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Grandfather Bridgeman
by [?]


Tom properly stated his praises in facts, but the lady preferred
To deck the narration with brackets, and drop her additional word.
What nobler Christian natures these women could boast, who, ’twas
Once spat at the name of their nephew, and now made his praises
their own!
The letter at last was finished, the hearers breathed freely, and
Was given, ‘Tom’s health!’–Quoth the farmer: ‘Eh, Miss? are you
weak in the spine?’


For Mary had sunk, and her body was shaking, as if in a fit.
Tom’s letter she held, and her thumb-nail the month when the letter
was writ
Fast-dinted, while she hung sobbing: ‘O, see, Sir, the letter is
O, do not be too happy!’–‘If I understand you, I’m bowled!’
Said Grandfather Bridgeman, ‘and down go my wickets!–not happy!
when here,
Here’s Tom like to marry his General’s daughter–or widow–I’ll


‘I wager he knows how to strut, too! It’s all on the cards that the
Will ask him to Buckingham Palace, to say what he’s done and he’s
Victoria’s fond of her soldiers: and she’s got a nose for a fight.
If Tom tells a cleverish story–there is such a thing as a knight!
And don’t he look roguish and handsome!–To see a girl snivelling
there –
By George, Miss, it’s clear that you’re jealous’–‘I love him!’ she
answered his stare.


‘Yes! now!’ breathed the voice of a woman.–‘Ah! now!’ quiver’d low
the reply.
‘And “now”‘s just a bit too late, so it’s no use your piping your
The farmer added bluffly: ‘Old Lawyer Charlworth was rich;
You followed his instructions in kicking Tom into the ditch.
If you’re such a dutiful daughter, that doesn’t prove Tom is a fool.
Forgive and forget’s my motto! and here’s my grog growing cool!’


‘But, Sir,’ Mary faintly repeated: ‘for four long weeks I have
To come and cast on you my burden; such grief for you always
My heart has so bled for you!’ The old man burst on her speech:
‘You’ve chosen a likely time, Miss! a pretty occasion to preach!’
And was it not outrageous, that now, of all times, one should come
With incomprehensible pity! Far better had Mary been dumb.


But when again she stammered in this bewildering way,
The farmer no longer could bear it, and begged her to go, or to
But not to be whimpering nonsense at such a time. Pricked by a
‘Twas you who sent him to glory:- you’ve come here to reap what you
Is that it?’ he asked; and the silence the elders preserved plainly
On Mary’s heaving bosom this begging-petition was read.


And that it was scarcely a bargain that she who had driven him wild
Should share now the fruits of his valour, the women expressed, as
they smiled.
The family pride of the Bridgemans was comforted; still, with
They looked on a monied damsel of modesty quite so exempt.
‘O give me force to tell them!’ cried Mary, and even as she spoke,
A shout and a hush of the children: a vision on all of them broke.


Wheeled, pale, in a chair, and shattered, the wreck of their hero
was seen;
The ghost of Tom drawn slow o’er the orchard’s shadowy green.
Could this be the martial darling they joyed in a moment ago?
‘He knows it?’ to Mary Tom murmured, and closed his weak lids at her
‘Beloved!’ she said, falling by him, ‘I have been a coward: I
You lay in the foreign country, and some strange good might be