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THE STRANGE CLAIMANT; On, TWICE WED. --+-- CHAPTEID. XXIV. „ ADIEU TO DAME TIBBETTS. «HE will go, then ? she is fixed yet on her journey °^rd, Raehael ?" asked the dame, earnestly. aunt; and, indeed, I do pity her—to see how ?e Ambles and quakes at the slightest sound and seems af raid to trust the child out of her sight, Ven with me, to the garden. Oh, the poor thing has hardly used, aunt, it must be Indeed, I doubs it not, Bachasl, child," said the aJQe, with a sigh. I awoke liist night," continued the girl, and I a sobbing voice, as if in prayer. I raised my- just so that I could see her bed. She had arisen, ..nd vaa kneeling1 on the floor by the side where her tie girl was sleeping. Poor thing! she did so weep uioan, and pray, too—though I heard not what he said. Ob, aunt, but it seems a heavy burden on One so ycung and so gentle." There have been as heavy, my child, and laid "Poa as fair, ere this Rachael. I have said all I mind j ,ay. and have told this wife what seems to me her fluty." She will never go back, atfnt, she says so—even "toourth she dropped upon the road." ."Is that a mother's duty, doth thee think, my 8irl ?» • Poor little Ida she seems as terrified, too, at the f or' a return to Deepgang, aunt. He must be a man, whoever he is." "Niece, thee wilt tell this stranger, and not harshly I need not say that to thee—that we have ren- *}er*d her all the aid wa could, as one fallen into sore ^stress: her body is restored to health, and I would have rejoiced in the healing of her spirit like- "18a. But, my child, we can no further meddle in this jitter. It is a grievous sin to come, in any fashion, man and wife, and one in which God forbid or I should have part." "Aunt!" the young woman began, but the elder 01141 stayed her by a movement of her hand, and as she Illoke her face assumed a stern expression, which tattled as unnatural to it as would a steel helmet upon 6,1 Venerable, grey-sprinkled locks. "Thou wilt tell her, then, Raehael, that, since she is continuing her journey from her native home,' j can, neither by counsel nor company, aid her ^ther. It never shall be said that the last remains "Or' of the poor house of Despard did favour an act r^inat G Jd's law and man's, nor helped a woman rebel against her lawful master." j "But, aunt, can it be right—a man that is ao I —how can she bear it ?" "A burthen that is not felt, child, is surely none— J i.«uty that is pleasant there H surely no self-chas- j in fulfilling it. Is this the lesson He came teach, that we shirk from the cross, and rebel fc^inst the thorns ? i The girl bent her head, like a child rebuked. She 5tte'v of old the stern purpose to which her aged bene- *ctrd88 could arouse herself, in the lire of her stlf- zeal. Yea, aunt," was all the answer she made, when J16 dame had concluded with a request that was, in- little needed, that R<*chael would be in no way S^h, but naaure the poor mistaken stranger" of heir earnest prayers in her behalf, that she might be fought to see the right path, and to return, ere it too late. Perhaps the good dame had a shrewd suspicion of far her uncompromising justice was tempered by 'hercy in the administration of it, and by how much, ^8 8he guessed, it would be softened down and cur- tailed in the execution. Certain it is that in Nelly's arewell the following evening there mingled more of erven t blessings and grateful utterances than Dime •libberts could have well looked for, had her words been iterally conveyed. Certain, too, is it that the strangers ,a«t out by no means bare from the gates which opened so providentially to receive them,! it really was a singular coincidence if the small COuntry waggon, which came up with stores once a *ek, only happened to be just quitting the porch, k bere its stout horses and burly young driver had regaling themselves since sunset. At any though he (the driver) could have had no Onecientious scruples against offering the mother her child a lift in his almost empty vehicle, he .jHtht not have done it with so good a grace had old1"8 been no such person in the world as Raehael, dame Tibbett's niece, who had kissed them both Parting, and hung about Ida's throat a tiny string > pearly beads, almost, the only ornament she herself *d -v-r possessed. So once more they started upon journey. JN >*11 y ]jad chosen the evening in which to start, and had, in private, coincided with her. It was Retting dusk, and the child, after prattling of the 'Onderu she had been shown by her kind friend, soon IeIUsleep. Her mother, whom many anxieties forbade to seek relief, sat keenly awake to every sound, or, i^ker, for the sounds which rarely broke the ■Wllneas. Thej were winding their way among green lanes J^*ni then they toiled slowly up a hill, and again as °J»ly descended into a valley. -B^chael had informed her that the waggon would to a town some seven miles distant, as she believed, road to London. ^Nelly had once said, and quiteupon the spur of cir- r^fcatance, that she was going to Londen; and now ♦.P.