THOUGH I was no longer of a temper to reject the means of comfort which still remained within my reach, or scornfully to repulse the mercies both of God and man, I had accepted, with reluctance, the asylum offered by the clergyman to whom Miss Mortimer had recommended me; for the reserve which shrinks from obligation is one of the most unconquerable forms of pride. Besides, though the Doctor's professional duties had made me somewhat acquainted with him, his family were, even by character, strangers to me. The state of Miss Mortimer's health had long precluded us from paying or receiving visits; and my friend had none of those habits of moral portrait-painting which seduce so many into caricature. My reluctance to accept of the good man's hospitality had, however, yielded partly to necessity, partly to the recollection that I had once heard the "Doctor's lady called "the cleverest woman in the county." For ability I had always entertained a high regard; which is one of vanity's least bare-faced ways of claiming kindred with it. A residence with persons of education and good manners was irresistible, when the only alternative was an abode in a mean lodging, in which pride or prudence would forbid me to receive even the few who still owned my acquaintance. I had, therefore, consented to remain with Dr. ---- till an answer should arrive from the sister to whom he had written on my behalf.
Though I knew that I was expected at the parsonage on the evening when I left Miss Mortimer's, I lingered long by the way. The spirit which, for a moment, had raised me above my fate, could not tarry; and earthly woes and earthly passions soon resumed their power. A feeling of loneliness and neglect returned to weigh upon my heart; and when I reached the gate within which I was about to seek a shelter, I stopped, leant my head against it, and wept, as if I had never committed myself to a father's protection--never exulted in a Father's care. I felt it unkind that no one came to save me the embarrassment of introducing myself; and, perhaps, even my pride would not have stooped to the effort, had I not at last been accosted by my host, who excused himself for not having come to escort me, by saying that he had been unavoidably engaged in professional duty. He now welcomed me cordially, expressing a hope that I should soon feel myself at home, "that is," continued he, "as soon as the exertions of my good woman will allow you."
To this odd proviso I could only answer, "That I was afraid my visit might put Mrs. ---- to inconvenience."
"I wish that were possible, Miss Percy," returned he; "for then she would be quite in her element."
By this time we had reached the door, and Dr. ---- knocked loudly. No answer came, though the sounds of busy feet were heard within, and lights glanced swiftly across the windows. After another vigorous assault upon the knocker, the door was opened by a panting maid-servant; in time to exhibit the descent of my hostess from a stool which she had mounted, as it appeared, to light a lamp that hung from the ceiling. Snatching off a checked apron, which she threw into a corner, she advanced to receive me. "Miss Percy," she cried, "I am so glad to see you!--Doctor, I had no notion you could have got back so soon;--and, indeed, ma'am, I am quite proud that you will accept of such accommodation as--Lord bless me, girl! did ever anybody see such a candlestick?--This way, ma'am, if you please.--To bring up a thing like that before strangers!"
During this miscellaneous oration I had made my way into the parlour, and taken possession of the first seat I could find. But this was too natural an arrangement of things to satisfy my good hostess. "Oh, dear, Miss Percy!" said she, "you are quite in the way of the door--pray take this side. Doctor, can't you give Miss Percy that chair?"
At last the turmoil of placing us was over, and the good lady was compelled to be quiet for a little. The scenes which I had lately witnessed, the sense of being a stranger in what was now my only home, depressed my spirits; yet good manners inclined me to enter into conversation with my hostess. I soon found, however, that this was, for the present, out of the question; for though, under a sense of duty, she frequently spoke to her guest, my replies evidently escaped her powers of attention, these being occupied by certain sounds proceeding from the kitchen. For a while she kept fidgeting upon her chair, looking wistfully towards the door, her politeness maintaining doubtful strife with her anxieties. At last a crash of crockery overcame her self-denial, and she ran out of the room.
Our ears were presently invaded by all the discords of wrath and hurry; but the Doctor, who seemed accustomed to such tumults, quietly drew his chair close to mine, and began to discuss the merits of a late publication, repeating his remarks with immovable patience, as often as they were lost in the din. At length, however, he was touched in a tender point; for now an audible kick produced a howl from the old house-dog. The Doctor started up, took three strides across the room, wiped his forehead, and sat down again. "I thank heaven," said he, "that the children are all in bed," and he went on with his criticism.
