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A CASTILIAN LEGEND.
BY WASHINGTON IRVING.
IN the cloisters of the ancient Benedictine convent of San Domingo, at Silos, in Castile, are the mouldering yet magnificent monuments of the once powerful and chivalrous family of Hinojosa. Among these, reclines the marble figure of a knight, in complete armour, with the hands pressed together, as if in prayer. On one side of his tomb is sculptured in relief a band of Christian cavaliers, capturing a cavalcade of male and female Moors on the other side, the same cavaliers are represented kneeling before an altar. The tomb, like most of the neighbouring monuments, is almost in ruins, and the sculpture is nearly unintelligible, excepting to the keen eye of the antiquary. The story connected with the sepulchre, however, is still preserved in the old Spanish chronicles, and is to the following purport.
In old times, several hundred years ago, there was a noble Castilian cavalier, named Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa, lord of a border castle, which had stood the brunt of many a Moorish foray. He had seventy horsemen as his household troops, all of the ancient Castilian proof; stark warriors, hard riders, and men of iron: with these he scoured the Moorish lands, and made his name terrible throughout the borders. His castle hall was covered with banners, and cimeters, and Moslem helms, the trophies of his prowess. Don Munio was, moreover, a keen huntsman; and rejoiced in hounds of all kinds, steeds for the chase, and hawks for the towering sport of falconry. When not engaged in warfare, his delight was to beat up the neighbouring forests; and scarcely ever did he ride forth without hound and horn, a boar-spear in his hand, or a hawk upon his fist, and an attendant train of huntsmen. His wife, Donna Maria Palacin, was of a gentle and timid nature, little fitted to be the spouse of so hardy and adventurous a knight; and many a tear did the poor lady shed, when he sallied forth upon his daring enterprises, and many a prayer did she offer up for his safety.
As this doughty cavalier was one day hunting, he stationed himself in a thicket, on the borders of a green glade of the forest, and dispersed his followers to rouse the game, and drive it toward his stand. He had not been here long, when a cavalcade of Moors, of both sexes, came prankling over the forest lawn. They were unarmed, and magnificently dressed in robes of tissue and embroidery, rich shawls of India, bracelets and anklets of gold, and jewels that sparkled in the sun.
At the head of this cavalcade rode a youthful cavalier, superior to the rest in dignity and loftiness of demeanour, and splendour of attire: beside him was a damsel, whose veil, blown aside by the breeze, displayed a face of surpassing beauty, and eyes cast down in maiden modesty, yet beaming with tenderness and joy.
Don Munio thanked his stars for sending him such a prize, and exulted at the thought of bearing home to his wife the glittering spoils of these infidels. Putting his hunting-horn to his lips, he gave a blast that rung through the forest. His huntsmen came running from all quarters, and the astonished Moors were surrounded and made captives.
The beautiful Moor wrung her hands in despair, and her female attendants uttered the most piercing cries. The young Moorish cavalier alone retained self-possession. He inquired the name of the Christian knight who commanded this troop of horsemen. When told that it was Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa, his countenance lighted up. Approaching that cavalier and kissing his hand, "Don Munio Sancho," said he, "I have heard of your fame as a true and valiant knight, terrible in arms, but schooled in the noble virtues of chivalry. Such do I trust to find you. In me you benold Abadil, son of a Moorish Alcayde. I am on the way to celebrate my nuptials with this lady; chance has thrown us in your power, but I confide in your magnanimity. Take all our treasure and jewels; demand what ransom you think proper for our persons, but suffer us not to be insulted or dishonoured."
When the good knight heard this appeal, and beheld the beauty of the youthful pair, his heart was touched with tenderness and courtesy. "God forbid," said he, "that I should disturb such happy nuptials. My prisoners in troth shall ye be for fifteen days, and immured within my castle, where I claim, as conqueror, the right of celebrating your espousals."
So saying, he despatched one of his fleetest horsemen in advance, to notify Donna Maria Palacin of the coming of this bridal party; while he and his huntsmen escorted the cavalcade, not as captors, but as a guard of honour. As they drew near to the castle,
the banners were hung out, and the trumpets sounded from the battlements; and on their nearer approach, the drawbridge was lowered, and Donna Maria came forth to meet them, attended by her ladies and knights, her pages and her minstrels. She took the young bride, Allifra, in her arms, kissed her with the tenderness of a sister, and conducted her into the castle. In the mean time, Don Munio sent forth missives in every direction, and had viands and dainties of all kinds collected from the country round; and the wedding of the Moorish lovers was celebrated with all possible state and festivity. For fifteen days the castle was given up to joy and revelry. There were tiltings and jousts at the ring, and bull-fights, and banquets, and dances to the sound of minstrelsy. When the fifteen days were at an end, he made the bride and bridegroom magnificent presents, and conducted them and their attendants safely beyond the borders. Such, in old times, were the courtesy and generosity of a Spanish cavalier.
