kleines quadratisches bad einrichten
our mutual friend by charles dickenschapter 1 of an educational character the school at which young charley hexam hadfirst learned from a book--the streets being, for pupils of his degree, the greatpreparatory establishment in which very much that is never unlearned is learned without and before book--was a miserableloft in an unsavoury yard. its atmosphere was oppressive anddisagreeable; it was crowded, noisy, and confusing; half the pupils dropped asleep,or fell into a state of waking stupefaction; the other half kept them in
either condition by maintaining amonotonous droning noise, as if they were performing, out of time and tune, on aruder sort of bagpipe. the teachers, animated solely by goodintentions, had no idea of execution, and a lamentable jumble was the upshot of theirkind endeavours. it was a school for all ages, and for bothsexes. the latter were kept apart, and the formerwere partitioned off into square assortments. but, all the place was pervaded by a grimlyludicrous pretence that every pupil was childish and innocent.
this pretence, much favoured by the lady-visitors, led to the ghastliest absurdities. young women old in the vices of thecommonest and worst life, were expected to profess themselves enthralled by the goodchild's book, the adventures of little margery, who resided in the village cottage by the mill; severely reproved and morallysquashed the miller, when she was five and he was fifty; divided her porridge withsinging birds; denied herself a new nankeen bonnet, on the ground that the turnips did not wear nankeen bonnets, neither did thesheep who ate them; who plaited straw and
delivered the dreariest orations to allcomers, at all sorts of unseasonable times. so, unwieldy young dredgers and hulkingmudlarks were referred to the experiences of thomas twopence, who, having resolvednot to rob (under circumstances of uncommon atrocity) his particular friend and benefactor, of eighteenpence, presentlycame into supernatural possession of three and sixpence, and lived a shining lightever afterwards. (note, that the benefactor came to nogood.) several swaggering sinners had writtentheir own biographies in the same strain; it always appearing from the lessons ofthose very boastful persons, that you were
to do good, not because it was good, but because you were to make a good thing ofit. contrariwise, the adult pupils were taughtto read (if they could learn) out of the new testament; and by dint of stumblingover the syllables and keeping their bewildered eyes on the particular syllables coming round to their turn, were asabsolutely ignorant of the sublime history, as if they had never seen or heard of it. an exceedingly and confoundingly perplexingjumble of a school, in fact, where black spirits and grey, red spirits and white,jumbled jumbled jumbled jumbled, jumbled
every night. and particularly every sunday night. for then, an inclined plane of unfortunateinfants would be handed over to the prosiest and worst of all the teachers withgood intentions, whom nobody older would endure. who, taking his stand on the floor beforethem as chief executioner, would be attended by a conventional volunteer boy asexecutioner's assistant. when and where it first became theconventional system that a weary or inattentive infant in a class must have itsface smoothed downward with a hot hand, or
when and where the conventional volunteer boy first beheld such system in operation,and became inflamed with a sacred zeal to administer it, matters not. it was the function of the chiefexecutioner to hold forth, and it was the function of the acolyte to dart at sleepinginfants, yawning infants, restless infants, whimpering infants, and smooth their wretched faces; sometimes with one hand, asif he were anointing them for a whisker; sometimes with both hands, applied afterthe fashion of blinkers. and so the jumble would be in action inthis department for a mortal hour; the
exponent drawling on to my dearertchilderrenerr, let us say, for example, about the beautiful coming to the sepulchre; and repeating the word sepulchre(commonly used among infants) five hundred times, and never once hinting what itmeant; the conventional boy smoothing away right and left, as an infallible commentary; the whole hot-bed of flushedand exhausted infants exchanging measles, rashes, whooping-cough, fever, and stomachdisorders, as if they were assembled in high market for the purpose. even in this temple of good intentions, anexceptionally sharp boy exceptionally
determined to learn, could learn something,and, having learned it, could impart it much better than the teachers; as being more knowing than they, and not at thedisadvantage in which they stood towards the shrewder pupils. in this way it had come about that charleyhexam had risen in the jumble, taught in the jumble, and been received from thejumble into a better school. 'so you want to go and see your sister,hexam?' 'if you please, mr headstone.''i have half a mind to go with you. where does your sister live?'