Late came the supper, and with it mine hostess, looking "unutterable things." She forced her mouth, however, into an incongruous smile, while she apologized to me for her absence; but she was too full of her recent disaster long to deny herself the comforts of complaint and condolence. "I hope, Miss Percy, you will try to eat a little bit of supper; though, to be sure, it is a pretty supper indeed for one who has been accustomed as you have been!"
The looks of the speaker showed me that this speech was less intended for me than for the poor girl who waited at table. "I assure you, madam, the supper is much better than any I ever was accustomed to. I never exceed a biscuit or a jelly."
"Oh, you are very good to say so; but I am sure--and then to have it served upon such mean-looking, nasty old cracked rubbish; but I hope you'll excuse it, ma'am; for Kitty, there, has thought fit to break no less than three dozen of our blue china supper-set at one crash."
"That is a great pity."
"Pity! I declare my patience is quite worn out."
"We have reason to be thankful," said the Doctor, "that she did the thing at once; it puts you into only one fury, instead of three dozen. The treatise we were talking of, Miss Percy--"
"Mercy upon me!" interrupted the lady, "there is no salt in this stuffing!"
"I say the author appears to me to reason upon false premises when--"
"Hand the sauce to Miss Percy, do, that she may have something to flavour that tasteless mess."
The poor fluttered girl, in her haste to obey, dropped the sauce-boat boat into my lap. "Heaven preserve me!" exclaimed the lady; "she has finished your new sarcenet gown, I declare.--Well! if you an't enough to drive one distracted!"
In vain did I protest that the gown was very little injured; in vain did I represent that the poor girl was unavoidably fluttered by her former misdemeanour. Peace was not re-established till the close of supper allowed the delinquent to retire. Mrs. ---- then seemed to collect her thoughts, and to recollect the propriety of conversing with her guest. "It must have been very hard upon poor Miss Mortimer," said she, "to be so long confined, and all the affairs of her family at sixes and sevens all the while. To be sure, I dare say you would spare no trouble; but, after all, there is nothing like the eye of a mistress."
Shocked as I was at this careless mention of my friend, I forced myself to answer; "Miss Mortimer's method was so regular that I never could perceive where any trouble was necessary."
"That might be the case in Miss Mortimer's family. For my part, I have hard enough work with mine from morning to night. I really can't conceive how people get on who take matters so easily. To be sure there must be great waste; but some people can afford that better than others."
"There was no waste in Miss Mortimer's family, madam," answered I, my spirit rising at this reflection on my friend; "not even a waste of power."
I repented of this taunt almost the moment it was uttered. But it was lost upon my hostess; who went on to demonstrate, that, without her ceaseless intervention, disorder and ruin must ensue. "Miss Percy," said the Doctor, gravely, "are you satisfied with the order of pins in the ordinary papers; or do you purchase the pins wholesale, that you may arrange them more correctly for yourself?"
"Oh, none of your gibes, Dr. ----; you know very well I don't spend my time in sticking pins, or any such trifles. I have work enough, and more than enough, in attending to your family."
"Ay, my dear, and fortunate it is that all your industry has taken that turn, for you can never be industrious by proxy; you can work with no hands but your own."
It was now the hour of rest, or, more properly speaking, it was bed-time; for I was disturbed by the bustle of the household long after I had retired to a chamber, finical enough to keep me in mind that it was the "stranger's room." With a sigh, I remembered the quiet shelter I had lost, and that true hospitality which never once reminded me, even by officious cares, that I was a stranger. I hoped, however, that the turmoil occasioned by my arrival, and the destruction of the blue supper-set being over, peace might be restored in the family, and the calm of the following morning be the sweeter for the hurricane of the night. But the tumult of the evening was a lulling murmur to the full chorus of busy morn. Ringing, trampling, scraping, knocking, scrubbing, and all the clatter of housewifery, were mingled with the squalls of children, and the clang of chastisement; and, above all, swelled my landlady's tones, in every variety of exhortation. and impatience.
In short, Mrs. ---- was one of those who could not be satisfied with putting the machine in motion, unless she watched and impelled the action of every wheel and pivot. The interference was, of course, more productive of derangement than of despatch. Besides, by taking upon herself all the business of all the maids, my hostess necessarily neglected that of the mistress; the consequence of which was general confusion and discomfort. A few hours served to make me completely weary of my new abode; and I anxiously wished for the summons which was to transfer me to another. Dr. ---- assured me that his sister would lose no time in endeavouring to serve me; and I was determined to accept of any situation which she should propose.
