Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

just been taken from the rack, and had none of her own left. She passed could have swallowed a bucketful. the envelope to him, and stared at him

“What do you want to know?” she vacantly while he examined it. He read asked.

on the back of the package : “Withers "I wish to know all that you can tell Estate - old papers - of no account me about a certain paper, or certain apparently. Examine hereafter.” papers, which I have reason to believe “May I ask when, where, and of Mr. William Murray Bradshaw com- whom you obtained these papers, Miss mitted to your keeping.”

Badlam?" “There is only one paper of any con- “ Have pity on me, Mr. Gridley, sequence. Do you want to make him have pity on me. I am a lost woman kill me? or do you want to make me if you do not. Spare me! for God's kill myself ? "

sake, spare me! There will no wrong “ Neither, Miss Cynthia, neither. I come of all this, if you will but wait a wish to see that paper, but not for any little while. The paper will come to bad purpose. Don't you think, on the light when it is wanted, and all will whole, you have pretty good reason to be right. But do not make me answer trust me ? I am a very quiet man, any more questions, and let me keep Miss Cynthia. Don't be afraid of me; this paper. O Mr. Gridley! I am in only do what I ask, - it will be a great the power of a dreadful man " deal better for you in the end.”

“You mean Mr. William Murray She thrust her trembling hand into Bradshaw ?” her pocket, and took out the key of the “I mean him." ' little trunk. She drew the trunk to “Has there not been some underwards her, put the key in the lock, and standing between you that he should opened it. It seemed like pressing a become the approved suitor of Miss knife into her own bosom and turn- Myrtle Hazard ?" ing the blade. That little trunk held Cynthia wrung her hands and rocked all the records of her life the forlorn herself backward and forward in her misspinster most cherished ;-a few let- ery, but answered not a word. What ters that came nearer to love-letters could she answer, if she had plotted than any others she had ever received; with this “ dreadful man " against a an album, with flowers of the summers young and innocent girl, to deliver her of 1840 and 1841 fading between its over into his hands, at the risk of all leaves ; two papers containing locks her earthly hopes and happiness? of hair, half of a broken ring, and Master Gridley waited long and paother insignificant mementos which tiently for any answer she might have had their meaning, doubtless, to her, the force to make. As she made none, - such a collection as is often price- he took upon himself to settle the less to one human heart, and passed whole matter without further torture .by as worthless in the auctioneer's in- of his helpless victim. ventory. She took the papers out me. “This package must go into the hands chanically, and laid them on the table. of the parties who had the settlement Among them was an oblong packet, of the estate of the late Malachi Withsealed with what appeared to be the ers. Mr. Penhallow is the survivor of office-seal of Messrs. Penhallow and the two gentlemen to whom that busiBradshaw.

ness was intrusted. - How long is Mr. “Will you allow me to take that William Murray Bradshaw like to be envelope containing papers, Miss Bad- away?" lam?” Mr. Gridley asked, with a “Perhaps a few days, - perhaps suavity and courtesy in his tone and weeks,- and then he will come back manner that showed how he felt for and kill me, -or-or-worse! Don't her sex and her helpless position. take that paper, Mr. Gridley, - he is n't

She seemed to obey his will as if she like you ; you would it but he would - he would send me to everlasting “Mr. Penhallow must see those misery to gain his own end, or to save papers, Miss Cynthia Badlam,” Mr. himself. And yet he is n't every way Gridley repeated calmly. “If he says bad, and if he did marry Myrtle she'd they or any of them can be returned to think there never was such a man, - your keeping, well and good. But see for he can talk her heart out of her, and them he must, for they have his office the wicked in him lies very deep and seal and belong in his custody, and, as won't ever come out, perhaps, if the you see by the writing on the back, world goes right with him." The last they have not been examined. Now part of this sentence showed how Cyn- there may be something among them thia talked with her own conscience; which is of immediate importance to all her mental and moral machinery lay the relatives of the late deceased Malopen before the calm eyes of Master achi Withers, and therefore they must Byles Gridley.

be forthwith submitted to the inspecHis thoughts wandered a moment tion of the surviving partner of the from the business before him; he had firm of Wibird and Penhallow. This I just got a new study of human nature, propose to do, with your consent, this which in spite of himself would be evening. It is now twenty-five minutes shaping itself into an axiom for an past eight by the true time, as my imagined new edition of “ Thoughts on watch has it. At half past eight exactthe Universe," - something like this, ly I shall have the honor of bidding The greatest saint may be a sinner that you good evening, Miss Cynthia Badnever got down to "hard pan." – It was lam, whether you give me those papers not the time to be framing axioms, or not. I shall go to the office of Jacob

“ Poh! poh!” he said to himself; Penhallow, Esquire, and there make “what are you about, making phrases, one of two communications to him ; to when you have got a piece of work like wit, these papers and the facts conthis in hand ?” Then to Cynthia, with nected therewith, or another statement, great gentleness and kindness of man- the nature of which you may perhaps ner: “ Have no fear about any conse- conjecture." quences to yourself. Mr. Penhallow There is no need of our speculating must see that paper,- I mean those as to what Mr. Byles Gridley, an honpapers. You shall not be a loser nor orable and humane man, would have a sufferer if you do your duty now in done, or what would have been the these premises."

nature of that communication which Master Gridley, treating her, as far he offered as an alternative to the as circumstances permitted, like a gen- perplexed woman. He had not at tleman, had shown no intention of tak- any rate miscalculated the strength of ing the papers either stealthily or vio- his appeal, which Cynthia interpreted lently. It must be with her consent. as he expected. She bore the heartHe had laid the package down upon screw about two minutes. Then she the table, waiting for her to give him took the package from her bosom, and leave to take it. But just as he spoke gave it with averted face to Master these last words, Cynthia, whose eye Byles Gridley, who, on receiving it, had been glancing furtively at it while made her a formal but not unkindly he was thinking out his axiom, and tak- bow, and bade her good evening. ing her bearings to it pretty carefully, “One would think it had been lying stretched her hand out, and, seizing the out in the dew," he said, as he left the package, thrust it into the sanctuary of house and walked towards Mr. Penhalher bosom.

low's residence.

