Mrs. Tetterby always said " it was coming through, and then the
child would be herself; " and still it never did come through, and the
child continued to be somebody else.
The tempers of the little Tetterbys had sadly changed with a few
hours. Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby themselves were not more altered than
their offspring. Usually they were an unselfish, good-natured, yielding
little race, sharing short-commons when it happened (which was pretty
often) contentedly and even generously, and taking a great deal of
enjoyment out of a very little meat. But they were fighting now,
not only for the soap and water, but even for the breakfast which was
yet in perspective. The hand of every little Tetterby was against
the other little Tetterbys ; and even Johnny's hand the patient,
much-enduring, and devoted Johnny rose against the baby! Yes,
Mrs. Tetterby, going to the door by a mere accident, saw him viciously
pick out a weak place in the suit of armour where a slap would tell,
and slap that blessed child.
Mrs. Tetterby had him into the parlour by the collar, in that same
flash of time, and repaid him the assault with usury thereto.
' ; You brute, you murdering little boy,'* said Mrs. Tetterby. " Had
you the heart to do it ? "
334 The Haunted Man.
" Why don't her teeth come through, then," retorted Johnny, in a
loud rebellious voice, "instead of bothering me? How would you
like it yourself?"
" Like it, sir ! " said Mrs. Tetterby, relieving him of his dishonoured
" Yes, like it," said Johnny. " How would you ? Not at all. If
you was me, you'd go for a soldier. I will, too. There an't no babies
in the army."
Mr. Tetterby, who had arrived upon the scene of action, rubbed
his chin thoughtfully, instead of correcting the rebel, and seemed
rather struck by this view of a military life.
" I wish I was in the army myself, if the child's in the right," said
Mrs. Tetterby, looking at her husband, " for I have no peace of my
life here. I'm a slave a Virginia slave ; " some indistinct association
with their weak descent on the tobacco trade perhaps suggested this
aggravated expression to Mrs. Tetterby. " I never have a holiday, or
any pleasure at all, from year's end to year's end ! Why, Lord bless
and save the child," said Mrs. Tetterby, shaking the baby with an
irritability hardly suited to so pious an aspiration, " what's the matter
with her now ? "
Not being able to discover, and not rendering the subject much
clearer by shaking it, Mrs. Tetterby put the baby away in a cradle,
and, folding her arms, sat rocking it angrily with her foot.
" How you stand there, 'Dolphus," said Mrs. Tetterby to her husband.
" Why don't you do something ? "
" Because I don't care about doing anything," Mr. Tetterby replied.
" I am sure I don't," said Mrs. Tetterby.
" I'll take my oath I don't," said Mr. Tetterby.
A diversion arose here among Johnny and his five younger brothers,
who, in preparing the family breakfast table, had fallen to skirmishing
for the temporary possession of the loaf, and were buffeting one
another with great heartiness ; the smallest boy of all, with precocious
discretion, hovering outside the knot of combatants, and harassing
their legs. Into the midst of this fray, Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby both
precipitated themselves with great ardour, as if such ground were
the only ground on which they could now agree ; and having, with no
visible remains of their late soft-heartednoss, laid about them without
any lenity, and done much execution, resumed their former relative
" You had better read your paper than do nothing at all," said Mrs.
" What's there to read in a paper ? " returned Mr. Tetterby, with
" What ? " said Mrs. Tetterby. " Police."
" It's nothing to me," said Tetterby. " What do I care what people
do, or are done to ? "
" Suicides," suggested Mrs. Tetterby.
The Shadow on Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby. ^^
" No business of mine," replied her husband.
" Births, deaths, and marriages, are those nothing to you ? " said
"If the births were all over for good, and all to-day; and the
deaths were all to begin to come off to-morrow ; I don't see why it
should interest me, till I thought it was a-coming to my turn,"
grumbled Tetterby. " As to marriages, I've done it myself. I know
quite enough about them"
To judge from the dissatisfied expression of her face and manner,
Mrs. Tetterby appeared to entertain the same opinions as her husband ;
but she opposed him, nevertheless, for the gratification of quarrelling
" Oh, you're a consistent man," said Mrs. Tetterby, " an't you ?
You, with the screen of your own making there, made of nothing else
but bits of newspapers, which you sit and read to the children by the
half-tour together ! "
" Say used to, if you please," returned her husband. " You won't
find me doing so any more. I'm wiser, now."
