Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

11 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



CHAPTER II. What is aoMe ? To inherit W-ealth, estate, and proud degree ? There must be some higher merit, Higher yet than these for me! Something greater far must enter Into life's majestic span, Pitted to create and centre True nobility in man." U C. SWAIN. BRAHAM, the jeweller, collector of coins, and maker of medals, was an old man of the Jewish persuasion to make money had been his passion, his one great pleasure in life, and occasionally he was not over scrupulous by what means he increased his riches. It was often hinted that the old Jew would bargaia with receivers of stolen goods, and that the smelting-pot was always kept heated to convert precious metals into shapeless masses where there was any danger of his getting into trouble. Detectives had tried in vain, however, to bring home to him any complicity with the frequent robberies which were occurring in the neighbourhood. As he became older the worst phases of his character deepened and darkened. He impatiently endured rivalry in making his collections, and prided himself in possessing such rare specimens of ancient and mediaeval art that none other could obtain. Upon these he placed such an extraordinary value as appeared fabulous. He would sit for hours and gloat over his treasures. There were people, however, who remembered Braham young and handsome he was even then ardent in business, but he met honour- able men, and was accounted honourable himself; as his cupidity increased, his actions became less and less legitimate, until his character changed, and his fea- tures also, for his countenance now forcibly disclosed the nature of his mind-it was cold, forbidding, and mercenary. Poor Harrison had been repeatedly informed of the early haoits of his master, and old. customers would recount even kind and generous actions performed by him. As he walked from the doctor's room after the interview we have recorded in a previous chapter, he tried to picture to himself old Braham a good and honourable man; and for an hour he strolled up and down the streets meditating, until the church clocks striking twelve reminded him that it was time to seek rest. When he reached his humble cot he still meditated, an n a? the events of the past vears before he could fall into sleep. Then his mind reverted to himself, and he recalled that day, when, a vagabond in the streets, he picked out of the mud a splendid something, he knew not what, and found himself suddenly in the clutch, con- fronted by the glaring eyes of what might have been a tiger-but it proved to be a man. This man accused him of theft. Ragamuffin as he was, he justified himself, and pleaded innocence of crime, and was forthwith adopted into the service of the jeweller. What peculiar fitness was discovered in him at that instant for such a vocation he could not comprehend. How strangely this old man's aspect had changed since Ross Harrison came thus into his service How rapidly it had changed. Ross could have counted the steps by which the enthusiast had passed over into the dominion of monomaniacs. But let the reader be informed Braham had one child—a daughter. She was the child of his old age- beautiful, simple-hearted, pure. She had grown up cmder her father's eyes. His treasures were all under one roof. Below was the shop, the safe, the vault. Above the home, in which was his daughter. She was left in his hands an infant, motherless at three years of age. He had done all that a crusty old parent could be expected to do. But nature had done more. Nature unfolded a character of such rare gentleness, tenderness, grace, as man or woman could not fail to love. Old Braham loved her well. But then he was a maK who had more than one idea. He had two. His treasures and his daughter. If he must choose among his possessions, he would wrestle with every adversary Qf man in her behalf. But then he had her; felt Secure; and having her, he merely fell back on her as some men fall back on the thought of God-in ex- tremity. The first year of Harrison's employment in Braham's service, the house took fire one night, and was burned to the ground. Having secured his precious stock of coins, medals, jewels, and tools, Braham stood by unconcerned— his household goods might porish, for his idols were safe, and he was insured. Not so thought his daughter. He supposed her safe in the house of a friend—instead of this, however, she was flitting through the rooms, lading herself with relics, even when dangers threatened her on all sides. Like a fairy she was rushing hither and thither in the midst of flames. At length she was visible to the eye of Ross Harri- son. He saw her on the uppermost step of the burn- ing stair, and ran to her rescue. He brought her down from death, and he felt from that moment that she was his for life. From