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The Rise of Maximin, Emperor of the Occident, compiled by Lucius,
Keeper of the Imperial Archiyes at Iscapolis. Translated and
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NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE,
A STRANGE DOWRY.
BY MRS. ALFRED PHILLIPS.
"The most painful part of our bodily pain is that which is bodiless or immaterial, namely, our impatience; and the delusion that it will last for ever." J. P. Richter.
FOR the next ten years we remained with this good lady, Miss Johnstone by name. They were happy years, on the whole, although we never saw our aunt throughout the time, as Captain Worthington, when in the West Indies, had taken a fancy to a small estate in Barbadoes, which he purchased with the intention of living there; and it was arranged that we were to join them as soon as we were old enough. He grew restless, however, with advancing years, and determined to return to England; the present found us antici pating our aunt's return, which came at last.
After our first meeting was over and we bad time to look at each other, she said
"Now, my children, let me see what you are like;" and she made us stand side by side while she looked long and earnestly.
She, dear soul, was just the same,- a few more silver threads in the pretty, soft hair, a few more lines, across the brow and round the eyes, marked the flight of time, and with what a gentle hand it had touched her; but now she spoke
"You must be like your father, Dolly; but you, Mary dear, are the image of your poor mother. I could almost fancy I see her, as I look at you."
Her words gave me a thrill of delight, for my mother's memory was the one faithful picture which lived unaltered in my heart and mind. Perhaps it was my ever-recurring thought of her that had
July.-VOL. X., NO. LV.
made me grow into her likeness; but enough of myself. Let me turn to Dolly, my bright, handsome sister.
I could see that my aunt's eyes rested upon her with pleased admiration; and no wonder,-she had such magnificent brown eyes, with that rich, warm colouring which bespeaks intense · vitality. Her figure was tall, well-shaped, and graceful, while a queen might have envied its stateliness.
I was very proud of my sister, and as fond as I was proud. We had led a trustful, loving life together, cemented by our very unlikeness of character-for she was dashing, impulsive, brilliant ; amiable also, and lavish, with a verre about her that took most hearts by storm. Living at all times on the surface of things, she took her pleasure out of life, without caring or asking if it held any deeper meaning. Her religious sentiment was satisfied by a languid observance of the High Church ceremonial, while her heart, which was susceptibility itself, was for ever hovering undecided among the rector's staff of curates, who found in her an unflagging coadjutor in all their good works, from croquet to altar-cloths.
Mentally, I was the reverse of my brilliant sister. Never caring for things the truth of which I could not discern, as I held hearsay faith to be no faith at all. Not in the least devotional until I felt convinced that there was a necessity for worship, when my whole soul fell prostrate; and as for my heart-it was a terra incognita even to myself, by no means susceptible, until, like my religion, it found a worthy altar at which it could kneel, and then I knew it would be deep and lasting in its power to love.
We joined my uncle in London. On our journey we discussed with my aunt the question of the two hundred a-year, which we had received with unfailing regularity.
"You will find it of use, my dears," she remarked; "for I regret to say, your uncle and my self are not well-off."
She thus effectually put an end to a suggestion I was about to make, that it was high time we ceased to avail ourselves of it unless we could ascertain from whence it came.
I had once or twice volunteered the idea to Dolly, who emphatically protested against our doing anything so mad.
"Good Heavens! Mim [her pet name for me], how do you suppose we are to be able to dress and go into society without it? We are not lilies of the field yet, whatever we may become. In the meantime don't, for pity's sake, hinder my trying to resemble
There was no gainsaying Dolly.
Whatever she liked to do
We learnt from my aunt that it my uncle's intention to live at Southport, a very beautiful spot of earth in the south of England,
offering all manner of advantages to the superannuated old soldier and sailor, not the least of which was a mild climate.
Uncle Worthington met us at the station. My aunt, I thought, looked a little bit afraid of him. He received us with a cold, shy sort of kindness, as if he did not quite know what to make of two grown-up young ladies to whom he was an utter stranger, and yet with whom he was expected to be on as affectionate terms as if he had known them for years.
