Imagens das páginas

ing upon the couch-arm, “if it shouldn't, ing decidedly lame of one leg, and there and any accident should happen, I shall , were faint traces of discoloration near perish in my own defence.” Saying this, one eye. She said she had knocked herAunt Tab tossed up her arms, and fell self against a door; and stared very lengthways upon the hearth-rug. curiously at me when I replied, it was a

"The newspapers would be full of it!" good job it was not a railway carriage admiringly sighed that old noodle Mrs. door they were so thick and hard, I Leeson, who had a pin between her added, by way of explanation. In the teeth, and was slyly gathering up her course of that evening, during my aunt torn dress.

and Mrs. Leeson's absence, making some I saw it all! My aunt, I knew, bad purchases connected with the morrow's received an invitation to go on a visit journey, I contrived to penetrate into into Lincolnshire, and she had crazed their rooms; and, lo! on the dressingherself over the newspaper accounts of table in Aunt Tab's chamber I found an the dangers to which ladies were ex- old-fashioned dagger (with an ugly blade posed on the railway, until, under the at the least eight inches long), a whalefoolish encouragement of her companion, bone-connected and lead-knobbed lifeshe was having recourse to these ridicu- preserver, and a six-barrelled Colt's l'elous schemes of preservation; and the volver! I recognized each one of the two were then engaged in the very act murderous implements at a glance. My of rehearsing railway attacks and de- cousin Ned, who bad gone demented on fences! My aunt was now gathering the Volunteer question, bad constituted herself up from the rug, and I gently his bed-room a horrible armory of all reclosed the door. I had not lodged in kinds of weapons, offensive and defenthe same house with my relative very sive. The instruments before me I knew long; but I knew her well enough to formed part of his awful stores, and my understand that any open interference aunt must have helped herself to them on my part would only make matters since he left home. Upon closer exami

But what was to be done! The nation of the pistol, I found that no less very next day she was to start for Lin- than four barrels were loaded, and that colnshire; and I felt convinced that if caps were ready placed on all the nipshe intended travelling with those no- ples! At some personal risk, for I don't tions in her head, and weapons of those much understand six-barrelled revolvers, descriptions in her hands, something not I managed to get one charge out, and included in the rehearsals would be cer- felt a sensible motion among my hair at tain to result. As ill-luck, too, would sight of the three balls which it had inhave it, Cousin Ned, who, like myself, cluded. It was the same with the other on being sent up to town, bad been loaded barrels, making twelve bullets in placed under Aunt Tab's care, went off all; and I breathed much freer when I into Wales holidaying nearly a week had extracted the last, and substituted a ago. I had nobody to consult with, and, very light paper wadding in each case. of course, could not disclose this pre Upon the return of the two ladies posterous conduct of my respected rel. from shopping, they shut themselves up ative to any stranger.

in their own sitting-room, and, from the At dinner that day my aunt appeared singular noises which were to be heard, with a large red brnise on her forehead, I felt satisfied more rehearsals were in over the right eyebrow; and in the progress. Mrs. Leeson could scarcely course of talk she asked me, in an acci. limp in to supper; and my aunt's rather dental way, how persons managed to use withered arms showed several patches flexible life preservers without bitting of color, as if from rough grasping: themselves instead of their assailants? During that night's uneasy slumbers, I The red mark was at once explained. was shot in railway carriages two or My eccentric relative had been practic. three hundred times, and so repeatedly ing with a life-preserver, and had given stabbed with daggers, and furiously herself a tap by awkwardly manipulat. beaten with life-preservers, that I was ing it. I felt a secret delight on observ- quite sore when I finally awoke. I rose ing that Widow Leeson did not seem to fully determined to accompany Aunt have come off scot-free; she was walk- Tab on this railway excursion, taking a



ticket by the same train, unknown to out in the papers to-morrer, for a murher, so as to be at hand in case of any der on this heer line, somewheer' atween emergency. She had an unusual air of this and Colney !" determination on her strongly-marked This

