Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 746, April 13,

CHAMBERS’S JOURNAL
OF
POPULAR
LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART.

CONTENTS

OTTOMAN GIPSIES.
Independent and savage, unrecognised by the people in whose midst he lives, and whose society and civilisation he has ever learnt to shun, the Ottoman gipsy—of whom there are some two hundred thousand souls—has neither political nor literary history of his own, and is at once the most brutal and degraded of all the wandering races. Religious because it suits his convenience to be so, submissive to law because he fears punishment, he leads a wild and wretched life, scarcely earning by his industry the wherewithal to satisfy even the most frugal demands of nature. Yet secure in his tent he defies the world, and hates with an undying enmity all strangers to his race. Can it then be wondered at that neither Christian nor Mussulman bears any great love for his unsociable neighbour, nor cares to enter into commercial relationship with him? Even those gipsies who have abandoned tents for fixed dwellings have but little ameliorated their condition, and are no less heartily despised on that account. Their superficial religion, their inclination to theft, their skill in deception, and their brutal debaucheries, cause them to be distrusted wherever they may chance to settle, and exclude them for ever from participation in the benefits of a more civilised state of society.

To deal firstly with the veritable wandering gipsy, who knows no settled home, whose tents dot the sunny landscapes of European Turkey, Roumania, and Asia Minor, who is here one day and there the next, the question arises, whither goeth he and whence cometh he? We shall see.

About the middle of April, sooner or later according to the season, he quits his winter’s residence, or gyshla as he terms it, and begins to roam the surrounding country. Some of his kind descend from the north of the Balkans and pass into Asia Minor; others mount where their brethren descended, only to return about the commencement of October; whilst some—and these, in our humble opinion, by far the most sensible—confine themselves, in their migrations, to one single province, where they know the wants of all and are known by all.

When cold and frost cut short their wanderings, and warn them to beat a retreat, they unfailingly return to their old quarters, where in the vicinity of some open spring they dream away the wintry hours, little molested by their Turkish neighbours. Sometimes they enliven the monotony of this season by a clandestine hunt, but it is more from a desire to rob with impunity than from any wish to nourish themselves on the game they thus slay.

With black shaggy hair, bronzed weather-beaten face, and dark brilliant eyes, the stalwart Mussulman gipsy is by far the best type of his race. He detests and distrusts all but the dwellers in tents. Although familiarised with village life, and often half frozen under his frail covering, he prefers to die beneath his well-patched canvas, to living restricted by the narrow walls and low ceiling of a chamber. Nothing ever seems to rouse the stolid indifference of one of this race. He lives and dies as a beast. The habits of his civilised neighbours, the garments of their women, the cleanliness of their homes and children, and their usually happy appearance, all have no effect whatever upon him. At night-time he retires to his tent to rest, and everything he has seen is forgotten or looked upon as an idle dream; and he works mechanically on from day to day, without the slightest desire to enter into the joyous stream of life with which he finds himself surrounded.

Some few of his kind are so poor as to be unable to purchase even a tent, and these are compelled to dwell as they best may in hollow tree-trunks or chasms in the rocks; whilst others, chiefly those of Bosnia, have wooden bark-covered cabins, which they remove from place to place, on unwieldy wagons, drawn by from ten to a dozen oxen at a time. Some work in iron, some are basket and sieve makers. They are often oppressed, and seldom if ever find defenders. Books and newspapers are quite unknown to them, and the commonest of domestic utensils find no place in their tiny tents.{226} About their origin they know little, though the prophet Job, they say, taught their ancestors the trade they now follow; and they have some slight suspicion that they formerly came from Persia to the country they at present occupy.

The Turks call them Tchinganés; whilst the term they know one another by is Rom, the title which binds the whole of the widely scattered nomad tribes together. Their language itself is styled Romany.

There is not the slightest allusion to a deity in any of their most ancient songs and legends, and they have no religious observances peculiar to themselves alone. They have but one festival, during which for three whole days they abandon themselves to feasting and merriment. The fatted lamb is slain by those who can afford it, the tent decorated with flowers, and passers-by freely invited to join their repast; all litigations and legal processes are temporarily adjourned, and their annual tax is then paid to the Turkish government. One branch of their race, the Zapari, are the most ferocious of their kind. They are to be found at the village fêtes and large fairs, whither they go to earn a few coins by the display of their dancing bears or performing monkeys. Some few of them are blacksmiths in winter. The Zapari are all Mussulmans; and from their ranks the Sublime Porte finds its supply of hangmen. They form quite a distinct class of themselves, being held in abhorrence even by their savage brethren. Outcasts of outcasts, they stop short of no crime, and are fitting companions for the much-talked-of Bashi-Bazouks or wild marauders of the late disastrous war.

But now to turn to the renegade or housed gipsy. Still retaining the inherent desire for liberty so common to his race, he avails himself of his dwelling as a shelter only by night, traversing the streets by day, tricked out in dirty gaudy clothing, or seated with wife and family just without the threshold of his hut, there frittering the precious hours away. His children, if sent to school at all, are only despatched there to be out of the way, and his home is as devoid of furniture and well-nigh as comfortless as the ragged tent of his more Esau-like brother. Little by little he forgets his old language, but not his vicious habits, and very often ends by intermarrying with some poor Greek family whose members are as lazy and apathetic as himself.

Their language—descended from the old Sanscrit—has besides giving the only real clue to their origin, also shed some rays over the dark period between the first emigration of the gipsies from India and their appearance in Europe. Originally the distinct mode of speech of a single and special border tribe of Northern India, it has, during the many wanderings of the race, appropriated words from nearly every country through which they passed; while on the other hand it lost many of its own words, and still more of its own inherent power and elegance; and much also of its resemblance to the mother tongue. These adopted foreign words, their relative number, and their more or less corrupted state, point plainly to the gipsies having passed from India first into Persia, to their having remained there a considerable time, and to their having wended their way to some Greek country, perhaps Asia Minor, and to their descent thence into their present European homes.

It is worthy of further remark, as proof of their Indian origin, that the speech of the English gipsies has been found on comparison most marvellously akin to that of the natives of Bombay, though some of their words have, strangely enough, entirely changed the meaning they at first possessed.

The speech of the Tchingané is rude, sharp, strongly accentuated, and somewhat difficult to comprehend. Properly spoken it is harmonious enough, though rendered hoarse and almost distasteful by the wild tribes who employ it. ‘We speak,’ say they themselves, ‘as the birds sing, but we sing as the lions roar!’ With them papa signifies an apple, cat scissors, rat night, Devel God, whilst dad seems to be the only word exactly synonymous with any in our own language.

Heroic in suffering, the true Ottoman gipsy never sheds a tear. On his legs to the last, he only betakes himself to his couch when death is too surely nigh, and departs without a murmur from the life that has been so full of unhappiness and misery to him. Buried apart from the rest of humanity, and unwept even by his own, his low moral nature is apt to be forgotten in his sad end, though the unsuccessful efforts of more than one philanthropical European Society testify to the fact, that whatever else you may do with the Ottoman gipsy, you will never succeed in even partially civilising him.

HELENA, LADY HARROGATE.
CHAPTER XX.—AS GOVERNESS.
The establishment at High Tor was by no means on so sumptuous a scale as that which the much larger revenues of Sir Sykes Denzil maintained at Carbery Chase. Indeed, while for a baronet Sir Sykes was rich, for an earl Lord Wolverhampton was almost poor. There are poorer earls than he, no doubt, dwelling in cheap watering-places or in outlying London squares, and exhibiting their pearl-studded coronets on no more pretentious equipage than a brougham. But for a man of his degree, and a De Vere withal, the Earl was not wealthy. It was much to his credit that he was popular in spite of the comparative slenderness of his annual rent-roll, since a poor lord, like an impoverished government, is apt to be regarded with a sort of unreasoning contempt by those who are very likely worse off, but in a less conspicuous station.

To be rich is, after all, a very uncertain distinction; that which is opulence to the Squire implying mere substantial comfort when it belongs to Sir{227} John, and but a moderate income when it has to meet the calls which charity, duty, and custom make on ‘my lord’s’ bank balance. Are there not nobles of princely rank who declare that they are stinted of pocket-money, of actual jingling sovereigns and rustling notes, by the prudent administrators of their vast nominal fortunes? And have we not heard of mighty financiers who feel a positive pang at any encroachment on the colossal capital on which is reared the fabric of a world-wide credit?

Lord Wolverhampton had been known to say more than once among his intimate friends, that a step in the peerage would to him prove a ruinous boon; and that to keep his head above water, difficult as an Earl, would be impossible were that honest head overweighted by the strawberry-leaved coronet of a Marquis. Such expensive promotion was, however, unlikely, for High Tor now sent forth no legislators to the more stirring of the Houses of Parliament. Some two years before, Lord Harrogate had been returned for a west-country borough, and had earned some praise and much good-will during the brief tenure of his seat. But the session came to a close, and with it the corporate life of the moribund House of Commons; and the Earl could not bring himself again to face the costly struggle of a contested election, even on behalf of a son so promising as his heir.

Thus the fine old house of High Tor, though lacking no adjuncts or appliances that should appertain to the mansion of a plain country gentleman who happened to have a handle to his name (such was the Earl’s favourite way of describing himself among those who knew him well, though it may be doubted whether any patrician in Europe cherished in secret a stronger sentiment of family pride), was not kept up with quite so ostentatious a lavishness as the neighbouring dwelling of Carbery, the red gables of which gleaming in the westering sun, never met Lord Wolverhampton’s eyes without suggesting the remembrance that it had been built and, till recently, owned by a De Vere.

There was space enough and to spare in the picturesque old mansion; and the chamber which had been assigned to Ethel Gray, and which had been formerly tenanted by that Miss Grainger whose desertion of her post as governess to try the experiment of wedded life we have heard the Countess deplore, and which was next to the great rambling school-room, commanded a noble prospect over hill and dale, over wood and water. From the ivy-framed windows, in clear weather, Dartmoor might be seen for miles and leagues, rolling away in giant waves of purple heather and gray and green; while here and there rose up defiantly the naked crags, known locally as Tors, frowning like natural fortresses on the invader of the wilderness.

