Page images

How They spent the Night who did not go to the Ball.


home in a few minutes, I dare say; but tell hear only the tones of love and hope, and I forme, was the poor bride regretted~so young to get all the deceit and the hollowness, and yearn die !"

for life, and dear ones to love me.” “No, not at all-the heir was charmed to get “And why should not you darling Ella?” cried his possessions, and the bridegroom did not dis- Hannah, eager to dissipate the sad thoughts like the share which he made his own by help which had overcome her sickly cousin. “The of the guardians; they made their per centage, dreary winter is quickly passing; we shall and he got a new wife before the year was out. have green trees, and birds, and warm winds to As for the peasants, they were only too glad to dance round you; and you'll be as strong as ever, stop the building of the castle on the haunted never fear! But hark! I hear voices in the hall: islet. It is said that when the first rumour of there are our friends." And she was right. the death spread among them, the bearers of Sweet, happy laughter rang through the lofty stones from the quarry, in their joy, dropped passages of that old house; and trooping in at their burdens on the road, and departed. And the door of their sick sister's boudoir, three to this day the legend lovers point out a huge beautiful girls danced as lightly as if the fatigues heap of stones on the track between the quarry of the night were only beginning. “Well, and the island ; and also the ruins of a tower, Ella !” cried the youngest, “ not in bed yet?-I built of the same sort of stone, is still visible on suppose Hannah has been telling you all her the islet. So you see, Ella, even sceptics like love affairs. I wish you joy, fair cousin;" and myself are silenced, if not convinced, particu. “ wish you joy, fair cousin!” was echoed by the larly when Master Charles Macdonald tells the others. story,"

“ What is this?” cried Ella; “ Hannah has "'I am sure he would have been flattered to been talking of ghosts all night.” have heard your recollection of his words." “Oh, Ella ! she has played us all false; she

“They were more interesting than his looks,” has been pretending to hate Charles Macdonald, said Hannah, laughing.

and declared she would stay away from the ball " It is a sad story,” said Ela, musingly, “and to avoid meeting him; and do you know she is yet it is true. The love of anything higher and actually engaged to him; all the officers in his more spiritual than are inan's daily aspirations, regiment were there to-night, and told us so. is fraught with suspicion and contempt to its Ah! you'd have been finely quizzed, Miss entertainer. He who sets out in life with loftier Hannah, if you had gone!" views than his fellows, has to encourage them “ Well, was not that a good reason for not gosecretly, and to be condemned even then. Anding, Jane?" said Hannah, crumpling her cousin's if he fail in fidelity to that glorious worship, if sash-ends fatally in her confusion. he be persuaded or frightened from his enthu- “Don't spoil my sash in the same way you've siastic hopes, from that moment the sickness of spoiled my flirtation," answered Jane, half petself-rebuke seizes upon bim; and even in the tishly; "did not you recommend Charles Macmoment of worldly success, the memory of what donald to my good graces, with such a long list he once adored, the idol so immeasurably supe. of his praises of me, which I now see were all rior to his own degraded joys, poisons that weak false ? " spirit for ever."

“ On the contrary, perfectly true," continued What a pretty allegory you have made of the provoking Hannah ; “ remember he had not my Celtic legend, Cara?”

seen you when he sought me in Scotland : if he “ Most legends have an allegoric meaning, at had, we might change places now; you are too least I always find them out for myself. But pretty for a rival.”. oh, Hannah! you don't know how much I “ What folly you are putting into Jane's think on this strange life of ours, this tangled, head !” remarked Sarah, “the eldest of the confusing web. Sometimes in my gloomy mo- family. “ Ella, I have a message for you from ments 1 bless heaven for the low clear voice in Harry Vane-he looked so handsome to-night, my heart that tells me I shall die young. Then in spite of his one epaulette! He was very much I see how what is called experience corrupts and grieved at your illness, and bade me tell you he debases the immortal soul. How few people had brought a case of stuffed humming-birds grow better, Hannah, as they grow older! They from Brazil, which be caught for you. So you get more wary, more careful to conceal such see, dear, he has not forgotten you, and the faults as militate against their worldly success-merry days we used to have; and mamma asked but the inside of the cup and the platter! Oh! him here to-morrow to dinner. And, Ella,” how often to the most cautious there comes a continued the speaker, “his ship is ordered to temptation which, as it were, turns the soul the Mediterranean, and mamma has begged a topsy-turvy, and shows all that had been so passage in it for you and Hannah, who is to be sedulously hidden-all the selfishness, the lust your chaperone; and Dr. Somers says, a year of wealth, the lack of charity to the fallen, the in Italy will set you up entirely; and that long fawning on the powerful. Hannah, in these before you are married we shall hear no more of moods I thank God that death is stamped upon consumption." These last words were breathed my brow. But then,” and her soft eyes filled in a low whisper, close to the sister's ear; but with tears-“then, Hannah, I have other moods, Ella heard every syllable, and sinking her head when everything round me looks bright and on Sarah's shoulder, wept for joy and graalluring, and I see only the fair outside, and titude,

