Vol. XVIII. March, 1841. No. 3.
|Fiction, Literature and Articles|
|The Lady Isabel|
|The Confessions of a Miser (continued)|
|The Circassian Bride|
|The Maiden’s Adventure|
|The Destroyer’s Doom|
|The Reefer of ’76 (continued)|
|The Major’s Wedding|
|The Father’s Blessing|
|A Sketch from Life|
|Sports and Pastimes|
|Review of New Books|
Vol. XVIII. March, 1841. No. 3.
A TALE OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY.
Why don’t he come?
It was a splendid landscape. Far away before the eye stretched a wide, undulating country, checkered with lordly mansions, extensive woodlands, and here and there a quiet little village peeping out from amidst the verdant hills; while away on the verge of the horizon glittered a majestic river, which, winding hither and thither among the uplands, burst at length into view in a flood of glorious light, that lay like a shield of burnished silver in the distance.
Nor was the foreground of the scene less beautiful. Art had there been taxed to rival nature in loveliness. Terraces sinking one beneath another; a verdant lawn that seemed like velvet; rich, old lordly balustrades skirting the garden at your feet; and beyond, open glades, and clumps of forest trees thrown together in apparent confusion, but to produce which the utmost skill had been tasked, evinced at once the taste and opulence, of Lord Deraine, the owner of that rich domain. Such was the scene upon which two beings gazed on a lovely summer afternoon, in the year 16—.
One of these was a youth, just verging into manhood, dressed in a dark, plain suit, with a deep lace collar, and cuffs of the same material. He had apparently been singing, and accompanying himself on the guitar; for his instrument was still held idly in his hand, as he sat at the feet of a lady, into whose face he was looking up with a rapt intensity of gaze, which told that the soul of the page—for such he seemed—was in every glance.
And well might his emotion toward that lovely being be one of unmixed love; for never did a more beautiful creature gaze upon a summer landscape. Tall, stately, with dark lustrous eyes, and a port that might have become a queen, Isabel Mowbray, was a being formed to be loved with an intensity such as this world rarely witnesses. As she now stood gazing out upon the landscape, with one hand shading her brow, and the other thrown back, and resting on the balustrade, thus displaying her snowy neck and bust, and her matchless figure to the best advantage, she seemed a being too beautiful for aught but a poet’s imagination.
“You are silent, this afternoon, cousin,” at last said the youth, breaking a silence which had lasted for several minutes, “what are you looking at, Isabel?”
The maiden made no reply, but still gazed down the park. She was apparently lost in thought.
“Shall I sing again for you?” said the boy, in his low, sweet voice, looking up more devotedly than ever into the maiden’s face, “you used to like to hear me sing, you know, Isabel.”
“Oh! Henry is it you?” said the beauty, looking down, and half blushing, as if detected in something she wished to conceal, “sing by all means, my pretty page and coz. Sing me that old lay of the troubadour, and here Wyn,” and she called playfully to a beautiful greyhound reposing at the feet of the boy, “come here and let me talk to you, while Henry sings.”
An expression of gratified joy—of joy such as is rarely seen, except in the countenances of those who love—illumined the whole face of the boy as the maiden thus spoke—and taking up his guitar, he sang the words of an olden lay, which has now passed, with many a fair lip that once warbled it, into oblivion.
Gazing up into the face of the maiden as he sang, the youth appeared to have forgotten that aught else existed on earth besides the object of his adoration,—while the caresses lavished upon his greyhound, but more than all the occasional smiles which Isabel bestowed upon himself, filled his whole soul with a delicious emotion, such as is known only to us when we fancy our first love is returned. But had he not been misled by his own blind admiration, he might have seen much in her conduct to dissipate his delusion; for scarcely a minute would elapse, without Isabel casting an anxious glance, down the avenue of the park, and once her lips moved unconsciously, and even the page might have heard her murmur, had he listened, “I wonder where he can be?” But appearing to awake to her indiscretion, the maiden suddenly ceased gazing, and turning to Henry, said,
“A thousand, thousand thanks, sweet coz. You sing, to-night, sweeter than ever. But there if Wyn—the saucy fellow—has not run off with my shawl.”
The eyes of the youth lighted up with pleasure, and the blood mounted even to his brow, at this encomium,—and exclaiming,
“Stay—I will win back the truant,” he bounded gaily down the terrace after the playful hound.
The maiden followed him with her eyes, and sighed, “Poor Henry.” In those two words what a volume of hopeless love and years of anguish for the youth were spoken.
The Page: The Lovers.
Henry De Lorraine was the only son of a once proud, but now decayed lineage, and, being left an orphan at an early age, had been reared in the house of his cousin, Lord Deraine. His life there had been that of most noble youths of his day, who, either through necessity, or for the purposes of advancement, were brought up as pages in the establishments of the wealthier nobility. Lorraine, however, possessed one advantage over the other pages of his cousin: he had from the first been the companion of the Lady Isabel, the only child of his patron. Although a year or two older than himself, the want of either brother or sister, had induced Isabel to confide in him all her little difficulties; and they had grown up thus, more on the footing of children of the same parent, than as a wealthy heiress, and a poor dependant.
During the last year of their lives, however, a change had silently, and almost imperceptibly, come over their feelings toward each other. An absence of nearly a twelvemonth with his patron at a foreign court, had in part altered the sentiments of Lorraine from those of a devoted brother to the emotions of love. He left Isabel, when both thought as children; he returned and found her already a woman. During that interval new scenes, new thoughts, new emotions had successively occupied the heart of the page; and though when he came back he was still a boy in years, he had already began to feel the intenser passions of the man. Never had he seen such beauty as burst upon him when Isabel entered the room on his return. It was as if a goddess of olden Greece had been ushered into his presence, as if the inanimate statue of Pygmalion had flushed, all at once, into a breathing being. Lorraine had dreamed of loveliness, but he had never, in his brightest visions, pictured aught so fair. He had expected Isabel to be improved, although he had left her the loveliest being of the riding; but he had not imagined that she would bud forth into a flower of such surpassing, such transcendent beauty. He was awed; he was filled as if with the presence of a divinity, to which he bowed irresistibly, but in strange delight. From that hour the bosom of the warm, high-souled boy, was ruled by a passion that devoured his very existence.
But we said Isabel had changed. She too had learned to love, though not her cousin. As yet she scarcely knew it herself; the secret lay hidden in the recesses of her own bosom; and though her heart would beat more wildly, and the blood rush in deeper tints to her cheek, whenever the steed of her lover, the young Lord De Courtenay, was seen approaching her father’s gate, yet the Lady Isabel had never asked herself whence arose her emotion. Perhaps she feared to institute the inquiry. Certain it is, that like every other delicate female, she almost shrank from owning, even to herself, that her affections had strayed from their pure resting-place in her own bosom.
It was well for Lorraine’s present, though unfortunate for his future, happiness, that De Courtenay had left the country a few days prior to the page’s return. By this means he was prevented from learning, what, otherwise would have checked his growing affection even in its bud, and suffered to go on in his dreams of love, until the very existence of the endeared object became almost a part of his being.
It was some time before Isabel perceived the change which had been wrought in her cousin’s feelings toward herself, and when she did, the knowledge served more than aught else, to reveal to her the state of her own heart. She saw she could not return her cousin’s passion, though she still loved him with the same sisterly affection as ever, and with this discovery came that of her own love for De Courtenay. Although her equal in rank, and even her superior in wealth, there was a romantic gallantry in her lover which had forbade him to woo her as others of like elevated station would have done. Though, therefore, her parent would have sanctioned the alliance at once, he was yet ignorant of the love the only son of his neighbor, the earl of Wardour, bore to his daughter. And though the lady Isabel thought of her absent lover daily, there was something—it might be maiden modesty, which made her shun breathing De Courtenay’s name.
Several weeks had now elapsed, and months were beginning to pass away, since the departure of De Courtenay for Flanders. The time for his return had nearly arrived, and Isabel had even received a hasty note from him, breathing a thousand delicate flatteries, such as lovers only know how to pay and to receive, telling her to expect him at Deraine Hall, on this very afternoon—yet he came not. Why did he tarry? It was this knowledge which had made the lady Isabel watch so long from the terrace, down the avenue of her father’s park. Little did Lorraine think, as he gazed so devotedly into her face, that her thoughts even then were wandering upon another.
Let it not be fancied that the lady Isabel trifled with her cousin’s feelings. Deeply, daily was she pained at his too evident love. She longed to tell him the truth, and yet she shrank from it. She could not inflict such agony upon his heart. She would have given worlds to have had the power of returning his love, but that had long since passed from her, and like the pitying executioner, she loathed striking the blow, which she knew must eventually be struck. And thus the story of those two beings went on, and while both were full of joy and hope, one, at least, had before him to drink, a cup, as yet unseen, of the bitterest agony. Alas! for the disappointments, the worse than utter wo, which a devoted heart experiences, when it discovers that its first deep love is in vain.
The Letter: The Discovery.
“She loves me—she loves me,” exclaimed the page joyfully, as he stood in a sequestered alley in the garden, a few hours later than when she first saw him, “yes!” he exclaimed, as if he could not too often repeat the glad tidings, “she loves me; and, poor, as I am, I may yet win her.”
As he spoke his whole countenance lighted up; his slender figure dilated; his chest heaved; and all the lofty spirit of his sires shone in the boy’s eyes, and spoke in his tones.
“Yes! she loves me,” he repeated, “she called me ‘sweet coz,’ and thanked me a ‘thousand times’—these were the very words—and she played so with Wyn, and said I sang better than ever. Yes! yes! I cannot be mistaken—she loves me, me only.”
The page suddenly ceased, for he heard a rustling as of some one walking slowly up an adjacent path, separated from his own by a narrow belt of shrubbery. His heart fluttered, and the blood rushed into his cheek. He wanted nothing to tell him that the intruder was the lady Isabel.
She was evidently reading something, though in a low voice, as if to herself. For a minute the page hesitated whether he should join her, but then he reflected that she could be perusing nothing that she would not wish him to hear, when something in her glad tones, something in the words she read, induced him, the next instant, to pause. The lady Isabel was apparently repeating a letter, but from whom? Did he dream? Could those terms of endearment be addressed to her? Was it her voice which lingered upon them in such apparent pleasure? She was now directly opposite to the page; not more than a few feet distant; and the sense which hitherto had only reached him in broken fragments, now came in continuous sentences to his ear. The letter ran thus:
Dearest Isabel:—I write this in haste, and with a sad heart, for instead of being on my journey to see your sweet face once more, I am suddenly ordered back to Flanders with despatches for the commander in chief. You may judge of your Edward’s feelings, to have the cup of bliss thus dashed from his lips at the very moment when he had thought a disappointment impossible. Oh! if I knew that you still thought of me, love, as you once said with your own sweet lips that you did, I would depart with a lighter heart. God only knows when I shall see you. But the king’s messenger has come for me, and I must go. Farewell, dearest. I have kissed the paper over and over again. Farewell, again, and again.
Here the words of the reader became once more undistinguishable; but had they continued audible, Lorraine could have heard no more. A fearful truth was breaking in upon him. His brain was like fire: his heart beat as if it would snap its bonds asunder. He staggered to a tree, for a faintness was coming over him. Big drops of agony rolled from his brow, and he placed his hand to his forehead, like one awaking from delirium. At length he found words for his woe.
“No no, it cannot be,” he exclaimed “it was all a dream. Yes! it is too, too true. But I will not, cannot believe it, unless I hear it from her own lips,” and starting forward, with sudden energy, the page placed his hand upon the shrubbery, and pushing it aside with superhuman strength, he stood the next instant panting before his cousin.
Astonished at his unexpected appearance, Isabel started back with a suppressed shriek; but on recognising the intruder, her fear gave way to confusion. The blood mounted in torrents over brow, neck, and bosom; and hastily crushing the letter in her hands, and concealing it in her dress, she paused hesitatingly before her cousin. His quick eye detected the movement, and rushing forward, he flung himself at the feet of Isabel.
“It is then true—true—true,” he exclaimed passionately, “my ears are not deceived, and you love another. Is it not so Isabel?” The maiden averted her head, for she saw at once that she had been overheard, and she could not endure the boy’s agonised look. “Oh! Isabel, dear, dear Isabel, say it is untrue. Only say I was mistaken, that it was all a dream, that you still love me as you used to love me.”
“I do love you still,” murmured Isabel, in broken accents, “as I ever did, as my dearest, nearest cousin.”
“Is that all!” said the boy, whose eyes for a moment had lighted up with wild unchecked joy, but which now shewed the depth of his returning agony in every look, “is that all?” he continued in a tone of disappointment. “Oh Isabel,” and the tears gushed into his eyes, “is there no hope? Speak—only one word, dear Isabel. I have dared to love you—I might have known better—and now you spurn me. Well—the dream is over,” and dropping the hands which he had seized, he gazed a minute wildly into her face, to see if there was one last gleam of hope. But no response came back to dispel his agony. The lady Isabel was violently agitated, and though her look was one of pity, it was not, alas! one of encouragement. She burst into tears, and turned her head partially away. Striking his brow wildly with his hands, the page rushed from her presence, and when she murmured his name and looked up, he was gone.
(To be continued.)
BY H. PERCEVAL.
Whence art thou bright Callirhöe,
Calm, Hebé-eyed Callirhöe?
Art thou a daughter of this earth,
That, like myself, had life and birth.
And who will die like me?
Methinks a soul so pure and clear
Must breathe another atmosphere,
Of thought more heavenly and high,
More full of deep serenity,
Than circles round this world of ours;
I dare not think that thou shouldst die,
Unto my soul, like summer showers
To thirsty leaves thou art,—like May
To the slow-budding woodbine bowers.
Oh no! thou canst pass away.
No hand shall strew thy bier with flowers!
Those eyes, as fair as Eve’s, when they,
Untearful yet, were raised to pray,
Fronting the mellow sunset glow
Of summer eve in Paradise,
Those bright founts whence forever flow
Nepenthe-streams of ecstacies.
It cannot be that Death
Shall chill them with his winter breath,—
What hath Death to do with thee,
My seraph-winged Callirhöe?
Whence art thou? From some other sphere,
On which, throughout the moonless night,
Gazing, we dream of beings bright,
Such as we long for here,—
Or art thou but a joy Elysian,
Of my own inward sight,
A glorious and fleeting vision,
Habited in robes of light,
The image of a blessed thing,
Whom I might love with wondering,
Yet feeling not a shade of doubt,
And who would give her love to me,
To twine my inmost soul about?
No, no, these would not be like thee,
Bright one, with auburn hair disparted
On thy meek forehead maidenly,
No, not like thee, my woman-hearted,
My warm, my true Callirhöe!
How may I tell the sunniness
Of thy thought-beaming smile?
Or how the soothing spell express,
That bindeth me the while,
Forth from thine eyes and features bright,
Gusheth that flood of golden light?
Like a sun-beam to my soul,
Comes that trusting smile of thine,
Lighting up the clouds of doubt,
Till they shape themselves, and roll
Like a glory all about
The messenger divine.—
For divine that needs must be
That bringeth messages from thee.
Madonna, gleams of smiles like this,
Like a stream of music fell,
In the silence of the night,
On the soul of Raphael.
Musing with a still delight,
How meekly thou did’st bend and kiss
The baby on thy knee,
Who sported with the golden hair
That fell in showers o’er him there,
Looking up contentedly.
Only the greatest souls can speak
As much by smiling as by tears.
Thine strengthens me when I am weak,
And gladdens into hopes my fears.
The path of life seems plain and sure,
Thy purity doth make me pure
And holy, when thou let’st arise
That mystery divine,
That silent music in thine eyes.
Seldom tear visits cheek of thine,
Seldom a tear escapes from thee,
My Hebé, my Callirhöe!
Sometimes in waking dreams divine,
Wandering, my spirit meets with thine,
And while, made dumb with ecstacy,
I pause in a delighted trance,
Thine, like a squirrel caught at play,
Just gives one startled look askance,
And darteth suddenly away,
Swifter than a phosphor glance
At night upon the lonely sea,
Sometimes, in mockery of care,
Thy playful thought will never rest,
Darting about, now here, now there,
Like sun-beams on a river’s breast,
Shifting with each breath of air,
By its very unrest fair.
As a bright and summer stream,
Seen in childhood’s happy dream,
Singing nightly, singing daily,
Trifling with each blade of grass
That breaks his ripples as they pass,
And going on its errand gaily,
Singing with the self-same leap
Wherewith it merges in the deep.
So shall thy spirit glide along,
Breaking, when troubled, into song,
And leave an echo floating by
When thou art gone forth utterly.
Seeming-cheerful souls there be,
That flutter with a living sound
As dry leaves rustle on the ground;
But they are sorrowful to me,
Because they make me think of thee,
My bird-like, wild Callirhöe!
Thy mirth is like the flickering ray
Forthshooting from the steadfast light
Of a star, which through the night
Moves glorious on its way,
With a sense of moveless might.
Thine inner soul flows calm forever;
Dark and calm without a sound,
Like that strange and trackless river
That rolls its waters underground.
Early and late at thy soul’s gate
Sits Chastity in maiden wise,
No thought unchallenged, small or great,
Goes thence into thine eyes;
Nought evil can that warder win,
To pass without or enter in.
Before thy pure eyes guilt doth shrink,
Meanness doth blush and hide its head,
Down through the soul their light will sink,
And cannot be extinguished.
Far up on poiséd wing
Thou floatest, far from all debate,
Thine inspirations are too great
To tarry questioning;
No murmurs of our earthly air,
God’s voice alone can reach thee there;
Downlooking on the stream of Fate,
So high thou sweepest in thy flight,
Thou knowest not of pride or hate,
But gazing from thy lark-like height,
Forth o’er the waters of To be,
The first gleam of Truth’s morning light
Round thy broad forehead floweth bright,
My Pallas-like Callirhöe.
Thy mouth is Wisdom’s gate, wherefrom,
As from the Delphic cave,
Great sayings constantly do come,
Wave melting into wave;
Rich as the shower of Danäe,
Rains down thy golden speech;
My soul sits waiting silently,
When eye or tongue sends thought to me,
To comfort or to teach.
Calm is thy being as a lake
Nestled within a quiet hill,
When clouds are not, and winds are still,
So peaceful calm, that it doth take
All images upon its breast,
Yet change not in its queenly rest,
Reflecting back the bended skies
Till you half doubt where Heaven lies.
Deep thy nature is, and still,
How dark and deep! and yet so clear
Its inmost depths seem near;
Not moulding all things to its will,
Moulding its will to all,
Ruling them with unfelt thrall.
So gently flows thy life along
It makes e’en discord musical,
So that nought can pass thee by
But turns to wond’rous melody,
Like a full, clear, ringing song.
Sweet the music of its flow,
As of a river in a dream,
A river in a sunny land,
A deep and solemn stream
Moving over silver sand,
Majestical and slow.
I sometimes think that thou wert given
To be a bright interpreter
Of the pure mysteries of Heaven,
And cannot bear
To think Death’s icy hand should stir
One ringlet of thy hair;
But thou must die like us,—
Yet not like us,—for can it be
That one so bright and glorious
Should sink into the dust as we,
Who could but wonder at thy purity?
Not oft I dwell in thoughts of thine,
My earnest-souled Callirhöe;
And yet thy life is part of mine.
What should I love in place of thee?
Sweet is thy voice, as that of streams
To me, or as a living sound
To one who starts from fev’rous sleep,
Scared by the shapes of ghastly dreams,
And on the darkness stareth round,
Fancying dim terrors in the gloomy deep.
Then if it must be so,
That thou from us shalt go,
Linger yet a little while;
Oh! let me once more feel thy grace,
Oh! let me once more drink thy smile!
I am as nothing if thy face
Is turned from me!
But if it needs must be,
That I must part from thee,
That the silver cord be riven
That holds thee down from Heaven,
Not yet, not yet, Callirhöe,
Unfold thine angel wings to flee,
Oh! no, not yet, Callirhöe!
Cambridge, Mass., 1841.
THE CONFESSIONS OF A MISER.
BY J. ROSS BROWNE.
Continued from Page 87.
That irrevocable passion which sprung up between Marco Da Vinci and Valeria, during the hours of mutual communion which they enjoyed while preparations were in progress for the annual exhibition at the Academy of Arts, was not destined to wither in its infancy.
Scarcely had the portrait been finished, when notice was conveyed to the candidates to send in their productions; and of course my anxiety was great to ascertain what impression my daughter’s beauty should make in public. Completely blinded by those deep and damning schemes which have proved my ruin, I meantime suspected nothing of what was in progress between the young and ardent lovers. They were bound heart and soul to each other; but except by those involuntary signs, which none but the victims of passion can understand, their love was unuttered. Hourly was this misplaced flame acquiring an increasing degree of vigor, from the very means taken to suppress it. I saw not, in my blindness, that in spite of the respectful and irreproachable conduct of Da Vinci toward the idol of my mercenary dreams, his tender flame, his ill-disguised sentiments of admiration, his involuntary devotion, were all returned in the same manner by Valeria.
In due time the exhibition took place. A week of thrilling excitement passed away. On the evening the premiums were to be awarded, I sallied out to await the decisions, persuaded that Valeria’s beauty, and not the skill of Marco Da Vinci, must make serious impressions in favor of the portrait. How describe my delight, when the premium was bestowed on the limner of my daughter’s charms! Her fame, I well knew, would now rapidly spread, and my fortune was sure!
In the excitement of the moment, I hurried from the Academy, and sought to drown my feeling in deep potations. While under the influence of an unusual quantity of the stimulant, the time flew rapidly past; and it was late in the night before I recovered myself sufficiently to stagger home. To account for the sight which there paralyzed my eyes, it is necessary to touch upon what happened during my inebriation.
Marco Da Vinci, on learning the decision made in favor of his work, proceeded with haste to pour out his feelings of gratitude to Valeria, whom he regarded as the instrument of his success. In the passionate eloquence of his temperament, he dwelt upon all, save that which was consuming his vitals, and which he dared not avow. They who pass any portion of their time in a state of beatitude, can alone say how swiftly it flies. Valeria and Da Vinci, entranced with their own dreamy visions of future happiness and of present joy, noted not that the hour of midnight had approached. At length the “iron tongue” of the town clock warned them to part; and with a deep sigh Valeria murmured a request that Da Vinci would visit the house again and frequently.