" Bah ! wiser, indeed ! " said Mrs. Tetterby. " Are you better ? "
The question sounded some discordant note in Mr. Tetterby's
breast. He ruminated dejectedly, and passed his hand across and
across his forehead.
" Better ! " murmured Mr. Tetterby. " I don't know as any of us
are better, or happier either. Better, is it ? "
He turned to the screen, and traced about it with his finger, until
he found a certain paragraph of which he was in quest.
" This used to be one of the family favourites, I recollect," said
Tetterby, in a forlorn and stupid way, " and used to draw tears from
the children, and make 'em good, if there was any little bickering or
discontent among 'em, next to the story of the robin redbreasts in the
wood. ' Melancholy case of destitution. Yesterday a small man,
with a baby in his arms, and surrounded by half-a-dozen ragged little
ones, of various ages between ten and two, the whole of whom were
evidently in a famishing condition, appeared before the worthy
magistrate, and made the following recital : ' Ha ! I don't understand
it, I'm sure," said Tetterby ; " I don't see what it has got to do with
" How old and shabby he looks," said Mrs. Tetterby, watching him.
" I never saw such a change in a man. Ah ! dear me, dear me, dear
me, it was a sacrifice ! "
" What was a sacrifice ? " her husband sourly inquired.
Mi's. Tetterby shook her head ; and without replying in words,
raised a complete sea-storm about the baby, by her violent agitation
of the cradle.
" If you mean your marriage was a sacrifice, my good woman "
said her husband.
" I do mean it," said his wife.
336 The Haunted Man.
" Why, then I mean to say," pursued Mr. Tetterby, as sulkily and
surlily as she, " that there are two sides to that affair ; and that / was
the sacrifice ; and that I wish the sacrifice hadn't been accepted."
" I wish it hadn't, Tetterby, with all my heart and soul I do assure
you," said his wife. " You can't wish it more than I do, Tetterby."
" I don't know what I saw in her," muttered the newsman, " I'm
sure ; certainly, if I saw anything, it's not there now. I was think-
ing so, last night, after supper, by the fire. She's fat, she's ageing,
she won't bear comparison with most other women."
"He's common-looking, he has no air with him, he's small, he's
beginning to stoop, and he's getting bald," muttered Mrs. Tetterby.
" I must have been half out of my mind when I did it," muttered
" My senses must have forsook me. That's the only way in which
I can explain it to myself," said Mrs. Tetterby, with elaboration.
In this mood they sat down to breakfast. The little Tetterbys
were not habituated to regard that meal in the light of a sedentary
occupation, but discussed it as a dance or trot ; rather resembling a
savage ceremony, in the occasional shrill whoops ; aud brandishings of
bread and butter, with which it was accompanied, as well as in the
intricate filings off into the street and back again, and the hoppings
up and down the doorsteps, which were incidental to the performance.
In the present instance, the contentions between these Tetterby
children for the milk-and-water jug, common to all, which stood upon
the table, presented so lamentable an instance of angry passions risen
very high indeed, that it was an outrage on the memory of Doctor
Watts. It was not until Mr. Tetterby had driven the whole herd out
at the front door, that a moment's peace was secured ; and even that
was broken by the discovery that Johnny had surreptitiously come
back, and was at that instant choking in the jug like a ventriloquist,
in his indecent and rapacious haste.
" These children will be the death of me at last ! " said Mrs.
Tetterby, after banishing the culprit. " And the sooner the better, I
" Poor people," said Mr. Tetterby, " ought not to have children at
all. They give us no pleasure."
He was at that moment taking up the cup which Mrs. Tetterby
had rudely pushed towards him, and Mrs. Tetterby was lifting her
own cup to her lips, when they were both stopped, as if they were
" Here ! Mother ! Father ! " cried Johnny, running into the room.
" Here's Mrs. William coming down the street ! "
And if ever, since the world began, a young boy took a baby from
a cradle with the care of an old nurse, and hushed and soothed it
tenderly, ancl tottered away with it cheerfully, Johnny was that boy,
and Moloch was that baby, as they went out together !
Mr. Tetterby put down his cup ; Mrs. Tetterby put down her cup.
The Atmosphere brightens. 337
Mr. Tetterby rubbed bis forehead ; Mrs. Tetterby rubbed hers. Mr.
Tetterby's face began to smooth and brighten ; Mrs. Tetterby's began
to smooth and brighten.
" Why, Lord forgive me," said Mr. Tetterby to himself, " what evil
tempers have I been giving way to? What has been the matter here!"