“ What, crying !” exclaiined Hannah, run

ning in from the passage, holding her aunt by
the hand, “ crying, when I am about to bid you He stood in his home, where around him lay
all to my wedding, fair maidens, on this day The relics and toys of his boyhood's day;
month ; and now who'll come and walk in the And portraits many, of forms long fled,
wood? for I never can sleep after sitting up till To all but the canvas and memory dead.
morning, waiting for the return of dancers from (Those smiling cheats, that but help to call
a ball."

Sad thoughts and the dead from their icy pall.)
Apart from the rest, on the pannellid wood,
A boy, to the life, from the picture stood ;
With eye of the eaglet, the white neck bare,

Half shaded with ringlets of golden hair.
INVOCATION TO THE SPIRIT OF The joy of his heart on his young face shone,

Like a ray of the sun on a wild-flower thrown.
The bounding step, and the sparkling eye,

Told of virtue to come, and of bearing high ; “ Ch! Spirit, which are pure,

The promise of gladness was on his brow. Mighty and holy, and of God art sprang, Oh, God! is the fruit of that blossom'd bough

Which teachest to aspire and to endure The wretch who is standing in cold despair,
As nz'er taught human tongue.

With sad eye fixed on that portrait there?
MARI Howitr.

There is dust on each face, in the gilded frame ;
Soul of " impassion'd truth !"

'Tis well; for their namesakes are now the same Spirit, I turn to thee, as one of them

There is dust on the vase, and the wither'd flowers That dare essay, with the brave faith of youth,

Remain there to tell of departed hours --
To touch thy garment's hem!

There is dust on the harp, which is standing lone,

As the hand that woke it was dead, or flown!
Spirit, whom I had met,

The strings are broken, and discord reigns
When first my mother led me to thy throne,

Where fancy once conjured up hallow'd strains. Tie field and woodland, when thy voice as yet, Though heard, was all unknown

Some gentle hand may attune again

Those slumb'ring strings to their former stra'n ; Thou, whom of later time

Fresh dewy flowers again may cause All recognized, I heard my soul within,

Beauty and life to the dusty vase :
And o'er the mead, and on the bills sublime,

But who-what bope-what cheering sun
And 'mid the billow's din-

Shail illumine again that deserted one ?

With quivering clang a harp-string broke,
I mourn not-though replete

The spirit within him all wildly woke ;
In song tliwu mouldest some beneath thy sway -- The frozen river burst forth, that slept,
I cannot to the world thy lore repeat

And he bow'd his head on the harp, a :d sept.
In language such as they.

Aguin o'er his sorrow he held cominand,
For thou hast bucy'd mine heart

And lines were traced by his trembling hand;
To strong endeav'rings - not, I trust, all vain.

Then le pass'd away, and the coming night
I pray thee, if or grief or joy my part,
Cume thou to me again !

Soon hid both the rider and stecd from sight,
Come when the world shall coll

I will not curse thee; for my foolish heart
Me forth, and, fearless of men's praise or blame,

Is all too soft, and cannot tcar apart
E'en with thy strengthenings, oh, disenthral Thine image from the place where it hath lain,
My soul of sclfish aim.

Portrait of love-never to be again!

Nor will I utter scorn upon thy name,
Come when Oppression stands,

Or break a heart aiready bow'd in shame : Hand-clench'd, above earth's weak ones; aid me For burning tears have found their way at last, then

And blotted all-but pity for the past.
To move-e'en as the billow moves the sands- I did not deem my heart had still such store;
The hard, stern hearts of men !

But 'tis as well; for they must come no more !

We cannot meet again ! my home is cast
Come to me when my thought

For ever from me; and I've look'd my last
Flows as a swollen tide - when forests nod

On cherish'd things-deserted now by all,
'Neath Autunn's wail—with sombre shadows fraught, They would but spur the memory on, to call
Turn thou its course to God !

Up dreams of bliss that never more on me
Come in all time and place ;

Shall shed their light. Oh, God! that this should be ! For wheresoe'er thou art, Truth rife must be.

If everinore thy foot should seek this spot, Even in Sorrow art thou working grace

Where once-but hush! this, too, must be forgot. Joy is increased by thee!

