|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
|Trove Title||Old Stanley's Will|
Old Stanley's Will. By J.B.
Pro. If hearty sorrow Be a sufficient ransom for offence,
I tender 't here. I do as truly suffer
As e'er I did commit.
Val. Then I am paid ;
And once again I do receive thee honest.
Two Gentlemen of Verona.
" What do you mean by this unwarrantable intrusion?" said Carl, starting up in anger.
" We begs pardon, sir," said the two servants together; "but we caught this ere fellow a stealing of the fowls, and heggs."
"Yes, Mr. Carl," said the groom. "He thought to get off nice, he did ; sneaking about the place before any body was up. But I was up to his dodge."
Bob said, inclining his head towards each man who held him in a vice like grip: " Will you tell these fine gentlemen to take their hands off, sir, please? I'm not a thief."
At a sign from their master they were com- pelled to relinquish their hold.
."Just keep your eye on him," whispered the groom, while the footman chimed in :
" Now search his pockets ; do, sir."
" Turn out your pockets, you rascal !" roared
Bob, nothing discomfited, immediately obeyed. He drew out three sound eggs on one side ; the other pocket had to be turned inside out, being pasted together with the yolks and white of a couple of eggs, and full of their broken shells, together with a small knot of twine, a bit of tobacco, a penknife, and various other small articles peculiar to a lad's pocket. The eggs had been broken in the scuffle, and Bob made a grimace when he saw the damage, but said quite coolly :
"It looks like thieving, doesn't it? But it isn't for all that, sir, I can assure you."
"Yes, it does; and will look more like it, I think, when I send for a policeman, my lad,"
"Oh ! no, no, sir," said poor Bob, beginning to think it serious, and turning pale. " Don't do that: let me explain."
"Explain, you red-headed thief! Doesn't that explain sufficiently?" Carl said, pointing to the eggs.
Dr. Howard here came forward, and suggested to Carl that it would only be fair to hear the boy's explanation.
"Thank you, sir," Bob said, addressing the doctor; and, touching his forelock, he began: '" First and foremost, then, I say, gentlemen, I owe these young men no grudge for doing of their dooty. I should ha' done the same in their place. They thought I was a thief, and,I'm not; that's all. I come to this ere fine place this morning only with kindly feelings - just to befriend the orphan and the wider. I don't know who you are, sir"-looking at Carl-"but that one there is Dr. Howard. I do know him - though he don't know me-for the best-natured gentleman living. God bless him ! I am sure he will give me right. I repeat, I came here this morning to befriend the wider and the orphan. Last night a poor creature came to this grand place with dresses for Mrs. Guiseman and her daughters. She worked early and late, and worked hard, to flnish 'em in time for a ball. She received abuse because she couldn't fly here an hour or so earlier. She wanted her money and they owed her a heap. Did she get it ? No, she was turned from the door." Bob raised his voice in his excitement, and, advancing to the table, brought down his strong bony fist with a bang. " Remember, that poor woman went away to her sick lad at home-sick for want of vittles, I believe; he'd eaten nothing but a dry crust that day. They wouldn't believe her, they wouldn't. I know all about it ; and I vowed I would come and take some chickens and eggs for her - not for myself. 'The 'ouse owes her something,' says I, 'and a few eggs and a couple of fowls wont never be missed ; besides they are hers by right.' So I hung about here this morning with my mind made up to do what I said I would last night." He shook his fist at the unconscious chickens still tucked under the respective arms of groom and footman, and added : " So I would ha' done it but for your clatter."
Now Carl was headstrong and passionate, and during this recital had made many attempts to spring upon the lad and hurl him out of the window, which he would have done but for the doctor. When Bob had finished, however, he shook himself like a wilful child from his friend's restraining hands, pounced upon Mrs. Handson's champion, and shook him in his strong grasp. Scarcely able to articulate distinctly he exclaimed : "You dog, you rascal, I will shake the life out of you. How dare you come here to me and in the presence of this gentleman and my servantss malign my mother and sisters with your lies ? You shall answer for it- Tom, fetch a policeman."
