"Newton, sir," I ventured to answer, "made great discoveries, and he revered these fables."
"Bah! Newton directed his gaze upwards into a mighty and stupendous region, and he was awe-stricken—as who shall not be?—by what he there beheld. He worshipped the unseen power, so does this man; he believed in Revelation, so does he; but with him—it is the revelation which is made in that wondrous firmament above, and in the earth beneath, and in the glories that surround us. What knowledge had Newton of geology? what of chemistry? what of the facts which they have brought to light?"
"My good friend," continued the surgeon, interrupting me. "In the days of your grand philosophe—would that he were alive now!—there were no physical phenomena to reduce an ancient system of cosmogony to a mere absurdity—no palpable evidences of the existence of this earth thousands of years prior to its formation—you perceive?"
"I hear you, sir," I answered, gaining courage; "but I should, indeed, be sorry to adopt your views."
"Of course you would!" said the baron, curling his inauspicious lip, and giving expression to a feeling that looked very like one of contempt or ridicule. "You come from the land of melancholy and bile—where your holidays are fasts, and your day of rest is one of unmitigated toil. You would be sorry to forego, no doubt, the prospect of everlasting torture and eternal condemnation. Mr Z—— is too far advanced for you, I am afraid."
At this moment there was a knock at the door leading into the bed-chamber. The servant-man of the baron presented himself, and announced a patient.
"Admit him," said the surgeon, and at the same time I rose to depart.
"Adieu!" said the baron with another unpleasant smile; "we shall be very good friends notwithstanding your piety. I shall look after you. Remember six o'clock to-morrow morning at the Hotel Dieu. Be punctual, and do you hear, Mr Walpole, think of me in your prayers."
This last expression, accompanied as it was by a very significant look, amounted to a positive insult, and I quitted the library and house of the baron, fully resolved never to set foot in either of them again. What an extraordinary delusion did poor H——labour under, in respect of the character of his friend! Here was a Mentor to form the opinions and regulate the conduct of a young gentleman stepping into life! Great as were his talents and acquirements, and much as I might lose by neglecting to cultivate his friendship, I resigned gladly every advantage rather than purchase the greatest, with the sacrifice of the principles which had been so anxiously implanted in my bosom, even from my cradle. I was hurt and vexed at the result of my interview. Every thing had promised so well at first. I had been won by the appearance of the baron, I had been charmed with his discourse, and gratified by the terms in which he spoke of my future studies, and the help he hoped to afford me in the prosecution of them. Why had this unfortunate Mr Z——, and his still more unfortunate book, turned up to discompose the pleasant vision? But for the mention of his name, and the introduction of his book, I might have remained for ever in ignorance of the atheistical opinions which, in my estimation, derogated materially from the grace which otherwise adorned the teacher's cultivated mind. It is impossible for communion and hearty fellowship to subsist between individuals, whose notions on life's most important point lie "far as the poles asunder." I did not expect, desire, or propose to seek that they should.
In the evening I joined M'Linnie at his lodgings, and gave him an account of the meeting.—He laughed at me for my scruples.
"I knew all about it," said Mac, "but hardly thought it worth while to let you know it. H—— was quite right, too: the baron is not the man to-day that he was a dozen years ago. He is a rank infidel now; he makes no secret of the thing, but boasts of it right and left: it is his great fault. He is an inconsistent fellow. If any one talks about religion, no matter how proper and fitting the time, he is down upon him at once with a sneer and a joke; and yet he drags in his own opinions by the neck, at all seasons, on all occasions, and expects you to say amen to every syllable he utters."
"He must be very weak," said I.
"Must he?—very well. Then wait till you see him cut for calculus, or perform for hernia. Sit with him at the bedside, and hear him at his lectures. If you think him weak then, you shall be good enough to tell me what you call strong.
"But his principles"——
"Are certainly not in accordance with the Thirty-nine Articles; but the baron does not profess to teach theology—nor did I come here to take his creed. So long as he is orthodox in surgery, I make no complaint against him. I have my own views; and if they are relaxed and out of order now and then, why, the parson is the man to apply to, and not the baron. I must say one requires a dose of steel now and then, to keep right and tight in this bewitching capital."
There was worldly wisdom in the remarks of M'Linnie; and before I quitted him I was satisfied of the propriety of paying every attention to the professional instruction of the surgeon, without committing myself, by visiting him as a friend, to an approval of his detestable principles; and accordingly, at two minutes to six o'clock, I presented myself at the hospital on the following morning. Many students were already in attendance, and precisely at six o'clock the baron himself appeared. He bowed to the students as a body and honoured me with a particular notice.
"Eh bien, jeune Chretien!" he said, shaking me by the hand, "have you prayed for my reformation? It is very remiss of you if you have not done so. You know I made you yesterday my father confessor."
There was immediately a general laugh from the students—medical students being, it should be known, the most unblushing parasites on record.
These words were spoken under the low portico of the building which forms, with its long ascent of steps, one side of the square in which the Cathedral of Notre Dame has its principal entrance, and is certainly not one of the least interesting adjuncts of that magnificent edifice. We passed without further speech through the range of buildings within, the professor in our van, and in a minute or two found ourselves in a spacious, clean, and well-filled ward.
The surgeon took his seat at the foot of the first bed in the sick chamber, and the students crowded eagerly around him, evidently anxious not to lose a syllable that should fall from his lips. I shall never forget the lesson of that morning. The judgment, the penetration, the unflinching collectedness, and consummate skill of the surgeon, compelled my warmest admiration. I forgot our ground of disagreement in the transcendent ability that I beheld. His heart, and mind, and soul, were given up to his profession, and his success was adequate to the price paid for its purchase. The baron was, however, a mass of contradiction. I discovered this before we had been an hour in the ward. It was clear that he had risen by the sheer strength of great natural genius, and that he was lamentably wanting in all the agreeable qualities which spring from early cultivation and sound training. He was violent, sudden, and irregular in his temper and mode of speaking—when his temper and speech were directed against any but his patients. He had no regard to the feelings of men of his own rank; and his language towards them was rather emphatic, than delicate or well chosen. In his progress round the ward, he came to the bed of a man suffering from a diseased leg. He removed the bandage from the part, and asked, "what fool had tied it up so clumsily;" the fool, as he well knew, being the house surgeon at his side. Again, another practitioner at the hospital had recommended a particular treatment in a particular case. This gentleman, the baron's colleague, was referred to as—"a child who had yet to learn the alphabet of surgery—who would have been laughed at, twenty years ago, had he prescribed such antiquated nostrums—a weak child—a mere baby, gentlemen."——"How much," I exclaimed mentally, time after time, "must this man have altered since H—— parted with him as his respected friend!" And yet in some regards he was not altered at all. There was the same consideration for the poor sufferers—the same attention to their many complaints and wants—the same tenderness and kind disposition to humour and pacify them, which H—— had dwelt upon with so much commendation. There was no hurrying from case to case—no sign of impatience at the reiterated unmeaning queries of the patients—no coarse jest at their expense—not a syllable that could wound the susceptibility of the most sensitive. Did one poor fellow betray an anxiety to take up as little of the baron's time as possible, and, speaking hurriedly, almost exhaust his little stock of feeble breath, it was absolutely touching to mark the happy mode in which the surgeon put the flurried one at ease. Had these creatures, paupers as they were, been rich and noble—had they, strangers as they were, been brothers every one, he could not have evinced a tenderer interest on their behalf—a stronger disposition to do them service. In spite of myself, I loved the baron for his condescending to these men of low estate.
It will not be necessary to dwell upon the proceedings of the place: I could extract from my note-book pages that would delight the medical reader, necessarily dry and tedious to the uninitiated. Suffice it to say, that many hours were spent in the surgical wards by this indefatigable surgeon: every individual case received his best attention, and was prescribed for as carefully as though a noble fee waited upon each. The ceremony being at an end, I was about to retire, agreeably surprised and gratified with all that I had seen.
"Arretez donc," said the baron, noticing my movement, and touching me upon the arm. "You are not fatigued?"
"Not in the least," I answered.
"Come with me, then."
The baron, full of life and spirits, and with the air of a man whose day's work was only about to commence, bowed to the students, and tripped quickly down stairs. I followed as commanded, and the next moment I was in the baron's cabriolet, driving with that gentleman rapidly through the streets of Paris.
"Have you courage?" enquired the baron suddenly.
"For what, sir?" I replied.
"To see an operation."
"I have been present at many, sir," said I—"some bad enough, too; and, I confess, I have been less womanish and weak beholding them than I felt this morning, witnessing your kindness to those poor creatures."
"Ah, poor creatures, indeed!" repeated the baron in a softer tone than any I had heard him use. "The poor need kindness, Mr Walpole. It is all we can do for them. God help them! it is little of that they get. Poverty is a frightful thing, sir."
There were two circumstances that especially struck me in the delivery of this short speech. One was, that the eyes of an intrepid operator filled with tears whilst he adverted to a very commonplace subject; the other, that a confirmed atheist was inconsistent enough to invoke the Deity whose very existence he denied.
We drove on, and arrived at the hotel of one of the richest and most influential noblemen of France. The cabriolet stopped, and the gates of the hotel were thrown open at the same instant. A lackey, in the hall of the mansion, was already waiting for the baron, and we were bowed with much ceremony up the gilded staircase; we reached at last a sumptuously furnished chamber, where we found three gentlemen in earnest conversation. They were silent upon our entrance, and advanced, one and all, with great cordiality to greet the baron. The latter returned their salute with a distant and haughty politeness, which I thought very unbecoming.