" How could I ever treat him ill again, after all I said and felt last
night ! " sobbed Mrs. Tetterby, with her apron to her eyes.
" Am I a brute," said Mr. Tetterby, " or is there any good in me at
all ? Sophia ! My little woman ! "
" 'Dolphus dear," returned his wife.
" I I've been in a state of mind," said Mr. Tetterby, " that I can't
abear to think of, Sophy."
" Oh ! It's nothing to what I've been in, Dolf," cried his wife in a
great burst of grief. ,
" My Sophia," said Mr. Tetterby, " don't take on. I nev;r shall
forgive myself. I must have nearly broke your heart, I know."
" No, Dolf, no. It was me ! Me ! " cried Mrs. Tetterby.
" My little woman," said her husband, " don't. You make me
reproach myself dreadful, when you show such a noble spirit. Sophia,
my dear, you don't know what I thought. I showed it bad enough,
no doubt ; but what I thought, my little woman ! "
" Oh, dear Dolf, don't ! Don't ! " cried his wife.
" Sophia," said Mr. Tetterby, " I must reveal it. I couldn't rest in
my conscience unless I mentioned it. My little woman "
" Mrs. William's very nearly here ! " screamed Johnny at the door.
" My little woman, I wondered how," gasped Mr. Tetterby, support-
ing himself by his chair, " I wondered how I had ever admired you
I forgot the precious children you have brought about me, and
thought you didn't look as slim as I could wish. I I never gave a
recollection," said Mr. Tetterby, with severe self-accusation, " to the
cares you've had as my wife, and along of me and mine, when you
might have had hardly any with another man, who got on better and
was luckier than me (anybody might have found such a man easily I
am sure) ; and I quarrelled with you for having aged a little in the
rough years you have lightened for me. Can you believe it, my little
woman ? I hardly can myself."
Mrs. Tetterby, in a whirlwind of laughing and crying, caught his
face within her hands, and held it there.
" Oh, Dolf ! " she cried. " I am so happy that you thought so ; I
am so grateful that you thought so ! For I thought that you were
common-looking, Dolf ; and so you' are, my dear, and you may be the
commonest of all sights in my eyes, till you close them with your
own good hands. I thought that you were small; and so you are,
and I'll make much of you because you are, and more of you because
I love my husband. I thought that you began to stoop ; and so you
do, and you shall lean on me, and I'll do all I can to keep you up. I
thought there was no air about you ; but there is and it's the air of
The Haunted Man.
home, and that's the purest and the best there is, and GOD bless home
once more, and all belonging to it, Dolf ! "
" Hurrah ! Here's Mrs. William ! " cried Johnny.
So she was, and all the children with her ; and as she came in,
they kissed her, and kissed one another, and kissed the baby, and
kissed their father and mother, and then ran back and flocked and
danced about her, trooping on with her in triumph.
Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby were not a bit behind-hand in the warmth
of their reception. They were as much attracted to her as the
children were ; they ran towards her, kissed her hands, pressed round
her, could not receive her ardently or enthusiastically enough. She
came among them like the spirit of all goodness, affection, gentle
consideration, love, and domesticity.
" What ! are you all so glad to see me, too, this bright Christmas
morning ? " said Milly, clapping her hands in a pleasant wonder.
" Oh dear, how delightful this is ! "
More shouting from the children, more kissing, more trooping
round her, more happiness, more love, more joy, more honour, on all
sides, than she could bear.
Milly' s Reception. 339
" Oil dear ! " said Milly, " what delicious tears you make me shed.
How can I ever have deserved this! What have I done to be so
loved ? "
" Who can help it ! " cried Mr. Tetterby.
" Who can help it ! " cried Mrs. Tetterby.
" Who can help it ! " echoed the children, in a joyful chorus. And
they danced and trooped about her again, and clung to her, and laid
their rosy faces against her dress, and kissed and fondled it, and
could not fondle it, or her, enough.
<: I never was so moved," said Milly, drying her eyes, " as I have
been this morning. I must tell you, as soon as I can speak. Mr.
Eedlaw came to me at sunrise, and with a tenderness in his manner,
more as if I had been his darling daughter than myself, implored me
to go with him to where William's brother George is lying ill. We
went together, and all the way along he was so kind, and so subdued,
and seemed to put such trust and hope in me, that I could not help
crying with pleasure. When we got to the house, we met a woman
at the door (somebody had bruised and hurt her, I am afraid) who
caught me by the hand, and blessed me as I passed."