a pretty beginning, I features when I met her that morning on thought, as I rushed away to gain the the stairs, and looked like a woman bent platform while my aunt was procuring on heroic deeds. Mrs. Leeson's artend- her ticket. Hiding behind other people ance made it unnecessary I should offer in the vicinity of the book - stand, I my services by way of escort to the rail- watched the two go to a carriage where way, and I took an impressive farewell, Aunt Tab secured a seat by placing as if going, as usual, into the City. But something upon it-for anything I could the mysterious conversation betwixt the tell, the six - barrelled revolver; and two at the breakfast-table had only con- then, whilst she and Mrs. Leeson went firmed my resolution; and, instead of towards the guard's van, to look after seeking the other side of Temple Bar, the luggage (which had been sent down I hurried to the King's Cross railway before), I ran and leaped into a secondstation, where, ensconcing myself be class compartment of the same carriage hind a pillar of the piazza, I awaited the my relative had selected, nestling myarrival of my aunt's cab. Vehicles of self away out of sight in the corner. all kinds came and went, bells rung for By-and-by the bell rang, doors were numberless trains, porters gave way to slammed, and the train slowly got into momentary fits of madness, and it was motion, when I had a glimpse of Mrs. very weary waiting : but I stuck to my Leeson apparently sliding off into the post. Had she discovered my tamper- rear while throwing encouraging last ing with the pistol, and, reloading it, kisses to my aunt. I was in hopes, as accidentally shot herself ?-or, failing only a very few minutes bad elapsed, that, had she by some mishap stabbed she might be in time to have another Mrs. Leeson on the road, and the con- meeting with the prophetic cabman as veyance necessarily diverged to one of she retired from the station. It was set the hospitals? In that case, I had wast- down as a fast train, but its speed seemed ed the cost of a second-class ticket to very slow to me as I sat in the otherPeterborough, having already procured wise empty compartment, waiting in it, so as to save time. No: at length, nervous apprehension for some mishap. within three or four minutes of the time I listened fearfully, half-expecting a for the train starting, my attention was pistol-shot every minute. But all went attracted by the stentorian voice of a quietly, and, at last, when we reached cabby.

the market-gardening districts, I got to " Mak’ it a shillin', mum, and I'll amusing myself by mentally tying up drive you all the way to Colney ’atch, the acres of onions on each side of the which 'll save railway fare,” he was shout- line into long strings ready for the reing after a couple of ladies. “ But, tail market. We arrived safely at Huntmebbee, you're goin' down to shoot upo' ingdon, and there the train slackened the moors, an' mean gettin' into close and almost came to a pause for a moquarters wi' a pistol to mak' sure o’yer ment, while the guard leaped out and aim.”

ran along the platform for some purpose, Mrs. Leeson turned and shook an but without actually stopping we inangry fist at him; but my aunt, who stantly got up speed again. Just, howwas the other lady, stalked on unheed ever, as the train was leaving the station, ing, like one consciously marching to a a man's red face, with the bat nearly noble doom.

falling off behind, presented itself with "" It's a very nice thing, ain't it ?" an agonized expression at my carriage added the cabby, addressing the group window, the man struggling to force which instantly gathered about him, himself through the aperture. “to ha' a life-presarver lifted to you be “Help me in, help —!” he gasped, a woman, becos you ax for a bextra sticking fast balf-way. Though much sixpence, for havin' to go out o' yer startled, I managed to get my arms unroad? An' I see'd she's got a pistol as der his broad shoulders. big as a gun inside o' her muff. Look “You madman! you'll be killed !"



exclaimed the guard, who was now run “I think you mentioned a lady, sir,” I ning back the other way to leap into his hypocritically inquired. “Nothing seri

“What must you get out of the ous has happened to her, I hope ?" other carriage for ?" and the official “ To her! Let me get my breath, angrily gave the gentleman a push by and I'll tell you," he panted, fanning the legs which, in forcing him through himself with the handkerchief. 6 We'd one window nearly sent me reeling out by left town about ten minutes, and I saw the other. “I shall summons you, sir !" she was watching me very queerly ;

“I don't care! I'm not mad; but she there were only ourselves in the carriage, in the next carriage is,” panted my puff you understand; well, to make friends ing companion. “Don't say a word,” with her, I just offered her my news. he added, facing round to the guard; paper. You may believe me or not, but "I'll give you half a crown at the next she deliberately came on, like this, and station."

struck at me with a loaded life-preserver! “She? A lady, sir! The one in the Then she said something I did not catch, next compartment? I'll inquire into it and pulled out a bowie-knife. It's true, when we stop," significantly answered sir, as true as I sit here. I believe she's the guard; and the engineer, having, in a mad woman from the backwoods of answer to a signal from his whistle, America,” he added, looking into the slackened the rising speed again, the bottom of his hat before replacing it. speaker leaped down, and hurried to re “ Was that all ?” I ventured to ask, gain bis van.

glad that things were not worse. “I'll make it five shillings, guard, if ihonght you alluded to a stick ?" you'll get my stick from her!” excitedly “ That all, young man! By Jove, if shouted the red-faced man. “Oh, dear,!! it had been you, I fancy you'd have he said, turning to me, and reärranging thought it was enough. All?” he rehis ruffled dress, “who will travel by peated in a hurried manner.

