« PreviousContinue »
He hastily cast his eye over it, and exclaimed-
although he asked not a single question, until Viole He turned from his own class and his own quarter,
He would listen to no denial, but at once hastened out of the room to prepare for the journey. The struggle between the natural love of life and devotion to his child was a fierce one; but the voice of wisdom prevailed, and he resolved to take Rabaud's
(To be continued in the August number.)
BY CHARLES DICKENS.
HE Fairy palaces, burst out into illumination, before pale morning, showed the monstrous serpents of smoke trailing themselves over Coketown. A clattering of clogs upon the pavement; a rapid ringing of bells; and all the melancholy mad clephants, polished and oiled up for the day's monotony, were at their heavy exercise again.
Stephen bent over his loom, quiet, watchful, and steady. A special contrast, as every man was in the forest of looms where Stephen worked, to the crashing, smashing, tearing piece of mechanism at which he labored. Never fear, good people of an anxious turn of mind, that Art will consign Nature to oblivion. Set anywhere, side by side, the work of God and the work of man; and the former, even though it be a troop of Hands of very nall account, will gain in solemn dignity from the comparison.
Four hundred and more Hands in this Mill; Two hundred and fifty horse Steam Power. It is known, to the force of a single pound weight, what the engine would do; but, not all the calculators of the National Debt can tell me the capacity for good or evil, for love or hatred, for patriotism or discontent, for the decomposition of virtue into vice, or the reverse, at any single moment in the soul of one of these its quiet servants, with the composed faces and the regulated actions. There is no mystery in it; there is an unfathomable mystery in the meanest of them, for ever.-Supposing we were to reserve our arithmetic for material objects, and to govern these awful unknown quantities by other
The day grew strong, and showed itself outside, even against the flaming lights within. The lights were turned out, and the work went on. The rain fell, and the Smoke-serpents, submissive to the curse of all that tribe, trailed themselves upon the earth. In the waste-yard outside, the steam from the cscape-pipe, the litter of barrels and old iron, the shining heaps of coals, the ashes everywhere, were shrouded in a veil of mist and rain.
The work went on, until the noon-bell rang. More clattering upon the pavements. The looms, and wheels, and Hands, all out of gear for an hour. Stephen came out of the hot mill into the damp wind and the cold wet streets, haggard and worn,
Mr. Bounderby was at his lunch. So Stephen had expected. Would his servant say that one of the Hands begged leave to speak to him? Message in return, requiring name of such Hand. Stephen Blackpool. There was nothing troublesome against Stephen Blackpool; yes, he might come in.
Stephen Blackpool in the parlor. Mr. Bounderby
Stephen made a bow. Not a servile one-these
"No, sir, sure I ha' not coom for nowt o' th' kind."
"Sir, I hope I never had nowt to say, no fitten for a born lady to hear, sin' I were born mysen'," was the reply, accompanied with a slight flush.
Every line in his face deepened as he said it, and put in its affecting evidence of the suffering he had undergone.
"Now, you know," said Mr. Bounderby, taking "From bad to worse, from worse to worse. She some sherry, we have never had any difficulty left me. She disgraced hersen' everyways, bitter with you, and you have never been one of the and bad. She coom back, she coom back, she coom unreasonable ones. You don't expect to be set up back. What could I do t' hinder her? I ha' walked in a coach and six, and to be fed on turtle-soup and the streets nights long, ere ever I'd go home. I ha' venison, with a gold spoon, as a good many of 'em gone t' th' brigg, minded to fling mysen' ower, and do;" Mr. Bounderby always represented this to be ha' no more on 't. I ha' bore that much, that I the sole, immediate, and direct object of any Hand were owd when I were young." who was not entirely satisfied," and therefore I know already that you have not come here to make a complaint. Now, you know, I am certain of that, beforehand.”
Mrs. Sparsit, easily ambling along with her netting-needles, raised the Coriolanian eyebrows and shook her head, as much as to say, The great know trouble as well as the small. Please to turn your humble eye in My direction."
"Now, you know, this good lady is a born lady, a high lady. You are not to suppose because she keeps my house for me, that she hasn't been very high up the tree-ah, up at the top of the tree! Now, if you have got anything to say that can't be said before a born lady, this lady will leave the room. If what you have got to say, can be said before a born lady, this lady will stay where she is."
