|Chapter Title||A RING AT THE BELL.|
|Newspaper Title||Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)|
|Trove Title||Ada and her Cousin Charles, A Tale for Victorian Boys and Girls|
CHUPTrz IX. SA RINQ AT: ~I- B3SL. - '!Now, Mr. Pipkins, I hope you think you have said enough. I have given you plenty of latitude. You have put your- foot in it this time. I will take an early opportunity of re porting all you have said to the head of your department. Why, you are a very dangerous man. You are a communist. You have no proper respect for the rights of property. People may cer tainly spend their money how they like, and with whom they like, and for what they like without being called over the coals by you. But I have given you rope enough and you have nearly hanged yourself with it. And see what the result is of letting your tongue run on at that dreadful rate. Why, you have attacked all our most treasured, social, institutions. You are a red re publican, and I will have nothing more to do with you. I see what it is, you hate rich people, and rich people, it is admitted by everybody, possess every social virtue, have a monopoly of all the talents, and are models of courteous breeding. Whoever heard, without a shudder of: dismay, that a rich-man could be anything but a clever one, one whose judgment should always be yielded to with deference, because he cannot possibly form an erroneous one. But I will just take the liberty, Mr. Subversionist, to remind you that we do not want to know anything of your family history, nor anything about your poverty-stricken, paltry drawing masters. They are topics in which we have no interest whatever. They are quite beneath our notice. It seems to me, though, that if you had been sent to a University man, one with a diploma ofqualification and other official guaran tee that he was a man of learning, or to one of our large Grammar schools, where you would have had teachers, not bare-faced adventurers but men who knew something of their business and were not mere speculators on the sympathies of your poor weak-minded, foolishly-fond mother, and your own wilful disinclination to study, the small intellect with which Providence has endowed you would have been some what better developed." This she said with an unusual tinge of seriousness in her manner, for she really loved him, notwithstanding his stupidity, because of his honourableness of intention and correctness of life. "I am sorry that what I have said has offended you," rejoined the crest fallen Mr. Pipkins. " Will you allow me to take up my book again and go on reading to you both till Charles comes in. I amcertain he willbe here, for h'e'never does miss dropping in of an evening, and then we can go home together; we shall be company for each other. There is nothing in the book that can cause you any displeasure, or give you reason to be making continual fan of me, as you do when I am con versing with you and Miss Ada." " Beadtous ! Mostdecidedly not, sir ! Are you so dull of comprehension that you cannot see that Ada and I wish to chat together comfortably, and that you will oblige us most by keeping perfectly still and quiet and never once opening your mouth. Come, though, if you wish to be really useful, take these scissors and cut out this slip of em broidery for me. That is an occupa tion I should think quite witlin the range of your very limited at !ities. I shall have to keep a sharp eye on you, though, else you'll be sure to make some dreadful mistake and spoil the whole of my trimming." "Thank you, Miss Edith, I am really much obliged to you for allowing me to assist you in any way at alL When I was a little boy, I used to help my sisters with their needlework, so I know how to manage the scissors, and I assure you I will be very careful." Then, Mr. Pipkins, his eyes beaming with gratitude, took up the strip of material to be scalloped, and with the scissors, truth compels me to say, most awkwardly adjusted between his fingers and his thumb, assidoonsly cut and snipped, without once daring to look.off the work lest he should do some irre trievable damage to it and earn the re proaches of the little tyrant, Edith, in stead of the smile of commendation he so yearned for. "If," said Ada, "Charles's picture has not been received by the committee of the Exhibition, I am persuaded that as he has done with music, history, and theatrical authorship so he will do with painting--give it up and rush headlong into some other pursuit." * I wonder, thought