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Days, weeks rolled on - St. Aubin knew
The joy for which he long had sighed — And time, alas ! full fleetly flew,
As smiled he on his Indian bride : A bride no more — - but dearer far
A wife — a fonder, holier name : Still, as of yore, the brightest star,
That lit his path to deeds of fame.
The night was dark. – Why lingers he?
His hunting-lodge is dear as ever, His Star of Night as true --- for she
Sits gazing on the rolling river, Dim-lighted by the transient flash
Of some wild meteor, sudden streaming, Displaying waves that rudely lash
The wintry banks with white foam gleaming. A rough hand shakes the cabin door
It opes — St. Aubin is it you?' A stranger stalks across the floor
A brother huntsman, staunch and true.
Had led St. Aubin to prolong
And brought a hunter's spoils along.
His dripping moccasins unlaced, His trusty rifle laid aside,
The belt that held his pouch unbraced. They sat
- conversed a woodland strain
When, loud and near, a gun-shot rang.
- a moment stood, While, from his faintly throbbing heart,
Gushed forth a welling tide of blood : A moment round he wildly gazed,
With feeble fingers sought his wound Then closed his eyes, already glazed,
And dying, sank upon the ground.
Arose without — The deed is done!'
Of Night, thus strikes the Susseton !'
His worst, his deadliest, slew their friend And on the ground, sedate and low,
Behold her o'er the pale corse bend. The morning comes -- - that weary night!
How passed its tearful hours away? But morning came - and calm and bright
The sun shot forth its early ray, Regardless of the bitter grief
That filled the heart of that young wife, Who, thinking of the vengeful chief,
Despaired of hope, of joy, of life.
St. Aubin came -- but what a tale
Is told to his unwilling ear!
How throbbed his heart with anxious fear !
The rainbow of his cloudy way,
Poured through its clefts a gentle ray.
Are mustering on the dark frontier,
Ourselves the sacrifice, I fear.
Nor breathed upon his taper bright *
His life, by error sought last night.
At eve the Sussetons have trod;
And trampling chargers shake the sod.
Seek we the prairie, green and far ;
And thou shalt smile again, my Star.'
They fled -- the gallant steeds flew fast
Above the withered, trackless wild ;
And o’er their camp-fire faintly smiled.
The horses chose their leafy bed ;
Dark as a funeral-pall, was spread.
The chilled and wretched wanderers crept --
Their cares, their miseries unwept.
The hooting owl swept rushing by,
Yet these but breathed their lullaby.
Was it a stealthy, venomed snake,
Within the seared and leafless brake?
The sulphury flash blazed broad and bright -
And all again was darkest night.
The morning dawned upon a sight
Almost too sad for mortal eye-
And she, his bride, had seen him die
* Among the Susseton Indians, it is customary for the lover to approach the couch of his mistress with a lighted taper. If she blows it out, he may consider himselt accepted ; if his taper is permitted to burn, his advances are repelled. This I learned from a sketch in prose, by the gifted author of "Tales of the North-West, from which I have borrowed the plot of the story, now first done into rhyme.'
Yet not survived : all stark and cold
His corpse was resting on her knee ;
His marble breast, thus perished she !
And frozen tear-drops dimmed her cheek –
As sculptured forms that seem to speak.
Young lovers tell the mournful tale,
That sorrow-consecrated vale.
A COLLOQUIAL LECTURE.
· Saints,' saith Mistress Barbauld — who was more a saint herself, James, than most old rhymers — she made nice hymnsnay, boy, curl not thy pretty lip — a good hymn-book, unfingered by modern revision, is very good reading, as you may come to to know, when you are wiser - (perhaps you have yet to learn that a hard biscuit and olives make a royal supper
another crumb of philosophy in store for you) –
•Saints have been calm when stretched upon the rack,
Because, forsooth, it forbids her to hang out the subjects of her lotion. It gives her the means of washing them, but forasmuch as it does not dry them, too, she thinketh no shame to rail in its honest face. Marry — she must learn that the world was not made for clothes-lines, nor can the wind, that whirleth about continually,' be a respecter of wet linen!
Housewives notable are we all, in this regard. We scruple not to “fret our spleen’ against a rainy day, or a moderate series of them, as against a common nuisance a vexatious defeasance of all the purposes of life. As if the air were not to be disburdened, earth not to imbibe her seasonable beverage, nor the circulations of Nature to go on-lest our napkins dry not — or some other fatal let, or pregnant mischief befal!
Truly, James, we need a frequency of rainy days to dash our petulant presumption ! to assure us that the great globe' was not
made for our poor service that we are a transient company of
squatters,' indulgently suffered to pick a living off it. And when “this goodly frame, the Earth, and the brave, overhanging Firmament would hold their natural commerce, of generous effusion and loving receipt, it is well that we have to retire from between them and withdraw our interloping insignificance - peeping forth from under cover, and feeling that we are in the way in the world. 'Tis a wholesome lesson of humility.
Indeed, James, such moist abatement of the busy vanities and turmoil of life is truly edifying. So plainly does it let us know that our shows and exchanges and combinations, our perpetual pervasion of streets, and going up and down in the earth, are of no essential import — inconsequential fooleries - very lightly esteemed above. So that he who is sorely vexed with rainy interruptions, may conclude that he lives wrong - is too bitter in his worldly activity — makes much ado about nothing '- and the sweet heavens will not countenance him in it; they check and detain him ; and the continuous rain preacheth him a sermon. Why will he not profit by it - and sweeten his humors and be quieted ?
Right monitory also, to you younkers, if pondered fittingly,' and to all the minions of fortune and pleasure, is the hueless sobriety of a rainy day. It washes off, as it were, the paint and gilding from the face of Life, beats down her gay feather, and puts her wanton fancies quite out of countenance. It dethrones and blinds the 'garish day,' and dresses him in sackcloth. It holds in abeyance all the new-born gauds of the time'; or if they venture forth, they show right sorrily — tempt not to envy or imitation. You are not solicited by the vile screaking of the wrynecked fife,' to look out upon Christian fools with varnished faces,' nor doth the sound of shallow foppery enter your sober house.' The streets, that seemed to concentrate within them a world of frivolity and pride and fantastic gayety, are no longer paced by wanton feet. You look forth and see nothing going forward but the homeliest offices of society - the supply of the necessaries of life, by humble agents; and thus you see what life and society, in their coarse under-texture, really are.
In cities, we are apt to intercourse too much, and reflect and study too little - no better acquainted with ourselves, often, than with anybody else. Now rain tends to keep people apart, except so far as Providence has put them together, in families. This is well. Were Lucullus oftener seduced to sup with Lucullus, he might recover his dissipated thoughts and his individuality, worn away by promiscuous intercourse ; and the undesigning approaches and familiar communion of his family could not but win and intenerate his heart.
Yes, James, a rainy day nurses more amiability than half a
dozen dry ones. Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros. It makes the folly of ill-humor so manifest. When a testy gentleman salutes a wet morning, and finds himself condemned to the inside of the house for the day, at first, perhaps, he frets and scolds sadly. He chokes himself with fish-bones, and, to comfort the wounds, swallows scalding coffee ; his questions are sharp - his answers brief or none ; he walks the house with rueful aspect and impatient steps ; he plants himself at the window and looks straight out. But the sky relents no more than a cope of lead, and its watery issues rather thicken than fail. A very dull spectacle ! Monsieur soon tires of it; he gradually becomes less peripatetic then more quiet -- then serene then placid; he keeps his seat for some minutes ; now and then he relapses -- but the fits are less and less outrageous; he reads the newspaper, and laughs at something in it; he calls his wife by her first name. She talks and smiles, and ventures timidly nearer.
He is disappointed of his ennui. The clock surprises him - it must be too fast ; indeed, be is confident he shall outlive the day; and at length takes up a pen or book- entirely master of himself, in love with his wife, and tolerably complaisant even with Providence.
Now ten to one, James, that he applies himself more effectually than if the sun shone. Give me a rainy day, for close and continuous thought. It invests you with quietness ; you are hermetically sealed. It dulls the pert prattle of the piano. It quenches the fierce loves and faithless wars' of all small beasts; so that no canine bark nor feline ululation rises on the wings of silence,' to startle your seclusion. It blanks your windows. In the intervals of application, you look through them, but eye nor thought finds anything to detain it. Your subject seems diffused through the overcharged air, and you gaze and gaze, with intent abstraction, till your flow of thought becomes as permanently sober and steady as the day itself
. A day, that solicits not or tickles the sense - plays no fantastic tricks — but stands over you with the vast, grey, motionless, thought-moulded aspect of an Egyptian Sphynx. What a preceptress — what a Muse — what a foster-mother of studious thought, to political economists, and lexicographers, and deep divines! They should mark it white, in their calendars. Our rains, of week on week, must be their triuinphant seasons their magni menses their high tides. Then labors the mind with weighty incumbency
with a long, patient, ox-like draught. Then are all logarithmic tables calculated and corrected - then is the circle squared — then are the first principles of trade and exchange proved—then are clouds of metaphysics generated ; then is logic chopped; then is black letter read, and the Revolt of Islam' attempted - then do they that large advances into the bowels of the land.'