"We were thinking"—— began one of the party.
"How is the patient?" asked the baron, suddenly interrupting him.
The other shook his head despondingly, and the baron, as it were instinctively, unlocked a case of instruments, which he had brought into the room with him from his cabriolet.
"The inflammation has not subsided, then?"
"All the symptoms as before?"
"Let us see him."
The gentleman and the baron opened a door and passed into another room. As the door closed after them, I heard a loud and dismal groan. One of the two remaining gentlemen then asked me if I had been long in Paris.
I told him.
"Ah, you haven't seen the new opera, then?" said he—just as we should say, when put to it for conversation—What frightful, or what beautiful weather this is! Before I could reply, there was another fearful groan from the adjoining room, but my new acquaintance proceeded without noticing it.
"You have nothing like our Academie in London, I believe?"
I was about to vindicate the Italian Opera, when the two surgeons again appeared. The baron in a few words said, that there was nothing to be done but to operate, and at once, if the life of the patient were to be spared at all. The three practitioners—for such they were—bowed in acquiescence, and the baron prepared his instruments.
It is the fashion to speak of medical men slightingly, if not reproachfully; to accuse them of practising solemn impositions, and of being, at the best, but so many legalized charlatans. It is especially the mode of speaking amongst those who will give "the doctor" no rest, and are not satisfied until they make that functionary the most constant visitor at their abodes. No one would have dared to breathe one syllable of disrespect against the surgeon's sacred office, who could have seen as I did, the operation which the baron performed this day. It has been done successfully three times within the memory of man; twice by himself, who first attempted it. It was grand to mark his calm and intellectual face—to see the hand—armed with the knife that cut for life or death—firm and unshaken as the mind that urged, the eye that followed, its unerring course. I could understand the worship that was paid to this incomparable master, by all that knew his power. Within five minutes by the clock, and in the sight of men whose breathless admiration made them oblivious of the throes of the poor sufferer, the process was completed, and the endangered life restored. The baron left the fainting invalid, retired for a few seconds, and prescribed. He returned and felt his pulse—and then, turning to the man with whom he had first spoken, said—
"Should any thing arise, sir, you will acquaint me with it."
"Unquestionably. He will do well?"
"No doubt of it. Good-morning."
"Good-morning, baron," said the gentleman obsequiously. "His excellency bore it wonderfully."
"Pretty well for an excellency. We don't notice these things in paupers—Now, Mr Walpole."
And thereupon the baron turned upon his heels with such manifest disdain, that he lost half the credit which he had gained by his previous performance.
We sat for some time silent in the cabriolet. I was bursting to praise the baron, and yet fearful to speak, lest I should be insulted for my pains. At last, I became so excited that I could hold out no longer.
"Baron," said I, "I beg your pardon—it was the grandest thing I ever saw."
"I have seen a grander," said the surgeon frowning, and pursing those unhappy lips of his again, "much grander, Mr Walpole. I have seen a nobleman rolling in riches, flattered by his dogs, renowned for his Christian piety, refusing the supplications of a poor boy, who asked only for a few coins to carry him through a cold and killing winter. The refusal might have been the lad's death—but he was refused. It was, as you say, a grand thing, but the lad has had his revenge to-day."
The baron drove to his own home. At his request I entered his library with him. He placed some books in my hand, which he believed would be of service to me; and, as we parted, he said kindly—
"Don't mind my rough ways, Mr Walpole; I was educated in a rough school. I shall be glad to see you often. I have been disturbed. The father of that man, whose life, I verily believe, I have saved this day, hunted me many years ago from his door when I begged from him—condescended to beg from him—alms which his meanest servant would not have missed, and which I wanted, to save me from absolute starvation. I have never forgotten or forgiven him for the act—but I have had my revenge. The great man's son owes his life to the beggar after all. A good revenge, n'est ce pas?"
I was very much disposed to consider the baron subject to fits of temporary derangement; but I was wise enough to do nothing more than nod my head in answer to this appeal, leaving my questioner to interpret the action as he in his madness might think proper.
There was a hearty shake of the hand, another general invitation to his house, and a particular invitation to the hospital, where, as the baron very reasonably observed, "All the knowledge that could serve a man in after life was hoarded up"—and then I made my bow and took my departure.
Three months passed like so many days, in the midst of occupation at once the most inspiriting and satisfactory; and during the whole of that period, I am bound to acknowledge the treatment of the baron towards me to have been most generous and kind. In spite of my own resolutions, I had attached myself to the professor by a feeling of gratitude, which it was not easy to extinguish or control. His wish to advance me in the knowledge and understanding of my profession was so earnest, the pains he took to communicate the most important results of his own hard-earned experience so untiring, that, had I not felt a heavy debt of obligation, I must have been a senseless undeserving wretch indeed. The baron was manifestly well-disposed towards me, and in spite (it might have been with so strange a character, by very reason) of our religious differences, he lost no opportunity of bringing me to his side, and of loading me whilst there with precious gifts. I attended the professor at the hospital, at the houses of his patients, in his own private study. He was flattering enough to say that he liked to have me about him—that he was pleased with my straightforward character—and with the earnestness with which I worked. I trust it was not his good opinion alone that induced me, in opposition to my first resolution, by degrees to associate with the baron, until at length we became intimate and almost inseparable friends. I would not acknowledge this to my own conscience, which happily never suffered me to violate a principle, or yield an inch of righteous ground. The baron persevered in his attacks upon our sacred religion. I, grown bolder by long familiar acquaintance, acted as firmly upon the defensive: and I must do myself the justice to assert, that the soundness of fair argument suffered no injury from the light weapons of wit and ridicule which my friend had ever at command.
It was a fine morning in the early spring, and I sat with the baron as usual in his library. On this occasion I was helping him in the completion of a series of plates, which he was about to publish, in connexion with a work on cancer—a book that has since made a great sensation upon the Continent. The engraver had worked from the professor's preparations under the eye of the latter; but a few slight inaccuracies had crept into the drawings, and the baron employed me in the detection of them. We were both fully occupied; I with the engravings; he with his lecture of the day—and we were both very silent, when we heard a loud ringing of the porter's bell. The baron at the same time looked at his watch, and resumed his pen. A note was then brought to him by his servant. It was read, and an answer given.
"Say I will be there at four o'clock."
"I beg your pardon, sir," said the servant, "but the prince's chasseur who gave me the note, desired me to add that the prince wished to see you immediately."
"Very well, sir," answered the baron haughtily. "He has delivered his master's message—do you deliver mine. I am busy, very busy—and cannot see the prince till four o'clock. That is the answer."
The servant knew his master, and left the room immediately.
"These insufferable nobles!" exclaimed the baron; "they imagine that mankind was invented for their pleasure and amusement—to be their footballs. Does this man think we have nothing better to do than to humour his fancies, and attend to every ailment that waits upon his gross appetite. He makes a god of his belly, is punished for his idolatry, and then whines by the hour to his doctor."
"Is he not ill, then?" I enquired.
"He may be—but that is no reason why my students are to be neglected for a prince. He must come in his turn, with all the rest. I allow no distinctions in my practice. Suffering is suffering—the pain of the peasant is as acute as the smart of the king. Proceed with the drawings, Mr Walpole."
In less than a quarter of an hour, there was a fresh disturbance. The servant knocked softly at the door, and entered timidly.
"Here is a dirty woman at the gate, sir," began the man. "I have told her that you were engaged and couldn't speak to her, but she would not move until I had brought you this letter. She is a dirty creature, sir."
"Well, you have said that once before," answered the baron taking the note—if a soiled strip of paper, with blots, erasures, and illegible characters may deserve that title. The baron endeavoured to read it; but failing, requested Francois to show the poor woman up.
She appeared, and justified the repetition of Francois. She was indeed very far from being clean; she had scarcely a rag upon her back—and seemed, in every way, much distressed.
"Now, my good woman," said the professor very tenderly, "tell me what it is you want, as quickly as you are able to do it, and I will help you if it be in my power."
The woman, bursting into tears, proceeded to say that "she resided in the Quartier St Jacques—that her husband was a water-carrier."
"A what?" asked the professor quickly, as if he had missed the word.
"A water-carrier, sir."
That he had come from Auvergne—had fallen into a dreadful state of disease through want of nourishment and fuel during the winter—that he was now lying without a crust of bread or a particle of fire—and that she was sure he must die, leaving her and her children to be thrown into the world. She filled up her short narrative with many harrowing details, and finished by imploring the surgeon to come and save her husband if he could. "We will pay you, sir, all that we are able—if he gets to work again: and if he shouldn't, God, I am sure, will not listen to your prayers the less because you have helped the unfortunate and the poor."
Before the woman had told her story, the cheeks of the baron were as pale as her own—his eyes scarcely less moist. He had put his hand to his pocket, and when the woman ceased—he drew it out again, and presented her with a crown-piece.
"Go home," said he "with that. Buy bread and fuel. I will be at your lodging this afternoon."
The woman was about to exclaim.
"Not a syllable!" said her benefactor, preventing her. "If you thank me, I will do nothing for you. Go your ways now. I cannot accompany you—for you see I am very busy; but before the day is out, I will prescribe for your goodman.—Good-by to you—good-by."
The woman went away without another word.
Before she reached the bottom of the stairs, the baron spoke.
"Mr Walpole—pray be kind enough to call her back!"
"You must not think me harsh now," proceeded the baron, by way of apology, "I did not wish to be so. I shall do all I can for you, and your husband will no doubt be soon quite well again. There, keep your spirits up, and go home and cheer the good fellow. I shall see you by-and-by—Adieu, ma chere."
