One summer there came a wooing of Effie a most excellent gentleman. He had met with her the preceding winter in some gay circle, and had discernment enough to discover the merits of our jewel. How anxiously Mrs. Morris and I watched the wooing—for we were both anxious for Mr. Grayson's success. He was in every way worthy of her—high-minded, honorable, and well to do in the world—some years her senior, but handsome and elegant in appearance. He must have had doubts of his success, for he let the live-long summer pass ere he ventured on his love speech. We were a pleasant party—Mrs. Morris, Effie, myself, Mr. Grayson, and Lucien Decker, a cousin of Mrs. Morris—a college youth, who only recently had become one of the family. Lucien Decker's family lived in a distant state, and only until he came to a northern college to finish his studies had he known his pleasant relatives. He was a bright, interesting, graceful youth, and wondrous clever, we thought. We would spend morning after morning wandering up the mill-stream, resting under the old oak, where Mr. Grayson would discourse most pleasantly, or read aloud to us; and sometimes, after Effie and I had chanted simple melodies, we would prevail on Lucien to recite some of his own poetry, at which he was, indeed, most clever—he recited well, and wrote very delicately and beautifully. At last Mr. Grayson ventured on a proposal; but, to our sorrow, he met with a calm, gentle refusal; and to relieve his disappointment, he sailed in the fall for Europe.
Not long after his departure, to our surprise, Effie and Lucien announced themselves as lovers. No objection, surely, could be made; but such a thing had never entered our minds. Though of the same age with Effie and myself, he had always seemed as a boy in comparison to us, and I had always treated him with the playful familiarity of a youth. He was more intelligent and interesting than young men of his age generally are; indeed he gave promise of talent—and he was likewise good-looking; but, in truth, when we compared him with the elegant and finished Mr. Grayson, we felt a wee bit out of patience; and if we did not give utterance aloud to our thoughts, I shrewdly suspect if those thoughts had formed themselves into words, those words would have sounded very much like, "Nonsensical sentimentality!" "strange infatuation!" but nothing could be said with propriety, and the engagement was fully entered into. Some time had necessarily to elapse before its fulfillment, however, for the lover was but twenty; but it was well understood, that when he had finished his studies, and was settled in his profession, he was to wed our darling Effie. After the acceptance of his suit, Lucien seemed perfectly happy, and, I must confess, made himself particularly interesting. He walked and read with us, and wrote such beautiful poetry in honor of Effie's charms, that we were at last quite propitiated. He was, indeed, an ardent lover; and his enthusiastic, earnest wooing, was very different from Mr. Grayson's calm, dignified manner. He caused our quiet Effie a deal of entertainment, however; for when he was an acknowledged lover, like all such ardent dispositions, he showed himself to be an exacting one. Her calm, cold manner would set him frantic at times; and he would vow she could not love him; but these lovers' quarrels instead of wearying Effie, seemed to produce a contrary effect.
They had been engaged a year or so, when one summer a belle of the first water made her appearance in the village-circle of Stamford. Kate Barclay was her name. She was a Southerner, and a reputed heiress. She had come rusticating, she said; and shrugging her pretty shoulders, she would declare in a bewitching, languid tone, "truly a face and figure needed rest after a brilliant winter campaign." Old Mrs. Barclay, a dear, nice old lady in the village, was her aunt; and as we were the only young ladies of a companionable age, Kate was, of course, a great deal with us. She was, indeed, a delicious looking creature. She had large, melting dark eyes, and rich curling masses of hair, that fell in clusters over her neck and shoulders, giving her a most romantic appearance. She understood fully all the little arts and wiles of a belle; and she succeeded in securing admiration. Superficial she was, but showy; and could put on at will all moods, from the proud and dignified, to the bewitching and childlike. We had no gentlemen visiters with us when she first came, not even Lucien; for some engagement had taken him from Effie for a week or two, and our pretty southern damsel almost expired with ennui. When we first met with her, she talked so beautifully of the delights of a quiet country life, seemed so enchanted with every thing and every body, and so eloquent in praise of rambles in the forest, sunsets, moonlights, rushing streamlets, &c., &c., that we decided she was an angel forthwith. But one or two ramblings quite finished her—for she complained terribly of dust, sun, and fatigue; moreover, we quite neglected to notice or admire her picturesque rambling dress, which inadvertency provoked her into telling us that the gentlemen at Ballston, or some other fashionable watering-place, had declared she looked in it quite like Robin Hood's maid Marian. The gorgeous summer sunsets and clear moonlight nights, soon wearied her—for we were too much occupied with the beauties of nature to notice her fine attitudes, or beautiful eyes cast up imploringly to heaven, while she recited, in a half theatrical manner, passages of poetry descriptive of her imaginary feelings. I suspected she was meditating a flitting, when one day Lucien, and two of his student friends, made their appearance amongst us. How quickly her mood changed; the listless, yawning, dissatisfied manner disappeared, and we heard her the first night of their arrival delighting them, as she had us, with her fascinating ecstasies over rural enjoyments. She sentimentalized, flirted, romped, laughed, dressed in a picturesque manner, and "was every thing by turns, but nothing long," evidently bent upon bringing to her feet the three gentlemen. Lucien's friends soon struck their flags, and were her humble cavaliers—but a right tyrannical mistress she proved to them, making them scowl, and say sharp things to each other in a most ferocious manner, very amusing to us; but Lucien was impregnable. She played off all her arts in vain, he seemed unconscious, and devoted himself entirely to Effie. At first she was so occupied with securing the two other prizes she overlooked his delinquency, but when certain of them, she was piqued into accomplishing a conquest of him likewise. I did not think she would be successful, and amused myself by quietly watching her manoeuvres.
