Page images
PDF
EPUB

formly the thoroughly “good fellow," not los-ate--as Tom would say—the feelings of a gening, however, the indefinable tinge of his old- tleman, having long since parted with their school manner. In his most abandoned revels, souls as far too heavy encumbrances in the race when cheering on his companions to the wildest for cash ; after which succinct expression of excesses, there was still this peculiar something opinion Tom would order fresh juleps and light in his manner, repelling all vulgar familiarity. another cigar, in which Charley Ashton and Persons were never coarsely familiar with him Marquis would abet him. -if it happened once, it was never repeated. The rest were gay young fellows, enjoying No amount of wine ever dethroned his dignity life carelessly, and generally deferring to the completely, and his iron constitution seemed to elders of whom I have spoken, for whom they bid defiance to the fiercest assaults on it. seemed to have an unbounded admiration.

My sketch of this remarkable young man ex- Their admiration could not exceed my own. tends to too great length, or I should take a was then about twenty, had just finished my melancholy pleasure in speaking in detail of his collegiate course, which I had commenced at mental endowments, as I have done of his phys- sixteen, and was, as I have said, on a visit to ical graces.

It may seem extravagant to say Marquis. At college he had taken a great fanthat he was more remarkable intellectually than cy to me, in return for my own more powerful in his person. I have never encountered a mind inclination toward himself; and in

ponse to which filled me with such admiration. There his rollicking letter, I had left home soon after was the intuitive glance, flashing like lightning my return from college, and taken up my abode into the obscurest subjects. What others reach- at Marquis's, in ---, for an indefinite time. I ed by arduous trains of thought, he came to intended to stay but a week, and return to comat a single bound, and apparently without the mence the prosecution of my profession. I was slightest effort. What I have since read of Mr. absent from home with scarcely any interrupS. S. Prentiss, the great orator of the South- tion for half a year—a half year which I shall west, seems equally applicable to Marquis Cotes- never forget. It was a carnival so wild and bury. His mental coup d'ail appeared to pen- extraordinary that I scarcely realize its veritable etrate the heaviest clouds, to embrace with one existence, looking back now across many years. glance every detail; and the result was given I almost imagine that I have dreamed this pasin sentences of the most brilliant compactness sage in my youth. But actual events of sure -the club of Hercules wreathed with flowers. recollection soon come to my memory to teach To argue, to declaim, to jest, to laugh-there me that all actually happened. It was an abwas nobody like Marquis. The most exhaust- solutely pagan existence that we led. Epicurus ing processes of metaphysical logic became sim- in his most enthusiastic moments never conple and luminous under his handling; the ab- ceived a more purely sensuous philosophy than strusest problems of the German school were we carried into practice. I have said that Marmere play to him; and in law, the subtlest tech- quis possessed enormous wealth; he had also nicalities of trusts and remainders disentangled inherited the old family mansion of his father themselves and stood ranged in order, so clearly the judge, and here was spent the greater porand simply that a child might have understood tion of our time. We rose about two in the them. I may be thought to amuse myself in day, and commenced existing with a mighty drawing a fanciful character-a mere assem- mint-julep, brought by a servant, silent, respectblage of perfections for the reader's amusement. ful, and attentive. The name of this servant, Such is not the fact. This wonderful young Marquis's factotum, was Jugurtha; and Jugurman lived and moved before me, such as I have tha's entire duty was to be in call whenever his described him. Providence created, physically master wanted him. At three o'еlock in the and intellectually, an actual, breathing wonder. morning, when we were still playing cards, JuMy experience has not rendered me desirous of gurtha was standing, wakeful, silent, and reencountering such again—at least, if I am com- spectful, near the side-board, ready at a sign to pelled to love them as I loved Marquis Cotes- open another bottle of Champagne, to snuff the bury.

