« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
woman, and treat all the children of the green to her darling trays of apples with uncle Lionel's bright crown - piece. Bessy never tired of assuring me that I was a wonderful creature, which I fully believed, and Louie made frequent mention of his thirst to be old enough to marry me. It soothed him to hear that he was much nicer than Frank, 'the horrid Lysterby boy. Louie had not made his first confession, and he was thrillingly and fearfully interested in the tale of mine.
"You know," I dolefully remarked, "the priest won't let you confess any of the nice interesting-looking sins, with the lovely big names, like a-dul-tery and for-ni-fi-ca-tion and defraud-ing. He makes you tell awful little sins, like talking in class and answering a nun, and all that sort of thing."
"Oh, but I say," shouted Louie, wagging a remonstrative head, "the priest can't prevent you from saying you committed adultery."
"Yes, but he says you didn't; and then it seems you're telling a lie to the Holy Ghost, and you may be struck dead in the confessional-box."
This Louie regarded as an excessive risk to run for the simple pleasure of confessing a nice big sin. He thought the matter over
My parents had taken a house at Dalkey, with a garden a dream of delights, that ran by shadowy slopes and bosky alleys
VOL. CLXV. NO. M.
in bed that night, and communicated to me next morning his intention to confess to having stolen two marbles from Johnnie Magrath, and having licked Tim Martin.
"You know, Angy, I really did lick him, he's such an awful beast, and made his nose bleed rivers, with a black dab under his eyes as big as my fist; and here are the two marbles I stole."
CHAPTER XXIII.- -MY FIRST TASTE OF FREEDOM.
He went back to town that afternoon, with his little grey eyes moist over the brimming smiles of his lively comic mouth. His was a hilarious depression, a rowdy melancholy, emblematic of the destiny in store for him. He grimaced wonderfully, with screwed-up eyelids and twisted and bunched-out lips, and kept on muttering all the time we walked together to the coachhouse where the mail-car started from "It's an awful shame, so it is. A fellow can't do what he likes, but there's always somebody bothering him and ordering him about."
Dear, honest, little playmate! That was the last, last glimpse I had of him. We exchanged our last kiss at the top of the village street, and I wildly waved my handkerchief until a deep bend of the long white Kildare road hid the car, as it seemed to roll off the flat landscape.
down to the grey rocks where the sea seemed to become our very own, as it rolled over the rocks, and made, from time to
in vain; our brain is preternaturally active. Morbid and unsettled, we review the past, a whole tide of recollections comes surging up and flooding our mind, here and there the recollection of honours grasped or prizes won, mere oases in the desert, a sauce piquante to give relish to a nauseous olla-podrida of baffled schemes, disappointed hopes, lost opportunities, unfulfilled purposes.
We decline to believe in the existence of a middle-aged man, to whom a night spent in thoughts like these is an absolute stranger. For even selfsatisfaction - to the possessor, at all events, most comfortable of all possessions—must have its limits.
Let us hope that the sun will be shining into our bedroom window in the morning and will dissipate the gloomy thoughts that have broken our rest; that the cheery song of the birds may charm away the evil spirit that has haunted us; that our vitality, if not our manhood, may come to our rescue and refuse to allow us to be enslaved by a mawkish and morbid sentimentality. Let us invoke the aid of our classical knowledge and take old Cato's wise advice, "We must resist old age and fight against it as a disease."
Let us make up our minds to keep with us in middle age, and further still, something of the youth, agreeing with the old Roman that "he who follows this maxim may become an old man in body, but never in heart." Or let us open the
book of Harrow song, and learn a lesson from that.
To "look back and regretfully wonder what you were like in your work or your play," is an unsatisfactory process. We cannot put back the clock or replace ourselves, except in fancy, in the scenes of our schoolboy triumphs or reverses. But there may be still left for us
"bases to guard or beleaguer, Games to play out, whether earnest or fun,
Fights for the fearless and goals for the eager,
Twenty and thirty and forty years on."
Improved medical science, and a more perfect knowledge of the laws of hygiene, seem to have made men in these modern days "so strong" that they
come to fourscore years," but it is more or less left to the octogenarian himself to decide whether he will remain to the end an active and useful member of society, or cumber the ground by playing the part of an automatic grumbling machine. As yet we hardly feel educated up to the point of being able to analyse the feelings of Maga's contemporaries.
But among men of our own generation we seem to know many who live every day of their life with the determination to take Anno Domini as he comes, and to make the best of him; not a few who waste the present either in regretting the past or moaning over the future. Men of this latter type, if taken to task on their habit of accentuating their own misery by constant grumbling, plead excuses of indifferent
thing." To me he was Quentin
faces, won a half - sovereign from my stepfather, who was smoking on the lawn when the band invaded his solitude, by assuring his honour that she was "the mother of fourteen children, with their bedclothes on her back." When she flung the sparkling piece into Arthur's hat, he shouted "Gold!" and a frantic cheer went up from the band. We rushed off in a joyous body next day to Killiney Hill, and had a feast of lemonade and oranges, and toffee and cake. The red-haired chief paid the bill with a flourish, and if there was any change he kept it.