Several years after this event, the King of Castile summoned his nobles to assist him in a campaign against the Moors. Don Munio Sancho was among the first to answer to the call, with seventy horsemen, all staunch and well-tried warriors. His wife, Donna Maria, hung about his neck. "Alas, my lord!" exclaimed she, "how often wilt thou tempt thy fate, and when will thy thirst for glory be appeased!"
"One battle more," replied Don Munio, "one battle more, for the honour of Castile, and I here make a vow, that when this is over, I will lay by my sword, and repair with my cavaliers in pilgrimage to the sepulchre of our Lord at Jerusalem." The cavaliers all joined with him in the vow, and Donna Maria felt in some degree soothed in spirit: still, she saw with a heavy heart the departure of her husband, and watched his banner with wistful eyes, until it disappeared among the trees of the forest.
The King of Castile led his army to the plains of Almanara, where they encountered the Moorish host, near to Ucles. The battle was long and bloody; the Christians repeatedly wavered, and were as often rallied by the energy of their commanders: Don Munio was covered with wounds, but refused to leave the field. The Christians at length gave way, and the king was hardly pressed, and in danger of being captured.
Don Munio called upon his cavaliers to follow him to the rescue. "Now is the time," cried he, "to prove your loyalty. Fall to, like brave men! We fight for the true faith, and if we lose our lives here, we gain a better life hereafter."
Rushing with his men between the king and his pursuers, they checked the latter in their career, and gave time for their monarch to escape; but they fell victims to their loyalty. They all fought to the last gasp. Don Munio was singled out by a powerful Moorish knight, but having been wounded in the right arm, he fought to disadvantage, and was slain. The battle being over, the Moor paused to possess himself of the spoils of this redoubtable Christian warrior. When he unlaced the helmet, however, and beheld the countenance of Don Munio, he gave a great cry and smote his breast. "Woe is me!" cried he, "I have slain my benefactor-the flower of knightly virtue, the most magnanimous of cavaliers!"
While the battle had been raging on the plain of Salmanara, Donna Maria Palacin remained in her castle, a prey to the keenest anxiety. Her eyes were for ever fixed on the road that led from the country of the Moors, and often she asked the watchman of the tower, "What seest thou?"
One evening, at the shadowy hour of twilight, the warden sounded his horn. "I see," cried he, "a numerous train winding up the valley. There are mingled Moors and Christians. The banner of my lord is in the advance. Joyful tidings!" exclaimed the old seneschal; "my lord returns in triumph, and brings captives!" Then the castle court rang with shouts of joy; and the standard was displayed, and the trumpets were sounded, and the drawbridge was lowered, and Donna Maria went forth with her ladies, and her knights, and her pages, and her minstrels, to welcome her lord from the wars. But as the train drew nigh, she beheld a sumptuous bier, covered with black velvet, and on it lay a warrior, as if taking his repose: he lay in his armour, with his helmet on his head, and his sword in his hand, as one who had never been conquered; and around the bier were the escutcheons of the house of Hinojosa.
A number of Moorish cavaliers attended the bier, with emblems of mourning, and with dejected countenances; and their leader cast himself at the feet of Donna Maria, and hid his face in his hands. She beheld in him the gallant Abadil, whom she had once welcomed with his bride to her castle, but who now came with the body of her lord, whom he had unknowingly slain in battle I
THE sepulchre erected in the cloisters of the Convent of San Domingo, was achieved at the expense of the Moor Abadil, as a feeble testimony of his grief for the death of the good knight Don Munio, and his reverence for his memory. The tender and faithful
Donna Maria soon followed her lord to the tomb. On one of the
stones of a small arch, beside his sepulchre, is the following simple inscription:"Hic jacet Maria Palacin, uxor Munonis Sancij De Hinojosa:" Here lies Maria Palacin, wife of Munio Sancho de Hinojosa.