Very well," said Mr. Bounderby, pushing away his plate, and leaning back. "Fire away!"
"I ha' coom," Stephen began, raising his eyes from the floor, after a moment's consideration, "to ask yo your advice. I need 't overmuch. I were married on a Eas'r Monday nineteen year sin, long and dree. She were a young lass-pretty enow— wi' good accounts of hersen'. Well! She went bad -soon. Not along of me. Gonnows I were not a unkind husband to her."
"I have heard all this before," said Mr. Bonnderby. "She found other companions, took to drinking, left off working, sold the furniture, pawned the clothes, and played old Gooseberry."
"I were patient wi' her."
("The more fool you, I think," said Mr. Bounderby, in confidence to his wine-glass.)
"I were very patient wi' her. I tried to wean her fra't, ower and ower agen. I tried this, I tried that, I tried t'oother. I ha' gone home, many's the time and found all vanished as I had in the world, and her without a sense left to bless hersen' lying on bare ground. I ha' dun't not once, not twicetwenty time!"
"I ha' paid her to keep awa' fra' me. These five year I ha' paid her. I ha' gotten decent fewtrils about me agen. I ha' lived hard and sad, but not ashamed and fearfo' a' the minnits o' my life. Last night, I went home. There she lay upon my harston! There she is!"
In the strength of his misfortune, and the energy of his distress, he fired for the moment like a proud In another moment, he stood as he had man. stood all the time-his usual stoop upon him; his pondering face addressed to Mr. Bounderby, with a a curious expression on it, half-shrewd, half-perplexed, as if his mind were set upon unravelling something very difficult; his hat held tight in his left hand, which rested on his hip; his right arm, with a rugged propriety and force of action, very earnestly emphasising what he said: not least so when it always paused, a little bent, but not withdrawn, as he paused.
"I was acquainted with all this, you know," said Mr. Bounderby, "except the last clause, long ago. It's a bad job; that's what it is. You had better have been satisfied as you were, and not have got married. However, it's too late to say that."
"Now, a' God's name," said Stephen Blackpool, road. You have been listening to some mischievous "show me the law to help me!" stranger or other-they're always about-and the best thing you can do is, to come out of that. Now, you understand;" here his countenance expressed marvellous acuteness; "I can see as far into a grindstone as another man; farther than a good many, perhaps, because I had my nose well kept to it when I was young. I see traces of the turtle soup, and venison, and gold spoon in this. Yes, I do! cried Mr. Bounderby, shaking his head with obstinate cunning. "By the Lord Harry, I do!" With a very different shake of the head and a deep sigh, Stephen said, "Thank you, sir, I wish you good day." So, he left Mr. Bounderby swelling at his own portrait on the wall, as if he were going to explode himself into it; and Mrs. Sparsit still ambling on with her foot in her stirrup, looking quite cast down by the popular vices.
"Was it an unequal marriage, sir, in point of years?" asked Mrs. Sparsit.
"You hear what this lady asks. Was it an unequal marriage in point of years, this unlucky job of yours?" said Mr. Bounderby.
"Not e'en so. I were one-and-twenty mysen'; she were twenty nighbout."
"Indeed, sir?" said Mrs. Sparsit to her Chief, with great placidity. "I inferred, from its being so miserable a marriage, that it was probably an unequal one in point of years."
Mr. Bounderby looked very hard at the good lady in a sidelong way that had an odd sheepishness about it. He fortified himself with a little more sherry.
"Well? Why don't you go on!" he then asked, turning rather irritably on Stephen Blackpool.
"I ha' coom to ask yo, sir, how I am to be ridden o this woman." Stephen infused a yet deeper gravity into the mixed expression of his attentive face. Mrs. Sparsit uttered a gentle ejaculation, as having received a moral shock.
"What do you mean?" said Bounderby, getting up to lean his back against the chimney-piece. "What are you talking about? You took her, for better for worse."
"I mun be ridden o' her. I cannot bear't nomI ha' lived under't so long, for that I ha' had'n the pity and the comforting words o' th' best lass living or dead. Haply, but for her, I should ha' gone hottering mad."