“I had to railway, I say ?”

sit in the corner as if my life was not my “What is the matter ?” I very ap- own, with a maniac glaring at me.” prehensively inquired, for I well knew “ Yes, but the stick ?” the lady in the next compartment must “ The stick? Why, I happened to let be my Aunt Tab.

it drop on the carriage bottom just as “Watch smashed, I know, for I felt the we got into the last station. Whereglass go as I tumbled in,” he remarked, abouts are we, for I don't know ?” and pulling out a dilapidated watch. “But, he gazed helplessly out of the window. thank goodness, I'm safe!" and he gasped “Huntingdon, is it? It slipped out o' again. “ Catch me in a first-class any my fingers, the stick did, and I was more! I'll go third in future as long as stooping to pick it up-yards away from I live. No man's safe, sir; not with a her—when she screamed out, “Let it woman old enough to be his own grand- be!' and drew a pistol, sir ; a revolver mother."

with eight or ten barrels, It's true, upon “Sit down and compose yourself; my honor! I thought the train was you've had rather a narrow escape,” I stopping, but I'd have jumped out of it, faltered, more and more convinced my if we'd been on a viaduct, for I'm sure aunt was at the bottom of it.

she's raving." Escape! I should have had a bullet “ There have been so many cases latein me, sir, if I hadn't bolted. She's as ly of ladies assaulted in railway carmad as a hare; I could see it in her riages, that perhaps she”-I was simply eyes," and he dropped exhausted on the intending to say that perhaps my aunt seat. “ Talk about Banting's system ? was not an escaped lunatic, but had This beats Banting hollow. I've lost armed herself under that mistaken fear pounds and pounds since we left Lon- but I was stopped. don." Removing his hat, he vigorously “Good heavens! Is that the way you mopped his face and head with his look at it ?” exclaimed my companion, handkerchief. “ I'm all in a vapor bath rising horror-stricken from his se:t. “I at this minute.” He was rather a fat assure you I never touched the lady; I man, well-dressed, having the look of a never was within a yard of her, till I had gentleman farmer.

to brush past. You don't believe it, I

[ocr errors]

see! I'm a married man, and have five (ough. “By jingo, there it goes! She's children at home. Is it likely—is it rea- finished somebody!” and the money ratsonable? My bankers will tell you I am tled to the bottom of the carriage, as I respectable, sir. I never put a finger on leaped to my feet, for the sharp crack of her, and nobody would do, for she's as a pistol was heard from the adjoining ugly as sin. My soul! To think of such compartment. All was instantly coma charge as this! She's seventy years motion. The train stopped, and every of age, sir. Is it likely ?”

window was crowded with heads; the “She is not fifty yet, sir,” I stammer- women shrieked, and the men shouted. ed out.

I opened our door, for I was horrified to “But I didn't touch her. I'll swear see a man in railway uniform stretched it! Interfere with a woman armed in on the ticket platform. that way ; is it reasonable to think it?" “ Is he a ticket collector ? I thought he again pleaded. “But,” he quickly he was a ruffian!" uttered my aunt's went on, who knows what lies she'll rough and now agonized tones, as she tell the guard ? And my name's on the leaned out of the next window, with the stick in full, it's a presentation stick. On revolver in her hand. Then, a long, loud dear!” he groaned, tumbling back on scream escaping from her, she loosed the the seat.

deadly weapon, which rattled down “I suppose, from what the guard said, among the wheels, and closing her eyes, he'll ask the lady; but I don't think you she grew very pale, and subsided within need be afraid,” I remarked soothingly. in a swoon. “ After this row in the papers, the

A number of us hurried to the man in magistrates would commit a saint; and the railway uniform, who still lay on the there are lots o' folks who'd believe it platform quite motionless. Upon raising against a new-born babe. Let me get him, he was seen to be wounded on the out! I may as well be killed as dis- upper part of the forehead. A rivulet graced. What would my wife say? I of blood trickled down, and the front should never have another hour's peace. locks of hair were singed and frizzled. Let me go. I have a bit of luggage, but I believed, for the moment, that my aunt anybody may have that-you may ! But had reloaded the pistol, and startling I swear I never touched her; an’ if it's visions of trials for murder flitted before the last word I say, I vow it's true.” my eyes. But the man almost instantly

