Слике страница
[graphic][ocr errors]



(From "The Virginians.")

(WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY, English novelist and humorist, was born in Calcutta, India, July 19, 1811, and died December 24, 1863. He studied for an artist, but could not learn to draw, and after some years of struggle began to make a name in Fraser's Magazine by “ The Great Hoggarty Diamond," "The Yellowplush Papers,' etc. There followed “ The Paris Sketch Book”; “The Book of Snobs," “ Ballads of Policeman X,” Prize Novelists,” etc., from Punch; and “The Rose and the Ring." Vanity Fair," “Pendennis,'

," "Henry Esmond,” and “The Newcomes,” his four great masterpieces, all came in the six years 1848–1854. His lectures on English Humorists” and “ The Four Georges " followed ; then “The Virginians” (sequel to “Esmond "), “Lovel the Widower," “Philip," and the unfinished “Denis Duval," contributed to the Cornhill Magazine, which he edited 1859-1862, and which contained also “ The Roundabout Papers."']

[ocr errors]

MR. WASHINGTON was the first to leave the jovial party which were doing so much honor to Madam Esmond's hospitality. Young George Esmond, who had taken his mother's place when she left it, had been free with the glass and with the tongue. He had said a score of things to his guest which wounded and chafed the latter, and to which Mr. Washington could give no reply. Angry beyond all endurance, he left the table at length, and walked away through the open windows into the broad veranda or porch which belonged to Castlewood as to all Virginian houses.

Here Madam Esmond caught sight of her friend's tall frame as it strode up and down before the windows; and, the evening being warm, or her game over, she gave up her cards to one of the other ladies, and joined her good neighbor out of doors. He tried to compose his countenance as well as he could: it was impossible that he should explain to his hostess why and with whom he was angry:

“The gentlemen are long over their wine,” she said; “gentlemen of the army are always fond of it.”

“If drinking makes good soldiers, some yonder are distinguishing themselves greatly, Madam,” said Mr. Washington.

“And I dare say the General is at the head of his troops ?

“No doubt, no doubt,” answered the Colonel, who always received this lady's remarks, playful or serious, with a peculiar

VOL. XVII. --19

softness and kindness. "But the General is the General, and it is not for me to make remarks on his Excellency's doings at table or elsewhere. I think very likely that military gentlemen born and bred at home are different from us of the colonies. We have such a hot sun, that we need not wine to fire our blood as they do. And drinking toasts seems a point of honor with them. Talmadge hiccoughed to me — I should say, whis

I pered to me — just now, that an officer could no more refuse a toast than a challenge, and he said that it was after the greatest difficulty and dislike at first that he learned to drink. He has certainly overcome his difficulty with uncommon resolution.”

“What, I wonder, can you talk of for so many hours ?” asked the lady.

“I don't think I can tell you all we talk of, Madam, and I must not tell tales out of school. We talked about the war, and of the force Mr. Contrecæur has, and how we are to get at him. The General is for making the campaign in his coach, and makes light of it and the enemy. That we shall beat them, if we meet them, I trust there is no doubt."

“How can there be ?” says the lady, whose father had served under Marlborough.

“Mr. Franklin, though he is only from New England,” continued the gentleman, “ spoke great good sense, and would have spoken more if the English gentlemen would let him ; but they reply invariably that we are only raw provincials, and don't know what disciplined British troops can do. Had they not best hasten forwards and make turnpike roads and have comfortable inns ready for his Excellency at the end of the day's march?—There's some sort of inns, I suppose,' says Mr. Danvers; 'not so comfortable as we have in England, we can't expect that.' —No, you can't expect that,' says Mr. Franklin, who seems a very shrewd and facetious person. He drinks his water and seems to laugh at the Englishmen, though I doubt whether it is fair for a water drinker to sit by and spy out the weaknesses of gentlemen over their wine.”

“ And my boys? I hope they are prudent?” said the widow, laying her hand on her guest's arm. “Harry promised me, and when he gives his word, I can trust him for anything. George is always moderate. Why do you look so grave ?”

“ Indeed, to be frank with you, I do not know what has come over George in these last days," says Mr. Washington. “He has some grievance against me which I do not understand, and of which I don't care to ask the reason. He spoke to me before the gentlemen in a way which scarcely became him. We are going the campaign together, and 'tis a pity we begin such ill friends.'

“He has been ill. He is always wild and wayward, and hard to understand. But he has the most affectionate heart in the world. You will bear with him, you will protect him promise me you will.”

“Dear lady, I will do so with my life,” Mr. Washington said with great fervor. “You know I would lay it down cheerfully for you or any you love.”

“And my father's blessing and mine go with you, dear friend!” cried the widow, full of thanks and affection.

As they pursued their conversation, they had quitted the porch under which they had first begun to talk, and where they could hear the laughter and toasts of the gentlemen over their wine, and were pacing a walk on the rough lawn before the house. Young George Warrington, from his place at the head of the table in the dining room, could see the pair as they passed to and fro, and had listened for some time past, and replied in a very distracted manner to the remarks of the gentlemen round about him, who were too much engaged with their own talk and jokes, and drinking, to pay much attention to their young host's behavior. Mr. Braddock loved a song after dinner, and Mr. Danvers, his aid-de-camp, who had a fine tenor voice, was delighting his General with the latest ditty from Marybone Gardens, when George Warrington, jumping up, ran towards the window, and then turned and pulled his brother Harry by the sleeve, who sat with his back towards the window.

“What is it ? ” says Harry, who, for his part, was charmed too with the song and chorus.

“Come,” cried George, with a stamp of his foot, and the younger followed obediently.

“What is it !” continued George, with a bitter oath. “Don't you see what it is ? They were billing and cooing “ this morning ; they are billing and cooing now before going to roost. Had we not better both go into the garden, and pay our duty to our mamma and papa ?” and he pointed to Mr. Washington, who was taking the widow's hand very tenderly in his.

« ПретходнаНастави »