網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

:

a

Margaret sat down again. Dr. Channing was leaning back in the chair, his hands in a listless attitude, and his eyes closed. She gently touched one of the hands. It was burning with fever.

Papa ! I fear indeed you have taken cold. Let me send for Mr. Williams."

“ Now there you go, Margaret, jumping to extremes,” was the peevish rejoinder. “What do I want with a doctor? If I take some gruel and go to bed early, I shall be all right in the morning."

Dr. Channing was not "all right” in the morning. He was worse, and unable to rise. His daughter, without asking this time, sent for Mr. Williams. Before two days had elapsed Mr. Williams brought a physician: and the physician brought another. Dr. Channing was in imminent danger.

Margaret scarcely left his bedside. Though she would not allow herself to fear, Hope was strong within her. It proved to be a delusive hope. In little more than a week, Dr. Channing was dead. And had died without a last farewell, for since the third day of his illness he had not recognised even Margaret.

Margaret had borne up bravely, but now she was utterly cast down, more so than many of a weaker mind have been. It was so sudden! A fortnight, nay, ten days ago, he was full of health and life, and now stretched there! Her senses could scarcely grasp the appalling fact that

! it was a reality.

She had no near relatives to turn to for comfort in her sorrow. Plenty of acquaintance ; plenty of carriages driving to the door and ceremonious cards and condolences; but these are no solace to the stricken heart. In one respect it was well for Margaret that she was alone. Had there been any one to act for her, she would have lain down unresistingly to give way to her grief: as it was, she was compelled to be up and doing: There were so many things to be thought of, so many orders to give.

The funeral must be settled, and Margaret must see the undertaker. She was inexperienced in these matters, but thought, in her honour and affection for the dead, that she could not give orders for a too sumptuous procession. It is a very common mistake. The same day she had arranged this, but later, a card was brought up to Margaret. She recognised it as being that of her father's solicitor, to whom it had not occurred to her, in her ble, to write. But he had heard of the death, and came unsought for. He was nearly a stranger to Margaret : she remembered meeting him once or twice at Mrs. Grainger's, two years before.

He inquired what use he could be of, and they proceeded to speak about the funeral. Margaret was mentioning the directions she had given, when he interrupted her, speaking impulsively.

"My dear Miss Channing, have you considered the enormous expense of such a funeral ?"

Margaret looked at him; almost scornfully; and her voice, in its emphasis, savoured of indignation. “No, sir. I have not taken expense into

my consideration.” “ But-pardon me-are you sure that you are justified in thus incurring such an outlay of money?"

Her spirits were broken with sorrow, and she burst into tears. did not think there was any one cruel enough to suggest that mercenary

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Then, my

money to

motives should influence me, when performing the last offices to my dead father.”

Mr. Padmore fidgeted on his chair. 6 You are mistaking me, Miss Channing. But I scarcely like, at the present moment, to speak out plainly.'

Pray, say anything you wish,” was Margaret's reply. “Plain speaking is best always; and certainly more consonant to an hour like this.”

dear
young lady, what I meant to ask

was,
whether

you are sure you will have the

pay

for it?” “ What?" uttered Margaret.

“I fear that Dr. Channing has not died rich. Not, indeed, in easy circumstances."

Margaret thought the lawyer must be dreaming. Dr. Channing not in easy circumstances, when their house was so full of luxury !

But it was that very luxury which had assisted to impoverish Dr. Channing, Mr. Padmore said, when explanations were entered on. Ever since he had resided in town, his rate of living had far exceeded his income, neither had he been quite a free man previously. He had borrowed money at different times, which was yet unpaid.

Margaret's heart sank within her as she listened. A hasty thought occurred to her. “ There is the insurance money! Papa had insured his life.”

“My dear, yes. But there are debts."

She dropped her head upon her hand. It was a startling communication.

“I did not know that you were wholly unacquainted with these facts," he continued. “I hope you will not feel that I have spoken unkindly in alluding to them.”

I thank

you;

it was right to let me hear this. But allow me, Mr. Padmore," she added, with sudden energy—"allow me to know all my position ; do not hide anything. Am I to understand that my dear father leaves no money behind him ? None ?”

“I cannot tell that, yet. If any, it will be very trifling. Nothing like-I am grieved to say it—nothing like a provision for you.”

“Oh, I do not think of myself,” she muttered, in a pained, anguished tone, “I am thinking what a weight all this must have been upon his mind." “ Therefore will it not be well to countermand the orders

you

have given, and have a more simple one? I think of you when I suggest this, Miss Channing."

