“Light be the earth on Billy’s breast,
And green the sod that wraps his grave.”
There was a plaintive wildness in the air not to be withstood; and, except the keeper’s, there was not an unmoistened eye around her.
“Do you weep again?” said she. “I would not have you weep: you are like my Billy; you are, believe me; just so he looked when he gave me this ring; poor Billy! ’twas the last time ever we met! —
“’Twas when the seas were roaring—I love you for resembling my Billy; but I shall never love any man like him.”—She stretched out her hand to Harley; he pressed it between both of his, and bathed it with his tears.—“Nay, that is Billy’s ring,” said she, “you cannot have it, indeed; but here is another, look here, which I plated to-day of some gold-thread from this bit of stuff; will you keep it for my sake? I am a strange girl; but my heart is harmless: my poor heart; it will burst some day; feel how it beats!” She pressed his hand to her bosom, then holding her head in the attitude of listening—“Hark! one, two, three! be quiet, thou little trembler; my Billy is cold!—but I had forgotten the ring.”—She put it on his finger. “Farewell! I must leave you now.”—She would have withdrawn her hand; Harley held it to his lips.—“I dare not stay longer; my head throbs sadly: farewell!”—She walked with a hurried step to a little apartment at some distance. Harley stood fixed in astonishment and pity; his friend gave money to the keeper.—Harley looked on his ring.—He put a couple of guineas into the man’s hand: “Be kind to that unfortunate.”—He burst into tears, and left them.
CHAPTER XXI—THE MISANTHROPE
The friend who had conducted him to Moorfields called upon him again the next evening. After some talk on the adventures of the preceding day: “I carried you yesterday,” said he to Harley, “to visit the mad; let me introduce you to-night, at supper, to one of the wise: but you must not look for anything of the Socratic pleasantry about him; on the contrary, I warn you to expect the spirit of a Diogenes. That you may be a little prepared for his extraordinary manner, I will let you into some particulars of his history.