"He wishes to be free, to marry the female of whom he speaks, I fear, sir," observed Mrs. Sparsit in an under-tone, and much dejected by the immorality of the people.
"I do The lady says what's right. I do. I were a coming to't. I ha' read i' th' papers that great fok (fair faw 'em a'! I wishes 'em no hurt!) are not bonded together for better for worse so fast, but that they can be set free fra' their misfortnet marriages, and marry ower again. When they dunnot agree, for that their tempers is ill-sorted, they have rooms of one kind an' another in their houses, and they can live asunders. We fok ha' only one room, and we can't. When that won't do,
they ha' gowd and other cash, and they can say, "This for yo, and that for me,' and they can go their separate ways We can't. Spite o' all that, they
can be set free for smaller wrongs than is suffered
by hundreds an' hundreds of us-by women fur more than men—they can be set free for smaller wrongs than mine. So, I mun be ridden o' this wife o' mine, and I want t' know how ?"
"No how," returned Mr. Bounderby.
"Of course there is."
"If I flee from her, there's a law to punish me?" "Of course there is." "If I marry t'oother dear lass, there's a law to punish me?"
"Of course there is."
"There's a sanctity in this relation of life," said Mr. Bounderby, "and-and-it must be kept up." "No no, dunnot say that, sir. Tan't kep' up that way. Not that way. 'Tis kep' down that way. I'm a weaver, I were in a fact'ry when a chilt, but I ha' gotten een to see wi' and eern to hear wi'. I read in th' papers, every 'Sizes, every Sessions-and you read too-I know it!-with dismay-how th' unpossibility o' ever getting unchained from one another, at any price, on any terms, brings blood upon this land, and brings many common married fok (agen I say, women fur of 'ener than men) to battle, murder, and sudden death. Let us ha' this, right understood. Mine's a grievous case, an' I want-if yo will be so good-t' know the law that helps me."
"If I was to live wi' her an' not marry hersaying such a thing could be, which it never could or would, an' her so good-there's a law to punish me, in every innocent chilt belonging to me?" "Of course there is."
"Now I tell you what?" said Mr. Bounderby, putting his hands in his pockets. "There is such
"Pooh, pooh! Don't you talk nonsense, my good fellow," said Mr. Bounderby, "about things you don't understand; and don't you call the Institutions of your country a muddle, or you'll get yourself into a real muddle one of these fine mornings. The institutions of your country are not your piece-work, and the only thing you have got to do, is, to mind your picce-work. You did'nt take your wife for fast and for loose; but for better for worse. If she has turned out worse-why, all we have got "If I do her any hurt, sir, there's a law to punish to say is, she might have turned out better."
'Tis a muddle," said Stephen, shaking his head
How much might that be! Stephen calmly asked. 'Why, you'd have to go to Doctor's Commons with a suit, and you'd have to go to a court of Common Law with a suit, and you'd have to go to the House of Lords with a suit, and you'd have to get an Act of Parliament to enable you to marry again, and it would cost you (if it was a case of very plain-of his soul, as the uplifted hand of the sublimest sailing), I suppose from a thousand to fifteen hun-love and patience could abate the raging of the sca dred pound," said Mr. Bounderby.
LD Stephen descended the two white steps, shutting the black door with the brazen doorplate, by the aid of the brazen full-stop, to which gave a parting polish with the sleeve of his coat, observing that his hot hand clouded it. He crossed the street with his eyes bent upon the ground, and thus was walking sorrowfully away, when he felt a touch upon his arm.
It was not the touch he needed most at such a moment-the touch that could calm the wild water
"There's no other law?"
Why then, sir," said Stephen, turning white, and motioning with that right hand of his, as if he gave everything to the four winds, "'tis a muddle. 'Tis just a muddle a' together, an' the sooner I am dead, the better."