candles flaring in the tall silver candelabra, or to I have taken up so much space speaking of bring a fresh bundle of cards. Jugurtha never the chief of our party, that I have little oppor- seemed sleepy; he was invariably serenely retunity to describe the rest. Perhaps it is not spectful, and never was known to doubt the poswholly necessary. Tom Francis, Charley Ash- sibility of any thing which his master or his ton, and the rest, were young men of ancient guests desired. Did you ask for something not families, large wealth, and “generous tastes." in the establishment: “Yes, Sir; directly, Sir," That is to say, they had set out with the determ- was Jugurtha's reply. And in half an hour he ination to see life." Tom Francis, especially, would glide in, with the desired object, whatwas a very gay young man, and seemed to re- ever it might be, upon his silver waiter. Lingard life as a race-course-a thing to be gotten gering a moment respectfully at the door, Juover or through at as suicidal a velocity as pos- gurtha would then glide out in a deprecatory sible. Grave people said that he was "going and modest manner, to reappear, calm and reto the devil,” but these were only surly old mer- spectful as before, at the very first summons. chants who sold the produce of his large estates, But I intended to speak of the days as we cold-blooded individuals who could not appreci- spent them. After juleps and a hearty breakfast, served with elegant simplicity upon the | and night had passed over his extraordinary grand mahogany table, as dark as ebony from frame as a light cloud does over the sun, leavage, we called a solemn council to take into ing him fresher and stronger, if such a thing consideration the manner in which the day were possible. Then we would descend to the should be spent. Generally it was determined breakfast-room — meet with laughter, to talk to go and pay some visits, due to rich old politics, or scandal, or literature, in which dowagers for balls and parties to which we had Marquis and Francis were no mean proficients been invited. But riding in the great chariot -and then recommenced the same routine. or walking were both unsuited to the habits Taken altogether, I think you will agree with of the "pretty fellows” of the day. We rode me that we were an uncommonly gay set of Marquis's blooded horses, and the fine animals young men, and lived in delightful freedom. wente daily passed in review and criticised with We drank and played without stint or care. never-failing gusto. Marquis had placed at my We were an uncommonly gay party! exclusive disposal, the day after my arrival, a

II.CARDS. splendid animal, which no one else was per- Thus far I have been running on at random, mitted to ride-a young, thoroughbred, chest- in my garrulous way, about the life I led at this nut-bay. Upon Starlight, which moved as in- period. Perhaps you would like to hear the cessantly as a star twinkles, I went with the after history of my friends, Marquis, Tom Franrest to leave cards at the houses of the ball- cis, and the rest. I shall accordingly proceed to givers, or to talk for half an hour with some relate it, commencing with a jaunt which we fair young dame; and on these occasions the made to the estate of Tom Francis. pater familias generally regaled us with julep This was a fine old plantation and mansion, again, and we departed elsewhere, creating ev- situated upon a water-course at some distance ery where a sensation. What did we care for from the city of

There I first saw Ellen those vulgar staring people who looked askance Ogilvie. She was on a visit to Caroline Francis, at us? We were the patricians—they the plebs. Tom's sister, with whom she had become intiLet them get out of the way, unless they relish mate at school; and the two young ladies, being ridden over. So we rode. As I said above, with an old housekeeper and a valetudinarian some of the sour, morose old fellows said we tutor, who lived in the house on the footing were riding to the devil. I will not lengthen of an heirloom, constituted the whole establishout my talk with all the events of the days. ment. We dined splendidly, went to splendid enter- When we whirled up to the door in Tom's tainments or the theatre, ate late suppers, and elegant equipage the heads of the young ladies then sat down to cards. During the day we were seen at the window, and soon the lovely drank, drank, drank-wine, brandy, whisky, Caroline was locked in the arms of her brother. julep, every thing. We smoked, and then, I thought she looked deeply shocked when she drank. We rode out, and returned, and saw the fushed cheeks and bloodshot eyes of drank. We strolled out to look at the horses, her brother; but she made no other sign, weland when we re-entered the house, we—drank. coming us with elegant courtesy, and never apWhen cards came in due course, however, the pearing to suspect that the young gentlemen, excitement of play was a strong inducement to now received at the mansion as guests, were "crack a bottle of Champagne," or any thing“ irregular in their habits.” This air of unconelse. We accordingly drank. We had an un- sciousness was preserved with wonderful success commonly gay time; but after a certain hour throughout our entire stay, which was extended of the night I do not think that any of us knew to very nearly three months. very accurately what occurred.