“My determination,” said Marco, “can no longer be suppressed.” In a voice of the deepest agitation he proceeded: “I had hoped, Valeria, that we might part without a word of regret on either side; but your kindness and friendship toward me, render it a duty that I should make some explanations in defence of my refusal of your hospitable invitation. I must speak, whatever be the penalty. Your beauty and charms of person—your mental fascination—render it too dangerous for me to continue my visits! We must part—forever!”
In a hurried and agitated manner the young painter rushed toward the door.
“Stay!” cried Valeria, in whom the struggle between love and duty was for a moment so violent as to deprive her of her faculties, “Da Vinci, why must we part thus? Why are we never again to meet? I am sure it is no harm for us to enjoy the pleasure of each other’s society.”
This was said in a voice of such warmth and artlessness, that, for a moment, he was unnerved in his resolution. The danger, however, was too great; and he resisted the temptation.
“Valeria,” said Marco Da Vinci, endeavoring to answer calmly, “I am an outcast—a beggar!”
“But I do not think less of you for that!” cried Valeria, passionately.
“Hear me!” cried Da Vinci, in a hurried and choaking voice, “you know me not! I have dared—I still dare—to love you!”
Valeria might have suspected, and probably did suspect, that this declaration was inevitable; but there is a great deal of deceit in the female heart; and she evinced much astonishment at the words of her lover. She endeavored to frown—to look serious—to speak of my authority—but love was the conqueror!
That resource which woman is ever prone to make use of, was at hand; and Valeria wept. Her beauty had always been a subject of dangerous interest to Marco Da Vinci: it was now heightened in his mind by the consciousness that she loved him. No longer able to control those feelings, which from the moment of their meeting, had taken possession of Da Vinci’s heart, the enthusiastic lover sprang forward and clasped Valeria to his bosom. He pressed her lips to his own, and imprinted on them the burning kiss of first-love.
At this critical moment I entered. Unable to believe my senses, I stood gasping for breath, and transfixed with doubt and astonishment. Convinced at length that I was not deceived, I sprang forward to wreak my vengeance on the villain who had so basely abused my confidence.
“Monster!” cried Da Vinci, confronting me face to face, and darting from his fine expressive eyes the most deadly hatred, “Monster! you are known! whatever obligations I may have formerly considered myself under to you, I now look upon them as entirely cancelled by your hypocrisy toward myself, and your base conduct toward your daughter. Know, hoary villain, that no later than to day, I received a letter from Don Ferdinand Ruzzina, warning me to be on my guard in any of my transactions with you. Nor was this all! He openly exposed your villainy, and revealed the unnatural and cruel schemes you have concerted for the disposal of your daughter’s honor. Behold, wretch, in me her protector! You have forfeited the title, and by the God that made me, your baseness shall not triumph!”
So struck was I at this change in the conduct of Da Vinci, that for several moments I stood transfixed to the spot. Still stupified with rage and shame, I staggered back, and flung myself on a bench. Valeria, with that filial affection, which I had never known her to violate, sprang toward me in an agony of remorse; and kneeling at my feet, earnestly avowed her determination to remain forever obedient to my will; and craved forgiveness for her instrumentality in causing me such shame and misery. Already goaded to desperation by the taunts of young Da Vinci, and the reproaches of my own conscience, I was not prepared for this act of unmerited constancy. In the bitterness of my own self-detestation, I rushed from the room, striking my temples with my clenched hands, and uttering imprecations on those who gave me life. I hastily mounted the ladder, leading to my miserable garret; and darting through the trap-door, threw myself head-long on the squalid and tattered pallet.
Ruzzina had not forgotten me! Awed by the unconquerable virtue of my daughter, he had no desire to renew visits which he well knew were alike useless and unwelcome. But I had exacted large sums from him. He was my dupe! Even in that, there was a pleasure. Aye, such a pleasure as a miser can feel when avarice triumphs over conscience, and vice over virtue!
Early on the following morning, I indited a note to Don Ferdinand, which, in the plenitude of my craft, I looked upon as relieving me from all claims whatever on his part. It ran thus:
“If you have any intention of consummating your designs on my daughter’s virtue—a thing which I regard as a mere misnomer—you must do so immediately. The advance-money hitherto received from you, I consider fairly my own; and if you think proper to neglect the chance I now give you of achieving your wishes, I am sure it is your own fault.
“Be so good as to let me have a definite answer, when it suits your convenience; and believe me,
It afforded me much gratification to anticipate the wrath and indignation Ruzzina should evince on reading this. To gloat over the dark traits of men’s characters, has ever been my choicest amusement; and I well knew that he would either make a desperate attempt to retrieve his imprudence by recovering the money, or desist altogether and keep silent to avoid the shafts of satire and ridicule.
I suffered much uneasiness, and had much to fear on account of the ardent and fiery temperament of Valeria. The passion she had betrayed for Marco Da Vinci was no childish fancy; but a deep-rooted, irrevocable love, which nothing could eradicate or assuage. Her pure Italian blood permitted no medium between passion and indifference. She loved him once, and was destined to love, or hate him forever after. Of this I quickly had a most satisfactory proof.
Enraged one day at the obstinate manner in which she rejected the advances of every suitor I thought proper to introduce into my house, I bitterly reproached her for her disobedience; and in the excess of my anger, struck her a violent blow. Her proud spirit was instantly up.
“Father,” said she, “you have struck me for the first, and for the last time. In defiance of your cruel and unnatural machinations for the disposal of my honor, you shall never reproach me with their success. I have hitherto mildly resisted your iniquitous designs; and I now boldly put myself out of your power. This roof shall never more shelter your daughter!”
In scarcely any gradation of human depravity is man totally callous to the qualms of conscience. I have before remarked that I anticipated with joy the hour of death; but this was merely a fiendish delirium, wrought by the recollection of past iniquities: a kind of bravo, which, in the hour of cool contemplation, would be regarded with fear and horror.
I confess I was much staggered at the justice of Valeria’s reproaches, and the firmness and dignity of her demeanor. Whatever might have been the nature of my former conduct toward her, I did feel, at that moment, a sense of my baseness. Her fine, expressive eyes were eloquent with determination; and her beautiful figure, as she glided steadily from my presence, seemed to acquire a queenliness from passion and indignation. She spoke no more; and I was too relentless to excuse myself, or break the silence. I had pride—ay, the pride of a demon. I would not humble it by confessing my cruelty, or soliciting her forgiveness. Thus originated a disunion, which was soon destined to lead to the most tragical effects.
I follow, for a moment, the fortunes of Valeria.
During her residence in that part of Venice, in which we had latterly lived, she had, by the merest accident, become acquainted with the daughter of a neighboring officer, and had cultivated the society of this young lady, more from a natural fondness for association with the educated of her sex, than from any particular liking to her new acquaintance. Signora Almeda—the lady’s name—was not unusually prepossessing in her person or manners; but she had a vigorous and masculine mind, and possessed no small share of sound knowledge, both literary and scientific. She had, from the beginning, regarded my daughter with peculiar favor. Their acquaintance had latterly become quite intimate; and on the strength of this intimacy, and the dependance of her situation, Valeria resolved to claim the hospitality of her friend, until fortune should place it in her power to earn a livelihood by her own exertions. Signora Almeda accepted, with pleasure, the proposition of her accomplished acquaintance.
For several months a sisterly harmony was observed between the friends. Though Valeria steadily refused to enter into society, yet it soon became obvious to her entertainer that she had the ascendency in the social circle. Of all stings prone to penetrate the female heart, none is so poisonous or painful as that which wounds vanity. Signora Almeda was piqued to discover that the suitors, who had before paid her the utmost devotion, now eagerly transferred their addresses to her guest. From learning to view her as a rival, she presently looked upon her as an ungrateful and disagreeable dependant. Every opportunity was now taken advantage of, both publicly and privately, by Signora Almeda, to vent her envy toward Valeria. The innocent cause of this disquietude, meantime wondered at the change. It was true, her entertainer still continued to treat her with formal hospitality; but all intimacy and friendship were at an end. This state of things was destined to be speedily brought to a close.
Signora Almeda had among other suitors, one who really admired her, and for whom she had evinced much respect. This gentleman, inspired by the superiority of Valeria, physically if not mentally, forgot for a moment his promises and devotions toward Signora Almeda. The blow was not to be borne. A proud Italian spirit was roused. Revenge was now the sole subject of her thought.
Valeria one evening, soon after this, retired to her chamber to enjoy a few moments of solitude. In searching a small drawer for some article of habiliment, she accidentally discovered a note, directed to herself and handsomely sealed. It was inscribed in a bold, masculine hand; and ran thus:—
“Bewitching girl!—In accordance with your repeated desire, I shall to-night gently tap at your chamber-window. O raptures! how I shall—but why anticipate.
Astonished and indignant, Valeria was about to tear this insulting epistle to atoms, when the door gently opened; and Signora Almeda glided in.
“Ah! my charming guest,” she whispered, with forced friendship, “what now? Mercy, you seem like one who had just caught sight of an apparition! Dear me! what’s the matter?”
“Matter!” cried Valeria, fired with shame and indignation, “read!—but no—the insult must not be known!”
“Heavens! a letter—Ah, I guess the contents!” She snatched it playfully, and read with apparent surprise—what she had herself written!
The result was such as might be expected. Valeria was peremptorily forbidden the house. Her character was blasted—her happiness destroyed!
In this melancholy situation, Marco Da Vinci found her, when after a long and indefatigable search, he succeeded in tracing her to the residence of Signora Almeda. With all the ardor and sincerity of his character, Da Vinci had determined on bringing his fate to a speedy close, either by wedding the object of his affection, or by bidding her farewell forever. The critical situation in which he found her, immediately determined him to adopt the former course, if possible. He had, since his triumph at the Academy of Arts, attained some eminence; and his circumstances were now in a favorable condition.
Valeria had many objections to the course proposed; but on the one hand poverty—perhaps beggary would be her lot; while on the other the importunities of Da Vinci were so urgent as to remove most of the remaining obstacles. After much hesitation she consented to acquiesce in his wishes. The young and loving couple were immediately united. I now return to my own narrative.
Nearly a year had elapsed since I was left alone and desolate; when one evening I was astonished to see a female, closely muffled, enter my house. My mind had that day been peculiarly embittered against my daughter, and she was even now the subject of my thoughts. Great, indeed, was my astonishment, when the apparent stranger flung herself in a kneeling posture before me, and casting off her disguise revealed to my sight the faded lineaments of Valeria!
“Father!” she cried, “forgive me!—forgive the partner of my misery! We are ruined by a reverse of fortune—we are beggars! Distress has deprived us of pride! We seek your pardon!”
“Curse you!” I shouted, spurning her with my foot, “you demand pardon do you? Begone! Pardon, eh? Begone!” I thundered; and I pushed her violently toward the door. She fell. Her head struck a bureau; and the warm blood spouted from the gash. Had I reflected on the delicacy of her situation, it is probable I might have felt compassion enough to let her pass unmolested; but the deed was done. I did not regret it. My vengeance for the series of disappointments she had caused me was satiated.
(To be Continued.)
Louisville, Kentucky, February, 1841.
BY MRS. LAMBERT.
“The machine of human life, though constituted of a thousand parts, is in all its parts systematically connected; nor is it easy to insert an additional member, the spuriousness of which an accurate observation will not readily detect.”—Godwin.
It was midnight. Darkness, deep as the sable of a funeral pall, hung over the streets of Madrid. The wind blew in strong gusts, and the rain fell in torrents. The lightning, which, at brief intervals, rent the clouds, and flashed across the gloom, revealed no living, moving thing. For an instant only, the livid sheets lit up the streets and squares, and glared over the Plaza Mayon, so often the scene of savage bull-fights, of cruel executions, and, in former years, of the horrible Auto de fé. And again, as it seemed, a tenfold blackness enveloped every object; convents, colleges and hospitals, closed at every aperture, were shrouded in the general gloom. Man, though the noblest work of his Creator—glorying in his wisdom and in his might—towering in the battle-field—great in council—overweening, arrogant, boastful; in such a night learns to feel his own insignificance. He, who adorned with all the pageantry of wealth, elevates himself far above the lowly individual that seeks his daily bread by daily labor—who looks down as from an immeasurable height upon the poor peasant of the soil—even he, so rich, so powerful, sheltered within his stately walls, listens to the war of the elements that rage without—and inwardly congratulating himself on his rich and comfortable asylum, yet shrinks involuntarily as the blast shrieks by—and silently acknowledges his own impotence.
I have said no living thing moved in the street, and every building was closed against the storm; but in the outskirts of the city, in a narrow and solitary lane, built up at intervals with a few houses of mean and wretched appearance—a faint light shone through the gloom. It proceeded from the casement of a house of antique structure, and dilapidated appearance. Years must have gone by since that dwelling was the abode of comfort, for poverty and wretchedness seemed to have long marked it for their own. The exterior gave faithful promise of what was revealed within.
In a large and gothic room, the broken and discolored walls of which betokened decay, an aged man was bending over a fire of charcoal, and busily engaged in some metallic preparation. His form was bent by age. The hair of his head, and the beard, which descended to his breast, were bleached by time to a silvery whiteness. His forehead was ample, but furrowed by a thousand wrinkles. His eyes, deep set, small, and still retaining much quickness and fire, yet at times their expression was wild, despairing, even fearful.
A cap of peculiar and ancient form was upon his head, and his person was enveloped in a robe of russet, confined about the waist by a twisted girdle. His motions were tremulous and feeble, his countenance wan and death-like, his frame to the last degree emaciated.
A bed stood in one corner of the room; a table, and two roughly made forms, were all the furniture of that miserable apartment; but around the small furnace, at which the old man had been lately employed, were gathered crucibles, minerals, chemical preparations, and tools of mysterious form and curious workmanship, but well understood by the artist. Once more the adept, for such was the inmate of this lonely dwelling, scanned with searching eye the contents of a crucible; while the pale flame which rose suddenly from the sullen fire, cast over his sunken features a hue still more livid and cadaverous.
His labors had resulted in disappointment; he sighed heavily, and dropping his implements, abandoned his self-imposed task.
“It is over,” he murmured, “my hour is almost come—and should I repine? No—no. Life!—wretched and misspent!—world! I have sacrificed thee, to thyself!—wonderful enigma, yet how true!”
Turning his steps to the table, he took from thence a lamp, and walked feebly to a remote end of the room. Here, on a humble couch, lay a sleeping child; it was a boy, slender, pale, and bearing in his young face the indications of sorrow and of want—yet was he exquisitely beautiful. He slept still, and heavily. The adept gazed at him long and deeply.
“He sleeps. Victim as he is, of his father’s errors, and his crimes—shunned by his fellows—hunted by the unfeeling—pinched with cold—and perishing with hunger—yet—he sleeps. Father of Heaven! such is the meed of innocence! I, shall never more know rest,—till the long sleep of death that knows no awakening!—No awakening—and is it so?” A blast of wind swept by, rocking the old pile to its foundation, the thunder rolled heavily above, and the keen blue lightning shone through every crevice.
The old man looked fearfully around: a deeper paleness overspread his face, and cold drops stood on his brow and sallow temples.
“The angel of death is surely abroad this night—he seeks his victim.”
Tottering to the bed he sunk down upon it, and closing his eyes, an almost deadly sickness seized him. He called faintly for Adolf. The lad had already risen, for the storm had awakened him. He went to the bedside. The old man could not speak. The child was affrighted and gazed earnestly upon the face of his parent. The senses of the latter had not forsaken him, and he motioned with his hand toward the table, on which stood a small cup. Adolf brought it to his father, and moistened his lips with the liquid. The old man revived. After a few moments he spoke, but his voice was tremulous and low.
“Adolf,” he said, “thy father is about to leave thee—dear object of my fond affection, thou art all that remains of my beloved Zillia—boy,” he continued exerting the last remains of strength, “thou must go hence. The moment thy father ceases to breathe thou must fly.”
The child looked on his parent with alarm, and sorrow depicted in his young face.
“Yes,” he repeated, “thou must quit this place. My enemies are on the alert. Me they would certainly destroy, and thy youth and innocence—will hardly save thee from their wrath. Long have they watched, and sought, and hunted me, from country to country, and from town to town. I have mingled in the crowd of cities, and hoped to be confounded with the multitude—to pass unmarked—unquestioned—unknown—in vain; the ever wakeful eye of suspicion followed me—danger dogged my footsteps. I sought the shelter of thick woods—of impenetrable forests, where the wolf howled, and the raven croaked—but the foot of my persecutor—Man—seldom came. Even there I was discovered. Imprisonment—famine—torture have been my portion—and yet I live. I live—but thy gentle spirit, Zillia, could not bear up under the pressure of so many woes. Adolf, thou wilt shortly be all that survives of the family of Zampieri.—I repeat, by the morning dawn I shall be no more, and thou must fly.”
“No, no,” returned the boy, “urge me not to depart—father, I will remain and share thy fate.” He threw himself as he spoke upon the bosom of the old man who pressed him in his feeble arms.—“And oh! father, I cannot go hence—I am weak—I am ill—father I die of hunger.”
An expression of keen anguish passed over the face of Zampieri, and he pushed his child from him.
“Boy,” he cried, “ask me not for bread—thou knowest I have it not. Have I not been laboring for thee—for thy wealth—for thy aggrandizement—ingrate—bread sayest thou—thou shalt have gold, boy, gold.”
The intellect of the adept wandered, and he laughed wildly. The large, soft, lustrous eyes of Adolf swam in tears, and his heart trembled within his bosom. With weak steps he retreated to the foot of the bed, and kneeling there, hid his face on his folded arms, and wept.
After a pause Zampieri again spoke.
“Life!” he muttered, “how have I wasted thee. Time! Thou art no longer mine. Would that I could redeem thee—but it is too late. Zillia, my murdered love! Thou art avenged. I left thy fond and simple affections for the depths of mysterious research. I madly thought to realise the dreams of illimitable wealth. Vain and destructive ambition. For thy sake have I riven asunder every tie.”
The voice of the old man ceased, and the sobs of the child too were silenced—perchance in sleep.
The violence of the tempest had subsided, and all was still; save that the blast still shrieked at intervals by, making the old casements rattle as it passed—and the thunder muttered low at a distance.
The hours rolled on. A faint grey light dawned in the east. The clouds broken in heavy masses, rolled rapidly onward obscuring and revealing, as they flew, the few bright stars that appeared far beyond this scene of petty turmoil, shining on, in their own unchanging, never ending harmony.
And now the dawn strengthened, and the stars grew pale. The last blue flickering flame, that wandered ignus-fatuus like, over the surface of the dying charcoal, had spent itself; and the wasting lamp looked ghastly in the beams of rising day.
A noise was heard at the lonely portal. It was that of forcible entrance, and came harshly over the deep silence that reigned within. Footsteps approached, not such as told the drawing near of a friend, the light, soft step of sympathy with sorrow. No. They heralded force and violence—bond and imprisonment—racks and torture.
Three Alguazils of the Inquisition entered the solitary apartment. They came to conduct Nicoli Zampieri to the holy office on a charge of performing or seeking to perform preternatural acts by unholy means—by conjuration and necromancy. Guilty or not guilty, suspicion had fallen upon him, and he had become amenable to the law. Their anticipated victim remained quiet. The Alguazils approached the bed on which he lay. The limbs were stark and stiff—the features immoveable. The Alchymist was dead.
Yet the eyes—widely opened, glassy, fixed and staring, gave the startling idea, that the gloomy and reluctant soul had through them strained its last agonising gaze on some opening view—some unimaginable scene in the dread arena of the shadowy world beyond the grave.
Silently they turned from the bed of death, for the power of the king of Terrors, thus displayed before them, quelled for a moment their iron nerves.
A kneeling figure at the bed’s foot next drew their attention. It was Adolf. They spoke to him, but he answered not: they shook him, but the form immobile, gave no sign of warmth or elasticity. One of the men turned aside the rich curls that clustered above the boy’s fair brow, and gently raised his head. It was cold and pale. The suffering spirit of the young and innocent Adolf, had winged its way to a happier world.
THE CIRCASSIAN BRIDE.
BY ESTHER WETHERALD.
“She walks in beauty, like the nights
Of cloudless climes and starry skies.”
Nerinda was the daughter of a shepherd, who dwelt in one of the charming portions of Circassia. If beauty was a blessing, Nerinda was blessed beyond the ordinary lot of mortals, for the fame of her loveliness had extended through the neighboring vallies, and at the early age of fourteen her hand had been sought by many, with an earnestness which showed her parents what a treasure they possessed in their eldest born. But no one had been able to obtain her.
Money is not so plentiful in the vales of Circassia, as in the mart of Constantinople; and few of the neighboring youths might venture therefore to aspire to her hand. There appeared, every day, less probability that the fair girl would be permitted to pass her life amidst scenes endeared to her by a thousand childish and tender recollections. Nerinda felt this and her eye became less bright, and her step less buoyant, than when she trod the flowery turf a few short months before, a happy careless child, attending those flocks now abandoned to the care of the younger children. She became pensive and melancholy. Her rich color faded, and her parents saw with surprise and concern that the dazzling beauty on which so much depended, would be tarnished by the very means they were taking to preserve it. What was to be done? She must resume her old employment, since healthful exercise was of such consequence to her appearance; she could do so in the neighboring meadows without danger, accompanied by her sister Leila. Oh! how happy was Nerinda, when she received this unlooked for indulgence; with what haste did she braid and arrange her beautiful hair, and fasten on the veil without which she must not be seen; then joining her sister, she visited every spot endeared to her by memory, and at length, seating herself on a mossy bank which separated her father’s possessions from those of a neighboring shepherd, began to arrange the many flowers she had culled into beautiful bouquets and chaplets, an occupation befitting one so young and lovely; but even whilst her hands were thus employed, it was evident her thoughts were far distant, for she fell into reveries so deep, that her sister, unable to arouse her from her abstraction, became weary of attempting it, and returned to her fleecy charge, leaving Nerinda to muse alone.