One bright moonlight evening the gentlemen rowed us up the mill-stream, and as we returned we landed at our favorite oak. The waters, swelled by recent rains, came dashing and tumbling along in mimic billows; the moon beamed down a heavenly radiance, and as the little wavelets broke against the shore, they glittered like molten silver, covering the wild blossoms with dazzling fairy gems. Kate's two lovers were talking and walking with Mrs. Morris and Effie along the shore. Lucien, Kate, and I, remained on a little bank that rose abruptly from the water. She did, indeed, look most bewitchingly beautiful; her soft, white dress, bound at the waist by a flowing ribbon, floated in graceful folds around her; her lovely neck, shoulders and arms, were quite uncovered, and her rich, dark hair fell in loose, long curls, making picturesque shadows in the moonlight. She could act the inspired enthusiast to perfection; and what our Effie really was, she could affect most admirably. She seemed unconscious of our presence; indeed, I do not think she thought I was near her, and, as if involuntarily, she burst out into one of her affected rhapsodies, her eyes beamed brightly, and she expressed her feelings most rapturously, concluding with repeating, in low, earnest, half trembling tones, some lines of Lucien's she had taken from my Scrap Book, descriptive of the very scene before her, written the preceding summer for Effie, after a moonlight ramble together. The poetry was quite impassioned; and I heard Kate murmur with a sigh, as she turned away after concluding her quotation, as if sick at heart, "Ah! I would give years of brilliant success for one hour of devotion from such a lover."
No one heard her but Lucien and myself—and I was one listener more than she would have desired; for Lucien's ear alone was the ejaculation intended, the good for nothing little flirt. It produced the intended effect, for I saw Lucien watching her with admiring interest. She noted the impression, and cunningly kept it up. There was such a contrast between Effie and Kate, rather to Effie's disadvantage, I had to confess, and Kate's affected expressions of intense feeling, rather served to heighten Effie's natural coldness of manner. Why waste words—the conclusion is already divined. The coquette succeeded—and ere a week had passed Lucien was her infatuated, devoted admirer; Effie was quite forgotten. Lucien's two friends, wretched, and completely maddened by the cool, contemptuous rejections they received from Kate, left Stamford, vowing eternal hatred for womankind, and uttering deep, dire denunciations against all coquettes, leaving the field open to Lucien, who seemed to have perfectly lost all sense of propriety in his infatuation. Effie looked on as calmly and quietly as though she were not particularly interested. I fancied, for the credit of romance and sentiment, that her cheek was paler; and I thought I could detect at times a trembling of her delicate lips—but she said not a word. Mrs. Morris and I displayed much more feeling; but what could we do—and half amused, half vexed, we watched the conduct of the naughty little flirt. Suddenly Kate received a summons home—and right glad I was to hear of it. She announced it to us one evening, saying she expected her father the next day. The following afternoon she came over to our cottage, accompanied with two middle-aged gentlemen. The elder of the two was Mr. Barclay, her father, who had known Mrs. Morris in early life; the other she introduced as Col. Paulding, a friend. Col. Paulding's manner struck us with surprise. He called her "Kate;" and though dignified, was affectionate. She seemed painfully embarrassed, and anxious to terminate the visit. She answered our questions hurriedly, and appeared ill at ease. Lucien was not present, fortunately for her; and I fancied she watched the door, as if anxiously fearing his entrance; certain it was she started nervously at every distant sound.
"Will you revisit Stamford next summer, Miss Barclay?" I asked.
Kate replied that she was uncertain at present.