Nearer, the two parks were visible, with all their wealth of huge old trees and matchless turf, browsed by hereditary deer, that couched contentedly amid the tall fern that had screened the antlered herds for centuries past, and the red roof and gleaming vanes of stately Carbery, and the peaceful waters of its ornamental lake, in which the silver-white swans that floated there were imaged back as from the polished surface of a mirror. It was a pretty room this, wherein Miss Grainger, its last occupant, had passed perhaps the happiest years of her governess-life; and now it had received a new tenant in the person of Ethel Gray. A new tenant, but for how long? That was a question which Ethel asked herself, without being able to give a satisfactory answer to her own query. The school-house of High Tor, with the modest dwelling of its mistress, lay in ugly heaps of blackened ruin; and it must be long before the little flock of scholars could again be gathered together in any building large enough to hold them, and longer before the village instructress could have a home to replace that which the fire had made desolate. There were at the best of times no lodgings in High Tor fit for the abode of an educated girl such as Ethel, and now every house that remained unharmed was overcrowded by the burned-out inhabitants of those which the conflagration had swept away.

It so chanced, however, that on the very day following Ethel’s arrival the question as to the prolongation of her sojourn at High Tor House was conclusively settled. Lady Alice, a quick-witted impulsive child, came swiftly down-stairs to the room where her mother and sisters were sitting. ‘Pray, come, Maud!’ she said breathlessly; ‘Gladys, you come too; and you, mamma. It’s worth while, indeed it is, only to listen for a moment!’

‘What is to be listened to?’ asked the Countess, amused at the eager manner of her youngest child.

‘Miss Gray’s singing, her wonderful, wonderful singing!’ returned the child impetuously. ‘I heard it by accident as I passed the door of the school-room, where she is all alone at the piano; and I could hardly tear myself away that I might tell you not to lose the treat.’

The Countess laughed good-humouredly.

‘All Alice’s geese are swans,’ she said; ‘and I am too old to climb so many stairs on the strength of this young lady’s recommendation. You are young, Maud, yourself, and I see you cannot resist the temptation; nor you either, Gladys.’

And indeed the two elder of the Ladies De Vere had allowed themselves to be convinced, or at least rendered compliant, by the pleading eyes and the energetic ‘Do come, please,’ of their child-sister. It was some little time before they returned.

‘Mamma, Alice was right; and you have lost a treat worth a longer pilgrimage than that,’ said frank Lady Gladys, coming down, with Alice, radiant with delight, skipping at her side. ‘This Miss Gray (Maud, who is really getting fond of her, addresses her as “Ethel” already) has a voice that might make her fortune if she were less timid, and so sweet and liquid that one might fancy it the carol of a bird. Such a touch too on the keys! That jangling wheezy old school-room piano, on which excellent Miss Grainger used to pound so distressingly, gives out real music beneath those fingers of hers, and becomes full-toned and mellow. What a shame to throw away talent such as that upon the A B C work of teaching urchins the rudiments of knowledge!’

‘I never heard of these high musical attainments of Miss Gray’s, I am sure,’ said the puzzled{228} Countess; ‘and I am almost as certain that your father never heard of them either. She was strongly recommended, I know, by an old college friend of my lord, a clergyman somewhere, and that is all I have learned concerning her. But if she is such a performer as you describe, I should like to hear her too.’

Lady Gladys shook her head. ‘I am not sure,’ she said, ‘whether so shy a song-bird can be coaxed into warbling before an audience of strangers. She really did seem quite startled and distressed when Alice began to clap her hands and Maud and I broke in upon her. She had no notion, she said, that her singing could be heard by any of us in that out-of-the-way corner of so large a house, and seemed to think she had taken a great liberty and infringed rules of social decorum. And it was all that even Maud, whom she likes, could do to persuade her to sing again, only a little bit of a ballad; but it all but brought tears into my eyes, hackneyed girl of the world as I am, you know.’

In explanation of which last speech, it may be mentioned that Lady Gladys, the beauty of the family, had gone through two London seasons under the chaperonage of her mother’s sister, the Marchioness of Plinlimmon, and that it was supposed that if she had remained unmarried still, it was not for want of offers matrimonial.

‘I was thinking, mamma,’ said Lady Maud, who had lingered longer with Ethel than her sister had done, ‘that you could scarcely do better than to engage Miss Gray, if it suits her, as a governess for Alice, instead of writing to every point of the compass in hopes that some friend will recommend some treasure. It’s not only that Ethel Gray is really too good for the routine of plodding tuition in a village school, but that she knows everything, or nearly everything, that Miss Grainger knew, and French and German quite as well as it is possible to acquire them in England. Gladys has told you, I am sure, what a musician she is. I do not know how you could do better.’

The Countess too did not know how she could do better than to engage such a successor to the oft-quoted Miss Grainger, provided she possessed the accomplishments with which she was credited, and were willing—which Lady Wolverhampton could scarcely doubt—to exchange her rustic pupils for the post of governess at High Tor House. And as, on inquiry, it seemed that Ethel’s acquirements had not been overrated, and that her magnificent voice and musical proficiency fully merited the encomiums of the girls, while Alice was a vehement partisan of the governess-elect, the Countess was ready to propose the formal installation of Ethel in that capacity, subject to ‘my lord’s’ approval, when he should return from some magisterial business at Pebworth.

It was, however, necessary, in the Countess’s opinion, to ask a question or two on other matters than that of competence to teach. The office of mistress of the village school was one thing; that of governess to an Earl’s youngest daughter was another. It would be satisfactory, the Countess thought, to know a little more of Miss Gray’s birth, parentage, and antecedents than any of the De Vere family did as yet know. Ethel’s simple frankness saved Lady Wolverhampton—who did not like to put direct questions, and was eminently unfit for the delicate operation of extracting by subtle talk and veiled inquiry what she wished to learn—a great deal of trouble.

‘My father is in Australia,’ she said, raising her clear eyes to meet those of the Countess. ‘He is, I believe, a merchant there; but even that I do not know with any certainty, though he has been living there for many years, and I have always been told that I was born in the colony. I came with him to England, I know, when I was a little child, and he returned there; and I have not seen him since then, and cannot remember him at all.’

Ethel’s story was a brief one. She had little to relate, save of her early youth, spent at Sandston, a minor bathing-place on the Norfolk coast, where Mr Gray, a widower, who had paid but a short visit to his native country, had left his only child under the care of an excellent woman, one Mrs Linklater, a widow and mistress of a lodging-house. Ethel’s eyes grew dim as she spoke of good motherly Mrs Linklater, at whose death, three years before, she had been received into the house of the clergyman, who had been a college friend of the Earl, and to whose wife she had been a sort of companion.

‘Dear Mrs Keating,’ said Ethel simply, ‘quite, I am afraid, spoiled me. For years and years, when Mrs Linklater was alive, I spent much of my time at the vicarage; and Mrs Keating, who was herself very accomplished, taught me almost all the little that I know. She was fond of music, and understood it as few understand it, and it is through her kindness that I learned to sing and play. She had no children living except the three sons who were making their way in the world; and I believe that she thought I was like a little daughter she had lost, and whose name, like mine, was Ethel, and so’——

‘And so she took you to live with her, when this worthy Mrs—yes, Linklater died,’ said the Countess encouragingly. ‘But how came you to leave her?’

Ethel’s explanation of that was clear enough. Mrs Keating’s health, always frail, had given way, and she had been ordered to a warmer climate. Dr Keating, who had accompanied his wife to Mentone and Bellaggio, had a curate to pay and heavy expenses to meet. It was necessary that Ethel should get her own living; and it was at her own suggestion that Dr Keating had sought for her that appointment as mistress of a village school which his acquaintance with the Earl had enabled him to obtain for her at High Tor.

‘But your father?’ said the Countess, full of sympathy, for she liked the girl better and better for all that she saw or heard of her. Ethel smiled somewhat sadly. Mr Gray, it appeared, seldom wrote, and then very curtly, from Australia. For nearly two years the customary remittance, sufficient to defray the cost of his daughter’s maintenance, had not reached Sandston. That he would one day come back to England, Ethel hoped. He had been, she feared, of late less prosperous in his affairs than was formerly the case. Dr Keating held the address in Sydney to which letters to the widower had been hitherto addressed.

The matter was settled; the proposal that Ethel should become governess to Lady Alice, and as such should be permanently domiciled at High Tor, was graciously made and gratefully accepted.

‘I shall have to look out for another schoolmistress, it seems,’ said the good-natured old Earl;{229} ‘but never mind that. Alice is pleased, and Maud is pleased; and as Miss Gray seems to like it too, I think we may say that some good came of our luckless fire, after all.’

SOME PHYSIOLOGICAL ERRORS.
One of the notable examples of popular delusions regarding bodily structure and functions, is exemplified by the belief that the third finger was selected as the bearer of the wedding-ring because a particular nerve placed this member in direct communication with the heart. Over and over again has this belief been expressed, and in the belief is found an apparently satisfactory reason why the third finger is thus honoured. The slightest acquaintance with physiological science shews that the supposition referred to has not even a germ of probability to shew on its behalf. The ring-finger is supplied with nerves according to the rule of nervous supply in the body generally, and, it need hardly be said, without the slightest reference to the heart; the nerves of which in turn are supplied from an independent source and one quite dissociated from that which supplies the nerves of the hand.