" She was right," said Mr. Tetterby. Mrs. Tetterby said she was
right. All the children cried out that she was right.
"Ah, but there's more than that," said Milly. "When we got
up-stairs, into the room, the sick man who had lain for hours in a
state from which no effort could rouse him, rose up in his bed, and,
bursting into tears, stretched out his arms to me, and said that he
had led a mis-spent life, but that he was truly repentant now, in his
sorrow for the past, which was all as plain to him as a great prospect,
from which a dense black cloud had cleared away, and that he
entreated me to ask his poor old father for his pardon and his blessing,
and to say a prayer beside his bed. And when I did so, Mr. Kedlaw
joined in it so fervently, and then so thanked and thanked me, and
thanked Heaven, that my heart quite overflowed, and I could have
done nothing but sob and cry, if the sick man had not begged me to
sit down by him, which made me quiet of course. As I sat there,
he held my hand in his until he sunk in a doze; and even then,
when I withdrew my hand to leave him to come here (which Mr.
Redlaw was very earnest indeed in wishing me to do), his hand felt
for mine, so that some one else was obliged to take my place and
make believe to give him my hand back. Oh dear, oh dear," said
Milly, sobbing. "How thankful and how happy I should feel, and
do feel, for all this ! "
While she was speaking, Eedlaw had come in, and, after pausing
for a moment to observe the group of which she was the centre, had
silently ascended . the stairs. Upon those stairs he now appeared
again; remaining there, while the young student passed him, and
came running down.
" Kind nurse, gentlest, best of creatures." he said, falling on his
340 The Haunted Man.
knee to her, and catching at her hand, "forgive my cruel ingrati-
tude ! "
" Oh dear, oh dear ! " cried Milly innocently, " here's another of
them ! Oh dear, here's somebody else who likes me. What shall I
ever do ! "
The guileless, simple way in which she said it, and in which she
put her hands before her eyes and wept for very happiness, was as
touching as it was delightful.
" I was not myself," he said. <: I don't know what it was it was
some consequence of my disorder perhaps I was mad. But I am so
no longer. Almost as I speak, I am restored. I heard the children cry-
ing out your name, and the shade passed from me at the very sound
of it. Oh don't weep ! Dear Milly, if you could read my heart, and
only knew with what affection and what grateful homage it is glowing,
you would not let me see you weep. It is such deep reproach."
" No, no," said Milly, " it's not that. It's not indeed. It's joy.
It's wonder that you should think it necessary to ask me to forgive so
little, and yet it's pleasure that you do."
" And will you come again ? and will you finish the little curtain ? "
" No," said Milly, drying her eyes, and shaking her head. " You
won't care for my needlework now."
<; Is it forgiving me, to say that ? "
She beckoned him aside, and whispered in his ear.
" There is news from your home, Mr. Edmund."
" News ? How ? "
" Either your not writing when you were very ill, or the change in
your handwriting when you began to be better, created some sus-
picion of the truth ; however that is but you're sure you'll not be
the worse for any news, if it's not bad news ? "
" Then there's some one come ! " said Milly.
"My mother?" asked the student, glancing round involuntarily
towards Iledlaw, who had come down from the stairs.
Hush ! No," said Milly.
" It can be no one else."
" Indeed," said Milly, " are you sure ? "
" It is not ." Before he could say more, she put her hand close
upon his mouth.
" Yes it is ! ' said Milly. " The young lady (she is very like the
miniature, Mr. Edmund, but she is prettier) was too unhappy to rest
without satisfying her doubts, and came up, last night, with a little
servant-maid. As you always dated your letters from the college, she
came there ; and before I saw Mr. Ecdlaw this morning, I saw her.
She, likes me too ! " said Milly. " Oh dear, that's another ? "
" This morning ! Where is she now ? "
" Why, she is now," said Milly, advancing her lips to his ear, " in
my little parlour in the Lodge, and waiting to see you.
A Far Better Gift. 341
He pressed her hand, and was darting off, but she detained him.
" Mr. Redlaw is much altered, and has told me this morning that
his memory is impaired. Be very considerate to him, Mr. Edmund ;
he needs that from us all."
The young man assured her, by a look, that her caution was not
ill-bestowed ; and as he passed the Chemist on his way out, bent re-
spectfully and with an obvious interest before him.