Nerinda believed herself alone, but immediately after the departure of Leila, a finely formed youth had crossed the stream, and stood at the distance of a few paces, gazing on her with a passionate tenderness which betokened the strength of his attachment. Almost afraid to disturb her meditations, yet anxious to obtain a single word, a single glance, he remained motionless; waiting, hoping that she might raise her eyes, and give him permission to advance. She raised them at length, uttered an exclamation of surprise, and in a moment the youth was at her feet. “Nerinda!” “Hassan!” were the first words that escaped their lips.
“Do I indeed see thee? and dost thou still love thy Nerinda?” said the maiden.
“Love thee?” replied the youth in an impassioned tone, “thy image is entwined with every fibre of my heart. They may tear thee from me, they may destroy me if they will, but while life remains I cannot cease to love.”
“Alas!” said Nerinda, “weeks have passed since I saw thee, and I feared—I—.” She stopped confused, for Hassan had seized her hand, and was pressing it to his lips with an energy which showed how well he understood what was passing in her mind.
“Oh! Nerinda,” said he, “I have entreated, I have implored thy father to bestow thee on me, but in vain, for all the money I could offer was not one tenth of the sum he requires; yet do not despair,” he said, as the color faded from her cheek, “I still may hope if thou remainest constant.”
“This very morning,” continued Hassan, “I sought thy father; at first he was unwilling to listen to me. At length I prevailed on him to hearken, even if he refused his assent to what I proposed: but he did not refuse. Pleased with my anxiety to obtain thee, he has promised that if in two years I can gain the required sum thou shalt be my wife; if I cannot he will wait no longer, but part with thee to him who will pay the highest price.”
The voice of the youth faltered—he was scarcely able to continue, “in two days I am to take all the money my father can spare, and join the caravan which proceeds to the south; fear not,” said he, replying to the alarm expressed in her varying countenance, “there is no danger, the caravan is large, and if fortunate as a trader, I shall return before two years have passed to claim my plighted bride. Wilt thou be true? may I trust thee?” were questions the lover asked, though he felt sure the answers would be such as he could desire, and when the assurance was given, he for the first time ventured to impress a kiss on those beautiful lips. Long did they thus converse, but at length they parted; Nerinda promising to come to the same spot on the next evening to bid him farewell.
They parted, Hassan vainly endeavoring to inspire Nerinda with his own hopes. She almost sank under the trial, and it was many days before she had strength to revisit the bank of turf, their accustomed trysting place. When she did, how changed did all appear; the flowers were still blooming around; the stream flowed on with its accustomed murmur; the birds carolled sweetly as of old; where then was the change? Alas! it was in her own heart: joy and happiness had fled with Hassan, and melancholy had taken their place.
Two years and six months had passed since the departure of the youth, and there seemed little probability of his return; even his venerable father mourned him as dead, when a company of traders entered the mountains. One of them was an old acquaintance in the valley. He renewed his solicitations to the father of Nerinda, that she might be placed under his charge; offering the highest price, and promising that her future lot should be as brilliant and delightful as her past had been obscure. The shepherd was greatly disappointed by the non-appearance of Hassan, for he would have preferred keeping his daughter near him if he could have done so with advantage to himself, but being poor as well as avaricious, and imagining he should be perfectly happy if possessed of so much wealth as the trader offered, he consented to part with her, who had ever been his chief delight, and the pride of his heart.
Language cannot paint the consternation of Nerinda when she learned her father’s determination. The delay of Hassan she accounted for by supposing he had not yet acquired the full amount necessary for his purpose, and hoped that after a while he would return to call her his. Now all hope was at an end. Hassan might still come, but she would be far distant, perhaps the wife of another. Her mother and sister too shared her grief, for they thought it would be impossible to live without Nerinda; but all entreaties and lamentations were vain, the shepherd had made the bargain and would abide by it; and she was hurried to the caravan in a state little short of insensibility.
And where was Hassan? He had determined in the first place to proceed with the caravan to Mecca, whither it was bound, and laying out the money he possessed in merchandise, to trade at the different towns on their route. Before they arrived at the holy city he had consequently so greatly increased his store, that he felt no doubt he should be able to return before the time appointed; but meeting soon afterward with a heavy loss, he was thrown back when he least expected it, and at the end of two years had not more than half the amount required. To return without it was useless, and he set about repairing his loss with a heavy heart. Six months passed in this endeavor, at the end of which time he found himself rich enough to return, but it was necessary he should proceed to Constantinople to settle some business, and join a caravan which was going toward his native country. His anxiety increased every day: of what avail would be his wealth, if she, for whose sake it had been accumulated, was lost forever?
The day before the one fixed for his departure from Constantinople, a company of traders arrived, bringing with them Circassian slaves. He happened to be passing by the slave-market, and impelled by sudden curiosity, entered the room. He had scarcely done so when he was struck by the graceful figure of one of the girls, which reminded him of Nerinda. He felt almost afraid to have her veil removed, then remembering that it would be impossible for her to recognise him in his present dress, and determining to suppress his emotions whatever the result, he made the request, which was instantly complied with. It was indeed Nerinda, but how changed! She stood before him pale as marble, with downcast eyes, looking as if no smile would ever again illumine those pensive features; once only a faint color tinged her cheek as he advanced toward her, then instantly gave place to more deathly paleness. The price was soon agreed upon, for the trader was now as anxious to get rid of his fair slave as he had been desirous to obtain her; having resigned the hope of making an immense profit in consequence of the continual dejection and grief she indulged, which had greatly impaired her health and beauty. Hassan ordered the trader to send her to his apartments immediately.
When he entered the room to which she had been conducted, he gently raised her veil. She looked up, and recognised him instantly; her joy was as unbounded as his own, but was displayed in a different manner. She threw herself into his arms and sobbed and wept. She was, however, at length able to listen tranquilly to the account of his adventures, and to relate her own.
The remembrance of his aged parent, doubly endeared by absence, and of his joyous childhood, were still alive in the breast of Hassan; and after a few days spent at Constantinople, he proposed to return to his native valley.
They set out, the health and beauty of Nerinda improving, in spite of the fatigues of their journey. The joy with which they were greeted was unbounded. All had given Hassan up for dead, and Nerinda was regarded as lost to them forever. Even her father had repented of his avarice, and would willingly have returned his gold, could he have once more had Nerinda by his side. Her mother and sisters hung around her with tears of joy; and the whole valley welcomed her return with glad rejoicings.
The young couple took up their residence with Hassan’s father; many a visit did they pay to that bank of turf, the scene of their former meetings, and never did they look on that spot without feeling their bosom swell with the emotions of gratitude to that kind Providence who had disposed all things for their good, and had watched over and protected them, even when they believed themselves deserted.
THE MAIDEN’S ADVENTURE.
A TALE OF THE EARLY SETTLERS OF VIRGINIA.
“Well Kate,” said her bridesmaid, Lucy Cameron, “the clouds look very threatening, and you know it is said to be an unlucky omen for one’s wedding night to be stormy.”
“Pshaw, Lucy, would you frighten me with some old grandmother’s tale, as if I were a child? I believe not in omens, and shall forget all unlucky presages, when the wife of Richard Gaston,” answered the lovely and smiling bride.
“You treat it lightly, and I trust it may not be ominous of your conjugal life,” resumed Lucy; “but my Aunt Kitty says that’s the reason she never married; because it was raining in torrents the day she was to have been wedded, and she discarded her lover because it was unlucky.”
“Ah, Lucy, I do not mean to doubt your good aunt’s word; but there must have been some more serious cause linked with the one you have mentioned. My life on it, I do not lose a husband for so slight a cause. It must be something more than a common occurrence, that shall now break off the match with Dick and myself. But see, the company are beginning to arrive,” said Kate, as she looked from the window of her room, “and I must prepare for the ceremony.”
The morning of the day of which we have spoken, had opened in unclouded splendor, and all seemed propitious to the nuptials that were to be solemnised in the evening. The inmates of the cabin in which the preceding conversation had been carried on, had arisen cheerfully with the first notes of the early robin, to prepare for the festival, to which the whole neighborhood, consisting of all within fifteen or twenty miles, (for neighborhoods were then large, and habitations scarce) were indiscriminately invited.
Kate Lee was the only child of her parents, and had been born and raised in the humble cottage which her father had assisted to construct with his own hands. Mr. Lee had moved to his present residence, when few ventured thus far into the Indian territory; and by his own labors, and that of his two servants, had erected a double cabin, and cleared about fifty acres of land, upon a rich piece of high ground, a mile and a half from the James River. By his urbanity and kindness, he had gained the confidence of the Indians; and in all their depredations so far, he had gone unscathed. He was of good birth and education, and the most hospitable man in the settlement. The property which he held, and the style in which he lived, together with his superior knowledge, gave him a standing among the settlers superior to all. Ever ready to assist the needy, and always just in his opinions and actions, he was looked to for council, rather than treated as an equal.
As we said before, Kate was his only child, and had been the solace of her parents for nineteen years. She had now attained to full-blown womanhood, and, from her beauty and intelligence, her hand had been often asked, by the hardy sons of the pioneers. Her heart was untouched, until young Gaston laid siege to it. To his eloquent appeals she lent a willing ear, and promised to be his bride.
As Kate was the loveliest girl in the country, so was Richard Gaston the most to be envied among the youths. Of fine, manly stature, superior intellect, and unflagging energy, he was the best match in the settlement. He cultivated a little farm on the other side of the river, and when occasion offered, engaged in the practice of law, for which both education and nature fitted him. He had been in the settlement about seven years, and from his open and conciliatory manners, his bold and manly bearing, had become a favorite with all around him. He was always the first to take up his rifle, and sally against the hostile Indians, when necessity required it, and from his undoubted courage, was always chosen leader of the little bands, formed to repel the savage foe.
When the toils of the week had passed, Gaston might be seen, with his rifle on his shoulder, moving toward the river where his canoe was fastened, and springing lightly into it, dashing through the foaming waters, and among the rocks, as safely and cheerfully, as if passing over a smooth and glassy lake; and on the following evening, he might be seen again, braving the rushing current, with the same careless ease, but more thoughtful brow; for who ever yet parted from the girl of his heart, with the same joyful aspect, which he wore when going to meet her? Let us now return to the wedding day.
“Have you heard of the Indian that was found murdered on the bank of the creek this morning?” said a young man, after the company had assembled, to Mr. Lee.
“No,” answered Mr. Lee, with surprise, “I had hoped from the long peace that has reigned, we should have no more such outrages against the poor Indians. But how is it possible, sir, if they are thus shot down, that we can expect them to be quiet?”
“The body,” continued the first speaker, “was found by some of his tribe; and they immediately threatened vengeance if the murderers were not given up. But that is impossible; because we do not know them.”
At this moment, a loud crash of thunder echoed through the woods, so suddenly as to make all start from their seats.
“Well, my friends,” said Mr. Lee, as soon as all was again quiet, “we shall be as likely to suffer from this rashness as the offender, and must be prepared. I am glad you have brought your guns with you, for unless they come in too large a body we shall be able to hold out against them.”
This was said with that calmness which a frequent recurrence of such circumstances will produce; and as he rehung his rifle, after preparing it for immediate use, the bride entered the room, in all the loveliness of graceful beauty. Few ornaments decked her person, because none could add to her natural grace and elegance. Her hair of jet black, was simply parted in front, drawn back, and fastened behind, displaying a forehead of marble whiteness; a wreath, mingling the wild rose with other forest flowers, was the only ornament on her head. Her skin was of transparent whiteness. Her large black eyes, peering through their long lashes, spoke a playful mischief in every glance. A perfectly Grecian nose; cherry lips; a beautiful row of pearly teeth; a dimple displaying itself in each cheek whenever a smile suffused itself over her features, and a complexion richer than the soft red of the tulip, completed a picture such as the mind can rarely imagine. Her neck and arms were perfectly bare, and seemed as if they, with her small fairy feet, and the rest of her figure, had been made in nature’s most perfect mould.
The storm, which had before been heard but at a distance, seemed now to have attained its greatest violence, and to be concentrated over the house. Peal after peal of thunder, came ringing through the hollows, each succeeding one apparently louder and more crashing than the former. Flash upon flash, of the quick and vivid lightning, streamed out, resting awhile upon the surrounding scenery, and striking terror into the hearts of the more superstitious guests. The rain, which at first fell in large drops, that could be distinctly heard, amid the awful silence, save when the thunders echoed, now came down in torrents; and the thunder pealed out, louder and louder, quicker and quicker, leaving scarcely intermission enough, for the voice of Richard Gaston to be heard by his beautiful bride. He had impatiently awaited the invitation of Mr. Lee to meet his daughter, but no longer able, amid the war of elements, to restrain himself, he advanced to, and seated himself by the side of his beloved Kate, and gently taking her hand in his, inquired if she was alarmed by the storm? To his enquiry, she only smiled, and shook her head.
“I see not then, why we may not proceed with the ceremony; the storm,”——here a keen and fearful crash, jarred the house to its foundation, leaving traces of fear on the countenances of all, but the lovers and the parson; Gaston continued, however, “the storm may last an hour, and that is longer, my Kate, than I would like to defer the consummation of my hopes.”
“I am ready,” answered Kate, blushing, and without raising her eyes.
They rose from their seats, and advanced to the parson, who immediately commenced the ceremony. It was impossible to tell, whether pleasure or fear predominated on the countenances of the guests, as they pressed forward, to witness the solemn ceremony of uniting two beings for life. In the intervals of the thunder, a faint smile would play upon their faces, but, as a rattling volley would strike their ears, their shrinking forms and bloodless lips, betrayed their terror. The tempest seemed for a moment to have held its breath, as if to witness the conclusion of the nuptials; but now as the parson concluded with, “salute your bride;” a peal of thunder, keener and more startling than any yet, struck such terror to their souls, that none, not even the parson, or Gaston himself, both of whom had been shocked, perceived that the chimney had fallen to the earth; until awakened to a sense of their situation, by the shrill war-whoop of the Indians, which now mingled in dreadful unison with the howling storm.
All thought of the storm vanished at once—defence against the savages seemed to be the first idea of all, as each man, with determined look, grasped his rifle, and gathered around the females.
The Indians, led on by their noted chief Eagle Eye, to avenge the death of their comrade, found in the morning, would perhaps have awaited the subsidence of the storm, had not the falling of the chimney displayed to them, the disorder and confusion within the cabin. Viewing it, as the most favorable time for an attack, they raised their dreaded war-whoop, and sprung to the breach. That whoop, however, served but to nerve the hardy pioneers, and chase from their bosoms the fears, which the wars of nature alone created. Richard Gaston, from custom, assumed the command; and with that coolness and self-possession, which indicates undaunted bravery, proceeded to give such orders as the time would allow.
“Let the females,” said he, “go above, and lie upon the floor, and we, my brave boys, will show them what stout hearts and strong arms can do in defence of beauty. Six of you go in the next room, and see that the villains enter not, except over your dead bodies; the rest will remain, and defend this opening.”
The reader must not suppose that all was still during this brief address. The Indians, whose numbers amounted to several hundred, had fired once, and not being able, on account of the rain, to load again, now attempted to enter over the ruins of the chimney, and through the windows. The lights had been extinguished at the first yell, and all was dark, save when the flashes of lightning revealed to the few within, the fearful odds against them without. Several volleys had meanwhile been poured into the Indians, and a momentary flash revealed the effects. Many were lying dead or dying, forming a sort of breastwork at the breach. Becoming more infuriated, as those who had gone before, fell, under the constant fire of the whites, the savages, now, in a compact body, attempted an entrance; and the whites, still cool, as if danger threatened not, waited until they reached the very breach, and then every man, with his muzzle almost touching the Indians, discharged his piece. The savages wavered and then fell back, amid the shouts of the victorious yeomen.
The next flash of lightning discovered the Indians retreating to the woods, and dragging many of their dead with them. Another wild shout burst from the lips of the victorious whites. When all was again still, the voice of Mr. Lee was heard in thanksgiving, for their deliverance so far; and when he had concluded, he proposed a consultation upon the best means to be pursued, as it was certain the Indians had only retired to devise some other mode of attack. Some were for deserting their present situation, and flying to the woods for concealment; others, and the greater number, proposed remaining where they were, because the Indians had not certainly gone far, and if discovered, unprotected by the logs, they must fall an easy prey, to such superior numbers, while by remaining, they had some advantage, and a small chance to keep them off.
In the meantime, the females, the firing having ceased, had left their hiding-place, and now mingled with the warriors. It was soon determined to hold on to their present situation, and defend it to the last, should they be again attacked. The better to add to its security, several of the stoutest commenced raising a barrier at the opening, with the logs that had been thrown down; while others, barricaded the doors and windows. This being finished, they began an enquiry into the injury they had received; and found six of their number were killed.
The rain meanwhile had ceased, and the distant mutterings of the thunder could be heard only at intervals. All was silent in the cabin, awaiting the expected approach of the savages. Kate had approached Gaston when she first came into the room, and timidly asked if he was hurt. Having received a satisfactory answer, she had remained silently by his side, until all was prepared for action. Then, for a moment forgetting the dangers that surrounded him, Gaston yielded to the impulse of his heart, and drawing the lovely being, who was now his wedded wife, in all the ardor of passionate love, to his bosom, imprinted upon her ruby lips, the kiss of which he had been so suddenly deprived by the onset of the savages.
“My own Kate,” said he, “if you find we are to be overcome, you must try and make your escape through the back door, and thence to the woods. Here is one of my pistols, take it, and if you are pursued, you know how to use it; shoot down the first foe who dares to lay a hand on you. Make for the river, you know where my canoe is; the current is rapid and dangerous, but, if you can reach the other bank you are safe. Farewell now, my own sweet love, and if I fall, may heaven shed its protection over you.”
Gaston was not a man to melt at every circumstance, but to be thus separated from his bride, perhaps never to meet again, brought a tear to his manly cheek. Love, had for a moment, unmanned his firm and noble heart; but it had passed, and he was again a soldier; thinking only how best to defend, what he valued more than his life—his wife.
At this instant the whoop of the Indians again sounded to the assault. Each man sprang to his post. The whites had been equally divided, and a party stationed in each room. The rooms were now simultaneously attacked by the foe; and with clubs and large stones, they endeavored to force the doors. The silence of death reigned within, while without all was tumult and confusion. The door at length yielded—one board and then another gave way, while yell upon yell rose at their success.
“Hold on boys, until I give the word,” said Gaston, “and then stop your blows only with your lives.”
The door and its whole support yielded, and in poured the savages like a whirlwind. “Fire now,” cried Gaston, “and club your guns.”
Almost as one report, sounded the guns of every one in the house—the yells and cries of the wounded and infuriated foe, almost appalled the stoutest hearts; but this was no time to admit fear, if they felt it. The Indians were making every exertion to enter over the pile of dead bodies that blocked up the doorway; and the gun of each man within, clenched by the barrel, was lowered only to add another to the heap. For twenty minutes the fight had raged with unabated fury, and with unrelaxed exertions, when the moon, breaking forth in all her splendor, exhibited the combatants as plain as in the light of mid-day. One Indian, stouter and bolder than the rest, had gained an entrance, and fixing his eyes on Gaston, as he saw him encouraging and directing the others to their work of death, he gave a loud yell, and sprang at him like the tiger on his prey. The quick eye and arm of Gaston were too rapid for him; and in an instant he lay dead from a blow of the young man’s rifle.
But the strength of the brave little band began at length to fail. Their numbers had diminished more than half. Before the enemy had, however, entered, it had been proposed and acceded to, as the only chance, that the females should attempt an escape from the back door, next the river, while the men should cover their retreat, as well as their diminished numbers would admit. Accordingly, the attempt was made, and an exit gained; the whole force of the Indians being collected at the front door, to overcome the stubborn resistance of the whites.
The little phalanx stood firm to its post, until they saw the women had sufficient start to reach the woods before they could be overtaken; and then, pressed by such superior numbers, they slowly fell back to the same door, and the few that survived, made a rush, and drew the door close after them. They had now given way, and nothing but superior speed could possibly save them. If overtaken before reaching the woods, they were inevitably lost—if they could gain them they might escape. The delay caused by the closing of the door was short, and the enemy were now scarcely fifteen yards in the rear. Fear moved the one party almost to the speed of lightning—thirst for revenge gave additional strength to the other. The Indian, fresher than his chase, gained upon them rapidly. As they heard the savages close upon them, every nerve was excited, every muscle strained to the utmost. For a short distance indeed they maintained the same space between them, but alas! the strength of the whites failed, and too many of them overtaken, fell beneath the club of the savages. Gaston, who was equal in activity to any of his pursuers, had soon gained the lead; and with the speed of an arrow, had increased the distance between him and the Indians.
He knew that his wife would make for the river, and in all probability, would be able to reach it, and it was his object to get there also, if possible, in time to assist her across the rocky and rapid current, or at least to see that she was safe beyond pursuit. The river was not far, and as he bounded down the rough hill sides, he could distinctly hear the rolling of its waters, over the rocky bed. He took the nearest course to the landing, and the yells of the Indians, scattered in every direction through the woods, strained him to the greatest exertions. He reached the river—his canoe was there—his wife was not—despair overcame his soul.
“She must be taken, and I too will die,” he exclaimed, in bitter agony.
At that moment, a light and bounding step, like that of a startled fawn, drew his attention to the top of the bank, and his wife, whom he had given up for lost—his darling Kate, bounded into his embrace. This was no time for love. He took but one embrace, and hurried her into his canoe; for the Indians were but a few yards behind. It was but the work of a moment, to cut loose the line that held his bark; but before he could spring into it, three stout Indians were close upon him.
“Shove off, Kate, and trust to fortune to reach the other shore,” cried Gaston, distractedly, as he turned to engage the Indians, while his bride escaped. The devoted girl seemed doubtful whether to fly, or stay and die with her husband. Gaston, seeing her hesitation, again called frantically to her to escape, before the Indians were upon them. She now attempted to push her boat off, but she had remained a minute too long—a brawny and athletic savage seized the boat and sprang into it, within a few feet of the alarmed maiden. She quickly retreated to the other end, and faced about, despair painted in every lineament of her face. The Indian involuntarily stopped to gaze upon the beautiful being before him. That pause was fatal to him. Kate’s self-possession instantaneously returned, and as the savage sprang toward her she levelled her husband’s pistol and fired. The bullet entered the savage’s brain: he fell over the side of the boat, and disappeared beneath the bubbling waters; while instantly seizing the oar which had dropped from her hand on her first alarm, Kate turned the bow of her boat in the direction of the opposite shore, and began to stem the rapid current.