“ It will be well,” she replied. 66 I will do so without loss of time. It would be very wrong to incur an expense which I may not be able to pay. And after all,” she added, giving way to an uncontrollable flood of sorrow, “ whether the funeral be grand or simple, what can it matter to my dearest father?”

Dr. Channing's affairs turned out to be as Mr. Padmore said. There would be sufficient to pay the debts, and but a very small surplus over it-about a hundred and sixty or seventy pounds, it was computed. The furniture was disposed of advantageously, standing as it was, to the parties who bad taken the house off Margaret's hands, and the carriage and horses were sold at a friendly auction.

[ocr errors]

No, no;

[ocr errors]

a

a

a

[ocr errors]

It was the night before Margaret Channing was to quit her home. She had remained in it till the last, superintending and arranging. The books and the plate she had only that day sent away to the place where they were to be sold; and she had packed up her own clothes and effects, ready to be removed with her on the morrow. Altogether she was very tired, and sat down on a low chair before the fire, her head aching. How miserably the new year had come in for her! What would the next bring her, twelve months hence ?

She sat looking into the fire-her old habit-tracing out events in her imagination. Friends, but not many, had pressed invitations upon her at the time of Dr. Channing's death" Come and stay a week with us ;" or “a few days,” or “a month," as the case might be. But Margaret said “No” to all

. She deemed it best to have no deceitful procrastinations, but to grapple at once with her position. She had done so, and decided

upon

her plans. She was well-educated and accomplished, and she resolved to go out as governess. Not to one of those wretched situations, so much cried down, of half-servant, half-teacher-Margaret would not have deigned to remain a day in such—but to a desirable appointment in a desirable family, where she would be highly considered and properly remunerated. There would be little difficulty in finding this for the daughter of Dr. Channing. As she sat there, a remembrance came over her of Captain Hoare, of the position she had once thought to occupy as his wife : how different that romance from this reality! But not half so much did she shrink from this remembrance as she did at the next-her wicked conduct to Mr. Grainger. She had thrown away

the dearly-coveted hope of being his wife ; thrown it away for a chimera which had failed her. Oh! to compare what she might have been with what she was ! with her isolated situation, her expected life of labour! Next, her thoughts wandered to her father; and tears came on, and she cried long and bitterly.

A servant, the only one she had retained in the house, came in and aroused her. “A gentleman has called, ma'am,” she said, “and wants to know if he can see you.

Here's his card.” Margaret held it to the fire, and strained her dim eyes over it. “Mr.

. Grainger.” What can he want ? she mentally exclaimed. It must be something about the insurance. “Show the gentleman in here, Mary; and light the lamps."

He shook hands with her as he entered, with more of sympathy and tenderness of manner than he might have done, had he not detected the change in her—the once blooming Margaret Channing. Her tearful cheek was wan and pale, and her frame much thinner than formerly; unless the deep black of her mourning attire deceived him.

"I beg you to excuse this interruption,” he began, when the maid had quitted the room ; “I am here at the desire of my mother. She thinks there has been some mistake—that you did not receive the note she wrote

last week.” “I have not received any note from Mrs. Grainger," replied Margaret, pressing her hand upon her side, for her heart was wildly beating at the presence of one whom she still fondly loved, except one she kindly wrote me when

died.” “ Not that ; you replied to that, I believe ; this one was written on Thursday or Friday last. Its purport, Miss Channing, was to beg the

papa

to you

me.

.

you would,

favour of your spending a little time with her when you leave here. I”

- he hastened to add "am no longer living at home. My mother is alone."

The tears rushed into Margaret's eyes. “ Every one is so very kind,” she said. “I am much indebted to Mrs. Grainger for thinking of me ; but I must decline. Though I will certainly go down and personally thank her. She is no longer able to move out of doors, I believe."

“ Not now; not for several months past. She wished me to inquire your plans : though I know not whether you may deem it an impertinepce.”

“No, no," answered Margaret, scarcely able to prevent the tears falling, so miserably did old recollections, combined with present low spirits, tell upon her that evening. “I feel obliged by Mrs. Grainger's kind interest. I am going to-morrow to Mr. Padmore's for a week or two; he and Mrs. Padmore would have it so. By the end of that time I hope to have found a permanent home. Friends are already looking out for

I must turn my abilities to account now.” “But it is not well that you should do so," he rejoined, with some agitation of manner—“it is not right for Dr. Channing's daughter. We heard of your determination from Mr. Padmore, and it grieved and vexed my mother. She would be so delighted, Miss Channing, if at any rate for the present, make your home with her.”

