The Caxtons — Volume 16
35 Pages
English
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The Caxtons — Volume 16

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35 Pages
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The Project Gutenberg EBook The Caxtons, by Bulwer-Lytton, Part 16 #30 in our series by Edward Bulwer-LyttonCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country beforedownloading or redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom ofthis file. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. Youcan also find out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****Title: The Caxtons, Part 16Author: Edward Bulwer-LyttonRelease Date: March 2005 [EBook #7602] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was firstposted on January 10, 2003]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE CAXTONS, BY LYTTON, PART 16 ***This eBook was produced by Pat Castevens and David Widger PART XVI.CHAPTER I."Please, sir, be this note for you?" asked the waiter."For me,—yes; it is my name."I did not recognize ...

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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE CAXTONS, BY LYTTON, PART 16 ***
This eBook was produced by Pat Castevens and David Widger <widger@cecomet.net>
**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts** **EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971** *****These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****
Title: The Caxtons, Part 16 Author: Edward Bulwer-Lytton Release Date: March 2005 [EBook #7602] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on January 10, 2003] Edition: 10 Language: English
PART XVI.
CHAPTER I.
"Please, sir, be this note for you?" asked the waiter. "For me,—yes; it is my name." I did not recognize the handwriting, and yet the note was from one whose writing I had often seen. But formerly the writing was cramped, stiff, perpendicular (a feigned hand, though I guessed not it was feigned); now it was hasty, irregular, impatient, scarce a letter formed, scarce a word that seemed finished, and yet strangely legible withal, as the hand writing of a bold man almost always is. I opened the note listlessly, and read,— "I have watched for you all the morning. I saw her go. Well! I did not throw myself under the hoofs of the horses. I write this in a public- house, not far. Will you follow the bearer, and see once again the outcast whom all the rest of the world will shun?" Though I did not recognize the hand, there could be no doubt who was the writer. "The boy wants to know if there's an answer," said the waiter. I nodded, took up my hat, and left the room. A ragged boy was standing in the yard, and scarcely six words passed between us before I was following him through a narrow lane that faced the inn and terminated in a turnstile. Here the boy paused, and making me a sign to go on, went back his way whistling. I passed the turnstile, and found myself in a green field, with a row of stunted willows hanging over a narrow rill. I looked round, and saw Vivian (as I intend still to call him) half kneeling, and seemingly intent upon some object in the grass. My eye followed his mechanically. A young unfledged bird that had left the nest too soon stood, all still and alone, on the bare short sward, its beak open as for food, its gaze fixed on us with a wistful stare. Methought there was something in the forlorn bird that softened me more to the forlorner youth, of whom it seemed a type. "Now," said Vivian, speaking half to himself, half to me, "did the bird fall from the nest, or leave the nest at its own wild whim? The parent does not protect it. Mind, I say not it is the parent's fault,—perhaps the fault is all with the wanderer. But, look you, though the parent is not here, the foe is,—yonder, see!" And the young man pointed to a large brindled cat that, kept back from its prey by our unwelcome neighborhood, still remained watchful, a few paces off, stirring its tail gently backwards and forwards, and with that stealthy look in its round eyes, dulled by the sun,—half fierce, half frightened,—which belongs to its tribe when man comes between the devourer and the victim. "I do see," said I; "but a passing footstep has saved the bird!" "Stop!" said Vivian, laying my hand on his own, and with his old bitter smile on his lip,—"stop! Do you think it mercy to save the bird? What from; and what for? From a natural enemy,—from a short pang and a quick death? Fie! is not that better than slow starvation,—or, if you take more heed of it, than the prison-bars of a cage? You cannot restore the nest, you cannot recall the parent. Be wiser in your mercy,—leave the bird to its gentlest fate." I looked hard on Vivian: the lip had lost the bitter smile. He rose and turned away. I sought to take up the poor bird; but it did not know its friends, and ran from me, chirping piteously,—ran towards the very jaws of the grim enemy. I was only just in time to scare away the beast, which sprang up a tree and glared down through the hanging boughs. Then I followed the bird, and as I followed, I heard, not knowing at first whence the sound came, a short, quick, tremulous note. Was it near, was it far? From the earth, in the sky? Poor parent bird, like parent-love, it seemed now far and now near; now on earth, now in sky! And at last, quick and sudden, as if born of the space, lo, the little wings hovered over me! The young bird halted, and I also. "Come," said I, "ye have found each other at last,—settle it between you!" I went back to the outcast.
CHAPTER II.
Pisistratus.—"How came you to know we had stayed in the town?" Vivian.—"Do you think I could remain where you left me? I wandered out, wandered hither. Passing at dawn through yon streets, I saw the hostlers loitering by the gates of the yard, overheard them talk, and so knew you were all at the inn,—all!" He sighed heavily. Pisistratus.—"Your poor father is very ill. Oh, cousin, how could you fling from you so much love?" Vivian.—"Love! his! my father's!" Pisistratus.—"Do you really not believe, then, that your father loved you?" Vivian.—"If I had believed it, I had never left him. All the gold of the Indies had never bribed me to leave my mother." Pisistratus.—"This is indeed a strange misconception of yours. If we can remove it, all may be well yet. Need there now be any secrets between us? [persuasively]. Sit down, and tell me all, cousin." After some hesitation, Vivian complied; and by the clearing of his brow and the very tone of his voice I felt sure that he was no longer seeking to disguise the truth. But as I afterwards learned the father's tale as well as now the son's, so, instead of repeating Vivian's words, which— not by design, but by the twist of a mind habitually wrong—distorted the facts, I will state what appears to me the real case, as between the parties so unhappily opposed. Reader, pardon me if the recital be tedious; and if thou thinkest that I bear not hard enough on the erring hero of the story, remember that he who recites, judges as Austin's son must judge of Roland's.
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