R. D. (Richard Doddridge) Blackmore.

The remarkable history of Sir Thomas Upmore, bart., M.P., formerly known as Tommy Upmore (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryR. D. (Richard Doddridge) BlackmoreThe remarkable history of Sir Thomas Upmore, bart., M.P., formerly known as Tommy Upmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 4 of 15)
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I like to feel things, with my own hands. There,
what a fuss about nothing ! Now go on. How
wonderfully fortune favours you ! I have heard
it so often, and now I can see it. Try that
corner, there is always something there. Eoly
caught a fine silver mullet there, last summer ;
and I caught a little fish, we didn't know the
name of."

"Let me try to smile nicely," I said to myself ;
" I always get the best luck when I smile. Cause
and effect are always hugging one another. To
doubt one's luck, is to doubt it nearly always. T
want to impress her with my good luck, for what
impression is more favourable ? Faint heai-t
never won fairy prawns. That corner looks full
of miraculous draught."

" Oh, please to let go — let go. Miss Twcnti-


fold ! He may pull me in, Lut lie mustn't pull
in you."

For seeing me engaged with a mighty adver-
sary, my lovely companion rushed forward, and
put fair hands on the pole [of the net, because
my light figure was thrown off its balance, by
an unexpected weight and force.

" Whatever it is, you shall have all the glory,"
she answered, as she obeyed me; " only I was
afraid you were tumbling in."

*' So I will, if it is needful. I don't mean to
let him go," I exclaimed, as I set my heels
firmly in a ledge. " Here he comes ! What in
the W'Orld have we caught ? "

" A giant of a lobster, a perfect giant ! " She
was clapping her hands, with delight, as she
said it. " Oh, I never beheld such a monster in
my life ! And there never was any one, with
luck like yours. There, anybody else w'ould
have lost him but you."

*' I don't mean to lose him, if he murders me,"
I shouted, as I swung him out mightily, and
laid hold of him ; " oh, he has laid hold of me,
in the most inhuman manner ! Whatever shall
I do, to get out of his clutches ? "


For this trenchant radical had nipped me
by the wrist, with one mighty claw, and was
clutching about with the other, to embrace me
somewhere else.

" Oh, Tommy, take care of your nose," she
cried, forgetting all formality in fright; "oh,
what will your mother say, if you lose your
nose ? I know an old sailor, who has got the
mark now. There, that claw is harmless at any
rate. Now let us consider about the other."

She had cleverly pushed a large stone between
his unoccupied nippers ; but the villain lay
stubbornly on his back, in a great tussock of
weeds, s^n-eading his long whiskers, and dappled
joints, and lashing about the blue fans of his
tail, and exerting all the leverage of his body,
to drive his toothed fangs through my poor
wrist ; and if any one else had been there but
Laura, I should have roared with the violence of

" Oh, I am so sorry ! Oh, how very dreadful !
I w^ould not have had it happen, for all the
lobsters in the world." As she spoke she knelt
by me, and her cheek touched mine, and a


filiower of her hair came streammg clown, so that
I could put my lips to it.

" Let him pinch away as harxl as he pleases,"
I exclaimed, "he'll be tired before I am, of this

However, it w^as impossible not to feel, that
the position would be better without its draw-
backs. Even love's young dream may be
sweeter, without night-mare ; and painful is the
bravest smile of pain. With a quick thought,
she ran for the handle of her net, and slipping
it out of the socket, entered the taper end in at
the heel of the claw, and with the aid of my
other hand, unlocked my horny handcuff.




'' Now let US go back, as fast as we can," she
said, when she had wrapped up my wrist very
softly, with her muslin handkerchief — which I
took care never to restore to her; "the tide is
coming in, and if it gets to the point before us,
we shall have to go a mile inland. And I
declare, we have forgotten all about the Pro-
fessor's signal, which may have been waving for
an hour ! And perhaps my dear mother may
be waiting for us. But this unequalled lobster
will account for all delay. How quiet he is,
since we tied his claws ! I ought to beg your
pardon for the liberty I took, in calling you
' Tommy ; ' but I was in a fright, and it sounds
so very natural, because of the Professor ; and
Mamma is almost as bad as he is."


*' I will only ask you one thing," ^Yas my
answer ; *' try to be as bad, or as good, in that
way. Call me ' Tommy,' every time 3'ou spealw
Why, don't you remember when I put a new leg
to your doll ? And you gave me such a kiss,
that I have thought of it ever since. And you
said — ' You are to call me Lo, remember. All
the people I like best are to call me Lo. And I
think I like you best of almost everybody in the
world.' But of course you have forgotten all
that now."

" What extraordinary creatures children are ! "
she exclaimed, as if she w'ere the mother of the
"Lo"; and then she came nearer to me, and
said — " I remember that you were a great
favourite of mine ; and I don't like you not to
call me anything. But look, there goes the
great handkerchief! "

" You shall not get out of it like that ; " I
answered, with a little groan, as if my wrist was
in gi-eat pain, for fear of any wrath on her part.
" People should always understand each other ;
and how can they do that, without any names ?
You should call me 'Tommy,' upon all occasions;


because I am Tommy, and nothing else ; and
even the Exammers call me ' Tommy,' because
of my steering the eight so much. But it never
\vould do for me, to call you 'Laura,' except when
wo are quite by ourselves, you know ; or with only
the Professor, who never would tell, and I don't
suppose he would ever notice it. In general
society, I must call you ' Miss Twentifold.'
But in particular cases, now and then, I should
be very much obliged indeed, if I might, — just
to keep up the practice, as one might express it,
call you only ' Laura.' "

I would gladly have put something else before
"Laura;" but I thought this was far enough
to go just yet ; and it would make it all the nicer,
that her mother should not know it.

