CONTAINS SOME INTRODUCTORY PARTICULARS
RELATIVE TO A YOUNG GENTLEMAN WHO NOW ARRIVES UPON
THE SCENE; AND A NEW ADVENTURE WHICH HAPPENED TO OLIVER
It was almost too much happiness to
bear. Oliver felt stunned and stupefied by the
unexpected intelligence; he could not weep, or speak,
or rest. He had scarcely the power of understanding
anything that had passed, until, after a long ramble
in the quiet evening air, a burst of tears came to
his relief, and he seemed to awaken, all at once, to
a full sense of the joyful change that had occurred,
and the almost insupportable load of anguish which
had been taken from his breast.
The night was fast closing in, when
he returned homeward: laden with flowers which
he had culled, with peculiar care, for the adornment
of the sick chamber. As he walked briskly along
the road, he heard behind him, the noise of some vehicle,
approaching at a furious pace. Looking round,
he saw that it was a post-chaise, driven at great speed;
and as the horses were galloping, and the road was
narrow, he stood leaning against a gate until it should
have passed him.
As it dashed on, Oliver caught a glimpse
of a man in a white nightcap, whose face seemed familiar
to him, although his view was so brief that he could
not identify the person. In another second or
two, the nightcap was thrust out of the chaise-window,
and a stentorian voice bellowed to the driver to stop:
which he did, as soon as he could pull up his horses.
Then, the nightcap once again appeared: and the
same voice called Oliver by his name.
‘Here!’ cried the voice.
’Oliver, what’s the news? Miss Rose!
‘Is is you, Giles?’ cried
Oliver, running up to the chaise-door.
Giles popped out his nightcap again,
preparatory to making some reply, when he was suddenly
pulled back by a young gentleman who occupied the
other corner of the chaise, and who eagerly demanded
what was the news.
‘In a word!’ cried the gentleman, ‘Better
‘Better much better!’ replied
‘Thank Heaven!’ exclaimed the gentleman.
‘You are sure?’
‘Quite, sir,’ replied
Oliver. ’The change took place only a few
hours ago; and Mr. Losberne says, that all danger
is at an end.’
The gentleman said not another word,
but, opening the chaise-door, leaped out, and taking
Oliver hurriedly by the arm, led him aside.
’You are quite certain?
There is no possibility of any mistake on your part,
my boy, is there?’ demanded the gentleman in
a tremulous voice. ‘Do not deceive me,
by awakening hopes that are not to be fulfilled.’
‘I would not for the world,
sir,’ replied Oliver. ’Indeed you
may believe me. Mr. Losberne’s words were,
that she would live to bless us all for many years
to come. I heard him say so.’
The tears stood in Oliver’s
eyes as he recalled the scene which was the beginning
of so much happiness; and the gentleman turned his
face away, and remained silent, for some minutes.
Oliver thought he heard him sob, more than once;
but he feared to interrupt him by any fresh remark for
he could well guess what his feelings were and
so stood apart, feigning to be occupied with his nosegay.
All this time, Mr. Giles, with the
white nightcap on, had been sitting on the steps of
the chaise, supporting an elbow on each knee, and
wiping his eyes with a blue cotton pocket-handkerchief
dotted with white spots. That the honest fellow
had not been feigning emotion, was abundantly demonstrated
by the very red eyes with which he regarded the young
gentleman, when he turned round and addressed him.
‘I think you had better go on
to my mother’s in the chaise, Giles,’
said he. ’I would rather walk slowly on,
so as to gain a little time before I see her.
You can say I am coming.’
‘I beg your pardon, Mr. Harry,’
said Giles: giving a final polish to his ruffled
countenance with the handkerchief; ’but if you
would leave the postboy to say that, I should be very
much obliged to you. It wouldn’t be proper
for the maids to see me in this state, sir; I should
never have any more authority with them if they did.’
‘Well,’ rejoined Harry
Maylie, smiling, ’you can do as you like.
Let him go on with the luggage, if you wish it, and
do you follow with us. Only first exchange that
nightcap for some more appropriate covering, or we
shall be taken for madmen.’
Mr. Giles, reminded of his unbecoming
costume, snatched off and pocketed his nightcap; and
substituted a hat, of grave and sober shape, which
he took out of the chaise. This done, the postboy
drove off; Giles, Mr. Maylie, and Oliver, followed
at their leisure.
As they walked along, Oliver glanced
from time to time with much interest and curiosity
at the new comer. He seemed about five-and-twenty
years of age, and was of the middle height; his countenance
was frank and handsome; and his demeanor easy and
prepossessing. Notwithstanding the difference
between youth and age, he bore so strong a likeness
to the old lady, that Oliver would have had no great
difficulty in imagining their relationship, if he had
not already spoken of her as his mother.