Look on the portrait of that noble boy ;

Mark well his life of pride, his smile of joy!
Come, then, unto my soul,

Then think on him, deserted and alone,
When it is fill'd with beauty, to prepare

From whose sad cheek that smile's for ever flown ! My spirit's love for a more perfect whole

Look on, and weep, and let these last lines tell
Mould thou my thoughts to prayer !

Pardon from one who loved thee all too well.
FREDERICK Enoçu. Woodlands.


[blocks in formation]

The ground was sheeted with snow; the trees as immovably, as the upright back itself: the waved their hoary branches slowly in the wind, red glare of the fire falls full upon a face by no scattering, as they did so, showers of crisped means beautiful. She may be some twenty-eight snow-flakes around: the ivy which mantled the or thirty years of age, and looks as old; the old Hall of Arlham was loaded with white, and eyes-large and clear, and in hue like the violet gave to the building an alınost spectral appear- -are lustreless; the brow slightly marked by ance, when the moon occasionally peeped forth lines; the cheek pale as wax, and of that clear, from amid the heavy clouds, and shed her cold cream-like hue on which colour seems a blemish; blue rays down on it. Afar off on the rising the mouth compressed until its expression is eminence might be here and there seen some of half sad, half satirical. She is dressed as if for the lights in the cottage windows at Arlham, the revel, and her dark rich velvet drapery gives and mellowed and harmonized by the distance majesty to her tall, willow-like figure. came the merry peal of the church bells, now Why is she here alone, so silent—so sad, if we rising and swelling upon the night breeze, now may judge by the quivering lip, and the pearly dying away to a gentle murinur, which scarcely drops which 'hang on her long black lashes? broke the stillness of nature.

Arise, fair dreamer, and join in the gay throng Such was the scene outside Arlham Hall; but below; welcome in the new year, and bid a within how different!

cheerful farewell to the old one; nor bend your In the servants' hall the merry jest, the jocund eyes so fixedly on those burning logs! song, the foaming tankard, went round the noisy Hush! Memory is unfolding her portfolio and somewhat boisterous assembly there con- before those dreamy eyes; the past is again gregated; while in the upper hall music echoed, before her, with all its bitterness, all its happia gay throng danced to its enlivening strains, ness. Are you endowed with the gift of clairsmiles, honied words, low sweet laughs, were voyance? If so, you may look on what she there; the seniors played at cards, or chatted in sees, and feel what she feels. Now the wind groups; the fire blazed brightly in the wide old bears the full peal of the bells to her ears; but chimney, and its flashes were reflected, like to her they sound not merry, but solemn-a countless glowworms, in the bright leaves of the requiem to the past, not a glad harbinger of the holly which decorated the hall; it was a scene future. of gladness : care appeared banished from all Behold! 'tis the same old Hall we saw but hearts, and hope and joy shed their radiance now; the holly looks as cheerful and bright, the instead.

fire blazes and crackles, the curtains fall as But, as we contemplated the Hall from the warmly. On either side of the hearth are seated outside, we surely marked one window amid all a stately lady and gentleman: she has her hoop, the dark ones, through which shone a light. rufiles, stomacher, and powder; he his brocaded Who is this that mingles not in the throng, that velvets and satin and his pigtail: 'tis the Baron is not drawn into the focus of hilarity?

and Lady of Arlham. And now the door opens, It is a quaintly but luxuriously furnished and a lovely girl and boy of some eight or nine chamber into which we look; the fire burns years of age bound in, and rush up to the Baron brightly on the hearth, and at the further end of and his lady to caress and be caressed: they are the room is a lamp, the light of which seems followed by a thin, pale, sickly looking child, lost amidst the heavy draperies and massive who steals in and stands hesitatingly half way furniture. Before the fire stands an antique, between the door and the fire, until a young high-backed chair of black velvet and carved man of some nineteen or twenty years of age, oak; a female form is seated therein, as stiffly, | very plainly attired, but exceedingly handsome,

[ocr errors]

arises from a seat he occupied apart from the , will awaken her mother; for herself, each clang others, and leads her to a chair.

seems to beat upon her temples and make them The parents survey their beautiful offspring throb more violently. "Another year!" she with rapture, and cannot sufficiently admire and mutters ; another year of suffering has passed caress them; guests begin to pour in, the music over our heads! Those bells, they distract me. sounds, dancing commences; there is supper: How can any one call them merry? Yet to the the chimes ring out their merry peals, and happy all is gladsome-to my cousin Florence healths and good wishes circulate.