"I suppose Kate has not told you," said her father, laughingly, "that long before another summer she will cease to be mistress of her own movements. She expects to be in Germany next summer, I believe, with her husband," and he looked significantly at Col. Paulding, who was standing out on the lawn with Mrs. Morris, admiring the beautiful view, quite out of hearing distance. Effie was just stepping from the French window of the drawing-room into the conservatory to gather some of her pretty flowers for her visiters, as she heard Mr. Barclay say this. She turned with a stern, cold look, and regarded Kate Barclay quietly. Kate colored crimson, then grew deadly white, and trembled from head to foot; but her father did not notice it, as he had followed Col. Paulding and Mrs. Morris out on the lawn. There we three stood, Effie, cold and pale as a statue, and Kate looking quite like a criminal. She looked up, attempting to make some laughing remark, but the words died in her throat as she met Effie's stern, cold glance; she gasped, trembled, then rallied, and at last, with a proud look of defiance, she swept out on the lawn, and taking Col. Paulding's arm, proposed departure. She bade us good-bye most gracefully; but I saw that she avoided offering her hand to Effie. As the gate closed, she looked over her shoulder indifferently, and said, in a saucy, laughing tone,
"Oh, pray make my adieux to Mr. Decker. I regret that I shall not see him to bid him good-bye. I depend upon the charity of you ladies to keep me fresh in his remembrance;" and, as far as we could see her down the road, we heard her forced laugh and unnaturally loud voice.
Lucien came in a few minutes after they left, and Mrs. Morris delivered Kate's message. He looked agitated, and after swallowing his cup of tea hastily and quietly, he took up his hat and went out. He went to see Kate, but she, anticipating his visit, had retired with a violent headache immediately after her walk; but Lucien staid long enough to discover, as we had, Col. Paulding's relation to the fascinating coquette. This we learned long afterward. The next day Lucien left Stamford without saying more than cold words of good-bye. He did not go with Kate's party, we felt certain; and many weeks passed without hearing from him. Effie never made a remark; and our days passed quietly as they had before the appearance of Kate Barclay in our quiet little village. It was not long, however, before we saw in the newspapers, and read without comment, the marriage of Kate Barclay with Col. Paulding.
"See this," said Mrs. Morris to me one morning as I entered the drawing-room, and she handed me a letter. We were alone, Effie was attending to her plants in the conservatory. I took the letter and read it. It was a wild, impassioned one from Lucien. Two months had elapsed since his silent departure, and this first letter was written to Mrs. Morris. It was filled with self-reproaches, and earnest entreaties for her intercession and mine with Effie. He cursed his infatuation, and the cause of it, and closed with the declaration that he would be reckless of life if Effie remained unforgiving. As I finished reading the letter I heard Effie's voice warbling in wild and plaintive notes in the conservatory,
"How should I your true love know, From another one, By his cockle hat and staff, And his sandal shoon?"
And the scene at the opening of this story rose before my remembrance—the playful argument—the declaration made by her that true, pure love could not have any affinity with pride—and I was lost in reverie.
"What would you do, Enna?" inquired Mrs. Morris.
"Give the letter to Effie without remark," I replied. "We cannot intercede for him—he does not deserve to be forgiven."
The letter was given to Effie, who read it quietly; and if she evinced emotion, it was not before us. She said she was sorry for Lucien, for she had discovered a change in her own feelings. She did not love him as she fancied she had, and she could not in justice to herself fulfill their engagement—it was impossible. She wrote this to him, and all his wild letters were laid calmly and quietly aside. Can this be pride? I said to myself. But she seemed as though she suspected my thoughts, for the night before I returned to my city home, as we were leaning against the window-frame of our bed-room, listening the last time for that season to the tumbling, dashing water-music, she said,
"Enna, dear, it was not spirit and pride that made me act so unkindly to Lucien—indeed, it was not. But I mistook my feelings for him from the first. I fancied I loved him dearly, when I only loved him as a sister. Believe me, if that love had existed once for him, his foolish infatuation for Kate Barclay would not have been regarded by me one moment."
Two or three years passed, and Effie still remained unwedded, when, to our delight, Mr. Grayson, who had returned from Europe, again addressed her. She accepted him; and I was, indeed, happy when I officiated as bridesmaid for her. One year after that joyous wedding we stood over her bier, weeping bitter, bitter tears. We laid her in the grave—and the heart-broken mother soon rested beside her. Among her papers was a letter directed to me; it was written in expectation of death, although we did not any of us anticipate such a calamity.
"I am not long for this world, dear Enna," she wrote, "I feel I am dying daily; and yet, young as I am, it grieves me not, except when I think of the sorrow my death will occasion to others. When you read this I shall be enveloped in the heavy grave-clothes; but then I shall be at rest. Oh! how my aching, weary spirit pines for rest. Do not fancy that sorrow or disappointment has brought me to this. I fancied I loved Lucien Decker fondly, devotedly; and how happy was I when under the influence of that fancy. That fatal summer, at the time of his infatuation for that heartless girl, insensibly a chilling hardness crept over my feelings. I struggled against my awakening; and if Lucien had displayed any emotion before his departure, I might still have kept up the happy delusion. But in vain, it disappeared, and with it all the beauty of life, which increased in weariness from that moment. I sought for some object of interest—I married; but, though my husband has been devoted and kind, I weary of existence. Life has no interest for me. I hail the approach of death. Farewell."
