I took Emmeline in my arms.
Henry Matthew Brock
13.6 x 10.5 cm. framed.
Dickens's The Holly-tree Inn, facing page 32.
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"Dear old darling Charley!" returned Edwin, in his cordial manner, "consider! When you were going on so happily with Angela, why should I compromise you with the old gentleman by making you a party to our engagement, and (after he had declined my proposals) to our secret intention? Surely it was better that you should be able honourably to say, "He never took counsel with me, never told me, never breathed a word of it." If Angela suspected it, and showed me all the favour and support she could — God bless her for a precious creature and a priceless wife! — I couldn't help that. Neither I nor Emmeline ever told her, any more than we told you. And for the same good reason, Charley; trust me, for the same good reason, and no other upon earth!"
Emmeline was Angela's cousin. Lived with her. Had been brought up with her. Was her father's ward. Had property.
"Emmeline is in the chaise, my dear Edwin!" said I, embracing him with the greatest affection.
"My good fellow!" said he, "do you suppose I should be going to Gretna Green without her?"
I ran out with Edwin, I opened the chaise door, I took Emmeline in my arms, I folded her to my heart. She was wrapped in soft white fur, like the snowy landscape: but was warm, and young, and lovely. I put their leaders to with my own hands, I gave the boys a five-pound note apiece, I cheered them as they drove away, I drove the other way myself as hard as I could pelt.
I never went to Liverpool, I never went to America, I went straight back to London, and I married Angela. — "The Bill," p. 39-40.
Dickens's The Holly-Tree Inn, a story for Christmas 1855 ends with "The Bill," originally the last of the seven parts. Here, Dickens achieves closure in an economical manner by having Edwin, supposedly Charley the narrator's rival for the hand of Angela, arrive in chaise with the heiress Emmeline (Angela's cousin) bound for a quick marriage across the Scottish border in Gretna Green. Realizing that he has not been "jilted" by Emmeline at all, Charley immediately abandons his notion of sailing for America from Liverpool and determines to get back to London and Angela.
The picture taken with the caption is somewhat misleading since it implies that Emmeline is the woman whom Charley thought had jilted him, and whom he had hoped to marry prior to undertaking the present journey. Since Charley speaks of the "leaders" the text supports the interpretation of this chaise being a four-horse conveyance, even though the illustration shows just two horses being brought forward by the ostler — the man to the right must be the postillion.
We may reasonably conclude that Charley is the young man in the fawn-coloured great-coat assisting Emmeline in getting down from the little carriage, and that Edwin is the young man in the grey cap and caped great-coat, but, since we cannot see their faces, we cannot accurately assess their emotions. Presumably, Charley is relieved that Edwin is marrying Emmeline, and has not married Angela. In other words, there is no romantic triangle, and no impediment to Charley's marring Angela. So slight a plot would never do for even a novella, but it is satisfactory as a gambit to close the frame of the seven-part, romantic series f Christmas stories which end sadly for the grownup Harry Walmers and Norah, but which ends happily for Charley, teller of his own tale and retailer of the boots' narrative. Since this conclusion completes the frame that opened with the arrival of the guest at Holly-Tree Inn, the illustration should somehow echo or reprise the front cover plate and the frontispiece, and the reiteration of the green post-chaise accomplishes that echoing of the earlier illustrations which pertain to Charley's stopping at the inn.
Relevant Illustrations from Earlier Editions
Left: Harry French's character study of the kindly Boots when he was a gardener on the Walmers estate and Master Harry, The Holly Tree Inn (1871). Centre: Harry Furniss's realisation of the arrival of the runaway children at the Yorkshire inn, Arrivals at The Holly Tree (1910). Right: Harry Furniss's realisation of the children's agreeing to be engaged while Cobbs was still gardener at the Walmers' estate, An Engagement (1910). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Above: E. A. Abbey's realisation of the scene in which the maid and the boots, Cobbs, lead the children to their room, "There's Love Lane" (1876). [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
Davis, Paul. Charles Dickens A to Z: The Essential Reference to His Life and Work. New York: Facts On File, 1998.
Dickens, Charles. Christmas Stories. Illustrated by Edward Dalziel, Harry French, F. A. Fraser, James Mahoney, Townley Green, and Charles Green. The Oxford Illustrated Dickens. Oxford, New York, and Toronto: Oxford U.P., 1956, rpt. 1989.
_____________. Christmas Stories. Illustrated by E. A. Abbey. The Household Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1876.
_____________. Christmas Stories from "Household Words" and "All the Year Round". Illustrated by E. G. Dalziel. The Household Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1877.
_____________. Christmas Stories from "Household Words" and "All the Year Round". Illustrated by Townley Green, Charles Green, Fred Walker, F. A. Fraser, Harry French, E. G. Dalziel, and J.Mahoney. The Illustrated Library Edition. London: Chapman and Hall, 1911. Volume 1.
_____________. Christmas Stories from "Household Words" and "All the Year Round". Illustrated by E. A. Abbey. The Centenary Edition. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911.
_____________. Christmas Stories. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. The Charles Dickens Library Edition. London: Educational Book, 1910. Volume 16.
_____________. The Holly-Tree Inn. Illustrated by Henry Matthew Brock. London: Hodder and Stoughton, n. d. .
_____________. The Uncommercial Traverller and Additional Christmas Stories. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. The Diamond Edition. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
Thomas, Deborah A. Dickens and the Short Story. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982.
Created 1 February 2016