Equally curious and erroneous beliefs intrude themselves into the domain of medicine and surgery. Thus for instance it is a matter of ordinary belief that a cut in the space which separates the thumb from the forefinger is of necessity a most dangerous injury. The popular notion regarding this region is that an injury inflicted thereupon is singularly liable to be followed by tetanus or lock-jaw. There exist not the slightest grounds for this supposition. Lock-jaw it is true might follow an injury to this part of the hand, as it might supervene after a wound of any of the fingers. But physiology and medicine alike emphatically dispel the idea that any peculiarity of structure which might predispose to the affection just named, exists chiefly in the region of the thumb. It may be that the difficulty experienced in securing the healing of wounds in this portion of the hand—owing to the amount of loose tissue and to the free movements of the part which it is almost impossible to prevent—might favour or predispose to an attack of tetanus. But as the same remark may be made of many other portions of the body, it follows that the thumb-region possesses no peculiarity whatever in this respect over any other part of the frame.

One of the points which has been most hotly contested in technical as well as in popular physiology is the use and functions of the spleen. This organ, as most readers are aware, is a gland, of somewhat oval shape, lying close to the left side or extremity of the stomach. It is one of the so-called ‘ductless’ glands of the body—that is, it possesses no duct or outlet, as do the liver, sweetbread, and other glands concerned with the formation of special fluids used in digestion and other functions. In olden times philosophers puzzled themselves over this mysterious organ; nor was its nature rendered any clearer by the discovery of the fact that it may be removed from the bodies of the higher animals without causing any great or subsequent inconvenience, and without affecting in any perceptible degree the health of the subject operated upon. One classical authority went so far as to allege that he could find no use whatever for the organ; whilst another maintained that possibly it was intended to serve as a kind of packing for the other organs around it, and that it kept them from getting out of their places in the movements of the body. The idea, however, which obtained most credence was that which regarded the spleen as the fountain and origin of all the vile ‘humours’ which rankled the blood and soured the disposition of man. We can still trace in the metaphorical expressions of our literature this ancient belief; so that what at first were regarded as literal and true ideas of the spleen and its use, have come in modern days to do duty simply as metaphors.

Modern science, in dispelling those antiquated notions, has now assigned to the spleen a very important part in our internal mechanism. The part it plays may be thus described. The blood, as every one who has looked at a thin film of that substance through a microscope will know, is in reality a fluid as clear as water, and derives its colour from the immense number of little red bodies the ‘corpuscles,’ which float in it. These red corpuscles of human blood do not attain a greater size than the 1/3500th part of an inch—that is, three thousand five hundred of these little bodies placed in a line would make up an inch in length. In addition to the red bodies, there exist in the blood a much smaller number of ‘white corpuscles,’ each containing a little central particle which the red ones want. From the results of the most recent researches it would appear that the red corpuscles are produced by the partial destruction of the white ones; and that the little central particles of the white globules, when coloured, appear before us as the red corpuscles of the blood. Now the spleen is to be regarded as the great manufactory or depôt in which the red corpuscles are thus produced from the white ones, and in which also many of the white corpuscles are themselves developed. And it would also appear highly probable, that when the red globules of the blood have served their turn in the economy of the body they are broken down in the spleen; their material being doubtless used for some wise purpose in the maintenance of our complicated frame.

A very common idea, but one founded on no certain or feasible grounds, is that which maintains that our bodies undergo a complete change and renewal of all their parts every seven years. The ‘mystical’ nature of the number seven, has had an unquestionable effect in originating this opinion; and although the age of fourteen and again that of twenty-one may be regarded as marking the attainment of youth and manhood{230} or womanhood respectively, yet physiology gives no countenance to the popular opinion that of necessity these periods are those of sweeping bodily change. On the contrary, it might be shewn that the periods at which full growth of body is attained vary with climate, race, and constitution—that is, with the personal nature, and with the physical surroundings of individuals, communities, and nations. The true state of matters as disclosed by physiology, leads us to contemplate actions and changes which are of infinitely more wondrous kind than those involved in the idea of septennial change. For if there is one axiom which physiology maintains more constantly than another, it is that which teaches that constant and never-ceasing change is the lot of life from its beginning to its end.

No part of the body of a living being is free from these changes of substance, through which indeed every act of life is carried on. Every movement of a muscle—the winking of an eyelid or the lifting of a finger—implies waste of the organs and parts which move. The thinking of a thought implies wear and tear of the organ which thinks—the brain itself. Were it possible to spend existence even in a perfectly still and rigid condition, there are still actions to be performed which are necessary for the maintenance of life, and which necessitate continual waste and wear of the tissues. Thus the beating of the heart, the movements of our chest in breathing, and the very act of receiving and digesting food—actions which are in themselves concerned with the repair of the frame—can only be performed through the intervention of processes of work, and waste of body. So that a living being is to be regarded as passing its existence in a constant state of change. Its particles are being continually wasted, and as incessantly renewed; and although the growth of our bodies may be said to culminate at various periods of our life, yet it is anything but correct to say that there are marked epochs of change in human existence. The truth is that change and alteration are our continual heritage; and it is strange indeed to think that not an organ or part of our bodies exists which has not repeatedly in its history been insensibly and gradually, but none the less perfectly, renewed in all its parts. Our particles and substance are being dissipated in very many ways and fashions. Chemically and physically, we are in a state of continual break-down; whilst on the other hand, it may be shewn that the forces of life are enlisted powerfully on the side of renewal and repair.

In connection with the exercise of our senses there are not a few points on which popular ideas stand in need of correction. When we speak of ‘seeing’ or ‘hearing,’ the exercise of these or any other of our senses indeed, is usually referred to the organ concerned—eye, ear, nose, or tongue, as the case may be. A little consideration, however, will shew us that we make a very grievous mistake in referring the act of sensation or perception to the organ itself. Let us consider for a moment what happens when we acquire ideas regarding the form of an object through the sense of touch. We may in the first place ‘will’ to touch the object in question; the act of ‘volition’ as it is termed, originating in the brain, being transformed into nerve-force, and being further directed along the particular nerves which supply the muscles of one finger or along those which supply all the fingers. The muscles are thus stimulated to action, and through their agency the fingers are brought into contact with the desired object. Leaving the sense of sight out of consideration for a moment, we know that we can through the sense of touch gain ideas regarding the form, size, hardness, and other qualities of the object. Our nervous system is thus bringing us into relation with the outer world and specially with that portion of it represented by the object we have touched. But how have we gained our knowledge? The reply to this question leads us at once to perceive that the tips of the fingers do not represent the seat of knowledge. And a further consideration makes it equally clear that the brain must be credited not only with the task of perceiving, but also with that of appreciating what has been perceived. Hence we are forced to conclude that just as the first nervous impulse shot through the nerves to the fingers, so a second impulse has passed from the fingers to the brain. Our sense of touch has given origin to a subtle force which has passed upwards to the brain, and has there become transformed, through a mechanism—of the working of which we know as yet absolutely nothing—into perception and thought. Similarly with the work of the eye, of the ear, and of other senses.

When we talk of seeing or hearing, we are in reality speaking of the act of the brain, not of the eye or ear, which are merely the ‘gateways’ through which the brain obtains its knowledge. And that the brain is the true seat of the senses, may be proved to us from the side of pathology—the science which makes us acquainted with the causes and nature of disease. Cases are well known in which injury of the brain as the seat of sense has given origin to depraved sensations. Post-mortem examinations of persons who were continually conscious of a disagreeable odour have proved that these persons had laboured under brain-disease; whilst one case is on record in which, after a fall from a horse, and for several years before his death, a person believed that he smelt a bad odour. So also the sense of sight may be altered from internal causes, and on this ground may be explained the real nature of many cases of so-called ghost-seeing and spectral illusions. One well-known case, in illustration of this latter point, was that of Nicolai, a Berlin bookseller, who, neglecting to be bled in accordance with his usual custom, began to see strange persons in his room, and faithfully described the appearance of the figures. The figures disappeared when he had been bled once more. Thus in all such cases we must believe that those parts of the eye or ear which would have been concerned in seeing the supposititious objects or hearing the supposititious sounds—had either existed—were irritated from the brain and produced the delusive sensations. Thus the common phrase that ‘seeing is believing’ is in one sense literally true; for the act of sight apparently exercised in the person who suffers from optical illusions is in reality performed by the brain and is thus an act of belief, even if it be one of unconscious kind. The entire subject of physiological errors teems with valuable applications, but with none more practical or worthy of remark than that which would insist{231} on the advantages, in the ruling wisely of our lives, to be derived from even an elementary acquaintance—such as should be included in the curriculum of every school—with the science of life.

MR ASLATT’S WARD.
IN FOUR CHAPTERS.—CHAPTER II.
I did not then know what I afterwards learned, the full extent of her obligations to Mr Aslatt, nor the sentiments of love which that gentleman came to entertain for his beautiful ward. A pretty child of six, singing in the streets of a foreign city, she had first attracted his notice; and her sad lot had so touched his heart, that he could not rest till he had rescued her from it. The itinerant musicians in whose company he found her spoke of her as an orphan, the child of a former comrade, and made no objection when Mr Aslatt proposed to adopt her and provide for her future. He was a lonely man, with no near relatives to resent this action on his part; and the child became the delight of his life and the idol of his heart. He was but a young man when he took the little orphan under his protection, and his friends thought it an alarming proof of the eccentricity which had already marked him. But a bitter disappointment had blighted his life, and made it impossible, he then thought, for him ever to have a happy married life, such as he had once anticipated. He determined to spend his wealth in giving brightness to the existence of the little fairy-like creature, who seemed made to live in the sunshine; and in the effort to promote little Rose’s happiness he found his own. When it was that his paternal fondness for her passed into a warmer more passionate emotion, and he experienced a longing to bind her to himself by the closest of all ties, I could not know; but that such was the nature of his regard for her when I went to reside at his house, was beyond doubt.