I read these sad lines with eyes blinded with tears; and I could not help thinking how Effie had deceived herself; unconsciously she had become a victim of the very pride she had condemned.
EARLY ENGLISH POETS.
BY ELIZABETH J. EAMES.
Yea! lovely are the hues still floating o'er Thy rural visions, bard of olden time, The form of purest Poesy flits before My mental gaze, while bending o'er thy rhyme. No lofty flight, bold, brilliant and sublime— But tender beauty, and endearing grace, And touching pathos in these lines I trace, Oh! gentle poet of the northern clime. And oft when dazzled by the gorgeous glow And gilded luxury of modern rhymes, Grateful I turn to the clear, quiet flow Of thy sweet thoughts, which fall like pleasant chimes From the "pure wells of English undefiled." Thou wert inspired, thou, Poetry's true child.
What forms of grace and glory glided through The royal palace of thy lofty mind! Rare shapes of beauty thy sweet fancy drew, In the brave knights, and peerless dames enshrined Within thy magic book, The Faerie Queene, Bright Gloriana robed in dazzling sheen— Hapless Irene—angelic Una—and The noble Arthur all before me pass, As summoned by the enchanter rod and glass. And glorious still thy pure creations stand, Leaving their golden footprints on the sand Of Time indelible! All thanks to thee, Oh! beauty-breathing bard of Poesy, That thou hast charmed a weary hour for me.
Oh! minstrel monarch! the most glorious throne Of Intellect thy Genius doth inherit. Compeer, or perfect rival thou hast none— O Soul of Song!—O mind of royal merit. Is not this high, imperishable fame The tribute of a grateful world to thee? A recognizing glory in thy name From a great nation to thy memory. Lord of Dramatic Art—the splendid scenes Of thy rich fancy are around us still; All shapes of Thought to make the bosom thrill Are thine supreme! Many long years have sped, And dimmed in dust the crowned and laureled head, But thou—thou speakest still, though numbered with the dead.
[WITH AN ENGRAVING.]
BY ROBT. T. CONRAD.
And he hath spoken! Knew I not he would? Though flitting fears, like clouds o'er lakes, would cast Shadows o'er true love's trust. The tear-drop stood In his dark eye; he trembled. But 't is past, And I am his, he mine. Why trembled he? This fond heart knew he not; and that his eye Governed its tides, as doth the moon the sea; And that with him, for him, 't were bliss to die? Yet said I naught. Shame on me, that my cheek And eye my hoarded secret should betray! Why wept I? And why was I sudden weak, So weak his manly arm was stretched to stay? How like a suppliant God he looked! His sweet, Low voice, heart-shaken, spoke—and all was known; Yet, from the first, I felt our souls must meet, Like stars that rush together and shine on.
THE ISLETS OF THE GULF;
OR, ROSE BUDD.
Ay, now I am in Arden; the more fool I; when I was at home I was in a better place; but Travelers must be content. AS YOU LIKE IT.
BY THE AUTHOR Of "PILOT," "RED ROVER," "TWO ADMIRALS," "WING-AND-WING," "MILES WALLINGFORD," ETC.
[Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1846, by J. Fenimore Cooper, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, for the Northern District of New York.]
(Continued from page 48.)
Man hath a weary pilgrimage As through the world he wends; On every stage, from youth to age, Still discontent attends; With heaviness he casts his eye Upon the road before, And still remembers with a sigh The days that are no more. SOUTHEY.
It has now become necessary to advance the time three entire days, and to change the scene to Key West. As this latter place may not be known to the world at large, it may be well to explain that it is a small seaport, situate on one of the largest of the many low islands that dot the Florida Reef, that has risen into notice, or indeed into existence as a town, since the acquisition of the Floridas by the American Republic. For many years it was the resort of few besides wreckers, and those who live by the business dependent on the rescuing and repairing of stranded vessels, not forgetting the salvages. When it is remembered that the greater portion of the vessels that enter the Gulf of Mexico stand close along this reef, before the trades, for a distance varying from one to two hundred miles, and that nearly every thing which quits it, is obliged to beat down its rocky coast in the Gulf Stream for the same distance, one is not to be surprised that the wrecks, which so constantly occur, can supply the wants of a considerable population. To live at Key West is the next thing to being at sea. The place has sea air, no other water than such as is preserved in cisterns, and no soil, or so little as to render even a head of lettuce a rarity. Turtle is abundant, and the business of "turtling" forms an occupation additional to that of wrecking. As might be expected in such circumstances, a potato is a far more precious thing than a turtle's egg, and a sack of the tubers would probably be deemed a sufficient remuneration for enough of the materials of callipash and callipee to feed all the aldermen extant.