'why, she is not settled yet, mr headstone.i'd rather you didn't see her till she is settled, if it was all the same to you.''look here, hexam.' mr bradley headstone, highly certificatedstipendiary schoolmaster, drew his right forefinger through one of the buttonholesof the boy's coat, and looked at it attentively. 'i hope your sister may be good company foryou?' 'why do you doubt it, mr headstone?''i did not say i doubted it.' 'no, sir; you didn't say so.' bradley headstone looked at his fingeragain, took it out of the buttonhole and
looked at it closer, bit the side of it andlooked at it again. 'you see, hexam, you will be one of us. in good time you are sure to pass acreditable examination and become one of us.then the question is--' the boy waited so long for the question,while the schoolmaster looked at a new side of his finger, and bit it, and looked at itagain, that at length the boy repeated: 'the question is, sir--?' 'whether you had not better leave wellalone.' 'is it well to leave my sister alone, mrheadstone?'
'i do not say so, because i do not know. i put it to you.i ask you to think of it. i want you to consider.you know how well you are doing here.' 'after all, she got me here,' said the boy,with a struggle. 'perceiving the necessity of it,'acquiesced the schoolmaster, 'and making up her mind fully to the separation. yes.' the boy, with a return of that formerreluctance or struggle or whatever it was, seemed to debate with himself.at length he said, raising his eyes to the master's face:
'i wish you'd come with me and see her, mrheadstone, though she is not settled. i wish you'd come with me, and take her inthe rough, and judge her for yourself.' 'you are sure you would not like,' askedthe schoolmaster, 'to prepare her?' 'my sister lizzie,' said the boy, proudly,'wants no preparing, mr headstone. what she is, she is, and shows herself tobe. there's no pretending about my sister.' his confidence in her, sat more easily uponhim than the indecision with which he had twice contended. it was his better nature to be true to her,if it were his worse nature to be wholly
selfish.and as yet the better nature had the stronger hold. 'well, i can spare the evening,' said theschoolmaster. 'i am ready to walk with you.''thank you, mr headstone. and i am ready to go.' bradley headstone, in his decent black coatand waistcoat, and decent white shirt, and decent formal black tie, and decentpantaloons of pepper and salt, with his decent silver watch in his pocket and its decent hair-guard round his neck, looked athoroughly decent young man of six-and-
twenty. he was never seen in any other dress, andyet there was a certain stiffness in his manner of wearing this, as if there were awant of adaptation between him and it, recalling some mechanics in their holidayclothes. he had acquired mechanically a great storeof teacher's knowledge. he could do mental arithmetic mechanically,sing at sight mechanically, blow various wind instruments mechanically, even playthe great church organ mechanically. from his early childhood up, his mind hadbeen a place of mechanical stowage. the arrangement of his wholesale warehouse,so that it might be always ready to meet
the demands of retail dealers history here,geography there, astronomy to the right, political economy to the left--natural history, the physical sciences, figures,music, the lower mathematics, and what not, all in their several places--this care hadimparted to his countenance a look of care; while the habit of questioning and being questioned had given him a suspiciousmanner, or a manner that would be better described as one of lying in wait.there was a kind of settled trouble in the face. it was the face belonging to a naturallyslow or inattentive intellect that had
toiled hard to get what it had won, andthat had to hold it now that it was gotten. he always seemed to be uneasy lest anythingshould be missing from his mental warehouse, and taking stock to assurehimself. suppression of so much to make room for somuch, had given him a constrained manner, over and above. yet there was enough of what was animal,and of what was fiery (though smouldering), still visible in him, to suggest that ifyoung bradley headstone, when a pauper lad, had chanced to be told off for the sea, he would not have been the last man in aship's crew.
regarding that origin of his, he was proud,moody, and sullen, desiring it to be forgotten. and few people knew of it.in some visits to the jumble his attention had been attracted to this boy hexam. an undeniable boy for a pupil-teacher; anundeniable boy to do credit to the master who should bring him on. combined with this consideration, there mayhave been some thought of the pauper lad now never to be mentioned. be that how it might, he had with painsgradually worked the boy into his own
school, and procured him some offices todischarge there, which were repaid with food and lodging. such were the circumstances that hadbrought together, bradley headstone and young charley hexam that autumn evening. autumn, because full half a year had comeand gone since the bird of prey lay dead upon the river-shore. the schools--for they were twofold, as thesexes--were down in that district of the flat country tending to the thames, wherekent and surrey meet, and where the railways still bestride the market-gardensthat will soon die under them.
