“The very man!” said Billings : “a young, fair-haired man, who came here with the child, and a dragoon sergeant."

“Count de Galgenstein by name, who, on the point of death, recommended the infant to me."

“And did he pay you seven years' boarding ?” said Mr. Billings, who was quite alive at the very idea.

Alas, sir, not a jot! he died, sir, six hundred pounds in my debt : didn't he, Ensign?"

“Six hundred, upon my secred honour ! I remember when he got into the house along with the poli"!

“Psha! what matters it?". here broke out Mr. Wood, looking fiercely at the Ensign. "Six hundred pounds he owes me: how was he. to pay you? But he told me to take charge of this boy, if I found him; and found him I have, and will take charge of him, if you will hand him over.”

“Send our Tom!” cried Billings. And when that youth appeared, scowling, and yet trembling, and prepared, as it seemed, for another castigation, his father, to his surprise, asked him if he was willing to go along with those gentlemen, or whether he would be a good lad and stay with him.

Mr. Tom replied immediately, “I won't be a good lad, and I'd rather go to than stay with you !”

“Will you leave your brothers and sisters ?” said Billings, looking very dismal.

Hang my brothers and sisters—I hate 'em ; and, besides, I haven't got any!”

"But you had a good mother, hadn't you, Tom?"
Tom paused for a moment.
Mother's gone,"

,” said he, "and you flog me, and I'll go with these men.”

“Well, then, go thy ways,” said Billings, starting up in a passion : "go thy ways for a graceless reprobate ; and if this gentleman will take you, he may do so.”

After some further parley, the conversation ended, and the next morning Mr. Wood's party consisted of three : a little boy being mounted upon the bay horse, in addition to the Ensign or himself; and the whole company went journeying towards Bristol.

[ocr errors]


We have said that Mrs. Hayes had, on a sudden, taken a fit of maternal affection, and was bent upon being restored to her child; and that benign destiny which watched over the life of this lucky lady instantly set about gratifying her wish, and without cost to herself of coach-hire or saddle-horse, sent the young gentleman very quickly to her arms. The village in which the Hayeses dwelt was but a very few miles out of the road from Bristol ; whither, on the benevolent mission above hinted at, our party of worthies were bound : and coming, towards the afternoon, in sight of the house of that very Justice Ballance who had been so nearly' the ruin of Ensign Macshane, that officer narrated, for the hundredth time, and with much glee, the circumstances which had then befallen him, and the manner in which Mrs. Hayes, the elder, had come forward to his rescue.

Suppose we go and see the old girl ?" suggested Mr. Wood. "No harm can come to us now.” And his comrade always assenting, they wound their way towards the village, and reached it as the evening came on. In the public-house where they rested, Wood made inquiries concerning the Hayes family; was informed of the death of the old couple, of the establishment of John Hayes and his wife in their place, and of the kind of life that these latter led together. When all these points had been imparted to him, he ruminated much : an expression of sublime triumph and exultation at length lighted up his features.

“I think, Tim,” said he at last, “that we can make more than five pieces of that boy."

“Oh, in coorse!” said Timothy Macshane, Esq. ; who always agreed with his “Meejor."

“In coorse, you fool ! and how? I'll tell you how. This Hayes is well to do in the world, and

“And we'll nab him again-ha, ha!” roared out Macshane. By my secred honour, Meejor, there never was a gineral like you at a strathyjam!”

“Peace, you bellowing donkey, and don't wake the child. The man is well to do, his wife rules him, and they have no children. Now, either she will be very glad to have the boy back again, and pay for the finding of him, or else she has said nothing about him, and will pay us for being silent too: or, at any rate, Hayes himself will be ashamed at finding his wife the mother of a child a year older than his marriage, and

will pay for the keeping of the brat away. There's profit, my dear, in any one of the cases, or my name's not Peter Brock."

When the Ensign understood this wondrous argument he would fain have fallen on his knees and worshipped his friend and guide. They began operations, almost immediately, by an attack on Mrs. Hayes. On hearing, as she did in private interview with the ex-corporal the next morning, that her son was found, she was agitated by both of the passions which Wood attributed to her. She longed to have the boy back, and would give any reasonable sum to see him ; but she dreaded exposure, and would pay equally to avoid that. How could she gain the one point and escape the other ?