Of late years, the government of the United States has turned its attention to the capabilities of the Florida Reef, as an advanced naval station; a sort of Downs, or St. Helen's Roads, for the West Indian seas. As yet little has been done beyond making the preliminary surveys, but the day is not probably very distant when fleets will lie at anchor among the islets described in our earlier chapters, or garnish the fine waters of Key West. For a long time it was thought that even frigates would have a difficulty in entering and quitting the port of the latter, but it is said that recent explorations have discovered channels capable of admitting any thing that floats. Still Key West is a town yet in its chrysalis state, possessing the promise rather than the fruition of the prosperous days which are in reserve. It may be well to add, that it lies a very little north of the 24th degree of latitude, and in a longitude quite five degrees west from Washington. Until the recent conquests in Mexico it was the most southern possession of the American government, on the eastern side of the continent; Cape St. Lucas, at the extremity of Lower California, however, being two degrees farther south.
It will give the foreign reader a more accurate notion of the character of Key West, if we mention a fact of quite recent occurrence. A very few weeks after the closing scenes of this tale, the town in question was, in a great measure, washed away! A hurricane brought in the sea upon all these islands and reefs, water running in swift currents over places that within the memory of man were never before submerged. The lower part of Key West was converted into a raging sea, and every thing in that quarter of the place disappeared. The foundation being of rock, however, when the ocean retired the island came into view again, and industry and enterprise set to work to repair the injuries.
The government has established a small hospital for seamen at Key West. Into one of the rooms of the building thus appropriated our narrative must now conduct the reader. It contained but a single patient, and that was Spike. He was on his narrow bed, which was to be but the precursor of a still narrower tenement, the grave. In the room with the dying man were two females, in one of whom our readers will at once recognize the person of Rose Budd, dressed in deep mourning for her aunt. At first sight, it is probable that a casual spectator would mistake the second female for one of the ordinary nurses of the place. Her attire was well enough, though worn awkwardly, and as if its owner were not exactly at ease in it. She had the air of one in her best attire, who was unaccustomed to be dressed above the most common mode. What added to the singularity of her appearance, was the fact, that while she wore no cap, her hair had been cut into short, gray bristles, instead of being long, and turned up, as is usual with females. To give a sort of climax to this uncouth appearance, this strange-looking creature chewed tobacco.
The woman in question, equivocal as might be her exterior, was employed in one of the commonest avocations of her sex—that of sewing. She held in her hand a coarse garment, one of Spike's, in fact, which she seemed to be intently busy in mending; although the work was of a quality that invited the use of the palm and sail-needle, rather than that of the thimble and the smaller implement known to seamstresses, the woman appeared awkward in her business, as if her coarse-looking and dark hands refused to lend themselves to an occupation so feminine. Nevertheless, there were touches of a purely womanly character about this extraordinary person, and touches that particularly attracted the attention, and awakened the sympathy of the gentle Rose, her companion. Tears occasionally struggled out from beneath her eyelids, crossed her dark, sun-burnt cheek, and fell on the coarse canvas garment that lay in her lap. It was after one of these sudden and strong exhibitions of feeling that Rose approached her, laid her own little, fair hand, in a friendly way, though unheeded, on the other's shoulder, and spoke to her in her kindest and softest tones.
"I do really think he is reviving, Jack," said Rose, "and that you may yet hope to have an intelligent conversation with him."
"They all agree he must die," answered Jack Tier—for it was he, appearing in the garb of his proper sex, after a disguise that had now lasted fully twenty years—"and he will never know who I am, and that I forgive him. He must think of me in another world, though he isn't able to do it in this; but it would be a great relief to his soul to know that I forgive him."
"To be sure, a man must like to take a kind leave of his own wife before he closes his eyes forever; and I dare say it would be a great relief to you to tell him that you have forgotten his desertion of you, and all the hardships it has brought upon you in searching for him, and in earning your own livelihood as a common sailor."
"I shall not tell him I've forgotten it, Miss Rose; that would be untrue—and there shall be no more deception between us; but I shall tell him that I forgive him, as I hope God will one day forgive me all my sins."
"It is, certainly, not a light offence to desert a wife in a foreign land, and then to seek to deceive another woman," quietly observed Rose.
"He's a willian!" muttered the wife—"but—but—"
"You forgive him, Jack—yes, I'm sure you do. You are too good a Christian to refuse to forgive him."
"I'm a woman a'ter all, Miss Rose; and that, I believe, is the truth of it. I suppose I ought to do as you say, for the reason you mention; but I'm his wife—and once he loved me, though that has long been over. When I first knew Stephen, I'd the sort of feelin's you speak of, and was a very different creatur' from what you see me to-day. Change comes over us all with years and sufferin'."