The legend of Don Munio Sancho does not conclude with his death. On the same day on which the battle took place on the plain of Salmanara, a chaplain of the Holy Temple at Jerusalem, while standing at the outer gate, beheld a train of Christian cavaliers advancing, as if in pilgrimage. The chaplain was a native of Spain, and as the pilgrims approached, he knew the foremost to be Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa, with whom he had been well acquainted in former times. Hastening to the patriarch, he told him of the honourable rank of the pilgrims at the gate. The patriarch, therefore, went forth with a grand procession of priests and monks, and received the pilgrims with all due honour. There were seventy cavaliers, beside their leader, all stark and lofty warriors. They carried their helmets in their hands, and their faces were deadly pale. They greeted no one, nor looked either to the right or to the left, but entered the chapel, and kneeling before the Sepulchre of our Saviour, performed their orisons in silence. When they had concluded, they rose as if to depart, and the patriarch and his attendants advanced to speak to them, but they were no more to be seen. Every one marvelled what could be the meaning of this prodigy. The patriarch carefully noted down the day, and sent to Castile to learn tidings of Don Munio Sancho de Hinojosa. He received for reply, that on the very day specified, that worthy knight, with seventy of his followers, had been slain in battle. These, therefore, must have been the blessed spirits of those Christian warriors, come to fulfil their vow of a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. Such was Castilian faith in the olden time, which kept its word even beyond the grave. If any one should doubt of the miraculous apparition of these phantom knights, let him consult the History of the Kings of Castile and Leon, by the learned and pious Fray Prudencio de Sandoval, Bishop of Pamplona, where he will find it recorded in the History of the King Don Alonzo VI., on the hundred and second page. It is too precious a legend to be lightly abandoned to the doubter.-From the Knickerbocker.
GOOD AND BAD LUCK.
found not a scratch on his body, she ran over to the stall of the Irishwoman, and told the wonderful story, without abating a particle of the particulars. "And am not I always telling you," said the Irish woman, "that that boy is born to good luck? Sorra a ha'porth will ever come over him!”
Tom became a general favourite at school. He had not daring enough, nor mischief enough, to be a "leader " amongst his school-fellows, but then he was just as far removed from cowardice or cunning. Nobody could ever accuse Tom of skulking off, or shuffling, yet Tom never-at least seldom-got into a scrape. He was used by his companions as a sort of "acting secretary," or "standing counsel," and his instinctive fertility of judgment and invention was not only the justification, but the cause, of their preference. If a favour was to be solicited, Tom was made the spokesman, for he had a frank, ingenuous manner, which made it difficult to refuse him; if fishing-rods and lines were to be set in order, or bait to be got, Tom could arrange and unravel the one, or quickly find out the other; if a kite wanted balancing, Tom was the boy to do it. In fact, as the old Irishwoman said he was born to good luck, so his schoolfellows thought he was made for it; and "Lucky Tom" became so common a phrase, that the very schoolmaster, when he chose to relax a little in dignity, and to become jocular, would ask him about the last run of "good luk" he had.
When Tom grew up, his "good luck" did not appear to desert him. A commercial firm-the most respectable in the townwanted a genteel youth for their counting-room; and not a few applications had been made, from heads of families, too, of some repute. Mrs. Featherstone heard of the situation, and strong in the faith of her son's "good luck," she walked straight into the counting-house. After she told in few words what she wanted, one of the principals looked at Tom, and you might have thought that Tom, by a wink of his eye, or some other potent action, had "fascinated him." He walked into an inner room, to consult an elder partner, and presently returning, desired Tom to come next Monday. Going home, he met one of the youths who had been a candidate for the situation, and told him how he had succeeded. "You are a lucky fellow!" was the reply; and when he reached the house, his mother told him for the three hundredth and sixtyfifth time, how the poor, old, decent Irishwoman, that used to keep the stall opposite the door, had always said he was "born to good luck."
For five years Tom Featherstone continued to rise in the good graces of the Firm. His activity, prompt business habits, conciliatory manner with customers, and sharp, quick turn, all favoured him. Yet Tom had no cunning, no meanness, no "sneaking ways." Nobody knew better when to bow with solemnity, when to touch his hat with gay familiarity, when to shake hands with a rough boisterousness, according to the character he was dealing with: yet it was all done, not from observation, but by a sort of natural instinct. His more awkward or solemn companions would sometimes ask for his "secret:" but Tom had no "secret; " it was merely his "good luck," he said, and no particular merit; "try and do as I do," he would add, "and perhaps you will turn out alucky."