-yet it was a woman's hand too. It was an old woman, tall and shapely still, though withered by Time, on whom his eyes fell when he stopped and turned. She was very cleanly and plainly dressed, had country mud upon her shoes, and was newly come from a journey. The flutter of her manner, in the unwonted noise of the streets; the spare shawl, carried unfolded on her arm; the heavy umbrella, and little basket; the loose long-fingered gloves, to which her hands were unused; all bespoke an old woman from the country, in her plain holiday clothes, come into Coketown on an expedition of rare occurrence. Remarking this at a glance, with the quick observation of his class, Stephen Blackpool bent his attentive face-his face, which, like the faces of many of his order, by dint of long working with eyes and hands in the midst of a prodigious noise, had acquired the concentrated look with which we are familiar in the countenances of the deaf-the better to hear what she asked him.
"Stephen, subsiding into his quiet manner, and never wandering in his attention, gave a nod.
'But it's not for you at all. It costs money. It costs a mint of money."
(Mrs. Sparsit again dejected by the impiety of the people.)
"O yes," he returned, observing her more attentively, "he were all that."
"And healthy," said the old woman, fresh wind ?"
Yes," returned Stephen. "He were ett'n and drinking-as large and as loud as a Hummobee." "Thank you!" said the old woman with infinite "Thank you!"
Ay, ay! You have your troubles at home, you mean?" she said.
He certainly never had seen this old woman before. Yet there was a vague remembrance in his mind, as if he had more than once dreamed of some old woman
She walked along at his side, and, gently accommodating himself to her humor, he said Coketown was a busy place, was it not? To which she answered, "Eigh sure! Dreadful busy!" Then he said, she came from the country, he saw? To
which she answered in the affirmative.
66 as the
'By Parliamentary, this morning. I came forty miles by Parliamentary this morning, and I'm going back the same forty mile this afternoon. I walked nine mile to the station this morning, and if I find nobody on the road to give me a lift, I shall walk the nine mile back to night. That's pretty well, sir, at my age!" said the chatty old woman, her eyes brightening with exultation.
"'Deed'tis. Don't do't too often, missus.", "No, no. Once a year," she answered, shaking her head. "I spend my savings so, once every year. I come, regular, to tramp about the streets, and see the gentlemen."
Only to see 'em?" returned Stephen.
"That's enough for me," she replied, with great earnestness and interest of manner. "I ask no more! I have been standing about, on this side of the way, to see that gentleman," turning her head back towards Mr. Bounderby's again, But, he's late this year, and I have not seen him. You came out, instead. Now, if I am obliged to go back without a glimpse of Him-I only want a glimpse well! I have seen you, and you have seen him, and I must make that do." Saying this, she looked at Stephen as if to fix his features in her
mind, and her eyes were not so bright as they had
With a large allowance for difference of tastes, and with all submission to the patricians of Coketown, this seemed so extraordinary a source of interest to take so much trouble about, that it perplexed him. But they were passing the church now, and as his eye caught the clock, he quickened his pace.
He was going to his work? the old woman said, quickening hers, too, quite easily. Yes, time was nearly out. On his telling her where he worked, the old woman became a more singular old woman
O' Better to have no home in which to lay his head, than to have a home and dread to go to it, 'Times. Just now and then " he answered through such a cause. He ate and drank, for he slightly. was exhausted-but, he little knew or cared what ; "But, working under such a gentleman tney and he wandered about in the chill rain, thinking don't follow you to the Factory?" and thinking, and brooding and brooding.
No, no; they did'nt follow him there, said Stephen. All correct there. Everything accordant there. (He did not go so far as to say, for her pleasure, that there was a sort of Divine Right there; but, I have heard claims almost as magnificent of late years.)
