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breathed, their only fault, if fault it could be, was a devoted admiration of tbeir brother. They absolutely worshipped him, and, although they were averse to theatres and operas as a rule, would nevertheless attend the first representation of his new pieces with the most religious regularity, and pretend a great enthusiasm rn the thing which they did not actually feel, sim1'it because they knew it pleased him. As for old Mr. Hilton, he was fast losing all concern for the world and its belongings, and was cheerfully awaiting for the close of his life when he might join his Mary in Heaven. A cloudy stormy life bad his been, and great his struggles to Veep his son at a decent school till he was well lunched into the world; but now, poor soul, hen! very like that Barzillai, the Gileadite, sri he might have well echoed the veteran's mournful plaint: "I am this day fourscore jean old, and can I discern between good and eril? can thy servant taste what I eat and drink? can I hear any more the voices of singing men and singiog women?" His only wish was that he might die in his own city and be buried by his father and mother. Yet, when Lawrence Hilton's well-earned success came to bis ears, his fine old face would brighten, and a gleam of fire would glisten in his eye, and he would pat his favourite son's head, and say: "Well done Larry, good boy. My heart is proud to hear this, good boy." And then the white head would drop feebly, and he would sink into childishness again.
This was the household that Nathalie was introduced to. What wonder that she felt at peace that quiet sabbath evening, and forgot her troubles? And when dinner was over, and Laurence ensconced in his favourite arm-chair, with his cigar, opposite the old man his father, Nathalie did not require much pressing, but went to the piano and played, with beautiful touch, the grand Preghiera from "Molse" in Egitto," and after that sang, with devotional sweetness, simple hymns which brought the tears into the manager's eyes; and crowned the whole by giving them "O Salutaris Hostia," till the melody of her fine voice filled the room as with waves of music, and rolled out far into the stillness of the night, whilst the passers-by stopped enchanted, and drank in every note of the magnificent composition. And then came prayers; for Hilton's was a religious household, and the family had an old-fashioned habit of ending each day by family prayer, no matter -ho the guests might be: so that it was commonly said that stage celebrities heard prayers there who heard them in no place of worship; for your actor generally is not a man of deep religious impressions. To read prayers was Hetty's task, and the dear woman gave her whole soul to the words—not to her mere words of form and ceremony—and who shall describe the influence they had over the poor wayfaring stranger who knelt there, and of the fearful struggle they caused ?" Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against uj." What strange words were these, that con
vulsed the kneeling woman's form with sobs, which seemed bursting from a broken heart!
*' Ah! poor thing. I am afraid all is not right with her, Larry," said the tender-hearted Hetty, when she had taken her departure.
"There is some great grief evidently pressing upon her mind, L can see that at a glance. L would that I could help her I" returned the manager; "but it is a delicate thing, you see, Hetty dear, to inquire into circumstances of this sort. One thing I do know, and that is, a better actress never trod the boards; and I shan't be surprised if she attracts immense houses."
At last came round the eventful night which was to witness Nathalie's first appearance upon any stage; and it is useless to deny that she felt a choking, burning sensation in her throat, and a giddiness in her head, as she prepared for the trial.
Many who peruse these pages will agree with me when I say that there can possibly be no greater trial to the nerves than to appear before a crowded assembly for the first time, the cynosure of every eye. It is certainly bad enough to preach the first sermon, or to make the maiden speech in the House, though in the former case the criticisms are not outspoken, only the gaze of the congregation fixed pitilessly curiously on the new preacher, too ready to find fault should occasion present itself; but on the stage those horrors are increased tenfold. There is the danger of forgetting one's part, or breaking down, and the dread of the storms of applause or hisses (both equally fatal) from the noisy gallery. Nothing can equal the atagefright; the unfortunate debutant loses, at the same time, all voice, nerve, and sight, and stares hopelessly for a few moments at the sea of upturned faces.
Nathalie's fame seemed to have gone before her, and the Thespian that night, long ere it was her turn to go on, was crammed to excess. The regular pit-goers had sat through the roaring farce, "Margate Sands," wbich preceded "The Wife's Trials," and patiently waited for the new actress, and meanwhile regaled themselves affably on oranges, and stout, and gingerbeer, as is the manner of those in the pit.