ONE of the smartest young fellows in my native provincial town was Tom Featherstone-he was "the only son of his mother, and she was a widow." Tom Featherstone belonged to that class of handy-looking, clean-built people, who always appear genteel, even if shabbily dressed-which, however, was never Tom's case. Lively, active, and ever smiling, he was a pet when a child, a favourite when a boy, and popular as a young man. "Och, then, bless his heart!" said an old Irishwoman, who kept a stall hard by his mother's house, and to whom Tom, when he could toddle, was not an indifferent customer-" Och, then, bless his heart, but he's born to good luck! Didn't I see a gentleman looking at him by the hour as he played in the sun there, and then he put his hand in his pocket and gave him a penny; and the dear little craiture came over to me, and I picked out the nicest apple I had on my stall for him-bless his heart, but he's born to good luck!" So thought Tom's mother. She was a widow, and, by a sort of Tom never thought of saving money, because he never felt the not unnatural confusion of ideas, thought that because she was a want of it. Somehow or other he was always getting "extras ;" widow, that therefore her child was under some peculiar providen- if he was sent to make purchases, he was permitted to accept an tial care. She knew that the Scripture said, “ Leave thy fatherless occasional commission from some of the smaller folks in the same children, and let your widows trust in ME;" and she also knew that line, who put perfect confidence in him; and having a considera"pure religion and undefiled” was said to consist in "visiting the ble reputation as an accountant, not unfrequently he received a widow and fatherless in their affliction," and to keep oneself "un-job to disentangle some complicated matters, which he usually spotted from the world." And am not I a widow? thought Mrs. effected with an ease that seemed miraculous to some people. Featherstone to herself, and is not my child fatherless? Why, then, "How in the world do you do it, Featherstone? " said a crusty should she doubt but that Providence should take special care of old, pragmatical fellow-clerk, over whom he had been virtually her boy? So far did she carry this notion, that she believed her promoted; "you get through business in a day that would take boy to be specially exempted from the common casualties of me a week!" Tom did not know how he did it; it was his children; when he had a fall, somehow or other he always "fell "luck" he said, and who could help being lucky? on his feet;" and when, one day, after a tumble from top to bottom of a flight of stairs, his alarmed mother picked him up, and
Amongst youth of his own age, Tom Featherstone was welcome. With a number of young men he got up a choral society, of which
he was secretary; he also kept the books of a ladies' society for charitable purposes; and at evening parties he was quite a privileged man. Some of the young ladies, who, perhaps, thought they had but a remote chance of him, called him "slammakin Tom," but all the others voted him unanimously the most obliging, goodnatured, and genteelest young man in the town. Not a few of the matrons thought that somebody's daughter would be in "luck's way," that would get "lucky Tom," for he seemed predestined to rise in the world.
A whisper ran through the town that lucky Tom Featherstone was about to be married. "Who?" was the invariable first response; and when quite assured that it was actually Tom Featherstone, the next inquiry, uttered in a sort of suppressed, almost breathless and bewildered anxiety, was, "Who is he going to have?" Those who put great faith in Tom's "good luck," thought that undoubtedly it would be one of the daughters of one of the partners of the firm; he had frequently been seen escorting them." And I pity him, then," said Mrs. Fitzwilliam to Mrs. Hervey, "for the proud, upstart creatures think themselves above him, and if one of them is going to take him, it must be because her father wishes it, and she will lead him a dog's life!" "Ah but, my dear, there is plenty of money in the family-let lucky Tom alone, he knows what he is about." Some other informant now came in with more accurate information; it was "currently reported" that Tom Featherstone was going to have Miss Baillie, the eldest daughter of Doctor Baillie, the chief medical man of the town. "A very good match, I say, then, it is; she's a good and a pretty girl." "Oh, nonsense, he might have done much better her father has nothing to spare her!" But, again, somebody said that she had heard that it was old John Murray's daughter, the daughter of an old fellow who had kept a shop for fifty years, and was thought to be worth" a bit of money." "Oh, horrid," replied the objector, "he never could think of marrying such a vulgar thing as that-positively if he does, my good opinion of him will be quite gone!" In this way nearly all the marriageable girls of the town had their characters discussed, and their respective families' condition commented on, in every circle, when it became known that Tom Featherstone was going to be
Murder, they say, will not hide, neither will marriage. The truth came out at last, and the whole town was electrified by learning that Tom Featherstone was going to be married to Mary Blundell. "Mary Blundell ! died on everybody's lips. "La! did you hear that it is Mary Blundell Tom Featherstone is going to have?" Mary Blundell!" Only to think that lucky Tom Featherstone should throw himself away! His common sense, his taste, his prudence, and the goodness of his eyesight, were all called in question-Tom Featherstone fell one hundred and fifty per cent. in the estimation of one half of the ladies of the town. minority, an uninfluential minority, took up the cudgels for Mary Blundell. She was a good girl, and a nice girl, and though not to say pretty, a very pleasing girl; and though her parents were poor, they were respected, if not respectable. She would make a very good wife for Tom Featherstone, and it showed his good sense not to aspire too high. He was a very nice young man, but what was he, after all, that he should be thought too good for Mary Blundell? In this way opinions differed; the only matter about which there was unanimity, was in perfect wonder and astonishment how he had carried on his courtship. Not a few thought that he must be a "sly" fellow after all; and a few of the sneerers insinuated that Mary Blundell was to be caught without any courtship at all.