the schools were newly built, and therewere so many like them all over the country, that one might have thought thewhole were but one restless edifice with the locomotive gift of aladdin's palace. they were in a neighbourhood which lookedlike a toy neighbourhood taken in blocks out of a box by a child of particularlyincoherent mind, and set up anyhow; here, one side of a new street; there, a large solitary public-house facing nowhere; here,another unfinished street already in ruins; there, a church; here, an immense newwarehouse; there, a dilapidated old country villa; then, a medley of black ditch,
sparkling cucumber-frame, rank field,richly cultivated kitchen-garden, brick viaduct, arch-spanned canal, and disorderof frowziness and fog. as if the child had given the table a kick,and gone to sleep. but, even among school-buildings, school-teachers, and school-pupils, all according to pattern and all engendered in the lightof the latest gospel according to monotony, the older pattern into which so many fortunes have been shaped for good andevil, comes out. it came out in miss peecher theschoolmistress, watering her flowers, as mr bradley headstone walked forth.
it came out in miss peecher theschoolmistress, watering the flowers in the little dusty bit of garden attached to hersmall official residence, with little windows like the eyes in needles, and little doors like the covers of school-books. small, shining, neat, methodical, and buxomwas miss peecher; cherry-cheeked and tuneful of voice. a little pincushion, a little housewife, alittle book, a little workbox, a little set of tables and weights and measures, and alittle woman, all in one. she could write a little essay on anysubject, exactly a slate long, beginning at
the left-hand top of one side and ending atthe right-hand bottom of the other, and the essay should be strictly according to rule. if mr bradley headstone had addressed awritten proposal of marriage to her, she would probably have replied in a completelittle essay on the theme exactly a slate long, but would certainly have replied yes. for she loved him.the decent hair-guard that went round his neck and took care of his decent silverwatch was an object of envy to her. so would miss peecher have gone round hisneck and taken care of him. of him, insensible.because he did not love miss peecher.
miss peecher's favourite pupil, whoassisted her in her little household, was in attendance with a can of water toreplenish her little watering-pot, and sufficiently divined the state of miss peecher's affections to feel it necessarythat she herself should love young charley hexam. so, there was a double palpitation amongthe double stocks and double wall-flowers, when the master and the boy looked over thelittle gate. 'a fine evening, miss peecher,' said themaster. 'a very fine evening, mr headstone,' saidmiss peecher.
'are you taking a walk?' 'hexam and i are going to take a longwalk.' 'charming weather,' remarked miss peecher,for a long walk.' 'ours is rather on business than merepleasure,' said the master. miss peecher inverting her watering-pot,and very carefully shaking out the few last drops over a flower, as if there were somespecial virtue in them which would make it a jack's beanstalk before morning, called for replenishment to her pupil, who hadbeen speaking to the boy. 'good-night, miss peecher,' said themaster.
'good-night, mr headstone,' said themistress. the pupil had been, in her state ofpupilage, so imbued with the class-custom of stretching out an arm, as if to hail acab or omnibus, whenever she found she had an observation on hand to offer to miss peecher, that she often did it in theirdomestic relations; and she did it now. 'well, mary anne?' said miss peecher.'if you please, ma'am, hexam said they were going to see his sister.' 'but that can't be, i think,' returned misspeecher: 'because mr headstone can have no business with her.'mary anne again hailed.
'well, mary anne?' 'if you please, ma'am, perhaps it's hexam'sbusiness?' 'that may be,' said miss peecher.'i didn't think of that. not that it matters at all.' mary anne again hailed.'well, mary anne?' 'they say she's very handsome.' 'oh, mary anne, mary anne!' returned misspeecher, slightly colouring and shaking her head, a little out of humour; 'how oftenhave i told you not to use that vague expression, not to speak in that generalway?
when you say they say, what do you mean?part of speech they?' mary anne hooked her right arm behind herin her left hand, as being under examination, and replied:'personal pronoun.' 'person, they?' 'third person.''number, they?' 'plural number.''then how many do you mean, mary anne? two? or more?' 'i beg your pardon, ma'am,' said mary anne,disconcerted now she came to think of it; 'but i don't know that i mean more than herbrother himself.'
as she said it, she unhooked her arm. 'i felt convinced of it,' returned misspeecher, smiling again. 'now pray, mary anne, be careful anothertime. he says is very different from they say,remember. difference between he says and they say?give it me.' mary anne immediately hooked her right armbehind her in her left hand--an attitude absolutely necessary to the situation--andreplied: 'one is indicative mood, present tense, third person singular, verb activeto say. other is indicative mood, present tense,third person plural, verb active to say.'