Tom was not in a hurry to do his master's bidding, for he wanted to see all the fun ; while Bob, now released from Carl's grip, and still suffering from his rough handling, began to think he was a bottle of physic, " To be well shaken before taken" to the lock-up. He ex- claimed in terror, " Oh, sir, I did not know you. I did not know they were your people at all. I ask your pardon. "
"Then," said Carl, "down on your knees and confess you have been telling a parcel of lies.
Down and confess !"
Bob did go down on his knees, but, evading a more direct obedience, he cried : " Oh, don't give me in charge ; I belong to Mr. Gregory's stationery establishment, George-street. I might lose a good situation, sir. It must have been another house in this row, and your people had nothing at all to do with it, I suppose. I have made a fine blunder. They never told me it was Mrs. Guiseman at all, Paul didn't ; he said it was a house in this row. And I thought it was Mrs. Guiseman, please, sir, and have got into the wrong house after all." Bob was getting confused and went on : " Mrs. Handson never told me nothing, indeed ; it was Paul, and I'm a blockhead. Oh believe me, Mr. Guiseman, I'm not telling no lies , indeed I'm not." He drew his arm and hand across his eyes, and looked imploringly first at Carl and then at the doctor.
The latter was something of a physiognomist, and having mixed with various characters honest, dishonest, rough and ready, refined and
coarse-he scrutinized the lad's countenance
long and steadily, with the hope that such knowledge of the science as he supposed himself to posssess would not now fail him ; and Bob, though reproaching himself for the mistake he actually thought he had made in the house, yet not conscious of being a thief, bore the scrutiny without flinching. The doctor at last turned on his heel, and, walking over to Carl, said :
"I say, Carl, don't annoy yourself unneces- sarily. There is a mistake somewhere. Let the boy off with a caution ; he has not meant any
harm. I'll vouch for that."
Bob, still on his knees, said: "I ask your pardon a thousand times, sir. Dr. Howard is quite right : I meant no harm. Mrs. Handson and Paul know me-they know I wouldn't wil- lingly do wrong."
"And who is Mrs. Handson, and who is Paul ?" asked the doctor, while Carl turned to lookout of the window, and bit his lip, for he knew who Mrs Handson was, and feared that Bob was right when he accused his mother and sisters ; but to have their defects painted in glaring letters-have the finger of scorn pointed at them by a raw country lad in the presence of his friend, his much-desired brother-in-law-was beyond endurance: for he believed Emmeline would make a good wife under the influence of such a husband as the doctor would prove ; and perhaps he was right. So that when Dr. Howard suggested that Bob had come to the wrong house he was quite willing to accept it as an excuse, and was delighted that his friend should imagine for a moment that it was all a mistake. But if he could have looked into that friend's heart he would have been a miserable man. Dr. Howard felt convinced that Mrs. Guiseman and her daughters were the ladies in question. He remembered the contrary statements of mother and daughter the night previous, was inclined to suspect them of my unkindness, and liked Bob's honest face. He merely suggested the probable blunder on the part of the misguided youth to cool down Carl's just wrath for the slight passed on his mother and sisters. He pitied Carl, and wondered how such a fine upright fellow could belong to them.
Carl now turned right-about face, and,while the severity gradually died out of his countenance, said to Bob in a relenting tone : " Now thank this gentleman and take yourself away. You were very nearly getting into the wrong box as well as the wrong fowl-house, I think ; and in future let your widows and orphans steal for themselves ;
if they are so inclined. Don't you do their dirty work. Now go !"
" Thank you, sir ; but Mrs. Handson and Paul don't know nothing about this work-you ask
"If you please, Mr. Carl, will we not be wanted?" said the groom and footman together, who had been silent spectators all this time ; and being rather more disappointed than not at the escape of their victim they vented their ill humour on the inoffensive fowls, each giving his bird a squeeze under his arm, producing a repetition of the shrill cry heard once before that morning, to the annoyance of their master, who told them to leave the room and " take the confounded things back where they came from."