" Tommy," she replied, with as clear an in-
tonation of my friendly, and genial, but not
romantic name, as I ever yet was accosted with,
" I shall leave it entirely to your own discretion,
to call me what you like, and when you like.
And I see no possibility of harm in my calling
you, what all the Examiners at Oxford do.
They gave you the most lionourable class of all,


I hear ; because you never asked for it. The
Bishop says, that you might have beaten Mr.

This must have been an error on the Bishop's
part, or hers ; because there was no way to beat
a double-first then ; though now a man may go
into perhaps five and twenty firsts. But I did not
attempt to contradict her, after all her kindness.

" I hope, you have never seen Mr. Chumps ; "
I said, purposely making him as formal as I
could; for I knew that ii Bill Chumps came
down here, for canvassing purposes, or anything
else, he would be sure to get elected far in front
of me.

"Oh yes, I have," she said, "a very tail
gentleman, taller than Professor Megalow, or
Eoly ; but not to be compared with them, in any
other way. He has very red cheeks, and rather
high cheek bones, according to my recollection."

"And a nose that sticks up a good deal," I
replied. "Did you understand, when he came
down, that his father carries on the business
still ? Not that it matters, as we all think now,
from by any means a lofty point of view."


" It never came into my mind to ask," — and
herein her simplicity put me down — " anything
at all about his father. Why should I ? Eoly
brought him ; as ho brings anybod}-, who can be
of use to him in politics. It is not my place, to
have anything to say to them, except what is
expected from the people of the house. And
I believe he saved the life of my first cousin,
Lord Counterpagne ; and that alone would make
him no stranger here. But look ! If it were
possible for the Professor to be in a hurry, he
would be so now. We have been a long time,
and I am afraid he will be angry. Let us put
on steam — as Koly says."

I wanted no steam put on at present, but
found no fair means of preventing it ; and a few
quick steps brought us up to the pebble-bank,
under the cliff of the sacred relics.

''Aha ! " the Professor cried, coming down to
meet us, " no wonder I have waved my bandana
in vain. What a magnificent specimen ! And the
beauty of him is, that he is good to eat ; which,
alas ! was more than I could say for my specimen
in there ; when the lady superior of all the fish-


women of Happystowe asked me just noNv, bow I
meant to cook my bones. Sbe bas marcbed
away in sadness, at my dreadful waste of time.
However, at last, all is perfectly ready ; and I
would bave gone to work witbout you, except for
tbe dread of your reproacbes. We bave made
all tbe front quite safe, and tbe fissure at tbe
back is not extending. Tbe ligbt is good still ;
but we bave no time to lose."

"And my motber," asked Laura, "bas sbe
not come yet ? Sbe was to bave been bere, an
bour ago. Sbe will be so sorry, to see notbing of
tbe work ! "

" Sbe bas sent down a groom, witb a kind
little note, to say tbat sbe cannot come till five
o'clock, and begging me on no account to wait
for ber. I would gladly bave put it off until
to-morrow, but any cbange of weatber migbt
be fatal, or even a groundswell witb tbis spring-
tide, of wbicb tbere are some signs already.
Tbis rock, is not like tbe bard sandstone furtber
nortb, or even firm cbalk ; but a brittle con-
glomerate. We are not our own masters ; we
must set to work at once. Tommy, I will not


keep you long inside ; and Miss Twentifold
should stand behind this high-water mark."

He took off his hat, and laid it down upon the
shingle ; and then with a short tool of steel in
one hand, (something like what the police call
a " Jemmy," but forked at one end, and gouge-
shaped at the other) and a square of soft felt in
his left hand, he went into the cave, or rather
excavation ; and I (vvitli ray hat off) followed
him. There was plenty of light, when the eyes
got used to it; and I saw that the roof was
established with short slabs of wood, sup^Dorted
by timber props.

" Why, there can be no danger whatever," I
said, almost with some disappointment; "it is
as safe as the dome of St. Paul's, I am sure.
Of course, you know best, sir; but I should
have gone straight at it. Can you spare me a
tool to work with ? "

"No," he replied, "you must use no tool;
but only follow my directions. Why, what is
the matter with your wrist — the right one ? "

"Nothing, but a trifle of a pinch," I said;
" I can use it as well as ever, I assure you."


" Very well ; then watch me, but don't speak
loud. There is no danger now, as you truly
observe ; or else I would have kept you outside,
my Tommy. But you see that, to secure our
object without fracture, I have yet to dig out a
good bit of the shale — for it scarcely deserves
to be called rock. And when that is done, there
may be some little risk, because we cannot get
any shores behind it. From what you have
seen with me, you know at once, that the object
before us is no ijelvis, as Sir Eoland insists
upon calling it. All that part was easily
secured ; but I saw indications of continuance ;
and following them up, discovered these, — which
are very grand joints of the rertebrce. The
weight will be very considerable, and we must
try to preserve the articulations, which might
be injured, if we got it out piece-meal. All you
have to do is, to support the lower end, without
jerking it, lest it should drop from the jarring ;
while I release the upper part. Then with a
good heft, out we get it, with this felt under it,
to prevent abrasion. Barnes keeps his eyes on
the cliff outside, and will call us at once, if the



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Online LibraryR. D. (Richard Doddridge) BlackmoreThe remarkable history of Sir Thomas Upmore, bart., M.P., formerly known as Tommy Upmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 4 of 15)