During the few seconds that had thus elapsed, the canoe had shot below the place where her husband struggled with the remaining Indians; and she was now out of hearing of the combatants. Standing erect in the boat, her long hair hanging loosely on her uncovered neck, her white dress moving gently to the soft breeze, and her little bark avoiding the many rocks jutting their heads above the rushing waters, it gave to a beholder the idea of some fairy skiff, kept up, and guided by the superior power of its mistress. Steadily she moved on, until near the middle of the river, when she heard a splash, followed by a voice, some distance behind her. At first she thought it another Indian in pursuit, but soon the chilling thought was dispelled. Her own name, breathed in accents that had often thrilled her to the soul, was heard, sounding a thousand times more sweetly than ever on her ear. She quickly turned the head of her boat, and although she could not propel it against the stream, she kept it stationary, until Gaston, who had overcome his pursuers, reached it. His great exertions in the unequal struggle on the bank, his efforts to reach the boat, and the loss of blood from a deep cut on his arm, had left him so little of the powers of life, that he fainted a few moments after he had regained his wife. Kate knew the peril of permitting the boat to float with the current, and with all that courage and coolness, which woman possesses in times of danger, she did not stop to weep over him, but again seizing the oar, directed her bark to the opposite bank. Guided by the careful hand of love, how could the fragile skiff be lost, even amid the rushing whirlpools it had to pass. They safely reached the bank, and Gaston having returned to consciousness, supported by the arm of his wife, slowly wended his way to his farm.
Their anxiety, however, was, for some time, almost intolerable to learn the fate of their friends whom they had left on the other side of the river. Whether the Indians had triumphed completely, whether a successful stand had been made by any of those they pursued, or whether all had been alike murdered by the relentless savages, were unknown to Kate and Gaston, and filled their minds with uneasy fears. While, however, they were thus in doubt as to the fate of their friends, a hurried footstep was heard approaching, and Mr. Lee, the next moment, was in his daughter’s arms. With about half of his visitors, he had escaped, and, in a few days, rallying around them their remaining border neighbors, they succeeded, finally, in driving the hostile savages from their vicinity.
If any one will visit the hospitable mansion of the present proprietor of the estate, which has descended from our Kate, they may hear her story with increased interest, from the lips of some of her fair descendants; and upon taking a view of the place, where she crossed amid such perils, they will not be surprised to learn that the circumstance should have given to it the name of the “Maiden’s Adventure.”
BY J. E. DOW.
“About the twenty-second of January, 1821, Napoleon’s energies revived. He mounted his horse and galloped for the last time around Longwood, but nature was overcome by the effort.”
Chained to a wild and sea-girt rock
Where the volcano’s fires were dead;
He woke to hear the surges mock
The living thunder o’er his head.
His charger spurned the mountain turf,
For he o’er glaciered Alps had trod,—
He scorned to bear the island serf,
And only stood to Europe’s God.
And now, the prisoner’s spirit soared,
And fiercely glanced his eagle eye;
He grasped again his crimson sword,
And bade his silken eagle fly.
High on a cliff, that braved the storm,
And beat the thundering ocean back;
He felt the life-blood coursing warm
As oft in mountain bivouac.
Around him bowed a bannered world:
And lightnings played beneath his feet;
The storm’s wild ensign o’er him curled,
And ocean drums his grand march beat.
Above the Alps’ eternal snows
He led his freezing legions on:
And when the morning sun arose—
The land of deathless song was won.
The desert waste before him rolled,
And haughty Mam’lukes bit the ground;
Old Cairo reared her mosques of gold,
And Nile returned his bugle’s sound.
The doors of centuries opened wide
Before the master spirit’s blows,
And flapped his eagles’ wings in pride
Above the time-dried Pharoahs.
Then northward moved his chainless soul,
And Europe’s host in wrath he met,
The Danube heard his drum’s wild roll,
And Wagram dimmed his bayonet.
On many a field his cannons rung,
The Nations heard his wild hurrah:
And brazen gates were open flung,
To usher in the Conqueror.
The Cossack yelled his dread advance,
And legions bared their scymetars,
When with the infantry of France
He trampled on the sleeping Czars.
And Moscow’s sea of fire arose
Upon the dark and stormy sky,
While cohorts, in their stirrups froze,
Or pillowed on the snow to die.
A merry strain the lancers blew
When morning o’er his legions shone!
But evening closed o’er Waterloo,
And death, dread sentinel, watch’d alone.
His eagles to the dust were hurled,
And bright Marengo’s star grew dim,
The conqueror of half the world,
Had none to sooth or pity him.
And he has come to view again
The hills his flashing sword hath won:
To hear the music of the main,
And note the thunder’s evening gun.
His heart is cold, his eye is dim,
His burning brand shall blaze no more;
The living world is dead to him,
The sea’s wild dash, the tempest’s roar.
Marengo’s cloak is round him cast,
And Jena’s blade is by his side,
But where is now his trumpet’s blast?
And where the soldiers of his pride?
They sleep by Nilus’ bull-rushed wave,
They slumber on the Danube’s bed;
The earth is but a common grave
For gallant France’s immortal dead.
His charger rushes from the height:
The fitful dream of life is o’er,
And oh! that eye that beamed so bright,
Shall never wake to glory more.
Beneath the mountain’s misty head,
Where streamed the lava’s burning tide.
They made the scourge of Europe’s bed,
And laid his falchion by his side.
He sleeps alone, as sweetly now
As they who fell by Neva’s shore:
And peasants near him guide the plough,
And craven Europe fears no more.
He sleeps alone—nor shall he start
Till Time’s last trumpet rings the wave:
For death has still’d the mighty heart
Where fierce ambition made his grave.
’Tis sad to view, when day grows dim,
The stone that closed o’er Europe’s fears:
And listen to the waves’ wild hymn,
That swallowed up the exile’s tears.
The eagle screams his dirge by day,
The tempest answers, and the sea,
And streaming lightnings leap to play
Above the man of Destiny.
Washington, February, 1841.
To the Author of the Requiem, “I See Thee Still.”
BY E. CLEMENTINE STEDMAN.
Oft when o’er my young being, shades of grief
Have darkly gathered, and been spent in tears,
Thy “spirit-stirring muse” hath brought relief,
And called back images of other years!
As from the world my soul removed her care,
And sought the healing balm of Poesy to share.
Perchance ’twas but some scraps that met my eye,
Yet like a charm, it soothed an aching heart—
Bidding it turn from hopes beneath the sky,
To choose above the wise, unfailing part;
And while I read, I blessed aloud thy name,
And prayed that Heaven’s best gifts might mingle with its fame!
And now, though stranger to thy form and face,
Yet since familiar with thy spirit’s tone;
Pardon this humble pen, which fain would trace
Some thought, to cheer a heart bereaved and lone,
Some sympathetic token, from a soul
Which bleeds to know that thine is bowed ’neath grief’s control.
The human heart, it hath been aptly said,
Is like that tree, which must a wound receive,
Ere yet the kindly balsam it will shed,
Which to the sufferer’s wound doth healing give;
Such as have seen their fondest hopes laid low,
Can only feel for thee, or thy deep anguish know!
This bosom bears a kindred stroke to thine.
Yet owneth that the Hand which wounds can heal!
May Gilead’s balm, as it hath brought to mine,
So to thy wound restoring life reveal;
Show thee a Father, in a chastening God,
And bid thee meekly bow, and kiss his gentle rod.
I knew her not, whose image blendeth yet
With every dream of joy the night doth bring—
Whose blessed features Love will ne’er forget,
Nor of whose worth thy muse e’er cease to sing!
But ’tis enough, that she was all thy choice,
To know that sorrow hath with thee a deep-toned voice.
And is she not thy “guardian angel” now?
Doth she not “live in beauty” yet, above,
And oft descend, to watch thy steps below,
And whisper in thy dreams sweet words of love?
A spirit, ’twixt whose spotless charms, and thee,
Hangs but the veil of Time, behind which, soon thou’lt see.
Till then, look upward to her home of light—
’Twill chase the shadows from thy lonely hearth,
And think of her, as of a being bright—
Still thy “beloved,” though not now of earth!
Follow the traces of her heavenward feet,
And soon in perfect love, to part no more, ye’ll meet.
Cedar Brook, Plainfield, N. J., 1841.
THE DESTROYER’S DOOM.
For if we do but watch the hour,
There never yet was human power
Which could evade, if unforgiven,
The patient search, and vigil long,
Of him who treasures up a wrong.
The night was waxing late, when the beautiful and witty Mrs. Anson was promenading at a party where all the élite of the city were assembled, with an imposing looking man, who seemed to unite—rare combination—high fashion and dignity of bearing. His face was almost constantly turned toward the lady, and he seemed careful that his words should reach no ears but those for which he uttered them. His last remark, whatever it was, seemed to have offended the lady, for she stopped suddenly, and gazing full in his face, exhibited as dark a frown as those bright, beautiful eyes could be made to produce. It was but a passing cloud, however, for the next moment she said, laughingly, “Upon my word, Major Derode, you give your tongue strange license.” His peace was soon made, and drawing the arm of Mrs. Anson within his own, he asked her if she would dance any more.
“No,” she replied, “if you’ll tell them to draw up, I’ll go home; the rooms are close; I am fatigued; besides, in the absence of my husband, I must keep good hours.”
“Excuse me,” said the major, “if I am not anxious for his return. I should not dare to hope for so much of your precious society, were he to command it.”
“He has the best right to it,” rejoined the lady, “but he never uses command with me;—I vow I am an ungrateful wretch, and love him much less than he deserves to be loved.”
“That sentiment, my dear Mrs. Anson, is not founded on nature or truth. Gratitude and love are sensations as different in their natures, as your disposition and that of your husband; but for what should you be grateful to him? For having had the vanity to address, and the good fortune to win the loveliest creature that ever wildered human brain, or fired human heart? And how does he repay an affection which monarchs would value more than conquest?—by indifference,—nay, studied neglect.”
“You wrong him,” said the wife, but with much less warmth than she would have defended her husband a fortnight before, “his passion for literature, it is true, estranges him from me more than many wives would like, but I have reason to know he loves me well. Alas! why should love be such a sickly flower, that needs constant culture to keep it from perishing! Time was, when the hour he passed from my side was fraught with anxiety,—now, days glide by, and I scarcely think of him!”
“Think only of him,” returned the major, “whose love for you is as imperishable as it is ardent. Renounce the man who is unworthy of you, and—”
“Render myself unworthy of any man,” continued the lady, “no, I implore you, urge me to this no more; spare me, dear Henry, I entreat you.” And I will spare the reader the remainder of a dialogue which evinced yielding virtue on one side, and seductive sophistry on the other. “The woman who hesitates is lost,” says the proverb.
Charles Anson, a young man of high intellectual endowments, and fine personal appearance, had studied law in his native city—Philadelphia—and at an early age married the daughter of a merchant in moderate circumstances. The union was thought to have resulted from love on both sides, and indeed for four years the youthful pair enjoyed as much happiness as is allotted to mortals; when, depending on his professional exertions, no ambition disturbed their dreams, no envy of rank or grandeur poisoned their present blessings.
In a luckless hour, a relation, living in England, from whom Anson had no expectations, died, leaving him a large fortune. This sudden acquisition of wealth enabled him, much to his satisfaction, to quit a profession in which he wanted several requisites for great success. He turned his attention to a science which has since become popular in this country, and became so devoted to its pursuit, that he spent large sums of money in prosecuting it. His wife launched at once into a mode of life which she said her husband’s altered circumstances justified. She plunged deeply into fashionable dissipation, and although Anson seldom accompanied her into the gay circles she frequented, he never objected to her giddy course. His only wish was to see her happy. He was on a visit to an eastern city, collecting materials for a work on his favorite science, at the time I introduced his wife to the reader, and spring advanced before he was ready to bend his steps homeward. He had travelled, as was usual then, by land from New York, and having taken a whole day to perform the journey, it was night when the lumbering mail coach, set Anson down at the door of his house. He had received no answer to the last two letters he had written to his wife, and he feared she was ill. If any one of my readers has been long absent from a happy home, he can understand the trembling eagerness with which the traveller placed his foot upon his door-stone. He pulled at the bell, and its clear sound came back upon his ear, as he stood in breathless anxiety waiting for an answer to the summons. No hasty footstep, however, no opening of inner doors, no audible bustle within, gave token of admittance. Almost convulsively, he grasped again at the handle of the bell, and its startling response pealed through the adjacent dwellings. Slowly a sash creaked up in an adjoining house, and a petulant female voice said,—
“There’s no use of your disturbing the neighborhood by ringing there,—nobody lives in that house.”
Anson staggered back from the step, and falteringly enquired,—
“Has Mrs. Anson removed?”
“Removed!” croaked the old woman, “aye, she has removed, far enough from this, I warrant.”
“Where has she gone?” gasped the husband.
“I know nothing about her,” was the reply, and the sash fell with a rattling sound that struck like clods upon a coffin upon the desolate heart of Anson. He stood upon the pavement with one foot resting on a trunk, and his eyes turned to the windows of his late dwelling, as if expecting the form of his wife to appear there. The voice of the watchman, calling the first hour of the night, aroused him from his abstraction, and suggested the necessity of present action. He remembered that he had a duplicate key of the street door, and if not fastened within, he could at least gain admittance. On applying the instrument, it was evident that the person who had last left the house, had egressed through the door, for no bar or bolt betrayed the caution of an inmate. Anson engaged the watchman to place his effects in the hall, and procure a light. Having once more secured the main entrance of the house, he wandered through its tenantless chambers, like a suffering ghost among scenes of its happier hours. The splendid paraphernalia which wealth and taste had spread throughout that happy mansion, were there yet. Not an ornament had been removed, nor had the most fragile article decayed,—nay, the very exotics in the bow-pots had begun to put forth their tender blossoms under the genial influence of the season. But human life was absent. She that had diffused joy, and hope, and a heaven-like halo round her, was gone.
Mad with apprehension, Anson rushed to his wife’s bed-chamber, hoping there to find some clue to her mysterious departure. Her toilet was in confusion; ornaments lay scattered about; and a diamond ring, his gift to her on her last birth-day, shone, on the approach of the light, so like a living thing, that Anson, in the wildness of his brain, thought that its thousand eyes flashed with intelligence of its departed mistress. On a small writing desk lay some sheets of pure paper, and in the open drawer a sealed note caught the eye of Anson. He seized it with a trembling hand, but paused ere he opened it; a sickness, like that of death, settled down upon his heart. Unhappy man! What had he to hope or fear?—he read:
“Husband:—We meet no more on earth. At the bar of eternal justice your curse will blast me! I am in the coils of a fiend, disguised like a god! As the fluttering bird, though conscious of destruction, obeys the fatal fascination of the serpent’s eye, so I, beholding in the future nought but despair, yield, a victim to a passion that has mocked my struggles to subdue it. You must be happy because you are virtuous, and in mercy forget the fallen,
Anson sat long with this letter in his hand, gazing firmly on a portrait of his wife, that hung over her escritoire. She had sat for that painting at a time when her health was delicate, and a sacred pledge of their happy love was expected. Heaven had—mercifully it seemed now—denied the boon. Memory struck the fountain of tears in the heart of that bereaved man, and he wept. Oh! it is fearful to see a strong man weep. Tears are natural in children, and beautiful in women;—in men, they often seem mysterious gushings from the stern soul—dread forebodings of evil to come. The deserted husband gazed upon the painting, until he thought some evil spirit had changed the sweet smile and mild eye into a scornful sneer. A change came over his spirit—his features gradually assumed a look of unutterable ferocity; his frame dilated as with the conception of awful deeds—strange whisperings of dark purposes whizzed, as from legions of fiends, through his brain, and he went forth REVENGE!
Major Derode, of the British army, was one of the most strikingly handsome men of the last age, and his address the most insinuating that a constant intercourse with the best society could confer. Although he had led a life of much dissipation, his fine constitution had withstood its ravages, and calling art to the aid of nature, he looked like a man of thirty, when he was really twelve years older. He had married in early life, and was the father of a son and daughter. The son had entered the navy, and had already obtained a lieutenancy,—to the daughter fell a large share of the singular beauty of her father, refined into feminine loveliness by the delicate graces of her mother. Mrs. Derode had been dead some years, and the major’s present visit to America was connected with some governmental mission to the commander-in-chief of the British forces in Canada. Viewing the cities of the United States on his return home, he became acquainted with the beautiful Mrs. Anson. He became at once her lover. He was a cold-hearted systematic seducer, and besieged her heart with a perseverance and address long accustomed to conquer. He imagined that his own callous heart was touched by her bright eyes, and he delayed his departure for two months, in order to accomplish her ruin.
When I introduced him to the reader, in conversation with Mrs. Anson, the poison of his flattery had already tainted that weak woman’s heart. I will not follow his serpent-like course—it is sickening to mark the progress of such arts. We left him in a gay assembly in Walnut Street—we now find him in London, and, it pains me to write it, Mrs. Anson was with him. To dispel the gloom that had already overcast her features, and to feed his own inordinate vanity, Derode introduced his victim to much society, but her keen eye soon penetrated the equivocal character of those who visited her in her splendid apartments. With this discovery came the first deep sense of her utter degradation.
“I will mix no more with these people,” said she to the major one day, after an unusually large party left the house.
“As you please,” said he, “I was in hopes society would amuse you.”
“Not such society,” she replied with some dignity. The major observed the slight curl on her lip, and said, with something of a sneer,—
“Your notions are elevated, my pretty republican; your visiters are people of fashion, and you know we should not scrutinise character too severely.”
This cruel remark pierced deeper than the base speaker intended. The deluded woman raised her eyes—those eyes, in repose so meek—to the face of Derode, and he quailed beneath their unnatural light.
“True,” said she with a choking voice, “true, true!—the meanest wretch that ever bartered her soul for bread, should spurn my fellowship, and flee my infecting touch.” Her head fell on her lap, and a series of hysterical sobs threatened to end her brief career of guilt upon the spot.
But it was not so to be. She recovered only to new miseries. Half tired of his new victim already, Major Derode hired a cottage a few miles from London, and, taking Mrs. Anson at her word, carried her down there to reside in lonely misery. His visits, at first frequent, soon became rare, and many days had now elapsed since she had seen him. She stood by the open casement watching the moonlight for his expected appearance, but he came not. A horseman emerged from the deep shadow of the trees, but seemed to pass on toward the turnpike. Hope sank within her, and she wished to die. She was now gathering the bitter fruits of her guilt. Her love for her destroyer was eating up her life—the scorching intensity of her passion was consuming the heart that gave it birth.
“Great God!” she exclaimed with frantic impiety, “art thou just? Thou didst not endow me with strength to resist this destiny. Thou knowest it was not volition, but FATE! If for thine own unseen ends, thou hast selected me to work out thy great designs.—oh! for the love of thy meek son who was reviled on earth, make my innocence clear. I am but thy stricken agent, oh! God! I am innocent—innocent!”
The suffering creature was on her knees, and when she had uttered this wild sophistry, she threw her head downward, until it almost touched the ground. Her temples throbbed till the bandage that confined her hair snapped, and the dark covering of her head enveloped her figure like a pall.
“Innocent! ha! ha! ha!” shouted a hoarse voice, in a tone of wild mockery, that rung through the lonely house, and reverberated in the stillness of the night.
Starting to her feet, Mrs. Anson gazed around the room with an indescribable awe, for she thought the sound bore a harsh resemblance to that of her forsaken husband. No one, however, was visible, and she began to think it was some creation of her excited fancy, when, turning her eye to the latticed casement that overlooked the garden, she plainly saw a man gliding away through the copse. Another moment, and the same horseman she had before observed, dashed into the shadow at furious speed, and disappeared.
Major Derode was holding high revel in London. There was a report that two marriages had been projected—those of himself and of his daughter. His fortune, never large, had been entirely dissipated at the gaming table, and he was deeply involved in debt. The contemplated alliances would, however, bring wealth into the family, and causing his expectations to be known, his creditors were patient. The object of his personal attentions was the Honorable Mrs. Torrance,—a widow of brilliant charms and large property. The handsome major had won her heart and received her troth before his visit to America, and but one obstacle existed to their immediate union. Rumor, with her hundred tongues had apprised the dashing widow that the gallant major had brought over with him an American beauty, who was now residing in the neighborhood of the metropolis. The major first denied, then confessed it, but declared she had returned to her native forests.
“I scarce believe you,” said the widow, “but I will send down to-morrow to the cottage, which has been pointed out to me as her residence, and learn the truth.”
“She must remove, then, before to-morrow,” said Derode to himself as he drove home. “Fool that I was to bring her here; however, I suppose I can ship her home again, consigned to her plodding Yankee husband, who will be rejoiced that his wife has seen the world free of expense.”
Night had closed in when Derode arrived at the cottage. Mrs. Anson was ill. She had been in a high fever, as the abigail informed the major, and delirious. She was calmer now, however, and he approached her couch.
“How unlucky you are ill at this time,” said he, “for circumstances render it necessary for you to quit this place immediately.”
“Let me remain a few days longer,” replied the heart-broken woman, “and my next remove will be to the peaceful grave.”
“It is impossible—to-morrow morning, the earlier the better, you must depart.”
“And whither must I go?”
“Why, reflection must have convinced you that it was an imprudent step to leave your husband; nay, tears are useless now,—the frolic was pleasant enough while it lasted, but it is time to think of more serious matters. My advice to you is, that you immediately return home, solicit your husband’s forgiveness, and no doubt that will be the end of the affair. For myself, you must know it—and it is best you should learn it at once—my pecuniary involvements make it imperative on me to marry immediately—the sale of this furniture will enable you—”
But his voice fell on a dull ear. Mrs. Anson heard nothing after the word “marry,” and she lay in a death-like swoon. Finding she did not revive immediately, Derode consigned her to the care of her maid, and hastily wrote the following lines:—
“Madam,—Our unfortunate connexion must be broken off at once. I can see you no more. I enclose you twenty pounds, a sum sufficient to bear your expenses to America. My last command is, that you quit this cottage to-morrow morning.
He gave the note to the girl, for her mistress, and left the house.