And now came dropping into the stalls and boxes the upper ten—men from the clubs and dinner-parties—who had forsaken the whisttable entirely that night, to see "that new woman Hilton has got; wather a swell, they say!" and settled down, languidly, into their seats, and stroked their amber moustaches complacently. Then ladies (late of course), in all the witchery of evening toilet and resplendent beauty, began to gleam amidst the sombre array of black-coated men, like gay parterres of flowers; and, last of all, the whole house rose as a Royal personage entered the State-box, and bowed, smiling, to the crowded assembly, and people whispered:
"How well the Prince is looking to-night 1"
One, two, three, and crash breaks out the orchestra into Auber's most brilliant overture— that to " The Crown Diamonds"—a mad medley of delicious music, the echoes of which are borne to Nathalie's ear as she tremblingly adjusts her dress for the first scene, and receives Lawrence Hilton's last injunctions to keep steady, and not think of the people at all— just to fancy the story was her own, and throw all her spirit into it. A faint smile was Nathalie's only response. She was beginning to feel the trials of her position; but she held up bravely, conscious that so much depended upon her.
Softly the crash of the contending instruments has died away into a dreamy echo, and the conductor resumes his seat.
"Madame Brabazon!" shouts the call-boy; and, withastepshe knew not how, Nathalie found herself face to face with the mighty house, with every eye and every opera-glass in the vast assembly turned upon her.
The first scene was to represent the happy married life of Sydney Delville (Algernon Montfort) and his deceived bride Kate Delville, the heroine of the play. There was nothing to call for much comment in this scene; but Nathalie, as she progressed, felt her powers coming back to her, and played the part of the fond, happy wife to perfection, ever at Sydney's side, and keeping at bay the crowd of his fellow-officers; but her triumph was to come.
The curtain fell on the first act, and people began to think that the new actress was not so good as Madame Vertot. Certainly the latter had more vivacity.
"Well done, Madame Brabazon!" said her fellow-actor—"couldn't have been better!"
But the anxious manager, in a side-box, felt not very exultant as he read the feelings of the house. He would have liked a greater demonstration of feeling than the few " Braves" which fell on his ears.
Meanwhile, Nathalie had changed her dress into one of squalid poverty. She was supposed to be deserted by her treacherous husband and friends, and reduced to beg her bread. And now the triumph of her acting began.
When the curtain rose on one of the prettiest scenes of the play—"a country village, labourers drinking"—the applause of the house was tremendous, and increased as Nathalie, in sorrow, with her infant in her arms, crawled forth to beg alms of the rustics. No need of paint, or cork-lines, to simulate the agony in that fine countenance; the very presence of woe itself was there; and the beautiful voice, so plaintive in its earnest petition, that the eyes of the tenderer part began to fill; and men felt a sort of choking sensation. The labourers (as stage-labourers always do) made a series of unmeaning noises among3t themselves, supposed to be significant of their desire for a song, and then Nathalie, sinking down on a rude bench, began the mournful song described before:
"For the weary heart in Death there's rest."
The effect was electrical: even before the last
wild note had died away, a storm of applause burst from all sides of the house. The gallery was in extacies, and yelled " hangcore!" at the top of their voice; and ladies clapped their little hands till their gloves were rent in fragments. "Nathalie almost cowered before the storm of cheers, but recovered enough to sing one last stanza over again, to the frantic delight of the gallery, and more than one bouquet fell on the stage.
"That will do," thought Hilton; and he rushed into the green-room, and shook the new actress warmly by the hand. "The song has done it all. My sisters have been crying no end," he exclaimed. "I hope you don't feel fatigued. This is the last scene now, and then all will be over, and your success complete."
Meanwhile, the false Sydney is supposed to have married again, and, with his wife, is stayingat a seaport-town over the honeymoon. The last scene was a miracle of the painter's art, representing the beach crowded with idlers, the calm sea beyond, and the large hotel where Sydney is staying. Nathalie enters, dressed this time in mourning weeds, for the loss of her babe, and dragging her weary limbs along the stage, evidently in the last state of consumption; and here her make-up was perfect—and the hollow cheeks and fiery eyes spoke of the destroyer; and the voice, weak and trembling, now craved but a bit of bread. She crawls up the hotel steps, and is face to face with her husband; and the wild shriek that rang through the house then made people shudder. With renewed strength at the sight of the loved one, she almost rises to her full height, and points to the shrinking woman at his side, and asks him who it is that stands where she has the right to be.