THEMISTOCLES.

CO! Ye drag me, men of Athens,

Hither to your council-hall, Armed with judges and informers,

That your doom on me may fall, -
Doom that Athens oft bath levelled

On her noblest sons of yore, -
Doom that made her foes triumphant,

And each heart that loved her sore.
Oft, as I have seen her heroes

Brought to this ignoble end,
Have I pondered, — when should Fortune

To my lips the cup commend ?

Read the foul indictment, falsehood

After falsehood rolling on;
Far away my thoughts shall wander,

Thinking of the moments gone,
When with tears and prayers ye dragged me

Hither to your council-hall,
Young and old, and wives and children,

Echoing one despairing call, -
“Speak some word of comfort, Archon,

Ere the Persian dig our grave ! Speak, Themistocles, and save us, –

Thou alone hast power to save !”

Is it over ? Let me hear it, —

Let me hear once more the end, — “For Themistocles betrays us,

And is sworn the Persian's friend -". No, not that! Take back the falsehood!

Curse the hand that wrote the lie ; Charge what deadly crime it lists you,

'Tis no dreadful thing to die. But shall all my free devotion,

All my care for Athens' weal, Turn to treason and corruption,

Stamped with such a lying seal ? Was 't for Persia then I led you

Up to proud Athena's height, - ,
Bade you view this barren country,

And the sea to left and right,
Bade you leave your plain and mountain,

Save to dig their shining ore, —
Bade you grasp the ocean's sceptre,

Spoil the wealth of every shore, Spread your white sails to the breezes,

Unrestrained like them and free,

Lords of no contracted city,

But the monarchs of the sea !

Persia's friend ! Have ye forgotten

How the lord of Persia came,
Bridging seas, and cleaving mountains,

With the terrors of his name, –
How he burst through Tempe's portal,

Trod the dauntless Spartan down,
Dragged the vile Baotian captive,

Dared e'en Delphi's sacred crown ? And the craven wail of terror

Rang through Athens' every street ; Then ye came and begged for counsel,

Kneeling, clinging to my feet. Then I bade you leave your city,

Leave your temples and your halls, Trusting, as the god gave answer,

To your country's wooden walls. And the Persian, entering proudly,

Found a city of the dead; Athens' corpse his only victim,

Her immortal soul had fled !

Was 't for Persia in the council

With your false allies I toiled, Bade the Spartan, “ Strike, but hear me,'

Ere my country should be spoiled ? Or that all that night their galleys

In the narrow strait I kept ?
For we felt the Persian closing,

And no son of Athens slept.
But when broke the golden dawning

O'er Pentelicus afar,
Rose the glad Hellenic pæan,

Bursting with the morning star.
For we saw the Persian squadrons

Ship on ship in thousands pour, And we knew the pass was narrow

'Twixt the island and the shore. Calmly, as no foe were near us,

All our morning tasks we wrought, Lying there in silent order,

As though fight we never fought. But we grasped our oars all eager

Till the tough pine burned each hand, Watching till the steersman's signal

For the onset gave command. Then we smote the sea together,

And our galleys onward flew, While from all the Hellenic navy,

As we dashed along the blue,

Pealed one loud, triumphant war-cry,

“Now, ye sons of Hellas, come,
Conquer freedom for your country,

Freedom each one for his home,
Freedom for your wives and children,

For the altars where ye bow,
For your fathers' honored ashes,

For them all ye 're fighting now!" *

On the mountain height the tyrant

Bade them set his golden throne,
And in pitch of pride surveyed them, -

All the fleet he called his own, -
Heard the war-cry far resounding,

Heard the oars' responsive dash,
And the shock of squadrons smiting

Beak to beak with sudden clash, -
Saw them locked in wild confusion,

Prow on prow and keel on keel, -
Heard the thundering crash of timbers,

And the ring of clanging steel, -
Saw his ponderous ships entangled

In the close and narrow strait,
And our light-winged galleys darting

Boldly in the jaws of fate, -
Saw the mad disorder seize them,

As we grappled fast each prow,
Leaped like tigers on the bulwarks,

Hurled them to the depths below,
Saw his bravest on the island

Slaughtered down in deadly fight,
Whom he fondly placed to crush us,

If perchance we turned to flight, -
Saw one last despairing struggle, -

Then the shout that all was lost,
And his matchless navy turning,

Fleeing from the hated coast,
Saw them stranded on the island,

Rent and shattered on the main, -
Heard the shrieks of myriads wounded,

Saw the heaps of thousands slain,
While the sea was red with carnage,

And the air with shouts was wild,
“ Woe to Persia's slaves and tyrant!

Hail to Athens, ocean's child !”

No, ye have not all forgotten,

All your hearts have not grown cold,
When of Athens' countless triumphs,

This, the noblest tale, is told.

* The foregoing description is nearly a translation from the Persæ of Æschylus.

« AnteriorContinuar »