Mrs. Murray, the lady to whose patronage I had been recommended, was the wife of a naval officer. Captain Murray was then at sea; and she, with her son and daughter, resided in Edinburgh. Far from being averse to follow my fortunes in this distant quarter, I preferred a residence where I was wholly unknown. The friendship of Mr. Sidney procured for me the offer of an eligible situation in town: but I was predetermined against hazarding the humiliations to which such a situation must have exposed me. The wisdom of this resolution, I must own, would not bear examination, and therefore it was never examined; for I retained too much adroitness in self-deceit to let prudence fairly contest the point with pride. I was destined to pay the penalty of my choice, and to illustrate the invariable sequence of a "haughty spirit" and a "fall."
The expected letter at length arrived; and I thought myself fortunate beyond my hopes when I found that Mrs. Murray was inclined to receive me into her own family. My knowledge of music, particularly my skill in playing on the harp, had recommended me as a teacher in a country which pays for her fruitfulness in poetry by a singular sterility in the other fine arts. Mrs. Murray inquired upon what terms I would undertake the tuition of her daughter; and seemed only fearful that my demands might exceed her powers. After the receipt of her letter, I was most eager to depart. To terms I was utterly indifferent. All I wanted was quiet, and an asylum which inferred no obligation to strangers. I was too impatient to be gone to wait the formal arrangement of my engagement with Mrs. Murray. I instantly wrote to commit the terms of it entirely to herself; and then took measures to obtain my immediate conveyance to Scotland.
A journey by land was too expensive to be thought of; I therefore secured my passage in a merchant vessel. It was in vain that Dr. ---- advised me to wait further instructions from his sister; in hopes that she might suggest a more eligible mode of travelling, or at least give me notice that she was prepared for my reception. My dislike of my present abode, my restlessness under a sense of obligation to such a person as Mrs. ----, prevailed against his counsels. In vain did he represent the discomforts of a voyage at such a season of the year. I was not more habitually impatient of present evil than fearless of that which was yet to come. In short, after a little more than a week's residence at the parsonage, I insisted upon making my debut as a sailor in the auspicious month of February, and committing myself, at that stormy season, to an element which as yet I knew only from description.
Dr. ---- and Mr. Sidney accompanied me to the vessel; and I own I began to repent of my obstinacy, when they bade me farewell. As I saw their boat glide from the vessel's side, and answered their parting signals, and saw first the known features, then the forms, then the little bark itself, fade from my sight, I wept over the rashness which had exiled me among strangers; and coveted the humblest station cheered by the face of friend or kinsman. The wind blowing strong and cold soon obliged me to leave the deck; and, when I entered the close airless den in which I was to be imprisoned with fourteen fellow-sufferers, I cordially wished myself once more under the restraint imposed by nice arrangement and finical decoration.
I was soon obliged to retreat to a bed, compared with which the worst I had ever occupied was the very couch of luxury. "It must be owned." thought I, "that a sea voyage affords good lessons for a fine lady." Sleep was out of the question. I was stunned with such variety of noise as made me heartily regret the quiet of the parsonage. The rattling of the cordage, the lashing of the waves, the heavy measured tread, the tuneless song repeated without end, interrupted only by the sudden dissonant call, and then begun again,--these, besides a hundred inexplicable disturbances, continued day and night. To these was soon added another, which attacked my quiet through other mediums than my senses; the ship sprung a leak, and the pumps were worked without intermission.
Meanwhile the wind rose to what I thought a hurricane; and, among us passengers, whose ignorance probably magnified the danger, all was alarm and dismay. A general fit of piety bespoke the general dread; and they who had before been chiefly intent upon establishing their importance with their fellow-travellers, seemed now feelingly convinced of their own dependence and insignificancy. For my part, I prepared for death with much greater resignation than I had found to bestow upon the previous evils of my voyage; not surely that it is easier to resign life than to submit to a few inconveniences, but that I had a tendency to treat my religion like one of the fabled divinities, who are not to be called into action except upon worthy occasions; whereas, it is indeed her agency in matters of ordinary occurrence that shows her true power and value. I am much mistaken, if it be not easier to die like a martyr than to live like a Christian; and if the glory of our faith be not better displayed in a life of meekness, humility, and self-denial, than even in a death of triumph.