“How do you feel now, madam?” enquired the maid, as Mrs. Anson opened her heavy eyes, and pressed her hands against her temples, as if endeavoring to collect her thoughts, “can I do anything for you, madam?”
“Yes; assist me to rise; bring my bonnet and shawl;—thank you. You have been very kind to me my good girl; take this ring—it is of some value—keep it for the sake of her whom no living thing regards.”
“But, dear madam,” affectionately enquired the girl, “for heaven’s sake, where are you going? You will not leave the house to-night? you are ill—weak—a storm threatens,—there—the thunder mutters already, and the rain is plashing in big drops on the broad leaves of that strange-looking tree at the window. It is midnight, and will be broad day before you can reach the nearest part of London. The major said you might stay till morning,—and, oh! I had forgot, here is a letter he left for you.”
The hapless woman took the note mechanically; no ray of hope gave brightness to her eye—no emotion lighted up her features as she broke the seal. Misery had chilled her heart’s blood—despair had unstrung the chords of life. She glanced over the lines, and dropping the letter and bank note on the floor, supported herself for a moment by a chair. She rallied her strength, and saying, “farewell, my good Martha,” staggered forth into the dreary night.
The sun had long risen, when Martha was startled from the deep sleep into which the last night’s watching had thrown her, by a loud knocking at the cottage door. A splendid carriage had driven up the narrow avenue, and a liveried footman enquired if a young lady, under the protection of Major Derode, lived there. Martha stated the manner in which Mrs. Anson had, on the previous night, left the cottage.
“My mistress, the Hon. Mrs. Torrance,” said the footman, “seems so anxious to learn the particulars respecting this young woman, that I wish you would ride up to town with us, and give her whatever information you can.”
Martha willingly complied, and the carriage had scarce accomplished seven miles of the journey, when the girl observed a female toiling slowly and painfully along the road. She called to the coachman to stop, for she recognised her mistress in the wanderer. They partly forced the passive creature into the carriage, and as she expressed no wish to be driven to any particular place, in less than an hour she was reposing her wearied limbs on an ottoman in the house of the Hon. Mrs. Torrance. All the servants who knew of the arrival of the strange lady, were forbidden by the Hon. Mrs. Torrance to reveal the circumstances, and Martha was instructed to tell the major she had seen nothing of Mrs. Anson after her departure from the cottage;—Derode, therefore, had no doubt that his victim had left the kingdom. Still he observed that the widow had altered her demeanor toward him. She received him coldly, and with something like mystery. He urged the hastening of the nuptials. She baffled him by trifling excuses, for she resolved the moment Mrs. Anson had recovered from the fever which seized her on the day she entered that hospitable abode, to confront her with the treacherous man.
“So, in three weeks more, my dear Isabel, I must give more form to my speech, for I shall address in you the bride of Lord Edward Fortescue; your elevation to the peerage will not change your heart toward us, Isabel?” said a sprightly girl to the daughter of Major Derode.
“For shame, to think of such a thing,” answered the affianced, “but, as poor Juliet says in the play,
‘I have no joy in this contract to-night.’
I have, my dear Emily, for a day or two past, felt a strange reluctance to marry his lordship. His title dazzled me at first, but I fear its novelty will wear off, and then where shall I seek for happiness?”
“In the spending of his fortune, to be sure,” replied her companion, “and as his lordship’s way of life is fallen into the sere and yellow leaf, he surely cannot object to such a proceeding. Besides, if dame nature does you but common justice, you’ll be in weeds before you are thirty. But when was it your first objection started against his lordship?—last Thursday, was it not?—yes, Thursday it was: I remember it, because it was the morning after you danced with that young wild man of the woods. Where did they say he came from? New South Wales was it?—or Slave Lake—or the Ural Mountains? the Carrabee Islands—New Holland—or New Jersey? Why don’t you answer? You must know; for after he led you to a seat so gracefully, I observed you took a deep interest in his conversation during the rest of the night, and I have no doubt he was giving you lessons in Geography. Well, he is a handsome fellow, although his eyes have so wild an expression. Now, if he had a plume of eagle feathers on his head, and a tiger skin thrown over his shoulder, he would be irresistible. I think it entirely out of taste for these foreign monsters, when they come among us, to cast off their savage costume, and don our unpoetic garb.”
“Peace, Emily, you talk absurdly,” exclaimed the now thoughtful Isabel. “I scarce attended to what he was saying—I only observed he seemed to be a man of general information and great conversational powers. He possesses refinement in an eminent degree, and the earnestness and evident candor of his politeness contrast favorably with the sickly, superficial, drawling sentiment that daily and nightly clogs our wearied ears.”
“Ah! it is clear you scarce attended to what he said. I met him this morning at Mrs. Balford’s, and thinking you wished to resume your researches into ‘The History of the Earth and Animated Nature,’ I asked him to come here this evening.”
“Heavens, Emily! you could not be so imprudent!”
“Where can be the imprudence, Isabel, since you scarce attend to what he says? Hark! a cab; it is the American,—stay where you are—I’ll bring him up;” and away flew the giddy girl, leaving her companion in a state of flurried anxiety, scarce proper for the bride elect of Lord Edward Fortescue.
The American prolonged his stay till a late hour, and that night Isabel Derode imbibed a deep, absorbing passion for the graceful foreigner. Lord Edward, feeling himself secure of his prize, troubled his betrothed but little with his company. He confined his attentions to sending her presents, and escorting her twice a week to the opera.
The latitude which English society allows females of rank, caused the persevering assiduities of the American to be but little noticed, and one week before the intended nuptials of Lord Edward Fortescue and Isabel Derode, the fashionable circles were thrown into unutterable excitement by the following announcement in a morning paper:—
“Elopement in High Life.—On Wednesday last, the beautiful and accomplished daughter of a certain gallant major in —— Square, eloped with a young gentleman of fortune from the United States. This imprudent step, on the part of the young lady, is the more to be regretted, as she was under promise of marriage to a certain noble lord. As her flight was almost immediately discovered, hopes are entertained of overtaking the fugitives before they reach Gretna Green.”
No such parties, however, as those described, had reached that matrimonial mart. Pursuit was made on almost every avenue leading from the metropolis, but in vain. The fugitives had an hour’s start, and the advantage of having arranged their means of flight. The smoking horses were scarcely checked at the door of each inn, when fresh relays were springing in the harness, and Anson—for it was he—with his victim, was enjoying a hasty repast in Calais, at the moment the emissaries of Derode reached Dover.
Lord Edward professed himself greatly shocked at the unhappy occurrence, but derived comfort from the reflection that his betrothed had eloped before, instead of after marriage; and having politely expressed to Derode his opinion that all the daughters of Eve were dangerous, if not useless members of the community, he, with the utmost sangfroid wished him adieu.
A month elapsed, and Derode pushed his suit with Mrs. Torrance with more vigor, from the unlucky circumstance of his daughter having frustrated his hopes of her high match with Lord Edward. All enquiries concerning the whereabout of the erring girl were fruitless, and what was singular, none knew the name or person of her seducer—until one night a hackney coach drew up at the door of Mrs. Torrance, and a gentleman handed, or rather lifted a drooping woman out of the carriage, and placed her on the steps of the house. The parties were Anson and his victim. He merely said to the servant who answered the knock, “take care of this lady: she is a friend of your mistress,” and hastily re-entering the vehicle, drove rapidly off. The benevolent mistress of the mansion received the forsaken wanderer with the utmost kindness, and overlooking her error, sought, with true Christian charity, to bind up her crushed spirit. Thus, by a strange coincidence, this amiable lady had under her roof at the same moment, two wretched outcasts—victims to man’s unhallowed passions.
Mrs. Anson had been growing weaker every day since she entered this hospitable dwelling, and it was now evident she held her life by a frail tenure. Derode was a constant visitor, yet he knew not Mrs. Anson was an inmate of the house; he deemed she had complied with his wishes and crossed the Atlantic.
“What motive can you have,” said he to Mrs. Torrance one day, “for deferring our happiness? You are too generous to allow so untoward an event as my daughter’s flight to influence your decision. Add not to the affliction of that blow, by cold procrastination. Speak, madam, have my misfortunes lost me your affection?”
“No, major,” replied the lady, “but I fear your faults have lessened it. Where is the American lady?”
“At home,” said he earnestly, “at home, with her husband. I, myself, placed her on board a packet bound to New York.”
The lady regarded the utterer of this bold falsehood with ineffable contempt, and stepping into the middle of the room, she threw open a folding door, and pointed to Mrs. Anson, who was reclining on an ottoman.
“Are there devils in league against me?” muttered Derode, “how came that wretched woman here, madam?—she is a maniac—but I will convey her to an asylum, whence she shall not escape,” and he was advancing toward her.
“Stay,” exclaimed Mrs. Torrance, restraining him, “that lady is under the protection of my roof, and she leaves it only with her own free will.”
“By heavens! madam,” said he, “she quits not my sight till I consign her to a mad house;” and, forgetting every thing in his wrath, he roughly removed the lady from before him, as the door abruptly opened, and a tall, stern looking man stood before him. The intruder was dressed in strict conformity with the fashion of the day, and, on removing his hat, he exhibited a forehead of high intelligence, but two or three strong lines were drawn across it; two deep furrows also descended between his heavy brows, giving, to his otherwise agreeable features, a fierce, if not a ferocious expression. His dark eyes, deeply set in his head, flashed with the fierceness, and yet fascination, of a serpent’s orbs, ere he makes his deadly spring. The stranger expanded his lofty figure, and throwing forward his ample chest, he crossed his arms upon it, and gazed intently on Derode.
The major turned from his burning gaze, and advancing to the couch where lay the invalid, said, in a harsh voice, “rise, madam, and follow me,” at the same time laying his hand on her shoulder. Three strides brought the stranger to the spot, and seizing Derode, he whirled him against the opposite wall with the strength of a giant, exclaiming, “let your victim die in peace!” The expiring woman raised herself with her last collected strength, and articulating, “my husband!” sank back in a swoon.
The moment Derode became aware of the relation in which the stranger stood to the fainting woman, he made an attempt to reach the door, but was intercepted by Anson.
“Stay,” said the latter, “you stir not hence. Stay, and behold the consummation of your villainy. See! she breathes again. Let her curse you and expire!”
The lamp of life had been long flickering in the poor patient, and was now giving forth its last brightness. She held out her hands imploringly to her husband, and said, “forgive me!” but before his lips could utter the pardon, she fell back in the arms of Mrs. Torrance—a corpse.
The mysterious awe with which the presence of death fills the human heart, caused a silence as profound as that which had just fallen on the departed. Anson bent over the stiffening body and murmured: “Hadst thou died spotless, my wife, how joyfully would my spirit have journeyed with thine to the bar of God—and in the realms of peace, where the tempter comes not—where sin and shame, and sorrow enter not—we should forever have enjoyed that bliss—our foretaste of which on earth, was so rudely broken by the destroyer. But enough. The last tears these eyes shall ever shed, have fallen upon thy bier—and now again to my work of vengeance!” He arose, and bent on Derode a look of ineffable ferocity. “Look,” he said, “on the man you have ruined. You beheld me for the first time, yet my eyes have scarce lost sight of you for months—and henceforward will I be like your ever-present shadow. The solace of my life shall be to blight the joy of yours—in crowds or in solitude—amid the gay revel, and through the silent watches of the night, will I hover around you. I will become the living, embodied spirit of your remorse; walking with you in darkness and in light, and when a smile would mantle on your lips, I will dispel it with the sound of MURDERER!”
“I’ll rid myself of such companionship,” said Derode,—“I have pistols here—follow me, sir, and seek a manly satisfaction at once.”
The loud voices of Anson and her father, had been heard by Isabel, and the unhappy girl on entering the apartment—to the astonishment and horror of Derode—threw herself on the bosom of Anson, who, putting her aside, exclaimed—“that you may want no motive to hate as well as fear me, know that I am the seducer of your daughter. Thus have I begun my work of destruction.” Driven to desperation by this taunt, Derode drew a pistol, aimed it at Anson, and fired. By a movement equally sudden, Isabel, with a scream, threw herself before her betrayer, and received the ball in her shoulder. The wretched father groaned in agony, and fled from the house, while Anson, consigning the wounded girl to the care of Mrs. Torrance, pursued the culprit.
The same day on which Anson committed his wife to the earth, Isabel Derode yielded up her spirit—and a jury declared that she died from a wound inflicted by the hand of her father.
Time passed slowly away, and Derode was preparing for his trial. The legal gentlemen whom he had employed, could perceive some palliating, but no justifiable points in his case. He vehemently declared he had no purpose of injuring his daughter—his object being to inflict a just punishment on her seducer. His counsel, however, sorrowfully assured him, that if the intent and attempt to kill could be proved, and a death resulted from such attempt, it mattered little who fell by his hand.
The amiable Mrs. Torrance, resolving not to appear as a witness against him, had retired to the continent, and was now living in much seclusion at Dresden. But Anson remained; and the relentless heart of that altered man expanded with savage joy when he reflected that it was his evidence that would condemn his wronger. Some of the friends of the unhappy criminal waited on Anson, and besought him, in the most moving manner, not to appear against the wretched man, alleging that if no direct evidence were adduced, justice would wink, and the offender escape. The witness was inflexible. Derode himself sent a respectful request to see him. Anson entered his cell, and the despairing murderer begged for life like a very coward. Anson spurned the miserable suppliant from him:—“Villain! villain!” he said, “ten thousand dastard lives like yours would but poorly expiate your fiend-like crime, or glut my insatiate vengeance!”—and casting a look of inextinguishable hate on the prisoner, he left the cell.
A few days after his commitment, Derode had written to his son who was stationed at Bermuda, an account of his misfortunes and imprisonment. The dutiful boy having obtained leave, had instantly sailed for England, and was now sitting in his father’s dismal apartment.
“Cheer up, father,” said the young sailor,—“things will go well yet. No proof, you say, but that man’s evidence,—and that man the seducer of my sister?”
“Even so,” replied the parent—“no prayers can touch him.”
“I’ll touch him,” said the fiery young man, “but not with prayers. Farewell father! to-morrow I’ll be here to tell you I have stopped the mouth of the king’s witness.”
Anson, promptly answering the challenge of young Derode, was at Chalk Farm at daylight. When he surveyed the slightly formed, but noble looking youth who stood before him, prepared for deadly contest, he remembered his unremitting pistol-practice, his unerring aim, and one human feeling, one pulsation of pity played around his heart. They were evanescent. He recalled his deserted home, his violated hearth, his vow for REVENGE, and at the fatal signal, his youthful antagonist lay on the frozen earth, with his life-blood bubbling out.
Could Anson have seen Derode when his son’s death was communicated to him, he would have deemed the destroyer’s cup of bitterness full.
Anson was arraigned for this murder, and underwent a trial, which was mere mockery, for having plied his gold freely—flaws, defective evidence, and questions of identity, as usual, in cases of dueling, hoodwinked justice.
“Plate sin with gold, and the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks,
Clothe it with rags, a pigmy’s straw will pierce it.”
Well, the day of trial came. Public excitement was at its highest pitch. The jailor, accompanied by sheriffs and tipstaves, proceeded to the cell of the prisoner, to escort him to the tribunal of justice. But lo! the apartment was tenantless. The criminal had escaped. A brief survey of his cell revealed the means of his egress. The heavy stones forming the sides of his grated window, were displaced. Large tools lay scattered about—files, chisels, and other articles, plainly indicating a bold confederacy. And such was indeed the case:—for the officers belonging to the same regiment with Derode had contrived his escape.
Words cannot depict Anson’s feelings of mingled rage and disappointment when he learned that his victim had fled. At his own expense, he instituted a search that pervaded the three kingdoms. He himself flew to the continent, and offered a thousand guineas for the capture of the murderer. His efforts were fruitless. The men who liberated Derode did not withdraw their protection until they had placed him in safety.
For more than a year Anson wandered about Europe, in hopes to light upon the fugitive. Weary at length with the vain pursuit, and thinking that the fire in his heart was consuming his life, he returned home, as he thought, to die. He remained in Philadelphia a few months, during which time he conveyed a great part of the remainder of his property to some of our public charities, and then retired from the haunts of men to live and die alone. With a strong tinge of romance, he selected a wild, mountainous country, in the interior of our state, never leaving the precincts of the hovel where he dwelt, except to purchase a stock of the homeliest food.
He had been living thus more than eight years without any thing occurring to disturb the monotony of his life, when one blustering night, a cry from a creature in distress reached his ear, as he sat in his mountain hut, poring over a black-letter folio. Surprised that any one should invade his dangerous premises, and on such a night, he ignited a fragment of resinous wood, and sallied forth. As he descended the path that left his door, and struck into that which wound round a precipitous ledge, the voice came nearer on the blast. Anson shouted loudly to the stranger not to approach, until he reached him, as another step in the dark might be certain destruction. Proceeding hastily onward, he found the traveller standing on the outermost edge of the fearful precipice. The torrent was heard boiling and dashing far below, and the wind swept in eddying blasts round the dizzy cliff. Anson extended his hand to the wanderer, and the blaze of the torch flashed brightly in the faces of both men. Anson riveted his eyes on the features of the stranger, and with a yell of demoniac joy fastened on his throat. It was the miserable Derode, who, in the last stage of poverty, was wandering from the far west, to the sea-board, on foot. In the darkness, he had mistaken the mountain path for a bye-road, which had been described to him as greatly shortening the distance to the village. He quailed beneath the iron grasp of Anson, and struggled to say:—“dreaded man! are you not surfeited with revenge? My ruined daughter!—my murdered son!”
“No!” shouted the infuriated recluse, “my ruined—murdered wife! I see her pale face there—down in the black abyss! she demands the sacrifice! down!”
He hurled the trembling seducer over the precipice, and laughed aloud as the wretch dashed from rock to rock in his descent. A heavy plunge! and the surging torrent closed over the hapless Derode forever!
Anson dwelt on in his gloomy solitude, until his hair became blanched, and the memory of passion and crime had furrowed deep channels in his face. In the summer of 1828, we one day followed a trout stream far up into the mountain, and encountered the old man. Giving him the fruits of our morning sport, and seating ourselves in his hut, we learned from himself the leading incidents of this melancholy story. His eye lighted up with unnatural fire, as he pointed with unsteady finger to the fearful cliff, and said, “there, sir, ’twas from yon projection, I dashed my destroyer into the chasm. The law would call it murder, and I live in daily expectation that the bloodhounds will drag me hence. Well, let them come when they will; from my youth, life has been to me one deep, enduring curse.” We saw him at least once in the summer for many years, and in our last interview with him, we said cheerfully,—“you look quite hale yet, Mr. Anson.” He regarded us steadily for a moment, and said, in a voice that reminded us of Shelley’s Ahasuerus, “I cannot die.” * *
“Adieu, my lord—
I never wished to see you sorry; now,
I trust, I shall.”
It was evening. The mass had been concluded in the royal chapel, and the Empress Josephine was returning to her apartments through the gallery that led thereto. As she was proceeding along, she felt a touch upon her arm, and, upon looking round, discovered the form of a man beside her. He made his obeisance, and she immediately recognised the Counsellor Fouché.
“What would Monsieur Fouché?” she demanded.
“A few moments private converse with you, if it please your majesty,” he replied, and, at the same time, pointing to the embrasure of a window near by.
Josephine understood the motion, and made a sign that she would follow. He led the way; and when they arrived, she again demanded what he wanted.
“I crave your majesty’s pardon for the liberty I have taken,” said the minister of police respectfully, yet boldly, “but I wish to make a communication, which, though it may not be of the most pleasing nature, yet, demands your majesty’s most serious attention.”
“And what may it be? speak,” said the empress.
“You are aware,” began the minister, “that I am much with the emperor, and have ample opportunity for learning his secret wishes and desires. I have become acquainted with one recently, which, of late, has much occupied his mind, and which he would fain gratify but for the love he bears your majesty. It is this: he wishes for an heir to inherit his title and power. Every man, you know, feels an inherent pride in transmitting his name to posterity; and it is but natural that the emperor should feel such a desire. I would, therefore, suggest to your majesty the necessity of a sacrifice, which will add to the interest of France, make his majesty happy, and which would be as equally sublime as it will be inevitable. Beg him to obtain a divorce.”
During this disclosure, the empress betrayed excessive emotion. Her mild eyes were suffused with tears—her lips swelled—her bosom heaved—her face became deadly pale—and the tremor that took possession of her frame, told how deeply her feelings were agitated. But it was as the momentary cloud that obscures the noonday sun; in a moment it was past, and with a slightly tremulous voice, she asked—
“And what authority has the duke of Otranto for holding such language?”
“None,” he replied, “it is only from a conviction of what must most certainly come to pass, and a desire to turn your attention to what so nearly concerns your majesty’s glory and happiness, that I have dared to speak upon the subject. Nevertheless, if I have offended, I beg your majesty’s forgiveness. Permit me now to depart.”
He stood silent for a few minutes, as if waiting for her assent. She waved her hand, and the boldest political intriguer of his time departed, conscious of having done that which none other in France would have presumed.
Josephine turned away with a beating heart. She reached her apartments, and throwing herself on a sofa, gave vent to her over-burthened soul in a flood of tears. It was not long before dinner was announced; but she refused to appear at the table, on a plea of indisposition, and retired to her chamber.
It was a short time afterward that the door of the chamber opened, and the emperor entered. He approached Josephine. Her eyes were red with weeping, and the tears yet moistened those bright orbs, in defiance of her efforts to appear calm. He seated himself beside her, and put his arm around her waist.
“Josephine,” said he, in an affectionate tone, “what is the cause of this emotion?”
“Nothing,” she answered, in a faltering voice, and scarcely audible.
“Something has occurred to bring forth those tears. Tell me, what is it?” and he looked tenderly in her face.
“I cannot,” she said, bitterly, whilst she leaned her head upon his shoulder, and gave vent to another flood of tears. “No, I cannot speak those fearful words.”
“What words, Josephine? speak; what words?”
She hesitated, and then faltered out,
“That—that you—you do not love me as you used to.”
“ ’Tis false!” he exclaimed.
“Then why wish to be separated? why wish for a divorce? Oh! Napoleon, is it my fault that we have no children to bless our union? God has so willed it,” and her bosom heaved convulsively.
