Imagens da página
PDF

played a very indifferent poor figure, and did not end the story by marrying the widowed Ella, as some of the dear ones who puzzle over this history have prophesied, and doubtless are tossing their pretty heads, and curling their lips expressively, and thinking the author but a miserable wight after all, and unacquainted with the way of the world. I cry you mercy, fair dames, and will try and retrieve his character, by saying that he never mentioned Ella's name without a queerish trembling in his voice, and often drives his wife distracted by the way he goes on about Mrs. Grantley.

As for Ella, she has recovered her wonted beauty, that lustre of the eyes which fascinated little Ensign Robson (by the way, that little defender of his Queen and country has also gone and committed matrimony, acting true to his faith in leading to the altar a "mon'sous fine woman, begad!" something like twice his age, and five-times his weight; and they live together like a pair of turtle-doves)—as I was saying, her eyes had recovered their brilliancy, and the smoothing hand of love and sympathy had rubbed out the wrinkles which sorrow had prematurely implanted there, and there was an airiness in her gait, and a laughing ripple in the music of her voice, and she was once more the happy wife, and the good, honest Englishwoman.

Nothing is more charming than the united character of the Oaklands family now every Christmas, and every birthday—and every other day, for the matter of that, on which anything like festivity can be exacted. There is great fun at the Hall, and happiness is with them all, from the Squire—now a hoary man full of years-to the youngest child of the Curate's, who crows his little tribute to the general pleasure. Worth all the trouble and sorrow of the dark years gone-by, thinks everyone, in the calm, delicious sense of present rest.

And now it becomes my painful duty to make my own bow, and withdraw the puppets, and put them back. No one but he that creates them can imagine the regretful sorrow with which the author dismisses the characters whom he has been associating with, and whose thoughts, talk, and actions have been, in a manner, his own. All adieux are painful; nor can the tearful eye and the broken voice express half that the heart feels; but still, in making them, Macbeth's advice is good: "If it were done, then 'twere well it were done quickly." A hearty grasp of the hand, into which all the heart goes, one silent "farewell," and then to depart! Like Martial, 1 send my little book into the world, trembling for its safety among the wolves and the hawks, and—

"So good-night unto you all:
Give inc your hands, if we be friends."

My earnest wish for the reader is, that it will give him as much pleasure in reading as it has me in writing—then all will be well,

DOWN THE AUTUMN VALLEYS.

BY AGNES LEONARD.

Down the Autumn valleys softly

Falls the starlight's golden rain, Where the roses bloomed and faded

O'er the grave where she has lain, Very quiet, very lonely

All the long years that have flown, Caring not tbat she is sleeping

In her narrow grave alone.

Comes there not a thought of sorrow

O'er the bushed throbs of her breast; No dim dread of dark to-morrow

Breaks the sweetness of her rest. No I the moonbeams fall around her

With a loving, sweet embrace, Yet the red leaves lie between them

And the stillness of her face.

Fold me in your arms, my mother,

As you used to long ago; 1 will sleep where you are sleeping,

Though your bed is very low, With its roof that grasses cover

With their tresses long and green. Yet, my mother, I shall slumber

Very quiet and serene.

I am weary, yes, how weary

Of this black, unending woe! Take me then, O glad-browed angel!

Where eternal waters flow; Where the lilies, pure and fragrant,

O'er the hills forever blow; Take me there, 0 sainted mother!

Where my yearning heart would go.

LINES.

BT ADA TRBVANIOX.

You have taken back the token

Which you gave me in-past years, Taken back the promise spoken

Amid fond and happy tears. And I do not say regret me,

For your heart will not regret; You will struggle to forget me,

But you never can forget.

For an unseen chain has bound you

Which is lasting to this day; And a spell has breathed around you

Thoughts not doomed to pass away. And that spell will not be broken,

Nor those links be rent in twain, By the words which you have spoken,

And the sharpness of my pain.

No one sees the wallet on his own back, thongi everyone carries two packs—one before, staffed with the faults of his neighbours ; the other behind, SM with his own I

A NIGHT WALK OVER THE EINSTERMUNTZ—THE TYROL.