He had a very good face; stern in expression but noble as well. By no means conventional in either his manner or appearance, which, I fancy, was the secret of Aunt Jane's nervousness when they met, as she could never be certain if he would take the trouble to make the good impression she desired upon strangers. He was a stout, middle-sized man, with iron-grey hair and whiskers, looking much younger than his age, which was at this time sixty.
I am sure he felt us in the way at first, which did not tend to reassure us, and made Aunt Jane quite a different person, so nervous, flurried, and apologetic, that I became sorry for her, and determined to take the bull by the horns, in the shape of Uncle Worthington, and see if I could not establish a more comfortable footing with him, as the readiest way out of our difficulties. Accordingly, when Aunt Jane and Dolly went out shopping I volunteered to remain behind as his companion.
He at first declined my proposal flatly; but bearing in mind my purpose, I pleaded a headache, and carried my point.
I succeeded so well, having thawed him into conversing, and requested him to continue his pipe at the same time-a neverfailing peace-maker with a man-that my Aunt and Dolly stared on their return to see the point of intimate friendship we had reached; for we were laughing and talking as if we had spent the last ten years of our lives together, and I knew that my uncle and I would be firm allies for the future.
"How on earth did you manage it?" asked Dolly, when we were alone.
"Easily enough. It simply required a little adaptability; which is the only requisite for people to feel at home with each other, and to do away with the stiffness which strangles all the heart out of most people's lives."
We were all so much more at home that evening, especially Aunt Jane, who was very glad we were prepared to like Uncle Worthington as he was, and make the best of him. She, from long experience of his worth, was so truly attached to him, that it made her happy when others could discern his good qualities beneath the rough exterior in which they were enveloped.
A few weeks after saw us at Southport, settled in a pretty
villa which looked over the town that lay in a hollow, with pretty terraces, crescents, and semi-detached villas on the outskirts. Southport itself was a lovely spot. Unlike most sea-coast towns, it presented a beautiful wooded appearance inland, which contrasting with the sea and rocks formed a charming landscape.
But no sooner were we fairly settled than our troubles began, at least those which took the form known as "social miseries," and proved such to my aunt and Dolly; for my uncle, feeling he had, as he expressed it, "got into port again," began unpacking an amount of old clothes that would have astonished even an advertiser for the same.
In one of these suits, the debris of his West Indian wardrobe, he appeared for six days in the week; a Panama hat, with shoes of foreign leather and make, picked up like his wardrobe in different markets abroad, completed his singular costume. In this guise he spent his time; painting, polishing, carpentering, and I know not what other occupation which had taken entire possession of him, driving my poor aunt nearly frantic. Her ideas of les convenances were thereby subject to perpetual irritation, as she was anxious for our sakes to make a favourable impression on the people of Southport, in order that we might be considered in the light of desirable acquaintances.
But as long as the head of the family was not to be distinguished from a day labourer in a harlequin dress, what hope was there for our respectability?
"My dear Worthington, do remember we are new people here, and for the girls' sake make yourself fit to be seen. What will our visitors think? what will society say?" she expostulated. "Who will take you for Captain Worthington? You used to be so
different when we first married. I am sure no one would ever think you had been in the Royal Navy to see you; we are no longer on a plantation in Barbadoes, but at home in England. Do think of society, my dear."
"Hang society!" burst out my uncle; "it's all a pack of nonsense. Society, as you call it, is a useless fool! Society won't do my carpentering for me; society won't varnish my chairs and tables; society be hanged, for all I care!"
I rather enjoyed my uncle's strong determination to preserve his individuality, and please himself after his own fashion in defiance of the opinion of polite society; but it was such a genuine annoyance to my aunt, who wanted for our sakes to stand well with people, that I knew it would never do to let him think I sided in his favour.
He was a perpetual thorn to Dolly, whose experience of life, though somewhat greater than my own, had only been viewed