^ord seemed to .have shaped itself into her inevi- ,Je *°al. I 'And why not?" she thought, as she huddled 3>ong the hay in the bottom of the waggon, and i"Unk, even there, into a small a space as possible. J have heard it is a great place, and that even next- neighbours know nothing of one another; besides, l^Ple who want work go to London, and seem all to j 1 on. Yes, there we can hide ourselves, and there perhaps, get something for us both to live by o~°nly never to meet with him—only to be safe from horrihle-" II Hi", !-Wbo'), !-Gee-whot!" j A loud exclamation from the driver, and a sudden °f the vehicle as it came to a stand-still, broke the Urse of her meditations. ef" Lauk-a-mussy! Phew!" uttering a variety exclamations, the man stooped down to the canvas c,n-jng the waggon. Zey> missus! here be a blaze somewheres!—lookee ef 8ky's all a-flame, like—there it goes, bang! ?•' there'll be gunpowder, surely—eh 1 see there! a bad put forth her head, and beheld far, far gl ay 0T«r the hills inland, towards the coast, a lurid that, reflected from the horizon, spread up- ijj totf e skies above them, and seemed to increase y. jari&er and intenseness every instant, while, at inter- re-,?' a deeper flush,-And the white mass of smoke that 8?e 0u' an<^ partially dimmed the fiery glow, or lIled to announce some sudden impetus or kindling ««r ,rcer combustible. t),8 by the Point, near about," said the man," but ««tr6 beacon fire, not it." s^jj^it dops burn! Ob, it is very dreadful!" Uj Nelly, for the moment excited beyond the 0$naory of her own situation. "But it ia vary far pr H*! what, wi*8 that ?" she cried, a9 a loud ex- liil|31?? burst upon the air, and rolled from hill to t» 'ike thunder. ^ia i 1)6 a UP» that," he said then, slapping e^' he cried, Why, if it bean't over at Deep- 'J 111 a ^uminel • Ay, and for a pot, it be they ,( ed smugglers at their tricks again." teP9an9• She echoed the word, and fell back ( ^'r child, within the corner of their poor CHAPTER XXV. iW LONDON, B C. fc0 'he steeps of Deepeang and its flowery Chine— exp]oded powder magazines, dismembered coast- and doomed pirates, froir the smell and gunpowder, and the dash of the sullen hig^i8 8ff*in8fc the rocks—to the very populous and *^1 quarter of Shuter's Close, E.C., you Jot! w 0sv a very great change, and one for which arJ51" perhaps hardly prepared. Never mind a agreed that change is healthful; and 'tis a WtP)° ^'fitting of a doubt, that the pleasantest of The gS HFe taose rc>ado with least preparation. s'de '8 ^hini- g, I doubt not, out upon the sea- ^^63 oceans of diamonds, and cresting the u ar;H f 8^'Ver • 'n country parks, amid tha long bonej6u 1°xsl0veI and dog rose hedges threaded with nl L briugin? out the sweet scents, and .w beart to the birds, and making shade de- damp, close corners of tiny where mint and macigolds grow r-mk, the glorious sunshine is shedding a thousand bounties, and discovering beauties undreamed of till now. And the sun is shining, too, in Shuter'a Close, with all his might, and though not even his power can make a thing of sweet fancies or pleasant reverie out of the Close, it is wonderful what he can do, and what are his benefits, if it is only as Mrs. Flabley says, that— Drat it! the sun do show up them dirty windows and them old curtains so, they must be cleaned now, and that's all about it, and you must get up in the morning, Flabley-that is, if you can make up your mind to get up till yon smell the breakfast under your very nose-and do it, too. We can't expect to let the place, looking as beastly as it does, and the stairs all the paint off; and I never saw it look so bad in my life." "No, my dear," says the husband. "It's all along of the sun," grumbles she; and "Yes, my dear," says the spouse again, though, poor man, he is glad enough to see the sun in his short walk to and from the cold, shuttsved, blttnk warehouse, where the greater part of his days is passed. It is a email room on the very top of this, one of the tallest houses in Sbuter's Close, of which,'indeed, the varieties are wonderful as to size and pretensions; from the cobbler's stall to the lordly mansion—at least, in appearance-you may suit yourself; and almost as various are the persons who, with a little world of their own, people each of these several habi- tations. Two persons enter this room. A young woman, to judge by her looks, not more than twenty, certainly, and, it may be, less, being poorly dressed, and unseasonably, for it is a warm spring dav, and she wears a dress of black stuff and a winter cloak, both of which are many winters old and these, and a heavy, unbecoming black bonnet, joined to a look of uneasiness and depression that seems habitual, give her the appearance, at first, of an age which she certainly cannot lay claim to. She leads by the arm, carefallj guiding his steps, an old man, who is dressed with considerably more re- gard to comfort, and even appearances, than herself. The old man is nearly blind, and is far from accus- tomed or reconciled to his infirmity, as is soon apparent from the false attempts he makes, and