And it was equally plain that Rose entertained for him a very different feeling. She looked upon him as her dear guardian and friend, one who had been as a father to her; but I do not think the possibility of any other relationship had ever crossed her mind. Indeed it was pretty evident to me that another was frequently in her thoughts to the exclusion of Mr Aslatt, who was so untiring in his efforts to win her love. I was grieved to see how often she wounded him by her thoughtless wilful conduct; and the patience with which he bore with her capricious moods, fully enlisted my sympathies on his behalf. If any word of mine could have influenced my wayward charge to value more highly her true-hearted friend, it would have been spoken; but from what I knew of her, I judged that I should better serve Mr Aslatt’s cause by silence than by speech.

On the day following that of our excursion to Ashdene, Rose took me for a drive in her little shell-shaped chaise, drawn by two pretty Shetland ponies. We drove through narrow country lanes with hedges gay with wild-flowers, and across a breezy common covered with golden furze-bushes, returning by a road which led us through the village.

‘This is the school-house,’ said Rose as we approached a rather imposing-looking structure in red brick; and without another word she pulled up her ponies and alighted.

I followed her into the large school-room, which at that hour was deserted. Mr Hammond, however, had heard our entrance, and almost immediately came in from an inner room. The bright flush which tinged Rose’s cheek as he appeared, and the somewhat conscious manner in which she greeted him, seemed to confirm my previous surmises. He was certainly a very handsome man; and his manner and bearing were in striking contrast to his position. I could not wonder that a girl like Rose should be fascinated by his appearance and address, even while, in spite of his efforts to please me, the feeling of distrust with which I had at first regarded him, deepened. From what I observed during that interview, I felt pretty certain that some private understanding already existed between him and Rose. I dared not question my wilful charge, knowing well how her proud spirit would resent any interference from me. Yet I longed to do something to prevent this man from obtaining a fatal influence over her heart. But I could only wait and watch for what time might reveal, resolved meanwhile to accompany Rose whenever she paid a visit to the school-house. I saw that this precaution of mine afforded satisfaction to Mr Aslatt.

The summer weeks passed away swiftly and pleasantly with me. But the signs of secret sorrow became more plainly visible on Mr Aslatt’s countenance, and I felt sure he was tortured with anxiety on account of Rose’s intimacy with the schoolmaster. I sometimes wondered that he did not dismiss Mr Hammond from his post, but I suppose he dreaded Rose’s reproaching him with injustice; for in truth the schoolmaster appeared most exemplary in the discharge of his duties, and no reasonable ground of complaint could be found. I became anxious also, as I saw every week fresh proofs of Rose’s attachment to Mr Hammond. At last a day arrived when my suspicions as to the existence of a secret understanding between the two were confirmed in a most unexpected manner. It was a warm September evening. Rose, complaining of a headache, had retired early to rest, and I was about to follow her example, when looking from my window at the calm beauty of the garden as it lay in the clear light of the moon, I was tempted to take a stroll. Wrapping a shawl about me, I went down the steps leading into the garden, and slowly walked down the green alley bordered by tall laurel bushes. It was almost as light as day until I reached the end of the walk, where some large trees obscured the moonbeams. As I passed into their shadow I thought of the warning Rose had given me on the night of my arrival. I smiled at the remembrance; and in order to prove to myself that I had no fear of supernatural encounter, I turned into the path which led towards that part of the house said to be haunted. Here the gloom deepened, for the shrubs and trees in this portion of the garden had been neglected, and suffered to grow at will, until they intertwined their branches overhead, forming a leafy covering.

‘How frightened Rose would be, if she were here,’ I thought; but the next moment I became conscious that my own bravery was not worth{232} much. A sudden rustling amongst the leaves close at hand startled me, and involuntarily I turned to go back. But ashamed of my cowardice, I almost immediately turned round again, and peering through the bushes in the direction from which the sound had come, tried to discover its cause. ‘It was merely some dog or cat straying amongst the shrubs,’ I said to myself, trying to shake off the fear which had taken possession of me. But again I heard the sound more distinctly than before, and it seemed to me that some one must be walking along the path on the other side of the shrubbery. But I could see nothing, and my heart began to beat violently in dread of I knew not what. A cloud had passed over the moon, and the wind was rising and making a mournful ‘sough’ amongst the trees, which was not reassuring. I shivered; and drawing my shawl closely around me, again turned to leave the garden. But once more the sound fell upon my ear, and at the same moment my eyes were arrested by the appearance of a white ghost-like figure standing on the steps leading from the haunted room. In spite of my boasted disbelief in supernatural appearances, for an instant I really thought that the shadowy form I beheld must be the denizen of another world. I stood motionless, rooted to the spot by fear. It was but for a moment that the figure was visible; as I gazed upon it, it glided slowly down the steps and disappeared in the gloom. I can smile now to think how terror-struck I was as I watched its disappearance. Suddenly I heard again the sound which had at first awakened my fears, now close at hand, and almost immediately I felt something cold touch my hand. I uttered a faint cry, and should have swooned, I verily believe, if a low familiar whine had not assured me that Nero was by my side, and had thrust his nose into my hand. Hitherto, I had regarded Rose’s rough pet with some trepidation, but now his presence was most welcome, and I laid my hand on his shaggy head, in order to keep him by my side. But he would not be retained, and breaking from me, ran down the path towards the spot where my supposed ghost had vanished. The next minute I heard him barking loudly, and the sound of his hearty voice dissipated my absurd fears. ‘Nero evidently has no fear of ghosts,’ said I to myself, as with growing courage I advanced to discover the cause of his excitement.

As I approached the end of the path, Nero’s barking ceased, and to my astonishment, I heard a well-known voice gently coaxing him to be quiet. I turned a corner, and beheld Rose standing by a door which led from the garden into the road. She wore a dress of gray alpaca, and had a white shawl of flimsy texture twisted around her shoulders. She carried her hat and a small travelling-bag in her hand, and had evidently been about to unlock the door, when Nero had arrested her movements. In a moment I was at her side, and laying my hand on her arm inquired: ‘What is the meaning of this, Rose?’ She had not heard my approach, and my sudden appearance startled her so much, that even in the dim light I could perceive that her face grew very pale.

For a few moments she could make no reply, then shaking off my grasp, she exclaimed: ‘Let me alone; I must and will go!’ She took hold of the key, and strove to turn the lock, but her hand trembled so that she could not manage it.

Without a moment’s hesitation, I wrenched the key from her grasp and put it into my pocket. ‘You shall not leave the garden at this hour,’ I said, ‘if it is in my power to prevent it.’

Just then a low whistle was heard from the other side of the wall. Rose started at the sound, and wrung her hands in grief and dismay. ‘Do not stop me, Miss Bygrave!’ she implored. ‘I assure you, it is better I should go now. We are acting for the best.’

‘How can it be for the best, Rose,’ I exclaimed indignantly, ‘that you should deceive and pain your kind guardian, for the sake of an unprincipled man? But you have not reflected on what you were about to do. Thank God, I was led here in time to prevent your taking a step which would entail lifelong misery!’ So saying, I took her hand, to lead her back to the house. Seeing that I was resolute, she made no opposition. We went at once to her room, which was not far from my own. It was in great disorder, various articles lying scattered about on the floor and chairs. On the dressing-table lay various articles of jewellery and other presents from Mr Aslatt, and a note directed to him in Rose’s handwriting.

‘And so, you thought by returning these, you could escape from some of your obligations to Mr Aslatt,’ I remarked, somewhat scornfully, as I pointed to the pile of gifts. ‘I am surprised at you, Rose!’

Overpowered by shame and vexation, she could make no reply, but throwing herself as she was upon the bed, gave vent to her mortification in passionate sobs. I sat down by her side and let her weep unchecked, hoping that no more words would be needed to move her to contrition. After a while she grew calmer, and ceasing to sob, lay still, with her eyes shut. Occasionally her eyelids moved, and I knew that she was not asleep; but I would not be the first to break silence. About an hour passed thus, and then she opened her eyes, and raising herself on her elbow, and shaking back the fair hair that was hanging loose over her face, turned towards me. ‘Shall you tell Cousin?’ she asked in a faint voice.

‘I fear it will be my duty to do so,’ I replied; ‘though I shrink from the thought of the pain I shall inflict.’

Rose’s lip quivered, and tears again gathered in her eyes. ‘I know you must consider me very wicked,’ she said; ‘but indeed I am not so bad as you think. I am fully conscious how much I am indebted to Mr Aslatt, and I am grateful to him for the kindness he has always shewn me.’

‘How can you say so,’ I interrupted, ‘when you have deliberately planned what would cause him the bitterest sorrow?’

‘I know, I know!’ exclaimed Rose passionately. ‘Do you suppose I have ignored the sorrow my flight would cause my dear guardian, or that I would willingly appear so ungrateful? But I had to consider the happiness of another.’

‘What other can have stronger claims upon you than Mr Aslatt?’ I asked.

Rose coloured, and hesitated for an answer. ‘If I had a husband,’ she said in a low voice with downcast eyes, ‘he would have a higher claim upon me than any one else.’

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‘Of course,’ I returned. ‘But you are not married, so I do not see what that has to do with it.’

‘This much,’ said Rose—‘that I have promised to marry Mr Hammond, and would have been married to-morrow if you had not stopped me; therefore he is more to me than any one else.’

‘I am very thankful that I did stop you,’ I said. ‘How could you expect, Rose, to find any happiness in a union so hastily and wilfully contracted? How could you think of fleeing by night from the home where you have been sheltered since your childhood, where your every wish has been gratified, and ample provision made for your happiness, by one whose noble love you are incapable of appreciating? You have been strangely deluded to think of trusting your life to one who could propose so base a scheme.’

‘But what else could we do?’ said Rose, trying to defend her lover. ‘All things are fair in love and war. We knew that Mr Aslatt would never consent to our marriage. But if he heard that we were actually married, so that it was out of his power to separate us, he must then have forgiven us.’

‘So I have no doubt Mr Hammond thought,’ I remarked. ‘But Rose, do you positively think that Mr Aslatt would withhold his consent to your marriage if he were convinced that it would promote your happiness?’