The professor continued his lecture; but not for five minutes before he appeared to be very uneasy at his work. He put his pen down, and sat for a time full of thought; then he rose and paced the room, and then took up his pen again; at last, he started from his chair and pulled the bell.
"Francois," said he to the servant, "let the cabriolet be here immediately. Yes," he continued, as if speaking to himself, "it will be better to go at once; the man may be seriously ill. His life may be in danger. It can be done in an hour—there is plenty of time still for the lecture. We must go and see this poor fellow, Mr Walpole," added the professor, addressing me. "Come, you shall give me your opinion of the case."
And the lecture and the engravings were neglected, and we dashed through the streets towards the Quartier St Jacques, with every chance of breaking our own necks as well as that of the spirited animal that flew before the whip of the excited practitioner.
"Well," said I to myself as we alighted, "it may be, Monsieur le Baron, as you state it, 'the pain of the peasant is as acute as the smart of a king.' It is, however, very certain that you do not hold to the converse of the proposition."
The water-carrier was in truth alarmingly ill, and he was not likely to remain so much longer, if left to himself; for it was already the eleventh hour with him. He was living in a filthy hole—lying on a bed of straw, without the commonest necessaries of life. The man had become diseased through want and confinement—that cause and origin of half the complaints to which the human frame is subject; lack of wholesome food and pure air. The baron perceived instantly that nothing could be done for the unhappy fellow in his present abode, and he therefore insisted upon his being removed at once to a maison de sante.
"I can't walk," said the man gruffly.
"No, but you can be carried in a coach, I suppose," replied the baron in a similar tone, "if I wish it." "Let him be dressed," he continued, turning to the wife. "I will send a coach for him in half an hour—and take charge of him until he is better. That will buy you some bread for the present," and he gave another crown and hastened away. In the afternoon the baron attended the patient again at the maison de sante. He ordered him a bath, and prescribed medicines. For a month he visited him daily; and he did not quit him until he was convalescent. Nor then—for upon the day of the poor fellow's discharge, he presented him with a horse and water-cart, and a purse containing five louis-d'or.
"Take care of the money," said the charitable donor, "do not be extravagant. If you are ill—come to me always."
The water-carrier—a bluff, sturdy fellow in his way—would have thanked the baron could he have kept quiet; but he stood roaring like a child, perfectly overcome with the kindness he had received. It was some months afterwards that Francois announced two visitors. When they appeared, I recognised my old acquaintance the water-carrier, grown hale and hearty, accompanied by a stranger, of the same condition in life as himself, and looking very ill.
"Ah, mon ami!" exclaimed the baron, shaking him by the hand, "how does the world use you?"
"Look at me," answered the carrier—"just look at me."
"Ay, ay," said the baron. "Flesh enough upon you now! Who is your friend?"
"Ah, it's about him I came! He is very ill, isn't he? He is a water-carrier, too. He was going to another doctor, but I wouldn't allow it. No, no—that wouldn't have been the thing after all you have done for me. I hope I know better. He is very bad, and hasn't got a sixpence in the world."
I could not help smiling, at this original display of gratitude—and the baron laughed outright; his heart grew glad within him as he answered, pressing the honest carrier's hardy hand—
"Right—right—quite right! Mon enfant, bring them all to me!"
M'Linnie, who was not honoured by the baron's confidence, seemed to be well acquainted with his peculiarities. I mentioned to him his extraordinary treatment of the water-carriers, and attributed it all, without hesitation, to downright insanity.
"Not that exactly," said Mac. "It is caprice, and the inconsistency of human nature. He is strongly attached to all Auvergnats, and to water-carriers in particular. His predilection that way is well known in Paris. Perhaps his father was a water-carrier—or his first love a girl from Auvergne. Who can tell what gave rise to the partiality in a mind that is full of bias and contradiction!"
Contradiction indeed! I had remarked enough, and yet nothing at all in comparison with that which was to follow. Up to the present time I had been only puzzled and amused by the frolics and irregularities of the baron. I had yet to be staggered and confounded by the most palpable and barefaced act of inconsistency that ever lunatic conceived and executed. The winter and spring had passed, and summer came, placing our time more at our disposal. Summer is the dissector's long vacation. I permitted myself to take recreation, and to seek amusement in the many public resorts of this interesting capital. One morning I attended the baron at the hospital, and returned with him to his abode. We sat together for an hour, and I distinctly remember that on this occasion the unbeliever was even more witty than usual on the subject which he was ever ready to introduce, with, I am sorry to say, no better object than that of turning it into ridicule and contempt. I left him, irritated and annoyed at his behaviour, and tried to forget it in the crowds of people who were thronging the gay streets on one of the gayest mornings of the year. I hardly know why I directed my steps towards the Place St Sulpice, or why, having reached it, I lingered, gazing at the church which has its site there. I had a better reason for quitting it with precipitation; for whilst I stood musing, I became suddenly aware of the presence of my friend the baron. He did not see me, and I was not anxious to begin de novo the disagreeable discussion of the morning. As I turned away from the church, however, I looked instinctively back, and was much surprised to behold the baron glancing very suspiciously about him, and appearing most anxious to avoid public observation. I was mentally debating whether such was really the fact, or whether the idea was suggested by my own clandestine movement, when to my unaffected astonishment the baron put an end to all doubt by making one rapid march towards the church, and then rushing in—looking neither to the right nor left—behind nor before him. This was truly too extraordinary a circumstance to witness without further enquiry. I immediately retraced my steps, and followed the atheist into the house, where surely he could have no lawful business to transact. If my surprise had been great without the sacred edifice, what was it within, and at that particular portion of it known by the designation of the Chapel of the Virgin Mary, at which I beheld, questioning my own senses, my unaccountable friend, this exceedingly erratic baron—upon his knees—in solemn prayer! Yes, kneeling in low humility, and praying audibly, with a devotion and an awful earnestness that could not be surpassed. He remained upon his knees, and he persevered in his prayers until the conclusion of the service, and then he bestowed his alms—performing all things with an expression of countenance and gravity of demeanour, such as I knew him to wear only at the table upon which he had achieved the most celebrated of his surgical victories.
"Mad, mad!" I exclaimed aloud, "nothing short of it." Why, such glaring wholesale hypocrisy had not been committed since Satan first introduced the vice into Paradise. What atrocity, what barefaced blasphemy! It was the part of a Christian and a friend to attribute the extravagant proceedings of the baron to absolute insanity, and to nothing else; and I did so accordingly, alarmed for the safety of the unfortunate professor, and marvelling what unheard-of act would next be perpetrated, rendering it incumbent upon society to lock the lunatic up for life. Why, his lips were hardly relieved of the pollution which had fallen from them in my presence; and could he in his senses, with his reason not unhinged, dare to offend his Maker doubly by the mockery of such prayers as he could offer up! What was his motive—what his end? That he was anxious for concealment was evident. Had he courted observation, I might have supposed him actuated by some far-sighted scheme of policy; and yet his rash and straightforward temperament rendered him incapable of any stratagem whatever. No, no—look at the thing as I would, there was no accounting for this most perplexing anomaly except on the ground of mental infirmity. Alas, poor baron!
When the service was at an end, I took up a position in the street near the church, in order to observe the next movement of the devotee, quite prepared for any thing that might happen. I was disappointed. The baron, looking very cheerful and very happy, made his appearance from the temple which he had so recently profaned, and walked steadily and quietly away. I followed him, and in the excitement of the moment was about to approach and accost him, when he suddenly turned into a narrow lane, and I lost sight of him.
Before I saw the baron again, I had made up my mind to keep my own counsel, and to give him no hint of my having discovered and watched him. The reasons for silence were twofold. First, I hoped, by keeping my eye upon the professor, to learn more of his character than I yet knew; and, in the second place, I did not wish to be regarded as a spy by an individual of violent passions, whom I could not conscientiously consider responsible for his actions.
It so happened that, on the evening of this very day, the baron held a conversazione in his rooms, to which the first people of Paris, both in rank and talent, were invited. I, who had the entree, was present of course, and I was likewise amongst the first of the arrivals. With me, the chief physician of the Hotel Dieu entered the salon.
The surgeon and the physician shook hands; and, after a word or two, the latter asked abruptly—
"By the way, baron, what were you doing at St Sulpice this morning? I saw you quitting the church."
"Oh!" said the baron, without changing colour or moving a muscle, although I blushed at his side to my very forehead; "Oh! a sick priest, placed under my care by the Duchess d'Angouleme—nothing more."
"Well, I could hardly believe that you had turned saint—that is the truth."
"Not yet—not yet!" added the baron, laughing out. "This is to be the saint," he continued, tapping me on the shoulders. "St Walpole! That will look very fine in the calendar! However, my friend, if they attempt to canonize you whilst I live, I'll act the part of devil's advocate, and contest your right of admission, if it is only to punish you for your opposition to me in this world. So take care of yourself, and read up your divinity."
And with these words the unmitigated hypocrite, chuckling at my apparent confusion, advanced to the door, and welcomed his crowding visitors.
Upon the following day I repaired to St Sulpice—but I did not see the baron. I went again and again, with no better success. For a week I attended the service daily—still no baron. Afterwards I went twice a-week. At the end of two months I contented myself with one visit weekly—still no baron. I did not like to give up the watch. I could not tell why I felt sure of meeting with him again; yet so I felt, and I was curious to know how far he carried his madness, and what object he proposed to himself in the prosecution and indulgence of his monomania. Three months elapsed, and I was at length paid for my perseverance. For a second time I saw the baron enter the church—assist devoutly at the celebration of mass at the chapel of the Virgin Mary—repeat his prayers, and offer up his alms. There was the same solemnity of bearing during the ceremony, the same cheerful self-possession at its completion. A more methodical madness there could not be! I was determined this time not to lose sight of my gentleman, without obtaining at least a clue to his extraordinary behaviour. As soon as the service as over, he prepared for his departure. Before he could quit the church, however, I crossed it unperceived by him, and walked straight up to the sacristan.
