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whenever they came too near, I could avoid them; for, from the peculiar formation of their feet, they cannot run on ice except in a right line. I immediately acted on this plan. The wolves, having regained their feet, sprang directly towards me. The race was renewed for twenty yards up the stream; they were29 already close on my back, when I glided round and dashed past them. A fierce howl greeted my evolution, and the wolves slipped upon their haunches, and again slid onward, presenting a perfect picture of baffled, blood-thirsty rage.
9. Thus I gained, at each turning, nearly a hundred yards. This was repeated two or three times, the wolves getting more excited every moment, until, coming opposite the house, a couple of stag-hounds, aroused by the noise, bayed furiously from their kennels. Quickly taking the hint, the wolves stopped in their mad career, turned skulkingly, and fled. I watched them till their dusky forms disappeared over a neighboring hill. Then, taking off my skates, I wended my way to the house, grateful to Providence for my escape, and determined never to trust myself again, if I could help it, within the reach of a gray/wolf.
III.—THE PARTICULAR LADY.
1. I Am far from being opposed theoretically" to habits of neatness and order; but we sometimes see a good propensity carried so far as to interfere with the comfort of others. Did you ever live with a particular lady ? — one possessed not simply with the spirit, but the demon of tidiness, — who will give you a two hours'141 lecture upon the sin of an untied shoe-string, and raise a hurricane about your ears on the enormity of a fractured glove? who will be struck speechless at the sight of a pin instead of a string, or set a whole house in an uproar, on finding a book on the table instead of in the book-case? Those who have had the misfortune to meet with such a person will know how to sympathize with me. I have passed two whole months with a particular lady.
2. I had often received very pressing invitations to visit an old school-fellow, who is settled in a snug parsonage, about fifty miles from town; but something or other was continually occurring to prevent me from availing myself of them. But, on the 17th of June (I shall never forget it, ifil live to the age of old Parr"), having a few spare weeks at my disposal, I set out for my chum's1' residence. He received me with his wonted cordiality; but I fancied that he looked a little more care-worn than, a man of thirty might be expected to look, — married as he is to the woman of his choice, and in the possession of an easy fortune.
3. Poor fellow! I did not know that his wife" was a precisian." The first hint I received of the fact was from Mr. S., who, removing my hat from the first peg in the hall to the fourth, observed, "My wife is a little particular in these matters; the first peg is for my hat, the second for William's, the third for Tom's, and you can reserve the fourth, if you please, for your own: ladies, you know, do not like to have their arrangements interfered with."
4. I promised to do my best to recollect the order of precedence with respect to the hats, and walked up stairs, impressed with an awful veneration for a lady who had contrived to impose so rigid a discipline on a man formerly the most disorderly of mortals. I mentally resolved to obtain her favor by the most studious observance of her wishes.
5. I might as well have determined to be Emperor of China! Before the week was at an end, I was a lost man. I always reckon myself tolerably tidy; never leaving more than half my clothes on the floor of my dressing-room, nor more than a dozen books about any apartment I may happen to occupy for an hour. I do not lose more than a dozen handkerchiefs in a month; nor have more than a quarter of an hour's hunt for my hat or gloves, whenever I am going out in a hurry.
6. I found all this was but as dust in the balance. The first35 time I sat down to dinner, I made a horrible blunder; for, in my haste to help my friend to some asparagus," I pulled a dish a little out of its place, thereby deranging the exact hexag'onal" order in which the said dishes were arranged. I discovered my mishap on hearing Mr. S. sharply rebuked for a similar offence.
7. Secondly, I sat, the whole evening, with the cushion a full finger's length beyond the cane-work of my chair; and, what is worse, I do not know that I should have been aware of my delinquency, if the agony of the lady's feelings had not overpowered every consideration, and at last compelled her to burst forth, —
"Excuse me, Mr. ,* but do, pray, put your cushion straight:
it annoys me beyond measure to see it otherwise!"
8. My third offence was displacing the snuffer-stand from its central position between the candlesticks;" my fourth, leaving a pamphlet I had been perusing on the pianoforte;" its proper place being a table in the middle of the room, on which all books
* In reading aloud, the word Blank may be sometimes substituted (as in this instance) for a mark of Ellipsis. See V 147, Fart I.
