« PreviousContinue »
“ That's my own fault," answered Careless ; “my father wanted me to study the law, but after reading Tom Jones, and seeing old Piepoudre the attorney hanged for forging a will, I sickened of it.”
“Good," said Tremaine, rather amused.
“ My mother,” continued his guest, “ then proposed the church; a good pious woman she was, and I was not much averse, but
6 You saw no clergyman hanged, I hope," said Tremaine.
“No !” rejoined Careless, “but I had doubts and qualms about myself.”
“ I dare say," interrupted Tremaine in a pause which Jack made—“ doubts which have puzzled many a wise man before us.”
“I had no puzzle about it," answered Jack; “ and perhaps you will laugh at me when I tell you what my doubts and qualms were."
Tremaine assured him he never could be so rude.
Why then,” suspending a piece of cold beef on his fork and knitting his brow, as if he was still pondering the matter-" I did not think myself good enough,” said Careless.
“ Was that your reason ?” asked Tremaine, with some surprise.
“ No other I assure you," answered his companion, “ for I found I was too light, not to say wicked; and I said, how can I preach if I don't practise ? As to what I was to preach, I had no doubt, for it seems to me all a very plain thing."
“ You are a happy man, Mr. Careless," said Tremaine, gravely.
“ If you mean for believing the Testament," replied Careless, “I see nothing but what is good in it, and I never could bear a man who made it a joke. But as I was afraid I never could come up to it, seeing I was hankering after a thousand other things, I gave up the matter, and so here I am.”
The train of thought which this caused in Tremaine, together with the interruption it had given to Jack's breakfast, produced on both sides a silence of several minutes, which Tremaine broke by reverting to his first observation.
“ Well, but this time of yours ! I should like to get a lesson from you how to dispose of it; having a little of my own upon my hands now and then.”
This was more than he had ever acknowledged, even to himself. Had Evelyn been his guest instead of Careless, he never would have made the concession. Forbid it pride! forbid it philosophy! forbid it romance ! forbid it all and every flight of fancy that ever took possession of, and misled the brain and heart of poor human nature! But it was different with a man who seemed a mere piece of goodnatured simplicity, if not, as Tremaine then supposed, a mere Yorkshire Tike, with whom he and his philosophy could run no risk. He therefore hazarded the disclosure, assuring his own mind that he did it merely to draw Careless out into an account of himself. Be this as it may, the observation was made.
“ Why, to tell you the truth,” answered Careless, rather abruptly, “ from what I heard of your goings on, I thought this life of yours must be a damn'd dull un.”
Tremaine was thunderstruck; though he has since declared, it was not the abruptness of the attack that hurt him, but the rank Yorkshire twang in which the words were uttered, that grated his ear still more than his feelings !
Could he have suspected any body in the country of the liberty of quizzing, or suspected Careless any where, the offence had been unpardonable. And let me tell you, no wonder; for how would any one, who had for years been nursing himself in a favourite system, that was, like Sancho's idea of sleep, to cover him all over like a cloak, in all weathers, and shield him from hail, rain, and snow thunder and lightning, and all the storms that can burst upon the head of a poor mortal man,-how, sir, I say, would you yourself like to have such a comfortable warm and sheltering cloak stripped off your back in a trice, and that without saying with your leave or by your leave, by a plain blunt man, who without any cloak at all, rode bareheaded in all weathers, and therefore did not understand the use of one? Flesh and blood could not bear it.
Still there was something about Tremaine's testiness, however sudden and rash, which never made him forget any thing good that belonged to the agent that had caused it. He would scold a servant and think him a blockhead for not understanding him, when perhaps he scarcely understood himself; and he would, in fastidious mood, include the whole world in one vast censure, for the fault sometimes of an individual; yet his resentment was short-lived, and generally yielded to the recollection of something favourable in the character of its object.
At that moment, although he drew up and reddened, and was really shocked at the brusquerie of his guest, yet seeing him perfectly unconscious, and therefore innocent, the recollection of his long ride to the widow's with her son came across him, and swallowing with his chocolate some strong words that had got up to the top of his throat, he took a middle course, and observed, though with dryness
66 You, Mr. Careless, are, I suppose, never dull; and to be sure, in the life you lead, must be continually amused. Nay! I think I heard you yesterday say something of business.”'
“ Why yes !" returned Jack," though I'm of no trade, I am somehow always employed, and no day's too long for me."
Tremaine, with a superior air, said, he should like to have the history of his day.
Why, to begin, then," rejoined the guest, “I . rise mostly with the sun."
“ At four o'clock in the morning! “observed Tremaine.
“ Not exactly, but at six, unless it's dark :-and if it doesn't rain cats and dogs, I generally, the first thing, go to see what sort of a morning it is out of doors.”
“ Your second ?" asked Tremaine.
Tremaine's looks indicated a contempt, which his politeness alone restrained.
“ I see very well what you mean,” said Careless ; you think that beneath me. But I am only a younger brother, and have but a boy, who might, if I did not look to it, spoil the best horse in the world, and almost my only happiness. But if I had ever so many grooms, I should do the same, for I love my horse, as much"
“ As Sancho did his ass," interrupted Tremaine.
“ And good reason he had," rejoined Careless, not at all disconcerted; “I have read that book many's the time, and I don't know any thing in it