Each parent took his turn in providing the company with an official feast. The old lord monopolised the fireworks. My stepfather instituted races. A wealthy barrister, our neighbour, inveigled a circus for our delectation; and seven delightful old maids, who lived in a kind of castle of their own, outdid all the fathers royally by a regatta of our own. All the boatmen of Dalkey were hired, and each boat ran up a sail. Mighty powers! what a day that was. Were ever youngsters so gratified, so excited, so conscious of being a little community apart, with the sea and the land for its entertainment?
It was the red-headed leader who invented the most delightful entertainment in the world. He formed us into a band of beggars. He played a banjo and sang nigger songs, and Arthur, in shirt-sleeves, with a rakish cap rowdily posed on his aristocratic golden head, went round with a hat to gather coin. We went from house to house, an excited troop of young rascals, sang and danced and begged and shouted in each garden until the grownup people appeared and flung a sixpence, sometimes even a shilling, into Arthur's hat. The old lord occasionally rose to half-a-crown. The parents enjoyed the fun as much as we did, and never pretended to recognise us.
And there was an amiable old judge, who offered us the freedom of his big orchard, where the apples grew in quantities, and we climbed the trees
What tales we invented! What lies we told! One pretty little girl, with brown like squirrels, and devoured ringlets round the rosiest of fruit without fear or restraint.
(To be continued.)
with the phrase, “And don't you mind as how?"
At last there came to our rescue a fisherman friend from London, keen on sport, dour of nature, unsympathetic to a
"The way was long, the wind was degree as an auditor of long
The minstrel was infirm and old;"
but the minstrel had a keen sense of duty, and clearly thought that his duty lay in entertaining his fare. Possibly the readers of 'Maga' would feel as much bored as we used to feel if we attempted to inflict upon them that interminable story. We will briefly say it was the tale of a youth who used to fish the Cornish streams somewhere in the dark ages, who never failed to catch the respectable total of three dozen and a half, and generally met with a series of misadventures in the course of the day. The story always commenced in an interrogative style.
"I was a-wondering, sir, if as how you was the young gen'man as used to come to these parts," &c., &c.
For three years, at the rate of some five or six times per year, we denied the imputation, and listened with resignation to the yarn. But there came a limit to our patience, and, alas! to our veracity. In an evil hour we boldly tried the experiment of asserting our identity with the mythical youth. The result was disastrous: not one jot or one tittle of the legend was suppressed, and we were furthermore pestered by a series of conundrums all commencing
yarns, wholly uneducated in the art of suffering fools gladly. We put him to sit in front of the dogcart and told him that he would find the driver a most entertaining companion. Rather to our surprise, even he, the unsympathetic man, being preoccupied in making up a cast, sat through one recitation and grunted assent at proper intervals. But the second reading he nipped in the bud in the most unfeeling
"I was a-wondering," began
"Well, I shouldn't if I was you-it's a bad habit. But if you were wondering whether I was the young gentleman and so forth, as I told you yesterday, I was nothing of the kind, and I don't want to hear anything more about him. You are paid to drive and not to talk, so just look after your horse, and don't talk to me."
The young man of the present day may be forgiven if he declines to listen with rapt attention to the lengthy tales of his seniors, and may earn the thanks of society at large if he invents a polite way of suppressing that common pest, the raconteur whose stock-in-trade consists of a fixed number of stories to be told with varia
tions. This particular type of story-teller should be condemned to bear in a future state the penalty of the evil thoughts and wicked words which he has evoked from others in this others in this world. Kindly affectioned as we feel that the rising generation is inclined to be towards those of maturer age, let us forbear while in their company to prematurely usurp the office of Nestor and to prose of doughty deeds by others unrecorded and unsung, "quorum pars magna fui."
"I wonder what the old man's handicap at golf is," we can hear them say. For they may know--as what golfer does not know?—that there is a really old man at St Andrews who can still cut the combs of many a youngster, and who, instead of talking of what he could do in the years that are past, is ready to show us what he is capable of to-day.
Let us postpone the evil day for weaving romances of our past prowess till we can tell them to our grandchildren, who may appreciate that form of fairy-tale. It will hardly enhance the satisfaction of the youngster who has done a thing well himself to be told that there was a time when we could have done it better, nor shall we gain advantage in the present by investing our past with an imaginative halo.
Rather let us take the good things that the gods have bestowed on this latter-day generation-the bicycle, the golf-club, the hammerless gun-and try to hold our own with the youngsters in the present; and in the future let us hope there may be "a something ere the end," some work not unbecoming the humblest of the contributors to the pages of the ever-vigorous, though now octogenarian, 'Maga.'