He started as she pronounced the two first sentences, and compressed his lips as if to suppress the pang of conviction that shot through his heart.
“Josephine,” said the emperor, tenderly, “some one has been poisoning your mind with idle tales. Who has it been?”
She then related to him her interview with Fouché, and asked him to dismiss that minister as a penalty for his audacity in playing with her feelings. He strenuously denied the communication; but refused to dismiss him.
“No,” said he, “circumstances compel me to retain him, though he well deserves my displeasure. But why give credit to such silly assertions, Josephine? Have I ever treated you but with affection? Have you discovered aught in my behaviour to warrant suspicion? No; believe me you are still dear to me. Banish those foolish fears from your breast then, and weep no more.” So saying, he imprinted a kiss upon her lips, and left the chamber to attend to the affairs of state.
It was touching to hear such expressions of tenderness issue from the greatest monarch of his time, and to witness that act of devotion—to see that proud spirit unbent; but it was those tears of anguish, and the whisperings of that “still small voice” of conscience, that had humbled him, to whom kings and monarchs humbled themselves, and whose mighty mind aspired to the conquest of the world.
The setting sun threw its parting rays over the earth, and pierced the windows of the imperial palace. The golden flood, softened by the crimson curtains, fell upon the charming features of the empress Josephine, as she sat in thoughtful attitude, with her head resting upon her hand, on a sofa of royal purple, near the centre of her chamber. A page, in waiting, stood near the door, carelessly humming a light ditty; his heart as sunny as his own native France. What a contrast with that which beat within the bosom of the empress! Care weighed heavily upon her breast. Long before her interview with Fouché she had, from the very cause hinted at by the minister, dreaded a withdrawal of her husband’s affections; but since that event her anxieties had doubly increased, and suspicion would take possession of her mind, amounting, at times, even to jealousy. Not that she apprehended his proceeding to that extreme at which the wily minister had hinted; no!—no person on earth could have persuaded her that he, whose joys and woes she had cheerfully shared, wished for a separation: but that some Syren would ensnare him with her charms, and usurp that place in his heart which she only should hold. All the powers she possessed were exerted by Josephine, in order to retain his love, and sometimes she fancied she had succeeded; for of late, in proportion as the sense of injustice he was about to do her, presented itself to his mind, he became more than usually kind and tender; but there were moments when a gloomy melancholy would settle upon her—an indefinable something that seemed to warn of approaching affliction.
It was in one of those fits of abstraction, so foreign to her naturally cheerful nature, that she sat, as we have said, seemingly unconscious of all around, when the door opened, and Napoleon entered. He seemed disturbed, and trouble was vividly depicted in his expressive countenance. He motioned for the page to retire, and seated himself beside her.
“Josephine!” he said.
She started from her reverie, as he pronounced her name—for buried in thought, she had not observed his entrance—and bent upon him such a look, full of sweetness and affection, that it disarmed him; he could not proceed. He arose. He folded his arms upon his breast and paced to and fro; his brow was contracted,—his lips compressed; and the unquiet restlessness of his piercing eye, betokened the agitation he could scarce control. He thus continued for some moments. At length he stopped before her, as if his resolution was taken, and then again turned away, continuing to walk up and down the apartment with rapid and hasty strides. After a short time he stopped again.
“It must be done,” he muttered, “I will acquaint her with it at once; delay but makes it still more difficult.”
He made an effort to suppress his emotion, and seated himself beside her. But again his voice failed him, and he could only articulate,—
“Josephine, prepare yourself for sad news.”
Ever on the alarm, the purport of his words seemed anticipated by her, though not to their full extent, and she burst into a flood of tears, scarce knowing why.
Dinner was now announced, and their majesties proceeded to the table. Silence prevailed throughout the meal, and the dishes were scarcely touched. They arose from their seats, and as they did so, the page on duty presented the emperor with his accustomed cup of coffee. He took it, but handed it back scarcely touched. He then proceeded to his chamber; the empress followed.
They seated themselves when they had entered, and remained for some time silent. The emperor at length spoke.
“There is no use in deferring the truth, Josephine,” said he, in a tremulous voice, “it must sooner or later be made known to you, and suspense is more cruel than certainty. The interests of France demand that we separate.”
“What!” she exclaimed, placing both hands on his shoulders, and gazing with an eager and inquiring look in his face, “what? separate!”
“Yes,” he answered, “France demands the sacrifice.”
Her hands dropped heavily—her bosom heaved—and hot, burning tears, such only as flow from a surcharged heart, gushed forth in torrents from her eyes.
“And I—oh! God!” she exclaimed, “I who have shared your joys and sorrows—who have been your companion for years—who loved you through weal and woe—who—but I will not upbraid you, Napoleon. Yet she who supplants me, Maria Louise, the daughter of the Emperor Francis, can never love you as I have done,—oh! no!”
She buried her face in her hands; the emperor remained silent.
“But,” she continued, starting suddenly, and throwing her arms around his neck, “you do not mean it. Oh! no! say you do not! speak,—you cannot mean it. Tell me, quick—say it is not so—that it cannot, must not be. Speak, Napoleon, and the blessing of God rest upon you!”
“Alas! it is too true,” he said, his eyes suffused with tears. Oh! how keen was the pang of conscience that shot through his guilty heart.
“True!” she exclaimed, “and you confirm it? Then Fouché was right. But I will never survive it—no! I will never survive it. Mon Dieu! mon Dieu!”
She uttered a piercing scream, and reeled backward, for she had risen from her seat in her excitement. Napoleon caught her in his arms, and laid her gently upon the carpet. Her agony was too deep for words, and she could only weep and groan in bitterness of spirit. He stepped to the door and called de Bausset. They raised her in their arms, and bore her to her chamber. Her women were immediately summoned, and she was resigned to their care. Napoleon retired, greatly agitated. De Bausset followed; tears were also in his eyes; for Josephine, by her goodness, won all hearts. Napoleon stopped a moment outside to listen to her groan of anguish. He related what had occurred.
“The interests of France:” he continued, addressing De Bausset, “and as my dynasty does violence to my heart, the divorce has become a rigorous duty. I am more afflicted by what has happened to Josephine, because, three days ago, she must have learned it from Hortensia. The unhappy obligation which condemns me to separate myself from her, I deplore with all my heart, but I thought she possessed more strength of character, and I was not prepared for these bursts of grief.”
They hurried away. Conscience, ever-faithful conscience, was already performing its duty; he felt its just upbraidings. He essayed to stifle it. It was this that led him to utter such language to De Bausset—to assert that he thought she possessed strength of character enough to receive the announcement without those bursts of grief. What virtuous and affectionate woman could receive with calmness a sentence of repudiation; and that, too, by the tongue of a beloved husband? Her heart must have become as stone.
On the sixteenth of December, 1809, the law, authorising the divorce, was enacted by the conservative senate. In the following March the nuptials between Napoleon and Marie Louise, were performed in Vienna; and on the first day of April, a little more than four months after the scene above described, they were joined in wedlock in the city of Paris, by his uncle, Cardinal Fesch.
Thus was consummated that act which cast a stain upon the character of “the great Napoleon,” which time cannot efface. A blot, deep and indelible, that will remain whilst his name lives among men. It was an act contrary to the laws of God and of humanity.
One wrong action will often tarnish a whole life. We may admire his bravery, and courage, his vast conception of mind, his gigantic intellect, his unparalleled energy, his perseverance, and his determination of character, but when we turn to this dark page in his history, admiration vanishes, and contempt and disgust usurp its place. It was indeed an act unworthy of the man, and one that admits of no palliation. It was not to France the sacrifice, as he termed it, was made; it was to ambition. And may we not surmise that the lowering fortunes which ever after were his, and the dark fate which closed his days in a lonely island, afar off on the bosom of the ocean, were, in some measure, acts of divine retribution, which this act of his called forth.
Long years after the occurrence of the foregoing events, and when Napoleon was no more master of Europe,—when Louis XVIII. was seated on the throne of France, and “Le Grand Monarque,” was a prisoner, confined for life on the island of St. Helena—the lovely and accomplished Josephine,—the injured wife,—ended a virtuous life at the villa of Malmaison, near St. Germain, whither she had retired after the divorce. Her death was attributed to disease of the body; but it is likely it was not altogether that, or at least a secret sorrow had so weakened and enfeebled her mortal frame that the least rude touch of disease overthrew the structure. Differently died the repudiator and the repudiated.
There is a clear and bright blue lake
Embosom’d in the rocky north;
No murmurs e’er its silence break,
As on its waves we sally forth;
The mountain bird floats high aloft,
Above his wild and craggy nest,
And gazes from his towering throne,
Upon the torrent’s sparkling breast;
While far beneath, in light and shade,
The bright green valleys frown and smile,
And in the bed sweet nature made,
The lake sleeps soft and sweet the while.
O’er many a green and lovely wild,
The golden sun-beams gaily smile;
But ’mid them all he doth not break,
As on his race he sallies forth,
On fairer scene, or sweeter lake,
Than that within the rocky north.
Lake George, Feb., 1841.
THE REEFER OF ’76.
BY THE AUTHOR OF “CRUIZING IN THE LAST WAR.”
“Steady, there, steady!” thundered the master of the merchantman, his voice seeming, however, in the fierce uproar of the gale, to die away into a whisper.
I looked ahead. A giant wave, towering as high as the yard arm, its angry crest hissing above us, and its dark green bosom seeming to open to engulph our fated bark, was rolling down toward us, shutting out half the horizon from sight, and striking terror into the stoutest heart. It was a fearful spectacle. Involuntarily I glanced around the horizon. All was dark, lowering, and ominous. On every hand the mountain waves were heaving to the sky, while the roar of the hurricane was awfully sublime. Now we rose to the heavens: now sunk into a yawning abyss. But I had little time to gaze upon the fearful scene. Already the angry billow was rushing down upon our bows, when the master again sang out, as if with the voice of a giant.
“Hold on all!” and as he spoke, the huge volume of waters came tumbling in upon us, sweeping our decks like a whirlwind, hissing, roaring, and foaming along, and making the merchantman quiver in every timber from bulwark to kelson. Not a moveable thing was left. The long boat was swept from the decks like chaff before a hurricane. For an instant the merchantman lay powerless beneath the blow, as if a thunderbolt had stunned her; but gradually recovering from the shock, she shook the waters gallantly from her bows, emerged from the deluge, and rolling her tall masts heavily to starboard, once more breasted the storm.
We had been a week at sea without meeting a single sail. During that time we had enjoyed a succession of favorable breezes, until within the last few days, when the gale, which now raged, had overtaken us, and driven us out into the Atlantic, somewhere, as near as we could guess, between the Bermudas and our port of destination. Within the last few hours we had been lying-to, under a close-reefed foresail; but every succeeding wave had seemed to become more dangerous than the last, until it was now evident that our craft could not much longer endure the continued surges which breaking over her bows, threatened momentarily to engulph us. The master stood by my side, holding on to a rope, his weather-beaten countenance drenched with spray, but his keen, anxious eye changing continually from the bow of his craft, to the wild scene around him.
“She can’t stand it much longer, Mr. Parker,” said the old man, “many a gale have I weathered in her, but none like this. God help us!”
“Meet it with the helm—hold on all,” came faintly from the forecastle, and before the words had whizzed past upon the gale, another mountain wave was hurled in upon us, and I felt myself, the next instant, borne away, as in the arms of a giant, upon its bosom. The rope by which I held had parted. There was a hissing in my ears—a rapid shooting like an arrow—a desperate effort to stay my progress by catching at a rope, I missed—and then I felt myself whirled away astern of the merchantman, my eyes blinded with the spray, my ears ringing with a strange, wild sound, and a feeling of sudden, utter hopelessness at my heart, such as they only can know who have experienced a fate as terrible as mine, at that moment, threatened to be.
“A man overboard!” came faintly from the fast-receding ship.
“Ahoy!” I shouted.
“Hillo—hil—lo—o,” was answered back.
“Throw over that spar.”
“Toll the bell that he may know where we are.”
“Who is it?”
“Bring a lantern here.”
“Can you see him?”
“It’s as dark as death.”
“God have mercy then upon his soul.”
I could hear every word of the conversation, as the excited tones of the speakers came borne to leeward upon the gale, but although I shouted back with desperate strength, I felt that my cries were unheard by my shipmates to windward. The distance between myself and the merchantman was meanwhile rapidly increasing, and every moment her dark figure became more and more shadowy. With that presence of mind which is soon acquired in a life of peril, I had begun to tread water the instant I had gone overboard; but I felt that my strength would soon fail me, and that I must sink, unaided, into the watery abyss. Oh! who can tell my feelings as I saw the figure of the merchantman gradually becoming more dim in the distance, and heard the voices of my friends, at first loud and distinct, dying away into indistinct murmurs. Alone on the ocean! My breath came quick; my heart beat wildly; I felt the blood rushing in torrents to my brain. The scene meanwhile grew darker around me. The faint hope I had entertained that the ship would be put about, gradually died away; and even while I looked, she suddenly vanished from my vision. I strained my eyes to catch a sight of her as I rose upon a billow. Alas! she was not to be seen. Was there then no hope? Young; full of life; in the heyday of love—oh! God it was too much to endure! I felt that my last hour had come. Already the waters seemed roaring through my ears, and strange, fantastic figures to dance before my eyes. In that hour every event of my life whirled through my memory! I thought of my childhood; of my mother in her weeds; of her prayers over her only child; and of the cold wintry day when they laid her in her grave, and told me that I was an orphan. I thought too of my boyhood; of my college life; of my early days at sea; of the eventful months which had just passed; of my hopes of a bright career or a glorious death, thus to be quenched forever; and of Beatrice, my own Beatrice, whom I was to see no more. Wild with the agony of that thought, I tossed my arms aloft, and invoked a dying blessing on her head. At that instant something came shooting past me, borne on the bosom of a towering wave. It was a lumbering chest, doubtless one of those thrown overboard from the merchantman. I grasped it with a desperate effort: I clambered up upon it; and as I felt its frail planks beneath me, a revulsion came over my bosom. The fisherman by his fireside, when the tempest howls around his dwelling, could not have felt more confident of safety than I now did, with nothing but this simple chest between me and the yawning abyss. Quick, gushing emotions swept through my bosom; I burst into tears; and lifting up my voice, there, alone, on the wide ocean, I poured forth my thanksgivings to God.
It was with no little difficulty I maintained my position on the chest, during the long hours which elapsed before the morning dawned. Now borne to the heavens, now hurried into the abyss below; now drenched with the surge, now whirled wildly onward, on the bosom of some wave, I passed the weary moments, in alternate efforts to maintain my hold, and ardent longings for the morning’s light. The gale, meantime, gradually diminished. At length the long looked-for dawn appeared, creeping slowly and ominously over the horizon, and revealing to my eager sight nothing but the white surges, the agitated deep, and the leaden colored sky on every hand. My heart sank within me. All through the weary watches of that seemingly interminable night, I had cheered my drooping hopes with the certainty of seeing the merchantman in the morning, and now, as I scanned the frowning horizon; and saw only that stormy waste on every hand, my heart once more died within me, and I almost despaired. Suddenly, however, I thought I perceived something flashing on the weather seaboard like the wing of a water-fowl, and straining my eyes in that direction, whenever I rose upon a wave, I beheld at length, to my joy, that the object was a sail. Oh! the overpowering emotions of that moment. The vessel was evidently one of considerable size, and coming down right toward me. As she approached I made her out to be a sloop of war, driving under close-reefed courses before the gale. Her hull of glossy black; her snowy canvass; and her trim jaunty finish were in remarkable contrast with the usual slovenly appearance of a mere merchantman. No jack was at her mast-head; no ensign fluttered at her gaff. But I cared not to what nation she belonged, in that moment of hope and fear. To me she was a messenger of mercy. I had watched her eagerly until she had approached within almost a pistol-shot of me, trembling momentarily lest she should alter her course. I now shouted with all my strength. No one, however, seemed to hear me. Onward she came, swinging with the surges, and driving a cataract of foam along before her bows. A look-out was idly leaning on the bowsprit. As the huge fabric surged down toward me another danger arose. I might be run down. Nerved to supernatural strength by the immanency of the peril, I raised myself half up upon my chest, and placing my hand to my mouth, shouted with desperate energy,
“Hillo!” said the look-out, turning sharply in the direction of my voice.
“Ahoy! ship a—ho—o—y!”
“Starboard your helm,” thundered the seaman, discovering me upon my little raft, “heave a rope here—easy—easy—God bless you, shipmate,” and with the rapidity with which events are transacted in a dream, I was hoisted on board, and clasped in the arms of the warm-hearted old fellow, before he saw, by my uniform, that I was an officer. When he perceived this, however, he started back, and hastily touching his hat, said, with humorous perplexity,
“Beg pardon, sir—didn’t see you belonged aft——”
“An American officer in this extremity,” said a deep voice at my elbow, with startling suddenness, and as the speaker advanced, the group of curious seamen fell away from around me, as if by magic; while I felt, at once, that I was in the presence of the commanding officer of the ship.
“You are among friends,” said the speaker, in a voice slightly tinged with the Scotch accent, “we bear the flag of the Congress—but walk aft—you are drenched, exhausted—you need rest—I must delay my inquiries until you have been provided for—send the doctor to my cabin—and steward mix us a rummer of hot grog.”
During these rapid remarks the speaker, taking me by the arm, had conducted, or rather led me to a neat cabin aft, and closing the door with his last remarks, he opened a locker, and producing a suit of dry clothes, bid me array myself in them, and then vanished from the apartment.
In a few minutes, however, he re-appeared, followed by the steward, bearing a huge tumbler of hot brandy, which he made me drink off, nothing loth, at a draught.
From the first instant of his appearance, I had felt a strange, but unaccountable awe in the presence of the commanding officer, and I now sought to account for it by a rigid, but hasty scrutiny of his person, as he stood before me.
He was a short, thick-set, muscular man, apparently about thirty years of age, drest in a blue, tight-fitting naval frock coat, with an epaulette upon one shoulder, and a sword hanging by his side. But his face was the most striking part of him. Such a countenance I never saw. It had a fire in the eye, a compression about the lips, a distention of the nostrils, and a sternness in its whole appearance, which betokened a man, not only of strong passions, but of inflexible decision of character. That brow, bold, massy, and threatening, might have shaped the destinies of a nation. I could not withdraw my eyes from it. He appeared to read my thoughts, for smiling faintly, he courteously signed to the steward to take my glass, and when the door had closed upon him, said,
“But to what brother officer am I indebted for this honor?”
I mentioned my name, and the schooner in which I had sailed from New York.
“The Fire-Fly!” he said, with some surprise, “ah! I have heard of your gallantry in that brush with the pirates—” and then, half unconsciously, as if musing, he continued, “and so your name is Parker.”
“And yours?” I asked, with a nod of assent.
For a moment we stood silently gazing on each other—he seeming to wish to pierce my very soul with his small, grey eye, and I regarding with a feeling akin to fascination, the wonderful man whose after career was even then foreshadowed in my mind.
“I see you are of the right stuff,” exclaimed this singular being, breaking the silence, “we shall yet make those haughty English weep in blood for their tyranny.”
I know not how it was; but from that moment I felt certain my companion would make his name a terror to his enemies, and a wonder to the world.
For some days we continued our course, with but little deviation; and every day I became more and more interested in the commander of the man-of-war. Although my situation as his guest brought me into closer contact with him than any one except his lieutenant, yet, after the first few hours of our intercourse, he became reserved and silent, though without any diminution of courtesy. His former career was little known even in the ward-room. He had been brought up, it was said, by the earl of Selkirk, but had left his patron’s house at the age of fifteen, and embarked in a seafaring life. Dark hints were whispered about as to the causes of his sudden departure, and it was said that the dishonor of one of his family had driven him forth from the roof of his patron. Upon these subjects, however, I made no ungenerous enquiries; but learned that he had subsequently been engaged in the West India trade as master, and that he had, on the breaking out of the war, come to America, and offered himself to Congress for a commission in our navy. Some deep, but, as yet unknown, cause of hatred toward the English, was said to have prompted him to this act.
As time passed on, however, I enjoyed many opportunities of studying his singular character, which, had I not felt my curiosity aroused, might have passed by unused. Often would I, in our slight conversations, endeavor to pierce into his bosom, and read there the history of all those dark emotions which slumbered there. But he seemed generally to suspect my purpose—at least he appeared always on his guard. He was ever the same courteous but unfathomable being.
We had run down as far south as the Bermudas, when, one day the look-out made five sail; and in an instant every eye was directed toward the quarter where the strangers appeared, to see if there was any chance of a prize.
“How bear they?” asked Paul Jones quickly, to the look-out at the mast-head.
“I can’t make out but one, and she seems a large merchantman, on a taut bowline.”
“Watch her sharp.”
“Ay, ay, sir.”
For some time, every eye was fastened upon the approaching sail, which, apparently unconscious of an enemy so near, kept blindly approaching us. At length her royals began to lift, her topsails followed rapidly, and directly the heads of her courses loomed up on the horizon. Every eye sparkled with the certainty of a rich prize.
“She’s a fat Indiaman, by St. George,” said our lieutenant, who had not yet so far forgot the country of his ancestors, as to swear by any saint but her patron one.
“I guess we’d better not be too sure,” said a cautious old quarter-master from Cape Cod, as he levelled a much worn spy-glass, and prepared to take a long squint at the stranger.
“By St. Pathrick,” said an Irish midshipman, in a whisper to one of his comrades, “but wont she make a beautiful prize—with the rale Jamaica, my boys, by the hogshead in her, and we nothing to do afther the capture, but to drink it up, to be shure.”
“The strange sail is a frigate,” said the look-out at the mast head, with startling earnestness.
“Too true, by G—d,” muttered the lieutenant, shutting his glass with a jerk; and as he spoke, the hull of the stranger loomed up above the horizon, presenting a row of yawning teeth that boded us little good, for we knew that our own little navy boasted no vessel with so large an armament.
“That fellow is an English frigate,” calmly said Paul Jones, closing his telescope leisurely, “we shall have to try our heels.”