At such mo- I do not like to speak of these scenes—it is ments I remember having an indistinct idea disagreeable to allude to them even—and I trust that Jugurtha and his subordinates politely gave that I shall never witness again any thing so us their arms and shoulders to escort us to our wildly, so insanely degrading. At first, a senbeds, Marquis following the rest with a gait timent of respect for Miss Francis and her comsomewhat unsteady, and his habitual smile. On panion operated as a check upon the company ; the next morning, or rather afternoon, Jugurtha but as they soon retired to their apartments, would appear at the bedside, as I have said, si- and exhibited no knowledge of their movements, lent, respectful, and armed with a huge flagon the life of the city recommenced with the most of mint julep, which he poured into cut-glass terrible additions. The party no longer drank goblets, carried behind him by one of his sub- freely—they became regularly intoxicated; they ordinates upon a silver waiter; and under the scarcely preserved any of the traits of gentleinspiring effect of the draught the ceremony of men; they were given up to the demon of drink. dressing was gotten through with very leisurely. Especially was this the case with Tom Francis, Before this was accomplished, however, I would who was the wildest of all. hear the voice of Marquis singing in the long Marquis and myself did not join in the revels. passage—then his tap at my door-then he On the second day after my arrival I swore a would enter, fresh, smiling, and gay, to give solemn oath that I would never again permit me the compliments of the day. His hand intoxicating drinks to pass my lips, and God would be cool, his eye clear, his cheek not at has enabled me from that moment to the present all flushed. The debauch of the preceding day one to keep my vow. Marquis also had ceased his potations. We had both of us fallen in love, and the remark that “Certainly it was no conhe with Miss Francis, I with her friend. cern of his; if Cotesbury wanted to lead a holy

In Marquis, with his really noble nature and life, he certainly had no objection.” The words excellent heart, this passion, as profound as it were muttered rather than spoken aloud, as was sudden, assumed the form of the most chiv- Thornburg turned away, for he rarely withstood alric respect. His tone to Miss Francis was Marquis's glance fixed on him. It now expressdeeply, almost devoutly respectful; his powered simply a lordly species of contempt; a freezof interesting women in him seemed all at once ing politeness accompanied his slight bow, and to have completely deserted him, and I think a the opponents parted. Marquis was thinking single frown upon her face would have paralyzed of another species of affaire than the threatened him and rendered him unspeakably miserable. one with Thornburg. The young girl had a queenly way about her He did not prosper in his wooing with Miss which appeared to take from Marquis his entire Francis. Perhaps she had never seriously faculties of conversation, and he would sit by thought of marriage, or possibly ihe silent homher side for hours, scarcely saying any thing, age of her dignified suitor did not interest her; only gazing into her face — to avert his eyes certain it is that Marquis did not gain ground, when her own were turned upon him. I have and the circumstance filled him with a gloomy often since that time reflected upon this singular pain. subjugation of the brilliant converser and accom- " The fact is, Will," he would say to me, for plished man of the world ; and I have pleased we had soon confided to each other our hopes and myself with the idea that it indicated the true feelings—“the fact is, I love her so much that I nobility of his disposition—the profound respect think it makes me stupid. In her presence I which he entertained, through all his woeful life, don't feel easy, and utter only platitudes, as my for a pure woman-and the depth and truth of father used to say. I used to think I knew his real nature.

women, but this one soils me : she's different, I shall not speak at length of my own wooing. however-an angel almost, it seens to me. She A kind Heaven enabled me to conciliate the af- will never look upon my suit.” fection of one of the best and loveliest persons And Marquis would become silent, resting his in the world; and I have never ceased to return head gloomily upon his hand and sighing deepthanks for this great boon-a boon which I de- ly. In reply to my commonplace encourageclare myself, in all honesty and truth, to have ments he only shook his head, and then rebeen then, as I am now, totally unworthy of en- lapsed into his motionless melancholy again. joying. Ellen responded to my love, and I One day he took my arm suddenly, and drew soon found that there was no obstacle to our me forth into the old garden. I saw that his union-a union which one year afterward was brow was flushed with anger, and a threatening consummated at the residence of Mr. Ogilvie, flash in his proud eye indicated some extraorin — County. But I shall proceed. dinary emotion.