The bloody conflict was then only beginning which has won for my country such imperishable honours. At Rotterdam we could then find safety, and the means of refitting our crazy vessel, so far as was necessary for the completion of our voyage. It will readily be believed that those of our company who were least accustomed to brave the ocean were eager to tread the steady earth once more. We all went on shore; and I, wholly ignorant of all methods of economy in a situation so new to me, took up my abode in a comfortable hotel; where I remained during the week which elapsed before we were able to proceed upon our voyage. At the end of that time I discovered, with surprise and consternation, that my wealth had diminished to little more than ten guineas. I comforted myself, however, by recollecting, that once under the protection of Mrs. Murray I should have little occasion for money; and that a few shillings were all the expense which I was likely to incur before I was safely lodged in my new home.
The remainder of the voyage was prosperous, and in little more than a fortnight after my first embarkation I found myself seated in the hackney-coach which was to convey me from the harbour to Edinburgh. Not even the beauty and singularity of this romantic town could divert my imagination from the person upon whom I expected so muck of my future happiness to depend. I anticipated the character, the manners, the appearance, the very attire of Mrs. Murray; imagined the circumstances of my introduction, and planned the general form of our future intercourse. "Oh, that she may be one whom I can love, and love safely," thought I; "one endowed with somewhat of the spirit of her whom I have lost!" My intercourse with the world, perhaps my examination of my own heart, had destroyed much of my fearless confidence in everything that bore the human form; and now my spirits sank as I recollected how small was my chance of finding another Miss Mortimer.
A sudden twilight was closing as I entered the street of dull magnificence, in which stood the dwelling of my patroness. Though in the midst of a large city, all seemed still and forsaken. The bustle of business or amusement was silent here. Single carriages, passing now and then at long intervals, sounded through the vacant street till the noise died in the distance. The busy multitudes whom I was accustomed to associate with the idea of a city had retired to their homes; and I envied them who could so retire,--who could enter the sanctuary of their own roof, sit in their own accustomed seat, hear the familiar voice, and grasp the hand that had ten thousand times returned the pressure.
All around me strengthened the feelings of loneliness which are so apt to visit the heart of a stranger, and I anxiously looked from the carriage to descry the only spot in which I would claim an interest. The coach stopped at the door of a large house, handsome indeed, but more dark, I thought, and dismal if possible than the rest. I scarcely breathed till my summons was answered; nor was it without an effort that I inquired whether Mrs. Murray was at home?
"No, madam," was the answer; "she has been gone this fortnight."
"Gone! Good heavens! Whither?"
"To Portsmouth, madam. As soon as the news came of the Captain's coming in wounded, Mrs. Murray and Miss Arabella set out immediately."
"And did she leave no letter for me? No instructions?'
The servant's answer convinced me that my arrival was even wholly unexpected. Struck with severe disappointment, overwhelmed with a sense of utter desertedness, my spirits failed, and I sank back into the carriage faint and forlorn.
"Do you alight here, ma'am?" inquired the coachman.
"No, answered I, scarcely knowing what I said.
"Where do you go next?" asked the man.
I replied only by a bitter passion of tears. "Alas!" thought I, "I once, in the mere wilfulness of despair, rejected the blessings of a home and a friend. How righteous is the retribution which leaves me now homeless and friendless!"
"Perhaps, ma'am," said the servant, seemingly touched by my distress, "Mrs. Murray may have left some message with Mr. Henry for you."
"Mr. Henry!" cried I; "is Mrs. Murray's son here?"
"Yes, ma'am. Mr. Henry stayed to finish his classes in the college. He is not at home just now; but I expect him every minute. Will you please to come in and rest a little?"
With this invitation I thought it best to comply, and, dismissing the coach, followed the servant into the house. I was shown into a handsome parlour, where the cheerful blaze of a Scotch coal fire gave light enough to show that all was elegance and comfort. My buoyant heart rose again, and not considering how improbable it was that my patroness should commit a girl of eighteen to the guardianship of a youth little above the same age, I began to hope that Mrs. Murray had given her son directions to receive me. In this hope I sat waiting his return; now listening for his approach; now trying to conjecture what instructions he would bring me; now beguiling the time with the books which were scattered round the room.