ticularly bright; and Tom, at school, had often saved her from a headache and a scold by working up sums for her on her slate, over which poor Mary sat poring, as if they were impenetrable masses of figures. As both grew up, they always exchanged cordial greetings, when they chanced to meet on the street; but they never met in company, and nobody ever dreamed—perhaps Mary did herself, though-about there being anything more than a mere acquaintance. When Tom Featherstone occasionally thought of Mary Blundell for his wife, it was as a sort of remote visionary idea, floating, like a pleasing but unreal speculation through a brain not disposed to dwell too long on one idea.
Now, how Tom Featherstone came to marry Mary Blundell was as follows:-Tom was not without ambition; and being frequently in the company of the daughters of one of the partners of the Firm (as already mentioned), and being much patronised by their mother, a proud woman, who thought of Tom as a fine young man, and regarded him as a sort of superior servant "out of livery," he had been led to entertain the idea of aspiring to the hand of one of the young ladies. The one he selected permitted him to say a great many agreeable things to her; they generally walked in the vanguard of the procession; and latterly Tom's services as an escort were perpetually in requisition, and for a time he supped every night at his employer's house. Tom's mind was quite made up; he received with complacency the hints, insinuations, and jokes of his fellow-clerks, about his usual "good luck :" and he firmly believed that his condition was an enviable one. Elated one evening by the unusual kindness of the mother and the hilarity of the daughter, he took "heart o' grace," and fairly proposed himself as they were out on their evening walk. The young lady at first did not appear to comprehend him, but Tom attributed this to her native modesty, and pressed his suit in plainer terms. When it was no longer possible for the lady to misunderstand him, her countenance assumed an aspect that rather put Tom out of his calculation. She, who was thinking of nothing less than making a conquest of a young baronet, whose estate was in the neighbourhood of the town, to be thus addressed, and on the highway too, by one of her father's clerks! Scarcely a word, however, was spoken, and Tom still imagined he was in "luck's way;" but they turned homewards, and on entering the house, the daughter, in a tone between scorn and crying, addressed her mother," That fellow has had the insolence to propose marriage to me!"
Truth should be spoken; and the truth was, that mother and daughters looked upon Tom as an agreeable sort of puppy-dog, whom they graciously permitted to gambol out with them on their walks, and allowed the entrée of the drawing-room. Poor Tom! this was the first really serious rubber of ill luck he had played in his life. The mother, in the most grave and provokingly palliating tone, desired her daughter to excuse the young man's inexperience; she was positive he was too well-meaning a young man to intend any rudeness-if it was a joke, let it be so, and she hoped Tom would not forget himself again. Then, in the most gracious manner, she dismissed him, telling him that if they should require his services they would be sure to let him know.
Lively as Tom was, he could hardly hold up his head for some weeks after this event; yet nobody out of the family knew anything at all about it—it was only Tom's own consciousness which mortified him. This was aggravated by the particularly kind manner with which mother and daughters walked into the counting-house, one day, to inquire after Tom's health-hoped he was quite well, and desired him to execute a few small commissions for them. He was stung to the quick; yet all the while his fellow-clerks thought that he was higher in favour than ever! It was then that he resolved to marry Mary Blundell, and in a month from that fatal visit in the counting-house, Mary Blundell was Mrs. Feather
But Tom Featherstone, from the time of his being a schoolboy, had always a corner in his heart for Mary Blundell. Love it could hardly be called, for Tom Featherstone's temperament was rather volatile for so sedate and sentimental a matter at so After the wonder had ceased in the town, and even the servantearly an age. Still, Mary Blundell was so quiet, so composed, maids had given over criticising the appearance of Mr. and Mrs. so nice a looking girl, that one might hardly wonder how her dark Featherstone, Tom became reconciled to his lot, and began to find eyes and silken-like fringes of eyelids, had impressed Tom's fancy. himself happy. His salary was raised; higher duties were Mary, though a very amiable, sweet-tempered girl, was not par-assigned to him; greater confidence was placed in him. Tom
determined to show that he was none the worse for his marriage; | set up a very nice establishment; gave dinner and supper parties; keeping a sort of open house. His "good luck," that for a moment seemed checked, appeared to flow stronger than ever. Time, too, wrought its wonders. In as brief a space as possible, there came little Tom Featherstone, little Mary Featherstone, little George Featherstone, little Eliza Featherstone, little Anna Featherstone, and little baby Featherstone. "Ah! you dog, you," he would say to some bachelor visitor, "why don't you get married? see how happy I am!" Eight years had elapsed, and the proud dame who had treated him so disdainfully was still a spinster, and likely soon to turn round into a sour old maid; and despised Mary Blundell, not more than twenty-eight years of age, was the contented mother of six healthy and happy little Featherstones; while old Mrs. Featherstone, still light and active, gazed upon her grandchildren with an affection a little more doting than she had done on Tom; and she prognosticated that all these Featherstones would turn out as lucky as their father.