"Who is that gentleman?" I asked, pointing to the surgeon.
"Monsieur F——," he answered readily enough—so readily, that I hardly knew what to ask next. "A regular attendant, sir," the sacristan continued, in an impressive tone of approbation.
"Indeed!" said I.
"Ay. I have been here twelve years next Easter, and four times regularly every year has monsieur come to hear this mass."
"It is very strange!" I said, speaking to myself.
"Not at all," said the sacristan. "It is very natural, seeing that he is himself the founder of it!"
Worse and worse! The inconsistency of the reviler of things sacred, was becoming more barefaced and unpardonable. "Let him taunt me again!" I exclaimed, walking homeward; "let him mock me for my weak and childish notions, as he calls them, and attempt to be facetious at the expense of all that is holy, and good, and consolatory in life. Let him attempt it, and I will annihilate him with a word!" When, however, I grew more collected, I began to understand how, by such proceeding, I might shoot very wide of my mark, and give my friend an advantage after all. He had explained his presence at the church to his colleague by attributing it to a visit paid to a sick priest there. He should have no opportunity to prevaricate if I once challenged him. Now, he might have the effrontery to deny what I had seen with my own eyes, and could swear to. By lying in wait for him again, and accosting him whilst he was in the very act of perpetrating his solemn farce, I should deprive him of all power of evasion and escape. And so I determined it should be.
In the meanwhile I kept my own counsel, and we went on as usual. I learned from the sacristan when the baron was next expected at the mass, and, until that day, did not present myself again at the Place St Sulpice. Before that time arrived, there arose a touching incident, which, as leading to important consequences, deserves especial notice.
It was growing late one evening of this same summer—the surgeon was fatigued with the labours of the day—I was on the point of leaving him—he of retiring to rest, when Francois announced a stranger. An old man appeared. He was short, and very thin; his cheeks were pale—his hair hoary. Benignity beamed in his countenance, on which traces of suffering lingered, not wholly effaced by piety and resignation. There was an air of sweetness and repose about the venerable stranger, that at the first sight gained your respect, if not regard. When he entered the apartment he bowed with ceremony—and then waited timidly for countenance from the baron.
"What is the matter with you?" asked the surgeon roughly.
"Allow me to be seated," said the stranger, drawing his breath with difficulty, and speaking with a weak and tremulous voice. "I am very tired."
The baron, as if rebuked, rose instantly, and gave his visitor a chair.
"I am very old," continued the latter, "and my poor legs are weary."
"What ails you?"
"Permit me," said the stranger. "I am the priest of a small village very far from Paris."
"Humph!" ejaculated the surgeon.
"Two years ago I had a swelling in my neck, which the doctor of our village thought of no importance; but it burst at last, and for a long time I was kept to my bed a useless idle man. With four parishes and no assistant; there lay a heavy weight upon my conscience—but God is good, sir"——
"Show me your throat!" exclaimed the baron, interrupting him.
"And my people, too," proceeded the old man, preparing to obey the surgeon's command—"my people were very considerate and kind. When I got a little better, they offered, in order to lighten my labours, to come to one church every Sunday. But it was not fair, sir. They are working men, and have much to do, and Sunday is their only day of rest. It was not right that so many should resign their comfort for the sake of one; and I could not bear to think of it."
All this was uttered with such perfect natural simplicity, that it was impossible not to feel at once great interest in the statement of the speaker. My attention was riveted. Not so the baron's, who answered with more impatience than he had ever used towards the water-carriers—
"Come to the point, sir."
"I was coming, sir," replied the old priest mildly; "I trust I don't fatigue you. Whilst I was in doubt as to what it was best to do, a friend strongly recommended me to come to Paris, and to consult you. It was a thing to consider, sir. A long journey, and a great expense! We have many poor in our district, and it is not lawful to cast away money that rightfully belongs to them. But, when I became reduced as you see me, I could not regard the money as thrown away on such an errand; and so I came. I arrived only an hour ago, and have not delayed an instant."
The surgeon, affecting not to listen to the plaintive recital of the priest, proceeded very carefully to examine his disease. It was an alarming one; indeed, of so aggravated a character, that it was astonishing to see the sufferer alive after all that he must have undergone in its progress.
"This disease must kill you," said the baron—brutally, I thought, considering the present condition of the man, his distance from home, friends, and all the natural ties that render calamity less frightful and insupportable. I would gladly have said a word to soften the pain which the baron had inflicted; but it would have been officious, and might have given offence.
The old priest, however, expressed no anxiety or regret upon hearing the verdict pronounced against him. With a firm and quiet hand he replaced the bandages, and he then drew a coarse bag from his pocket, from which he extracted a five franc piece.
"This is," he said calmly, "a very trifling fee, indeed, for the opinion of so celebrated a surgeon; but, as I have told you, sir, the necessities of my poor are great. I cannot afford to spend more upon this worthless carcass. I an very grateful to you for your candour, sir. It will be my own fault now, if I die unprepared."
"It is the profession of a priest," said the baron, "to affect stoicism. You do not feel it."
"I do not, sir," replied the man respectfully. "I did not hear the awful truth you just now told me as a stoic would. Pardon me for saying, that it might have been communicated less harshly and abruptly to a weak old man; I do not wish to speak offensively."
The baron blushed for shame.
"I am a human being, sir," continued the priest, "and must feel as other men. Death is a terrible abyss between earth and heaven; but the land is not the less lovely beyond it."
"You speak as you were taught?" said the baron.
"And as you teach?"
"And you profess to feel all this?"
"I profess to be a humble minister of Christ—imperfect enough, Heaven knows, sir! I ask your pardon for complaining at your words. They did not shock me very much. How should they, when I came expecting them? Farewell, sir; I will return to Auvergne, and die in the midst of my people."
"Stay!" exclaimed the baron, touched and softened by the one magical word. "Come back! I admire your calmness—I respect your powers of endurance. Can you trust them to the end?"
"I am frail, and very weak, sir," replied the priest. "I would bear much to save my life. I do not wish to die. I have many things unfinished yet."
"Listen to me. There is but one means of saving you; and mark—that perhaps may fail—a long, painful, and, it may be, unsuccessful operation. Are you prepared to run the risk?"
"Is there a chance, sir?"
"Yes—but a remote one. Were I the priest of Auvergne I would take that chance."
"It is enough, sir," said the old man. "Let it be done. I will undergo it, with the help of God, as their pastor should, for the sake of my dear children in Auvergne."
The baron sat at his desk, and wrote a few lines—
"Present this note," said he, "at the Salle St Agnes in the Hotel Dieu. Go at once. The sisters there will take care that you want for nothing. Take rest for a day or two, and I will see what afterwards may be done for you."
The priest thanked the baron many times for his kindness—bowed respectfully, and retired. The free-thinking surgeon sat for a few minutes after his departure, silent and thoughtful.
"Happy man!" he exclaimed at last, sighing as the words escaped him.
"Happy, sir?" said I enquiringly.
"Yes! happy, Mr Walpole. False and fabulous as the system is on which he builds, is he not to be envied for the faith that buoys him up so well through the great sea of trouble, as your poet justly calls this pitiable world! Could one purchase this all-powerful faith, what price would be too dear for such an acquisition? Who would not give all that he possesses here to grasp that hope and anchor?"
"And yet, sir, you might have it. The gift is freely offered, and you spurn it."
"No such thing!" replied the surgeon hastily. "I may NOT have it. This weak yet amiable priest is content to take for granted what every rational mind rejects without fair proofs. He receives as a postulate that which I must have demonstrated. I try to solve the problem, and the first links of the argument lead to an absurdity."
"The weak man, then, has reason to be thankful?" said I.
"Ay, ay! I grant you that. He cannot tell how much!"
"How differently, sir, do things appear to different men! The very endurance of this old man, founded as it is upon his faith, is to me proof sufficient of the truth and heavenly origin of that faith."
"You talk, Mr Walpole, like a schoolboy, who knows nothing of religion out of his catechism—and nothing of the world beyond his school walls. If the ability to bear calamity with fortitude shall decide the genuineness of the creed, there is your North American Indian or Hindoo nearer to truth and heaven than the Christian. So much for your 'proof sufficient' as you term it."
This discussion, like all the rest, for all useful purposes ended as it began, leaving us both just where it had found us—our tempers rather than our views suffering in the conflict. Two or three times I was tempted to rattle out a volley of indignation at his amazing and unparalleled effrontery, and of calling him to account for his turpitude; but my better judgment withheld me, bidding me reserve my blows until they should fall unerringly and fatally upon his defenceless head.
