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necessary; and sometimes stopped her when she was rambling, or brought her thoughts back with a monosyllable, to the point from which they had strayed. The mother, however unsteady in other things, was constant in this-that she was always observant of her. She would look at the beautiful face, in its marble stillness and severity, now with a kind of fearful admiration; now in a giggling foolish effort to move it to a smile; now with capricious tears and jealous shakings of her head, as imagining herself neglected by it; always with an attraction towards it, that never fluctuated like her other ideas, but had constant possession of her. From Edith she would sometimes look at Florence, and back again at Edith, in a manner that was wild enough; and sometimes she would try to look elsewhere, as if to escape from her daughter's face; but back to it she seemed forced to come, although it never sought hers unless sought, or troubled her with one single glance.
The breakfast concluded, Mrs. Skewton, affecting to lean girlishly upon the Major's arm, but heavily supported on the other side by Flowers the maid, and propped up behind by Withers the page, was conducted to the carriage, which was to take her, Florence, and Edith to Brighton.
"And is Joseph absolutely banished?" said the Major, thrusting in his purple face over the steps. "Damme, Ma'am, is Cleopatra so hard-hearted as to forbid her faithful Antony Bagstock to approach the presence?"
"Go along!" said Cleopatra, "I can't bear you. You shall see me when I come back, if you are very good."
"Tell Joseph he may live in hope, Ma'am," said the Major; "or he'll die in despair."
Cleopatra shuddered, and leaned back. "Edith, my dear," "Tell him-"
"Such dreadful words," said Cleopatra. "He uses such dreadful words!"
Edith signed to him to retire, gave the word to go on, and left the objectionable Major to Mr. Dombey. To whom he returned, whistling.
"I'll tell you what, Sir," said the Major, with his hands be
hind him, and his legs very wide asunder, "a fair friend of ours has removed to Queer Street."
"What do you mean, Major?" inquired Mr. Dombey.
"I mean to say, Dombey," returned the Major, "that you'll soon be an orphan-in-law."
Mr. Dombey appeared to relish this waggish description of himself so very little, that the Major wound up with the horse's cough, as an expression of gravity.
"Damme, Sir," said the Major, "there is no use in disguising a fact. Joe is blunt, Sir. That's his nature. If you take old Josh at all, you take him as you find him; and a de-vilish rusty, old rasper, of a close-toothed, J. B. file, you do find him. Dombey," said the Major, "your wife's mother is on the move, Sir." "I fear," returned Mr. Dombey, with much philosophy, "that Mrs. Skewton is shaken."
"Shaken, Dombey!" said the Major. "Smashed!"
"Change, however," pursued Mr. Dombey, "and attention, may do much yet."
"Don't believe it, Sir," returned the Major. "Damme, Sir, she never wrapped up enough. If a man don't wrap up," said the Major, taking in another button of his buff waistcoat, "he has nothing to fall back upon. But some people will die. They will do it. Damme, they will. They're obstinate. I tell you what, Dombey, it may not be ornamental; it may not be refined; it may be rough and tough; but a little of the genuine old English Bagstock stamina, Sir, would do all the good in the world to the human breed."
After imparting this precious piece of information, the Major, who was certainly true-blue, whatever other endowments he may have possessed or wanted, coming within the "genuine old English" classification, which has never been exactly ascertained, took his lobster-eyes and his apoplexy to the club, and choked there all day.
Cleopatra, at one time fretful, at another self-complacent, sometimes awake, sometimes asleep, and at all times juvenile, reached Brighton the same night, fell to pieces as usual, and was put away in bed; where a gloomy fancy might have pictured a more potent skeleton than the maid, who should have been one,
watching at the rose-colored curtains, which were carried down to shed their bloom upon her.
It was settled in high council of medical authority that she should take a carriage airing every day, and that it was important she should get out every day and walk if she could. Edith was ready to attend her-always ready to attend her, with the same mechanical attention and immovable beauty-and they drove out alone; for Edith had an uneasiness in the presence of Florence, now that her mother was worse, and told Florence, with a kiss, that she would rather they two went alone.
Mrs. Skewton, on one particular day, was in the irresolute, exacting, jealous temper that had developed itself on her recovery from her first attack. After sitting silent in the carriage watching Edith for some time, she took her hand and kissed it passionately. The hand was neither given nor withdrawn, but simply yielded to her raising of it, and being released, dropped down again, almost as if it were insensible. At this she began to whimper and moan, and say what a mother she had been, and how she was forgotten! This she continued to do at capricious intervals, even when they had alighted; when she herself was halting along with the joint support of Withers and a stick, and Edith was walking by her side, and the carriage slowly following at a little distance.
