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

know, but if it is to be known, we'll find it out.”
And then she would reach down the lexicon, or
the atlas, or whatever book of reference might be
needed, and work side by side with her pupil,
until the desired information was gained. This
candour, far from weakening her influence over
us, had so diametrically opposite an effect, that
we were one and all ready to swear to the positive
certainty of anything imparted to us by Miss
Wokenham as a fact.

Under her tuition I and Anna were well content
to remain, until we were respectively seventeen
and fifteen years old, with no more brilliant
accomplishments than as much music as enabled
us to rattle through a country dance or so, and a
smattering of French imparted by a long-suffering
Frenchman named De Beauguet, whom we
persisted in irreverently styling Old Bogie.
Anna had a lovely fresh voice, and used to
thrill all our hearts with some old Border ballad,
or a canzonet by Mr. Haydn, as we sat round
the fire in the winter twilight. I sang too a little,
but my voice had neither the power nor the
charm of Anna’s.

Meanwhile, things went on pleasantly and
peacefully at the Gable House. If time began to
streak Uncle Gough’s hair with snow, and to
deepen a line here and there in my aunt’s comely
face, the change was so gradual that we did
not notice it. Perhaps old Stock altered as little
as it was possible for any one to do, during a lapse
of ten years. He had always seemed old since
we had known him, so that was nothing new.
He had always been brown-skinned, and stooping,
and wrinkled, and crabbed, and he was so
still; so that was nothing new. Poor old Stock!
He seemed to have but one pleasure in life,
unless his constant quarrels with every one around
him afforded him gratification. His sole luxury
was his pipe. He would sit by the kitchen fire
of an evening, smoking his churchwarden filled
with the strongest tobacco that could be bought,
and talking theology to the maids; for Stock had
decided views about religion. I used to think,
when I was a child, that they were quite peculiar
to himself; but I have heard in subsequent years
dogmas gravely promulgated, which, barring the
difference of grammar, might have emanated
from old Stock himself.

Cook was the only one of the servants bold
enough to tackle Stock on this, his strong point;
but even she frequently retired worsted from the
conflict. “Well,” she would say, taking refuge
in generalities: “I’m sure I don’t know, Mr.
Stock, but I’ve allays believed as them as acted
accordinto their consciences was in the right,
way. There’s more nor one road to heaven, you

Heaven!” Stock would repeat, with a growl
of contempt. “Much you knows about heaven!”

Deary me, bless us and save us, Mr. Stock!
I hopes I knows as much about heaven as you
do, any way.”

I’m one of thelect, I am,” the old man
would say: his face wooden as ever, and his utterance
deliberate and weighty as with a sense of
absolute conviction: “I’m all right. There’ll
be me, and one or two more on us there, but
there’ll be vary few on usvary few on us.”

I remember the curious speculations this kind
of talk used to excite in my mind. I never for
a moment believed that Stock was right, but I
used to wonder with the vague curiosity of a
thoughtful child how he would feel when he
found so many more people in heaven than he
expected, and whether he would be pleased or
disappointed at not finding it reserved for the
exclusive occupation of himself andone or two
more on us.”


HAVING now brought my prolonged sojourn
in England to an end, I write in Paris the
results of my private inspection, as I shall call
it, of the English army: a force of which we
Frenchmen in general understand very little.
Before entering into details, let me bear
witness to the great kindness and unvaried
hospitality I received everywhere in the United
Kingdom from every military man I met with. We
Frenchmen often say, and still more generally
believe, that Englishmen are haughty,
supercilious, and utterly careless respecting the
opinions of strangers. My experience teaches
me exactly the reverse. If I were to note
down half the acts of kindness I received from
officers of the English army during my
residence in their country, I might fill this space
twice over, and yet leave much untold; and if
I had remained to eat a third of the dinners
to which I was invited, I must have remained
at least a year longer from France, instead of
the few months I passed in English garrison
towns. It is true that I carried with me several
very good letters of introduction, but the kindness
shown me seemed always shown because I
was a Frenchman and an officer of the French
army. Moreover, whenever I mixed with
English officersand that more particularly among
the seniors, the true John Bulls as we should
call them in Paristhe conversation was
invariably, though with great delicacy, and as if
by accident, led into some channel which
brought about praise of the French army, from
my hosts. The way we fought in the Crimea,
our sufferings and conquests in Algeria, the
results of our campaigns in Italy, were almost
invariably introduced for the evident purpose
of giving me pleasure. Neither at the table
of theGuides,”* nor in a barrack of
the Chasseurs d’Afrique, would the praises
of our army be more eloquentlythough
calmly and earnestlysounded than at the
mess-tables of English regiments where I have

* AcrackFrench Hussar corps so called, and
belonging to the Imperial Guard.

In France we have an idea that English