Mrs. Maylie was anxiously waiting
to receive her son when he reached the cottage.
The meeting did not take place without great emotion
on both sides.
‘Mother!’ whispered the
young man; ‘why did you not write before?’
‘I did,’ replied Mrs.
Maylie; ’but, on reflection, I determined to
keep back the letter until I had heard Mr. Losberne’s
‘But why,’ said the young
man, ’why run the chance of that occurring which
so nearly happened? If Rose had I
cannot utter that word now if this illness
had terminated differently, how could you ever have
forgiven yourself! How could I ever have know
‘If that had been the
case, Harry,’ said Mrs. Maylie, ’I fear
your happiness would have been effectually blighted,
and that your arrival here, a day sooner or a day
later, would have been of very, very little import.’
‘And who can wonder if it be
so, mother?’ rejoined the young man; ’or
why should I say, if? It is it
is you know it, mother you must
’I know that she deserves the
best and purest love the heart of man can offer,’
said Mrs. Maylie; ’I know that the devotion and
affection of her nature require no ordinary return,
but one that shall be deep and lasting. If I
did not feel this, and know, besides, that a changed
behaviour in one she loved would break her heart, I
should not feel my task so difficult of performance,
or have to encounter so many struggles in my own bosom,
when I take what seems to me to be the strict line
‘This is unkind, mother,’
said Harry. ’Do you still suppose that
I am a boy ignorant of my own mind, and mistaking
the impulses of my own soul?’
‘I think, my dear son,’
returned Mrs. Maylie, laying her hand upon his shoulder,
’that youth has many generous impulses which
do not last; and that among them are some, which,
being gratified, become only the more fleeting.
Above all, I think’ said the lady, fixing her
eyes on her son’s face, ’that if an enthusiastic,
ardent, and ambitious man marry a wife on whose name
there is a stain, which, though it originate in no
fault of hers, may be visited by cold and sordid people
upon her, and upon his children also: and, in
exact proportion to his success in the world, be cast
in his teeth, and made the subject of sneers against
him: he may, no matter how generous and good
his nature, one day repent of the connection he formed
in early life. And she may have the pain of
knowing that he does so.’
‘Mother,’ said the young
man, impatiently, ’he would be a selfish brute,
unworthy alike of the name of man and of the woman
you describe, who acted thus.’
‘You think so now, Harry,’ replied his
‘And ever will!’ said
the young man. ’The mental agony I have
suffered, during the last two days, wrings from me
the avowal to you of a passion which, as you well
know, is not one of yesterday, nor one I have lightly
formed. On Rose, sweet, gentle girl! my heart
is set, as firmly as ever heart of man was set on
woman. I have no thought, no view, no hope in
life, beyond her; and if you oppose me in this great
stake, you take my peace and happiness in your hands,
and cast them to the wind. Mother, think better
of this, and of me, and do not disregard the happiness
of which you seem to think so little.’
‘Harry,’ said Mrs. Maylie,
’it is because I think so much of warm and sensitive
hearts, that I would spare them from being wounded.
But we have said enough, and more than enough, on
this matter, just now.’
‘Let it rest with Rose, then,’
interposed Harry. ’You will not press
these overstrained opinions of yours, so far, as to
throw any obstacle in my way?’
‘I will not,’ rejoined
Mrs. Maylie; ‘but I would have you consider ’
‘I have considered!’
was the impatient reply; ’Mother, I have considered,
years and years. I have considered, ever since
I have been capable of serious reflection. My
feelings remain unchanged, as they ever will; and
why should I suffer the pain of a delay in giving them
vent, which can be productive of no earthly good?
No! Before I leave this place, Rose shall hear
‘She shall,’ said Mrs. Maylie.
’There is something in your
manner, which would almost imply that she will hear
me coldly, mother,’ said the young man.
‘Not coldly,’ rejoined the old lady; ‘far
‘How then?’ urged the young man.
‘She has formed no other attachment?’
‘No, indeed,’ replied
his mother; ’you have, or I mistake, too strong
a hold on her affections already. What I would
say,’ resumed the old lady, stopping her son
as he was about to speak, ’is this. Before
you stake your all on this chance; before you suffer
yourself to be carried to the highest point of hope;
reflect for a few moments, my dear child, on Rose’s
history, and consider what effect the knowledge of
her doubtful birth may have on her decision:
devoted as she is to us, with all the intensity of
her noble mind, and with that perfect sacrifice of
self which, in all matters, great or trifling, has
always been her characteristic.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘That I leave you to discover,’
replied Mrs. Maylie. ’I must go back to
her. God bless you!’
