Publisher Description

Two worn travellers, a young man and a fair girl about four years old, sat on the towing path by the side of the Trent. The young man had his coat off, by which you might infer it was very hot; but no, it was a keen October day, and an east wind sweeping down the river. The coat was wrapped tightly round the little girl, so that only her fair face with blue eyes and golden hair peeped out; and the young father sat in his shirt sleeves, looking down on her with a loving but anxious look. Her mother, his wife, had died of consumption, and he was in mortal terror lest biting winds and scanty food should wither this sweet flower too, his one remaining joy. William Hope was a man full of talent; self educated, and wonderfully quick at learning anything: he was a linguist, a mechanic, a mineralogist, a draughtsman, an inventor. Item, a bit of a farrier, and half a surgeon; could play the fiddle and the guitar; could draw and paint and drive a four in hand. Almost the only thing he could not do was to make money and keep it. Versatility seldom pays. But, to tell the truth, luck was against him; and although in a long life every deserving man seems to get a chance, yet Fortune does baffle some meritorious men for a limited time. Generally, we think, good fortune and ill fortune succeed each other rapidly, like red cards and black; but to some ill luck comes in great long slices; and if they don't drink or despair, by and by good luck comes continuously, and everything turns to gold with him who has waited and deserved. Well, for years Fortune was hard on William Hope. It never let him get his head above water. If he got a good place, the employer died or sold his business.

January 1
Public Domain

More Books by Charles Reade