Sydney, of course, trembles and blanches, like all stage-villains; and replies, huskily: "Ada, my love, leave me a moment. I know this woman," and advances to support the excited creature.
Beautiful was the ray of pleasure and hope that spread over the dying wife's face as she whispered: "Ah! now I am happy, Sydney, happy," and, amid the deathlike stillness of the house, sobs from the audience were distinctly heard, and cambric handkerchiefs freely used.
"Sydney, who was that woman 1"
"Katie, forgive me!—O God, forgive me!— that woman is my wife—and you I was never married to."
Nathalie, as she was about to rise, just cast her eyes up to the stalls, and there (could she be mistaken f Ah, no! too painfully distinct) there was Grantley I looking excessively uncomfortable; and with him a beautiful girl, in white, who must be his wife. She felt that she was going to faint. Was it possible that Grantley did not recognize her?
With a mighty effort she recovered consciousness, and proceeded with the acting, while her heart felt like a stone within her. Little did the people who hung upon her every word and gesture know the secret of that impassioned display—one only in that crowded house; and be was playing a part of his Owd, quietly and skilfully.
"Did you ever see such fine acting?" said
Ella to her husband, as they sat in their stall.
"The woman does it all as if it were real. And
I declare, Harry, she is looking up this way.
It she not magnificently beautiful?"
Grantley heard not a syllable of what was
said. Xoo well he could see the vengeful eyes
fixed upon him with that dreadful glare; too
well he knew the reason of all this acting.
Everytiring seemed going against him. He
must leave London at once, lest this vengeful
woman find him out, and expose him in the
mate of his day-dream, and break his wife's
He felt excessively relieved when young Lord Sefton entered the box, followed by our friend Robson, who had, as he said, "tooled up from garrison to see the wonderful woman, you know. Ah, and I declare and here's Grantley! How d'ye do, old fellow? Wish you all kind of joy! And how d'ye do, Mrs. Grantley? House very full, isn't it?—enough to choke one. I can't see the fun, myself, of broiling by the hour in these places; so Sefton and I have had a quiet pool, and then turned in here. Fine woman, isn't she—splendid woman ?—and acts to the point, can assure you. I seem to think— aw—that I've seen her before: all fancy I suppose, and that sort of thing, you know. Look at her now! by Jove, I shouldn't care about being that fellow Delville; he seems to be getting it hot and strong. That's right, ma'am, warm him freely! Been long back, Mrs. Grantley ?—hope to see you soon again at Turlminster. Dreadfully slow now there. Thanks, no—I haven't been married yet, 'pon my word. I believe nobody will have me; I'm too small. Ab, brava 1 that was well said. I hope the gentleman in the swellattire feels that. How dye'do, Lady Lufton?"
Thus prattled the harmless, good-tempered little Ensign, and thought what a rise he would take out of the fellows at Turlminster by the recital of all this.
Grantley sat moodily concealed in the shadow of the curtain, not daring to look at the stage, where the scene was fast coming to an end.
The injured wife's dying curse was fast drawing to its climax, and the orchestra had commenced the slow music to which Nathalie was to die, when an exclamation from Lord Sefton startled the inmates of the box.
"I say, look there! What can be the row, Robson? Good God, the woman has fainted!" It was so. Overcome by the fatigue of the acting, and the shock from seeing Grantley, Nathalie had, just at the moment when Sefton spoke, sunk into a deathly swoon on the stage. Hilton saw the occurrence immediately, and dashed into the green-room for some water, with which he proceeded to lave the face and temples of the lifeless woman, whilst the au
dience were in a state of the utmost perplexity, really not knowing what to do; so they patiently waited, and broke up into little knots, and admired the new actress's wonderful acting. The curtain fell, and the orchestra commenced "God save the Queen!" But louder far than the instruments, and the crash of the drums, arose a mighty shout, that shook the building, for the new actress.
"Madame Brabazon! Madame Brabazon!" And the shouts got so frantic that the orchestra ceased, and Hilton came before the curtain and bowed.
"Ladies And Gentlemen, — I would willingly gratify you in presenting Madame Brabazon to you; but, unfortunately, she has not quite recovered from a fainting-fit. Let me return my sincerest thanks for the compliment you have paid her."
A little lull followed this speech ; then a voice cried, "We'll wait till she's all right—see her we must!" And the hurricane raged again more furiously.
Hilton, on his return, found Nathalie perfectly conscious, but very pale and trembling.