'why verb active, mary anne?' 'because it takes a pronoun after it in theobjective case, miss peecher.' 'very good indeed,' remarked miss peecher,with encouragement. 'in fact, could not be better. don't forget to apply it, another time,mary anne.' this said, miss peecher finished thewatering of her flowers, and went into her little official residence, and took arefresher of the principal rivers and mountains of the world, their breadths, depths, and heights, before settling themeasurements of the body of a dress for her
own personal occupation. bradley headstone and charley hexam dulygot to the surrey side of westminster bridge, and crossed the bridge, and madealong the middlesex shore towards millbank. in this region are a certain little streetcalled church street, and a certain little blind square, called smith square, in thecentre of which last retreat is a very hideous church with four towers at the four corners, generally resembling somepetrified monster, frightful and gigantic, on its back with its legs in the air. they found a tree near by in a corner, anda blacksmith's forge, and a timber yard,
and a dealer's in old iron. what a rusty portion of a boiler and agreat iron wheel or so meant by lying half- buried in the dealer's fore-court, nobodyseemed to know or to want to know. like the miller of questionable jollity inthe song, they cared for nobody, no not they, and nobody cared for them. after making the round of this place, andnoting that there was a deadly kind of repose on it, more as though it had takenlaudanum than fallen into a natural rest, they stopped at the point where the street and the square joined, and where there weresome little quiet houses in a row.
to these charley hexam finally led the way,and at one of these stopped. 'this must be where my sister lives, sir. this is where she came for a temporarylodging, soon after father's death.' 'how often have you seen her since?' 'why, only twice, sir,' returned the boy,with his former reluctance; 'but that's as much her doing as mine.''how does she support herself?' 'she was always a fair needlewoman, and shekeeps the stockroom of a seaman's outfitter.''does she ever work at her own lodging here?'
'sometimes; but her regular hours andregular occupation are at their place of business, i believe, sir.this is the number.' the boy knocked at a door, and the doorpromptly opened with a spring and a click. a parlour door within a small entry stoodopen, and disclosed a child--a dwarf--a girl--a something--sitting on a little lowold-fashioned arm-chair, which had a kind of little working bench before it. 'i can't get up,' said the child, 'becausemy back's bad, and my legs are queer. but i'm the person of the house.''who else is at home?' asked charley hexam, staring.
'nobody's at home at present,' returned thechild, with a glib assertion of her dignity, 'except the person of the house.what did you want, young man?' 'i wanted to see my sister.' 'many young men have sisters,' returned thechild. 'give me your name, young man?' the queer little figure, and the queer butnot ugly little face, with its bright grey eyes, were so sharp, that the sharpness ofthe manner seemed unavoidable. as if, being turned out of that mould, itmust be sharp. 'hexam is my name.''ah, indeed?' said the person of the house.
'i thought it might be. your sister will be in, in about a quarterof an hour. i am very fond of your sister.she's my particular friend. take a seat. and this gentleman's name?''mr headstone, my schoolmaster.' 'take a seat.and would you please to shut the street door first? i can't very well do it myself; because myback's so bad, and my legs are so queer.' they complied in silence, and the littlefigure went on with its work of gumming or
gluing together with a camel's-hair brushcertain pieces of cardboard and thin wood, previously cut into various shapes. the scissors and knives upon the benchshowed that the child herself had cut them; and the bright scraps of velvet and silkand ribbon also strewn upon the bench showed that when duly stuffed (and stuffing too was there), she was to cover themsmartly. the dexterity of her nimble fingers wasremarkable, and, as she brought two thin edges accurately together by giving them alittle bite, she would glance at the visitors out of the corners of her grey
eyes with a look that out-sharpened all herother sharpness. 'you can't tell me the name of my trade,i'll be bound,' she said, after taking several of these observations. 'you make pincushions,' said charley.'what else do i make?' 'pen-wipers,' said bradley headstone.'ha! ha! what else do i make? you're a schoolmaster, but you can't tellme.' 'you do something,' he returned, pointingto a corner of the little bench, 'with straw; but i don't know what.'
