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the corn-fields, and the autumn breezes on the

For my own poor part, the fading summer
left me out of health, out of spirits, and, if
the truth must be told, out of money as well.
During the past year, I had not managed my
professional resources as carefully as usual; and
my extravagance now limited me to the prospect
of spending the autumn economically between
my mother's cottage at Hampstead, and my own
chambers in town.

The evening, I remember, was still and
cloudy; the London air was at its heaviest;
the distant hum of the street-traffic was at its
faintest; the small pulse of the life within me
and the great heart of the city around me
seemed to be sinking in unison, languidly and
more languidly, with the sinking sun. I roused
myself from the book which I was dreaming
over rather than reading, and left my chambers
to meet the cool night air in the suburbs. It
was one of the two evenings in every week
which I was accustomed to spend with
my mother and my sister. So I turned my
steps northward, in the direction of Hampstead.

Events which I have yet to relate, make it
necessary to mention in this place that my
father had been dead some years at the period
of which I am now writing; and that my sister
Sarah, and I, were the sole survivors of a family
of five children. My father was a drawing-
master before me. His exertions had made him
highly successful in his profession; and his
affectionate anxiety to provide for the future of
those who were dependent on his labours, had
impelled him, from the time of his marriage, to
devote to the insuring of his life a much larger
portion of his income than most men consider
it necessary to set aside for that purpose.
Thanks to his admirable prudence and self-
denial, my mother and sister were left, after his
death, as independent of the world as they had
been during his lifetime. I succeeded to his
connexion, and had every reason to feel grateful
for the prospect that awaited me at my starting
in life.

The quiet twilight was still trembling on the
topmost ridges of the heath; and the view of
London below me had sunk into a black gulf
in the shadow of the cloudy night, when I
stood before the gate of my mother's cottage.
I had hardly rung the bell, before the house-
door was opened violently; my worthy Italian
friend, Professor Pesca, appeared in the
servant's place; and darted out joyously to receive
me, with a shrill foreign parody on an English

On his own account, and, I must be allowed
to add, on mine also, the Professor merits the
honour of a formal introduction. Accident has
made him the starting-point of the strange
family story which it is the purpose of these
pages to unfold.

I had first become acquainted with my Italian
friend by meeting him at certain great houses,
where he taught his own language and I taught
drawing. All I then knew of the history of his
life was, that he had once held a situation in
the University of Padua; that he had left Italy
for political reasons (the nature of which he
uniformly declined to mention to anyone); and
that he had been for many years respectably
established in London as a teacher of languages.

Without being actually a dwarffor he was
perfectly well-proportioned from head to foot
Pesca was, I think, the smallest human being I
ever saw, out of a show-room. Remarkable
anywhere, by his personal appearance, he was
still further distinguished among the rank and
file of mankind, by the harmless eccentricity of
his character. The ruling idea of his life
appeared to be, that he was bound to show his
gratitude to the country which had afforded him
an asylum and a means of subsistence, by doing
his utmost to turn himself into an Englishman.
Not content with paying the nation in general
the compliment of invariably carrying an
umbrella, and invariably wearing gaiters and a
white hat, the Professor further aspired to
become an Englishman in his habits and amusements,
as well as in his personal appearance.
Finding us distinguished, as a nation, by our
love of athletic exercises, the little man, in the
innocence of his heart, devoted himself
impromptu to all our English sports and pastimes,
whenever he had the opportunity of joining
them; firmly persuaded that he could adopt our
national amusements of the field, by an effort of
will, precisely as he had adopted our national
gaiters and our national white hat.

I had seen him risk his limbs blindly at a
foxhunt and in a cricket-field; and, soon afterwards,
I saw him risk his life, just as blindly, in the
sea at Brighton. We had met there
accidentally, and were bathing together. If we
had been engaged in any exercise peculiar to
my own nation, I should, of course, have looked
after Pesca carefully; but, as foreigners are
generally quite as well able to take care of
themselves in the water as Englishmen, it never
occurred to me that the art of swimming might
merely add one more to the list of manly
exercises which the Professor believed that he could
learn impromptu. Soon after we had both
struck out from shore, I stopped, finding my
friend did not gain on me, and turned round to
look for him. To my horror and amazement, I
saw nothing between me and the beach but two
little white arms, which struggled for an instant
above the surface of the water, and then
disappeared from view. When I dived for him,
the poor little man was lying quietly coiled up
at the bottom, in a hollow of shingle, looking
by many degrees smaller than I had ever seen
him look before. During the few minutes that
elapsed while I was taking him in, the air
revived him, and he ascended the steps of the
machine with my assistance. With the partial
recovery of his animation came the return of
his wonderful delusion on the subject of swimming.
As soon as his chattering teeth would
let him speak, he smiled vacantly, and said he
thought it must have been the Cramp.

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