- to Falkland. Will he ever return?” A happy new year to you, Mary," said the Mary, I am so cold and faint!” murmured young man to the pale girl, who had sat silently a feeble voice. “Give me something to drink.” and unnoticed where he first placed her, until he The girl looked round despairingly; every came to lead her to supper.

spare article of clothes was already heaped upon “I thank you, Sir," she replied in a low the bed-every morsel of coal and wood burned musical voice. " I thank you for your kindness; -and nothing but water remained to moisten but will it be a new year, and not a continuation the fevered lip. She sprang up, scarcely conof the old one?"

scious of a purpose, and hurried into the streets. “ It will be another year, Mary; we know The keen frosty air whistled past her, sharp what have been the events of the past, the future sleet drove in her face, but she seemed insensiis in God's hands. But why are you not more ble to outward impressions ; she only felt that cheerful ?"

her mother and herself were perishing with “ I cannot be, cousin Falkland, while I re- hunger. On, on she went, aimless, purposeless, member that ray mother is alone, ill, and per- until her progress was impeded by a knot of haps suffering deprivations. Had she not bid people assembled to watch the guests arrive at a me, I should not have come to spend a Christ- large house, whence sounds of music and mirth mas here, where all but you are strangers, where issued. A carriage had just drawn up, and the all but you forget that such a being as Mary gentleman bad alighted as the distracted girl Beaufort exists. My uncle and aunt are ashamed forced her way onwards; it was but a brief sento own me because I am poor and plain ; my tence he addressed to the footman, yet the tones cousins deride me because I am sad and shy; of his voice spell-bound her, and stretching her you only are kind.”

arms towards him she uttered his name and fell “ Poór child!" murmured the young man' as exhausted at his feet. he put his arın round her, and imprinted a kiss on her brow.

The dreamer's eyes lost for a few seconds There is a tap at the door, the dreamer turns their stony gaze, and a world of tenderness impatiently and the picture has fled. A smart swam in their depths, while her lips murmured femme de chambre trips in. "All are asking for “ Falkland ! cousin ! brother !"

her lady--it will soon strike twelve. Will her The wind swept by in an angry howling gust, lady not descend to the hall? At least she will and seemed to dash the echo of the chimes mend the fire, it is almost out-she wonders her against the walls; the logs fell together with a lady is not perished." These are the audible dull crash, and left a dark ashy cavern. The outpourings of her spirit, but in her heart she scene changed; another picture was before her. wonders yet more how any one can sit moping It was a small chamber, faintly lighted by a there alone instead of joining in the dance, and rushlight and the dying embers of a scanty fire. only wishes she were a lady, she would make The walls were rough plaster; a certain of coarse better use of her time. check waved to and fro before the window as At last the chatterer has departed! But the the keen blast rushed in through the broken visions thus rudely chased away will not be repanes ; a miserable truckle-bed" stood in one called in an instant; the chain of thought has corner, and on it reposed an emaciated woman; been broken, and the present has taken the by its side was a common wooden table, on place of the past. The present! that period which was a cup, a phial, some thread and which alone is ours, in which alone we can act scissors, and the rushlight in a tin candlestick; -that present which is so undervalued and una girl was busily plying her needle by the flick- noticed, but which contains the fruits of the ering light, and ever and anon looking up from past, the seeds of the future, both temporal and her work to watch the slumberer, who tossed eternal ! her thin bands about, and murmured broken She, the plain, sickly, despised child of a sentences in her restless sleep. There, now you younger branch of the Beaufort family, who had catch a glimpse of her face; it is that same pale, married beneath his station, and been cast off silent child, only older by some few years, more by his relatives; she had seen her noble cousin sad, more careivorn; there is nothing of the cut off in the very prime of his life by an unbrightness, the gladness of youth in her thin, foreseen accident;' had heard that his mother pinched features, in her fragile, attenuated form; died of a broken heart for the loss of her beaushe looks scarcely less ill than the woman on tiful, her beloved boy; had, after the death of thie bed.

her own mother, watched over Florence with Hark! the chimes from a neighbouring steeple more than a sister's love through all the heartbegin to ring out a merry peal. The girl looks rending fluctuations of consumption, and folanxiously towards the bed, and fears the noise lowed that bright and lovely creature to the