'well done you!' cried the person of thehouse. 'i only make pincushions and pen-wipers, touse up my waste. but my straw really does belong to mybusiness. try again.what do i make with my straw?' 'dinner-mats?' 'a schoolmaster, and says dinner-mats!i'll give you a clue to my trade, in a game of forfeits. i love my love with a b because she'sbeautiful; i hate my love with a b because she is brazen; i took her to the sign ofthe blue boar, and i treated her with
bonnets; her name's bouncer, and she lives in bedlam.--now, what do i make with mystraw?' 'ladies' bonnets?''fine ladies',' said the person of the house, nodding assent. 'dolls'.i'm a doll's dressmaker.' 'i hope it's a good business?'the person of the house shrugged her shoulders and shook her head. 'no. poorly paid.and i'm often so pressed for time! i had a doll married, last week, and wasobliged to work all night.
and it's not good for me, on account of myback being so bad and my legs so queer.' they looked at the little creature with awonder that did not diminish, and the schoolmaster said: 'i am sorry your fineladies are so inconsiderate.' 'it's the way with them,' said the personof the house, shrugging her shoulders again. 'and they take no care of their clothes,and they never keep to the same fashions a month.i work for a doll with three daughters. bless you, she's enough to ruin herhusband!' the person of the house gave a weird littlelaugh here, and gave them another look out
of the corners of her eyes. she had an elfin chin that was capable ofgreat expression; and whenever she gave this look, she hitched this chin up.as if her eyes and her chin worked together on the same wires. 'are you always as busy as you are now?''busier. i'm slack just now.i finished a large mourning order the day before yesterday. doll i work for, lost a canary-bird.'the person of the house gave another little laugh, and then nodded her head severaltimes, as who should moralize, 'oh this
world, this world!' 'are you alone all day?' asked bradleyheadstone. 'don't any of the neighbouring children--?' 'ah, lud!' cried the person of the house,with a little scream, as if the word had pricked her.'don't talk of children. i can't bear children. i know their tricks and their manners.'she said this with an angry little shake of her tight fist close before her eyes. perhaps it scarcely required the teacher-habit, to perceive that the doll's
dressmaker was inclined to be bitter on thedifference between herself and other children. but both master and pupil understood it so.'always running about and screeching, always playing and fighting, always skip-skip-skipping on the pavement and chalking it for their games! oh! i know their tricks and their manners!'shaking the little fist as before. 'and that's not all. ever so often calling names in through aperson's keyhole, and imitating a person's back and legs.oh! i know their tricks and their manners.
and i'll tell you what i'd do, to punish'em. there's doors under the church in thesquare--black doors, leading into black vaults. well!i'd open one of those doors, and i'd cram 'em all in, and then i'd lock the door andthrough the keyhole i'd blow in pepper.' 'what would be the good of blowing inpepper?' asked charley hexam. 'to set 'em sneezing,' said the person ofthe house, 'and make their eyes water. and when they were all sneezing andinflamed, i'd mock 'em through the keyhole. just as they, with their tricks and theirmanners, mock a person through a person's
keyhole!' an uncommonly emphatic shake of her littlefist close before her eyes, seemed to ease the mind of the person of the house; forshe added with recovered composure, 'no, no, no. no children for me.give me grown-ups.' it was difficult to guess the age of thisstrange creature, for her poor figure furnished no clue to it, and her face wasat once so young and so old. twelve, or at the most thirteen, might benear the mark. 'i always did like grown-ups,' she went on,'and always kept company with them.
so sensible. sit so quiet.don't go prancing and capering about! and i mean always to keep among none butgrown-ups till i marry. i suppose i must make up my mind to marry,one of these days.' she listened to a step outside that caughther ear, and there was a soft knock at the door. pulling at a handle within her reach, shesaid, with a pleased laugh: 'now here, for instance, is a grown-up that's myparticular friend!' and lizzie hexam in a black dress entered the room.
'charley! you!'taking him to her arms in the old way--of which he seemed a little ashamed--she sawno one else. 'there, there, there, liz, all right mydear. see! here's mr headstone come with me.' her eyes met those of the schoolmaster, whohad evidently expected to see a very different sort of person, and a murmuredword or two of salutation passed between them. she was a little flurried by the unexpectedvisit, and the schoolmaster was not at his ease.but he never was, quite.