In the meanwhile the good old priest carried his mild and resigned spirit with him into the hospital. He was received with kindness, and treated with especial care, chiefly on account of the recommendation of the baron, who was interested in the unfortunate pastor to a greater extent than he cared to acknowledge. The day for the operation—postponed from time to time—at length arrived. It was performed. The process was long and painful, but the patient never uttered a complaint: his cries were wrung from him in the extremity of torture and physical helplessness. The result was successful. One knew not which to admire most—the Christian magnanimity of the patient, or the triumphant skill of the operator: both were perfect. When the anxious scene was over, the surgeon shook the priest by the hand tenderly and encouragingly, and with his handkerchief wiped the sweat-drops from his aged brow. He saw him afterwards carefully removed to his bed, and for half an hour watched at his side, until, exhausted, the sufferer fell to sleep. During the slow recovery of the invalid, his bed was the first visited by the surgeon in his daily rounds. He lingered there long after his services were needed, and listened with the deepest attention to the accounts which the priest gave of his mode of life, and of the condition of his dear flock, far away in Auvergne. When at length the convalescent man was able to quit his bed, the baron, to the surprise of all who knew him, would take him by the arm, and give him his support, as the enfeebled creature walked slowly up and down the ward. It was the feeling act of an affectionate son. Then the surgeon made eager enquiries, which the priest as eagerly answered; and they grew as friendly as though they had been well acquainted from their infancy. Weeks passed away; the priest was at last discharged, cured; and, with prayers mingling with tears of gratitude, he took leave of his benefactor, and returned in joy to his native village.
It was exactly a week after his departure, that the day arrived upon which the sacristan led me to expect a meeting with the baron at the church of Saint Sulpice. Resolved to confront this incarnation of contradiction at the very scene of his unseemly vagaries, I did not fail to be punctual. As I entered the street, I espied the baron a few yards before me, walking briskly towards the entrance of the sacred building. I followed him. He hurried into the church, and took his accustomed place. I kept close upon him; and, with a fluttering heart, seated myself at his side. My cheek burned with nervous agitation, but I did not look towards my adversary. His eye, however, was upon me. I felt it, and was sensible of his steady, long, and, as it seemed, passionless gaze. He did not move, or betray any symptom of surprise. As on the previous occasions, he proceeded solemnly to prayer; and when the ceremony was completed, he, as usual, offered up his alms. As the service drew to its close, my own anxiety became intense, and my situation almost insupportable. He rose—I did the same;—he walked leisurely away—I, giddy with excitement reeled after him. I was not to be shaken from my purpose, and I accosted him on the church's threshold.
"Baron!" I exclaimed.
"Mr Walpole!" he replied, perfectly unmoved.
"I am surprised to see you here, sir."
"You are NOT," answered the baron, still most placidly; "you came expressly to meet me; you have been here twice before. Why do you desire to hide that fact? Can a Christian, Mr Walpole, play the hypocrite as well as other men?"
"I cannot understand you," I said, bewildered by his imperturbable coolness; "you laugh at religion—you mock me for respecting it, and yet you come here for prayer. You do not believe in God, and you assist devoutly at mass!"
"It is a lovely morning, Mr Walpole—we have half an hour to spare—give me your arm!"
Perfectly puzzled and confounded by the collected manner of the baron, I placed my arm mechanically in his, and suffered him to conduct me whethersoever he would. We walked in silence for some distance, passed into the meanest quarter of the city, and reached a miserable and squalid street. The baron pointed to the most wretched house in the lane, and bade me direct my eye especially to its sixth story.
"Mark it well," said he, "you see a window there to which a line is fixed with recently washed linen?"
"I do," I answered.
"In the room—the small close hole to which that window hardly brings air and light, I passed months of my life. The mass at which you have three times watched me, is connected with it, and with occurrences that had their rise there. I was the occupant of that garret—it seems but yesterday since I wanted bread there."
The surgeon was unmanned. He kept his eye upon the melancholy window until emotion blinded it, and permitted him to see no longer. He stood transfixed for a second or two, and then spoke quickly.
"Mr Walpole, poverty is horrible! I have courage for any extremity but that. Pain I have borne—shrieks and moans I have listened to unmoved, whilst I stood by labouring to remove them; but when I recall the moments in which I have languished for a crust of bread, and known mankind to be my enemy—as though, being poor, I was a felon—all hearts steeled against me—All hearts, did I say?" added the speaker suddenly checking himself—"I lie; had it been so, I should not have been here to tell the tale."
The baron paused, and then resumed.
"High as the rank is, Mr Walpole, to which I have attained; brilliant as my career has been, and I acknowledge my success with gratitude—believe me, there is not a famished wretch who crawls through the sinks of this overgrown metropolis, that suffers more than I have suffered, has bitterer hours than I have undergone. In this city of splendour and corruption, at whose extremes are experienced the most exquisite enjoyment and the most crushing and bitter endurance, I have passed through trials which have before now overborne and killed the stoutest hearts, and would have annihilated mine, but for the unselfish love of him whose business took me to the church this day. Misery, in all its aggravated forms, has been mine. Want of money—of necessary clothing—hunger—thirst; such things have been familiar to me. In that room, and in the depth of the hard winter, I have for hours given warmth to my benumbed fingers with the breath which absolute want enabled me to draw only with difficulty and pain."
"Is it possible!" I involuntarily exclaimed.
"You believe that human strength is unequal to such demands. It is natural to think so; and yet I speak the truth. My parents, Mr Walpole, humble and poor, but good and loving, sent me to Paris with all the money they could afford for my education. I was ambitious, and deemed it more than enough for my purpose. When half my time was spent here, unhappily for me both father and mother were carried off by a malignant fever. It was heavy blow, and threatened my destruction; threatened it, however, but for a moment. I had determined to arrive at eminence; and when does the determination give way in the breast of him who feels and knows his power equal to his aim? I had a brother, to whom I wrote, telling him of my situation, and asking him for the loan of a few louis-d'or until my studies were completed, when I promised to repay the debt with interest. He sent me the quarter of the sum for which I had begged, with a long cold letter of remonstrance, bidding me give up my profession, and apply myself to the humbler pursuits of my family. I returned to my brother both money and letter, and the day on which I did so saw me without a meal. I had not a farthing in the world. Had not a woman who lodged in a room below given me a crust of bread, I must have committed crime to assuage the cries of nature. How I existed for days, I no longer remember. But I remember well hearing of a rich nobleman, renowned for his wealth and piety, and for all the virtues which the world confers upon the possessor of vast estates. In a moment of enthusiasm and mistaken reliance, I sat down and penned a petition to this great personage. I spoke as an intellectual man to an intellectual man; as one working his difficult way through obscurity and trouble to usefulness and honour—and requiring only a few crumbs from the rich man's table to be at ease, and happy at his toil. I begged in abject humility for those crumbs, and received a lying and cold-blooded excuse instead of them. I crouched at his gate with a spirit worn by anxiety and apprehension, and his slaves hunted me away from it. You have passed through that same gate with me; you were witness of my triumph at the bedside of his child!"
"You mean his excellency—the operation?"
"How little the rich," said I, "know of the misery, the privations, endured by those who in poverty acquire the knowledge that is to benefit mankind so largely. How ignorant are they of their trials!"
"If you would know of the ignorance, the folly, and the vice of the rich," proceeded the baron, always at home upon this his favourite subject, "you must listen to an endless tale. Ever willing and eager to detract from the merits of the man of science, and to attribute to him the assumption of powers beyond human grasp—and ever striving to drag down the results of his long and patient study to the level of their own brutish ignorance—they are made the sport, the tools, and playthings of every charlatan and trickster, as they should be. You shall be satisfied, Mr Walpole, when you see the men who treat you with scorn and contumely, pulled like puppets by a wire, and made to dance to any tune the piper listeth. Hope nothing from the rich."
"And from the poor, sir?"
"Every thing," said the baron, almost solemnly. "From their hearts shall spring the gratitude that will cheer you in your course, and solace you in your gloom. Fame, and the grateful attachment of my humble friends, have furnished me with a victory which the gold of the king could not purchase. But we forget Saint Sulpice. I am not a hypocrite, as you judge me, Mr Walpole. Be witness yourself if my presence there this day has proved me one. Refused and cast away by this nobleman, I had nothing to do but to dispose for a trifle of a few articles of linen which were still in my possession. I sold them for a song, and believing failure to be impossible, still struggled on. In that room I dwelt, living for days upon nothing richer than bread and water, and regarding my little money with the agony of a miser, as every demand diminished the small store. From morn till night I laboured. I almost passed my life amongst the dead. Well was it for me, as it proved, that my necessities drove me to the dead-house to forget hunger, and obtain eleemosynary warmth. Dismissed at dusk from this temporary home, I returned to the garret for my crust, and carried the book which I had borrowed to the common passage of the house, from whose dim lamp I received the glimmer that served me to read, and to sustain the incensed ambitious spirit that would not quell within me. The days glanced by quicker than the lightning. I could not read enough; I could not acquire knowledge sufficient, in that brief interval of days, between the acquisition of my little wealth and the spending of my last farthing. The miserable moment came. I was literally penniless, and without the means of realizing any thing. For a week I retained possession of my room through the charity of my landlord, and I was furnished with two loaves by a good fellow who lived in the same house, and who proffered his assistance so kindly, so generously, and well, that I received his benefaction only that I might not give him pain by a refusal. The second week of charity had already begun, when, entering my cold and hapless room in my return from the hospital, I was detained at the door by hearing my name pronounced in a loud and angry tone. I listened with a sickening earnestness and recognized the voice of my landlord and that of the good neighbour in high discussion. Something had been said which much offended the latter; for the words which I caught from him were those of remonstrance and reproach.
"'For shame, for shame!' said he, 'you have children of your own, and they may need a friend one day. Think of them before you do so hard a thing.'
"'I do think of them,' replied the landlord sharply; 'and, that they mayn't starve, I must keep my matters straight.'
"'Give him another week or two. You will not feel it. I'll undertake to keep him. It isn't much, Heaven knows! that I can do for him; but at a pinch, man should make shift for man. Say you'll do it!'