What a scene! Mountains that in the fading light look black and forbidding, and whose monstrous masses come striding forward, like Titans startled from slumber. Beneath—far, far beneath their sheer precipitous side, a valley and green meadows, and tiny hamlets clustering round their little churches, whose spires, sheathed in metal scales, gleam with dragon-like hues of green and gold. That valley's peaceful aspect contrasts strangely with the Alpine wildness above; and still more strangely with the deafening, unceasing, tumultuous roar of a river, whose breadth indeed, and flow of water raise it above the appellation of a mere mountain torrent, but whose boiling and thundering waves dash (as only a mountain torrent's can) through, over, and under the black round boulders and jagged rocks, that fret and madden, though they cannot check, the stream's unwearied might. It is the stream and valley of the Inn! And never did Nature, in her wildest, fiercest mood, more grandly enhance the power of man—the strength of his much counselling mind, the victory of his, much-enduring, toilsome hand! For see! up the side of this dark mass of firs and limestone, hanging midway between the roar of the Inn, and the unheard complainings of the summit's lonely pines, tracking the trackless, scaling the inaccessible, winds in graceful curves a road—amightyroad! no slender mountain track, precarious and half-defined, nor yet the broader mule-path, safe though rugged; but a road broad and commodious, hard and smooth as the best high-road in Europe, finished and level as is the road of the most conscientious "trust" in England. How victoriously it sweeps upward in those stupendous windings! yet how gradual and inviting the ascent! The fall is so finely graduated that the brave team of the diligence continue their trot unslackened, as they leave the valley and ascend the mountain side; and the tourist, who having left the diligence behind at the last stage is doing the pass on foot, tramps 'n with a buoyant exultation at so promising an introduction to the great Finstermiintz.

By a road like this we ascend mountains without climbing them; precipitous cliffs are turned into mere "rising ground," Nature's wall-like barriers into aninclined plane. On,then, the tourist tramps. It is six o'clock, but his object is to reach the summit of the pass before dark; for thence may be seen the Ortler Spitz, "that giant of the Rhcetian Alps"—a peak which tbey say combines something of the commanding abruptness of the Matterhorn with the snowy radiance of Mont Blanc or the Jungfrau. His time is short; but the inspiration of the scene, the anticipation of the coming view, and, above all, the increasing

keenness of the air, seem to fill him with new powers, and he promises himself that he can do the Pass at a "spurt." He winds swiftly, then, up the road's great curves. But already the gathering clouds are closing up the view; the great peak will probably be invisible even should he reach the top of the Pass in time. And, besides, there are sights on the road that arrest his attention, and, in spite of himself, bring him ever and anon to a halt. For now and then the road is so marvellously supported on its terraces of masonry that it is hard not to step for a moment into the casementlike apertures made at intervals in the parapet; and then, hanging as it were in mid-air, to gaze down into the very stream itself, striving to measure with the eye the depth, or watching some mountain bird which darts from a crevice far below.

Next the traveller passes through a tunnel or gallery, which resounds hideously with the din of some unseen torrent; but whether from beneath or from above he knows not, for little can be seen in the dim light admitted by the narrow openings which face the valley ; he shivers in the dank and darkling vault, which seems to tremble and re-echo with the dash of the hidden waters. From this he emerges, and breathes more freely in the glad daylight; when suddenly he seems to be brought, if not into the actual presence, yet into the haunt and demesne of an awful being that has'ts lair hard by this mountain road—a lurking monster, who sometimes descends from his unseen fastness with appalling roar and desolating rush; for see this great cleft or hollow, which forms a deep track or cutting down the mountain-side, and passes beneath the road, which spans it with a deep arch: it is a track made for the especial accommodation of avalanches, which at certain times of the year descend in this direction, and which, careering down this hollow, pass under the road instead of across it.

It grows darker; and soon a wild, graceful figure, seen abruptly on a projecting eminence, looks like the demon of the dark Finstermiintz transformed, in some sudden caprice, into the freest and most lovely of the denizens of his rocks. There it stands, the shy, wanton chamois, ready, as the traveller approaches, to leap away with a reckless bound, and disappear! But no, it stands motionless, still as an image; for an image it is, a carved figure placed there to commemmorate some mountaineering exploit. Darker still! the traveller now conjectures rather than perceives the character of the scenery he is passing through. And now the road takes an abrupt turn to the left; he can just see that it enters a deep narrow gorge, which here opens into the larger valley, and along the bottom of which a torrent thunders down, to pour its waters into the Inn below. So dark and forbidding is this wild gorge, that be pauses for a moment, and casts a lingering gaze up and down the more open valley, which, by contrast with the narrower ravine, seems almost light and inviting. In a moment, however, he pursues his journey, and winds onward, hemmed in by towering rocks, and overhung by shadowy trees.