‘No, not if he believed that,’ replied Rose. ‘But nothing would persuade him that Fritz Hammond could make me a good husband; he is dreadfully prejudiced against him. And he would never overlook Mr Hammond’s inferior position or forgive him for being poor, although he comes of a good family, and no one can say anything against him.’

‘It is strange,’ I remarked, ‘that being of good family he should be in his present position.’

‘There now; you are going to find fault with him!’ exclaimed Rose pettishly. ‘He is not to be blamed for his position, for great misfortunes have reduced him to it.’

‘How long is it since you promised to marry Mr Hammond?’ I inquired, after a pause.

‘A little while before you came here,’ was the reply. ‘At first we meant to tell Mr Aslatt all, and ask his consent; but he seemed so much opposed to Mr Hammond, that he—I mean we—feared to do so. We thought that if we settled the matter ourselves, it would cause Cousin less pain in the end.’

‘Less pain to find that you had been deceiving him, and putting more confidence in a comparative stranger, than in one who has befriended you all your life! It was by strange reasoning you arrived at such a conclusion, Rose!’

She made no reply.

‘I suppose you have been in the habit of meeting Mr Hammond clandestinely in the garden,’ I continued; ‘you gaining access to it unobserved by means of the so-called haunted rooms, against which you were so careful to warn me. I could not have believed you so skilled in subterfuge.’

Rose coloured deeply, and her head drooped in shame. ‘I am very sorry, Miss Bygrave,’ she said penitently, after a long pause; ‘I see now that I have acted wrongly. I have felt very unhappy all along at the thought of deceiving my good Cousin, for indeed I love him truly; but I could not bear to think of giving up Mr Hammond. I have often longed to confess all to you, and I asked Fritz once if I might; but he said it would be most imprudent, and would lead to his being parted from me for ever. And now that will come to pass, I suppose. O dear me! what shall I do? I am the most miserable girl in the world!’ So saying, Rose again buried her face in the pillow and sobbed aloud.

‘Do you know what I should advise you to do?’ I said, when her emotion had somewhat exhausted itself.

‘What?’ she asked in a smothered voice, without raising her head.

‘I think the best thing—the right thing for you to do is to confess all to Mr Aslatt, and beg his forgiveness. He will accord it, I have no doubt. It will give him great pain to hear of your folly; but it will grieve him less to learn it from your lips than from mine.’

‘Oh, I cannot, Miss Bygrave! I cannot tell him! I don’t know what he would do or say. He would be so angry with Mr Hammond!’

‘And he has just cause to be,’ I could not help saying. ‘But surely, Rose, your past experience of Mr Aslatt’s goodness should lead you to put more trust in his kindness of heart. You must know that he seeks your happiness in everything. He will undoubtedly feel indignant with the schoolmaster on account of the underhand manner in which he has acted. But if he is convinced that you are sincerely attached to each other, he will not, I believe, oppose your union; unless he has grave reasons for thinking Mr Hammond unworthy of the place he holds in your heart. You cannot expect that he will all at once consent to your marrying a man who may be a mere adventurer, for all that we know to the contrary, and who has certainly acted towards Mr Aslatt in a dishonourable manner, which the hopelessness of his suit does not seem to me to excuse.’

Rose made no reply; and I trusted my words would have their influence. She lay still for some time, evidently engaged in deep and painful thought. Gradually, however, the cloud passed from her brow, and as morning was beginning to dawn, she fell into a sound sleep. I watched her for a while; but by degrees weariness overcame my mental excitement, and I also fell asleep.

BRITISH GUIANA.
On the vast extent of the South American continent the far-reaching empire of Great Britain has planted its flag in one place only; it possesses one-fifth of the country of Guiana, which lies within the Torrid Zone, and forms the northern portion of South America. Of that fifth section of Guiana, which is called Demerara—the capital of which is George-town—only the civilised and cultivated part is known to the dwellers in the colony, or to its chance visitors. The remaining portion of the country was, however, a terra incognita to all but a very few, until Mr Barrington Brown, in his Canoe and Camp Life in British Guiana (London: Edward Stanford), published the results of his explorations.

The civilised and cultivated portion of the{234} colony of British Guiana consists of a narrow strip of sea-coast. Immediately behind this lies a broad expanse of swampy ground, then comes rising wooded land, and finally mountains and savannas which stretch westward, and are still in their primitive condition, inhabited by little-known Indian tribes and various species of wild animals. It is owing chiefly to the ‘Coolie Labour Question’ that public attention has been of late years at all directed to British Guiana; and as the colony is likely to become of increased importance, an opportunity of learning particulars about the hitherto mysterious territory which lies behind the utilised strip of coast belonging to it, yet utterly unreckoned in the sum of civilisation, is one to be welcomed. This wild region is called vaguely ‘the Interior,’ and with the exception of a few settlements on the banks of the Lower Berbice, Demerara, and Essequibo rivers, a traveller penetrating its recesses at the present time would behold the same condition of things there which existed in the days of Sir Walter Raleigh. Mr Barrington Brown visited and explored a considerable extent of this ‘Interior’ while he was engaged on the government geological survey of the West Indies. He accomplished his journeys by means of canoe-travelling; a method preferable to any other, as affording opportunities for close observation, for obtaining picturesque aspects, and in itself very agreeable.

His first voyage was up the Essequibo to the penal settlement of the colony, where his Indian boatmen refused to remain even for one night, such is their timid dread of the very notion of a prison. They would not hang their hammocks in the empty sheds, but crossed the river and camped in the forest, though one of them was suffering severely from fever. At the penal settlement boats were purchased, and a crew hired for the navigation of the Cuyuni, which afforded the Indians ample opportunities for exhibiting their skill. ‘They worked splendidly in the cataracts, swimming, diving, and wading in the strong currents from rock to rock, while leading out the tow-ropes and hauling the boats up.’ During the journey up this river the traveller encountered in many parts a succession of rapids and cataracts. The difficulties thus entailed, and the graphic account of how these difficulties were surmounted, afford some notion of the laboriousness of nearly every river voyage made by Mr Brown in the course of his explorations.

The scenes through which he passed were of rich and varied beauty. Nothing terrible or threatening met his sight in that unknown land, which seems to bear upon its face one broad beaming smile, answering with fidelity to the smile of the sun. Rocky islets bearing clusters of low trees, whose stems and branches are covered with orchids and wild pines, rise from the broad bosom of the river, while its banks are clothed with forest trees; and on the rocks under its waters is a luxuriant growth of water-plants, bearing exquisite flowers. When the sun is high, gorgeous butterflies, yellow, orange, and azure blue, frequent the water’s edge in clusters, or flit over the open spaces near the cataracts; and the river abounds in deep-bodied silvery-scaled fish of various kinds.

The character of the scenery along the banks of the rivers, which form a kind of network over the face of the country in Guiana, is chiefly of the kind described above; but there is no monotony in it, and the traveller is kept constantly amused by the birds and the insect life. Morning and evening are marked by bands of screeching parrots crossing the river to and from their feeding-grounds, and all along the banks the kingfisher and the ibis abound. The Indian villages are generally within a short distance of the river, and the harmless people are unusually smart in their attire. The women wear an apron called a queyon, formed of cotton and bead-work, ingeniously manufactured, each bead being slipped on the cotton thread in its proper place as it is being woven. The traveller frequently halted at the villages while the natives prepared cassava bread for him, and he had a fair opportunity of forming a judgment upon their intellectual status and social condition. Both are superior to those of the average ‘natives’ with which books have made us acquainted, and Mr Brown notes as a ‘pleasing feature’ of the British Guiana Indians, that, as a rule, they treat their women well, regarding them as equals and not as slaves. The planters of the civilised portion of the country, kidnappers and tyrants of the ‘coolie,’ might learn lessons of humanity and justice from the ‘savages’ of the ‘Interior.’

A march through primeval forest to the Puruni was a less pleasant experience than the river voyage; for the ‘ticks’ which infest the forest took possession of the travellers. Of the numerous kinds of pestilent insects Mr Brown gives a horrid description; but he counterbalances it by that of the birds, the trees, the flowers, the skies, and the wonderfully exhilarating influence of the climate.

The many mysterious sounds which proceed from primeval forest in all countries where such forest exists, have given rise to superstitious beliefs and fears. On their return journey to the penal settlement, Mr Brown was made acquainted with the legendary ‘Didi’ of those remote realms of forest and river. ‘The first night after leaving Peaimah,’ he says, ‘we heard a long, loud, and most melancholy whistle proceeding from the depths of the forest; at which some of the men exclaimed in an awed tone of voice: “The Didi!” Two or three times the whistle was repeated, sounding like that made by a human being, beginning in a high key and dying slowly and gradually away in a low one. There were conflicting opinions amongst the men regarding the origin of these sounds. Some said they proceeded from the wild hairy man or Didi of the Indians; others that they were produced by a large and poisonous snake which lives in one tree from its youth up, where it attains a great size, living on birds which are so unfortunate as to alight near it, and thus become victims to its powers of fascination. The Didi is said by the Indians to be a short, thick-set, and powerful wild man, whose body is covered with hair, and who lives in the forest. A belief in the existence of this fabulous creature is universal over the whole of British, Venezuelan, and Brazilian Guiana. On the Demerara River I afterwards met a half-bred woodcutter, who related an encounter that he had with two Didi, a male and female, in which he successfully resisted their attacks with his axe.’

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The main object of the explorer’s most important voyage up the Essequibo was to obtain a sight of the great Roraima Mountain, which has been seen by few white men.