"'I have told you he must go. I do not say one thing and mean another.'
"'Yes, you do, Lagarde,' continued the persevering lodger. 'You say your prayers daily and tell Heaven how thankful you are for all it does for you. Now, that you cannot mean, if you turn a helpless brother from your doors, who must die of want if you and I desert him. Come, think again of it. Recollect how the poor lad works—how he is striving and striving day after day. He will do well at last, and pay us back for all.'
"There was no doubt as to the individual—the subject of this argument. He stood listening to his doom, and far, far more grateful to the good creature who pleaded his cause than distressed by the obstinacy which pronounced his banishment. I was not kept long in suspense. I retreated to my den, and sat down in gloomy despair. A loud knock at the door roused me, and the indignant pride which possessed me melted at once into humility and love when I beheld the faithful Sebastian—my sympathizing neighbour.
"'You are to go,' he said bluntly; 'you are to leave this house to-morrow.'
"'I know it,' I answered; 'I am prepared to go this instant.'
"'Into the street,' said I; 'any where—it matters not.'
"'Oh yes! it matters much,' replied my visitor; 'it would not matter to me, or to your landlord. We are but day-labourers, whom nobody would miss. You have great things before you: you will do, if you are not crushed on the way. I am sure of it, and you shall not be deserted.'
"'What do you mean?' I asked.
"'Listen to me. Don't be offended. I am a poor man, and an ignorant one; but I respect learning, and feel for the distressed. You leave this house to-morrow; so do I. You seem to have no friends; I am friendless too. I am a foundling. I never knew either father or mother. I am a water-carrier, and I come from Auvergne. That is my history. Why should we not seek a lodging together? You don't regret leaving this place; no more do I. I won't disturb you. You shall study as long as you like, and have me to talk to when you are tired: that is—if it is quite agreeable, and you won't be ashamed of me.'
"'You know,' said I, 'that I am in a state of beggary.'
"'I know,' he answered, 'that you are not flush of capital just now; but I have a little in my pocket, and can work for more. If you are not too proud to borrow a trifle from me now, I sha'n't be too proud to have it back again when you get rich. Don't let me prate, for I am rough and unhandy at it; but give me your hand like an honest man, and say, "Sebastian, I will do as you wish me.'"
"My heart glowed with a streaming fire, and I grasped the extended palm of my preserver. 'Sebastian,' I exclaimed, 'I will do as you wish me. I will do more. I will make you independent. I will slave to make you happy. It can be done—I feel it can—and you may trust me.'
"'You'll do your best, I know,' he answered; 'and you'll do wonders, or I am much mistaken.'
"Upon the following morning we wandered through the city, and before nightfall obtained shelter. To this unselfish creature, and to the sacrifices which he made for me, I owe every thing. We had been together but a few days when he drew from me a statement of my position and future prospects—drew it with a delicacy and tenderness that looked lovely indeed from beneath his ragged robes. Now this poor fellow, like me—like all of us—had his ambition, and a darling object in the far distance to attain. He had for months stinted himself of many comforts, that he might add weekly to a sum which he had saved for the purchase of a horse and water-cart. He was already master of a few hundred francs; and his earnings, small as they were, permitted him to keep up the hope which had supported him through many hardships. No sooner, however, did he gather from my words the extent of my necessities, than he determined to forego the dearest wish of his life in order to secure my advancement and success. I remonstrated with him; but I might as well have spoken to stone. He would not suffer me to speak; but threatened, if I refused him, to throw his bag of savings without delay into the Seine. I ceased to oppose him, accepted his noble offer, and vowed to devote myself from that time forward to the raising up of my deliverer. The money of Sebastian supplied me with books, enabled me to pass my examinations. Be sure I did not slacken in my exertions. Idleness was fraud while the sweat from the brow of the water-carrier poured so freely for my sake. I revered him as a father, not before I had myself become the object of his affections—the recipient of the love which he had never been conscious of before, foundling that he was, and without another human tie! He grew proud of me, prouder and prouder every day—I must be well dressed—I must want for nothing; no, though he himself wanted all things. He was assured of my future eminence, and this was enough for him; and my spirit well responded to his own. I knew my capacity; I felt my strength. I was aware of the ability that floated in the world, and did not fear to bring my own amongst it. What could a mind undertake from which mine would shrink? What application could be demanded to which I was not equal—prepared—eager to submit? Where lay my difficulty? I saw none: or if I did for an instant, it was exterminated before the imperious resolution I had formed to exalt and enrich my beloved and loving benefactor. Tender as a parent to me, this incomparable man was at the same time diligent and attentive as a domestic. He would permit me to do nothing to impede the easy and natural course of study. He shamed me by his affectionate assiduity, but silenced me ever by referring to the Future, when he looked, he confessed, for a repayment for all his care and love. What could I say of do in answer to this appeal? What but reiterate the vow which I had taken, never to desert him, and to fight my way upwards that he might share the glory he had earned. A day arrived when I was compelled for a time to leave him; for I had been received as interne at the Hotel Dieu. It was hard parting, especially for the poor water-carrier, who dreaded losing sight of me for ever. I gave him an assurance of my constancy; and consoled him by the information that another and last examination yet awaited me, for which a certain sum of money would be required. He promised to have it ready by the hour, and conjured me to take all care of myself—and to learn to love religion; for I must tell you, Sebastian was a pious man—a conscientious Christian.
"Once at the hospital, I sought profitable employment, and obtained it. In the course of a few months I had earned a sum—dearer, more valuable to me than all I have since acquired. It was insignificant in itself, but it purchased for my Sebastian his long wished-for treasure—the horse and water-cart. I took it to him; and when I approached him, I had not a word to say, for my grateful heart was in my throat strangling my utterance. He threw his arms about my neck, cried, laughed, thanked, scolded, blessed, and reproached me, all in the wildness and delirium of his delight. 'Why did you do it?' said he, 'oh it was kind and loving in you!—very kind and foolish—and wrong, and generous, and extravagant—dear, good, naughty boy! I am very angry with you; but I love you for it dearly. How you are getting on! I knew you would. I said so from the first. You will do wonders—you will be rich at last. You want no man's help—you have done it all yourself.'
"'No, Sebastian!' I exclaimed, 'you have done it for me.'
"'Don't deceive me—don't flatter me,' he answered. 'I have been able to do very little for you—not half what I wished. You would have been great without me. I have looked upon you, and loved you as my own boy, and all that was selfishness.'
"We dined and spent the evening of the day together. Life has had no hours like those before or since. They were real, fresh, substantial—such as youth remembers vividly when death and suffering have shaken the foundations of the world, and covered the past with mistiness and cloud. The excitement of the time, or the privations of former years—or I know not what—threw the good Sebastian shortly after this day upon a bed of sickness. He never rose from it again. He was not rewarded as he should have been for all his sacrifices—for all the love he had expended upon his grateful foster-child. He did not live to witness my success—he did not see the completion of the work he had begun. In spite of all my efforts to save his precious life, he sank, and drew his latest breath in these devoted arms. I lost more than a father."
The baron paused, his lips were borne down by a tremulous motion: he took my arm, and urged me gently from the spot. We walked for some distance in silence. Collecting himself again, he proceeded:—
"Sebastian, as I have told you, was a pious man. In truth, his faith was boundless. He worshipped and adored the Virgin Mary as he would have loved his own natural mother, had he known her. He was aware of my unbelief, and had often spoken to me on the subject as a father might, in accents of entreaty and regret. Whilst he was ill he gave me all the money he had, and earnestly requested me to spare nothing to secure for him the consolations of the Church. I obeyed him. I caused masses to be said for him. I procured for him the visits of his priest. I left nothing undone to give him peace and joy. Would it not have been monstrous had I acted otherwise? He was morbidly anxious for the future: he, righteous man, who was as pure in spirit, as guileless, as an infant! I alone followed him to the grave; and after I had seen his sacred dust consigned to earth, I crawled home with a heart almost broken with its grief. I hid myself in my room for the day; and before I quitted it again, devised a mode of testifying my gratitude to the departed—one most acceptable to his wishes, had he lived to express them. I remembered that he had neither friend nor relation—that I lived his representative. He had spoken during his illness of the masses which are said for the repose of the souls of the dead—spoken of them with a solemn belief as to their efficacy and power. His gentle humanity forbade his imposing upon me as a duty that which I might not easily perform. My course was clear. I saved money sufficient for the purpose, and then I founded the masses which are celebrated four times yearly in the church of Saint Sulpice. The fulfilment of his pious desire, is the only offering I can make to the memory of my dear foster-father. Upon the days on which the masses are said I attend, and in his name repeat the prayers that are required. This is all that a man with my opinions can undertake; and this is no hypocrisy, nor can the Omniscient—if that great spirit of nature be indeed capable of human passions—feel anger at the act, when I solemnly declare that all I have on earth—and more than I could wish of earthly happiness—I would this instant barter for the meek inviolable faith of Jean Sebastian."
The words were spoken at the door of the baron's residence, which we had already reached. My hand was in that of the speaker. He had taken it in the act of wishing me farewell. I grasped his palm affectionately, and answered—
"Why then, my friend, should you not possess this enviable blessing?"
"Because I cannot struggle against conviction: because faith is not subject to the will: because I know too little and too much: because I cannot grasp a shadow, or palpably discern by day an evanescent, albeit a lovely, dream of night. These are my reasons. Let us dismiss the subject."