Kedlaw returned the salutation courteously and even humbly, and
looked after him as he passed on. He drooped his head upon his
hand too, as trying to reawaken something he had lost. But it was
The abiding change that had come upon him since the influence of
the music, and the Phantom's reappearance, was, that now he truly
felt how much he had lost, and could compassionate his own condition,
and contrast it, clearly, with the natural state of those who were
around him. In this, an interest in those who were around him was
revived, and a meek, submissive sense of his calamity was bred, re-
sembling that which sometimes obtains in age, when its mental powers
are weakened, without insensibility or sullenness being added to the
list of its infirmities.
He was conscious that, as he redeemed, through Milly, more and
more of the evil he had done, and as he was more and more with her,
this change ripened itself within him. Therefore, and because of the
attachment she inspired him with (but without other hope), he felt
that he was quite dependent on her, and that she was his staff in his
So, when she asked him whether they should go home now, to where
the old man and her husband were, and he jeadily replied " yes "
being anxious in that regard he put his arm through hers, and
walked beside her; not as if he were the wise and learned man to
whom the wonders of nature were an open book, and hers were the
uninstructed mind, but as if their two positions were reversed, and he
knew nothing, and she all.
He saw the children throng about her, and caress her, as he and
she went away together thus, out of the house ; he heard the ringing
of their laughter, and their merry voices ; he saw their bright faces,
clustering aroiind him like flowers ; he witnessed the renewed con-
tentment and affection of their parents ; he breathed the simple air
of their poor home, restored to its tranquillity; he thought of the
unwholesome blight he had shed upon it, and might, but for her,
have been diffusing then ; and perhaps it is no wonder that he walked
submissively beside her, and drew her gentle bosom nearer to his own.
When they arrived at the Lodge, the old man was sitting in his
chair in the chimney-corner, with his eyes fixed on the ground, and
his son was leaning against the opposite side of the fire-place, looking
at him. As she came in at the door, both started, and turned round
towards her, and a radiant change came upon their faces..
342 The Haunted Man.
" Oh dear, dear, dear, they are all pleased to see me like the rest ! "
cried Hilly, clapping her hands in an ecstasy, and stopping short.
" Here are two more ! "
Pleased to see her ! Pleasure was no word for it. She ran into
her husband's arms, thrown wide open to receive her, and he would
have been glad to have her there, with her head lying on his shoulder,
through the short winter's day. But the old man couldn't spare her.
He had arms for her too, and he locked her in them.
" Why, where has my quiet Mouse been all this time ? " said the
old man. " She has been a long while away. I find that it's im-
possible for me to get on without Mouse. I where's my son William ?
I fancy I have been dreaming, William."
" That's what I say myself, father," returned his son. " J have been
in an ugly sort of dream, I think. How are you, father ? Are you
pretty well ? "
" Strong and brave, my boy," returned the old man.
It was quite a sight to see Mr. William shaking hands with his
father, and patting him on the back, and rubbing him gently down
with his hand, as if he could not possibly do enough to show an
interest in him.
" What a wonderful man you are, father ! How are you, father ?
Are you really pretty hearty, though ? " said William, shaking hands
with him again, and patting him again, and rubbing him gently down
" I never was fresher or stouter in my life, my boy."
" What a wonderful man you are, father ! But that's exactly where
it is," said Mr. William, with enthusiasm. " When I think of all that
my father's gone through, and all the chances and changes, and sorrows
and troubles, that have happened to him in the course of his long life,
and under which his head has grown grey, and years upon years have
gathered on it, I feel as if we couldn't do enough to honour the old
gentleman, and make his old age easy. How are you, father ? Are
you really pretty well, though ? "
Mr. William might never have left off repeating this inquiry, and
shaking hands with him again, and patting him again, and rubbing
him down again, if the old man had not espied the Chemist, whom
until now he had not seen.
" I ask your pardon, Mr. Redlaw," said Philip, " but didn't know
you were here, sir, or should have made less free. It reminds me,
Mr. Redlaw, seeing you here on a Christmas morning, of the time
when you was a student yourself, and worked so hard that you was
backwards and forwards in our Library even at Christmas time. Ha !
ha ! I'm old enough to remember that ; and I remember it right
well, I do, though I am eighty-seven. It was after you left here that
my poor wife died. You remember my poor wife, Mr. Redlaw ? "
The Chemist answered yes.
" Yes " said the old man. " She was a dear creetur. I recollect