In vain did Marquis and myself endeavor “What's the matter ?" I asked. to restrain the insane revels of our companions, “ The matter is,” he replied hoarsely, “that to the enormity of which our eyes were at last I have discovered the source of my ill-success opened. Our entreaties were all inet with with-Miss Francis." laughter and jests, and we were asked whether Ah!-you have discovered-what?" we would “preach on Sunday next at Bethel “Simply that I have a rival," said Marquis meeting-house," with a variety of other facetiæ with clenched teeth. indicative of the light in which our sudden refor- "Who on earth can it be?" I asked, for I mation was regarded. Tom Francis especially had seen no one pay Miss Francis the least atmade us the subject of his satire, and a young tention of a marked description. “You certainman named Thornburg was his chief aider and ly deceive yourself, Marquis." abettor. I often saw Marquis Cotesbury's eyes "I do not, Will, and the proof is that this flash when this person spoke to him, and after- fellow Thornburgward discovered the reason of their dislike. Thornburg!" Thornburg had been for some time a suitor for “Ah! you start !" said Marquis with a sneer the hand of Miss Francis, whom he had known of such haughty contempt as I never before in her youth-and in addition had won enor- saw. “You think as I do, then. I thought permous sums from Marquis at cards, not without haps that I was mistaken in this gentlemansuspicion of unfair play on the part of his oppo- had undervalued him! But you agree with me nent. You may judge that these two circum- -do you not ?—that 'tis something shameful stances were not calculated to elevate him in the for this black-leg to aspire to the hand of Caroestimation of his rival; but Marquis restrained line Francis ?" himself, and only requested Mr. Thornburg, in The words, thus written down, convey not the a tone of cool politeness, not to criticise any faintest idea of the mingled wrath and hauteur course he was pleased to pursue. At such times of the speaker. He went on, growing paler and I could see the “devil” very plainly in Marquis's colder as he proceeded. eye, and I suppose Thornburg saw this danger- “Yes, he's my rival; and he gets drunk, and ous look too, for after a little time he ceased to boasts of his success. I'm nobody, you see ! utter bis jeers, contenting himself with a sneer, Marquis Cotesbury is a nonentity beside this worthy nobleman — the representative of the wild young men silent and sober for a moment, house of Thornburg. By Heavens,” cried Mar- but in half an hour they were playing and drinkquis, setting his teeth close, “I'll not spare ing as carelessly as ever, clapping Marquis on him longer! I'll find the inetal he's made of, the shoulder, and swearing that they were “inif he has any—cheat, black-leg, vagabond ! I'll finitely obliged to him for exposing that scounno longer be bearded by his insolence, or per- drel.”. mit his use of Miss Francis's name. Curse him! From all this ovation Marquis soon retired, I've my scheme, and I'll not forego it !" silent and gloomy. I followed him, and we

My attempt to moderate Marquis's anger, or walked and conversed by moonlight in the garchange the unexpressed resolution he had con- den, listening to the wild revelry from within. ceived, was as futile as would have been the en- High up in a remote chamber window a light deavor to turn the course of the north wind. was burning, and from this light Marquis seemHe listened with bowed head until I had fin- ed unable to remove his eyes. ished, then nodding shortly, returned to the “ 'Tis her chamber," he murmured. house.

“Yes," I said, “but you had better think of The evening passed as usual-Miss Francis this affair with Thornburg." and her companion retiring early, and then the " Think of it?" said Marquis, looking at me, card-tables were set out. To my great surprise “ No, Will! I'll not fight him unless some genMarquis took his seat at one of them-to my tleman will take his place.' gurprise, I say, for latterly he seemed to have “ He'll assassinate you-take care. lost all relish for play, and even to have regis- Marquis smiled sadly as he looked toward tered a vow against it. His present seat was the twinkling light. opposite to Thornburg, who had gracefully ac- “I don't know if I'd care,” he said. “You companied the ladies to the door and then pre- see I'm crossed in love, Will !" pared for play.

