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                     CHAPTER XI.

I TAKE it for granted that all special
"charities" have had their origin in some
specific suffering. At least I can aver that my first
thought on landing at Ostend was, Why has
no great philanthropist thought of establishing
such an institution as a Refuge for the Sea-sick?
I declare this publicly, that if I ever become
richa consummation which, looking to the
general gentleness of my instincts, the wide
benevolence of my nature, and the kindliness of
my temperament, mankind might well rejoice at
if, I repeat, I ever become rich, one of the first
uses of my affluence will be to endow such an
establishment. I will place it in some one of
our popular ports, say Southampton. Surrounded
with all the charms of inland scenery, rich in
every rustic association, the patient shall never
be reminded of the scene of his late sufferings.
A velvety turf to stroll on, with a leafy shade
above his head, the mellow lowing of cattle in
his ears, and the fragrant odours of meadow-
sweet and hawthorn around, I would recal
the sufferer from the dread memories of the
slippery deck, the sea-washed stairs, or the
sleepy state-room. For the rattle of cordage
and the hoarse trumpet of the skipper, I would
substitute the song of the thrush or the blackbird;
and, instead of the thrice odious steward
and his basin, I would have trim maidens of
pleasing aspect to serve him with syllabubs. I
will not go on to say the hundred devices I
would employ to cheat memory out of a gloomy
record, for I treasure the hope that I may yet
live to carry out my theory and have a copyright
in my invention.

It was with sentiments deeply tinctured by
the above that I tottered, rather than walked,
towards the Hôtel Royal. It was a bright
moonlight night, and, as if in mockery of the
weather outside, as still and calm as might be.
Many a picturesque effect of light and shade met
me as I went: quaint old gables flaring in a strong
flood of moonlight showed outlines the strangest
and oddest; twinkling lamps shone out of tall,
dark-sided old houses, from which strains of
music came plaintively enough in the night air;
the sounds of a prolonged revel rose loudly out
of that deep-pillared château-like building in the
Place, and in the quiet alley adjoining I could
catch the low song of a mother as she tried to
sing her baby to sleep. It was all human in
every touch and strain of it. And did I not
drink it in with rapture? Was it not in a transport
of gratitude that I thanked Fortune for
once again restoring me to land?" O Earth,
Earth!" says the Greek poet, "how art thou
interwoven with that nature that first came from
thee!" Thus musing, I reached the inn, where,
although the hour was a late one, the household
was all active and astir.

"Many passengers arrived, waiter?" said I,
in the easy, careless voice of one who would not
own to sea-sickness.

"Very few, sir; the severe weather has
deterred several from venturing across."

"Any ladies?"

"Only one, sir; and, poor thing, she seems to
have suffered fearfully. She had to be carried
from the boat, and when she tried to walk
upstairs, she almost fainted. There might have
been some agitation, however, in that, for she
expected some one to have met her here; and
when she heard that he had not arrived, she was
completely overcome."

"Very sad, indeed," said I, examining the
carte for supper.

"Oh yes, sir; and being in deep mourning,
too, and a stranger away for the first time from
her country."

I started, and felt my heart bounding against
my side.

"What was it you said about deep mourning,
and being young and beautiful?" asked I,

"Only the mourning, sirit was only the
mourning I mentioned; for she kept her veil
close down, and would not suffer her face to be

"Bashful as beautiful! modest as she is
fair!" muttered I. "Do you happen to know
whither she is going?"

"Yes, sir; her luggage is marked 'Brussels.'"

"It is she! It is herself!" cried I, in rapture,
as I turned away, lest the fellow should
notice my emotion. "When does she leave

"She seems doubtful, sir; she told the landlady
that she is going to reside at Brussels;
but never having been abroad before, she is
naturally timid about travelling even so far

"Gentle creature, why should she be exposed