He began to ascend from the river-bank, under the guidance of an Indian, at the valley of the Cotinga; and first he saw, rising two hundred feet above the level of the plain, the great Waetipu or Sun Mountain, formed of horizontal beds of sandstone (this formation is as peculiar to the region as the strange level hill-tops are to the Cape district of South Africa), the alternate hard and soft layers of which produced most singular traces on its sides, while near it stood two curious conical peaks. He rested that night in an old mud-walled palm-thatched house, situated on a great lonely elevated land, and early next forenoon the travellers rounded the end of the Sun Mountain, and a glorious view of Roraima burst upon them, with the sun’s rays lighting up its curious details. ‘Turn,’ says our author, ‘in any direction I would, most wonderful scenery was presented to my view, from the great pink precipiced Roraima in the north-west, looking like a huge fortification surrounded by a gigantic glacis, to the great undulating plain stretching southward as far as the eye could reach, where at the horizon land melted into sky.’

This wonderful mountain is one of the greatest natural curiosities on the face of the earth, and it is much to be regretted that Mr Brown was not able to inspect it more closely, and examine its structure and individual features more in detail. This was, however, rendered impossible by that prosaic but irresistible obstacle, want of food! In the vicinity of the mountain he found only deserted villages, and the scanty supply of provisions which he and his guide had carried up from the plain was speedily exhausted. Our traveller succeeded in ascending the sloping portion of the marvellous mountain—in which Nature seems to have furnished Art with a perfect model of a fortress—to a height of five thousand one hundred feet above the level of the sea. Between the highest point reached by him and the foot of the great perpendicular portion, towering high above, is a band of thick forest. ‘Looking up at the great wall of rock,’ says the writer, ‘two thousand feet in height, I could see that a forest covered its top, and that in places on its sides where small trees or shrubs could gain a hold with their roots, there they clung. The great beds of white, pink, and red sandstone of which it is composed are interbedded with layers of red shale, the whole resting upon a great bed of diorite.’

One tries in vain to picture to one’s fancy this wondrous mass of upheaved earth, stone, and forest, looking like a fortress reared by Titans against the assaults of all the forces of Nature besides. Science tells us that Roraima and its surrounding similarly shaped neighbours once stood as islands in the ocean; but at what period of the earth’s history, how far back in the awful lapses of time, who can say? ‘If,’ says the author, ‘any mammals then lived upon them, when the sea washed the bases of their cliffs, the descendants of those mammals may live there still, for all communication with their tops and the surrounding country has been ever since effectually cut off by their perpendicular sides.’

The length of Roraima is about twelve miles; and its top is perfectly level. ‘The area of the surface,’ says Mr Brown, ‘must be considerable, for Sir R. Schomburgk, who visited its southern end, to the westward of the point to which I ascended, describes some beautiful waterfalls as leaping from its sides, forming the drainage of part of its top, and when viewing it from a mountain on the Upper Mazaruni, I distinctly saw, at a distance of thirty miles, an enormous waterfall on its north-east side, of very considerable width and extraordinary height.’

Next in importance to the great mountain Roraima is the great Kaieteur Fall, which the traveller reached by the difficult ascent of Kaieteur. The very existence of this beautiful Fall was previously unknown to the dwellers in George-town, the capital of Demerara, who were astonished to learn that their colony possessed such a gigantic natural wonder; and indeed received Mr Brown’s account of it with some incredulity. On a subsequent journey, undertaken by command of the governor Sir John Scott, Mr Brown and some other English gentlemen made a thorough examination and a scientific report of the Fall.

The Kaieteur Valley is of great extent; bounded by gloomy mountains, whose outlines are broken by gaps and gorges, whence noisy cascades pour down the sides of the great sandstone steeps, while in the far distance is seen the upper portion of the Kaieteur pouring its foaming water over the precipice edge into the depths below. The journey from the landing-place on the river to the head of the Fall is difficult, the way lying through blocks of sandstone and through tangled forest, where it is necessary to cut away the mass of vines, bushropes, shrubs, and undergrowth which obstruct the path. The regular forest ends in a confused mass of rocks at the water’s edge, covered with shrubs and mosses, and directly facing the Fall at a distance of a quarter of a mile from its foot. A more perfect position from which to contemplate this wonder of Nature could not be conceived. The travellers stood on the verge of the rock reef, and before them thundered the Kaieteur Fall, from a height of eight hundred and twenty-two feet, in a cataract four hundred and twenty-two yards wide, fed by the stream at a velocity of four miles an hour; its contact with the water of the basin being a confused scene of fleecy masses of tossing waters, spurting high in the air in front of the downpour, and giving birth to mist-clouds, which rose continuously upwards and over the precipice on the right.

Two of the exploring party swam across the foaming river and visited the edge of the basin on the eastern side; after which they returned to the landing, accompanied by all the Indians but three. The others did not like to pass the night in such a mysterious place. Mr Brown and one of his friends had poles rigged up and lashed together under a large rock, which formed a sort of cave, where they slung their hammocks for the night. That must have been a night never to be forgotten, when, in the primeval wilds of that unknown land, the traveller lay in his swinging couch and watched and listened to the eternal fall and multitudinous roar of the mighty waters. ‘A subdued light,’ he says, ‘penetrated even into our valley of shadows, and I knew that the moon must have risen above the eastern horizon. By this light I could make out the brink of the Fall{236} against the sky; and as I gazed upon it two bright stars rose slowly beyond, looking as if they had emerged from the water itself. Then the first rays of the moon, as it rose above the mountain in the east, shed a silvery light across the Fall’s crest, and lit up a portion of the descending fleecy column.’ During the day the sun’s rays, shining on the mist, produced a lovely rainbow, reaching from the top to the foot of the Fall, which, moving slowly outwards with the mist, faded gradually away, while with each accession of mist a new one was formed.

After they had thoroughly enjoyed the spectacle from opposite the foot of the Fall, the travellers proceeded to its head, camped in the bush on the river’s brink, about fifty feet above the edge of the Fall, and there made their measurements. On both evenings of their stay they watched with interest the swallows’ homeward flight to their roosting-places in a cave behind the Fall. The birds came late in the afternoon in large flocks from all quarters of the compass, and wheeled round in great circles at different altitudes. Gradually one flock amalgamated with another, till at last near sundown they had gathered into two or three immense bodies, which kept wheeling round in a compact mass about one hundred yards above the heads of the travellers. Mr Brown asked his friend how he would describe their numbers, and he replied that he thought ‘myriads of millions’ would about do it.

While the travellers were wondering how the birds would get into the cave behind the giant sheet of falling water, the question was solved in an extraordinary manner, and the intruders on that wonderful scene beheld a spectacle which in itself would have made the occasion memorable. ‘Suddenly a portion of the mass swooped down with incredible, with extraordinary velocity to the edge of the Fall, seemingly close to the face of the column of water, and then being lost to our view. The rushing sound of their wings in their downward flight was very strange, and produced the feeling that birds of ill omen were about. Approaching the edge of the precipice we waited to see the next lot go down, so as to observe how they managed to get behind the water. We had not to wait long before down dropped a cloud of them over the edge, past the face of the Fall, for about one hundred feet; then, with the rapidity of lightning, they changed their downward course to one at right angles, and thus shot through the mist on either side into the gloomy cave. Their motions were so rapid that we could hardly make out how they were executed. It appeared to me that, as they swooped down, their wings were but half spread, and their heads downwards; but after passing the edge they turned their bodies in a horizontal position, descending by gravity alone until they arrived at the required level, when they again made use of their wings and flew off at right angles into the cave. Just before dusk the greater portion descended in a continuous stream for a considerable time, but small flocks and single birds kept arriving until it was quite dark. When a single bird shot down, its velocity was so great that it seemed to form a short continuous black line against the sky.’ This gives the reader a vivid idea of the speed with which a bird can cleave the air while on the swoop.

At all times the valley of the Kaieteur is beautiful, but it is most beautiful when, in the afternoon, great shadows are flung across it, and the opening is lit up by the golden reflection of the sky over the great plains beyond. On the Upper Essequibo—which is inhabited by caymans of great size ‘and fearfully tame,’ there are also several beautiful Falls; and as for a great portion of its extent the banks of the river are totally devoid of human population, the birds and mammals are as tame as the caymans. Jaguars, whose prey are the wild hogs, abound, and large tigers are tolerably numerous. It is curious that they should not be more numerous, for no animals prey upon them, and the few killed by wandering Indians would not affect their number in any sensible degree. Not until the thirtieth day of their voyage on the Upper Essequibo did the travellers see any ‘natives;’ then they fell in with a tribe of redskins with artificially elongated and flattened heads, who were terrified at the sight of white men. They proved to be harmless and friendly people. It is said that in this wild region, farther to the south, near the head-waters of the Trombetas, there is a tribe who have ponds of water encircled by stockades, to which they retire for the night, sleeping with their bodies submerged. This, however, the author holds to be an Indian ‘yarn.’

The reader cannot weary of the details of the numerous river-journeys by which Mr Brown has succeeded in exploring the unknown ‘Interior’ of British Guiana. In the course of them he has penetrated into recesses of nature untrodden previously by any human foot, and made acquaintance with plants, animals, birds, and fishes of which only the names had previously been known to a few of the specially learned in such matters. Our insufficient sketch of the nature of the book in which he has narrated his experiences, is not designed to satisfy, but to excite curiosity on the subject, and to direct the attention of such readers as are interested in the revelation of nature, for which our age will be celebrated in the history of intellectual labour, to Mr Barrington Brown’s monograph of British Guiana.

ROBERT BRAMLEIGH’S WILL.
Last will and testament! Words of solemn import—and of unreasonable terror to some people. How foolish and even culpable is it to leave a matter of so much importance to the last hours of life, when the strongest intellect must be incapable of fully considering and well weighing the final disposition of our worldly goods and effects—a disposition which is to affect the welfare and perhaps the happiness of those we love the best.

Most people have heard the well-worn aphorism which tells us that the man who is his own lawyer has a fool for his client. In the incident I am about to relate, a woman—I suppose the aphorism applies to either sex—proved to the contrary. It is the exception, however, that proves the rule. Had she remained her own lawyer, instead of consulting me, the probability is that she would have succeeded in her designs upon a large fortune, designs which I happily succeeded in frustrating.