He had become so excited, that I rallied, and a surgeon, who was among won't say he would not have left the car- the passengers, pronounced that the riage instanter, if I would have allowed wound was only a skin-graze from the him. I was obliged to confess that I wadding. The collector, in answer to knew the lady, and that she was very the fifty-and-one inquiries made at once, eccentric, but I assured him she would explained that as the train was stopping, never make any such charge as he appre- he put his hand on the carriage door to hended. After some time, I succeeded ask for the lady's ticket, when she inin quieting the gentleman a little, and in stantly listed her arm and shot him! the intervals of wiping profuse perspira- | Aunt Tab, amidst all the burly-burly tion from his face, head, and neck, he re which prevailed, was listed out of the peatedly intimated that, if I would but carriage, and carried down to the starecover for him his stick, bis house, his tion, where she was conveyed to the stalands, the balance at his bankers, and lion-master's room, fortunat-ly remainnearly everything that was bis, should ing unconscious the while. I got my be at my disposal whenever I chose to Gainsborough friend (who in the interval visit the neighborhood of Gainsborough, had contrived to secure his stick) to acwhere, it seemed, he resided.

company me to the head official, and re. “I've seen somewhere, it's forty shil- late what he had observed of the lady's lings for getting into a carriage while demeanor, urging this in corroboration the train 's moving," said my companion. of my own account of the craze my aunt “I'll give the guard two pounds willing had been encouraged in by that ridiculy, and end it," he said, pulling out his lous Mrs. Leeson. purse to be ready, for the train was stop From my unlucky relative's own story, ping for collection of tickets at Peterbor- / when she had a little come round, it ap

peared that she had been lying back in great patch of sticking-plaster, he said the carriage, with her eyes shut, rumi- he would not mind being shot at again nating on the narrow escape she had had upon the same terms. After some two from unheard-of peril by the forced flight hour's delay, during which time my aunt of a cowardly assailant at Huntingdon, was examined mentally by three local and as the train slackened for Peterbor-doctors, it was graciously decided not to ough, she opened her eyes to find a call in magisterial interference, on the man's face at the window, whereupon condition that I at once conveyed my she raised the pistol, and pulled the trig- relative back to London, and pledged ger instantly. It was very fortunate for myself to place her under proper medical the man that I had extracted the original control. charge, and as no bullets were found in I and the crushed lady accordingly the other barrels, the charges of which returned to town by the next up-train, were at once drawn, I represented that in a state of mind on her part which I my aunt's only object was to raise an shall not attempt to describe. She has alarm. The wounded man, however, not paid the visit into Lincolnshire, and intimated that it was not part of his or- I do not expect she ever will. Aunt Tab dinary duties to be shot at by lady pas- has never asked for any explanation of sengers even with blank cartridge; and how I came to be so opportunely at hand my aunt, overjoyed to see him alive, at Peterborough, but most likely she wished to present to him her porte- learned it all from Mrs. Leeson, with monnaie. I took care that he was hand-whom I held a boisterous conversation somely compensated; and, indeed, we immediately after she had recovered parted on such a friendly fooling, that, the surprise of my aunt's unexpected rewinking shrewdly from underneath a turn.

From Bentley's Miscellany.





In 1807, General Gardanne was in-affair, my good general, seems to me fabformed by a correspondent that a relative ulous; buried treasures belong to the of his own, who had resided for a num-Contes Bleus.” ber of years in Persia, had, in consę. “But, sire,” interrupted Gardanne, “I quence of a popular outbreak, fled from have such a minute sketch and descripthe country, after burying in a secret tion of the spot, and all the particulars. spot his accumulated wealth, amounting " That may be,” said Napoleon;"but to several millions of piastres. The spot they come from the land of the Arabian in question was so minutely described, Nights, and I fear that the story of your and even sketched out in a forwarded inheritance is but a supplement of that plan of the environs of Ispahan, that Gar- volume. However," added he, more sedanne had not the least doubt of the cor- riously, “your project has suggested to rectness of the intelligence. He showed me a certain political movement, and the letter to his master the emperor, and since you are bent upon the journey, you asked his permission to repair to Persia have my permission to go. At the same in search of the treasure. Napoleon, time, you can render me an important having perused the letter, shook his head, service." and said, “I will think of it.” A few “ That,” bowed Gardanne, “will be a days after, the emperor sent for Gar- second treasure to me.” danne, and conversed good-humoredly “Ay, and far more real than the first.” about the imaginary treasure.

"Your Majesty does not believe in

gnomes ?” * From the unpublished Chroniques des Tuile

“ There are two kinds of gnomes," reres. By FOUCHARD LAFOSSE.

plied Napoleon: "the preserving and

+ The

« AnteriorContinuar »