But Tom, as a married man, committed sundry grave faults; and the first of them was not allowing his wife to take any active share in the management of the household expenses. Mary, as we have said, was a mild, quiet creature; but her mind was not particularly active, and Tom, all unwittingly, circumscribed its sphere. It was his "conceit" to lay in all the household supplies himself; he bought wine and potatoes, beef and calicoes, silks and vegetables-Mary had not even to distress herself about as much as a pair of baby's socks. Her mind, thus trammelled, had no field for exercise in what ought to be the peculiar province of a married woman-she became confirmed in habits of helplessness. And out of this fault grew another, that Tom never consulted his wife about anything; it never was a habit with him, and she was contentedly ignorant of annual income and annual expenditure. Another fault was his living up to his income. True, he could talk about savings, annuities, assurances, &c. in a very off-hand manner; and was perpetually calculating what small sums would amount to, in a given time, when laid out at compound interest, But "talk was all Tom did, as far as he was himself concerned: the evil day, with him, had not appeared on the horizon, and he was always active, and busy, and "lucky."
A distant relation persuaded Tom to become security for him for a considerable sum; and the fatal time arrived when the relation was nowhere to be found, and the money to pay. It so happened, at that particular time, that Tom was shorter than usual of cash; his family had been on a trip to a watering-place, and his salary had been overdrawn. Had it happened some six months before, Tom could have got over the difficulty, but just then-it was so unlucky! Payment of the money was pressed; Tom did not like to ask for assistance; and in a thoughtless moment he tried a mode of getting rid of the difficulty that proved anything but "lucky." He was now chief manager of the business; and he put the name of "The Firm" to a bill on his own account. The matter might have passed; the bill might have been taken up in the usual course of business. But, by one of those seemingly innocent casualties on which important events often hang, the bill, along with others, came-a rare circumstance -under the scrutiny of the senior partner of the Firm! a stern old man, with rigid notions of mercantile honour, and highly impressed with the importance of the reputation of his "house," of which he had been the founder, A few inquiries were made, not from any suspicion, but merely for information; and Tomno rogue in grain, but lax in principle-coloured up to the eyes, faltered the truth came out! A consultation was immediately held amongst the partners; Tom was cross-examined; he recovered his self-possession; told the facts in a clear and explicit way; brought his books to show that he could make them up at a minute's notice, and that all was right; and then, in an humble but manly tone, petitioned for pardon for this his first commercial offence. One or two were inclined to forgive him; but the old man-shook his head! Poor Tom Featherstone went home to his family a dismissed and a disgraced man, and the amount of his
salary overdrawn, as well as the amount of the bill, were set down as so much defalcation, equal to the value of his household goods! It is an old story about ill news flying fast; and though "The Firm" had sealed its lips on the cause of Tom Featherstone's dismissal, yet it became known that he was dismissed, and that suddenly, for something discovered to be wrong. Next morning a buzz was amongst the shopkeepers, all of whom knew Tom well; from them it passed to their wives and daughters, and from these again to the servants. At one corner, a shopkeeper and his wife had collected a group, who were busily discussing the matter, when up bustled a lively retailer of news.
"Good morning, gentlemen. Oh, beg pardon-good morning, ma'am; hope you're well, and the children?"
"Thankee, pretty well-and how are you yourself, and the mistress?"
"Tol oll-you've heard the news, of course?"