It had been a busy day with me. I had been{237} working hard getting up evidence in a railway accident case, and was putting up my papers with a sigh of relief. Another forty minutes and I should be at home. I could almost smell the boiled capon and oyster-sauce which I knew were being prepared for me. ‘There’s many a slip ’twixt the cup and the lip,’ says the proverb; and in my case it proved only too true; for just as I was tying up the last bundle of papers, the office boy put his head in at the door and dispelled the tempting vision.

‘A woman to see you, if you please, sir. She won’t give no name. Says she’s a stranger.’

‘A stranger!’ I repeated. ‘What is she like? Is she a common person?’

‘Not exactly, sir,’ replied the lad.

‘A lady?’ I asked.

‘O no, sir.’

‘What is she, then?’

Arthur was a droll lad. I had brought him to London from the country, to oblige an old college friend. I am afraid that he was not of much use in the office, but he used to keep the other clerks in a good temper by his amusing ways and dry remarks.

Arthur paused, as if considering, and then, with a look of intelligence, as much as to say that he had hit the nail on the head this time, he answered: ‘Well, sir, she’s a sort of betwixt and between.’

‘Not a bad definition, Arthur. Ask the “betwixt and between” up-stairs.’

A tall middle-aged woman entered and took the seat I placed for her. She appeared to belong to the class Arthur had so happily designated as ‘betwixt and between;’ a person, rather than a lady. I rather pride myself on my power of reading faces, but I confess that hers puzzled me. It was absolutely void of expression. The features were hard and immovable, as if carved out of stone. She wore a closely fitting bonnet, under which the gray hair was neatly brushed in two smooth bands. I generally form my opinion of any one’s character from the expression of the eyes and mouth; but here I was at fault. An ugly scar on the left cheek extended across the lips, distorting the mouth, and the eye on the same side was sightless. I always feel at a disadvantage with one-eyed people; I never know what they are driving at. It is so hard to fathom their thoughts.

My visitor removed her gloves and, carefully smoothing them, placed them on the table beside her. She then produced from her pocket a large foolscap envelope, from which she drew a piece of paper folded longways. This she handed to me, explaining, in a hard monotonous voice, that she had been sent to me by her master, Mr Robert Bramleigh of Coleman Street, who was dangerously ill—in fact was not expected to live many hours. The paper, she said, had been written by his direction, and signed by him for his will that afternoon. Fearing lest it should not be in a proper form, he had desired her to take it to the nearest lawyer, and have one prepared according to the law.

I unfolded the paper, and read as follows:

‘In the name of God, Amen. I leave my body to the ground and my soul to Almighty God who gave it. Now this is the will of me, Robert Bramleigh of 559 Coleman Street. I give and leave all my houses, lands, money, and everything that I have, to Hannah Churton, my housekeeper, as a reward for her long and faithful services. Signed by me on Tuesday, December 12th, 1868.

Witnesses—

Robert Bramleigh.
James Burn.
Margaret Sims.’
I examined the writing carefully. The signature ‘Robert Bramleigh’ was weak and shaky. The will itself was written in a masculine-looking hand of singular decision and boldness. The characters were large and well formed.

The will had evidently been prepared by some one who had had but an imperfect knowledge of the form to be used for such a purpose. The solemn appeal to the Deity and the bequest of the testator’s body and soul was an old form, much in vogue with our grandfathers, who generally headed a will with one or two pious phrases.

The document shewn to me was, however, sufficient to give Hannah Churton all Mr Bramleigh’s property. There were the requisite number of witnesses, and the Principal Registry of Her Majesty’s Court of Probate would have granted letters of administration with the will annexed (the appointment of an executor having been omitted, the ordinary probate could not have been obtained), on one of the attesting witnesses making an affidavit that the will had been executed by the testator in the presence of himself and the other attesting witness, and that they had at the same time, and in the presence of each other, subscribed their names thereto as witnesses.

Now I am always very particular about wills; I think they are too serious to be settled in a hurry. I never will allow a client to execute one until I am convinced that its purport is perfectly understood.

‘You are Mrs Churton, I presume?’ I asked.

‘I am,’ she replied, looking me unflinchingly in the face. Somehow I felt suspicious that things were not so fair as they should be. I questioned her rather closely; but the only admission I obtained from her was that she had written the will, but that it was at her master’s dictation. I asked her if he had any family, but could get nothing from her save that he did not care to have his private affairs discussed by strangers. Worsted, I gave up the contest. I offered to prepare a more formal document; but before doing so, I declared that it was necessary I should see Mr Bramleigh. I named the omission of the appointment of an executor. This seemed rather to nonplus her. She asked whether she could not be named as executrix. The more aversion she shewed to my seeing her master the more convinced I felt that{238} something was wrong; and seeing that I was not to be moved from my purpose, she at last gave in; proposing, however, that I should accompany her back, as she greatly feared it would be too late if left till the morning.

A cab soon took us to No. 559 Coleman Street. It was a large gloomy old-fashioned house with a spacious entrance-hall. I was taken into the dining-room, and asked to wait while Mr Bramleigh was being prepared for my visit. The furniture in the room was old and very massive. Some handsome oil-paintings graced the walls. I am very fond of pictures, so raising the lamp, I walked round the room slowly inspecting them. On the right of the fire-place I came upon a picture with its face turned towards the wall. I think I must have the bump of inquisitiveness—if there is such a bump—largely developed, for anything approaching a mystery is sure to raise my curiosity. I turned the picture. It was the portrait in oils of a young and very beautiful girl in a dark riding-habit. Hearing footsteps outside the door, I restored the picture to the position in which I had found it, and as I did so I saw written at the bottom of the frame ‘Magdalen Bramleigh.’

The footsteps I had heard were those of the housemaid, who had come to announce that Mr Bramleigh was ready to see me. I followed her up-stairs, and was ushered into a large comfortable-looking bedroom. A cheerful fire burned in the grate. Facing it was a large four-post bedstead hung with white curtains, and at the head of the bed Mrs Churton was standing, with a small table in front of her, on which were placed an inkstand and some paper. She pulled back the curtain, and I saw an old man propped up by pillows, his face drawn and the eyes very much sunk. I almost feared that he was too far gone to make a will; but after speaking with him for a little time, I felt satisfied that the intellect was quite clear.

Turning to Mrs Churton, I told her that she need not wait; I would ring if I wanted anything.

‘Yes, go—go, Hannah!’ cried the sick man; and I fancied that I could detect an eagerness in his voice, as if he desired her absence rather than her presence. As Mrs Churton left the room I caught sight of the reflection of her face in the glass over the chimney-piece, but I do not think she would have scowled quite so much had she known that I was looking. I began by asking Mr Bramleigh what were his wishes with regard to his will. In low tones he told me that he desired to leave everything to Hannah Churton, his housekeeper, as a reward for her long and faithful services. I will not tire the reader by repeating the whole of our conversation. After great difficulty I extracted from him that he had no relatives save an only daughter, whom he had discarded, her fault being that she had married a young fellow in the army to whom her father had taken an unaccountable aversion. My own opinion was—and as the result turned out, it proved to be correct—that his mind had been poisoned against him by Hannah Churton, whose influence over her master was evidently very great. I thought of the sweet face of the portrait I had seen in the dining-room—doubtless that of the discarded daughter—and deserving or not deserving, I determined to fight a battle on her behalf.

I spoke gravely to the old man, although without much hope of success, but at last I got him to confess that he had had no intention of making his housekeeper his sole heiress until she had herself broached the subject to him. Her plan had been to artfully insinuate that the love of the newly married couple would not last very long on a lieutenant’s pay; and that as he had only married Miss Bramleigh for her money, he would soon tire of her when he found that she had nothing. She had then pledged herself to procure a separation, when she would make over everything left her by Mr Bramleigh, to his daughter. She certainly must have had great power over the old man to induce him to agree to such a scheme. I proposed to Mr Bramleigh that he should leave his property to some one on whom he could rely, in trust for his daughter. I also volunteered, although I have an aversion to the trouble and responsibility of a trusteeship, my services as trustee for this purpose. My arguments prevailed. He assented; and I prepared a will accordingly, the old man requesting that his medical man, Dr Ramsey, should be nominated as my co-trustee, and that an annuity of fifty pounds should be paid to Hannah Churton for life. I inwardly rebelled at this. My dislike to this woman was now so great that I could cheerfully have seen her cut out of the will without a farthing. The doctor arrived just as I had finished, and expressed his willingness to share the responsibility with me, which seemed to please Mr Bramleigh very much. Our names were therefore included as trustees.

I read the will to him very carefully, explaining, as I did so, its full effect. When I had finished, he muttered: ‘Quite right—quite right; but I am afraid Hannah will not be pleased.’ I counselled him not to mention it to her; and my advice seemed to satisfy him.

Ringing the bell, I requested Mrs Churton to summon James Burn and Margaret Sims, the two servants who had witnessed the first will. As soon as they were in the room, I gave Mr Bramleigh a pen, and placing the document before him, I said distinctly, so that all might hear: ‘This which I have just read to you is your final will, and you request James Burn and Margaret Sims to witness your execution of it?’ ‘It is—I do,’ he solemnly said, as with feeble fingers he wrote his name. The two awe-stricken domestics then added theirs, and I think their hands shook more than the testator’s. Hannah Churton was a silent spectator of the whole of this; but I could not see her face, as she stood in the background, out of the light of the lamp.

Before allowing any one to leave the room, I placed the will in a large envelope. Fastening it with wax, I impressed it with Mr Bramleigh’s monogram and crest by means of a seal that was in the tray of the inkstand. The old man watched me closely, and when I had finished, he said: ‘Keep it—till it is wanted;’ thus relieving me of a great embarrassment, for I did not like leaving it in the power of Hannah Churton, lest she should tamper with it.