'i told mr headstone you were not settled,liz, but he was so kind as to take an interest in coming, and so i brought him.how well you look!' bradley seemed to think so. 'ah! don't she, don't she?' cried theperson of the house, resuming her occupation, though the twilight was fallingfast. 'i believe you she does! but go on with your chat, one and all: you one two three, my com-pa-nie,and don't mind me.' --pointing this impromptu rhyme with threepoints of her thin fore-finger.
'i didn't expect a visit from you,charley,' said his sister. 'i supposed that if you wanted to see meyou would have sent to me, appointing me to come somewhere near the school, as i didlast time. i saw my brother near the school, sir,' tobradley headstone, 'because it's easier for me to go there, than for him to come here.i work about midway between the two places.' 'you don't see much of one another,' saidbradley, not improving in respect of ease. 'no.'with a rather sad shake of her head. 'charley always does well, mr headstone?'
'he could not do better.i regard his course as quite plain before him.''i hoped so. i am so thankful. so well done of you, charley dear!it is better for me not to come (except when he wants me) between him and hisprospects. you think so, mr headstone?' conscious that his pupil-teacher waslooking for his answer, that he himself had suggested the boy's keeping aloof from thissister, now seen for the first time face to face, bradley headstone stammered:
'your brother is very much occupied, youknow. he has to work hard. one cannot but say that the less hisattention is diverted from his work, the better for his future.when he shall have established himself, why then--it will be another thing then.' lizzie shook her head again, and returned,with a quiet smile: 'i always advised him as you advise him.did i not, charley?' 'well, never mind that now,' said the boy. 'how are you getting on?''very well, charley.
i want for nothing.''you have your own room here?' 'oh yes. upstairs.and it's quiet, and pleasant, and airy.' 'and she always has the use of this roomfor visitors,' said the person of the house, screwing up one of her little bonyfists, like an opera-glass, and looking through it, with her eyes and her chin inthat quaint accordance. 'always this room for visitors; haven'tyou, lizzie dear?' it happened that bradley headstone noticeda very slight action of lizzie hexam's hand, as though it checked the doll'sdressmaker.
and it happened that the latter noticed himin the same instant; for she made a double eyeglass of her two hands, looked at himthrough it, and cried, with a waggish shake of her head: 'aha! caught you spying, didi?' it might have fallen out so, any way; butbradley headstone also noticed that immediately after this, lizzie, who had nottaken off her bonnet, rather hurriedly proposed that as the room was getting darkthey should go out into the air. they went out; the visitors saying good-night to the doll's dressmaker, whom they left, leaning back in her chair with herarms crossed, singing to herself in a sweet thoughtful little voice.
'i'll saunter on by the river,' saidbradley. 'you will be glad to talk together.' as his uneasy figure went on before themamong the evening shadows, the boy said to his sister, petulantly:'when are you going to settle yourself in some christian sort of place, liz? i thought you were going to do it beforenow.' 'i am very well where i am, charley.''very well where you are! i am ashamed to have brought mr headstonewith me. how came you to get into such company asthat little witch's?'
'by chance at first, as it seemed, charley. but i think it must have been by somethingmore than chance, for that child--you remember the bills upon the walls at home?''confound the bills upon the walls at home! i want to forget the bills upon the wallsat home, and it would be better for you to do the same,' grumbled the boy.'well; what of them?' 'this child is the grandchild of the oldman.' 'what old man?''the terrible drunken old man, in the list slippers and the night-cap.' the boy asked, rubbing his nose in a mannerthat half expressed vexation at hearing so
much, and half curiosity to hear more: 'howcame you to make that out? what a girl you are!' 'the child's father is employed by thehouse that employs me; that's how i came to know it, charley. the father is like his own father, a weakwretched trembling creature, falling to pieces, never sober.but a good workman too, at the work he does. the mother is dead.this poor ailing little creature has come to be what she is, surrounded by drunkenpeople from her cradle--if she ever had
one, charley.' 'i don't see what you have to do with her,for all that,' said the boy. 'don't you, charley?'the boy looked doggedly at the river. they were at millbank, and the river rolledon their left. his sister gently touched him on theshoulder, and pointed to it. 'any compensation--restitution--never mindthe word, you know my meaning. father's grave.'but he did not respond with any tenderness. after a moody silence he broke out in anill-used tone: 'it'll be a very hard thing, liz, if, wheni am trying my best to get up in the world,
you pull me back.' 'i, charley?''yes, you, liz. why can't you let bygones be bygones? why can't you, as mr headstone said to methis very evening about another matter, leave well alone? what we have got to do, is, to turn ourfaces full in our new direction, and keep straight on.''and never look back? not even to try to make some amends?' 'you are such a dreamer,' said the boy,with his former petulance.