Though some of these were works of general literature, there was sufficient peculiarity in the selection to show that the young student was intended for the bar. Indeed, before he arrived, I had formed, from a view of the family apartment, a tolerable guess of the habits and pursuits of its owners. Open upon a sofa was a pocket Tibullus; within a Dictionary of Decisions lay a well-read first volume of the Nouvelle Eloise. Then there were Le Vaillant's Travels, Erskine's Institutes, and a Vindication of Queen Mary. "If the young lawyer has not disposed of his heart already I shall be too pretty for my place," thought I: "and now for my patroness!" The card-racks contained some twenty visiting tickets, upon which the same matronly names were repeated at least four times. A large work-bag, which hung near the great chair, was too well stuffed to close over a half-knitted stocking, and a prayer-book, which opened of itself at the prayer for those who travel by sea. My imagination instantly pictured a faded, serious countenance, with that air of tender abstraction which belongs to those whose thoughts are fixed upon the absent and the dear. Miss Arabella's magnificent harp stood in a window, and her likeness in the act of dancing a hornpipe hung over the chimney; her music-stand was loaded with easy sonatas and Scotch songs, and her portfolio was bursting with a humble progression of water-colour drawings.
My conjectures were interrupted by a loud larum at the house-door, which announced the return of my young host. My heart beat anxiously. I started from the sofa like one who felt no right to be seated there, and sat down again, because I felt myself awkward when standing. I thought I heard the servant announce my arrival to his master as he passed through the lobby; and after a few questions, asked and answered in an under-voice, the young man entered the parlour with a countenance which plainly said, "What in the world am I to do with the creature?" As I rose to receive him, however, I saw this expression give place to another. Strong astonishment was pictured in his face, then yielded again to the glow of youthful complacency and admiration.
On my part I was little less struck with my student's exterior, than he appeared to be with mine. Instead of the awkward, mawkish school-boy whom I had fancied, he was a tall, elegant young man, with large sentimental black eyes, and a clear brown complexion, whose paleness repaid in interest whatever it subtracted from the youthfulness of his appearance.
I was the first to speak. Having expressed my regret at Mrs. Murray's absence, and the cause of it, I begged to know whether she had left any commands for me. Murray replied, that he believed his mother had written to me before her departure; and that she had hoped her letter might reach me in time to delay my journey to a milder season.
"Unfortunately," said I--"most unfortunately, I had set out before that letter arrived."
"Excuse me," returned my companion, with polite vivacity, "if I cannot call any accident unfortunate which has procured me this pleasure." I could answer this civility only by a gesture, for my heart was full. I saw that I had no claim to my present shelter; and other place of refuge I had none. Oh, how did I repent the self-will which had reduced me to so cruel a dilemma! "In a few weeks at farthest," continued Mr. Murray, "my father will be able to travel; and then I am certain my mother will bring Arabella home immediately."
Still I could make no reply. "A few weeks!" thought I, "what is to become of me even for one week, even for one night!" Tears were struggling for vent; but to have yielded to my weakness, would have seemed like an appeal to compassion; and the moment this thought occurred, the necessary effort was made. I rose, and requested that Mr. Murray would allow his servant to procure a carriage for me, and direct me to some place where I could find respectable accommodation.
To this proposal Murray warmly objected. "I hope,--I beg Miss Percy," said he eagerly, "you will not think of leaving my mother's house to-night. Though she has been obliged to refuse herself the pleasure of receiving you, I know she would be deeply mortified to find that you would not remain, even for one night, under her roof."
I made my acknowledgments for his invitation; but said, I had neither title nor desire to intrude upon any part of Mrs. Murray's family, and renewed my request. Murray persevered in urgent and respectful entreaties. They were so well seconded by the lateness of the hour, for it was now near ten o'clock, and by the contrast of the comfort within doors, with the storm which was raging abroad, that my scruples began to give way; and the first symptom of concession was so eagerly seized, that, before I had leisure to consider of proprieties, my young host had ordered his mother's bedchamber to be prepared for my reception.
This arrangement made, he turned the conversation to general topics, and amused me very agreeably till we separated for the night. I know not if ever I had offered up more hearty thanksgivings for shelter and security than I did in that evening's prayer; so naturally do we reserve our chief gratitude for blessings of precarious tenure. But I omitted my self-examination that night; either because I was worn out and languid, or because I was half conscious of having done what prudence would not justify.
