« AnteriorContinuar »
ence seemed to re-wither, as he felt for the poor blighted young life which had twined now for two years round the sapless stem of his, and imparted to him from its own freshness and bloom a sort of fictitious vitality.
It was a bright, warm July morning: the birds were singing as blithely and as sweetly as they could possibly have done at their first concert in Eden, before the dark Triumveri-Sin, Sorrow, and Death-usurped the rule of the world. The glass door, and the two windows in Oliver Hartsfoot's dining-room looking upon the Mall, were all open; the table was laid for breakfast,-and from the profusion of scarlet strawberries, large pouting, bigaroon cherries, and golden apricots that adorned it, looked like an altar raised by some pious pagan to Pomona—these fruits, with the lovely flowers that intersected them, and the large glass jug full of thick cream, had all arrived fresh from The Chestnuts, with a kind little note from Dorothy, about an hour beforeand near the window sat Master Hartsfoot, reading Plato, and awaiting the arrival of his two guests, Mr. Locke and Dr. Fairbrace. Noah Pump had made several unnecessary entrances into the room, and exits from it ; had even coughed slightly, and cleared his voice, to attract his master's attention ; but all in vain, for that tasteless individual, it appeared, preferred Plato to
Pump, and made no sign ; till at length, fairly worried by the irritation of Mr. Pump's feeble imitations of the rumblings of an earthquake, achieved by dragging chairs along the sides of the polished oak floor, to which the Turkey carpet did not extend, and crumpling and rattling “ The Whitehall Gazette,” Master Oliver looked up, and said
That will do, Pump; Barton has put everything, till you bring the breakfast when Mr. Locke and Dr. Fairbrace come.”
“ Beg pardon, sir,” said Noah, making a stand, like all
persons long in office, against this sort of summary dismissal, “but it's on my mind, it raley is.”
“ What's on your mind ?” said his master, now closing his book, and looking at him really with attention,
“Why, sir, this here tremenjus piece of wickedness—the on accountable vanishing away, for all the world like a Sperrit, of the poor dear Cappen -Cappen Broderick in course understood.”
“It's on a great many persons' minds for that, Master Noah,—and on their hearts, too. I'd give all that I most value of my small possessions, if I could only get the slightest clue to the mystery.”
“You'll ex-cuse me, sir, what I'm a going to say,” and here he twisted a napkin he held in his
hand into a sort of model man-of-war's rope; “ but it strikes me forcible-it do, indeed, siras they has been a trying some of their infarnel hexperiments upon the poor young gentleman.”
“Why, what do you mean, Noah? And who on earth do you mean by “they' and 'trying experiments upon him ?!”
“Why them, sir."
And Noah nodded his head, winked his right eye, and jerked his thumb over his right shoulder in the direction of the cedar parlour, or rather of the laboratory within it.
“ You are enough to drive any one wild with your nods and winks and riddles; do, for Heaven's sake, speak out in plain language, so that your meaning may be got at, if you have any meaning.”
“Well, sir, you'll promise not to be offended, cause in course it ain't no fault of yourn, though there is summut of a proverb 'bout evil communications corrupting on them as has manners, which has often made me afeard for you; least ways, that you might be 'ticed or snared into what you had little notion of."
Hartsfoot, who thought by all this beating about the bush that he had some positive intelligence respecting Gilbert, was now fairly worked into a passion, and rising from his seat and flinging the book he held to a table at the other end of the room, exclaimed
6. In the name of all the asses that ever brayed, once for all, will you leave your confounded inuendoes and conundrums, and say in plain English what you are driving at ?"
Well, sir, they does do most onaccountableist things, and that's no news to you; and don't you think but they may, without meaning on it; mind I don't say as they meant it, but they may have missed the trick, and done it wrong upon the Cappen?”
“Once for all, who do you mean by they? And what trick have they done?”
66 Why, them there saveons, to be sure. There, it's out now, and I feel considerable better.”
Angry as he was at this solution of Mr. Pump's complex enigmas, Hartsfoot burst into a tremendous fit of laughter.
“Why, surely,” said he, as soon as he could speak, “ you are not such an arrant donkey as to suppose that scientific gentlemen of high standing, or saveons, as you call them, would try murderous experiments upon any one, much less upon a person so universally loved and respected as poor Captain Broderick ?"
“I may be a great fool,” rejoined Noah, shaking his head solemnly, “and better be that than a knave; and in course the quality is, and ought to be, the best judge of fools, but I can give you a case in pint, sir, of the doings of them saveons, and it was done only last week, at White Hall, too, under his Majesty's very nose, and he seed it with his own eyes. True as I stan' here, they had a dead sheep brought into the matted gallery, and if Surgeon Pierce, Sir John Baber, and a lot of these here saveons, didn't bewitch the poor beast in some most impus manner; but as sure as your there, sir, it stood up on all fours agin, just as naitrel as if it had been alive. Surgeon Pierce said as there war only one man in the world as know'd how to do this, and he had taught him."*
“Yes, I have heard Mr. Pierce describe this phenomenon, and it certainly is very extraordinary, but it is all produced by electricity and natural causes, which would be too long to describe to you ; but I really cannot see that giving momentary motion to a dead body is a case in point to suspecting people to putting to death a living one."
“ Naitrel causes !” groaned Noah, “strange naitrel causes to snap their fingers at natur in the most diabolicalist manner. Don't 'ee be lead away by 'em. Now pray don't ’ee, my dear good master, for it is contrairy to the natur of things, to ’tice angels into doing on the devil's work.”
* An Italian, a Venetian of the name of Salviati, who had, as a matter of scientific experiment, anticipated ihe discovery of the Bolognese Galvani by nearly a century, but neither practised nor perfectionised it like the latter, but had simply hit upon the fact of the peculiar sort of electricity contained in the body of all animals.