'it was all very well when we sat beforethe fire--when we looked into the hollow down by the flare--but we are looking intothe real world, now.' 'ah, we were looking into the real worldthen, charley!' 'i understand what you mean by that, butyou are not justified in it. i don't want, as i raise myself to shakeyou off, liz. i want to carry you up with me.that's what i want to do, and mean to do. i know what i owe you. i said to mr headstone this very evening,"after all, my sister got me here." well, then.don't pull me back, and hold me down.
that's all i ask, and surely that's notunconscionable.' she had kept a steadfast look upon him, andshe answered with composure: 'i am not here selfishly, charley. to please myself i could not be too farfrom that river.' 'nor could you be too far from it to pleaseme. let us get quit of it equally. why should you linger about it any morethan i? i give it a wide berth.' 'i can't get away from it, i think,' saidlizzie, passing her hand across her
forehead.'it's no purpose of mine that i live by it still.' 'there you go, liz!dreaming again! you lodge yourself of your own accord in ahouse with a drunken--tailor, i suppose--or something of the sort, and a little crookedantic of a child, or old person, or whatever it is, and then you talk as if youwere drawn or driven there. now, do be more practical.' she had been practical enough with him, insuffering and striving for him; but she only laid her hand upon his shoulder--notreproachfully--and tapped it twice or
thrice. she had been used to do so, to soothe himwhen she carried him about, a child as heavy as herself.tears started to his eyes. 'upon my word, liz,' drawing the back ofhis hand across them, 'i mean to be a good brother to you, and to prove that i knowwhat i owe you. all i say is, that i hope you'll controlyour fancies a little, on my account. i'll get a school, and then you must comeand live with me, and you'll have to control your fancies then, so why not now? now, say i haven't vexed you.''you haven't, charley, you haven't.'
'and say i haven't hurt you.''you haven't, charley.' but this answer was less ready. 'say you are sure i didn't mean to.come! there's mr headstone stopping and lookingover the wall at the tide, to hint that it's time to go. kiss me, and tell me that you know i didn'tmean to hurt you.' she told him so, and they embraced, andwalked on and came up with the schoolmaster. 'but we go your sister's way,' he remarked,when the boy told him he was ready.
and with his cumbrous and uneasy action hestiffly offered her his arm. her hand was just within it, when she drewit back. he looked round with a start, as if hethought she had detected something that repelled her, in the momentary touch. 'i will not go in just yet,' said lizzie.'and you have a distance before you, and will walk faster without me.' being by this time close to vauxhallbridge, they resolved, in consequence, to take that way over the thames, and theyleft her; bradley headstone giving her his hand at parting, and she thanking him forhis care of her brother.
the master and the pupil walked on, rapidlyand silently. they had nearly crossed the bridge, when agentleman came coolly sauntering towards them, with a cigar in his mouth, his coatthrown back, and his hands behind him. something in the careless manner of thisperson, and in a certain lazily arrogant air with which he approached, holdingpossession of twice as much pavement as another would have claimed, instantlycaught the boy's attention. as the gentleman passed the boy looked athim narrowly, and then stood still, looking after him. 'who is it that you stare after?' askedbradley.
'why!' said the boy, with a confused andpondering frown upon his face, 'it is that wrayburn one!' bradley headstone scrutinized the boy asclosely as the boy had scrutinized the gentleman. 'i beg your pardon, mr headstone, but icouldn't help wondering what in the world brought him here!' though he said it as if his wonder werepast--at the same time resuming the walk-- it was not lost upon the master that helooked over his shoulder after speaking, and that the same perplexed and ponderingfrown was heavy on his face.
'you don't appear to like your friend,hexam?' 'i don't like him,' said the boy. 'why not?''he took hold of me by the chin in a precious impertinent way, the first time iever saw him,' said the boy. 'again, why?' 'for nothing.or--it's much the same--because something i happened to say about my sister didn'thappen to please him.' 'then he knows your sister?' 'he didn't at that time,' said the boy,still moodily pondering.