I slept soundly, however, and awoke in revived spirits. My host renewed all his attentions. We conversed, in a manner very interesting to ourselves, of public places, of the last new novel; and this naturally led us into the labyrinths of the human heart, and the mysteries of the tender passion. Then I played on the harp, which threw my young lawyer into raptures; then I sang, which drew tears into the large black eyes. In short, the forenoon was pretty far advanced before my student recollected that he had missed his law-class by two hours.
All this was the effect of mere thoughtlessness; for I was guiltless of all design upon Murray's affections, or even upon his admiration. I now, however, suddenly recollected myself, and renewed my inquiries for some eligible abode; buy Murray, with more warmth than ever, objected to my removal. He laboured to convince me that his mother's house, for so he dexterously called it, was the most eligible residence for me, at least till I should learn how Mrs. Murray wished me to act. Finding me a little hard of conviction, he proposed a new expedient. He offered to call upon a sister of his father's, and to obtain for me her advice or assistance. Most cordially did I thank him for this proposal, and urged him to execute it instantly. He lingered, however, and endeavoured to escape the subject; and when I persisted in pressing it, he fairly owned his unwillingness to perform his promise. "If Mrs. St. Clare should wile you away from me," said he, with a very Arcadian sigh, "how will you ever repay me for such self-devotion?"
"With an old song," answered I, gaily; "payment enough for such a sacrifice." But I registered the sigh, notwithstanding. "Touched already!" thought I. "So much for Tibullus and the Nouvelle Eloise!
At last I drove him away; but soon returned, and told me he had not found Mrs. St. Clare at home. I made him promise to renew his attempt in the evening, and proposed meanwhile to write to Mrs. Murray an account of my situation. My companion at first made no objection, but afterwards discovered that it was almost too late to overtake that day's post, and offered to save time, by mentioning the matter in the postscript of a letter which he had already written. I consented, but afterwards obliged him to tell me, rather unwillingly, in what terms he had put his communication.
"From the way in which you have written," said I, when he had ended, "Mrs. Murray will never discover that I am residing in her house. Were it not better to say distinctly that I am here?"
I looked at my young lawyer as I spoke, and saw him blush very deeply. He hesitated, too, and stammered while he answered, "that it was unnecessary, since his mother could not suppose me to reside anywhere else"
The full impropriety of my situation flashed upon me at once. Murray evidently felt that there was something in it which he was unwilling to submit to the judgment of has mother. My delicacy, or rather perhaps my pride, thus alarmed, my resolution was taken in a moment; but as I could not well avow the grounds of my determination, I retired in silence to make what little preparation was necessary for my immediate departure.
If my purpose had wanted confirmation, it would have been confirmed by a dialogue which I accidentally overheard between Murray and a youth who just then called for him. My host seemed pressing his friend to return to supper. "Do come," said he, "and I will show you an angel--the loveliest girl--" "Where? in this house?" "Yes, my sister's governess."--"Left to keep house for you? Eh? a good judicious arrangement, faith."--"Hush--I assure you her manners are as correct as her person is beautiful;--such elegance,--such modest vivacity,--and then she sings! Oh, Harry, if you did but hear her sing!"--"Well I believe I must come and take a look of this wonder."--"The wonder," thought I, "shall not be made a spectacle to idle boys, nor remain in a situation of which even they can see the impropriety." I rang for the housemaid, and putting half-a-guinea into her hand, requested that she would direct me to reputable lodgings, and procure a hackney-coach to convey me thither. Both of these services she performed without delay; meanwhile I went to take leave of my young host.
He heard of my intention with manifest discomposure, and exerted all his eloquence to shake my purpose, entreating me at at least to remain with him till he had seen Mrs. St. Clare; but I was more disposed to anger than to acquiescence, when I recollected that all his entreaties were intended to make me do what he himself felt to need disguise or apology. Finding me resolute he next begged to know where he might bring Mrs. St. Clare to wait upon me, but suspecting that my apartments might not be such as I chose to exhibit, I declined this favour. I took, however, the lady's address, meaning to avail myself of her assistance in procuring employment.
This presentation of Discipline: A Novel, by Mary Brunton is Copyright 2003 by P.J. LaBrocca. It may not be copied, duplicated, stored or transmitted in any form without written permission. The text is in the public domain.