III.--THE LAST OF THE REVEL. As the game proceeded I could see in Mar- On the morning after the scene which I have quis's manner, forewarned as I had been, the just related, a certain Major Wordell, half genindications of intense watchfulness—and this tleman, half village bully, made his appearance seemed to have been directed more particularly at the Hall and delivered a mortal challenge toward Thornburg. For the other two players from Mr. Thornburg to Mr. Cotesbury. at the square table on his right and left he “I refuse to meet Mr. Thornburg,” replied seemed to have no eyes; his entire attention Marquis, haughtily. was concentrated on his enemy.

“ And why, Sir?” asked Major Wordell, in The game ended and Thornburg won. It an insulting tone: indeed, judging from his was a large amount, but Marquis did not seem countenance, he had been fortifying his courage to regard it. He proposed as the stake of the with drink; "and why do you refuse, if I may next game an amount so great that the other ask ?" players, with the exception of Thornburg, drew I saw a certain shutting down of the eyelids, back shaking their heads. But Thornburg held which with Marquis always indicated anger. his ground, and each drew forth and laid upon “I refuse,” he said, “ on the ground that Mr. the table a pile of bank-notes. The cards were Thornburg is a blackguard, and a detected cheat shuttled, the other members of the party gath- at cards." ered around the players, and the game began. “What do you mean, Sir ?” said Major WorAs it proceeded, and Marquis regularly got the dell, in a blustering tone. “Do you mean to inadvantage of his opponent, I never once saw sinuate that I would bring a message from a him relax his look of intense watchfulness. He blackguard ? No, Sir! Mr. Thornburg told me cleaned his finger-nails with his penknife as the to say that he played fair, and that your act cards were dealt, but did not look at his hands. was that of a barbarian, and I agree with him.” The game had nearly come to an end, and I had The words had scarcely passed the speaker's turned away for a moment, when I heard a sud- lips when Marquis threw himself on him. Maden crash and a loud cry. My startled glance jor Wordell was a powerful man, but he was no took in like a flash of light the whole occur- match for Marquis. Before he could resist, he

Thornburg, seeing that he was about was caught up bodily and hurled from the winto lose the large stake which he had put up, had dow to the lawn beneath. done what Marquis suspected him of on former He rose, brushing his coat and uttering the occasions : he had slipped a card which would most horrible oaths, but even in his hot anger have decided the game in his favor up the did not seem inclined to renew the contest. sleeve of his coat, and, rising suddenly, Marquis Shaking his clenched hand wrathfully at the had driven the blade of his penknife through house, he proceeded to where his horse was his opponent's hand, and nailed it to the table. tied, mounted and rode away.

I shall not attempt to describe the scene which On the same evening Thornburg appeared at ensued, a confused mass of cries, oaths, and the Hall and asked for Mr. Francis. The serva struggles was all that I heard and saw. In five ant returned in a moment with the reply that he minutes Thornburg, raving like a madman, was was “not at home.” Thornburg thereupon went expelled from the Hall, and soon afterward was away, uttering suppressed oaths. This occurred heard galloping away. The incident made thc at about four in the afternoon, when no one was

rence.

at home save the young ladies, Tom Francis, and not anticipate, or take into his calculation of myself. The rest had ridden out before dinner, chances. This event was simply a complete Marquis on horseback by himself.