So Bob walked off free as air, and the two friends, at peace again, reclaimed their cigars. Carl had felt inclined to give Bob one of the chickens for the widow's son-the sick boy ; but be was not quite sure whether Paul was a myth or not, and, besides, it would have looked something like a tacit acknowledgement of the truth of the story ; so the kindly impulse was checked. Poor fellow, the scene had made him thoughtful. He brooded in silence for some little time; and, then, the loss of his night's sleep was not to be ignored. Sleep crept upon him gradu- ally, and he was conquered. Morpheus was merciful, and wrapped him in his arms like a
Dr. Howard smiled, and having scribbled on the back of a card an apology for not remainingug to breakfast with the famiy as he promised, as he had an appointment to keep in town, he left the house at 7 o'clock and picked up a hansom at the cab-stand close by. Then, driving home, he refreshed himself with his morning bath, changed his evening for walking attire, and sauntered down Macquarie - street and Hunter-street ; then, reaching George-street, he walked straight to Gregory's stationery shop. It was nothing unusual for him to take an early morning stroll, but his curiosity had been roused to find Bob and sift the truth of his con- fession to the bottom ; and then his charity had been appealed to in the cause of the widow and the orphan.
The quality of mercy is not strained : It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath ; it is twice blest
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes ; 'Tis mightiest in the mightiest ;
It Is an attribute of God himself,
And earthly power doth then show likest God's When mercy seasons justice.
Merchant of Venice
It was now nearly 8 o'clock, and George-street began to assume a lively appearance ; many shops were opened, and several labourers passed on to their work ; many of the latter touched the hat or cap, and even lifted it to salute Dr. Howard, who was known to them all, and loved and respected, attending them as he did gratis when he was needed, and administering to the comfort of each man's home in more ways than one. No wonder that the people lifted up their voices and blessed him. He had not gone as far as Market-street when he actually spied the identical Bob-there was no mistaking his red head. Taking down his master's shutters, his back was turned of course to Dr. Howard, and as he shouldered each shutter and carried it away to its resting place for the day he whistled some popular street song very much out of tune. He was always whistling, but this morning in particular the melody was lost, the notes were jarring, for his narrow escape was not to be for- gotten, and rough usage such as he had en- countered was enough to put the best musical instrument out of tune ; so his whistle was a failure, and his soul still trembled within him. When he had finished with the shutters he went into the shop, and curried out a sort of portable book-stall containing tempting novels, songs, etc., and rested it against the entrance. He next swept the shop, dusted the counters, and, having taken his stand at the door, put his hands deep down into his pockets, blew out his cheeks, and was ready for customers. He then for the first time saw the doctor standing and watching him with something like a smile on his face, and
" Well, lad, are you surprised to see me? What is your name ?"
" Robert Mallet, sir," Bob answered ; " and always ready to serve you, sir. They call me
Bob for short."
" Do you know I have come to test your truth still further! You said you were employed by Mr. Gregory, and I find it is so. So far so good. Now tell me-for you never answered me this morning ; you were too excited-who are Mrs. Handson and Paul. Where do they live ?"
"God bless you for a good kind gentleman, as you are!" exclaimed Bob. " I wish I could help them as easily as I can answer you those ques- tions, Dr. Howard. I would go and show you the way, but I daren't leave the shop; my master is at his breakfast." He pointed with his thumb over his right shoulder to a glass-door behind the shop, which led into the little back parlour occupied by Gregory and his family, where Gregory himself was now sitting at his ease sip- ping his coffee and skimming the Sydney Morn- ing Herald. " I daren't do it; but, sir, you just go round Market-street into York-street, turn to your right, cross over, and then you'll see Tobins's forge ; he is their landlord, and will point out to you their little 'ouse, which is close by the forge ; but you can't miss it, sir."
"Very well, Bob; that ís right. Now one more question before I leave you. Are you aware that you committed something very much like burglary this morning, though not quite,
" Oh, no, Dr. Howard," Bob answered, getting
very white. '
" Yes, but it was very much like it ; and I interceded for you because I believed you were honest in what you said, and had a confused notion of being a hero. I don't think you wanted to steal, but only to help your friends."
" Yes, Dr. Howard, I did want to help them, and I thought to tell Mrs. Handson about it when they paid her what they owed that she might pay them the value. If you had seen her poor white face last night and Paul's thin cheeks, sir, you would have pitied too. The ladies wouldn't believe her when she begged for money. I felt mad, and said to myself she should have something good to eat to-day, so I tried to take what I thought was hers. Don't say it was a burglary, sir."
" Well, my lad, don't be frightened ; but you must not do such a thing again ; remember for the future that soiling your own hands with such deeds will never serve your friends, but do you much harm."