her unconscious hand he took the gem-encircled shekel she had picked up from the floor of her father's closet on her way to the stair. And again old Braham snatched from Ross that trea- sure which had years before formed the connecting link between him and his master. This time anger appeared in the place of fear on young Harrison's face. He began .to feel a. wrong, as if he had been robbed. But Braham was Naomi's father. Not long after the fire, a gentleman came into Braham's new shop. Braham was there alone. But in a solitary room adjoining, Ross sat polishing medals. It was simply impossible that he should avoid hear- ing the conversation that passed between his master and the stranger. This gentleman, it seemed, was in search of a rare coin he had lost. The particularity of his description left no doubt in the mind of Ross that this was the very coin with which, as it were, he had bought his present prosperity. For he was now no longer a vagrant—he was growing into manhood, into a know- ledge of business, into respectability. He had never but once seen the coin since Braham robbed him of it. For this appropriation was nothing but a robbery of course. He could not have described it with any exactness. But as he heard it described,. he knew his master could report thereof to the stranger. He was therefore curious to know whether Braham would produce the missing treasure. This, thought the young man, he would certainly do. Of course, the reader thinks so too. Not he. The old man was full of interest — of concern. He could appreciate such a loss! certainly! He might be relied on; if search could recover the coin, he had a system of detection that was nearly perfect. It should be brought to bear on this case. If the shekel were within a hundred miles, it would, doubt- less, come into his hands. He was full of hope, so he took the gentleman's card, and the interview closed with encouraging, oourteoua words, and great promises of reward. He professed not to know that he was a near neighbour, but Ross Harrison knew it well, and so did hia master. Instantly on his departure, Mr. Braham turned the key in its lock, and walked into the oloset that had been occupied by Ross Harrison. No Boss waa there. There was anxious uncertainty visible upon the old Jew's countenance. He looked about him suspiciously, uneasily; then he ran to the door of the stair that led into tha cellar, listened, wondered. Had he pursued his investigations down the stairs and through the vaults, it would still have been an unsuccessful search. What had become of Ross ? He had taken himself out of the closet and hidden. himself in a building far away. For there are secrets dangerous for a man to know; and he had his way to make. Besides, he lovfid Naomi Braham. Her beauty and gentleness had positively enchanted him; in fact, he was deeply in love. Was it her father who stood dishonourad before the young lover's eyes! He hid himself away from the discovery of the truth, from partnership in the evil—from other degradation which. might have fallen upon both their heads. He was honourable enou-gh to seek safety from shame In flight. But he trembled as be ran. He did not wish to face the danger in broad daylight, and stand or fall as his strong heart should determine. The fight would have been, if for'honour against love. How could he choose ? Love has come to be almost a common word. We use it to express the utmost worship and adoration of which Harrison's heart was capable. For him who had lived amongst raggj filth, all manner of abomination, to live near to | Naomi Braham, to work under the same roof that I sheltered her, was an exaltation that in his early life he never dreamed of. And so he ran away from an investigation that, one way or another, must have proved fatal. For her sake, the idol of his heart, he would sacrifice anything. What was Ross to do when he came out of his hiding-place ? He had the consciousness, for many a day, that his master suspected him-watched him. He felt that his foot was in a trap, that his hand was in a vice, and that a millstone hung about his neek. At length he gained self-possession, and so well did he bear himself through scrutiny, that the suspicion of the old man's mind ceased to indicate itself in any way. It finally ceased to exist. These things Ross Harrison had to think of during his midnight reflections. On his finger gleamed the serpent-crested carbuncle. Here he stood now, pledged to restore. He felt him- self to be under a suspicion. It was to him a curious state of things. If he betrayed his master, he sacri. ficed all hopes of happiness, for he would assuredly lose that which was dearer to him than life, whilst conscience told him that, if he withheld his knowledge from Dr. David he was a culpable wretch.


[No title]



[No title]

Money Market.

IThe Corn Trade

Cattle Market,

The Produce Market.

[No title]