Charles Kingsley, Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet: Ch. 31

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Or for its realization?

Ay, that is the question! We shall not see it solved—at least, I never shall.

But still that figure haunted me; all through that winter I saw it, chatting with old women, patting children's heads, walking to the church with ladies; sometimes with a tiny, tripping figure.—I did not dare to let myself fancy who that might be.

* * * * *

December passed, and January came. I had now only two months more before my deliverance. One day I seemed to myself to have passed a whole life in that narrow room; and the next, the years and months seemed short and blank as a night's sleep on waking; and there was no salient point in all my memory, since that last sight of Lillian's smile, and the faces and the window whirling round me as I fell.

At last a letter came from Mackaye. "Ye speired for news o' your cousin—an' I find he's a neebour o' yours; ca'd to a new kirk i' the city o' your captivity—an' na stickit minister he makes, forbye he's ane o' these new Puseyite sectarians, to judge by your uncle's report. I met the auld bailie-bodie on the street, and was gaun to pass him by, but he was sae fou o' good news he could na but stop an' ha' a crack wi' me on politics; for we ha' helpit thegither in certain municipal clamjamfries o' late. An' he told me your cousin wins honour fast, an' maun surely die a bishop—puir bairn! An' besides that he's gaun to be married the spring. I dinna mind the leddy's name; but there's tocher wi' lass o' his I'll warrant. He's na laird o' Cockpen, for a penniless lass wi' a long pedigree."

As I sat meditating over this news—which made the torment of suspicion and suspense more intolerable than ever—behold a postscript added some two days after.

"Oh! Oh! Sic news! gran news! news to make baith the ears o' him that heareth it to tingle. God is God, an' no the deevil after a'! Louis Philippe is doun!—doun, doun, like a dog, and the republic's proclaimed, an' the auld villain here in England, they say, a wanderer an' a beggar. I ha' sent ye the paper o' the day. Ps.—73, 37, 12. Oh, the Psalms are full o't! Never say the Bible's no true, mair. I've been unco faithless mysel', God forgive me! I got grieving to see the wicked in sic prosperity. I did na gang into the sanctuary eneugh, an' therefore I could na see the end of these men—how He does take them up suddenly after all, an' cast them doun: vanish they do, perish, an' come to a fearful end. Yea, like as a dream when one awaketh, so shalt thou make their image to vanish out of the city. Oh, but it's a day o' God! An' yet I'm sair afraid for they puir feckless French. I ha' na faith, ye ken, in the Celtic blude, an' its spirit o' lees. The Saxon spirit o' covetize is a grewsome house-fiend, and sae's our Norse speerit o' shifts an' dodges; but the spirit o' lees is warse. Puir lustful Reubens that they are!—unstable as water, they shall not excel. Well, well—after all, there is a God that judgeth the earth; an' when a man kens that, he's learnt eneugh to last him till he dies."