the complaints which follow his failures. The girl is his daughter; the tenant of the small room-the owner of the miserable bed—the cultivator of the geraniums on the parapet. She folded the coat and placed it witk the old man's shoes, and hat, and stick, and her own cloak, all away behind the screen of baize; then she looked to her fire, and made it up, and set on a small saucepan. She moved quickly, yet very softly, about the room, and now, again, would stop and glance at the old man, to ascertain if he still slept. Then she set to dusting the furniture, which was a task necessarily brief; the white toilette cloth, too, was shaken out upon the landing, the grasses pick-id over, and sorted to best advantage. From a shelf in her own peculiar corner came a small looking- glass, a prayer-book, and Bible, quite new, with a few shells, and a pincushion composed of satin atoms of various colours, neatly sewn together—a very singular but not unpleasing pattern. These were placed in due order upon the top of the press, and when the whole was complete, the young girl went backward till she reachtd the fender, to observe the effect. Then, struck by a sudden thought, she tripped to the window, carefully bared a portion of the work-board, steppe i from a chair upon it, and lifting down the balsam, heavy with it* rich salmon-coloured bloom, she placed it in the centre of the little toilette, dis- posing the looking-glass in such a way as to conceal the ungainly receptacle in which the flower stood. The geraniums being shifted a little together, sup- plied the gap, and the clever young manager was full of triumph at the improvement thus effected. It really does look quit* nice," she said, softly, and then-some old memory, perhaps, being stirred—the words ended in a sigh. Finally, the mantel-piec° was set off with a couple of glasses, the chipped sides to the wall, containing a sprig or two of the budding geranium, in the centre a piece of granite stone which sparkled in the sunshine like diamonds, and her arrangements were complete. That no ordinary occasion had called forth these extraordinary preparations was made apparent—at least, to any who might have been acquainted with the girl's daily routine-by the next step. She lifted down the glass to the table, and proceeded to make her toilette, with a care and scrupulosity which was exceptional, though it all resulted only in the more nice adjustment of her hair, in the donning a clean linen collar, and in a vigorous brushing of the poor, black stuff dress, Alas! that such atten- tion served to make but more apparent the shiny pleats and many darned blemishes of that well-worn garment. Having attended once more to the contents of the saucepan simmering on the hob, she washed her hands and seated herself at the board below the window, which she closed before removing the cloth that covered her work. What was her work ? It would have puzzled you, I dare say, or any one uninitiated, to have seen her now snipping, fixing, gumming, attaching net to satin, ribbons to roses, silver twist to the naked little cherubs, wedding rings to paper, and Honiton envelopes to sky-blue satin or crimson silk. Such wonders as seemed to grow beneath her fingers, with such celerity she turned out piece after piece, and laid them aside to dry. At the end of some time she rose, and standing upon her chair she tiptoed, and so obtained a glimpse of a church turret and its clock, which reared its head among the forests of chimneys around. I did not think it was so late," she said to her- self; then she hastily descended, carefully covered with the white cloth her work, and first glancing at the sleeping old man, swiftly quitted the room. Down stairs tc the attic floor, down another flight to the top door, another yet to the second floor, and yet another to the first floor-that aristocratic quarter of the ho se in Shuter's Close, where lodgers trod lightly, and the boy who kept the terrier stifled it under his coat tails past the landing, for fear of dis- turbing the serene respectability of those most esteemed and beet-paying tenants—and where to slop the bucket, or drop the bit of turnip-top from the apron of less fortunate though more lofty tenants, was to incur the wrath of the watchful Mrs. Grejous- jealous to a degree of the consideration due to my first floors." Down yet lower—for the house was full—Mrs. Grejous was in luck, and therefore lived and ate in the kitchen, and would have slept, not improbably, in the dust-bin, had she not been so fortunate as to secure a young compositor to a daily paper for her back kitchen and as he, coming in at 7 am. to btd, invariably found the chill taken comfortably off, it is not uncharitable to suppose that the said article of furniture did double duty. Down to the kitchen, then, did the tenant of the room over the attic find her way, and thence, sum- moned by the voice of her landlady, to Mrs. Grejous' presenc. in the laundry-a covered area five feet by two and a half-soaping stockings into a big sauce- pan, preparatory to setting them on the