Every thing that could draw was soon set, and we went off upon a wind, hoping to distance our pursuer by superior sailing. But though, for a while, we deluded ourselves with this hope, it soon became apparent that the enemy was rapidly gaining upon us, and with a heavy cross sea to contend against, we found ourselves, in less than four hours, within musket shot of the frigate, upon her weather bow. During all this time the Englishman had been firing her chase guns after us, but not one of them, as yet, had touched us. The game, however, was now apparently over. Every one gave themselves up as lost, to die, perhaps, the death of rebels. Resistance would only inflame our captors. How astonished then, were we all to hear the captain exclaim,—
“Beat to quarters!”
The high discipline of the crew brought every man to his post at the first tap of the drum, though not a countenance but exhibited amazement at the order.
“Open the magazine!” said Paul Jones in the same stern, collected tone.
The order was obeyed, and then all was silent again. It was a moment of exciting interest. As I looked along the deck at the dark groups gathered at the guns, and then at the calm, but iron-like countenance of the daring commander, I felt strange doubts as to whether it might not be his intention to sink beneath the broadside of the frigate, or, grappling with the foe, blow himself and the Englishman up. My reverie, however, was soon cut short by a shot from the frigate whizzing harmlessly past us, overhead. The eye of the singular being standing beside me, flashed lightning, as he thundered,—
“Show him the bunting. Let drive at him, gunner,” and at the same instant our flag shot up to the gaff, unrolled, and then whipt in the wind; while a shot from one of our four pounders, cut through and through the fore-course of the enemy.
“Keep her away a point or two, quarter-master,” said the captain, again breaking in upon the ominous silence, now interrupted only by the report of the cannon, or the fierce dashing of the waves against the sloop’s bows.
“Does he mean to have us all strung up at the yard arm?” whispered the lieutenant to me, as he beheld this perilous bravado, yet felt himself restrained as much by the awe in which he held his superior, as by his own rigid notions of discipline, from remonstrating against the manœuvre.
Meantime, the frigate was slowly gaining upon us, and had her batteries been better served, would have soon riddled us to pieces; but the want of skill in her crew, as well as the violence of the cross sea, prevented her shot from taking effect. The distance between us, however, gradually lessened. We saw no hope of escape. Every resort had been tried, but in vain. Already the frigate was dashing on to us in dangerous proximity, and we could see the eager countenances of her officers apparently exulting over their prize. Our crew, meanwhile, began to murmur. Despair was in many faces: despondency in all. Only our commander maintained the same inflexible demeanor which had characterised him throughout the chase. He had kept his eye steadily fixed upon the frigate for the last ten minutes in silence, only speaking now and then to order the sloop to be kept away another point or two. By this means the relative positions of the two vessels had been changed so as to bring us upon the lee-bow of the enemy. Suddenly his eye kindled, and turning quickly around to his lieutenant, he said,—
“Order all hands to be ready to make sail,” and as soon as the men had sprung to their stations, he shouted—
“Up with your helm; hard,—harder. Man the clew garnets—board tacks—topsails, royals—and flying jib,—merrily all, my men.”
And as sheet after sheet of canvass was distended to the wind, we came gallantly around, and catching the breeze over our taffrail, went off dead before the wind, passing, however, within pistol shot of the enemy.
“Have you any message for Newport?” said Paul Jones, springing into the mizzen-rigging, and hailing the infuriated English captain, as we shot past him.
“Give it to him with the grape—all hands make sail—fire!” came hoarsely down from the frigate, in harsh and angry tones.
“Good day, and many thanks for your present,” said our imperturbable commander, as the discharge swept harmlessly by; and then leaping upon the deck, he ran his eye aloft.
“Run aft with that sheet—send out the kites aloft there, more merrily—we shall drop the rascals now, my gallant fellows,” shouted the elated captain, as we swept like a sea-gull away from the foe; while the men, inspired by the boldness and success of the manœuvre, worked with a redoubled alacrity, which promised soon to place us without reach of the enemy’s fire. The desperate efforts of the frigate to regain her advantage, were, meanwhile, of no avail. Taken completely by surprise, she could neither throw out her light sails sufficiently quick, nor direct her fiery broadsides with any precision. Not a grape-shot struck us, although the water to larboard was ploughed up with the iron hail. We soon found that we outsailed her before the wind, and in less than an hour we had drawn beyond range of her shot.
Her parents are weeping, she sheds not a tear,
Loved voices are calling, alas! can she hear?—
The hyacinth blossom is plucked from its stem,
The casket is broken, and scattered the gem.
Pale Death! the grim archer, hath bended his bow,
The arrow hath vanished, the dove is laid low;
Ah! fair was the victim thus fated to bleed,
And well might the spoiler exult in his deed.
THE MAJOR’S WEDDING.
A VERITABLE STORY TOLD BY JEREMY SHORT, ESQ.
“Ah! Mr. Editor, glad to see you in this cramped hole—no air, hot as a furnace—egad, I’m almost baked; and as for smoking one’s meerschaum, or drinking claret in a stage coach, you might as well dream of heaven in the paws of a prairie bear. Ah! you’ve got a cigar, I see—God bless the man that first invented tobacco. But hark ’e, who was that tall, slim, low-shouldered gentleman, with the long neck, that sat in the bar-room corner, in a semi-animated state, and hadn’t spoke for a half an hour until he growled back your salutation?”
“Who? Jeremy—that was a poet.”
“A poet! heaven protect us from such madness. Is he married?”
“No—he swears he’ll never wed any one but a poetess; and you know they’re a scarce article in the market.”
“Egad, I thought he was a bachelor, for who ever heard of a married man writing poetry? Flummery, sir, flummery—whipt cream and sugar—away with your poetry! Give me the real solid prose, your regular beefsteak, with a spice of wit to make it palatable, boy. Now there’s Oliver Oldfellow, he used to be as poetical as a scissors grinder before he got married, but after that he came to his senses, and—Lord love you!—he hasn’t written a line these twenty years.”
“You’re savage on the poets. But if what you say is true, there ought to be a law against poets marrying.”
“And what’s the use of law, to stop what one can’t help? No man—let me tell you—ever got married in his senses. No, no, my boy, they are crazy, bewitched, ‘non compos mentis.’ Did you ever meet a girl that didn’t say she’d never get married, and why then should she do it if she didn’t get possessed? But the poor victims are to be pitied more than blamed. It’s not their fault. It’s destiny, sir, destiny. When a thief’s hour comes he’s got to be hung—and when a man’s time is up he’s got to suffer matrimony. There’s no escape. Let him double like a hare, turn to the right or left, dive like a duck, or pretend to be dead like a dormouse, he’ll be sure to be found out at every trick, and made a Benedict of—even if it’s done by spirits—before he’s aware of it. Let me tell you a story to prove my position.
“Major Compton was a hale, hearty old fellow when I knew him in the last war, though I believe gout and morning drams have long since driven the nails in his coffin. He had been a gay chap when young—a soldier, a beau, a bit of a fop, and then—egad, sir—a poet of no little fashion. He could knock you off a sonnet on a lady’s charms sooner than old Tom the blacksmith could knock off a horse-shoe. But after a while he fell in love, and—to cut short my story—was married. Ah! many and many a time have I heard him tell me how he felt it coming on him as if he was bewitched; how he struggled against the malady but could not prevail; and how he shuddered when he found himself writing poetry, because, like the sight of water in the hydrophobia, he knew then that it was all over with him. But this happened years before we met. When I knew him he was a jolly, red-faced widower, and had a horror of all poets, women, and cold water—the last of which he used to say made men effeminate, in proof of which he said all savages who used nothing else, like the Tahitians, were cowards. Betwixt you and I, he must have married a Tartar.
“Well—he’d been out one night at a supper, and the bottle had passed around so frequently that every soul of the company, except the major, got under the table,—so, after amusing himself by blacking their faces with burnt cork, and moralising, as a gentleman ought to, over their deplorable condition, he set out to find his way home to his quarters. As he emerged into the cool air he felt his head getting light as if it were going up, balloon-like, with himself for a parachute; but holding his hat down with both hands, as he remembered to have seen them keep down an inflated balloon, he managed to get along pretty well, though he couldn’t keep his head from swinging about with the wind, which made him, he said, walk as crooked as if he had been drunk, though he was never soberer in his life.
“It was a wild, gusty night, and the clouds were drifting like snow-flakes overhead, when the major sallied out into the street, and began his journey to his lodgings. The wind roared around the corners, or whistled down the chimneys of the old houses around, whose tall, dark, chilly figures rose up against the November sky, until they seemed, to the major’s vision, fairly to shiver with cold. The stars, high up, were winking through the drift, except now and then a sturdy old fellow who stared right into the major’s face. One of these seemed determined to abash him whether or no. Go where he would it followed him, so that if he looked up he would be sure to see it staring full upon him with its dull yellow eye. It made him think, he said, of his spouse of blessed memory, when she would stick her arms a-kimbo, and make faces at him. Now the major was a good-humored soul, but there are some things, even Job couldn’t endure. The major bore it, however, until he reached a wild common, when taking a seat upon a heap of stones, he planted his elbows on his knees, buried his chin in his hands, and looking right at the saucy star, said,
“ ‘Hillo! up there—now take a good look, and let’s see who’ll give over first.’
“ ‘Hillo!’ said a voice close behind him.
“ ‘Hillo it is, you old mocking curmudgeon, say that again and I’ll pound your face into a jelly,’ said the major, turning wrathfully around; but, though he looked every where, not a bit of a man could he see even as big as the fabled Tom Thumb. It was, as I have said, a wide, open common, with not a tree or a house upon it, and if any living thing had been moving across its surface he would have been sure to have detected it. What could it have been? He thought of all the stories of goblins he had ever read, and his hair almost stood on end as he remembered them. But rallying himself, he began to whistle aloud, and stare again at the saucy star overhead. The sky, however, had grown darker during the interruption; and in a few moments the clouds obscured the provoking star. For a moment he closed his eyes, and feeling sleepy, dozed; but his head suddenly pitching forward, aroused him, and he once more looked up. What a sight was there! Dark, frowning masses of vapor swept wildly across the firmament; while the wind now wailed out in unearthly tones, and then went shrieking across the common like the laughter of a troop of malignant fiends. A wood, some distance off, skirting the common, tossed its gray, leafless branches wantonly in the winds; and anon a loud, shrill whistle, as of an army of hunters, rung out, down in the very heart of the forest. The major almost started from his feet, and rubbed his eyes to rouse himself from his drowsiness. The clouds were once more drifting swiftly across the sky, now rolling together into huge, dark masses, and now separating, and then weaving together again into a thousand fantastic shapes. Just at that instant the provoking star gleamed once more through the drift, and this time it stared at him more like his spouse than ever. The major could stand it no longer. Forgetting the fearful things around him, he shook his clenched fist at it, and said,
“ ‘Hillo! you old, wry-faced vixen, how dare you squint at me—Ma—a—a—jor—Com—Compt—Compton—how dare you, I say? Do you want to remind me that I was once fool enough to get married?—I’d like to see the woman I’d have now: all the powers above or below couldn’t force me to get married again—no, no, you old crab-apple!—I—I—say—’
“They couldn’t—couldn’t they?” quietly said a voice at his elbow.
“And who the deuce are you?” said the major, turning sharply around.
“ ‘Who do you think?’ said one of the oddest looking beings the major ever beheld—a short, mis-shapen man, with great goggle eyes, a roguish leer on his face, legs that were doubled up under him like a pocket-rule, and long, bony fingers, one of which was stuck knowingly aside his nose, while his eyes alternately were winking at the astonished major; for the little fellow seemed to be in high glee at the wonder he occasioned.
“For some minutes they stood looking at each other without a word—the major’s eyes growing larger and larger with astonishment; while the odd little fellow kept winking away, with his finger at his nose, to his own apparent glee. At length he said,
“ ‘Well—what d’ y’e think, old carbuncle?’
“Now the major was a valiant man, and had any mortal thing called him by such a nick name, he would have first run him through and then almost eaten him alive; but he has told me a hundred times that his heart went like a forge-hammer to be addressed by a being of another world. So he only stammered,
“ ‘I—I—don’t know—’
“ ‘Speak up, man, speak up—why your voice is as thin and weak as if you’d been doctored for the quinzy a month.’
“ ‘Lord bless you, sir, I never had it in my life,’ said the major, with sudden boldness.
“ ‘Uh—uh—uh,’ interrupted the little fellow, menacingly, ‘none of that—none of that. No strange names if you please.’
“The major’s heart again went like a fulling mill, and his throat felt as if he was about to choke; for he had no doubt it was the devil himself who stood before him.
“ ‘I—I—beg pardon—your majesty—I—I.’
“ ‘What! Strange names again,’ sternly interposed the goggle-eyed little fellow, and then, seeing how he had frightened his companion, he said, to re-assure him, ‘come, come, Major, this will never do. Let’s proceed to business.’
“The major bowed, for he could not speak. The odd little fellow arose with the word, and taking the major’s hand, gave a spring from the ground, and in an instant they were sailing away through the air, over wood, river, hill, and valley, until they alighted at the door of a lone, solitary house, at the foot of a mountain. His companion pushed open the door, without ceremony, and they stood in the presence of a large company, apparently assembled to witness a marriage, for the bride, with her bridemaids, was sitting at the head of the room, and the company, especially the young ladies, were smiling and smirking as they always do on such occasions. The only thing wanting was a groom, and when the major took a second look at the bride, he did not wonder that he delayed his coming to the last moment. She was an old, withered beldame, sixty years of age, at the least, with a yellow skin, a hook nose, a sharp protruding chin, and little sunken grey eyes that leered on the major, as the door opened, with most provoking familiarity. Her ugliness was more apparent from the extreme beauty of the bridemaids, who seemed as if they might have been Houris from Paradise. As the major entered, the bridal company arose simultaneously. The parson stepped forward and opened his book. Every eye was turned upon the new-comers.
“ ‘You are very late, my love,’ said the old hag, turning to the major.
“ ‘Late!—my love!’ said he, starting back, and turning with astonishment, from his conductor, to the bride.
“ ‘I have brought you to your wedding, you see,’ said the odd little fellow composedly, with a tantalising grin, ‘didn’t I hear you say, on the common, “that you’d like to see the woman you’d marry,” didn’t I?’ and he grinned again.
“ ‘Yes—my duck,’ simpered the hateful bride, leering on the major, ‘and I’ve been so alarmed lest you might have met with an accident to detain you. Why were you so long?’ and she placed her hand fondly on the major’s arm.
“ ‘Hands off,’ thundered the major, springing back, and again turning bewildered from one to another of his tormenters.
“ ‘Come, come, now, major,’ said his conductor, with a malicious grin, ‘it’s no use to resist, for that,’ said he with emphasis, pointing to the old hag, ‘is your bride. It is fate; and what is written, is written you know. I’ve no doubt,’ and here he gave another malicious grin, ‘that your married life in future will be one of unmitigated felicity. Come,—don’t you see the parson’s waiting?’
“ ‘Yes, dear,’ said the bride, distorting her withered jaws into what was meant for a smile, ‘and don’t let us think, by any more hard words,’ and here she tried to sob, ‘that your fatigues have thrown you into a fever and delirium.’
“Cold drops of sweat were on the major’s brow, as he looked around the room, and saw every eye bent upon him, some with amazement, some with contempt, but most with indignation. There was a menacing air on the brow of his conductor, which made him shake as if he had an ague chill. The major, moreover, was unarmed. But he made a desperate effort, and said piteously—
“ ‘Marry! I didn’t want to get married—’
“ ‘Not want to get married, when it’s your destiny!’ broke in his conductor, with a voice of thunder, striding up to the major, whose very teeth chattered with fright at his peril.
“ ‘Why—why—y—I’ve no particular objection—that is to say,’ exclaimed the major with another desperate effort, ‘if I must get married, I’d sooner take one of these pretty, blue-eyed bridemaids here.’
“ ‘You would—would you!’ said his conductor with a threatening look, ‘dare but to think of it, and I’ll make you rue it to the last day of your existence,’ and again he scowled upon the major with a brow blacker than midnight, and which had a fearful indentation—the major used to say—as of a gigantic spear head, right in the centre.
“The major always said that he resisted stoutly for a long time, even after his tormentor had fairly prostrated him with only a tap of his finger, and until strange figures, of unearthly shape, uttering terrible cries of anger, and attended by a strong smell of brimstone, came rushing into the room, without any apparent way of ingress, and surrounding him in a body, awaited the signal of his conductor to bear him off, he knew not whither, and inflict on him unheard of torments;—but as I knew the major was sometimes given to vaporing in his cups, I always set the better part of it down for exaggeration. However, at length he gave in, even according to his own account, and signified his willingness, though not without some qualms as he looked at the bride, to have the ceremony performed.
“ ‘I knew it, major—a brave man never should struggle against fate,’ said the little fellow with goggle eyes.
“ ‘Needs must, when the—’
“ ‘Sir,’ said the little fellow, turning fiercely around.
“ ‘I beg pardon,’ said the major meekly.
“But to wind up my story—for, egad, I believe you’re asleep—the major was married, had kissed the bride, and was actually performing the same duty on the bridemaids, when the little fellow with the goggle-eyes, perceiving what he was at, seized him angrily by the arm, whisked him up the chimney, bore him swiftly through the air, and with a roar of malicious laughter, that might have been heard a mile, exclaiming,—
“ ‘There—wait, and your wife will pop in on you when you least expect it,’—let him drop to the earth, on the very common, and aside of the very pile of stones, where he had been sitting when he first saw the little, old fellow. But meantime the night had passed, and it was broad morning. The birds were singing in the neigboring woods,—the sound of the village clock striking the hour, boomed clear upon the air,—and a few cattle, with the monotonous tinkle of their bells, were leisurely crossing the commons, under the charge of a herd boy. For some minutes the major could not persuade himself but what it had all been a dream; but the damp sweat was still upon his brow, and every limb ached with the fall. So he couldn’t comfort himself with that assurance, but set himself down, on the contrary, as one of the most luckless men alive.
“From that hour, sir, the major was a firm believer in destiny, and used to sigh whenever any one would talk of matrimony. He lived in constant fear lest his wife should find him out, and at last threw up his commission, only, I believe, that he might go to Europe, for better security. Some used to say it was only a drunken dream, out of which he had been awakened by falling upon the stones, but if the major heard it he was sure to challenge the slanderer, so that, in course of time, his story got to be believed by general consent. And now—you old curmudgeon—who’ll say marriages ain’t fixed by fate?”
“But, Jeremy, to credit your ghost story requires rather a good deal of credulity.”
“Credulity! Ghost story! what, egad, is life without a touch of romance, and what romance is so glorious as the one which deals in diablerie? Ah! my good fellow if I didn’t know that the major was generally credible, and therefore in this instance to be believed, I’d endorse his story just because it proves my assertion. Answer that, if you can!”
THE FATHER’S BLESSING.
BY MRS. S. A. WHELPLEY.
The wind moaned in low and fitful gusts around the mansion, sounding at times, as if the wailings of departed spirits were borne upon the blast, when Mary Levingston sat alone in the solitude of her chamber. Her lamp was hid in a recess at a distance, and casting its pale and feeble beams across the darkened room, scarcely disclosed her drooping figure, or the tears upon her cheek. It was not that the fearful tumult without had affected her imagination, nor the thought that her only brother might be exposed to all the dangers of the coast. Something that more deeply touched her happiness awoke her grief. Wild, tumultuous thoughts agitated her bosom, and mocked the storm that shook her casement, and roared in all its fury around her.
The substantial mansion of Mr. Levingston was situated in a delightful town in New Jersey. Here he had trained up an interesting and lovely family. Four of his daughters were married; three of them were settled in the same town with their father; the other resided in the city of New York. His only son, possessing many virtues, but a wild and roving disposition had, in opposition to his father’s advice, gone to sea, and had not been seen by any of his family for four years. Mary Levingston was the sole remaining daughter at home. She was the sun that lit up her father’s dwelling. Swift and light as the fawn had been her footstep till of late; when a cloud had passed over her gentle bosom, and obscured its brightness. A blast had swept over the flower and it was changed; but neither the cloud had been seen, nor the blast heard. Then wherefore this change?
It was well known to Mr. Levingston’s family, that a strong and bitter alienation of feeling existed between himself and Mr. James, an early, and once dear friend, who, at the time of which we speak, resided in New York. So exasperated had Mr. L. become by a series of ungrateful acts on the part of this early friend, that on pain of his everlasting displeasure, he had forbidden his children ever associating with the family. Unfortunately for Mary, during a visit to the city, she had met with a son of Mr. James, and it was not until her affections were unchangeably fixed, that she had discovered his relationship to the most bitter enemy of her father. Admiring Mary at first sight, and conscious of the enmity between the families, her lover had sought an introduction to her under a false name, and it was long before she discovered the truth.
When she did so, however, her determination was soon made. Obedience had been the law of her life, and she resolved at once to sacrifice her own feelings, in preference to that of her kind father’s wishes. She felt pained, moreover, that her lover should have deceived her even to win her affections. She fled from the scene of danger; but she could not fly from herself. In her own bosom she carried the image she had so fondly cherished, and which had been the object of her waking and sleeping dreams. It was after a long struggle, in which she had almost conquered, that she received a letter—which had caused her present grief—written by her sister, and informing her that her lover was about to sail for Europe, and asked for a last interview, if only to beg her forgiveness, and bid her farewell forever.
“I will see him,” said Mary, “and convince him there is no hope, and then I will return and confess all to my beloved father, and throw myself upon his mercy. He will not cast me off when he finds I did not err knowingly.”
She rose from her chair, as she thus spoke, arranged her dress, and descended to the parlor, with a countenance from which, except to a suspicious eye, every trace of grief had vanished.
“You must not leave us so long again, my daughter,” said her venerable father, as she entered the room. “My home appears almost cheerless, unless I hear your voice. Sing to us one of your sweet songs.”
“What shall I sing, dear father? Shall it be your favorite, Grace Darling?”
“Not Grace Darling to-night, my love, it is mournful and tells of shipwreck and death.”
“Well, I will sing my own favorite,” said Mary, seating herself at the piano, “it shall be
‘My heart’s in the Highlands,
My heart is not here.’ ”
The parents looked at each other and smiled, as their beautiful daughter struck the keys; for they felt that few beings were as lovely as their own Mary.
“Dear papa!” said she at length, suddenly stopping, and turning around, “I want to ask a favor of you,—I am sure mamma will grant it. Let me go to New York next week. There now, I knew you would,—you are always such a kind and indulgent papa,” and throwing her arms around his neck, she kissed him tenderly.