No word of a new marriage had ever passed between them; but Rachael had taken great pity on him years ago, and to her alone he had opened his closed heart all this time on the subject of his miseries; and he knew very well that if he were free to ask her, she would take him. He thought of the They were now in the black bye-road near the home he might at that moment have been seekplace, and the Hands were crowding in. The bell ing with pleasure and pride; of the different man was ringing, and the Serpent was a Serpent of many ho might have been that night; of the lightness coils, and the Elephant was getting ready. The then in his now heavy-laden breast; of the then strange old woman was delighted with the very bell. restored honor, self-respect, and tranquility, now all It was the beautifullest bell she had ever heard, she torn to pieces. He thought of the waste of the said, and sounded grand! best part of his life, of the change it made in his character for the worse every way, of the dreadful nature of his existence, bound hand and foot to a dead woman, and tormented by a demon in her shape. He thought of Rachael, how young when they were first brought together in these circumstances, how mature now, how soon to grow old. He thought of the number of girls and women she had seen marry, how many homes with children in them she had seen grow up around her, how she had contentedly pursued her own lone quiet path— for him-and how he had sometimes seen a shade of melancholy on her blessed face, that smoto him with remorse and despair. He set the picture of her up, beside the infamous image of last night; and
"An't you happy ?" she asked him. "Why-there's-awmost nobbody but has their troubles, missus." He answered evasively, because the old woman appeared to take it for granted that he would be very happy indeed, and he had not the heart to disappoint her. He knew that there was trouble enough in the world; and if the old woman had lived so long, and could count upon his having so little, why so much the better for her, and none the worse for him.
She asked him, when he stopped good-naturedly to shake hands with her before going in, how long he had worked there?
"A dozen year," he told her.
"I must kiss the hand," said she, "that has worked in this fine factory for a dozen year!" And she lifted it, though he would have prevented her, and put it to her lips. What harmony, besides her age and her simplicity, surrounded her, he did not know, but even in this fantastic action there was a a something neither out of time nor place: a something which it seemed as if nobody else could have made as serious, or done with such a natural and touching air.
He had been at his loom full half an hour think-thought, Could it be, that the whole earthly course ing about this old woman, when, having occasion of one so gentle, good, and self-denying, was subto move round the loom for its adjustment, he jugate to such a wretch as that! glanced through a window which was in his corner, and saw her still looking up at the pile of building, lost in admiration. Heedless of the smoke and mud and wet, and of her two long journeys, she was gazing at it, as if the heavy thrum that issued from its many stories were proud music to her.
She was gone by and by, and the day went after her, and the lights sprung up again, and the Express whirled in full sight of the Fairy Palace over the arches near little felt amid the jarring of the machinery, and scarcely heard above its crash and rattle. Long before then, his thoughts had gone back to the dreary roem above the little shop, and to the shameful figure heavy on the bed, but heavier on
Machinery slackened; throbbing feebly like a fainting pulse, stopped. The bell again; the glare of light and heat dispelled; the factories, looming heavy in the black wet night their tall chimneys rising up into the air like competing Towers of Babel.
He had spoken to Rachael only last night, it was true, and had walked with her a little way; but he had his new misfortune on him, in which no one else could give him a moment's relief, and, for the sake of it, and because he knew himself to want that softening of his anger which no voice but hers could effect, he felt he might so far disregard what she had said as to wait for her again. He waited, but she had eluded him. She was gone. On no other night in the year, could he so ill have spared her patient face.
Filled with these thoughts-so filled that he had an unwholesome sense of growing larger, of being placed in some new and diseased relation towards the objects among which he passed, of seeing the iris round every misty light turn red-he went home for shelter.
CANDLE faintly burned in the window, to which the black ladder had often been raised
for the sliding away of all that was most precious in this world to a striving wife and a brood of hungry babies; and Stephen added to his other thoughts the
stern reflection, that of all the casualties of this existence upon earth, not one was dealt out with so unequal a hand as Death. The inequality of Birth was nothing to it. For, say that the child of a King and the child of a Weaver were born to-night in the same moment, what was that disparity, to the death of any human creature who was serviceable to, or beloved by, another, while this abandoned woman lived on!
'Tis thou who art in need of rest-so white and tired. Try to sleep in the chair there, while I watch. Thou hadst no sleep last night, I can well believe. To-morrow's work is far harder for thee than for me."
He heard the thundering and surging out of doors, and it seemed to him as if his late angry mood were going about trying to get at him. She had cast it out; she would keep it out; he trusted to her to defend him from himself.
say, he saw that some one lay there, and he knew too nights, when I am put to it.
She turned again towards the bed, and satisfying herself that all was quiet there, spoke in a low, calm, cheerful voice.
"I am glad you have come at last, Stephen. You so?" are very late."
"I ha' been walking up an' down.'
"I thought so. But 'tis too bad a night for that. The rain falls very heavy, and the wind has risen."