" I'm so sorry I mistook the house and offended the young gentleman," Bob said.
" So am I, my friend ; but never mind. I go to seek this poor boy and help him if I can. Good morning. I shall see you again."
Bob watched the retreating form of the doctor. His adventure after all was not an idle morning's work ; he had risked his reputation in the cause of Mrs. Handson and Paul, but the result would be satisfactory, he thought. The doctor would see the sick boy, see the starvation in his face, and would help him and his mother-he knew he would ; and to give vent to his delight Bob threw a couple of somersaults on the pavement, and returned to the shop feeling happy.
Dr. Howard followed the lad's directions im- plicitly, pondering deeply, as was his wont, and wondering whether Mrs. Handson was the ill-used creature he had represented her to be. He had no difficulty in finding Tobins's forge-its disagree- able odour and ruddy light led him straight to it. From thence he was directed by Tobina himself to the widow's house. He found the door ajar, and a feeble " Come in," in answer to the rap of his walking-cane, invited him to enter. He looked round the room, which was cleanly swept and tidy, and said, "Does Mrs. Handson live here?"
" Yes, sir, please," answered Paul, who sat up- right in the bed to look better at this stranger.
"Ah! you are Paul, then?" continued the doctor, while three or four strides brought him to the side of the bed. He bent his head over the sick boy, his face beaming with benevolence, and took his hand, saying, "Where is your mother, sonny ?"
Paul allowed his hand to remain in the doctor's; attracted by his countenance, and full of curi- osity, he said, " I do not know you. Do you
"Yes, Paul, I do know you." He drew a three-legged stool, and, sitting down, he said, "I am a doctor, and heard you were ill. I want to cure you." With a gentle touch he placed his cool hand on the boy's fevered brow, then tried his pulse. " Poor little chap, you are weak. How long have you been lying here ?"
" Over a week, sir ; but we can't afford a doctor-we are so poor. Mother gets a little work sometimes, and I used to be at Mr. Gregory's
at three shillings a week. He promised me four ; but one morning I just fainted right off, and Bob Mallet-that's my mate-carried me home like a baby, and here I am ever since. When I try to rise I get faint and sick and giddy ; and I can't help mother a bit." Paul almost sobbed with the thought.
" And where is mother now ?" asked the doctor. " What does she give you to eat ?"
" What does she give me to eat ?" Paul echoed, while tears rose to his eyes. "Whatever she can. This morning we had some grapes. Bob Mallet gave them to mother."
" Bob Mallet again," thought the doctor ; " he is a large-hearted honest-souled fellow after all. I knew I was right." Then he added, aloud, " Bob Mallet is a good fellow, Paul ; it was he sent me to you. Where is your mother now ?"
" She will be home presently, sir, if you would like to see her ; she is trying to get some more
"And how old are you, Paul?" asked the doctor, as he lifted the damp hair from the boy's forehead, and thought what a noble little face it was-all the soul shining in its great brown eyes, such sweetness in the mouth. He had a dim recollection of having seen some such face once before, when and how be could not call to mind. With increasing interest he put the question, " How old are you, Paul ?"
" Twelve next birthday, sir."
" Quite a man!" Then rising to go, he added, " I must go home now to breakfast, but I shall soon see you again, and send you something to make you strong. Good-bye." He pressed the thin little hand and left him, but suddenly returned, prompted by no curiosity, but a generous im- pulse, and asked still another question :
" Does your mother work for a lady called Mrs. Guiseman of Bulwer-terrace?"
Paul's face flushed to the roots of his hair, and his lips compressed as he replied with rising temper : "She did work for a woman of that name up to last night, but doesn't intend work- ing any more for her."
Dr. Howard was more than answered and more than satisfied with Bob Mallet. He said gently, "Don't think me rude my boy, I only want to be your friend. Good-bye again." He waved his hand and was gone for good this time.
Paul thought the room had become cold and darkened, he was so flustered, and longed for his mother's return to relate the whole matter to her. Who could the good gentleman be to brighten up their little home and make him feel bo happy as he did ? Oh, when would he come again ?
