How just is this mild censure! how gladly are its demands conceded! Let dogmatism retire, and blossom, flowers of fancy, on your yielding stems! Henceforward the reader is our confidential counsellor. We will pretend that our means of information are no better than other writers’. We will uniformly revel in speculation, and dally with imaginative delights; and only when hard pressed for the true path will we snatch off the veil, and let forth for a moment a redeeming ray.
In this generous mood, we pass through the partition between No. 27 and No. 29. In the matter of bedchambers—even hotelbedchambers—there can be great diversity. That we were in just now was close and unwholesome, and wore an air of feverishness and disorder. Here, on the contrary, the air is fresh and brisk, for the breeze from Boston harbor—slightly flavored, it is true, by its journey across the northern part of the city—has been blowing into the room all night long. Here are some trunks and carpet-bags, well bepasted with the names of foreign towns and countries, famous and infamous. One of the trunks is a bathing-tub, fitted with a cover—an agreeable promise of refreshment amidst the dust and weariness of travel. A Russia-leather travelling-bag lies open on the table, disgorging an abundant armament of brushes and combs and various toilet niceties. Mr. Helwyse must be a dandy.
Cheek by jowl with the haversack lies a cylindrical case of the same kind of leather, with a strap attached, to sling over the shoulder. This, perhaps, contains a telescope. It would not be worth mentioning, save that our prophetic vision sees it coming into use by and by. Not to analyze too closely, everything in this room speaks of life, health, and movement. In spite of smallness, bareness, and angularity, it is fit for a May morning to enter, and expand to full-grown day.
It is now about half past four, and the crisp new sunshine, just above ground, has clambered over the window-sill, taken a flying leap across the narrow floor, and is chuckling full in the agreeable face asleep upon the pillow. The face, feeling the warmth, and conscious, through its closed eyelids, of the light, presently stretches its eyebrows, then blinks, and finally yawns,—Ah—h! Thirty-two even, white teeth, in perfect order; a great, red, healthy tongue, and a round, mellow roar, the parting remonstrance of the sleepy god, taking flight for the day. Thereupon a voice, fetched from some profounder source than the back of the head,—
“Steward! bring me my—Oh! A land-lubber again, am I!”
Mr. Balder Helwyse now sits up in bed, his hair and beard,—which are extraordinarily luxuriant, and will be treated at greater length hereafter,—his hair and beard in the wildest confusion. He stares about him with a pair of well-opened dark eyes, which contrast strangely with his fair Northern complexion. Next comes a spasmodic stretching of arms and legs, a whisking of bedclothes, and a solid thump of two feet upon the floor. Another survey of the room, ending with a deep breathing in of the fresh air and an appreciative smack of the lips.