The wind? True. It was blowing hard. Hark to the thundering in the chimney, and the surging noise! To have been out in such a wind, and not to have known it was blowing!
"I have been here once before, to-day, Stephen. Landlady came round for me at dinner-time. There was some one here that needed looking to, she said. And 'deed she was right. All wandering and lost, Stephen. Wounded too, and bruised."
He slowly moved to a chair and sat down, drooping his head before her.
"I came to do what little I could, Stephen; first, for that she worked for me when we were girls both, and for that you courted her and married her when I
"No! Don't please; don't! Let me see thee setten by the bed. Let me see thee, a' so good, and so forgiving. Let me see thee as I see thee when
was her friend-"
I coom in. I can never see thee better than so. He laid his furrowed forehead on his hand, with a Never, never, never!" low groan.
"And next, for that I know your heart, and am right sure and certain that 'tis far too merciful to let her die, or even so much as suffer, for want of aid. Thou knowest who said, 'Let him who is without sin among you, cast the first stone at her!' There have been plenty to do that. Thou art not the man to cast the last stone, Stephen, when she is believe it, as the noise without shook the window, of his room. Saving that the fire had died out, it
brought so low."
"O Rachael, Rachael!"
"Thou hast been a cruel sufferer, Heaven reward
thee!" she said, in compassionate accents. "I am thy poor friend, with all my heart and mind."
The wounds of which she had spoken, seemed to be about the neck of the self-made outcast. She dressed them now, still without showing her. She steeped a piece of linen in a basin, into which she poured some liquid from a bottle, and laid it with a gentle hand upon the sore. The three-legged table had been drawn close to the bedside, and on it there were two bottles. This was one.
the shining of a tremendous light. It broke from one line in the table of commandments at the altar, and illuminated the building with the words. They were sounded through the church too, as if there were voices in the fiery letters. Upon this, the whole appearance before him and around him changed, and nothing was left as it had been, but himself and the clergyman. They stood in the daylight before a crowd so vast, that if all the people in the world could have been brought together into one space, they could not have looked, he thought, more numerous; and they all abhorred him, and there was not one pitying or friendly eye among the millions that were fastened on his face. He stood on a raised stage, under his own loom; and looking
"She don't know, me, Stephen; she just drowsily mutters and stares. I have spoken to her times and again, but she don't notice! 'Tis as well so. When she comes to her right mind once more, I shall have done what I can, and she never the wiser." "How long, Rachael, is't looked for, that she'll be up at the shape the loom took, and hearing the burial service distinctly read, he knew that he was "Doctor said she would haply come to her mind there to suffer death. In an instant what he stood to-morrow." on fell below him, and he was gone.
It was not so far off, but that Stephen, following her hands with his eyes, could read what was printed on it, in large letters. He turned of a deadly hue, and a sudden horror seemed to fall upon him.
"I will stay here, Stephen," said Rachael, quietly resuming her seat, "till the bells go Three. 'Tis to be done again at three, and then she may be left till morning."
'But thy rest agen to-morrow's work, my dear." "I slept sound, last night. I can wake many
His eyes again fell on the bottle, and a tremble
Ay, ay! coming in. When I were walking. When I were thinking. When I" It seized him again; and he stood up, holding by the mantelshelf, as he pressed his dank cold hair down with hand that shook as if it were palsied.
Out of what mystery he came back to his usual life, and to places that he knew, he was unable to consider; but, he was back in those places by some means, and with this condemnation upon him, that he was never, in this world or the next, through all the unimaginable ages of eternity, to look on Rachael's face or hear her voice. Wandering to and fro, unceasingly, without hope, and search of he knew not what (he only knew that he was doomed to seek it), he was the subject of a nameless, horrible dread, a mortal fear of one particular shape
She was coming to him, but he stretched out his which everything took. Whatsoever he looked at, arm to stop her.