It is now full night; louder and louder grows the roar of the torrent, and a white foaming mass of water gleams through the darkness, for the stream here falls in a deep broken cataract, at the head of which the road turns sharply, and apparently crosses the stream. But when on the point of entering this turning the traveller stops short: the road seems to run full into the side of the mountain itself; or what is that which looms in front of him, tall and phantom-like, as if the road abruptly entered some dreadful portal, some "all-hope abandon" prison threshold? He advances, step by step, and, as it were, feeling bis way. A huge porch and massive gate, the muzzle of a cannon, and suddenly on the left, a deep guttural voice utters a loud challenge. The voice comes from a sentry-box, which holds a tall, cloaked figure, with musket and fixed bayonet. Still somewhat perplexed, the traveller asks the way to Nauders. The sentry silently extends his arm, and the stranger perceives that the road, having crossed the stream, makes another quick bend to the left, and, passing the face of the fort (for an Austrian fori it is) continues its upward course. He tramps on, with a new train of thought, set in motion by the apparition of this mountain fortress thus suddenly confronting him in the heart of the wild Tyrol highlands in the gloom of the deepening night. The Austrian soldier's deep challenge still rings in his ear — some Teuton peasant, perhaps, from the banks of the Main, or some sturdy Zechian from the corn-lands of the Donau. Poor fellow 1 does he think of a "Dacian" mother far away, as he keeps his dark and lonely watch? A mere "clod" perhaps, a rude boor, manufactured into the martial whitecoated grenadier; yet what dignity, what military grandeur invests that simple peasant as he stands on guard at the gates of the lonely fortress! He is part of a vast Bystem, of a power held to be mighty—one simple fellow, but one of half a million—the representative of the Kaiser, of the prince who, from the imperial halls of Schonbrunn rules, with his hundred legions, alike the pastures of Styria, the moors and valleys of Transylvania, the Illyrian bays, and these wild Tyrol-hills and forests. "Austria"—yes, at least the "shade of what was great"—remains with her. Thus, on the lonely, dark road, has the cloaked sentry recalled the traveller from the mountain road to the modern Caesar; from the murky night-gloom to the holy Roman Empire—to the modern successor of that potent shade of the past; like her, a mi

litary dominion; like her, a mighty road-maker. It is an easy transition, from the modem Francis Josephs or Leopolds to the mediaeral Fredericks and Othos; from mediaeval Othosand Henries to classic Antonines or the Julian line —to the days when, whatever track or mountain path pursued the line of this broad Austrian road, it was not bordered by these frequent shrines, with their rude carvings and painting, where the solemn struggles with the grotesque, the painful with the fantastic—when, instead of the picturesque yet civilized Tyrol-hunter, the skin-clad Genauni wandered over these rocks. Yes, perhaps down this very pass the fierce Rbsetian tribes, wielding that double-headed battleaxe, the origin of which so much puzzled the Roman laureate, poured with a shrill highland yell on the legionaries of young Drusus andhis stern brother; like Claverhouse and hia wild clansmen, sweeping down the gorge of Killecrankie, and dashing with brandished claymore upon the levelled pikes of the startled Royalists.

But, as the traveller wends on and upwards, hearing no sounds of human life, seeing around no shape or motion but grey, flitting cloud, and vague masses of shadow, he passes irito a phase of thought further, far farther removed from present realities than era those old days of Roman warfare. In vain his eyes strive to pierce the gloom which surrounds him; overhead, indeed, the air, though full of cloud and mist, still seems to retain somewhat of grey, uncertain light; but darkness fill* the road and mountain-side. In front, behind, on either hand, is darkness, or, if not darkness. looming, shapeless shadows, more bewildering than sheer darkness itself. The unseen foresttrees groan and rustle above the traveller, the torrent roars hoarsely below.

And now, one sense being, as it were, negatived and deposed for the time being from its natural authority and operation, another awakes into a keener activity than its wont. The blind night presents a blank to the eye, but the hearing seems quickened to a restless, sensiti« acuteness. Something more than wind-buffeted trees or rushing water seems to speak in the muffled roar, the fitful sighs and broken murmurs that fill the air. On still the tounst tramps; but whither is the smooth, gently ■risW road leading him? Still onward and upwardcan he have passed Nauders in the darkness, or has he taken some wrong turning r »" winding up the Stelvio instead of the Finstamiintz all this time, or who knows whereOnward still. His footfall sounds firs and even on the smooth, solid road; w> that seems now his only hold on the »■ miliar world of sense and earthly life- **? hard, solid road his feet are pressing, seems M only connection with things mundane. Hi feet are on the handiwork of men; but shadow) night wraps his head, and in his ear are sour* strange and unfamiliar, and voices hard to interpret. Onward still. Is he, in truth,wukJJB quietly up to Nauders, as duly informed by"16 handbooks? Or is he penetrating deeper and deeper into some wild realm in the heart of the lonely Finstermuntz, some region not mentioned, or to be mentioned, in the handbooks? Are not these Tyrol ranges German enough to swarm with elf, gnome, goblin, demon, nightwitch, or whatever weird tribes people the Hart a Mountains or muster to a centenaryWalpurgis? Onward still he tramps, still winding up the endless ascent.