Mr. Pipkins, if she thinks-he will become agraceful dancing master like Leopold, or a lithesome, agile trapezist like Onzalo, the demon of the-air, or a fleet pedes, trian like Hewitt,- or a daring circus. rider likeLeon Tiers, orea pugilist like Mace or Christie. I do.ndt .see how else he can "rush headlong" at any thing. He certainly will have to adopt one or other of these modes of earning money,;'thought Mr. Pipkins,if he is to rush rhis headat± anything; but he did tdivrutire to lay'sb-ainud fearing to incur Edith's displeasure. " Well! what if he should forsake the fine arts ;" said Edith, speaking to Ada, as a. free born Englishman, he has g'petfect right to exercise'his own judgment. He .may even become: a teacher if he likes) It is true he is'not fitted for the .calling, and that he has never prepared himself for, the office. But what' df"that) 'tb·i1 r p flen tyof fatuous parents with ,money in the bank who will be perfectly willing to " give him'g ?bod ttitm," and crowds of idle children who would prefer wasting thiei "time with him to being made'to work hard by properly qualified men. Besides, he himself, yodi know, never will rtake the advice of men eminent in their professi~n and follow their direc tions, but always prefers that of empirics. This, I suppose, 'is beise they soothe and flatter hisrvanitya, ith the view not of hiis improveient obut with that ,of -.etracting ifrom him pecuniary tbokens of his reclignition of their ability: 'to bimboozle - him with their false teachings and insidlious counsels. He is endeavouring to thrust himself, I can plainly, see, into taome profession or other, no matte, ihvt, any will do, so that he can but gain the applause of e" oi polloi without,
submitting to the preliminary 'n;l and dridgerynecessary to fit himself for- t. I 'would strongly recommend hIin_ become a teacher, for he will always find plenty of vulgar, wealthy people anxious and willing to bestow benevo lences on him second-hand by saerifie ing the prospects of their children. He labours under one serious disadvantage, though, he has not yet lost his character, neither has he taken to drink. ing; but in these little particulars he will soon be able to qualify himself and then he will have every essential requisite for securing for himself the patronage of all the ignorant parvenus in the neighborhood. He will only have to be sufficiently obsequious to his wealthy customers and he will be patronized right and left. But to be serious, I will admit that he has talent; yet he is absolutely without any appli cation except that of a spasmodic cha racter which, you know, soon wears it self out. His greatest bane is that he expects to achieve an immediate and a marked success in anything that he undertakes. He is discouraged directly he meets with any reverse, or hears any adverse criticism on his productions. He is too impatient to succeed. He has no perseverance whatever. He flits from one thing to another like a gaudy-winged butterfly (isn't that a pretty simile) on a bright summer's day from flower to shrub, and shrub to flower, and invariably finishes by de spoiling his wings of their bloom in an entangling spider's web. Poor Ada's eyes were suffused with tears, for she could not but admit the truth of much that lay beneath Edith's sarcastic remarks, the sting of which, however, was removed by the laughing and not unkindly tone in which she uttered them. UA rolling stone gathers no moss," said half aloud the scissors-wielding Mr. Pipkins. "' And stagnant water soon becomes putrid', Mr. Sharpwits. I should like to know what sort of moss, and how much, of it you will ever succeed in accumulating, you shocking heap of stupidity," rejoined Edith quickly, not wishing Mr. Pipkins to join the fray to the further discomfiture of her friend Ada. " Why, you have already been fouri years in that refuge for dolts, the incapable and the idle-the Govern ment coal mine office, and though I have no doubt you have allowed Rough Slythe to kick you about, metaphori cally, as much as he liked, yet you are nothing still but a' supernumerary. Tell me, Mr. Wisehead, how it is that your talents have been wrapped up in - a napkin all this time, and that nobody, not even the angelic Rough Slythe has yet discovered them and promoted you into the lofty, but not irremovable, position of a classified officer. You have plenty of temerity, indeed, to pretend to sit in judgment on Charles who, at any rate, has talents, though they are misdirected through his unfortunately