+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

heard these words, and perceived that my proffer
of devotion had been addressed to a married
woman, and the wife of the "most jealous man
in Europe."

"And who is this Jopplyn?" asked I, haughtily,
and in all the proud confidence of my present

"He's a railway contractora shrewd sort of
fellow, with plenty of money, and a good head
on his shoulders; sensible on every point except
his jealousy."

"The man must be an idiot," said I, indignantly,
"to rush indiscriminately about the
world with accusations of this kind. Who wants
to supplant him? Who seeks to rob him of the
affections of his wife?"

"That's all very well, and very specious,"
said he, gravely, "but if men will deliberately
set themselves down at a writing-table, hammering
their brains for fine sentiments, and toiling
to find grand expressions for their passion, it
does not require that a husband should be as
jealous as Christy Jopplyn to take it badly. I
don't think I'm a rash or a hasty man, but I
know what I'd do in such a circumstance."

"And, pray, what would you do?" said I,
half impertinently.

"I'd just say, 'Look here, young gent, is
this balderdash here your hand? Well, now,
eat your words. Yes, eat them. I mean what
I say. Eat up that letter, seal and all, or, by
my oath, I'll break every bone in your skin!"

"It is exactly what I intend," cried a voice,
hoarse with passion; and Jopplyn himself sprang
into the room, and dashed at me.

The skipper was a most powerful man, but it
required all his strength, and not very gingerly
exercised either, to hold off my enraged
adversary. "Will you be quiet, Christy?" cried he,
holding him by the throat. "Will you just be
quiet for one instant, or must I knock you

"Do! do! by all means," muttered I, for I
thought if he were once on the ground, I could
finish him off with a large pewter measure that
stood on the table.

With a rough shake, the skipper had at last
convinced the other that resistance was useless,
and induced him to consent to a parley.

"Let him only tell you," said he, "what he
has told me, Christy."

"Don't strike, but hear me," cried I; and
safe in my stockade behind the skipper, I
recounted my mistake.

"And you believe all this?" asked Jopplyn of
the skipper, when I had finished.

"Believe itI should think I do! I have
known him since he was a child that high,
and I'll answer for his good conduct and

Heaven bless you for that bail bond, though
endorsed in a lie, honest ship captain! and I
only hope I may live to requite you for it.

Jopplyn was appeased; out it was the
suppressed wrath of a brown bear rather than the
vanquished anger of a man. He had booked
himself for something cruel, and he was miserable
to be balked. Nor was I myselfI shame to
own itan emblem of perfect forgiveness. I
know nothing harder than for a constitutionally
timid man, of weak proportions, to forgive the
bullying superiority of brute force. It is about
the greatest trial human forgiveness can be
submitted to; so that when Jopplyn, in a vulgar
spirit of reconciliation, proposed that we should
both go and dine with him that day, I declined
the invitation with a frigid politeness.

"I wish I could persuade you to change your
plans," said he, "and let Mrs. J. and myself see
you at six."

"I believe I can answer for him that it is impossible,"
broke in the skipper; while he added
in a whisper, "They never can afford any delay
they have to put on the steam at high
pressure from one end of Europe to t'other."

What could he possibly mean by imputing
such haste to my movements, and who were
"they" with whom he thus associated me? I
would have given worlds to ask, but the
presence of Jopplyn prevented me, and so I could
simply assent with a sort of foolish laugh, and a
muttered "Very truequite correct."

"Indeed, how you manage to be here, now, I
can scarcely imagine," continued the skipper.
"The last of yours that went through this took
a roll of bread, and a cold chicken with him into
the train, rather than halt to eat his supper
but I conclude you know best."

What confounded mystification was passing
through his marine intellects I could not fathom.
To what guild or brotherhood of impetuous
travellers had he ascribed me? Why should I not
"take mine ease in mine inn?" All this was
very tantalising and very irritating, and pleading
a pressing engagement, I took leave of them
both, and returned to the hotel.

I was in need of rest and a little composure.
The incident of the morning had jarred my
nerves and disconcerted me much. But a few
hours ago, and life had seemed to me like a
flowery meadow, through which, without path
or track, one might ramble at will; now, it
rather presented the aspect of a vulgar kitchen
garden, fenced in, and divided, and partitioned
off, with only a few very stony alleys to walk in.
"This boasted civilisation of ours," exclaimed
I, "what is it but snobbery? Our class
distinctionsour artificial intercoursesour
hypocritical professionsour deference for externals,
are they not the flimsiest pretences that ever
were fashioned? Why has no man the courage
to make short work of these, and see the world
as it really is? Why has not some one gone
forth, the apostle of frankness and plain speaking,
the same to prince as to peasant? What I
would like, would be a ramble through the less
visited parts of Europecountries in which
civilisation slants in just as the rays of a setting
sun steal into a forest at evening. I would buy
me a horse. Oh, Blondel," thought I,
suddenly, "am I not in search of you? Is it not
in the hope to recover you that I am here, and,
with you for my companion, am I not content
to roam the world, taking each incident of the