Suddenly, as he for a moment pauses and turns, a thrill passes through him. High over his head a pitc.;-black spot appears in the grey expanse of mist. It approaches; it grows larger; it passes on—silent, shadowy, mysterious. Is it some vast bird, sailing slowly over the gloomy pass? With a creeping awe, vague but irresistible, he watches it with straining eyes, as, with a rapid, dreadful gliding, it mounts, seeking a vertical position, from which as it were to swoop downwards with some fell attempt. Abruptly it halts. At the upper end its dim vanishing outline assumes a form and image bold and defined. Then from its lower end it grows less and less, and in a moment disappears: while at the same instant the lonely gazer understands the ocular illusion which the black mountain and the driving scud have combined to practise on him. The driving mist has for a moment opened; the side of the mountain, black as Erebus by contrast with the grey-white cloud, has looked forth upon him through the window-like gap, which, passing

upwards, as the mist itself sped on, showed a moving spot of black mountain side, till (moving still upwards) it reached the summit, and, for a moment the traveller saw the very head, the murky scalp-like top of the great Finstermuntz, hanging awfully above him.

It seemed a strange vision, that momentary revelation of the black giant, dark and silent as a phantom, but a thousand times more colossal than the Brocken's spectre. Yet in the solid fixedness of its huge bulk (though its vastness bad been rather suggested than displayed) there seemed something that soothed and stilled the unearthly phantasy which was more and more swaying the traveller's thoughts. This, at least, was no fleeting shadowy spiritform, but one of the steadfast earth-born brood of everlasting mountains, beneath whose shadow he is walking, as in the shadow of a mighty unseen friend, true lord of the wild hill-region, suzerain and protector alike of mountain-born gnome and mountain-loving tourist.

So onward again, and upward still, with unwearied step! And, see, lights are glimmering far a-head! This must be Nauders at last.

Quick steps and gay voices approach, and the white coats of soldiers going down to the fort below. As with a deep Teutonic "Good night" they pass the tourist, the last flickering shadow of his night-fancies scours away. The mountain-dream has already withdrawn darkling from his conscious thoughts, to return into them vivid and life-like months hence.

THE STORY OF A CARPET.

BY ALICE B. HAVEN.

Every wife knows her husband's income, or ought to know it; that knowledge should be the guide of her conduct.

Home! is it a place of safety or temptation? The husband comes within woman's province there: is it for good or evil?

Not only the interests of time, but of eternity, are placed in her safe keeping.— Woman's Influence.

Mrs. Lambert tied the strings of her new spring bonnet in a careful bow, and thought how very becoming it was. A plain straw, to be sure, trimmed with blue ribbons, but it was her colour, blue, and the fresh blonde border, and the sprays of forget-me-not and lily-of-the-valley which were half-hidden away in it, shaded her face delicately, and betrayed at a glance the quiet good taste of the wearer. So did the well-preserved silk which she wore, with its fine lines of brown and white, and the shawl that she folded so neatly and threw over it, turning half-away around at her chamber glass several times, to

be sure that the poiut fell exactly in the centre. It was only "a Stella"—and we own that Stellas are "very common"—but its folds were as soft and pure as if it had been a cashmere, and possibly it was considerably fresher, having had much less wear and fewer owners than most India shawls that come to our market 1 But the secret of Mrs. Lambert's good looks, after all, was the pleasant errand on which she was bound. She looked in at the parlour clock as she came down-stairs, to be sure of the time, for her husband was an exceedingly punctual man, as became a bookkeeper in Sturgis & Co.'s large establishment, where everything was conducted in the most exact routine, and he was to leave the office at four precisely, to meet her at the

ferry. They lived in E , because a salary

of three hundred a year would not admit of a house in town, unless they resigned themselves to extremely close quarters in an obscure or

crowded street, while in E , for the same

rent, they had a neat cottage with a garden plot, and not even the annoyance of a thin party wall, which, anywhere in the city, would give them the benefit of the children's quarrels, or practice of the scales, or the domestic squabbles of the elders, next door.

Some of Mrs. Lambert's town friends groaned over the ferry, whenever they put themselves so far out of the way as to call on her: but as Mr. Lambert, who had a daily experience, did not mind it, his wife, whose home duties admitted of but one weekly journey to town, did not think it worth while to grieve over it; besides, in her heart, she did not think it at all disagreeable.

