Page images

morning, and these added somewhat to their sense of responsibility. Mrs. Pinkham became afraid that the hotel-keeper would charge them double. "We've got to pay for it some way; there. I don't know but I'm more 'n willin'," said the good soul. 66 I never did have such a splendid time in all my life. Findin' you so respected way off here is the best of anything; and then seein' them dear little babies in their nice carriages, all along the streets and up to the Central Park! I never shall forget them beautiful little creatures. And then the houses, an' the hosses, an' the store-windows, an' all the rest of it! Well, I can't make my country pitcher hold no more, an' I want to get home an' think it over, goin' about my housework."

They were just entering the door of the Ethan Allen Hotel for the last time, when a young man met them and bowed cordially. He was the original reporter of their arrival, but they did not know it, and the impulse was strong within him to formally invite Mr. Pinkham to make an address before the members of the Produce Exchange on the following morning; but he had been a country boy himself, and their look of seriousness and self-consciousness appealed to him unexpectedly. He wondered what effect this great experience would have upon their after-life. The best fun, after all, would be to send marked copies of his paper and Ederton's to all the weekly newspapers in that part of Vermont. He saw before him the evidence of their happy increase of self-respect, and he would make all their neighbor

hood agree to do them honor. Such is the dominion of the press.

"Who was that young man? He kind of bowed to you," asked the lady from Wetherford, after the journalist had meekly passed; but Abel Pinkham, Esquire, could only tell her that he looked like a young fellow who was sitting in the office the evening that they came to the hotel. The reporter did not seem to these distinguished persons to be a young man of any consequence.



From "Henry Esmond," London, 1874, ch. xiii, pp. 391-400.

I shall assume that nearly everybody who is old enough to use this book has read "Henry Esmond;" and I shall therefore not spoil the pleasure of the few who do not yet know it by any bald summary of the story that leads up to this final chapter.

I print the passage here as an example of narrative at its very best. In the first place it is all action and speech: there are no stops to explain, to discuss, to point morals, or to show off cleverness in psychology or phrasemaking: the story moves swiftly, and with no effort but to show the action of living people in a stress of great events and strong feelings. In the second place, there can be no better example and proof of the value of the personal point of view to a story-teller; the fact that the chief actor is made to tell the story makes possible a verisimilitude of life that surpasses history; the little touch of feeling in the dropping into the first person in "I have never seen her from that day,” is a final and convincing touch. And in the third place, the dignity and beauty of the style, the restrained but pulsating rhythm, the perfect adequacy of the words and language to the largeness of the events - what Matthew Arnold called in a word the grand style — raise the narrative to a place in the higher firmaments of literature.

AUGUST 1ST, 1714.

"DOES my mistress know of this?" Esmond asked of Frank, as they walked along.

"My mother found the letter in the book, on the toilet-table. She had writ it ere she had left home,"

Frank said.

"Mother met her on the stairs, with her hand upon the door, trying to enter, and never left her after that till she went away. He did not think of looking at it there, nor had Martin the chance. of telling him. I believe the poor devil meant no harm, though I half killed him; he thought 't was to Beatrix's brother he was bringing the letter."

Frank never said a word of reproach to me for having brought the villain amongst us. As we knocked at the door I said, "When will the horses. be ready?" Frank pointed with his cane, they were turning the street that moment.

We went up and bade adieu to our mistress; she was in a dreadful state of agitation by this time, and the Bishop was with her whose company she was so fond of.

"Did you tell him, my lord," says Esmond, "that Beatrix was at Castlewood?" The Bishop blushed and stammered: "Well," says he, "I . . ."

"You served the villain right," broke out Mr. Esmond," and he has lost a crown by what you told him."

My mistress turned quite white: "Henry, Henry," says she, "do not kill him."

"It may not be too late," says Esmond; "he may not have gone to Castlewood; pray God, it is not too late." The Bishop was breaking out with some banale phrases about loyalty, and the sacredness of the Sovereign's person; but Esmond sternly bade him hold his tongue, burn all papers, and take care of Lady Castlewood; and in five minutes he and

Frank were in the saddle, John Lockwood behind them, riding towards Castlewood at a rapid pace.

We were just got to Alton, when who should meet us but old Lockwood, the porter from Castlewood, John's father, walking by the side of the Hexton flyingcoach, who slept the night at Alton. Lockwood said his young mistress had arrived at home on Wednesday night, and this morning, Friday, had despatched him with a packet for my lady at Kensington, saying the letter was of great importance.

We took the freedom to break it, while Lockwood stared with wonder, and cried out his "Lord bless me's," and "Who'd a thought it's," at the sight of his young lord, whom he had not seen these seven years.

The packet from Beatrix contained no news of importance at all. It was written in a jocular strain, affecting to make light of her captivity. She asked whether she might have leave to visit Mrs. Tusher, or to walk beyond the court and the garden wall. She gave news of the peacocks and a fawn she had there. She bade her mother send her certain gowns and smocks by old Lockwood; she sent her duty to a certain person, if certain other persons permitted her to take such a freedom; how that, as she was not able to play cards with him, she hoped he would read good books, such as Doctor Atterbury's sermons and "Eikon Basiliké:" she was going to read good books; she thought her pretty mamma would like to know she was not crying her eyes out.

"Who is in the house besides you, Lockwood?" says the Colonel.

« PreviousContinue »