Rose did not answer, but she stood looking intently at the speaker more than a minute. Change had, indeed, come over her, if she had ever possessed the power to please the fancy of any living man. Her features had always seemed diminitive and mean for her assumed sex, as her voice was small and cracked; but, making every allowance for the probabilities, Rose found it difficult to imagine that Jack Tier had ever possessed, even under the high advantages of youth and innocence, the attractions so common to her sex. Her skin had acquired the tanning of the sea; the expression of her face had become hard and worldly; and her habits contributed to render those natural consequences of exposure and toil even more than usually marked and decided. By saying "habits," however, we do not mean that Jack had ever drank to excess, as happens with so many seamen, for this would have been doing her injustice, but she smoked and chewed—practices that intoxicate in another form, and lead nearly as many to the grave as excess in drinking. Thus all the accessories about this singular being, partook of the character of her recent life and duties. Her walk was between a waddle and a seaman's roll; her hands were discolored with tar, and had got to be full of knuckles, and even her feet had degenerated into that flat, broad-toed form that, perhaps, sooner distinguishes caste, in connection with outward appearances, than any one other physical peculiarity. Yet this being had once been young—had once been even fair; and had once possessed that feminine air and lightness of form, that as often belongs to the youthful American of her sex, perhaps, as to the girl of any other nation on earth. Rose continued to gaze at her companion for some time, when she walked musingly to a window that looked out upon the port.
"I am not certain whether it would do him good or not to see this sight," she said, addressing the wife kindly, doubtful of the effect of her words even on the latter. "But here are the sloop-of-war, and several other vessels."
"Ay, she is there; but never will his foot be put on board the Swash ag'in. When he bought that brig I was still young, and agreeable to him; and he gave her my maiden name, which was Mary, or Molly Swash. But that is all changed; I wonder he did not change the name with his change of feelin's."
"Then you did really sail in the brig in former times, and knew the seaman whose name you assumed?"
"Many years. Tier, with whose name I made free, on account of his size, and some resemblance to me in form, died under my care; and his protection fell into my hands, which first put the notion into my head of hailing as his representative. Yes, I knew Tier in the brig, and we were left ashore at the same time—I, intentionally, I make no question; he, because Stephen Spike was in a hurry, and did not choose to wait for a man. The poor fellow caught the yellow fever the very next day, and did not live eight-and-forty hours. So the world goes; them that wish to live, die; and them that wants to die, live!"
"You have had a hard time for one of your sex, poor Jack—quite twenty years a sailor, did you not tell me?"
"Every day of it, Miss Rose—and bitter years have they been; for the whole of that time have I been in chase of my husband, keeping my own secret, and slaving like a horse for a livelihood."
"You could not have been old when he left—that is—when you parted."
"Call it by its true name, and say at once, when he desarted me. I was under thirty by two or three years, and was still like my own sex to look at. All that is changed since; but I was comely then."
"Why did Capt. Spike abandon you, Jack; you have never told me that."
"Because he fancied another. And ever since that time he has been fancying others, instead of remembering me. Had he got you, Miss Rose, I think he would have been content for the rest of his days."
"Be certain, Jack, I should never have consented to marry Capt. Spike."
"You're well out of his hands," answered Jack, sighing heavily, which was much the most feminine thing she had done during the whole conversation, "well out of his hands—and God be praised it is so. He should have died, before I would let him carry you off the island—husband or no husband."
"It might have exceeded your power to prevent it under other circumstances, Jack."
Rose now continued looking out of the window in silence. Her thoughts reverted to her aunt and Biddy, and tears rolled down her cheeks as she remembered the love of one, and the fidelity of the other. Their horrible fate had given her a shock that, at first, menaced her with a severe fit of illness; but her strong, good sense, and excellent constitution, both sustained by her piety and Harry's manly tenderness, had brought her through the danger, and left her, as the reader now sees her, struggling with her own griefs, in order to be of use to the still more unhappy woman who had so singularly become her friend and companion.
The reader will readily have anticipated that Jack Tier had early made the females on board the Swash her confidents. Rose had known the outlines of her history from the first few days they were at sea together, which is the explanation of the visible intimacy that had caused Mulford so much surprise. Jack's motive in making his revelations might possibly have been tinctured with jealousy, but a desire to save one as young and innocent as Rose was at its bottom. Few persons but a wife would have supposed our heroine could have been in any danger from a lover like Spike; but Jack saw him with the eyes of her own youth, and of past recollections, rather than with those of truth. A movement of the wounded man first drew Rose from the window. Drying her eyes hastily, she turned toward him, fancying that she might prove the better nurse of the two, notwithstanding Jack's greater interest in the patient.