having been the victim of a pack of adventure teachers, who would never discipline him for fear he should complain to his too-affectionate mother and be removed from them and they lose their fees." "It is, indeed, very unkind of you to speak like that, Miss Edith. I have been very cruelly and unjustly treated by Mr. Rough Slythe. Do what I can, I cannot give him satisfaction. He is always snarling at me, and if I were to utter a word of complaint I should be instantly dismissed on the plea of insubordination. I will acknowledge that I am not as clever as Ada's cousin. But I always do my work faithfully and honestly. I am always at my post punctually. But 1 cannot lick the boots of that repulsive, tyrannical Rough Slythe, the head of my depart ment, and do any dirty business he wints of me. So he hates me, and alwrays passes me over wheh-any proy motions are to be made, and puts those above who-ubmit with simulated smiles to his capricious temper and coarse in civilties." "Well, if you go on like that and alwas plume yourself upon your inde piendence of character and bristle up like a hedgehog at what you chose to think are your chief's discourtesies, which everybody knows are only little playful eccentricities of character and evidences of an unbounded love of the humorous. Since you have no special talent, or what would stand you in better stead--low, cunning duplicity, you will never get on in the coal mine department, and will be but a super numerary all the days of your life. But, no, on farther consideration, I think I am mistaken, when Rough Slythe has saffeiently humbled you he will promote you to the permanent position of chief office-boy, and accord to you the honourable distinction of caretaker of the fiery, rampant charger onwwhich'he loves to disport himself in Collins-street, to the admiration of all beholders," responded Edith,. looking up-at Ada with a wicked smile upon her face. "Oh! Miss Edith, you are very cruel to me. I am devoted to you,and I would have resigned long ago but that I am so frightened I shouldn't be able to get anything else todo, and so I anbmit as well as I can, though at times -and if Idid not care for you-I would go into the bush-but I cannot leave you--and I am veryanhappy-and-" "What do youp mean, sir, by this wanodtritsregarl:of my frequently ex pressed wishes I No wonder you an not get on with the amiable Rough Slythe if you disobey his orders as you do mnine I .Have I not yet sufficiOently impressed it:upon you that you are never to speak to me of devotion and love, and all that nonsense! Oh! my embroidery. Now, do, please, be careful, Mr. Pipkins, you are going to cat right across it and damage it hope )essly, and I shall never be able to join the pieces agaion together, eaty-'It wil'be completely spoiled, and mydress will be ruined. Pat down the scissors directly, sir, unlessyou feel inclined to give my work all thei poor- atset you are capable of. In the gentle sim plicity of my heart I entrusted you with it on purpose to keepyo out of mischief, and-i?is is the wayryoemshow your gratitidiio me by gomg ille best way about' ft you can to make' me a fright, when I am dressed, by destroy ing my frillings." - " Oh! Miss Elith, how can yoahave the he;ari to Ipeak so ciuiljto me ? I
ruttr. i , ;r -? triusi1iji . di ýj s ^stii iusdu up r nnuapAight ptainas gmi rt4kle incppoe, one .iht4 ! lPouln ike o h;largsiyiih, yo;u1,4 4 And ,bere4so, yf grive ,es tao.Fe, quicku by insinuating, inveryqforcible ,Ianguage,, that.I.shall ngyer~be1apythihg but a.servant of the Iowgest.grade,.a ynere.ran lIere-andruqq there.ppbody,- and, that even t, retain thatlposition,I, shall have to demean myself by,, grooming .Rough Slythe's horste', g i}th. somethiing.like a sigh by dejectedly resumed his;work ofesiE ping at,theangulrpiercing ofthescallop; whiqt,,; the, maliciose-speaking,: .,but relly kind-hearted.gir.hbad iyen him t~ do.,knowing ell,tlat.he ?? nwa ?.ws n nees itself. and. would cut out the iotri cacies of: the:.Jesigo with "far. more sedalous, care than shbe h?rself?f ould. bestow-upgon,it';: .,: · .. " ; ,.: , -,. ,Edith.burst.out laughing---a.mery, Singinglaughl was hers, and this.,was her,only,r eply to., poor Mr. Pipkins's. submissive:..expoulations." , At.. that very instant the door-bell.pealed loudly. Ada's face lightened up with ajoyous smile, one of. reliefand, full of.bappi ness. .Eorshe felt suie .thlt it washer cousinqi Charles, who..had thus. tardily, come to say.good-night to her. (To be continued.) '. -.