Then they clung about
The old man’s neck, and kiss’d him many times,
And all the man was broken with remorse;
And all his love came back a hundredfold;
And for three hours he sobb’d o’er William’s child,
Thinking of William.
So those four abode
Within one house together; and as years
Went forward, Mary took another mate;
But Dora lived unmarried till her death.
MRS. B.’S ALARMS.
BY JAMES PAYN.
Mrs. B. is my wife; and her alarms are those produced by a delusion under which she labours that there are assassins, gnomes, vampires, or what not, in our house at night, and that it is my bounden duty to leave my bed at any hour or temperature, and to do battle with the same, in very inadequate apparel. The circumstances which attend Mrs. B.’s alarms are generally of the following kind. I am awakened by the mention of my baptismal name in that peculiar species of whisper which has something uncanny in its very nature, besides the dismal associations which belong to it, from the fact of its being used only in melodramas and sick-rooms.
“Henry, Henry, Henry!”
How many times she had repeated this I know not; the sound falls on my ear like the lapping of a hundred waves, or as the “Robin Crusoe, Robin Crusoe,” of the parrot smote upon the ear of the terrified islander of Defoe; but at last I wake, to view, by the dim firelight, this vision: Mrs. B. is sitting up beside me, in a listening attitude of the very intensest kind; her nightcap (one with cherry-coloured ribbons, such as it can be no harm to speak about) is tucked back behind either ear; her hair—in paper—is rolled out of the way upon each side like a banner furled; her eyes are rather wide open, and her mouth very much so; her fingers would be held up to command attention, but that she is supporting herself in a somewhat absurd manner upon her hands.
“Henry, did you hear that?”
“What, my love?”
“That noise. There it is again; there—there.”
The disturbance referred to is that caused by a mouse nibbling at the wainscot; and I venture to say so much in a tone of the deepest conviction.
“No, no, Henry; it’s not the least like that: it’s a file working at the bars of the pantry-window. I will stake my existence, Henry, that it is a file.”
Whenever my wife makes use of this particular form of words I know that opposition is useless. I rise, therefore, and put on my slippers and dressing-gown. Mrs. B. refuses to let me have the candle, because she will die of terror if she is left alone without a light. She puts the poker into my hand, and with a gentle violence is about to expel me from the chamber, when a sudden thought strikes her.