Mrs. Hayes hit upon an expedient which, I am given to understand, is not uncommon now-a-days. She suddenly discovered that she had a dear brother, who had been obliged to fly the country in consequence of having joined the Pretender, and had died in France, leaving behind him an only son. This boy her brother had, with his last breath, recommended to her protection,—and had confided him to the charge of a brother officer who was now in the country, and would speedily make his appearance; and, to put the story beyond a doubt, Mr. Wood wrote the letter from her brother stating all these particulars, and Ensign Macshane received full instructions how to perform the part of the “brother officer.” What consideration Mr. Wood received for his services, we cannot say; only it is well known that Mr. Hayes caused to be committed to gaol a young apprentice in his service, charged with having broken open a cupboard in which Mr. Hayes had forty guineas in gold and silver, and to which none but he and his wife had access.

Having made these arrangements, the Corporal and his little party decamped to a short distance, and Mrs. Catherine was left to prepare her husband for a speedy addition to his family in the shape of this darling nephew. John Hayes received the news with anything but pleasure. He had never heard of any brother of Catherine's; she had been bred at the workhouse, and nobody ever hinted that she had relatives : but it is easy for a lady of moderate genius to invent circumstances; and with lies, tears, threats, coaxings, oaths, and other blandishments, she compelled him to submit.

Two days afterwards, as Mr. Hayes was working in his shop with his lady seated beside him, the trampling of a horse was heard in his courtyard, and a gentleman, of huge stature, descended from it, and strode into the shop. His figure was wrapped in a large cloak; but Mr. Hayes could not help fancying that he had somewhere seen his face before.

“This, I preshoom," said the gentleman, “is Misther Hayes, that I have come so many miles to see, and this is his amiable lady? I was the most intimate frind, madam, of your laminted brother, who died in King Lewis's service, and whose last touching letthers I despatched to you two

I have with me a further precious token of my dear friend, Captain Hall--it is here."

And so saying, the military gentleman, with one arm, removed his cloak, and stretching forward the other into Hayes's face almost, stretched likewise forward a little boy, grinning and sprawling in the air, and prevented only from falling to the ground by the hold which the Ensign kept of the waistband of his little coat and breeches.

“Isn't he a pretty boy ? ” said Mrs. Hayes sidling up to her husband tenderly, and pressing one of Mr. Hayes's hands.

days ago

[blocks in formation]

About the lad's beauty it is needless to say what the carpenter thought; but that night, and for many, many nights after the lad stayed at Mr. Hayes's.





We are obliged, in recording this history, to follow accurately that great authority, the “ Calendarium Newgaticum Roagorumque Registerium,” of which every lover of literature in the present day knows the value; and as that remarkable work totally discards all the unities in its narratives, and reckons the life of its heroes only by their actions, and not by periods of time, we must follow in the wake of this mighty ark--a

humble cockboat. When it pauses,' we pause; when it runs ten knots an hour, we run with the same celerity; and as, in order to carry the reader from the penultimate chapter of this work unto the last chapter, we were compelled to make him leap over a gap of seven blank years, ten years more must likewise be granted to us before we are at liberty to resume our history.

During that period, Master Thomas Billings had been under the especial care of his mother; and, as may be imagined, he rather increased than diminished the accomplishments for which he had been remarkable while under the roof of his foster-father. And with this advantage, that while at the blacksmith's, and only three or four years of age, his virtues were necessarily appreciated only in his family circle, and among those few acquaintances of his own time of life whom a youth of three can be expected to meet in the alleys or over the gutters of a small country hamlet,-in his mother's residence, his circle extended with his own growth, and he began to give proofs of those powers of which in infancy there had been only. encouraging indications. Thus it was nowise remarkable that a child of four years should not know his letters, and should have had a great disinclination to learn them; but when a young man of fifteen showed the same creditable ignorance, the same undeviating dislike, it was easy to see that he possessed much resolution and perseverance. When it was remarked, too, that, in case of any difference, he not only beat the usher, but by no'means disdained to torment and bully the very smallest boys of the school, it was easy to see that his mind was comprehensive and careful, as well as courageous and grasping. As it was said of the Duke of Wellington, in the Peninsula, that he had a thought for everybody--from Lord Hill to the smallest drummer in the army -in like 'manner Tom Billings bestowed his attention on high and low; but in the shape of blows : he would fight the strongest and kick the smallest, and was always at work with one or the other. At thirteen, when he was removed from the establishment whither he had been sent, he was the cock of the school out of doors, and the very last boy in. He used to let the little boys and new-comers pass him by, and laugh'; but he always belaboured them unmercifully afterwards; and

« 前へ次へ »