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unoccupied chambers overhead. I never knew of an old house without these mysterious noises.
Next to my bedroom was a musty, dismantled apartment, in one corner of which, leaning against the wainscot, was a crippled mangle, with its iron crank tilted in the air like the elbow of the late Mr. Clem Jaffrey. Sometimes,
“In the dead vast and middle of the night,” I used to hear sounds as if some one were turning that rusty crank on the sly. This occurred only on particularly cold nights, and I conceived the uncomfortable idea that it was the thin family ghosts, from the neglected graveyard in the cornfield, keeping themselves warm by running each other through the mangle. There was a haunted air about the whole place that made it easy for me to believe in the existence of a phantasm like Miss Mehetabel's son, who, after all, was less unearthly than Mr. Jaffrey himself, and seemed more properly an inhabitant of this globe than the toothless ogre who kept the inn, not to mention the silent witch of Endor that cooked our meals for us over the barroom fire.
In spite of the scowls and winks bestowed upon me by Mr. Sewell, who let slip no opportunity to testify his disapprobation of the intimacy, Mr. Jaffrey and I spent all our evenings together—those long autumnal evenings, through the length of which he talked about the boy, laying out his path in life, and hedging the path with roses. He should be sent to the High School at Portsmouth, and then to college; he should be educated like a gentleman, Andy
“When the old man dies,” said Mr. Jaffrey, rubbing his hands gleefully, as if it were a great joke, “Andy will find that the old man has left him a pretty plum.”
“What do you think of having Andy enter West Point when he's old enough?” said Mr. Jaffrey, on another occasion. “He needn't necessarily go into the army when he graduates; he can become a civil engineer.”
This was a stroke of flattery so delicate and indirect, that I could accept it without immodesty.
There had lately sprung up on the corner of Mr. Jaffrey's bureau a small tin house, Gothic in architecture, and pink in colour, with a slit in the roof, and the word “Bank” painted on one façade. Several times in the course of an evening Mr. Jaffrey would rise from his chair, without interrupting the conversation, and gravely drop a nickel through the scuttle of the bank. It was pleasant to observe the solemnity of his countenance as he approached the edifice, and the air of triumph with which he resumed his seat by the fireplace. One night I missed the tin bank. It had disappeared, deposits and all. Evidently there had been a defalcation on rather a large scale. I strongly suspected that Mr. Sewell was at the bottom of it; but my suspicion was not shared by Mr. Jaffrey, who, remarking my glance at the bureau, became suddenly depressed. “I'm afraid," he said, "that I have failed to instil into Andrew those principles of integrity—which—whichAnd the old gentleman quite broke down.
Andy was now eight or nine years old, and for some time past, if the truth must be told, had given Mr. Jaffrey no inconsiderable trouble. What with his impishness and his illnesses, the boy led the pair of us a lively dance. I shall not soon forget the anxiety of Mr. Jaffrey the night Andy had the scarlet fever,—an anxiety which so affected me that I actually returned to the tavern the following afternoon earlier than usual, dreading to hear the little spectre was dead, and greatly relieved on meeting Mr. Jaffrey on the door-step with his face wreathed in smiles. When I spoke to him of Andy, I was made aware that I was inquiring into a case of scarlet fever that had occurred the year before !
It was at this time, towards the end of my second week at Greenton, that I noticed what was probably not a new trait,—Mr. Jaffrey's curious sensitiveness to atmospherical changes. He was as sensitive as a barometer. The approach of a storm sent his mercury down instantly. When the weather was fair he was hopeful and sunny, and Andy's prospects were brilliant. When the weather was overcast and threatening he grew restless and despondent, and was afraid the boy wasn't going to turn out well.
On the Saturday previous to my departure, which had been fixed for Monday, it had rained heavily all the afternoon, and that night Mr. Jaffrey was in an unusually excitable and unhappy frame of mind. His mercury was very low indeed.
“That boy is going to the dogs just as fast as he can go,” said Mr. Jaffrey, with a woful face. “I can't do anything with him.”
“He'll come out all right, Mr. Jaffrey Boys will be boys. I wouldn't give a snap for a lad without animal spirits."
“But animal spirits," said Mr. Jaffrey, sententiously, “shouldn't saw off the legs of the piano in Tobias's best parlour. I don't know what Tobias will say when he finds it out.”
"What, has Andy sawed off the legs of the old spinet ? ” I returned, laughing.
" Worse than that.”
I can't believe that of Andy.” "Lied to me, sir," repeated Mr. Jaffrey, severely. “He pledged me his word of honour that he would give over his climbing. The way that boy climbs sends a chill down my spine. This morning, notwithstanding his solemn promise, he shinned up the lightning-rod attached to the extension,
and sat astride the ridge-pole. I saw him, and he denied
When a boy you have caressed and indulged and lavished pocket-money on lies to you, and will climb, then there's nothing more to be said. He's a lost child."
“You take too dark a view of it, Mr. Jaffrey. Training and education are bound to tell in the end, and he has been well brought up.”
“But I didn't bring him up on a lightning-rod, did I? If he is ever going to know how to behave, he ought to know now.
To-morrow he will be eleven years old.” The reflection came to me that if Andy had not been brought up by the rod, he had certainly been brought up by the lightning. He was eleven years old in two weeks !
I essayed to tranquillise Mr. Jaffrey's mind, and to give him some practical hints on the management of youth, with that perspicacious wisdom which seems to be the peculiar property of bachelors and elderly maiden ladies.
“Spank him," I suggested, at length. “I will !” said the old gentleman.
And you'd better do it at once!” I added, as it flashed upon me that in six months Andy would be a hundred and forty-three years old !—an age at which parental discipline would have to be relaxed.
The next morning, Sunday, the rain came down as if determined to drive the quicksilver entirely out of my poor friend. Mr. Jaffrey sat bolt upright at the breakfast-table, looking as woe-begone as a bust of Dante, and retired to his chamber the moment the meal was finished. As the day advanced, the wind veered round to the north-east, and settled itself down to work. It was not pleasant to think, and I tried not to think, what Mr. Jaffrey's condition would be if the weather did not mend its manners by noon; but so far from clearing off at noon, the storm increased in violence, and as night set in the wind whistled in a spiteful falsetto key, and the rain lashed the old tavern as if it were
a balky horse that refused to move on. · The windows rattled in the worm-eaten frames, and the doors of remote rooms, where nobody ever went, slammed-to in the maddest way. Now and then the tornado, sweeping down the side of Mount Agamenticus, bowled across the open country and struck the ancient hostelry point-blank.
Mr. Jaffrey did not appear at supper. I knew he was expecting me to come to his room as usual, and I turned
my mind a dozen plans to evade seeing him that night.
The landlord sat at the opposite side of the chimneyplace, with his eye upon me. I fancy he was aware of the effect of this storm on his other boarder; for at intervals, as the wind hurled itself against the exposed gable, threatening to burst in the windows, Mr. Sewell tipped me an atrocious wink, and displayed his gums in a way he had not done since the morning after my arrival at Greenton. I wondered if he suspected anything about Andy. There had been odd times during the past week when I felt convinced that the existence of Miss Mehetabel's son was no secret to Mr. Sewell.
In deference to the gale, the landlord sat up half-an-hour later than was his custom. At half-past eight he went to bed, remarking that he thought the old pile would stand till morning.
He had been absent only a few minutes when I heard a rustling at the door. I looked up and beheld Mr. Jaffrey standing on the threshold, with his dress in disorder, his scant hair flying, and the wildest expression on his face.
“He's gone!” cried Mr. Jaffrey.
No,-he is dead! He has fallen off a step-ladder in the red chamber and broken his neck!”