Obrázky na stránke

ful figure. He had never seen a girl so winsome; and when they met again, he followed her admiringly to her home, and saw the exhibition of the bullfinches in Dan's window. Here was an opportunity to stare at her; and he enjoyed the cheap pleasure again and again until Dan noticed his face at the window. Then a happy thought entered Mr. Fewster's mind. The birds certainly were wonderfully intelligent, and their clever tricks would most likely render them easy of disposal. He entered into communication with a West-end fashionable bird - fancier—the farther away from Dan the better, he thought-and the bird-fancier (who had a connection among fine ladies) informed him that if the birds could really do all that he stated, a profitable trade might be established between them. • What a fine opportunity,' thought Solomon Fewster, ‘of introducing myself to the pretty girl in the light of a benefactor!' Then came the first interview and the first purchase. The pair of bullfinches he bought for fifteen shillings he sold for thirty; and the following week the fashionable bird-fancier asked for more.

Thus it was that Solomon Fewster made his growing passion for Ellen a means of putting money in his purse ; and thus it was that

[ocr errors]




he came to be looked upon as a privileged visitor to the house.

The Old Sailor also found his way to the house. He was not as frequent a visitor as Mr. Fewster, but he was a more welcome one. The Old Sailor might have been a child, his heart was so green ; and he had such a fund of stories to tell, and he told them with such simplicity and enthusiasm, believing in them thoroughly, however wild they were, that his hearers would hang upon his words, and laugh with him and sorrow with him, according to the nature of his narrative. They spent the pleasantest of pleasant evenings together, and when Praiseworthy Meddler told his sea-stories, Minnie would sit very quiet on the floor-a favourite

-a fashion of hers— listening eagerly to every rd that dropped from his lips. Then Basil Kindred would read Shakespeare when he could be coaxed into the humour, and would keep them spellbound by his eloquence. He had ceased wandering in the streets and begging for his living. Necessity was his master there. He was stricken down with rheumatic fever, which so prostrated him that he was unable to pursue his vagrant career. They had a very hard task in inducing him to remain with them.


'Live upon you, my dear lad!' he exclaimed loftily. “No; I will perish first !'

• There is enough for all, sir,' replied Dan. 'Do not go. I would take from you—indeed, indeed I would !--could we change places. And there is Minnie, sir,'—with such a wistful tender glance towards Minnie, who was growing very beautiful, —'what would she do? But not for her nor for you do I ask this, sir. It is for me ; for Ellen and Susan and Joshua. How happy he will be to find you here when he returns! You and Minnie, that he talked of so often, and with such affection! Then think, sir. You would not like to be the means of breaking up our little happy circle ; and it is happy, isn't it, Minnie ?'

“Ah, yes, Dan ! replied Minnie, with an anxious look at her father. Only one is wanting to make it perfect.'

"And that one is Joshua,' said Dan, divining whom she meant, and grateful to her for the thought.

* And that one is Joshua,' she repeated softly, placing her shell to his ear. “Do you hear it? Is it not sweet, the singing of the sea ?'

But all argument and entreaty would have been

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

thrown away upon Basil if it had not been for Minnie. It was she who, when they were alone, prevailed upon him to stay.

. • Your mother suffered for me and died for me,' he said to her, as he lay upon his bed of pain. ‘How like her you are growing, Minnie! Well, well, one is enough. I will stay, child, for your sake.'

And she kissed him and thanked him, and whispered that he had made her happy.

The next day she told Dan in a whisper that father was not going away; and Dan clapped his hands, and quietly said, “Bravo !'

' And Joshua used to speak about us ?' she remarked, with assumed carelessness.

Often and often, Minnie,' answered Dan.

And really speak of us affectionately ?' ' Ah! if you had only heard him !

You know what a voice he has—like music.'

A sudden flush in her face, a rapid beating at her heart, a rush of tears to her eyes. None of ,

. which did Dan notice, for her eyes were towards the ground. A little while afterwards she was singing about the house, as blithe as a bird. Dan, stopping in the midst of his work, listened to the soft rustle of her dress in the passage, and to her




soft singing as she went up the stairs; and a grateful look stole into his eyes.

Not to hear that!' he said. "Ah, it would be worse than death! But she is going to stay, birdie,' nodding gaily to one of his pets; "she is going to stay !

Dan told Minnie of the pretty fancies he had in connection with his friend; of the manner in which his love had grown, until it was welded in his heart for ever and ever; of Joshua's care and self-devotion towards him, the poor useless cripple. He told her of his fancy about the dream theory, and how he had believed in it, and of the experiments he had made. And Minnie listened with delight, and sympathised with Dan-ay, and shed tears with him and showed in every word she uttered how thoroughly she understood his feelings.

I have dreamt of him over and over again,' said Dan; but of course I don't know, and indeed I can't believe, that I have dreamt of him as he is. He is a man by this time, Minnie; and—let me see !—he is standing on his ship, with his bright eyes and handsome face

“Yes ! interrupted Minnie eagerly.
Made brighter and handsomer by living on

[ocr errors]
« PredošláPokračovať »