"What news?" asked, with apparent eagerness, one of the group; at the same time giving a sort of side signal to the rest to keep him in countenance, and he would show them some fun. "Oh, all about Tom Featherstone." "What about him? Is he dead?"
"Oh, no-worse, much worse; shocking, horrible-very bad indeed."
"Can't you tell us what it is, man, and not keep us in suspense?"
"Why, some serious disclosures have taken place; they say he has forged a bill for a thousand pounds: but that I am not certain about, though this I know, that the books have been overhauled, and extraordinary defalcations have been discovered."
The "funny man, not observing any particular mode of carrying on his "lark," broke out with, "Oh, we knew all about it before you came up: but we have heard a different version of the story, and perhaps from as good an authority."
"Then I can tell you, my information came from head-quarters. Featherstone's books were examined yesterday, and, when he went away, his desk and keys were taken possession of. There's something very serious, you may depend on it."
"Well, well," said a decent old man, one of the party, "who's to know the world, if Featherstone is a swindler!" "And what is to become of his beautiful family of children?" ejaculated the shopkeeper's wife.
"Poh! as to his children, they must just do as other people's My wife tells me that Mrs. Featherstone is an extravagant creature, and I'm sure she was never brought up to it." Somebody now rushed up. "Boys, boys, have you heard ?— Featherstone-Tom Featherstone - gone to the 'cage!'-it's a
"Forgery-forgery-they say he has put the Bank in for some thousands! He was taken at five o'clock this morning-handcuffed. I don't know if he made any resistance, but he's in the 'cage' sure enough."
"Poor Mrs. Featherstone!" exclaimed the shopkeeper's wife; "she's is a nice little body-how very shocking!"
"Now, what could he have been doing with the money?" said the decent old man, who was still somewhat incredulous, and anxious to prevent Featherstone's character being completely
rolled in the ditch.
"Why, as to that, we all know that there are ways of disposing of money which we simple folks are not up to."
"For my part," added another, "I always thought Featherstone a shade too clever; he was always here and there and everywhere, instead of attending his business. I have heard, too, that he had a queer set coming about him; they used to gamble to a great extent, I'm told."
At this moment Featherstone was seen coming up the street, walking, apparently, in his old lively, brisk manner. The man who said he was in the 'cage' sneaked off. The man who said he kept a gambling set about him put his hands in his waistcoat pockets, and in his trousers pockets, and then drew out his pocket
handkerchief, and made the street echo with a nasal sound. shopkeeper and his wife entrenched themselves in their doorway, as if anxious to make sure of the security of their homestead. Featherstone approached; as he drew near, he saw the group staring at him, and the "good morrow," with which he had intended to salute them, stuck in his throat. This gave the group an advantage; and the man with the pocket-handkerchief advanced: "Good morning, Mr. Featherstone-hope you're quite well, sir; any news to-day, Mr. Featherstone?"
Featherstone had gone out that morning for the very purpose of preventing the spreading of "false reports," by showing himself, in his usual cheerful manner, in all parts of the town. He had intended to stand and talk with the group; but his throat was dry, and he had not his usual buoyancy; he therefore gravely returned the salutes, and passed on.
"There's something wrong," said the man who still had his pocket-handkerchief in his hand: "don't you see how queer he
"Yes," said the decent old man," but there's something wrong in these reports-I don't like to believe all I hear."
"I hope so," added the shopkeeper's wife, as the group were breaking up; "I hope so, for the sake of Mrs. Featherstone and the children. John," she continued, to her husband, as he turned into the shop, "look and see what the Featherstones owe us."
That day another consultation was held by "The Firm," the result of which was this. It appeared that all was quite right under the management of Featherstone, except in this single instance; he had abused his trust only in one case, but that involved an alarming and dangerous example. On this ground, propositions for mercy were rejected by the stern senior partner of "The Firm;" but in consideration of Featherstone's services, it was agreed that he should be forgiven the amount of the bill, and also of his salary overdrawn, and thus be dismissed-for ever!
Matters being thus settled, the "town" was duly informed, on authority," of the real nature of the case: but though the truth was believed, the first impression remained. Tom's character had struck on this "unlucky" bill, as he foolishly designated it; and though, by exertion and future care, the damage might be materially repaired, still he had lost what could not be regaineda confidential situation in a wealthy house, in which he might have remained as snug, almost, as if it had been secured by patent under the Crown.
or with a fishing-rod. His old mother, who still lived, wondered how things were going on so "unlucky;" the rent of the shop mounted up; bills came in; Tom Featherstone was sold out!