On our way down-stairs, Dr Ramsey told me that his patient was rapidly sinking, and that he doubted whether he would live another twenty-four hours.

Taking him into the dining-room and shutting{239} the door, I told him my suspicions of the housekeeper, and that I felt afraid of leaving Mr Bramleigh alone with her all night. He agreed with me, and promised to send his assistant to watch till the morning, when, if Mr Bramleigh should still be living, he would on his own responsibility place a trustworthy nurse in charge. The housekeeper opened the door to let us out.

‘It is all right, Mrs Churton,’ I maliciously said as the doctor wished her good-night. ‘I am quite satisfied now. The will will be safe in my keeping. By-the-bye,’ I added, looking her sharply in the face, ‘had you not better let your master’s friends know of the danger he is in? Dr Ramsey says he does not think he will last much longer.’

She mumbled something in reply, but I could not catch what it was. I stayed talking upon indifferent subjects, to while away the time until the arrival of Dr Ramsey’s assistant. Mrs Churton, however, was, unlike her sex, remarkably reticent; I could only get the shortest replies from her. She seemed very much astonished and rather displeased when Dr Ramsey returned with his assistant. He explained to her that although there was no chance of saving his patient’s life, yet his last moments might be alleviated by skilled attendance; and therefore, as he himself could not stay all night, he had brought his assistant for that purpose.

In one’s experience of mankind we find that it is possible to be sometimes too clever. Mrs Hannah Churton was very clever, but she committed two great mistakes. The first was in consulting a lawyer. The will drawn by her—for so it really had been—might have been upset on the ground of undue influence. I say ‘might have been,’ for there is nothing so hard to prove as undue influence. The great point against her was the ousting of a child in favour of a stranger. Yet it would have been far from easy to prove that she was responsible for this, as Mr Bramleigh’s strange aversion to the army was well known; he often had been heard to threaten to discard his daughter if she ever should engage herself to a military man—doubtless thereby defeating his purpose, for the female mind is such that from Eve to the present generation the thing forbidden is the most desired. I think the probabilities are that the matter would have been compromised, and Hannah Churton enriched by a few thousands of her master’s wealth.

Mistake number two was as follows. The doctor had gone up-stairs to install his assistant, leaving me standing in the hall with the housekeeper. Fumbling in her pocket she pulled out a roll of bank-notes; thrusting these into my hands, she told me that it was her master’s wish that I should take them for my trouble. I unrolled them, and found two for ten, and one for five, pounds. Twenty-five pounds!

This was sharp, and yet foolish of Hannah. Had I been as great a rogue as she was—and I suppose by her offering them to me that she thought I was—she was retaining an important witness on her side, and therefore there was a certain amount of sharpness about it. On the other hand it was exceedingly foolish. The sum was so much out of proportion to my services that it was palpably a bribe. I am afraid that had it come out in evidence, it would have lost her the case and perhaps struck me off the rolls.

A long legal experience has taught me that in all dealings with doubtful people one’s safety lies in having a good witness. I waited till the doctor came down-stairs, occupying myself by entering the numbers of the notes in my pocket-book.

‘Look, doctor!’ I cried as he appeared, shewing him the notes. ‘Mr Bramleigh is a liberal paymaster.’ Turning to Mrs Churton, I said: ‘This will amply repay me.’

Retaining the note for five pounds, I returned her the other two. She took them from me without saying a word, but a black look came over her face. I think she began to suspect me. I got home very late that night. The capon was more than done, and so was the oyster sauce!

Mr Bramleigh died the next morning at ten o’clock. Soon after I had left he became unconscious, in which state he remained till shortly before his death, when there was a rally. Opening his eyes with an eager look, as if he missed something, he threw one arm outside the coverlet, and crying ‘Magdalen, Magdalen!’ he obeyed the summons which bade him thole his assize—yea, in that dread court where ‘Not proven’ is unknown. Guilty or not guilty? Who shall say?

The funeral took place on the Saturday, but an engagement prevented me from following. Mrs Churton had written requesting that I would attend with the will, which still remained in my possession with the one drawn by her.

I arrived at the house a little after one o’clock, and was at once taken into the dining-room, where I found Dr Ramsey, Mr Robson (a brother-practitioner), and a handsome young fellow, who was introduced to me as Lieutenant Maitland, the late Mr Bramleigh’s son-in-law.

The door opened, and a young lady entered. It did not require any introduction to tell me that she was the original of the portrait, still with its front turned towards the wall. Her face was very beautiful, notwithstanding its extreme paleness and the tear-swollen eyelids. She seated herself by the fire, her husband standing behind her, leaning his arms on the back of the chair.

Mrs Churton had closely followed Magdalen Maitland into the room. She was dressed in deep mourning, and wore a black crape cap; thus offering a marked contrast to Mrs Maitland, who was wearing a gray dress rather travel-soiled. Apparently she had had no time to prepare her mourning.

Dr Ramsey politely pulled forward a chair for the housekeeper. Taking it from him with a cold ‘Thank you,’ she placed it at the end of the table, directly facing me. Very stern and forbidding she looked in her black garments—her features immovable, her hands resting on her knees.

I was about to unseal the envelope containing the will, when Lieutenant Maitland interrupted me.

‘One moment, if you please,’ he said, placing his hand on my arm. ‘Before this will is read, I wish to say a few words. Mrs Churton tells me that Mr Bramleigh has left her everything unconditionally. I simply wish to express my firm belief that Mr Bramleigh could only have been induced to make such a will by unfair and{240} foul means. Although I have been the cause of an estrangement between father and daughter, I cannot think that he could so far forget his love for her as to strip her of everything. It is my intention, for her sake, to contest this will; and it is with that view that I have requested my old friend, Mr Robson, to be present to-day as my legal adviser.’

His frank manly face was flushed with honest excitement as, leaning over the back of his wife’s chair, he took her face between his hands and kissed it. ‘For your sake—not mine, dearest,’ I heard him whisper.

Mr Robson bowed when his name was mentioned. Mrs Churton still retained her position. A painful silence succeeded, unbroken save by the rustling of the paper as I broke the seal.

Magdalen Maitland had stolen her hand into her husband’s protecting clasp. I withdrew the will from its cover, and looked at Mrs Churton. Would that firm face quiver when the lottery proved a blank, and the fair castle fell because its foundations had been built in the sand? I could not help admiring the courage of the woman, and certainly felt curious as to how she would stand the ordeal through which she had to pass.

I read the will slowly and distinctly. It was very short. Save the annuity of fifty pounds to Hannah Churton for life, everything was left to Dr Ramsey and myself, in trust for Magdalen Maitland, to be settled on her as we in our discretion should think fit.

Astonishment is a mild word to express the feelings of those present, nor will I attempt to do so. My tale lies with Hannah Churton. Starting to her feet, she pushed the chair from her, and stretching out one arm, gave utterance to a fierce torrent of invective. The veil was lifted, and the native coarseness of the woman’s nature stood revealed. It was as I had feared. Unmindful of the bounty of but too generous a master, she heaped obloquy on his memory, and fearlessly asserted that she had wasted the best years of her life in his service!

Magdalen Maitland covered her ears with her hands, to shut out the hard words. Her husband led her towards the door; but Hannah Churton intercepted them. Tearing her cap from her head, she threw it on the ground before the frightened girl.

‘Trample on it!’ she cried in a frenzied voice. ‘Your father’s victim has no right to wear it!’ I must admit that she looked grandly tragic as she declaimed these fierce words. I felt half sorry for the poor defeated creature.

We had not a little trouble before the will was proved. It was strongly opposed by a sharp young fellow, who took up the case for Hannah Churton. It was, however, ultimately settled by an addition of another fifty pounds being made to the annuity she was to receive.

Lieutenant Maitland sold out of the army; and a rich relative of his dying soon afterwards, he inherited a large estate in Devonshire, where he and his wife went to reside.

Nine years have passed since then; and Mrs Maitland declares that there are ‘silver threads among the gold.’ The cares of a young family have somewhat marred her good looks, but they will live again in my little god-daughter Magdalen, who promises to rival her mother in beauty.

THE OLD HOME.
It is not a castle olden,
Standing in the sunlight golden,
Relic of the Past,
With a deep moat mossed and hoary,
And a ray from bygone glory
O’er its ruin cast.
But a mansion fair and pleasant,
Known alike of peer and peasant
For its kindly cheer,
With its glades and leafy covers,
Ferny haunts of loitering lovers,
And the shy wild-deer.
Crimson blossoms redly glowing,
Flickering shadows o’er it throwing,
Veil the lichen’s stain;
Sunset gleams of rose and amber,
Where the ivy tendrils clamber,
Flush each casement pane.
Lurks no ghost behind the arras,
Happy midnight dreams to harass,
Wakes no Banshee’s wail;
Tapestry, nor antique lumber,
Doth its sunny hall encumber,
Shield, nor suit of mail.
Morning wakes its household noises,
Busy footsteps, laughing voices,
As in days of yore;
Burns its warm hearth too, brightly,
Where the gay groups gather nightly,
Though it knows no more
Hearts, by other loves supplanted;
Steps, that once its precincts haunted,
Hushed by mount and sea;
Only my sad heart remembers
Flowery Junes and dark Decembers,
Spent, old home, in thee!
Shadows pace the garden alleys,
Wander with me through the valleys,
Join my woodland walk;
And by streamlets willow-shaded,
Where the song-birds serenaded,
Parted lovers talk—
Idly talking, idly dreaming,
With the sunlit waters gleaming
Golden at their feet,
While the fair-haired children plunder,
Rosy-mouthed, with blue-eyed wonder,
Fruitage wild and sweet.
When I stretch my hands in greeting,
Each familiar name repeating,
Straightway from my sight,
Back to angel bowers they vanish,
Even as beams of morning banish
Visions of the night.
J. I. L.
Printed and Published by W. & R. Chambers, 47 Paternoster Row, London, and 339 High Street, Edinburgh.

All Rights Reserved.