‘I shall see you again to-night?’ said
the young man, eagerly.
‘By and by,’ replied the lady; ‘when
I leave Rose.’
‘You will tell her I am here?’ said Harry.
‘Of course,’ replied Mrs. Maylie.
’And say how anxious I have
been, and how much I have suffered, and how I long
to see her. You will not refuse to do this, mother?’
‘No,’ said the old lady;
‘I will tell her all.’ And pressing
her son’s hand, affectionately, she hastened
from the room.
Mr. Losberne and Oliver had remained
at another end of the apartment while this hurried
conversation was proceeding. The former now held
out his hand to Harry Maylie; and hearty salutations
were exchanged between them. The doctor then
communicated, in reply to multifarious questions from
his young friend, a precise account of his patient’s
situation; which was quite as consolatory and full
of promise, as Oliver’s statement had encouraged
him to hope; and to the whole of which, Mr. Giles,
who affected to be busy about the luggage, listened
with greedy ears.
‘Have you shot anything particular,
lately, Giles?’ inquired the doctor, when he
‘Nothing particular, sir,’
replied Mr. Giles, colouring up to the eyes.
‘Nor catching any thieves, nor
identifying any house-breakers?’ said the doctor.
‘None at all, sir,’ replied Mr. Giles,
with much gravity.
‘Well,’ said the doctor,
’I am sorry to hear it, because you do that
sort of thing admirably. Pray, how is Brittles?’
‘The boy is very well, sir,’
said Mr. Giles, recovering his usual tone of patronage;
‘and sends his respectful duty, sir.’
‘That’s well,’ said
the doctor. ’Seeing you here, reminds me,
Mr. Giles, that on the day before that on which I
was called away so hurriedly, I executed, at the request
of your good mistress, a small commission in your
favour. Just step into this corner a moment,
Mr. Giles walked into the corner with
much importance, and some wonder, and was honoured
with a short whispering conference with the doctor,
on the termination of which, he made a great many
bows, and retired with steps of unusual stateliness.
The subject matter of this conference was not disclosed
in the parlour, but the kitchen was speedily enlightened
concerning it; for Mr. Giles walked straight thither,
and having called for a mug of ale, announced, with
an air of majesty, which was highly effective, that
it had pleased his mistress, in consideration of his
gallant behaviour on the occasion of that attempted
robbery, to deposit, in the local savings-bank, the
sum of five-and-twenty pounds, for his sole use and
benefit. At this, the two women-servants lifted
up their hands and eyes, and supposed that Mr. Giles,
pulling out his shirt-frill, replied, ‘No, no’;
and that if they observed that he was at all haughty
to his inferiors, he would thank them to tell him
so. And then he made a great many other remarks,
no less illustrative of his humility, which were received
with equal favour and applause, and were, withal,
as original and as much to the purpose, as the remarks
of great men commonly are.
Above stairs, the remainder of the
evening passed cheerfully away; for the doctor was
in high spirits; and however fatigued or thoughtful
Harry Maylie might have been at first, he was not proof
against the worthy gentleman’s good humour,
which displayed itself in a great variety of sallies
and professional recollections, and an abundance of
small jokes, which struck Oliver as being the drollest
things he had ever heard, and caused him to laugh
proportionately; to the evident satisfaction of the
doctor, who laughed immoderately at himself, and made
Harry laugh almost as heartily, by the very force of
sympathy. So, they were as pleasant a party as,
under the circumstances, they could well have been;
and it was late before they retired, with light and
thankful hearts, to take that rest of which, after
the doubt and suspense they had recently undergone,
they stood much in need.
Oliver rose next morning, in better
heart, and went about his usual occupations, with
more hope and pleasure than he had known for many
days. The birds were once more hung out, to sing,
in their old places; and the sweetest wild flowers
that could be found, were once more gathered to gladden
Rose with their beauty. The melancholy which had
seemed to the sad eyes of the anxious boy to hang,
for days past, over every object, beautiful as all
were, was dispelled by magic. The dew seemed
to sparkle more brightly on the green leaves; the air
to rustle among them with a sweeter music; and the
sky itself to look more blue and bright. Such
is the influence which the condition of our own thoughts,
exercise, even over the appearance of external objects.
Men who look on nature, and their fellow-men, and
cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right;
but the sombre colours are reflections from their
own jaundiced eyes and hearts. The real hues
are delicate, and need a clearer vision.