"What place is this—and why am I here?" demanded Spike, with more strength of voice than could have been expected, after all that had passed. "This is not a cabin—not the Swash—it looks like a hospital."
"It is a hospital, Capt. Spike," said Rose, gently drawing near the bed; "you have been hurt, and have been brought to Key West, and placed in the hospital. I hope you feel better, and that you suffer no pain."
"My head isn't right—I don't know—every thing seems turned round with me—perhaps it will all come out as it should. I begin to remember—where is my brig?"
"She is lost on the rocks. The seas have broken her into fragments."
"That's melancholy news, at any rate. Ah! Miss Rose! God bless you—I've had terrible dreams. Well, it's pleasant to be among friends—what creature is that—where does she come from?"
"That is Jack Tier," answered Rose, steadily. "She turns out to be a woman, and has put on her proper dress, in order to attend on you during your illness. Jack has never left your bed-side since we have been here."
A long silence succeeded this revelation. Jack's eyes twinkled, and she hitched her body half aside, as if to conceal her features, where emotions that were unusual were at work with the muscles. Rose thought it might be well to leave the man and wife alone—and she managed to get out of the room unobserved.
Spike continued to gaze at the strange-looking female, who was now his sole companion. Gradually his recollection returned, and with it the full consciousness of his situation. He might not have been fully aware of the absolute certainty of his approaching death, but he must have known that his wound was of a very grave character, and that the result might early prove fatal. Still that strange and unknown figure haunted him; a figure that was so different from any he had ever seen before, and which, in spite of its present dress, seemed to belong quite as much to one sex as to the other. As for Jack—we call Molly, or Mary Swash by her masculine appellation, not only because it is more familiar, but because the other name seems really out of place, as applied to such a person—as for Jack, then, she sat with her face half averted, thumbing the canvas, and endeavoring to ply the needle, but perfectly mute. She was conscious that Spike's eyes were on her; and a lingering feeling of her sex told her how much time, exposure, and circumstances, had changed her person—and she would gladly have hidden the defects in her appearance.
Mary Swash was the daughter as well as the wife of a ship-master. In her youth, as has been said before, she had even been pretty, and down to the day when her husband deserted her, she would have been thought a female of a comely appearance rather than the reverse. Her hair in particular, though slightly coarse, perhaps, had been rich and abundant; and the change from the long, dark, shining, flowing locks which she still possessed in her thirtieth year, to the short, gray bristles that now stood exposed without a cap, or covering of any sort, was one very likely to destroy all identity of appearance. Then Jack had passed from what might be called youth to the verge of old age, in the interval that she had been separated from her husband. Her shape had changed entirely; her complexion was utterly gone; and her features, always unmeaning, though feminine, and suitable to her sex, had become hard and slightly coarse. Still there was something of her former self about Jack that bewildered Spike; and his eyes continued fastened on her for quite a quarter of an hour in profound silence.
"Give me some water," said the wounded man, "I wish some water to drink."
Jack arose, filled a tumbler and brought it to the side of the bed. Spike took the glass and drank, but the whole time his eyes were riveted on his strange nurse. When his thirst was appeased, he asked—
"Who are you? How came you here?"
"I am your nurse. It is common to place nurses at the bedsides of the sick."
"Are you man or woman?"
"That is a question I hardly know how to answer. Sometimes I think myself each; sometimes neither."
"Did I ever see you before?"
"Often, and quite lately. I sailed with you in your last voyage."
"You! That cannot be. If so, what is your name?"
A long pause succeeded this announcement, which induced Spike to muse as intently as his condition would allow, though the truth did not yet flash on his understanding. At length the bewildered man again spoke.
"Are you Jack Tier?" he said slowly, like one who doubted. "Yes—I now see the resemblance, and it was that which puzzled me. Are they so rigid in this hospital that you have been obliged to put on woman's clothes in order to lend me a helping hand?"
"I am dressed as you see, and for good reasons."
"But Jack Tier run, like that rascal Mulford—ay, I remember now; you were in the boat when I over-hauled you all on the reef."
"Very true; I was in the boat. But I never run, Stephen Spike. It was you who abandoned me, on the islet in the gulf, and that makes the second time in your life that you have left me ashore, when it was your duty to carry me to sea."
"The first time I was in a hurry, and could not wait for you; this last time you took sides with the women. But for your interference, I should have got Rose, and married her, and all would now have been well with me."
This was an awkward announcement for a man to make to his legal wife. But after all Jack had endured, and all Jack had seen during the late voyage, she was not to be overcome by this avowal. Her self-command extended so far as to prevent any open manifestation of emotion, however much her feelings were excited.
"I took sides with the women, because I am a woman myself," she answered, speaking at length with decision, as if determined to bring matters to a head at once. "It is natural for us all to take sides with our kind."