In the course of an hour or so his mother re- turned with some work on her arm to do for a friend of Mrs. Mullet. That worthy body had also paid her the few shillings owing, and had not offended her by refusing to receive the price of the loaf taken from her house the night previous. Mrs. Handson also carried a small basket containing biscuits, fruit, a little gravy beef for broth for Paul, and had a few shillings to spare. She came in bright and happy, with a little colour in her cheeks, and a cheery ring in her voice, looking as Paul had not seen her for
" Here I am again home at last."
" Oh, mother, come here quick, I have so much to tell you ; and you do look so pretty - so good."
She stooped and kissed him fondly.
" That must be because I feel good, dear," she said, laughingly. " Last night I was full of rebellious feelings ; to day I feel as if I did not deserve the blessings God has sent me. I prayed to Him for strength to bear my trials and for food for you, my darling. ' He is nigh to all who call upon Him in truth.' I have food for you to-day ; you shall get strong. For to- morrow God will provide. I trust in Him."
" Yes, mother, and He sent one of His angels to me to-day, while you were out."
" Yes, dear? do you know I fancied something unusual had occurred, for as I passed Gregory's Bob was serving a customer, but it did not prevent him from nodding and smiling and al- together looking so excited, twisting his body and features to such an extent that the customer must have believed he was suffering from St. Vitus's dance. I, knowing him better, felt that something pleasing must have happened in which I should be interested. Tell me, Paul, all about
Then Paul related the happy incident of the morning. |
" And you never asked his name ?"
" His name ? Oh, mother, how stupid of me I I never thought of that ; but, never mind ; he said he would come again. I won't forget next time ; but Bob knows him ; he will tell me. Bob sent him to me, the gentlemnn said."
" When we get some money by-and-by, dear, we must give Bob a present, eh ? He has been so good."
" I think, mother, if you would teach him to read and write better than he does he would feel repaid; or even tell him the pretty stories out of the Bible like you tell to me, because he loves you." Then, pulling his arms round his mother's neck and pressing her face to his, he said : " Mother, dear, I sometimes think you and I, you know, are like Elijah the prophet-one of the stories you have told me. How trustingly he submitted to God's commands-who would never let him want too long or starve, but sent His birds to feed him. And most people are kind to us now, aren't they ?-excepting rich people."
Paul evidently judged the wealthy by the only rich family he knew-namely, the Guisemans. He thought they were all cold and hard-hearted without exception.
His mother was about to speak when a man's
voice at the door disturbed her.
" Is this Mr. Handson's ?"
The owner of the voice was a servant-man, who now came forward with a parcel in his arms.
"I am she," answered Mrs. Handson.
" I was told to leave this here," the man said. " It must be a mistake," she replied.
" Oh, no. If your name's Handson it's all right," saying which he deposited his small burden in the room-like a man conscious of having done his duty-and walked away.
Paul said quickly, " It must be quite right ; open it, mother ; it's Elijah's birds-open it."
She cut the cord, and drew out a bottle of medicine with directions, a bottle of wine, a bottle of jelly, some blooming grapes, and lastly a card containing these written words-" From
Paul's friend and well-wisher."
" Yes, Paul ; Elijah's birds are true to us. Heaven has sent them. Last night my pride would have rebelled at this, but not now-not now. You will soon get strong and pay this good doctor in some way, Paul, my dear child. Let us praise God ;" and she knelt at his bedside and offered thanksgiving to the God of the widow
To return to our hero-our benevolent doctor. When he left Paul it was with his heart full of conflicting emotion. His disposition ever prompt- ing him to help the needy, in this instance he felt he could not do enough for the invalid boy. Something in the pale oval face stirred up an old memory, which he strove to brighten into some thing definite, but could not. Then again the hot blood rushed to his face, colouring it with indignation as he thought with contempt upon the unworthy conduct of the Guisemans - regret- ting over and over again that Carl was any con- nection to them ; for he felt that he could not offer them his hand in friendship any more, and must necessarily wound his friend, for whom he really had an affection. Bob, the ignorant rough lad, with his red head and freckled face, was noble and true. Emmeline and Annette, with all their mental culture, stood before him now like Mokanna unveiled, hideous and deformed with their arrogance and pride. And so he walked and pondered- his thoughts ever recur- ring to the orphan boy-until he reached his own door, in time for breakfast and professional duties.
[TO BE CONCLUDED IN OUR NEXT.)