“Well, if mamma gives her consent, I suppose I must give mine. But, dear Mary, don’t come home this time so down-hearted as you did from the last visit you paid your sister. There now, since you have got your boon, play me another song.”
Mary felt the blood rush to her very brow at this chance remark of her father; but turning around to her piano, she struck into a march, to hide her emotion.
In a few days she set forth to New York, with a heart, vacillating between duty and love,—determined, however, to permit only one interview, and then to bid her lover adieu forever.
“You will have a strong advocate in my wife,” said Mr. M—— to Mr. James, who sat on the sofa by Mary Levingston the evening of her arrival. “She is resolved, she says, to return home with her sister hoping she may be enabled to soften the feelings of Mr. Levingston toward your father.”
“I hope she may prove a successful pleader,” said the lover, “and prepare the way for my casting myself at his feet when I return. Since I have obtained my sweet Mary’s forgiveness, I feel that I can now with courage brave the hardships of the deep. The thought that she loves me, will be the sun that will light my path in a distant clime. The thought that she is my advocate with her father fills me with the conviction that the ancient enmity will be buried in oblivion and that all will soon be well.”
“You are far more sanguine, as to the result, dear Edward, than I am,” said Mary: “I have little hope myself of succeeding with my father. I know his feelings so well on this point, that I tremble lest I have sinned beyond forgiveness. One thing, here, in the presence of those that are so dear, I solemnly declare, though my heart may be crushed, never to unite my destiny to one his judgment disapproves. I should feel a solitary outcast, even with him I so tenderly love, without a father’s blessing.”
“We shall have it, dear Mary, we shall have your father’s blessing,” exclaimed Edward, pressing her to his bosom, “for God will reward so filial and dutiful a daughter. I should feel myself to be a wretch were I to corrupt such purity, or wish you, for my sake, to sacrifice his peace.”
We pass over the last two or three hours the lovers passed together. The clock had told the departure of midnight before they separated. Who could blame them for lengthening out an interview that was to be their last for months and perhaps forever?
“I leave you, dear Mary,” said Edward, at length rising to go, “in obedience to the commands of my father. If God prospers me I shall soon again be with you. Cheer up my love, and remember my motto is ‘Brighter days will come.’ ”
When Edward arrived in London, he hastened to fulfil the object of his voyage and put his business in a train for speedy adjustment. Days seemed to him weeks, and Mary could not have doubted his love had she known there was none in that great metropolis who could eclipse her beauty in the eyes of him she so fondly loved. In about three weeks the business which took him to London was settled, Mr. James was preparing to return home, when one night, at a late hour, the cry of “fire” resounded through the long halls of the Hotel in which he lodged. In an instant all was alarm and confusion. He enquired what part of the building was on fire, and was told that the eastern wing was all in flames. He hastened to the scene of danger, which appeared to be entirely forsaken. Nearly suffocated with smoke, he turned to retrace his steps, when a wild scream arrested his attention, and the next instant he beheld a young and beautiful female in her night dress rushing through the flames.
“Save, oh! save him, for heaven’s sake,” she exclaimed, “save my sick husband, he is perishing! who, who will rescue him?”
“I will,” said Mr. James, “but do not on your peril attempt to follow me.”
In an instant he was lost to sight, but directly reappeared, bearing in a blanket the body of the helpless being he had been the means of snatching from an untimely death. He hastened to his own room and deposited his burden on the bed, and was administering restoratives, when his servant informed him that the firemen had succeeded in pulling down the eastern wing and were rapidly extinguishing the flames.
“We have nothing now to fear,” said Mr. James, addressing the young female, who had partly shrunk behind the curtains to conceal her thinly clad person—“but you are cold,” said he, as he threw his own cloak around her, “pardon my neglect.”
“Oh,” she exclaimed, bursting into tears: “talk not of neglect. You have been every thing to us. You have saved the life of my beloved husband, and an age of gratitude is ours.”
Edward now left the room to seek for rest in another apartment. To sleep was impossible. The excitement of the past hour had been so great, that his nervous system was completely unstrung, and he passed the night in listening for some alarm. After breakfast, he hastened to the room of the invalid, to enquire for his health. Most joyfully was he greeted by both husband and wife, who now appeared to have recovered from the alarm of the past night. In the course of conversation, Mr. James mentioned that he was on the eve of starting for America.
“When does the vessel sail?” inquired the lady anxiously.
“This afternoon, at four o’clock,” replied Mr. J——, “and I should like before I say adieu, to become acquainted with the name of those I feel so deep an interest in.”
“Our name is Levingston,” said the gentleman. “And yours, sir?”
“Well, this is remarkable. A Levingston and a James to meet under circumstances that have bound them together by cords that death alone can sever!”
Long and interesting was the communion of that morning. All was told. The gentleman he had rescued was the long absent brother of his own Mary. The tale of love was revealed, and Edward persuaded to wait one week longer, that they might return together to their native land.
“I shall send despatches to my father by the vessel in which you expected to sail, this afternoon,” said Mr. Levingston, “and if he has any love for his only son, he must receive us as brothers.”
We now hasten back to Mary Levingston. After the departure of Edward, New York had lost its attractions for her. Mr. M—— returned home with Mary. She indulged strong hopes of influencing her father in favor of Mr. James, and inducing him to consent to his union with her sister. But she was destined to be disappointed. Mr. Levingston would not even listen to her. Ringing the bell, he ordered Mary to be summoned to his presence.
When Mary entered the room, her eye fell instantly beneath the steady gaze of her father.
“I have sent for you,” said he, “to express my deep displeasure at your conduct, and my utter abhorrence for the man who could impose upon such a child as you. Your sister says you love the son of one that has insulted and abused me. Can it be so, Mary, my child?” said he, bursting into tears.
In a moment Mary was on her knees before him. “Forgive me, dear father, I have sinned ignorantly. Forgive me,” she exclaimed, “for I here promise to renounce him forever.”
“If this is your determination,” said Mr. Levingston, “rise and receive your father’s blessing. May you long enjoy the consolation of knowing you rendered the last days of your father peaceful and happy.”
From that hour, Mary Levingston was calm and happy. Innocence and an approving conscience supported her.
“Never,” said Mary, to her sister, Mrs. M——, on the morning of her departure, “mention in your letters the name of Mr. James, who in future must be as one dead to me. Tell him, when he returns, that my determination is unalterable, and bid him seek some more congenial alliance.”
Weeks rolled round and found the calm quiet of the Levingston’s unbroken. The rose was still blooming on the cheek of Mary. No change had taken place in any except Mr. Levingston. It was very evident to all his friends that he rapidly failed. Every step of the hill he was descending seemed to fatigue him, and the only cordial that revived his fainting spirit, was the presence of his youngest child. Was not Mary Levingston, as she gazed on his pale face and feeble frame, rejoiced at the sacrifice she had made to secure his peace? Yes, the happiness she now felt was of a calm, enduring nature. She could lie down and rise up without listening to the upbraidings of a guilty conscience, without having to reflect that it was her rebellion which had dimmed the eye and paralyzed the step of her father. Every night before she retired, she received his embrace, and heard him say, “God bless you Mary, you have been a dutiful child.”
Late one evening, in the latter part of October, a servant entered the parlor where the family was sitting with a package of letters. He delivered them to Mr. Levingston, and retired. The hand trembled that broke the seal.
“This is from our dear son,” said he, turning to his wife, and holding up a letter, “and here is one for each of his sisters. Let me see, two of them are directed to Mary, here they are, take them.”
He now commenced reading the letter aloud, which told of the prosperity and marriage of his son, and his intention of leaving England for home the following week. Then came the description of the fire. The peril—the rescue; the name of him who had exposed his own life to snatch a stranger from the flames. At this part of the letter Mr. Levingston suddenly stopped and left the room. In his study he finished its perusal.
“What does this mean?” he exclaimed, rapidly walking the floor, “It seems as though the hand of God was in this thing. I would that some other one had saved him. He asks me to receive his deliverer as my son. Bold request—and yet I will do it. I will receive him as a son, for he has saved the life of my Walter at the risk of his own. For so generous, so noble an act, I here bury my enmity forever.”
Mr. Levingston, with a lighter heart than he had felt for months, returned to the parlor. Mary met him at the door.
“This letter, dear papa,” said she, “I return to you. I have not read it, neither do I desire to. It is written by one I have renounced forever.”
“Keep it, Mary,” said Mr. Levingston, “and cherish the memory of the writer. I have buried my resentment forever toward that family. From this hour shall we not bless the deliverer of our son?”
Mary was astonished. She could scarcely persuade herself that all was not a dream. Still holding the letter toward her father, and gazing immoveably in his face, she seemed rather a statue than a human being.
“Do you think I am trifling?” said he, as he pressed her to his bosom. “No, Mary, I love you too well for that. From this moment you have my consent to become the wife of him, who, although so tenderly loved, you felt willing to sacrifice to the peace of your aged father.”
The intervening days, preceding the arrival of Walter, rapidly glided away in busy preparation. Suddenly, however, Mr. Levingston was taken dangerously ill at midnight. His symptoms were so alarming that a council of physicians was called before morning, when an express was sent to New York for his children.
Calm and collected, Mary Levingston might be seen noiselessly moving about her father’s chamber. No hand but hers could administer his medicine, or smooth his pillow. The thought of death—the death of her father—had not once crossed her mind. His life seemed so necessary to his family, that such an event appeared impossible.
“Has he come, Mary?”
“Who, dear father?” she gently asked, stooping and kissing his brow.
“Walter, my son, has he come?”
“It is too soon yet to expect him.”
“Too soon,” said he, faintly, “I fear then I shall never see him. The hand of death is on me, my child, I feel its chill.”
“You will kill me, dear father, if you talk so. You will soon be better. I thought this was to be the happiest week of my life,” said she, bursting into tears.
“Mary,” observed Mr. Levingston, “I wish you to be calm and listen to me. If I should not live to see my son, tell him he was his father’s idol. Tell him to transmit the name of Levingston, unsullied, to posterity, and to be the comfort and support of his widowed mother. One more message and I am done,” said he, wiping the cold sweat from off his brow. “Hark!” he exclaimed, hearing a noise, “perhaps that is Walter.” Finding himself disappointed, he proceeded—“request Edward James to tell his father that I die in peace with all men, and joyfully entrust the happiness of my daughter to his son. I had hoped to have given away the treasure with my own hand, but that is all over. Leave me now for a few moments, I wish to see your mother.”
That interview over there was a solemn silence for a few moments, when he exclaimed, “Did you say he had come? Oh my son, receive my blessing.”
“You were dreaming, dear father,” said Mary, “Walter is not here.”
“Well, well, it is all right,” he replied. He never spoke more: in a few hours his spirit took its final flight.
It was late in the evening when the mournful intelligence of Mr. Levingston’s illness reached his children in New York. They instantly set forth to gain, if possible, his dying couch in time to obtain his blessing.
“Where is my father?” exclaimed Walter on his arrival at the mansion, rushing by his mother and sisters who had hastened to the door to meet them. “Lead me to my father,” said he, catching hold of Mary.
As she went toward the room, he rushed by her; and entered, closed, and locked the door. Mary stood without listening to his wild outbursts of grief.
In anguish he called upon him once more to speak to him. It was the lamentation of the prodigal yearning in vain to hear his father’s voice. It was the pleading of the wanderer who had returned with the hope of cheering his last days.
“Mary,” said a gentle, well known voice, “My beloved Mary, we meet with your father’s blessing resting upon us.”
In an instant she was in the arms of Edward James, and weeping upon his bosom. Walter Levingston at this moment entered the apartment.
“Did my father ask for me, Mary?” said he.
“Oh yes,” she replied, “often. Almost his last words were, ‘My son receive my blessing.’ And he told me to request you, Edward, to say to your father, ‘I die in peace with all men, and willingly entrust the happiness of my daughter to your son.’ ”
“Forever blessed be his memory,” said Edward. “Never shall his confidence be misplaced, or that daughter have reason to doubt my trust.”
The door now opened, and Mrs. Levingston, leaning on the arm of one of her daughters, entered. “Beloved mother,” said Walter, embracing her, “from this hour it shall be my first care and study to promote your comfort. Here by the corpse of my father, I resolve to do all in my power to fill his place, and render your last days peaceful and happy.”
Some months from this period, a party was seen to alight from a carriage early one morning in front of Saint Paul’s Church. The blessings of many were heard in low murmurs from the crowd that filled the vestibule. “She was the pride of her father,” said an aged female who stood leaning against the wall, “and I know she will be a blessing to her husband.”
Early as was the hour, the Church was crowded with spectators. Many had risen to get a more perfect view of the fine manly form of him that was about to bear away the sweet Mary Levingston from her maiden home. The silence was intense as the impressive marriage ceremony of the Episcopal Church was read; and fervent were the responses of those who promised through weal and wo to be faithful to each other. As the party turned to leave the Church, a hearty “God bless them,” resounded from many. Mrs. James was greatly affected as she cast a farewell glance on these familiar faces. Her husband hurried her to the carriage.
“The blessing of many has rested on you, dear Mary, to-day,” said he, as they were borne to their new home.
“Yes,” said she, “and I thought as I stood before the bridal altar, I heard the voice of my departed father saying, ‘God bless you.’ ”
I AM YOUR PRISONER.
BY THOMAS DUNN ENGLISH, M. D.
Lady! I bow before thee
A captive to thy will,
A spell of thine is o’er me,
But joy is with me still.
I yield me, not to beauty,
Though thou, indeed art fair;
I yield me—not to lightness,
Though thou art light as air.
I yield me, not to wisdom,
Thou wisest of thy kind,
But, rescue, or no rescue,
To thy purity of mind.
A SKETCH FROM LIFE.
BY J. TOMLIN.
The subject of the present sketch has had in time, the most sincere friendship of the writer. One act, and one alone, has made them enemies—irreconcilably, forever. It is to be regretted that it is so, yet it cannot be otherwise, and the honor of both be preserved. There is in any and every one, that aspires to greatness, a tameless absurdity, when suffering a reprehensible action of an associate to pass away like the morning mist on the flower, without noticing it, or giving the admonitory reproof, that often corrects and finally subdues the evil. We are not such isolated creatures on the surface of a world passing away, as to require a more powerful impulse in the correction of an evil, than the blessings it gives to our fellow beings.
Gordon De Severn was my senior by some several years;—but in all of his actions, there was a freshness and youthfulness, so akin to what I did, and what I felt myself, that I could not keep away from him. He was a scholar, but not of the schools, therefore none ever complained of his dullness. His Aristotelian capacity grasped almost intuitively, what others could scarcely get by the most diligent researches; and with the perception of a Byron, he disclosed every beautiful thought that ever swept along the labyrinth of mind. He was a mighty genius, free, bold, and daring! He liked to see the bubbles of time vanish, and others coming in their places, but did not recollect, that soon, very soon, the vapour that supported his adolescent spirits, would dissolve, and be no more forever! He was an observer on the world—a spy on the tumultuous feelings that agitate, and corrupt the heart;—and he boasted that he was of the world, but a being removed beyond its temptations.
Six summers ago, Eliza Wharton was young, happy, and full of innocence. How altered now is this creature, from what she was when I first knew her. Time often makes worse havoc with the reputation, than with the body. A little while ago, Eliza Wharton was not more fair than she was innocent; but now at the heart the canker-worm preys voraciously, as is evidenced by the deep lines that mark the cheek. Retired beyond the precincts of the bustle of the multitude; lost to friends that once loved her,—she lives a solitary creature, ruined in reputation by the very being she once loved;—penitent in seclusion, she has wept her sins forgiven, and will win her way to heaven, in spite of a cold—cold world.
Being in affluent circumstances, she moved in the first circles of society in the little town that gave her birth. She was intellectual and beautiful, which made her an object of envy to the many. Women envy the beauty they see in every one of their sex, and man, the rich endowment of mind, that makes his fellow being more distinguished than himself. How apt are we to despise any noble capacity that we see in others, when we possess it not ourself—and the good qualities that show themselves most splendidly in our neighbor, are a bright mark, at which we level in bitterness, the wrath of our envy. Those that have but the most common endowments of our nature, are generally the most happy, and almost always move in a path, that leads to a peaceful destiny. Had Eliza Wharton been one of the common, ordinary creatures that move in humble life, in her fall, she would have had the sympathies of the world. But being of a superior mould both in body and mind,—her fall was unregretted, unwept.
In an evil hour there came along a being in the shape of man, like herself of towering intellect, but unlike her in goodness of heart and benevolence of feeling. She loved him! She thought that she saw in him something superior to any thing that she had ever seen before in others. Nobleness of mien he certainly had—and the ways of the world he was familiar with, for he had travelled much. He had studied, but not from books. The volume of nature as it lay spread out before him, in gorgeous robes of mixed colors, dyed with the richest tints the every avenue to the soul, and he became a poet in feeling. His was the philosophy of feeling and not of reason—therefore he erred. Every emotion of the heart, he mistook for inspiration of the soul—and he fed the keen appetites of his nature from every stream that rippled his path. What to him was good, he never considered might be poison to others. His was the mighty ocean of mind, not cramped by this usage, or that custom—but free, bold and daring! He visited fountains that could not be reached by every one, and drank of waters that inspired different sensations from what were felt by the world in which he lived.
I do well recollect the time when these two beings first met. It was on the eighteenth anniversary of Eliza’s birth—and at a fête, given by her father, in honor of the occasion. It was in May, the month of flowers; and though a moonless night, yet the bright stars looked down in myriads on the happy earth. Eliza was all joy and animation. Before her lay the rich fields of pleasure, and she seized on every moment as one of gladness, and of happiness. She did not know that in her path, there lay a serpent that would soon destroy her. Gordon De Severn, like some fiery comet, attracted every eye, and spell-bound the poor maiden that happened to come within the hearing of his magic words. Exclusively on that night, did he appropriate Eliza to himself. She listened, enraptured at every word he spoke, and fell at last a victim, to the snare he then laid. He played his part so well on that night, that he fairly captured the fair one’s heart—and for the first time in her life, she retired, to a sleepless pillow, bedewed with tears. De Severn admired her, but he was not in love.
For several months after their first interview, he was almost a daily visitor at her house. He courted her—and he won her. She believed him, when he told her, that he would be her friend. She believed him when he said, that he loved her. She trusted, when he deceived. She fell because she loved one too much, that proved himself a villain, and not because she was base. She departed from virtue, not because she was in love with vice, but to oblige one that she loved much. She fell—and this vile seducer is now sporting in the sunshine of wealth—and has friends, and is received into the houses of the honorable, and is caressed, and is smiled upon; while the poor injured one—Eliza Wharton, is abandoned by the world, and by her relations, to pine in some sequestered spot, and die of a broken heart.
How often does it happen in this world of ours, that the betrayer receives honor from the hands of the people, and the betrayed is scoffed at and reviled, for being so credulous as to believe even a tale of—Love.
BY E. G. MALLERY.
Come, altho’ fair is thy southern clime,
Where the sea-breeze fanneth thy cheek,
And the stars come forth at the vesper chime,
With a beauty no tongue may speak;
Tho’ the moon-beam slumbers upon thy brow
As it slumbered in hours of yore;
And the night bird’s song has the same tone now
In thy life’s bright spring that it bore;
Come, tho’ from streamlet, from hill, and from plain,
Rush a thousand fond memories forth,
And cluster around thy light step to detain—
Oh! come to our home in the North!
They tell you how bleak is our northern sky
When the storm-spirit spreadeth his wings;
How his shout is heard from the mountain high,
How in glee thro’ the valley it rings:
How his strong hand bows the proud old oak,
And in sport uprooteth the pine;
How he folds the hills in his spotless cloak,
And the groves with his brilliants shine:
How his breath enchaineth the rolling tide,
And bids the chaf’d torrent be still,
Then dashes away in his might and his pride,
And laughs that they heeded his will!
They tell you our birds at the Autumn’s breath,
When the flow’rs droop over their tomb,
Are off to the land where they meet no death,
And the orange-trees ever more bloom.
Tell them we ask not affection so slight
That at fortune’s first frown it is o’er,
And we’re certain again when our skies become bright
They’ll flutter around us once more,
And tell them there grows on our mountain crest
A plant which no winter can fade—
And, as changeless, the love of a northern breast,
Blooms ever in sunshine and shade!
Come, and we’ll teach you when Summer is fled,
And the rich robe of Autumn withdrawn,
To welcome old Winter, whose hoary head
Is bow’d ’neath his sparkling crown;
For soon as his whistle is heard from afar
Commanding the winds round his throne,
And echoes in distance the roll of his car,
We encircle the joyous hearth-stone;
And eyes brighter flash, and cheeks deeper glow,—
The voice of the song gushes forth,
And ceaseless and light is each heart’s happy flow—
Oh! come to our home in the North!
YOU NEVER KNEW ANNETTE.—BALLAD.
Written by T. Haynes Bayly, Esq.—The Music composed by C. M. Sola.
Geo. W. Hewitt & Co., No. 184 Chesnut Street, Philadelphia.
You praise each youthful form you see,
And love is still your theme;
And when you win no praise from me,
You say how cold I seem:
You know not what it is to pine
ceaseless vain regret;
You never felt a love like mine,
You never knew Annette,
You never felt a love like mine,
You never, never knew Annette.
For ever changing, still you rove,
As I in boyhood roved;
But when you tell me this is love,
It proves you never loved!
To many idols you have knelt,
And therefore soon forget;
But what I feel you never felt,
You never knew Annette.
SPORTS AND PASTIMES.
When the shooter has been long accustomed to a dog, he can tell by the dog’s proceeding, whether game is near or not when pointed, or whether the birds are running before the dog. If he suspect them to be running, he must walk up quickly before his dog, for if he stop or appear to look about him, the birds instantly rise. Whenever it is practicable, unless the birds be very tame and his dogs young ones, the shooter should place himself so that the birds may be between him and the dogs. They will then lie well. The moment a dog points, the first thing to be done is to cast a glance round to ascertain in which direction the covers and corn-fields lie; the next is to learn the point of the wind; the shooter will then use his endeavor to gain the wind of the birds, and to place himself between them and the covers, or otherwise avail himself of other local circumstances.