Margaret did not answer. She was struggling to suppress her rebellious feelings.

“ If you would but put up with her ailments, she says, and be free and gay as in your own home, she would be more happy than she has been since the death of Isabel. Allow me to urge the petition also, Miss Channing.”

Margaret shook her head, but the tears dropped forth uncontrolled, and she covered her face with her hands. Mr. Grainger advanced ; he

.
drew her hands away; he bent over her with a whisper.
“ Margaret! I would rather urge one of my own.

That
you

would -after awhile—to my

home." She rose up shaking. What did he mean? “Has the proper time come for me to ask you once again to be my wife? Oh! let me hope it has ! Margaret, dearest Margaret, it was in this room you rejected me; let it be in this room that you will atone for it.”

“I can never atone for it,” she replied, with a burst of anguish. “Do . not waste words upon me, Mr. Grainger, I am not worth it."

“ You can atone for it, Margaret. You can let my home, my name your name ; you can join with me in forgetting this long estrangement, and promise to be my dearest wife. I will accept all that as your atonement.”

“But I do not deserve this,” she sobbed. “I deserve only your contempt and hatred.”

“Hush, hush, Margaret! You shall take my love instead—if you will treasure, now, what you once flung away."

“ Indeed I do not deserve it,” she murmured; "it is too great reward for me."

“ Is it ?” he answered, as he wound his arms round her. 6 It shall be yours, Margaret, for ever nd for ever."

come

a

[ocr errors]

home be your

[ocr errors]

RECENT DISCOVERIES IN THE HOLY LAND.*

a

Ir is one of the greatest pleasures derived from the pursuit of knowledge that its acquisition leads on to further inquiries. The preparation of the former Biblical Researches in Palestine, combined with the results of personal observation, awakened in Dr. Robinson's mind a more lively sense than he had ever felt before of the deficiencies yet remaining in our knowledge of the historical geography of the Holy Land. The account of a second exploratory journey possesses, then, all the interest of being the determination of questions which arose from continued investigation of the subject, and yet which could only be solved by personal inquiry on the spot. Combined with the researches that preceded them, they constitute a mass of material, which the author proposes to himself to embody in a systematic work on the physical and historical geography of the Holy Land. It is not a slight reproach to the learning and enterprise of the Church of England, that it has never attempted anything so complete or so comprehensive as has now been effected by an industrious divine of the New World. Not that all that ever can be done to illustrate Biblical geography has been accomplished—such an exploration cannot be regarded as within the power and opportunities of any single individual. To cultivate aright the particular field of historical topography would require a residence of several years, and a visit to every town and village, to every mountain and valley, to every trace of antiquity and ruin. It is only within very recent times that the decipherment of cuneatic legends has thrown a new light upon primeval sites in Babylonia, Chaldea, and Assyria. Much, very much, remains to be done in those countries, and in the long valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris, as well as in Palestine. The exploration of the numerous tells of North Syria would afford possibly unanticipated treasures to the Biblical, as well as to the general archæologist. Archæological investigation, which a few years ago was based upon the simple identification of names, distances, traditions, or a few Greek inscriptions and other monuments, may, even now that it has been developed by excavations and philological research, be considered in its infancy. So much remains to be done, so many mounds of ruin still exist to be explored. The indifference of the British public to researches of this kind is a discouraging sign of the times. The Palestine Archæological Association, especially founded for the purpose of carrying out such explorations in the Holy Land, numbers its few hundred subscribers, while controversial theology counts thousands in its ranks. As in the days of Hooper, Cranmer, and Ridley, the question of vestments and altars excites the deepest interest, where the determination of the localities of the most remarkable events in the Old Testament, and even of the sufferings of our Redeemer, fails to awaken aught but a momentary sympathy. It is evident that it is not so in the New World, and that the healthy tone of

a

a

* Later Biblical Researches in Palestine and the Adjacent Regions: a Journal of Travels in the Year 1852. By Edward Robinson, Eli Smith, and Others. Drawn up from the Original Diaries, with Historical Illustrations, by Edward Robinson, D.D., LL.D., Professor of Biblical Literature in the Union Theological Seminary, New York. London: John Murray.

Jan. --VOL, CIX. NO. CCCCXXXIII.

D

« 上一頁繼續 »