And the subject was dismissed never to be taken up again. From this time forward, our theological disputations ceased. The baron forbore his wit, and the good Cause was spared my feeble advocacy. Whether the baron suspected that, after all, there might be inconsistency in continuing to laugh at all religion whilst he persevered in visiting the church, or whether the seeds of a new and better growth of things began already to take root within him, I cannot take upon me to decide. To my relief and comfort, the solemn argument was never again profaned by ribaldry and unbecoming mirth; and, to my unfeigned delight, the teacher and the pupil were without one let or hinderance to their perfect sympathy and friendship.
A year has elapsed since, in the manner shown, I received the key to so many of the baron's seeming inconsistencies—when, as we were passing one morning into the Salle St Agnes at the Hotel Dieu, we were surprised to find, standing at the door of the ward—the venerable and humble minister of Auvergne. His face brightened at the approach of the baron, and he bowed respectfully in greeting him.
"What brings you here again, old friend?" enquired the surgeon; "no relapse, I trust?"
"Gratitude," replied the priest. A large basket was on his arm—his shoes were covered with dust—he had journeyed far on foot. "It is a year since I left this roof with my life restored to me, under God's blessing, by you. I could not let the anniversary slip away without paying you a visit, and bringing you a trifling present. It is scarcely worth your acceptance—but it is the best my grateful heart can offer, and I though you would receive it kindly. A few chickens from the poultry-yard, and a little fruit from the orchard."
The baron received the gift with a better grace than I had seen him accept a much handsomer fee. He invited the priest to his house, detained him there for some hours, and dismissed him with many presents for the poor amongst his flock at Auvergne.
And thus stood matters when the last stroke of my two years was sounded, and I was summoned home. I left the baron, need I say, with real regret; he was not pleased at my departure. I engaged to write to him, and to pay another visit to Paris as soon as my affairs permitted me. I have never trode French soil since; I never saw the baron afterwards. My curiosity, however, did not suffer me to be in ignorance of my friend's proceedings; and what I have now to add is gathered from a communication, received shortly after the baron's death, from his faithful and attached Francois.
For seven years the priest came annually with his gifts to the Hotel Dieu, and on each occasion was the baron's visitor; at first for a day or two, but afterwards for a week—and then longer still. During the second visitation, it was discovered that the minister was related distantly to the baron's former friend Sebastian. As soon as this was known, the surgeon offered the good man a home and an annuity. The former he modestly declined: the latter he accepted, distributing it in alms amongst the needy who abounded in his parish. The surgeon and the priest became great friends and frequent correspondents. The temper of the baron altered. He grew less morose—less violent—less self-indulgent—less bigoted. He reconciled a proper respect for the rich with a feeling regard for the poor. He became the pupil of the simple priest, and profited by his instruction and example. Seven years after my departure from Paris, the baron fell ill—and the priest of Auvergne, summoned to his bedside, ministered there, and gave his blessing to a meek, obedient child. He died, and the priest, shedding tears of sorrow and of joy commingled, closed his glassy eyes. What passed between them in his latest moments may not be repeated. Francois heard but a sentence as he knelt at his master's pillow. It was amongst the last he uttered.
"Francois, love the Auvergnats: they have saved your poor master—body and soul!"
That body was borne to the grave by the students of the Hotel Dieu—the greyheaded priest following in the train; and the soul—Heaven in its infinite mercy hath surely not forgotten.
 It was not until a few weeks after my arrival in Paris that I became acquainted with the fact, thus delicately pointed at by my modest friend Mr H——. It would appear that no Parisian student of medicine can pursue his studies at home without assistance. A female friend, tutor, or whatever else she may be called, graced the lodgings of every one of my hospital friends.
The snow! the snow! 'tis a pleasant thing To watch it falling, falling Down upon earth with noiseless wing, As at some spirit's calling: Each flake seems a fairy parachute, From mystic cloudland blown, And earth is still, and air is mute, As frost's enchanted zone.
The shrubs bend down—behold the trees Their fingery boughs stretch out The blossoms of the sky to seize, As they duck and drive about; The bare hills plead for a covering, And ere the grey twilight Around their shoulders broad shall cling An arctic cloak of white.
With clapping hands, from drifted door Of lonely shieling, peeps The imp, to see thy mantle hoar O'erspread the craggy steeps. The eagle round its eyrie screams; The hill-fox seeks the glade; And foaming downwards rush the streams, As mad to be delay'd.
Falling white on the land it lies, And falling dark in the sea; The solan to its island flies, The crow to the thick larch-tree; Within the penthouse struts the cock, His draggled mates among; While black-eyed robin seems to mock The sadness with his song.
Released from school, 'twas ours to wage, How keenly! bloodless war— Tossing the balls in mimic rage, That left a gorgeous scar; While doublets dark were powder'd o'er, Till darkness none could find; And valorous chiefs had wounds before, And caitiff churls behind.
Comrades, to work!—I see him yet, That piled-up giant grim, To startle horse and horseman set, With Titan girth of limb. Snell Sir John Frost, with crystal spear, We hoped thou wouldst have screen'd him; But Thaw, the traitor, lurking near, Soon cruelly guillotined him!
The powdery snow! Alas! to me It speaks of far-off days, When a boyish skater mingling free Amid the merry maze. Methinks I see the broad ice still; And my nerves all jangling feel, Blent with the tones of voices shrill, The ring of the slider's heel.
A scene of revelry! Soon night Drew his murky curtains round The world, while a star of lustre bright Peep'd from the blue profound. Yet what cared we for darkening lea, Or warning bell remote? With rush and cry we scudded by, And seized the bliss we sought.
Drift on, ye wild winds! leave no traces Of dim and danky earth: While eager faces fill their places Around the blazing hearth. Then let the stories of the glories Of our sires be told; Or tale of knight, who lady bright From thraldom saved of old.
Or let the song the charms prolong, In music's haunting tone, Of shores where spring's aye blossoming, And winter is unknown; Where zephyrs, sick with scent of flowers, Along the lakelets play; And lovers, wand'ring through the bowers, Make life a holiday.
Sunset and snow! Lo, eve reveals Her starr'd map to the moon, And o'er hush'd earth a radiance steals More bland than that of noon: The fur-robed genii of the Pole Dance o'er our mountains white, Chain up the billows as they roll, And pearl the caves with light.
The moon above the eastern fells Holds on a silent way; The mill-wheel, sparr'd with icicles, Reflects her silver ray; The ivy-tod, beneath its load, Bends down with frosty curl; And all around seems sown the ground With diamond and with pearl.
The groves are black, the hills are white, And, glittering in the sheen, The lake expands—a sheet of light— Its willowy banks between; From the dark sedge that skirts its edge, The startled wild-duck springs, While, echoing far up copse and scaur, The fowler's musket rings.
From cove to cove how sweet to rove Around that fairy scene, Companion'd, as along we move, By things and thoughts serene;— Voiceless—except where, cranking, rings The skater's curve along, The demon of the ice, who sings His deep hoarse undersong.
In days of old, when spirits held The air, and the earth below, When o'er the green were, tripping, seen The fays—what wert thou, Snow? Leave eastern Greece its fabled fleece, For Northland has its own— The witches of Norway pluck their geese, And thou art their plumes of down.
The snow! the snow! It brings to mind A thousand happy things, And but one sad one—'tis to find Too sure that Time hath wings! Oh, ever sweet is sight or sound That tells of long ago; And I gaze around, with thoughts profound, Upon the falling snow!
Love in the Wilderness.
My father intended me for the church; but as it did not seem likely that any body intended a church for me, I considered, from my earliest youth, that all the education he gave me was thrown away. My tutors were probably of the same opinion, and did not bestow much care on a person who had no chance of being a bishop; and finally, the head of St John's, in the most open and independent manner imaginable, wrote a letter to my anxious parent, putting an end to any hopes he might have entertained of my being senior wrangler, or even the wooden spoon, by informing him that he considered I was qualified—if I devoted my energies entirely to the subject—to plant cabbages; but with regard to Euclid, it was quite out of the question. Whether I might have arrived at any eminence in the praiseworthy pursuit alluded to by the learned Head, I do not know, as horticulture never was my taste; but his observations on the subject of Euclid were undeniably correct. I never got up to the asses' bridge, and certainly could not have passed it if I had; so, in a very disconsolate frame of mind, I took leave of the university after two terms' residence, and returned to Rayleigh Court—an old dilapidated manor-house, which had been in possession of our family even since it began to fall into disrepair; which, judging from the crooked walls and tottering chimneys, must have been some time in the reign of the Plantagenets. I was an only son, and my father spoiled me—not, as only sons are usually spoiled, by too much indulgence, but by the most persevering and incessant system of bullying that ever made a poor mortal miserable. He first cowed and terrified me into nervousness, and called me a coward; then he thrashed and threatened me into stupidity, and called me a fool: so that at eighteen there are few young persons of these degenerate days who have so humble and true an opinion of themselves, as I had had dinned into me from my earliest years.
I slunk about the old court-yard of the house, or lay behind stacks in the farm-yard, or sat whole days in a deserted attic, and never went willingly near my father—the only other inhabitant of the mansion—and was never enquired after by him. If I saw him, I trembled—if I heard his voice, I felt inclined to fly to the other end of the house; and at last, if I heard any one else speak a little louder than ordinary, I was fain to betake me to some distant room, or even hide in a tangled plantation called the Wilderness, at the other end of the park. The house was immensely large, or rather the property was immensely small; farm after farm had been sold by great-grandfathers and grandfathers; but as they had not the sense to pull down a side of the mansion for every estate they parted with, it had at last grown an encumbrance. There was a residence fit for a man of ten thousand a-year, and a rental of about eight hundred—the helmet of Otranto on the head of Sir Geoffrey Hudson.