He now took a couple of apartments in a small house in the suburbs; and accepted the situation of half clerk, half shopman, at a small salary. But he became rapidly altered for the worse in his appearance-no longer the lively, smart, active fellow, but rather a slouching kind of man, who never could look you straight in the face. Mrs, Featherstone-Mary Blundell that was-sunk down into a dirty sloven; naturally not very active, she made a poor use of her hands when compelled to exercise them. The children were neglected. The eldest boy got his leg broken, when he was out "bird-nesting," with some rough companions; the eldest girl, scrambling with another brother, was thrown on the fire, and sadly burned; another boy, in running up a court-way, came smack against the porter of a wine cellar, who was carrying boiling wax in a pan, for the purpose of sealing bottles, and a quantity of the wax was spilled over him; and another addition to the family, which had come in the days of their poverty, a puny thing, crawled over the floor, one day, to where the mother had set down a teapot, on a trunk, in her awkward hurry to open the door, and the scalding contents were poured over the unhappy child. Then the eldest boy, when he got well of his broken leg, teased his mother, one day, to get out; and she gave him twopence to get rid of him. With this he joined a band of other boys, who were going a-shooting with an old gun; and having, during their sport, a bag of powder under his arm, a spark entered, blew it up, and he was led home blind. He recovered, after two months of suffering; and his eyes proved "luckily" to be uninjured: but in jumping with some other boys, over a dung-heap, in the neighbourhood of his home, at a game of "keeping the pudding hot," he laughed in the act of jumping, put his leg that had been broken "out," and besides bit a hole clean through his tongue, with which he lingered in agony for weeks. Poor, helpless Mrs. Featherstone! she sat down and wept like a child, and said to a condoling neighbour, that their family had never known "luck" since the time of that "unlucky bill!"
As for Tom Featherstone, you would scarcely have known him, he was so altered. But a sad truth began to ooze out amongst those of the town who took any interest in the fortunes of this fallen family-Tom Featherstone and his wife had taken to drinking! At first, it was stealthily done; the ragged eldest girl being sent over to the public-house to smuggle a drop of gin in a small square bottle. But by-and-by, concealment was disregarded; Tom was seen occasionally reeling homewards, covered sometimes with mud; and now and again the neighbours heard a noise and screams, as if he and his wife were fighting. Tom said his illluck had broken his heart, and he took a drop to keep up his spirits-it did him good, he said. Poor wretch! that was the canker-worm that was consuming the energy, manly feeling, and life, of the once handy, smart, active, and well-to-do Tom Featherstone!
Tom Featherstone was an honest man, undoubtedly; but his honesty was more an impulse than a principle. Knowing, in his own mind, that he had not the remotest intention of cheating his employers, and that the bill to which he had put their names was within his means, if a little time had elapsed, he looked on the transaction more as an "unlucky" affair, than as a breach of morality; and from thence he came to consider himself an illused man. Wherever he went, therefore, about the town, and whenever the subject was introduced, he broke out in exclamations about his services, his exertions, the injustice which had been Tom lost two or three situations one after another, and then done him, and the ingratitude of The Firm. This was all duly had nothing to do. Having got a shilling for carrying a parcel, he conveyed to The Firm; and nipped in the bud a plan which was went straight to the public-house, and filled himself dead drunk, growing up in the minds of two of the partners, about setting up In this state he lay out all night amongst some bricks and stones Tom Featherstone in business. This dropped intention was, in its of an unfinished house; and as it was winter, he was found in the turn, as duly conveyed to Tom, who thereupon blamed his "ill-morning nearly frozen. Tom Featherstone was carried home, to luck," instead of blaming his tongue; but, plucking up courage,
he said he would let them see what he could do for himself.
Tom took a little shop; and for a brief space his energy and activity appeared to return. But he had neither learned himself, nor inspired his wife with, the virtue of economy: she, poor body, was very willing to submit to anything, but having been schooled by her lively husband into something like "passive obedience," she did not know how to begin. Tom, after a time, complained that the shop was dull, and frequently left it to the management of his wife; he himself spending whole days with a borrowed gun,
be laid down on a miserable bed, from whence he was never to rise; and those who bore him home found his wife, even at that early hour, half-tipsy, and the children naked and quarrelling. But why pursue the painful details? Tom Featherstone, at the age of forty, was laid down in a dishonoured grave; and Mrs. Featherstone-the once mild, quiet, and pretty Mary Blundell→ was taken with her family into the workhouse.
Oh, reader, if you have a family, train them up to higher, to nobler principles of action, than the degrading ones of GOOD OR