It is worthy of remark, and Oliver
did not fail to note it at the time, that his morning
expeditions were no longer made alone. Harry Maylie,
after the very first morning when he met Oliver coming
laden home, was seized with such a passion for flowers,
and displayed such a taste in their arrangement, as
left his young companion far behind. If Oliver
were behindhand in these respects, he knew where the
best were to be found; and morning after morning they
scoured the country together, and brought home the
fairest that blossomed. The window of the young
lady’s chamber was opened now; for she loved
to feel the rich summer air stream in, and revive
her with its freshness; but there always stood in
water, just inside the lattice, one particular little
bunch, which was made up with great care, every morning.
Oliver could not help noticing that the withered
flowers were never thrown away, although the little
vase was regularly replenished; nor, could he help
observing, that whenever the doctor came into the garden,
he invariably cast his eyes up to that particular
corner, and nodded his head most expressively, as
he set forth on his morning’s walk. Pending
these observations, the days were flying by; and Rose
was rapidly recovering.
Nor did Oliver’s time hang heavy
on his hands, although the young lady had not yet
left her chamber, and there were no evening walks,
save now and then, for a short distance, with Mrs.
Maylie. He applied himself, with redoubled assiduity,
to the instructions of the white-headed old gentleman,
and laboured so hard that his quick progress surprised
even himself. It was while he was engaged in
this pursuit, that he was greatly startled and distressed
by a most unexpected occurrence.
The little room in which he was accustomed
to sit, when busy at his books, was on the ground-floor,
at the back of the house. It was quite a cottage-room,
with a lattice-window: around which were clusters
of jessamine and honeysuckle, that crept over the
casement, and filled the place with their delicious
perfume. It looked into a garden, whence a wicket-gate
opened into a small paddock; all beyond, was fine
meadow-land and wood. There was no other dwelling
near, in that direction; and the prospect it commanded
was very extensive.
One beautiful evening, when the first
shades of twilight were beginning to settle upon the
earth, Oliver sat at this window, intent upon his
books. He had been poring over them for some
time; and, as the day had been uncommonly sultry,
and he had exerted himself a great deal, it is no
disparagement to the authors, whoever they may have
been, to say, that gradually and by slow degrees,
he fell asleep.
There is a kind of sleep that steals
upon us sometimes, which, while it holds the body
prisoner, does not free the mind from a sense of things
about it, and enable it to ramble at its pleasure.
So far as an overpowering heaviness, a prostration
of strength, and an utter inability to control our
thoughts or power of motion, can be called sleep,
this is it; and yet, we have a consciousness of all
that is going on about us, and, if we dream at such
a time, words which are really spoken, or sounds which
really exist at the moment, accommodate themselves
with surprising readiness to our visions, until reality
and imagination become so strangely blended that it
is afterwards almost matter of impossibility to separate
the two. Nor is this, the most striking phenomenon
incidental to such a state. It is an undoubted
fact, that although our senses of touch and sight be
for the time dead, yet our sleeping thoughts, and
the visionary scenes that pass before us, will be
influenced and materially influenced, by the mere
silent presence of some external object; which
may not have been near us when we closed our eyes:
and of whose vicinity we have had no waking consciousness.
Oliver knew, perfectly well, that
he was in his own little room; that his books were
lying on the table before him; that the sweet air was
stirring among the creeping plants outside. And
yet he was asleep. Suddenly, the scene changed;
the air became close and confined; and he thought,
with a glow of terror, that he was in the Jew’s
house again. There sat the hideous old man, in
his accustomed corner, pointing at him, and whispering
to another man, with his face averted, who sat beside
‘Hush, my dear!’ he thought
he heard the Jew say; ’it is he, sure enough.
‘He!’ the other man seemed
to answer; ’could I mistake him, think you?
If a crowd of ghosts were to put themselves into his
exact shape, and he stood amongst them, there is something
that would tell me how to point him out. If
you buried him fifty feet deep, and took me across
his grave, I fancy I should know, if there wasn’t
a mark above it, that he lay buried there?’
The man seemed to say this, with such
dreadful hatred, that Oliver awoke with the fear,
and started up.
Good Heaven! what was that, which
sent the blood tingling to his heart, and deprived
him of his voice, and of power to move! There there at
the window close before him so
close, that he could have almost touched him before
he started back: with his eyes peering into
the room, and meeting his: there stood the Jew!
And beside him, white with rage or fear, or both,
were the scowling features of the man who had accosted
him in the inn-yard.
It was but an instant, a glance, a
flash, before his eyes; and they were gone.
But they had recognised him, and he them; and their
look was as firmly impressed upon his memory, as if
it had been deeply carved in stone, and set before
him from his birth. He stood transfixed for a
moment; then, leaping from the window into the garden,
called loudly for help.