"I am very sorry, but I am afraid that you must show yourself for a moment: they are frantic to see you. It will only be a moment. Lean on my arm. You feel better now, don't you? It was the heat, I suppose. Hark! they will not be contented unless you appear!"
"Oh yes, I will go," said Nathalie, "if I may rest on your arm. Thanks, I can manage it now." And they went on before the curtain.
"Hurrah I" Wilder rose the storm of cheers again, as Nathalie bowed repeatedly. "Hurrah! with tliree-times-threc for the manager!"
Charles Kean once said, "The house rose at me as one man !"—so might the actress have said this night, for the storm only died away when everyone's physical power of shouting was exhausted, and fitful shouts would break out ever and anon, till the house was empty once more. People lingered to talk of the wonderful actress as they went home.
"Poor creater!" said a motherly-looking woman, "she must 'ave 'ad a sight of trouble to look like that. Did you notice, Mrs. 'Arris, how her poor face was all lined, like? I don't believe as it was all hacting, myself. I never cried so much in all my born days—the poor lone thing and her little babby—and I arn't certain that my man didn't cry too: he was terrible and husky, I know, when he spoke about it!"
"My eyes, Bill, wasn't she stunning as the dying wife? though, mind you, I wouldn't like to live with her—not by no means I She's got something nasty in her eye when she looks like that!"
When Nathalie reached her home that night, after escaping from the congratulations of the company and such as were favoured to enter the green-room (for Lawrence Hilton was firm in his role not to allow danglers of any kind behind the scenes, to annoy or disgust the actresses), she felt as if the days of her life were over—a sickly, throbbing sensation seerned to weigh down ber head, and a weary languor to oppress her limbs; but her brain was on lire with the idea of revenge; and the image of that pretty wife of Grantley's was imprinted in characters of flame before her eye.
"I wonder if he recognized me ?" she mused. "He looked happy enough. Let him have a care!"
High-poised in air the laverocks sing
The Sabbath Bells
They chime of hope and quiet days,
King Sabbath Bells.
It rained last night: fair dcw-pcarls light
Of Sabbath Bells.
And, as they arc ringing,
Sweet angels seem singing
That melody pealing
My senses keeps stealing,
Ah! Sabbath Bells, whilst clearly ringing,
Iu youdcr dell.
In yonder dell the brooklet leaps
To kiss the spot where Dearie sleeps:
'Tis sad sho cannot hear the talk
Of Sabbath Bells.
Ring on, 0 Sabbath Bells! 'tis sweet
To hear the knell
Of ghastly death in that calm peal,
Bear Sabbath Bells.
"Come, wearied, rest;" ye seem to chime;
Sing Sabbath Bells.
And when the shadows deepen o'er
This weary life, amid the roar,
How sweet to hear, nigh Heaven's shore,
Those Sabbath Bells! B.-N.C, Oxon. II. J. S.
A STORMY NIGHT.
BY ADA TRKYANION.
I sit alone beside the hearth,
And hear no voice of love or mirth,
While the wind sweeps along the earth;
Moans round the roof, as one in pain—
Shadows flit o'er the floor so white,
A blast swirls up the mountain's breast,
The Spirit of the Storm awakes,
And through the gloom his pathway takes;
The chimneys roar; the barred door shakes.
And now swift lightnings, thin and white,
Set all the ebon heavens alight,
While heads arc curtained for the night.
But if I slept I should but sec,
And so I watch the troubled sky,
BY 1AUNCELOT CROSS.
Oh, Minnie mine 1 Oh, Minnie mine!
Sing unto mc that sad old tune, When trees and fields seem half-divine
Beneath the full September moon.
'Tis Jupiter, so large and bright,
That shines within the southern sky—
My star, that cheers me with his light
The season of thy star is past,
Warm Venus, with her golden fire;
Whilst mine untempcred beams doth cast,
Yet, sing to mc the quaint old tune—
Beneath this holy harvest moon,
Like fairies stealing from their haunt!
Let old, calm memories throng around us: They will please thec, they will ease me,
And quell the troubles that have hound us. AU through the long hour* of the wintry day the
\ow clouds hung close above our heads, to pour
with more unswerving aim their constant storm
of sleet and snow—sometimes working in soft
silence, sometimes with impatient gusty breaths,
bat always busily at work. Darkness brought
no rest to these laborious warriors of the air,
but only fiercer strife; the wild winds rose—
now? recruits, they howled beneath the eaves,
or swept around the walls, like hungry wolves,
Bow hire, now there, howling at opposite doors.