grew into that form sooner or later. The object of his miserable existence was to prevent its recognition by any one among the various people he encountered. Hopeless labor! If he led them out of rooms where it was, if he shut up drawers and closets where it stood, if he drew the curious from
He had a violent fit of trembling, and then sunk | places where he knew it to be secreted, and got into his chair. After a time he controled himself, them out into the streets, the very chimneys of the and, resting with an elbow on one knee, and his mills assumed that shape, and round them was the head upon that hand, could look towards Rachael. printed word. Seen across the dim candle with his moistened eyes, she looked as if she had a glory shining round her head. He could have believed she had. He did
rattled at the door below, and went about the house
"When she gets better, Stephen, 'tis to be
He closed his eyes, more to please her than to rest his weary head; but, by slow degrees as he listened to the great noise of the wind, he ceased to hear it, or it changed into the working of his loom, or even into the voices of the day (his own included) saying what had been really said. Even this imperfect consciousness faded away at last, and he dreamed a long, troubled dream.
He thought that he, and some one on whom his heart had long been set-but she was not Rachael, and that surprised him, even in the midst of his imaginary happiness-stood in the church being married. While the ceremony was performing, and while he recognised among the witnesses some whom he knew to be living, and many whom he knew to be dead, darkness came on, succeeded by
The wind was blowing again, the rain was beating on the housetops, and the larger spaces through which he had strayed contracted to the four walls
was as his eyes had closed upon it. Rachael seemed to have fallen into a doze, in the chair by the bed. She sat wrapped in her shawl, perfectly still. The table stood in the same place, close by the bedside, and on it, its real proportions and appearance, was the shape so often repeated.
He thought he saw the curtain move. He looked again, and he was sure it moved. He saw a hand come forth, and grope about a little. Then the curtain moved more perceptibly, and the woman in the bed put it back, and sat up.
With her woful eyes, so haggard and wild, so heavy and large, she looked all round the room, and passed the corner where he slept in his chair. Her eyes returned to that corner, and she put her hand over them as a shade, while she looked into it. Again they went all round the room, scarcely heeding Rachael if at all, and returned to that corner. thought, as she once more shaded them-not s much looking at him, as looking for him with a bru tish instinct that he was there-that no single trace was left in those debauched features, or in the mind that went along with them, of the woman he had
She raised her eyes for a moment as she said the words: and then they fell again, in all their gentleness and mildness, on his face.
married eighteen years before. But that he had seen her come to this by inches, he never could have believe her to be the same.
All this time, as if a spell were on him, he was motionless and powerless, except to watch her.
She thought of that, too. She looked at Rachael, and very slowly, very cautiously, poured out the con tents. The draught was at her lips. A moment and she would be past all help, let the whole world wake and come about her with its utmost power. But, in that moment Rachael started up with a suppressed cry. The creature struggled, struck her, seized her by the hair; but Rachael had the cup. Stephen broke out of his chair. "Rachael, am I wakin' or dreamin' this dreadfo' night!"
"'Tis all well, Stephen. I have been asleep my self. 'Tis near three. Hush! I hear the bells."
The wind brought the sounds of the church clock to the window. They listened, and it struck three. Stephen looked at her, saw how pale she was, noted the disorder of her hair, and the red marks of fingers on her forehead, and felt assured that his senses of sight and hearing had been awake. She held the cup in her hand even now.
'No, Stephen. 'Tis but a minute and I'm home." Thou'rt not fearfo';" he said it in a low voice, as they went out at the door; "to leave me alone
"Thou changest me from bad to good. Thou mak'st me humbly wishfo' to be more like thee, and fearfo' to lose thee when this life is ower, an' a' the muddle cleared awa'. Thou'rt an Angel; it may be, thou hast saved my soul alive!"
She looked at him, on his knee, at her feet with her shawl still in his hand, and the reproof on her lips died away when she saw the working of his face.
As she looked at him, saying "Stephen ?" he went down on his knee before her, on the poor mean stairs, and put an end of her shawl to his lips. "Thou art an Angel. Bless thee, bless thee!" "I am, as I have told thee, Stephen, thy poor friend. Angels are not like me. Between them, and a working woman fu' of faults, there is a deep gulf set. My little sister is among them, but she is changed."
The same great manufacturer, always with an immense variety of work on hand, in every stage of development, passed Sissy onward in his mill, and worked her up into a very pretty article indeed.