'does now?' the boy had so lost himself that he lookedat mr bradley headstone as they walked on side by side, without attempting to replyuntil the question had been repeated; then he nodded and answered, 'yes, sir.' 'going to see her, i dare say.''it can't be!' said the boy, quickly. 'he doesn't know her well enough.i should like to catch him at it!' when they had walked on for a time, morerapidly than before, the master said, clasping the pupil's arm between the elbowand the shoulder with his hand: 'you were going to tell me something aboutthat person.
what did you say his name was?''wrayburn. mr eugene wrayburn. he is what they call a barrister, withnothing to do. the first time he came to our old place waswhen my father was alive. he came on business; not that it was hisbusiness--he never had any business--he was brought by a friend of his.''and the other times?' 'there was only one other time that i knowof. when my father was killed by accident, hechanced to be one of the finders. he was mooning about, i suppose, takingliberties with people's chins; but there he
was, somehow. he brought the news home to my sister earlyin the morning, and brought miss abbey potterson, a neighbour, to help break it toher. he was mooning about the house when i wasfetched home in the afternoon--they didn't know where to find me till my sister couldbe brought round sufficiently to tell them- -and then he mooned away.' 'and is that all?''that's all, sir.' bradley headstone gradually released theboy's arm, as if he were thoughtful, and they walked on side by side as before.
after a long silence between them, bradleyresumed the talk. 'i suppose--your sister--' with a curiousbreak both before and after the words, 'has received hardly any teaching, hexam?' 'hardly any, sir.''sacrificed, no doubt, to her father's objections.i remember them in your case. yet--your sister--scarcely looks or speakslike an ignorant person.' 'lizzie has as much thought as the best, mrheadstone. too much, perhaps, without teaching. i used to call the fire at home, her books,for she was always full of fancies--
sometimes quite wise fancies, considering--when she sat looking at it.' 'i don't like that,' said bradleyheadstone. his pupil was a little surprised by thisstriking in with so sudden and decided and emotional an objection, but took it as aproof of the master's interest in himself. it emboldened him to say: 'i have never brought myself to mention itopenly to you, mr headstone, and you're my witness that i couldn't even make up mymind to take it from you before we came out to-night; but it's a painful thing to think that if i get on as well as you hope, ishall be--i won't say disgraced, because i
don't mean disgraced-but--rather put to theblush if it was known--by a sister who has been very good to me.' 'yes,' said bradley headstone in a slurringway, for his mind scarcely seemed to touch that point, so smoothly did it glide toanother, 'and there is this possibility to consider. some man who had worked his way might cometo admire--your sister--and might even in time bring himself to think of marrying--your sister--and it would be a sad drawback and a heavy penalty upon him, if; overcoming in his mind other inequalitiesof condition and other considerations
against it, this inequality and thisconsideration remained in full force.' 'that's much my own meaning, sir.' 'ay, ay,' said bradley headstone, 'but youspoke of a mere brother. now, the case i have supposed would be amuch stronger case; because an admirer, a husband, would form the connexionvoluntarily, besides being obliged to proclaim it: which a brother is not. after all, you know, it must be said of youthat you couldn't help yourself: while it would be said of him, with equal reason,that he could.' 'that's true, sir.
sometimes since lizzie was left free byfather's death, i have thought that such a young woman might soon acquire more thanenough to pass muster. and sometimes i have even thought thatperhaps miss peecher--' 'for the purpose, i would advise not misspeecher,' bradley headstone struck in with a recurrence of his late decision ofmanner. 'would you be so kind as to think of it forme, mr headstone?' 'yes, hexam, yes.i'll think of it. i'll think maturely of it. i'll think well of it.'their walk was almost a silent one
afterwards, until it ended at the school-house. there, one of neat miss peecher's littlewindows, like the eyes in needles, was illuminated, and in a corner near it satmary anne watching, while miss peecher at the table stitched at the neat little body she was making up by brown paper patternfor her own wearing. n.b. miss peecher and miss peecher's pupils werenot much encouraged in the unscholastic art of needlework, by government.mary anne with her face to the window, held her arm up.
'well, mary anne?''mr headstone coming home, ma'am.' in about a minute, mary anne again hailed.'yes, mary anne?' 'gone in and locked his door, ma'am.' miss peecher repressed a sigh as shegathered her work together for bed, and transfixed that part of her dress where herheart would have been if she had had the dress on, with a sharp, sharp needle.