"My dear child," Mrs. Stark was accustomed to say, in the patronizing manner she always used towards her young friend, "it is very good and amiable in you to say that you don't mind, and to put up with such a banishment. You are a pattern little wife, and all your acquaintances give you the credit of it. Alfred Lambert wouldn't find many women who would allow him to have his own way in everything, and nobody else would have given up the chances you had for such a humdrum life"— from which delicate little compliment any unprejudiced stranger would naturally infer that Mrs. Lambert had thrown herself away, originally, on a self-willed, exacting domestic tyrant, and perpetually repeated the sacrifice, as occasion required.

They had been married four years now, three | of them at housekeeping, and all through the winter Mrs. Lambert had been annoyed by the dulness that naturally creeps over a plainlyfurnished room, when the first freshness is worn off, and the most careful dusting and rubbing will not restore it. If they could only have a new carpet, that would go a great way; the one now in wear had been chosen originally more for its enduring quality than its beauty, and though there was not a thin place in it, time and wear had not improved its appearance. Mrs. Lambert began to plan, in her own mind, how she could fit it to the chambers with the least waste, before she drew her husband's attention to the faded strip between the front windows, and pictured the improvement new paper and paint—if their landlord could be induced to apply them— and a carpet of more lively colours and graceful pattern would effect. Strange to say, Mr. Lambert came into the measure immediately. He liked to have his surroundings bright and fresh quite as well as his wife, and always insisted that it had a great effect on a person's disposition, whether they were so, or suffered to fall into dull dilapidation. He had secretly meditated the addition of a pretty book-case to tbeir household plenishing; volumes accumulated so fast that it was almost necessary; but he could wait awhile, and Jenny should certainly have her carpet; moreover, he would use his best interest with the landlord, and thought it more than probable he would consent, for Mr. Green must know that it would benefit his property, and what such quiet, punctual tenants were worth.

"Good-by, old carpet," Mrs. Lambert said, with an involuntary nod, as she closed the par

lour door. The next day, the work of re-decor». ting was to commence, and she was on her way to choose their part of it—the carpet.

It is by no means an original consideration, or one altogether unfamiliar to our pen, that happiness is far more equally distributed than people generally imagine. The poor woman, who has toiled, and saved, and even stinted herself in food to purchase the stove that is to keep her children from the suffering oftbe winter and facilitate her humble labours as a laundress, is far happier than the elegantly clad lady, who brushes past her in the street, as she homes along on her cheerful errand, and who looks with a glance of pity on the threadbare shawl and faded hood, wondering "what such people can find in "life to help them to support it." Mrs. Lambert, simply dressed, the busy housewife of a home where only one servant could be afforded, and who had worked hard all the morning to take her holiday with an easy mind, carried with her a heart full of cheerful thankfulness for her lot in life, and a keen enjoyment of the expected purchase and possession, thit Mrs. Sturgis, the wife of her husband's employer, removing for a season to a long-coveted country-house, with an army of " men-servanti and maid-servants," might have envied. How gaily she chatted, as she hung on her husband) arm, going up the High-street, knowing very well, from his admiring glances and an occasional affectionate pressure of his arm, that hi thought the spring bonnet very becoming, too! An incessant little flow of household chat, and lively comments on passers-by, and possibly indiscreet references to her happiness—Mrs. Stark would have considered them so—and a declaration now and then that she should have all that heart could wish, when she had seen the last of painters and paper-hangers, and they were once more settled again.

"You are not going inhere, surely?"—and ! her bright eyes looked at her husband questioningly as he stopped at a large establishment in the best part of the town. I "And why not?" asked Mr. Lambert, whose ideas of economy, not less strict than his wife*, had a different foundation.

"But it's so fashionable; we can't afford their prices. I heard Mrs. Stark say that they had the largest assortment in town."

"We might as well have the benefit of it, thenIf we go to some little place, with a small business, it holds to reason that they cannot afford so good an article at as reasonable a price, otj sides, I know one of the salesmen here, a wry 1 friendly fellow. Hastings, our cashier, reminded me of it; he has been making 6ome purchases!!' him lately." ,.

Mr. Lambert very prudently did not allow W I wife so much as a glance at the gorgeous fabrics i unrolled in the main saloon, and hurried her j over velvets in which her feet sank as she crosy i them, and past medallions as worthy of iW J for tbeir exquisite colouring and design as any i "flower-piece" on the Academy walls.

Mr. Johnson, the friendly salesman, kmuij

« AnteriorContinuar »