)n present use were ordered to repose; my fifth — but, in short, I should never have done, were I to enumerate every separate enormity of which I was guilty. My friend S.'s drawing-room has as good a right to exhibit54 a placard of "steel traps and spring guns" as any park I am acquainted with.
9. Even those " chartered libertines," the children and dogs, were taught to be as demure" and hypocritical as the matronly tabby-cat" herself, who sat with her two fore-feet together and her tail curled round her, as exactly as if she had been worked in an urn-rug, instead of being a living mouser. It was the utmost stretch of my friend's mar'ital" authority to get his favorite spaniel admitted to the honor of the parlorand even this privilege is only granted in his master's presence. If Carlo happens to pop his unlucky brown nose into the room when S. is from home, he retreats directly, with as much consciousness in his ears and tail as if he had been convicted of larceny in the kitchen, and anticipated the application of the broomstick.
10. As to the children, I believe that they look forward to their evening visit to the drawing-room" with much the same sort of feeling. Not that Mrs. S. is an unkind mother, or, I should rather say, not that she means to be so; but she has taken it into her head that, as young people have sometimes short memories, it is necessary to put them verbally in mind of their duties, "from morn till dewy33 eve."
11. So it is with her servants. If one of them leaves a broom or a duster out of its place for a second, she hears of it for a month afterwards. I wonder how they endure it! I have sometimes thought that, from long practice, they do not heed it, as a friend of mine who lives in a bustling street in the city tells me he does not hear the noise of the coaches and carts in front of his house, nor even of a brazier" who hammers away in his near neighborhood from morning till night.
12. The worst of it is, that while Mrs. S. never allows a moment's peace to her husband, children or servants, she thinks herself a jewel of a wife; but such jewels are too costly for everyday wear. I am sure poor S. thinks so in his heart, and would be content" to exchange half-a-dozen of his wife's tormenting good qualities, for the sake of being allowed a little commonplace repose.
13. I never shall forget the delight I felt on entering my own house, after enduring her thraldom" for two months. I abso'utely revelled in disorder. I tossed my hat one way, my gloves another; pushed all the chairs into the middle of the room, and narrowly escaped cuffing my faithful Christopher, for offering to put it "in order" again,— " straightening," as they call it in Cheshire. That awfuF "spirit of order!" For my own part, I do so execrate the phrase," that if I were a member of the House of Commons, and the "order "" of the day were called for, I should make it a " rule" to walk out.
LIII.—THE FATHER'S RETURN FROM A FOREIGN LAND.
1. 0 Joyful hour when to our longing home
The long-expected wheels at length drew nigh!
And hope's impatience quickened every eye.
2. Aloft on yonder bench, with arms dispread,
My boy stood, shouting there his father's name,
And there, a younger group/3 his sisters came;
3. Soon each and all came crowding round to share
The cordial greeting, the beloved31 sight;
And when those overflowings of delight
4. Bring forth the treasures now, — a proud display,—
For rich as Eastern merchants we return!
The Friars" whose heads with sober motion turn;
5. The tumbler," loose of limb; the wrestlers twain;
And many a toy beside of quaint" device,
Their pasture on the mountains hoar with ice,—
i. It was a group which Richter," had he viewed,
7. The aged friend serene, with quiet smile,
Who in their pleasure finds her own delight;
8. Scoff ye who will! but let me, gracious Heaven, Preserve this boyish heart tilllife's last day!For so that inward light by nature given Shall still direct and cheer me on my way,
LIV. — THE CARRIER-PIGEON."
The bird, let loose in Eastern skies, when hastening fondly home, Ne'er stoops to earth her wing, nor flies where idle warblers roam; But high she shoots through air and light, above all low delay, Where nothing earthly bounds her flight, nor shadow dims her waf.
*v^iNSo grant me, God, from every care and stain of passion free, Aloft, tbjoualfcVrirtHe's purer air, to hold my course to thee; No sin to cloucr^poJure to staym my Soul, as home phe springs;— Thy Sunshine on henjoyful way, thy Freedom in her wings!
LV. — ODE TO PEACE.
1. Come, Peace of Mind, delightful guest!
Once more in this sad heart;
We therefore need not part.
2. Where wilt thou dwell, if not with me,
And pleasure's fatal wiles?
The banquet of thy smiles?
3. The great, the gay, shall they partake