be the house?'
sented me with the house in which we lived. 'Bessie! dear child! the same bright curls I hope to remain here until a release comes and ringing voice that made our home bright from my suffering.' when you were a child.'
Then you expect better things?' Then you are my father; I thought so! 'Yes, Bessie; I expect to die." and I am home, and you are glad to see me? 'Oh, mother, not yet! not for years and But where's mother? And why did you not years! Wait and see what I can do with our come to meet me?'
home; see how, before long, I will have I hardly thought of it; forgive me, we are everything fresh and bright; and how comnot used to arrivals. Your mother is up- pletely I willcure you, and have your beautistairs, sick.'
ful face for the best ornament in my parlour. 'Sick! and you did not send for me?' My parlour, niy home, mother, father-you 'Sheis always sick, my child; you will have cannot guess what blessed words they are to plenty of nursing.'.
me; how I have longed to say them, and "Oh! may I take care of her? I was have envied the poorest beggar that spoke of afraid the house would be full of servants, parents and a home.' and that I must sit up primly and be a lady.
We must talk about those plans of yours, Shall I go up-stairs now? Yes-do not wait Bessie; I hate change, so does your father; to ask-I will surprise her.' And she flew | if you spoil aught, there are no means of reto her mother's room.
placing it, so do not attempt any experiments 'Dear, dear, blessed mother, my own mo- yet. Pour out my drops now, love; and give ther, I'm so glad to get back to you!' and me that tart to remove the taste from my every word was sealed with twenty kisses. mouth; there, close to the shutter, hang up
Mrs Stanwood sneezed. 'How do you do, the green shawl against the crevice; then go Bessie? I'm glad you have come; we need down-stairs, and I will try to sleep. you enough-there, that will do;' she sneezed again. Stand farther off, love; you must learn to be considerate. I am an invalid, you 'Why, Ollie, you dear soul! I had almost know, and your cold damp garments might forgotten you. Here, don't wait to wipe your give me my death.
hands, let me give you a kiss, as I used when Dear mother, it is the sunniest April day you put me to bed years ago, You have you ever knew, and I waited long enough grown old, Ollie.' below, talking with papa, to drive all the *Well I might, miss, with all the care, and chills away, I should think; but you are sen- trouble, and sickness, and poverty, and sitive. Do let me open the shutter and see 'I would not talk about such things; you how you look.'
will grow young again, now I have come homo Equally curious to mark what changes to make everything go smoothly and look time had made in her child's appearance, Mrs bright. How do I look, Ollie? Are you Stanwood nerved herself to bear the intole- disappointed in me? and do you suppose morable light, and Bessie prattled on.
ther was? for she didn't seem so very glad 'Why, you're a perfect beauty? What a as I thought perhaps she would be, though shame to be shut up in this dark room all the she was kind, and said something about being time. No, I shall not wholly close the shut- pleased upon my return.' ter; for one does not gain a mother every day, You have not changed, Miss Bessie, in and I want to realise your existence, as I can one thing; you always did rattle off a string only do by having you before my eyes. What of questions, and give no one a chance to rea nice, kind gentleman father is; but I did ply. How do you look ?-like an angel, in not expect to find him so old: perhaps he this poor, old, faded room.' worries about you; how long have you been 'Do not slander my home, Ollie, or I shall sick, mother?'
have to change domestics; though I daresay 'For more than seven years.'
you have been toiling for about nothing ever And this is why everything looks so dis- since my father failed. Tell me now exactly mally down-stairs; such funny, old, faded how you manage, and how poor we really furniture and carpets, and such dusty curtains and ragged chairs you never saw, or It would break your heart, Miss Bessie; dreamed of except in a novel; the elegant, I'd rather not.' great rooms make these things look more com- 'You do not know what a stout little heart fortless. I will soon bring about a change.' I have; so speak the worst. What do you
My poor child, your father is a bankrupt; think, Ollie some mischievous boy has our property, our friends, our hopes, our hapo nailed a dressmaker's sign upon our side