Tha. through the anxious and wakeful night,
tar storm went on. The household lay vexed
br broken dreams, with changing fancies of lost
ehildiea on solitary moors, of stage coaches
hopelessly overturned in drifted and pathless
gorges, or of icy cordage upon disabled vessels
in Arctic seas; until a softer warmth, as of
sheltering snow-wreaths, lulled all into deeper
rest till morning.
And what a morning! The sun, a young conqueror, sends in his glorious rays, like heralds, to rouse us for the inspection of his trophies. The baffled foe, retiring, has left far and near the high-heaped spoils behind. The glittering plains own the new victor. Over all the level and wide-swept meadows, over all the drifted, spotless slope", be is proclaimed undisputed monarch. On the wooded hill-sides the startled shadows are in motion; they flee like young fawns, bounding upward and downward over rock and dell, as through the long, gleaming arches the king comes marching to his throne. But shade yet lingers undisturbed in the valleys, mingled with timid smoke from household chimneys; blue as the smoke, a gauzy haze is twined around the brow of every distant hill; and the same soft azure confuses the outlines of the nearer trees, to whose branches snowy wreaths are clinging, far up among the boughs, like strange new flowers. Everywhere the unstained surface glistens in the sunbeams. In the curves and wreaths of the drifts a blue tinge nestles. The fresh pure sky answers to it; every cloud has vanished, save one or two, which linger near the horizon, pardoned offenders, seeming far too innocent for mischief, although their dark and sullen brothers, banished ignominiously below the horizon's verge, may be plotting nameless treachery there. The brook still flows visibly through the valley, and the rocks that check its course are all rounded with fleecy surfaces, till they seem like tranquil sheep drinking the ■hallow flood.
The day is one of moderate cold, but clear and bracing; the air sparkles like the snow; everything seems dry and resonant, like the wood of a violin. All sounds are musical—the voices of children, the cooing of doves, the crowing of cocks, the chopping of wood, the
creaking of country vanes, the sweet jangle of team-bells. The snow has fallen under a cold temperature, and the flakes are perfectly crystallized; every shrub we pass bears wreaths which glitter as gorgeously as the nebula in the constellation Perseus; but in another hour of sunshine every one of those fragile outlines will disappear, and the white surface glitter no longer with stars, but with star-dust. On such a day, the universe seems to hold but three pure tints —blue, white, and green. The loveliness of the universe seems simplified to its last extreme of refined delicacy. That sensation we poor mortals often have, of being just on the edge of infinite beauty, yet with always a lingering film between, never presses down more closely than on days like this. Everything seems perfectly prepared to satiate the soul with inexpressible felicity if we could only, by one infinitesimal step farther, reach the mood to dwell in it.
Leaving behind us the snow-shovels of the street, we turn noiselessly toward the radiant margin of the sunlit woods. The loftier trees have already shaken the snow from their summits, but it still clothes the lower ones with a white covering that looks solid as marble. Yet see how lightly it escapes !—a slight gust shakes a single tree, there is a.Staub-bach fur a moment, and the branches stand free as in summer, a pyramid of green amid the whiteness of the yet imprisoned wood. Each branch raises itself when emancipated, thus changing the whole outline of the growth; and the snow beneath is punctured with a thousand little depressions, where the petty avalanches have just buried themselves and disappeared.
Looking back upon our track, it proves to be like all other human paths—straight in intention, but slightly devious in deed. We have gay companions on our way, for a breeze overtakes us, and a hundred little simooms of drift whirl along beside us, and whelm in miniature burial whole caravans of dry leaves. Here, too, our track intersects with that of some previous passer; he has but just gone on, judging by the freshness of the trail, and we can study his character and purposes. The large boots betoken a woodman or iceman; yet such a one would hardly have stepped so irresolutely where a little film of water has spread between the ice and snow and given a look of insecurity; and here again he has stopped to observe the wreaths on this pendent bough, and this snow-filled bird's-nest. And there the footsteps of the lover of beauty turn abruptly to the road again, and he vanishes from us for ever.
As we wander on through the wood, all the labyrinths of summer are buried beneath one white inviting pathway, and the pledge of perfect loneliness is given by the unbroken surface of the nil-revealing snow. There appears