change in the sentiments of Miss Francis toward At nine o'clock he had not returned, and my friend. I never could explain or understand much speculation was caused by the event. I the exact process by which this change was remembered my own suggestion of the night be- brought about, but it probably grew out of the fore, and became terribly uneasy. As the night young lady's softness and goodness of heartdrew on this suspense grew insupportable, and her “ pitying womanhood,” which filled her with I induced the party to ride with me upon the tender sympathy and compassion for the poor, high-road, in the direction which I knew Mar- pale sufferer thus thrown upon her hospitality, quis had taken. We had not proceeded a mile and depending upon her alone for all those litbefore we saw, by the clear moonlight, a rider- tle feminine alleviations of pain and suffering less horse grazing by the roadside. At a hun- so grateful to the strongest. Miss Francis was dred paces distant we found the body of Mar- unremitting in her gentle offices of kindness; quis, insensible, and apparently dead. With and when Marquis rose from his sick-bed, pallid that suppressed breathing which indicates strong and thin, but retaining all his noble beauty of excitement every one quickly dismounted, and person, it was soon observed that they were alhastened to the spot. Raising the body we per- ways together, and I was not surprised when ceived that the wounded man still breathed, and, one morning Marquis announced to me, with a constructing a hasty litter, he was borne back to glowing check, that he was the accepted lover the Hall. His wound was a deep one on the of the young lady. head, and a surgeon, who was hastily sent for, I have thus brought to a sort of conclusion declared that he could never recover.

the events of the period which I set out with the To describe my feelings at this announcement intention to describe as well as I could. I have would be impossible. When I saw Marquis ly- done this very lamely, but I did not calculate ing thus, with a vacant look in his large, clear upon the repugnance and pain I should expeeyes, his pillow clotted with blood, the most rience in even glancing back at that time of inheart-rending grief struggled in my breast with sane revelry and wild intemperance. By a a wild desire for vengeance. This latter senti- powerful effort I was snatched from the yawn. ment reached its climax at the surgeon's intel- ing gulf which waited for me. I thank kind ligence, and hastily communicating to the rest Heaven for giving me a pure love, and an almy belief that Thornburg and Wordell had been most perfect woman, which alone could have engaged in the assassination, I mounted, and, saved me. I shall briefly finish my sad record, followed by Ashton and Francis, galloped to- passing to after years, but first shall mention ward Thornburg's house. In an hour we drew a talk I had with Marquis just before my deup at the gate, and without ceremony rushed in. parture. It was too late. The trembling servants as- It was in the library one morning. Marquis sured us that their master and Major Wordell was reading and smoking, when I heard him had set out at full gallop several hours before, suddenly ejaculate the word “Extraordinary !” in which direction they knew not.

“What is extraordinary?” I said, turning Pursuit was plainly impossible. Overwhelmed my head. with rage and despair, I returned with my com- “Why, look here, Will,” he replied; "here panions to the Hall.

is something really strange. In turning over I shall not dwell at length upon the month this volume of old Burton's 'Anatomy of Melanwhich then passed. The powerful constitution choly' I have three times come upon the word of Marquis triumphed over the well-nigh mortal Lost !' Opening the leaves at random, in my blow, and he slowly revived. The moment final- idle way, this word has thrice stared me in the ly arrived when he was strong enough to inform face. If I were a Greek or a Roman, now, I us of all that had passed.

should regard it as an evil augury." Thornburg and Wordell had met him on the And Marquis tried to laugh, but for some highway, and the latter had exhibited no dis- reason the laugh sounded false and harsh. position to approach him. Thornburg, hower- “You are neither Greek nor Roman, and er, carried away by his rage, had suddenly struck need give yourself no concern,” I said. at him as he passed, and Wordell had then as- “You think so ?" he replied; "well, I differ sisted. The blow which rendered him insensi- with you, my boy. Something tells me that this ble had been struck with the butt-end of Thorn-word has a terribly true reference to my lifeburg's heavy riding-whip-after which he re- perhaps prefigures my fate and that of our party membered no more. This was Marquis's tale,--that we shall be lost to crery worthy aim of and it was abundantly verified by the continued life.absence of Thornburg and Wordell. They did “What on earth do you mean?" I said, gaznot reappear during my stay; and disdaining ing with astonishment at the pale and gloomy to take any public steps to arrest them, Mar- countenance of my companion. For some moquis dismissed the whole subject from his mind, ments he remained silent; with drooping head and rapidly regained his health and strength. and compressed lips he seemed to be meditating.

Marquis's illness had caused an event, how- “I mean, Will,” he said, raising his head ever, which it is probablo Mr. Thornburg did / and gazing at me with a sadness which made

« PreviousContinue »