It was a bleak, lowering, windy day, and they were out upon the Downs with nothing but a bare sweep of land between them and the sky. The mother with a querulous satisfaction in the monotony of her complaint, was still repeating it in a low voice. from time to time, and the proud form of her daughter moved beside her slowly, when there came advancing over a dark ridge before them, two other figures, which, in the distance, were so like an exaggerated imitation of their own, that Edith stopped.
Almost as she stopped, the two figures stopped; and that one which to Edith's thinking was like a distorted shadow of her mother, spoke to the other, earnestly, and with a pointing hand towards them. That one seemed inclined to turn back, but the other, in which Edith recognised enough that was like herself to strike her with an unusual feeling, not quite free from fear, came on; and then they came on together.
The greater part of this observation, she made while walking
towards them, for her stoppage had been momentary. Nearer observation showed her that they were poorly dressed, as wanderers about the country; that the younger woman carried knitted work or some such goods for sale; and that the old one toiled on empty-handed.
And yet, however far removed she was in dress, in dignity, in beauty, Edith could not but compare the younger woman with herself, still. It may have been that she saw upon her face some traces which she knew were lingering in her own soul, if not yet written on that index; but, as the woman came on, returning her gaze, fixing her shining eyes upon her, undoubtedly presenting something of her own air and stature, and appearing to reciprocate her own thoughts, she felt a chill creep over her, as if the day were darkening, and the wind were colder.
They had now come up. The old woman, holding out her hand importunately, stopped to beg of Mrs. Skewton. The younger one stopped too, and she and Edith looked in one another's eyes.
"What is it that you have to sell?" said Edith.
"Only this," returned the woman, holding out her wares, without looking at them. "I sold myself long ago."
My Lady, don't believe her," croaked the old woman to Mrs. Skewton; "don't believe what she says. She loves to talk like that. She's my handsome and undutiful daughter. She gives me nothing but reproaches, my lady, for all I have done for her. Look at her now, my Lady, how she turns upon her poor old mother with her looks."
As Mrs. Skewton drew her purse out with a trembling hand, and eagerly fumbled for some money, which the other old woman greedily watched for—their heads all but touching, in their hurry and decrepitude-Edith interposed :
"I have seen you," addressing the old woman, " before."
"Yes, my Lady," with a courtesy. "Down in Warwickshire. The morning among the trees. When you wouldn't give me nothing. But the gentleman, he give me something! Oh, bless him, bless him!" mumbled the old woman, holding up her skinny hand, and grinning frightfully at her daughter.
"It's of no use attempting to stay me, Edith!" said Mrs. Skewton, angrily anticipating an objection from her.
know nothing about it. I won't be dissuaded. I am sure this is an excellent woman, and a good mother."
"Yes, my Lady, yes," chattered the old woman, holding out her avaricious hand. "Thankee, my Lady. Lord bless you, my Lady. Sixpence more, my pretty Lady, as a good mother yourself."
"And treated undutifully enough, too, my good old creature, sometimes, I assure you," said Mrs. Skewton, whimpering. "There! Shake hands with me. You're a very good old creature-full of what's his name-and all that. You're all affection and et cetera, an't you?"
"Oh, yes, my Lady!"
"Yes, I am sure you are; and so's that gentlemanly creature Grangeby. I must really shake hands with you again. And now you can go, you know; and, I hope," addressing the daughter, "that you'll show more gratitude, and natural what's its name, and all the rest of it--but I never did remember names-for there never was a better mother than the good old creature's been to you. Come, Edith!"
As the ruin of Cleopatra tottered off whimpering, and wiping its eyes with a gingerly remembrance of rouge in their neighborhood, the old woman hobbled another way, mumbling and counting her money. Not one word more, nor one other gesture, had been exchanged between Edith and the younger woman, but neither had removed her eyes from the other for a moment. They had remained confronted until now, when Edith, as awakening from a dream, passed slowly on.
"You're a handsome woman," muttered her shadow, looking after her; "but good looks won't save us. And you're a proud woman; but pride won't save us. We had need to know each other when we meet again!"
New Voices on the Waves.
ALL is going on as it was wont. The waves are hoarse with repetition of their mystery; the dust lies piled upon the shore;