hob to stew. It was Monday, and Mrs. Grejous' young men did not dine at home that day. After a few words, the landlady said- Yes, I told you I'd no objection to your father sitting with me, as he don't like company, and the child might fidget him and the chairs, too, as you said, it is awkward—drat the men, they do grime their things to that degree! she was rubbing more vigor- ously at the heel of a stocking as she spoke. Oh, I'll be very glad-poor old gentleman! I'll do my beet to amuse him." Agnes returned to her small room, and none too soon; for the old man, having awakened, was begin- ning to bestir himself, and, in his overweening anxiety to prove his independence of all assistance, would inevitably have found his way into the fire, or have ended by committing so-tie irreparable havoc among his daughter's dainty articles of workmanship, had she not juet then entered. Oh! father, are you awake and up ? that's right, for your dinner is just ready, and do you know Mrs. Grejous has asked you to tea with her, and you will hear plenty of the birds you are so fond of listening to they're singing away, with this bit of sunshine; my goodness how they are singing Yes, yes, I'll go; I'm ready, Aggy," cried the old man, with trembling eagerness and childish baste; I'm ready, child." and he began to hurry to the door, before she could be at his side, overturning and stumbling over sundry articles in his way. She said nothing, only guided him the more care- fully down the darkening kitchen stairs, and, when half way down, Agnes called, loftly- We are coming, Mrs. Grejous! The next moment the tall bony figure of the land- lady appeared at the door. Ah, that's right, <ome along mind how you came, old gentleman, for them tiles is as uneven-I tell my Tom of it every day, and every blessed night of his life he's a-goin' to set 'em straight,! busier" when he do come in. it's nothing but, his birds, and his birds, though they do eat their heads off, and nothing for it, as I say, but screamin' and acreechin* till one can't hear oneself speak." Perhaps this might account, to some entent, for the fact that Mrs. Grejous was unceasingly talking, and that so much of her talk consisted of repetition of that which had already been said again and again. Agues then returned to her room, and she waa busy- ing herself in making all tidy. She had put away ? the basin and the Met of her father's toilette, had swept up the hearth, rubbed her grate and fender, and made up the scanty fire with a lavish hand, then set on the hob a small tes.-bt.tle-a recent purchase, apparently, the lid and front were so bright. Then she washed her hands, and it seemed as thongh no more remained to be done, when, all at once, her eye fell on the chair whiah was, in general her own seat. The piece of painted board which formed the seat, and had ence been nailed on, had become loosened, and with a touch was apt to swing round in an unexpected and inconvenient manner; a thought seemed to have come into her mind, and she hastened to put it in practice so eagerly that her pale face flushed, partly, parhaps, lest she should not be able to complete it in time. From the curtained-off corner she fetched a small piece of baize like that which hid the recess with needle, thread, and scissors, she quickly adapted and fitted it to the board, then, with some pieces of twine stitched on at the corners, she tied it firmly to the chair, "nd with a new flush of delight tried and re- joiced in the effect. It was a fair trait of this girl's character that for months she bad used that ill-conditioned seat and made no effort to repair thi discomfort for herself to-day another was to use it, and all her ingenuity was called into request. She had but just put away the cotton bag that did duty for a work-box, when her door being open, she heard the closing of the street door, and immediately after the loud voice of the landlady directing some one. "Right up a-top," she was saying, "the room over the attic, and please go as quiet as you can past the first floor." i r Agnes ran from her room and met her visitors half way, welcoming them in a tone that was of itself a wel- come. She soon returned with a little girl, whom she held by one hand in both of hers, and to whom she was taking cheerily, while the child looked around her in wonder at all she saw. She had long, dark-curling hair, and large deep blue eyes her dress was of the poorest, and the homely pelisse so fashioned th\t one hand was wholly hidden by the long sleeve, gathered together at the end, and tied with a faded ribbon in a bow. "I oughtn't to have come first, ought I ?" said Agnes, as she turned towards the door, but I'm so glad to have you here, I forgot my manners, and everything." You are very kind," said her visitor, pausing just at the door to take breath; how fresh and pleasant your room feels after that close, hot room 1" Come in it is but a poor place, nine, but you're so welcome." Nelly entered, and closed the door of the room. (To be continued.)


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