"I fear, Jupe," said Mr. Gradgrind," that your continuance at the school any longer would be useless."
"I am afraid it would, sir," Sissy answered with a curtsey.
"I cannot disguise from you, Jupe," said Mr. Gradgrind, knitting his brow, "that the result of your probation there has disappointed me; has greatly disappointed me. You have not acquired, under Mr. and Mrs. M'Choakumchild, anything like that amount of exact knowledge which I looked for. You are extremely deficient in your facts. Your acquaintance with figures is very limited. You are Evermore I will altogether backward, and below the mark."
"I am sorry, sir," she returned; "but I know it is quite true. Yet I have tried hard, sir."
"Yes," said Mr. Gradgrind, "yes, I believe you have tried hard; I have observed you, and I can find no fault in that respect."
“Thank you, sir. I have thought sometimes;" Sissy very timid here; "that perhaps I tried to learn too much, and that if I had asked to be allowed to try a little less, I might have—"
"I coom home desp'rate. I coom home wi'out a hope, and mad wi' thinking that when I said a word o' complaint, I was reckoned a onreasonable Hand. I told thee I had had a fright. It were the Poison-bottle on the table. I never hurt a livin' creetur; but happenin' so suddenly upon't, I thowt, 'How can I say what I might ha' done to mysen, or her, or both!'
She put her two hands on his mouth, with a face of terror, to stop him, from saying more. He caught them in his unoccupied hand, and holding them, and stili clasping the border of her shawl said, hurriedly :
He kissed the border of her shawl again, and let her go. She bade him good night in a broken voice, and went out into the street.
The wind blew from the quarter where the day "I thought it must be near three," she said calmly would soon appear, and still blew strongly. It had pouring from the cup into the basin, and steeping cleared the sky before it, and the rain had spent itthe linen as before. "I am thankful I stayed! 'Tis self or travelled elsewhere, and the stars were done now, when I have put this on. There! And bright. He stood bare-headed in the read, watching now she's quiet again. The few drops in the basin her quick disappearance. As the shining stars were I'll pour away, for 'tis bad stuff to leave about, though to the heavy candle in the window, so was Rachael, "I wish I could have made a better acknowledgever so little of it." As she spoke, she drained the in the rugged fancy of this man, to the common ex-ment, sir, of your kindness to a poor forlorn girl basin into the ashes of the fire, and broke the bottle perience of his life, who had no claim upon you, and of your protection on the hearth. of her."
head in his profoundest and most eminently practi“No, Jupe, no,” said Mr. Gradgrind, shaking his "No. The course you pursued-you pur sued according to the system—the system—and there is no more to be said about it. I can only suppose that the circumstances of your early life were too unfavorable to the development of your reasoning powers, and that we began too late. Still, as I have said already, I am disappointed."
She had nothing to do, then, but to cover herself with her shawl before going out into the wind. and rain
TIME went on in Coketown like its own machinery; so much material wrought up, so much "Thou'lt let me walk wi' thee at this hour, fuel consumed, so many powers worn out, so much
money made. But, less inexorable than iron, steel,
"But I see thee, Rachael, setten by the bed. I ha'
Time passed Thomas on in the mill, while his father was thinking about it, and there he stood in a long tailed coat and a stiff shirt collar.
Really," said Mr. Gradgrind," the period has arrived when Thomas ought to go to Bounderby." Time, sticking to him, passed him on into Bounderby's Bank, made him an inmate of Bounderby's house, necessitated the purchase of his first razor, and exercised him diligently in his calculations relative to number one.
"Louisa is becoming," said Mr. Gradgrind, "almost a young woman."
Time, with his innumerable horse-power, worked away, not minding what anybody said, and presently turned out young Thomas a foot taller than when his father had last taken particular notice of
"Don't shed tears," said Mr. Gradgrind. "Don't shed tears. I don't complain of you. You are an affectionate, earnest, good young woman, and-and we must make that do."
"I should have nothing to wish, sir, if—" "I understand you," said Mr. Gradgrind; "you still refer to your father. I have heard from Miss "Thomas is becoming," said Mr. Gradgrind, "al- Louisa that you still preserve that bottle. Well! most a young man." If your training in the science of arriving at exact