[merged small][ocr errors]

tomb; aye, and wept over her, and would have , of ber blighted youth, her neglected childhood given her own life to have saved that one so ---none save Falkland; and he perhaps never precious to Falkland. And now she sat there thought about it, for he had never known her an heiress, the lady of that fair domain, courted, otherwise. flattered, followed--for her wealth—but alone! Supper was served, and withdrawing from alone with her blighted heart, her sad memories, her side, he gave way to the memories which her crushed spirit. The child nurtured amid that scene and those sounds recalled. But a tears, trials, and woes, could not expand to a few short years since, and his Florence had cheerful, happy woman; could not forget that presided there, the very queen of joy, beaming she was still the same as ever; it is only her with happiness and beauty', gladdening all hearts circumstances have changed. Yet formerly, who and delighting all eyes; and beside her was her cared if she sat alone, working, weeping, stary- brother, a youthful Apollo in form; and the ing--but one, but Falkland He had been proud parents could not sufficiently admire those ever kind, and had never lost sight of her but fair scions of their house. for the period that he accompanied Lady Flo- Now where were they? Tenants of the cold rence to Italy,

grave! a banquet for the red earth-worm! And Yes he had been kind, but his heart, his soul, ere another year has winged its flight, how many was devoted to the beautiful Florence; and as of those now present, laughing and jesting so he worshipped her, so did the lonely Mary wor- gaily, full of health and vigour, may also have ship him, hiding beneath her calm exterior a quitted this mortal scene! That pale, spirit-like world of devoted affection, which lavished itself girl, who presided over the festivities-nay, even on her idol's idol during that fair girl's life, and he himself, may have fallen beneath the shaft of then was crushed down and hidden,

death! .“ This is weakness!" she murmured, as these He aroused himself from his reverie; for, latter thoughts flitted across her mind. “I must strange to say, though we all know that we not, will not yield to them. What is he to me journey to the cold damp, grave, few like to or I to him now? I'll descend !”

meditate upon it; and if their attention be moSlowly, and step by step, was the lady of mentarily called to this momentous fact, they Arlham Hall taking her way to join her guests eagerly chase away the melancholy reflection, when the words, " But where's Mary? where's and plunge anew into life. your lady?" uttered in well known, dearly loved Spring came, with its snowdrops, its primtones, reached her ear, and caused her to bound roses, and violets; the hedges and trees began with the lightness of a fawn down the staircase, to be clothed with green; birds twittered and and stand with a beating heart and trembling chirped, and flew busily about; nature once limbs before a handsome-looking man of some inore unfolded its beauties and treasures beneath five-and-thirty or forty summers, who had evi- the vivifying warmth of the sun. And in similar dently just arrived.

degree, and with like richness, did the mind and " In time to wish you a happy new year, and heart of Mary expand and develope their hidden many of them, my fair cousin !” he said, grasp- wealth, their pure bright springs, under the ing her hand with friendly warmth. “ Ah! genial influence of Falkland's manly, energetic, there goes the midnight hour ; another leaf has and intellectual spirit. The mists of despondency dropped from our coronal, Mary, and mine are rolled away; she began to divell upon present embecoming scarce now. We must treasure those ployments, and future plans for the improvement which remain, and endeavour to inake them like of the condition of her tenantry, instead of broodthose of the French flower, immortels. But ing over the past; to be grateful for the blessings come, let us join your guests and exchange good she enjoyed, for the mercies vouchsafed to her, wishes.”

instead of repining over bygone sorrows; and to Have you ever seen a glacier on a cold, bleak see how many there were in this world who day, looking hard, frigid, and repelling; and mourned, how few had great cause for rejoicing. then viewed it when lighted up by a cheerful It has been beautifully said that suffering sun, reflecting in its pinnacles and icy pendants not a dark thread winding every now and then all the rich prismatic hues of the rainbow, and through a warp of dazzling brightness, but it is as it were glowing with radiance? Such will be interwoven with the whole texture. Not that sufa very suitable type of what our heroine was fering exceeds enjoyment--not that life, if viewed when first we looked upon her in her solitary simply with reference to pleasure, is not a great chamber, and what she now is, as, on Walter good; but to every man it is a struggle: it has Falkland's arm, she moves arnong her guests. heavy burdens and deep wounds for each; trials 'Tis true her words were few, but there was ever are not incidental, but designed to work out something in Mary Beaufort's voice, at least God's purposes, and we know nothing of life when it was not marred by bitterness, which until we have learned to comprehend their uses went to the heart; it was low, rich, and some- and to accomplish them.” what melancholy in its cadence-the very echo Something of this Mary at first had dim of her smile. Neither was joyous : how could glimpses of, and gradually she learned to comit be, when joy was a stranger to her heart? prehend that suffering was meant to draw man Some admired that subdued manner, that almost closer to his species, instead of isolating him; diffidence; some deemed it an affectation of to soften, and not harden the heart. Often did humility; but none knew that it was the effect she find the most heartfelt gratitude, the most

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »