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to the starting of the morning mailtrain for Birmingham. To the unoccupied observer the scene might have been an amusing one-the little domestic incidents of leave-taking and embracing—the careful looking after luggage and parcels—the watchful anxieties for a lost cloak, or a stray carpet bag, blending with the affectionate farewells of parting, are all curious, while the studious preparations for comfort of the old gentleman in the coupé, oddly contrast with similar arrangements on a more limited scale by the poor soldier's wife in the third-class carriage.
Small as the segment of humanity is, it is a type of the great world to which it belongs.
I sauntered carelessly along the boarded terrace, investigating, by the light of the guard's lantern, the inmates of the different carriages-and, calling to my assistance my tact as a physiognomist as to what party I should select for my fellow-passengers—"not in there, assuredly,” said I to myself, as I saw the aquiline noses and dark eges of two Hamburgh Jews ; here, either-I cannot stand a day in a nursery; por will this party suit me, that old gentleman is snoring already;" and so I walked on until at last I bethought me of an empty carriage, as at least possessing negative benefits, since positive ones were denied me. Scarcely had the churlish determination seized me, when the glare of the light fell upon the side of a bonnet of white lace, through whose transparent texture a singularly lovely profile could be seen. Features, purely Greek in their character, tinged with a most delicate colour, were de. fined by a dark mass of hair, worn in a deep band along the cheek almost to the chin. There was a sweetness-a look of guileless innocence in the character of the face which, even by the flitting light of the lantern, struck me strongly. I made the guard halt, and peeped into the carriage as if seeking for a friend. By the uncertain flickering, I could detect the figure of a man, apparently a young one, by the lady's side; the carriage had no other traveller. “ This will do," thought I, as I opened the door, and took my place on the opposite side.
Every traveller knows that locomotion must precede conversation ;
the veriest common-place cannot be hazarded, till the piston is in motion, or the paddles are flapping. The word “ go on," is as much for the passen. gers as the vehicle, and the train and the tongues are set in movement together ; as for myself, I have been long upon the road, and might travestie the words of our native poet, and say
" My home is on the highway." I bave therefore cultivated, and I trust, with some success, the tact of divining the characters, condition, and rank of my fellow-travellers—the speculation on whose peculiarities, has often served to wile away the tediousness of many a wearisome road, and many an uninteresting journey.
The little lamp which hung aloft, gave me but slight opportunity of prosecuting my favourite study on this occasion. All that I could trace, was the outline of a young and delicatelyformed girl, enveloped in a cachmere shawl-a slight and inadequate muflling for the road at such a season. The gentleman at her side was attired in what seemed a dress-coat, nor was he provided with any other defence agaiust the cold of the morning.
Scarcely had I ascertained these two facts, when the lamp flared, flickered, and went out, leaving me to speculate on these vague, but yet remarkable traits in the couple before me. “ What can they be ?" “ who are they?" “ where do they come from?” “ where are they going?" were all questions which naturally presented themselves to me in turn; yet, every inquiry resolved itself into the one, “ she not a cloak? why has not he got a Petersham ?" Long and patiently did I discuss these points with myself, and framed numerous hypotheses to account for the circumstance_but still with comparatively little satisfaction, as objections presented themselves to each conclusion ; and although, in turn, I bad made him a runaway clerk from Coutts's, a Liverpool actor, a inember of the swell-mob, and a bagman-yet I could not, for the life of me, include her in the category of such an individual's companions. Neither spoke, so that from their voices, that best of all tests, nothing could be learned.
Wearied by my doubts, and worried by the interruption to my sleep, thu
early rising necessitated, I fell soon The courser fast, the trumpet's blast, into a sound doze, lulled by the Sigh after us in vain;
And even the wind, soothing “strains” a locomotive so emi. nently is endowed with. The tremu.
We leave behind,
With the speed of a special train. lous quavering of the carriage, the dull roll of the heavy wheels, the con- Swift we pass o'er the wild morass, vulsive beating and heaving of the Tho' the night be starless and black; black monster itself, gave the tone to
Onward we go, my sleeping thoughts, and my dreams Where the snipe flies low, were of the darkest. I thought that, Nor man dares follow our track. in a gloomy silence, we were journeying over a wild and trackless plain,
A mile a minute, on we go,
Hurrah for my courser fast; with no sight nor sound of man, save
His coal black mane, such as accompanied our sad proces
And his fiery train, sion ; that dead and leafless trees were
And his breath-a furnace blast. grouped about, and roofless dwellings and blackened walls marked the dreary On and on, till the day is gone, earth ; dark sluggish streams stole We rush with a goblin scream; heavily past, with noisome weeds upon And the cities, at night, their surface; while along the sedgy They start, with ight, banks, sat leprous and glossy reptiles,
At the cry of escaping steam. glaring, with round eyes, upon us. Suddenly, it seemed as if our speed
Bang, bang, bang!
Shake, shiver, and throb; increased; the earth and sky flew
The sound of our feet, faster past, and objects became dim
Is the piston's beat, and indistinct; a misty maze of dark And the opening valve our sob ! plain, and clouded heaven, were all I could discern ; while straight in Our union-jack is the smoke-train black, front, by the lurid glare of a fire, That thick from the funnel rolls; whose sparks flitted round and about, And our bounding bark, two dark shapes danced a wild and
Is a gloomy ark, goblin measure, tossing their black And our cargo_human souls. limbs with frantic gesture, while they
Rake, rake, rake, brandished in their hands bars of
Ashes, cinders, and coal; seething iron; one, larger, and more The fire we make, dreadful than the other, sung in a Must never slake, “ rauque” voice, that sounded like the Like the fire that roasts a soul. clank of machinery, a rude song, beating time to the tune with his iron bar.
“ Bang, bang, bang," said I, aloud, The monotonous measure of the chant,
repeating this infernal “refrain," and which seldom varied in its note, sank with an energy that made my two deep into my chilled heart—and I thiuk fellow-travellers burst out laughing: I hear still,
This awakened me from my sleep, and enabled me to throw off the fearful
incubus which rested on my bosom ; Rake, rake, rake,
so strongly, however, was the image Ashes, cinders, and coal;
of my dream—so vivid the picture my The fire we make,
mind had conjured up—and stranger Must never slake,
than all, so perfect was the memory of Like the fire that roasts a soul. the demoniac song, that I could not Hurrah! my boys, 'tis a glorious noise, help relating the whole vision, and To list to the stormy main ;
repeating for my companions the words, But, nor wave-lash'd shore,
as I have here done for the reader. Nor lion's roar,
As I proceeded in my narrative, I had E'er equal'd a luggage train.
ample time to observe the couple
before me. 'Neath the panting sun, our course we
The lady, for it is but
suitable to begin with her, was young, run, No water to slake our thirst;
she could scarcely have been more Nor ever a pool,
than twenty—and looked, by the broad Our tongue to cool,
daylight, even handsomer than by the Except the boiler burst.
glare of the guard's lantern; she was
THE SONG OF THE STOKER.
slight, but as well as I could observe, of her manner, the traits of emotion her figure was very gracefully formed, were less detectable by a stranger. and with a decided air of elegance, We had not journeyed far, when sevedetectable even in the ease and repose ral new travellers entered the carriage, of her attitude. Her dress was of and thus broke up the little intercourse pale blue silk, around the collar of which had begun to be established which she wore a profusion of rich between us. The new arrivals were lace, of what peculiar loom I amn, un. amusing enough in their way-there happily, unable to say-nor would I was a hearty old Quaker from Leeds, allude to the circumstance, save, that who was full of a dinner party he had it formed one of the inost embarrassing been at with Feargus O'Connor, the problems in my efforts at divining her day before; there was an interesting rank and condition; never was there young fellow who had obtained a fels such a travelling costume, and although lowship at Cambridge, and was going it suited perfectly the frail and delicate down to visit his family; and lastly, a beauty of the wearer, it ill accorded with loud-talking, loud-laughing member of the dingy “conveniency" in which we the tail, in the highest possible spirits journeyed-even to her shoes and at the prospect of Irish politics, and ex. stockings, for I noticed these—the feet ulting in the festivities he was about to were perfect-and gloves; all the de- witness at Derrynane Abbey, whither tails of her dress had a freshness and he was then proceeding with some propriety one rarely or ever sees en- other Danaides, to visit, what Tom countering the wear and tear of the Steele calls, “his august leader.” My road. The young gentleman at her young friends, however, partook little side-for he, too, was scarcely more in the amusement the newly arrived tra. than five-and-twenty, at most-was vellers afforded ; they neither relished also attired in a costume as little like the broad, quaint, common sense of that of a traveller-a dress-coat and the Quaker--the conversational cle. evening waistcoat, over which a pro- verness of the Cambridge man-or the fusion of chains were festooned in that pungent, though somewhat coarse, mode so popular in our day, showed drollery of the “ Emeralder." They sat that he certainly, in arranging his cos- either totally silent or conversing in a tume, had other thoughts than of low, indistinct murmur, with their wasting such attractions on the desert heads turned towards each other. air of a railroad journey. He was a The Quaker left us at Warwick-the good-looking young fellow, with that • Fellow" took his leave soon after mixture of frankness and careless ease and the O' somebody was left behind the youth of England so eminently at a station ; the last thing I heard of possess, in contradistinction to the him, being his frantic shouting as the young men of other countries; his train moved off, while he was endeamanner and voice both attested that he vouring to swallow a glass of hot branbelonged to a good class ; and the dy and water. We were alone then general courtesy of his demeanour once more, but somehow the interval showed one who had lived in society. which had occurred had chilled the While he evinced an evident desire to warm current of our intercourse ; enter into conversation and amuse his perhaps, too, the effects of a long companion, there was still an appear- day's journey were telling on us all, ance of agitation and incertitude about and we felt that indisposition to him, which showed that his mind was converse which steals over even the wandering very far from the topic most habitual traveller towards the before him. More than once he close of a day on the road. Partly checked himself, in the course of some from these causes, and more strongly casual merriment, and became sud. still from my dislike to obtrude condenly grave-while, from time to time, versation upon those whose minds were he whispered to the young lady, evidently pre-occupied, I too lay back with an appearance of anxiety and in my seat and indulged my own reeagerness, all his endeavours could flections in silence. I had sat for some not effectually conceal. She, too, time thus, I know not exactly how seemed agitated—but, I thought, less long, when the voice of the young lady 50 than he ; it might be, how. struck on my ear; it was one of those ever, that from the habitual quietude sweet, tinkling, silver sounds .which somehow when heard, however slight- of my own baggage, that I was enaly, have the effect at once to dissipate bled to relieve them from the embarthe dull routine of one's own thoughts, rassment the circumstance occasioned. and suggest others more relative to 6. Here we are," said I : “this is the the speaker.
Adelphi,” as we stopped at that com“ Had you not better ask him!' fortable and hospitable portal, through said she ; “ I am sure he can tell you." which the fumes of brown gravy and The youth apparently demurred, while ox-tail Hoat with a savory odour, as she insisted the more, and at length, pleasant to him who enters with dinner as if yielding to her entreaty, he sud- intentions, as it is tantalizing to the denly turned towards me and said, listless wanderer without. "I'm a perfect stranger here, and would The lady thanked me with a smile, feel obliged if you could inform me as I handed her into the house, and a which is the best hotel in Liverpool. very sweet smile too, and one I could He made a slight pause, and added, have fancied the young man would have « I mean a quiet, family hotel.” felt a little jealous of, if I had not seen
“ I rarely stop in the town myself,” the ten times more fascinating one she replied I; “ but when I do, to break- bestowed on him. fast or dine, I take the Adelphi ; I'm The young man acknowledged my sure you will find it very comfortable.” slight service with thanks, and made
They again conversed for a few mo. a half gesture to shake hands at partments together, and the young man, ing, which, though a failure, I rather with an appearance of some hesitation, liked, as evidencing, even in its awk-, said, “ Do you mean to go there now, wardness, a kindness of dispositionsir?"
for so it is. Gratitude smacks poorly “ Yes,” said 1, “ my intention is to when expressed in trim and measured take a hasty dinner before I start in phrase-it seems not the natural coin. the steamer for Ireland; I see by my age of the heart, when the impression watch I shall have ample time to do betrays too clearly the mint of the so, as we shall arrive full half an hour
mind. before our time."
“ Good bye,” said I, as I watched Another pause, and another little their retiring figures up the wide stair. discussion ensued, the only words of
“ She's devilish pretty-and which I could catch from the young what a good figure-I did not think lady being, “ I'm certain he will have any other than a French woman could no objection.” Conceiving that these adjust her shawl in that fashion.” And referred to myself, and guessing at with these very soothing reflections I their probable import, I immediately betook myself to the coffee-room, and said, “ If you will allow me to be your soon was deep in discussing the disguide, I shall feel most happy to show tinctive merits of mulligatawny, mockyou the
way; we can obtain a carriage turtle, and mutton chops, or listening at the station, and proceed thither at to that everlasting pean every waiter
in England sings in praise of the I was right in my surmise—both "joint." parties were profuse in their acknow- In all the luxury of my own little ledgments—the young man avowing table, with my own little salt-seller, that it was the very request he was my own cruet-stand, my beer-glass, about to make when I anticipated him. and its younger brother for wine, I sat We arrived in due time at the station, awaiting the arrival of my fare, and and having assisted my new acquaint- puzzling my brain as to the unknown ances to alight, I found little difficulty travellers. Now bad they been but in placing them in a carriage, for lug- clothed in the ordinary fashion of the gage they had none, neither portman- road—if the lady had worn a plaid teau nor carpet-bag—not even a dress- cloak and a beaver bonnet-if the gening-case- -a circumstance at which, tleman had a brown Taglioni and a however I might have endeavoured cloth cap, with a cigar case peeping to avoid expressing my wonder, they out of his breast-pocket, like every seemed to feel required an expla- body else in this smoky world—had nation at their hands ; both looked they but the ordinary allowance of confused and abashed—nor was it trunks and boxes- I should have been until by, busying myself in the details coolly conning over the leading artis
cle of “ The Times,” or enjoying the spicy leader in the last Examiner; but no--they had shrouded themselves in a mystery, though not in garments; and the result was, that I, gifted with that inquiring spirit which Paul Pry informs us is the characteristic of the age, actually tortured myselfinto a fever as to who and what they might be—the origin, the course, and the probable termination of their present adventure -for an adventure I determined it must be. “ People do such odd things now a-days," said I,“there's no know. ing what the deuce they may be at. I wish I even knew their names, for I am certain I shall read to-morrow or the next day in the second column of The Times : «Why will not W. P. and C. P. return to their afflicted friends ? Write at least-write to your bereaved parents, No. 12, Russell-square; or, if F. M. S. will not inform her mother whither she has gone, the deaths of more than two of the family will be the consequence. Now could I only find out their names, I could relieve 80 much family apprehension"-here comes the soup, however-admirable relief to a worried brain-how every mouthful swamps reflection--even the platitude of the waiter's face is, as the Methodists
say, a blessed privilege," so agreeably does it divert the inind of a thought the more, and suggest that pleasant vacuity so essential to the hour of dinner. The tureen was gone, and then came one of those strange intervals which all taverns bestow, as if to test the extent of endurance and patience of their guests.
My thoughts turned at once to their old track. “I have it,” said I,as a bloodyminded suggestion shot through my brain. - This is an affair of charcoal and oxalic acid--this is some damnable device of arsenic or sugar-of-leadthese young wretches have come down here to poison themselves, and be smothered in that mede latterly introduced among us. There will be a doublelocked door and smell of carbonic gas through the key-hole in the morning. I have it all before me, even to the maudlin letter, with its twenty-one verses of bad poetry at the foot of it. I think I hear the coroner's charge, and see the three shillings and eight pence halfpenny produced before the jury, that were found in the youth's possession, together with a small key and a bill for a
luncheon at Birmingham. By Jove, I will prevent it though; I will spoil their fun this time; if they will have płysic, let them have something just as nauseous, but not so injurious. Mv own notion is a basin of this soup
and a slice of the joint,' and here it comes;" and thus my meditations were again destined to be cut short, and reverie give way to reality.
I was just helping myself to my second slice of mutton, when the young man entered the coffee-room, and walked towards me. At first, his manner evinced hesitation and indeci. sion, and he turned to the fire-place, as if with some change of purpose, then, as if suddenly summoning his resolution, he came up to the table at which I sat, and said
“ Will you favour me with five minutes of your time?"
“ By all means," said I, “ sit down here, and I'm your man; you must excuse me, though, if I proceed with my dinner, as I see it is past six o'clock, and the packet sails at seren.'
“ Pray, proceed," replied he, "your doing so, will in part excuse the liberty I take, in obtruding myself upon you.
He paused, and although I waited for him to resume, he appeared in no humour to do so, but seemed more confused than before. “ Hang it,” said he at length, “ I
a very bungling negociator, and never, in my life, could manage a matter of any difficulty.”
“ Take a glass of sherry,” said I, “ try if that may not assist to recall your faculties."
“ No, no," cried he, “I have taken a bottle of it already, and, by Jove, I rather think my head is only the more addled. Do you know that I am in a most confounded scrape, I have run away with that young lady; we were at an evening party last-night together, and came straight away from the supper table to the train."
“ Indeed!” said I, laying down my knife and fork, not a little gratified that I was at length to learn the secret that had so long teazed me. so you have run away with her!"
“ Yes; it was no sudden thought, however-at least, it was an old attachment; I have known her these two months."
« Oh! oh!" said I; “ then, there was prudence in the affair.”