If I could have been a bishop, or even a dean, and laid by four or five thousand a-year—such were my father's views of me, and of ecclesiastical preferment—I might buy back some of the ancient land and repair the house, and that was the reason he determined I should go into the church; for it is to be observed, that fathers have extraordinary eyes when directed to the future fortunes of their sons. They seem to have no power of seeing small curacy-houses filled with twelve children, and butchers and bakers walking down the avenue in a melancholy and despairing manner at Christmas time; but have pertinaciously before their sight a superb mansion in James's Square, with a steady old coach and two fat horses at the door; or a fine old turreted palace at Lambeth, with five or six chaplains contesting the honour of the last lick of the plate. Not a glimpse can they discover of the cold rides—miserable scenes among the dying, the idle, the dissolute—hope deferred—strength decaying—the proud man's contumely, the rich vulgarian's scorn—struggle, struggle! toil and trouble! Blessings, say I, on the outspoken head of St John's, and the impenetrability of Euclid, that kept a blue coat on my back, and disappointed my father's expectation of seeing me Lord Bishop of Durham. I should have been chaplain to a poor-house to a certainty, and have envied my parishioners; but I doubt very much, in the mean time, if the chaplain of a poor-house would have envied me, imprisoned and pauperized in Rayleigh Court.
Luckily there were books—whole shelves of them—loaded with rich morocco bindings, and pecks enough of dust (if distributed through the month of March) to have ransomed all the Pharaohs. I passed over the Dugdales, and even the Gwyllins, in despair; and lay whole days on the floor, surrounded by Faery Queens and other anti-utilitarian publications, sometimes fancying myself a Red-Cross knight—though considerably at a loss to devise a substitute for the heavenly Una. But by some strange caprice of fortune, a hoard was opened to me in one of the lower shelves, beside the oriel window, which was more valuable than Potosi and Golconda—a complete set of the Waverley Novels: there they were—all included—from the great original to Castle Dangerous. As my father's retiring habits prevented me from knowing a human being in the neighbourhood, I made up to my heart's content for the want of living friends, by forming the most enthusiastic attachments to Dandie Dinmont, and Henry Morton, and Jonathan Oldbuck; not forgetting the excessive love I entertained for Rose Bradwardine, Di Vernon, and a few others; so that altogether, I think I may say, that no young man of my age was ever blessed with such a large and enchanting circle of "friends and sweethearts." In the mean time the external world was moving on, troubling itself, in all likelihood, as little about me as I did about it. We had a newspaper once a-week; but I never saw it. I knew that our gracious sovereign lady, Queen Victoria, had just succeeded to our gracious sovereign lord, King William—but to that great and important fact in constitutional history my knowledge of temporary politics was limited. What did I care about Peels or Melbournes, when I could enter the council-chamber of Louis the Eleventh, or pass a pleasant morning with Queen Elizabeth at Kenilworth Castle? My father lay—like a snake surrounded by fire—in the centre of what had once been his family estate; with purchasers gathering closer and closer round, till, like the snake of the above similitude, he was inclined to sting himself to death to avoid the increasing horror of his situation. From strange muttered growls and deep imprecations when we met, I gathered that the last fagot had been lighted, in the shape of a proposition by some Eastern nabob, that he should sell the remaining portion of the land. He, Rayleigh of Rayleigh Court—to sell to a stranger the park, the fields, the house! He would have died first. And the reason for wishing to buy, which was assigned by the intending purchaser, was worst of all; that he had already made himself owner of every other farm which had once belonged to the Rayleigh manors, and desired the family mansion to make the estate complete—and his name was Jeeks—Jeeks of Rayleigh Court! My father would have shot him if he had come within his reach; but as Mr Jeeks kept at a respectable distance, the over-charge of indignation was poured forth upon me; and the opinion, so obligingly given of my abilities and probable success in life by the Master of St John's, was never for an hour forgotten. It was very evident that there was no hope of family restoration to be founded on so profound a blockhead—an ass that could not get into the church—that moped and wandered about the woods—that trembled when he was spoken to; and so far from pushing his way in the world, and acquiring a fortune by running off with an heiress, had not courage enough to look a milkmaid in the face. I kept out of his sight more than ever, and read Ivanhoe for the fifteenth time. Oh, Friar Tuck! Oh, Brian de Bois Guilbert! What did I care for Mr Jeeks and his offers for Rayleigh Court?
I was now twenty years of age, with the figure of a grenadier and the courage of a boarding-school girl; and every day my father's indignation seemed to increase, when he saw such a fund of marketable qualities lying useless—my quietness and decorum would have done for the church; my height and broad shoulders would have qualified me for Gretna Green. But such a chicken-hearted fellow, he well knew, would sooner die than mention a postchaise; and so the old gentleman, having ceased for some years to express his contempt for me with the aid of his walking stick, and a profusion of epithets unheard of in Johnson's Dictionary, took now to the easier method of a dignified and unbroken silence. It was a charming change, and I was as happy as Robinson Crusoe in the desert island before Friday made his appearance. One day in June—"it was the poet's leafy month of June"—I took my way, as was my Wont, through the park to the Wilderness. The shadows of the broad thick-foliaged oaks lay in gigantic masses on the smooth turf, (of which the gardeners were a few relics of the former herds of deer, in the shape of wide-antlered stags and dappled roes;) all the sights and sounds of summer beauty were united in that solitary greensward; and for the first time in my life I felt a regret pass over me that the grandeur of my family had decayed, and a faint fluttering became perceptible to me, round my heart, of a wish to restore our fortunes. But the intense appreciation of my own deficiencies in which I had been educated, soon dispelled any pleasing illusions that the self-love of twenty years of age might have excited; and I fell into the opposite extreme, and rejoiced to think that in me the family tree would lose its last branch, and that the old house would crumble into actual ruins, instead of holding forth the false appearances of solidity and strength which led to the expectation that it was still capable of repair. I felt like Wilfred of Ivanhoe, when he resolved to leave his home for ever; and if there had been any crusade going on in 1838, and an Isaac of York willing to furnish me with horse and harness, I should have been very glad to try my chance against the Saracens, and prove myself a true Red Cross knight; for even at that time, I felt assured that against any body but my father I could hold up my head like a man; or on any subject but my stupidity—(which I was willing to concede, as it came guaranteed under the hand and seal of the master of a college)—I could have maintained my ground with the courage of a Front-de-Boeuf. I took a bolder step and manlier bearing as I passed along in the sunshine, and saw defined on the grass before me the shadow of a gigantic being, elongated in the slanting rays to about twelve feet high, with limbs and shoulders certainly a little attenuated by the same solar deception, but still not quite such thread-papers as I have since seen do duty in ball-rooms, to the evident satisfaction of then possessors. The Wilderness was reached at last: and here I must premise that the aristocratic appearances of bucks and roes entirely ceased; for the said Wilderness was appropriated to the feeding of certain animals of unpoetic figures, and even prosaic names, but which, when well cooked and duly supplied with a condiment of beans, furnish by no means a contemptible dinner to a hungry sportsman. The man who despises beans and bacon is uniformly a puppy. I will, therefore, now venture on the vulgar word, and say the Wilderness was used for feeding swine, and all the long days the frisky quadrupeds went wiggling their curly tails, and snorting among the oak-trees, with enormous satisfaction. On reaching the centre of this umbrageous feeding-ground, I was surprised to see my usual place of meditation occupied by a stranger. It was a young girl, exhausted apparently by the heat of the day, resting on the mossy turf and leaning against the trunk of a fine old tree. Her bonnet was on the ground beside her; her hair was gently moved to and fro by the wandering breeze; and on her lap lay a work-basket, which she had evidently laid down to give herself more entirely to repose. She was sound asleep, and I need scarcely say, as my experience of the fair sex was extremely limited, that she was the most captivating specimen I had ever seen; but shyness and awkwardness overcame my desire to make her acquaintance. I looked at her for a moment, saw the finely cut features, the beautifully complexioned cheeks, the smiling lips and graceful figure, and turned away angry at myself, at the same time that I could not summon courage to address her. Before I had gone far I heard a dreadful scream a little to my right, and in an agony of terror a fair-haired young child, of six or seven years old, rushed towards the sleeper, pursued apparently by one of the largest of the grunting flock. It was evidently only in the excessive buoyancy of its porcine spirits that it caracolled, and snuffed, and galloped in such an imposing manner; but the terror of the little flyer was as sincere as if it had been a royal Bengal tiger. In a moment I sprang forward, gave the huge animal a kick with all my might, in a spot which must have materially improved the tenderness of the ham—and took the almost fainting child in my arms. The sleeper started up, and was no little astonished to behold the feat I performed. I muttered a few confused words, and tried in vain to still the terrors of my young charge; but in a few minutes our united efforts had the desired effect, and the elder sister thanked me for my chivalrous interference, and said she would never forget my kindness.
"It's nothing at all," I said—"I almost wish it had been a bonassus, and I had had a rifle."
"Oh! a pig, I assure you, is quite enough for us: isn't it, Amy?" Amy seemed to consider a pig a great deal too much, and looked round in alarm every time she heard a rustle among the branches.
"It would have enabled me," I said, "to be really useful—like the master of Ravenswood, I added, when he shot the wild bull."
"But you wouldn't surely wish to see Amy and me in real danger, merely to have the glory of delivering us from it. That would be too selfish."
"Not selfish if I was certain of saving you; and, besides, it would be such an excellent introduction."