"You a woman, Jack! That is very remarkable. Since when have you hailed for a woman? You have shipped with me twice, and each time as a man—though I've never thought you able to do seaman's duty."
"Nevertheless, I am what you see; a woman born and edicated; one that never had on man's dress until I knew you. You supposed me to be a man, when I came off to you in the skiff to the eastward of Riker's Island, but I was then what you now see."
"I begin to understand matters," rejoined the invalid, musingly. "Ay, ay, it opens on me; and I now see how it was you made such fair weather with Madam Budd and pretty, pretty Rose. Rose is pretty, Jack; you must admit that, though you be a woman."
"Rose is pretty—I do admit it; and what is better, Rose is good." It required a heavy draft on Jack's justice and magnanimity, however, to make this concession.
"And you told Rose and Madam Budd about your sex; and that was the reason they took to you so on the v'y'ge?"
"I told them who I was, and why I went abroad as a man. They know my whole story."
"Did Rose approve of your sailing under false colors, Jack?"
"You must ask that of Rose herself. My story made her my friend; but she never said any thing for or against my disguise."
"It was no great disguise a'ter all, Jack. Now you're fitted out in your own clothes, you've a sort of half-rigged look; one would be as likely to set you down for a man under jury-canvas, as for a woman."
Jack made no answer to this, but she sighed very heavily. As for Spike himself, he was silent for some little time, not only from exhaustion, but because he suffered pain from his wound. The needle was diligently but awkwardly plied in this pause.
Spike's ideas were still a little confused; but a silence and rest of a quarter of an hour cleared them materially. At the end of that time he again asked for water. When he had drank, and Jack was once more seated, with his side-face toward him, at work with the needle, the captain gazed long and intently at this strange woman. It happened that the profile of Jack preserved more of the resemblance to her former self, than the full face; and it was this resemblance that now attracted Spike's attention, though not the smallest suspicion of the truth yet gleamed upon him. He saw something that was familiar, though he could not even tell what that something was, much less to what or whom it bore any resemblance. At length he spoke.
"I was told that Jack Tier was dead," he said; "that he took the fever, and was in his grave within eight-and-forty hours after we sailed. That was what they told me of him."
"And what did they tell you of your own wife, Stephen Spike. She that you left ashore at the time Jack was left?"
"They said she did not die for three years later. I heard of her death at New Orleens, three years later."
"And how could you leave her ashore—she, your true and lawful wife?"
"It was a bad thing," answered Spike, who, like all other mortals, regarded his own past career, now that he stood on the edge of the grave, very differently from what he had regarded it in the hour of his health and strength. "Yes, it was a very bad thing; and I wish it was ondone. But it is too late now. She died of the fever, too—that's some comfort; had she died of a broken-heart, I could not have forgiven myself. Molly was not without her faults—great faults, I considered them; but, on the whole, Molly was a good creatur'."
"You liked her, then, Stephen Spike?"
"I can truly say that when I married Molly, and old Capt. Swash put his da'ghter's hand into mine, that the woman wasn't living who was better in my judgment, or handsomer in my eyes."
"Ay, ay—when you married her; but how was it a'terwards. When you was tired of her, and saw another that was fairer in your eyes?"
"I desarted her; and God has punished me for the sin! Do you know, Jack, that luck has never been with me since that day. Often and often have I bethought me of it; and sartain as you sit there, no great luck has ever been with me, or my craft, since I went off, leaving my wife ashore. What was made in one v'y'ge, was lost in the next. Up and down, up and down the whole time, for so many, many long years, that gray hairs set in, and old age was beginning to get close aboard—and I as poor as ever. It has been rub and go with me ever since; and I have had as much as I could do to keep the brig in motion, as the only means that was left to make the two ends meet."
"And did not all this make you think of your poor wife—she whom you had so wronged?"
"I thought of little else, until I heard of her death at New Orleens—and then I gave it up as useless. Could I have fallen in with Molly at any time a'ter the first six months of my desartion, she and I would have come together again, and every thing would have been forgotten. I knowed her very nature, which was all forgiveness to me at the bottom, though seemingly so spiteful and hard."
"Yet you wanted to have this Rose Budd, who is only too young, and handsome, and good for you."
"I was tired of being a widower, Jack; and Rose is wonderful pretty. She has money, too, and might make the evening of my days comfortable. The brig was old, as you must know, and has long been off of all the Insurance Offices' books; and she couldn't hold together much longer. But for this sloop-of-war, I should have put her off on the Mexicans; and they would have lost her to our people in a month."
"And was it an honest thing to sell an old and worn-out craft to any one, Stephen Spike?"
Spike had a conscience that had become hard as iron by means of trade. He who traffics much, most especially if his dealings be on so small a scale as to render constant investigations of the minor qualities of things necessary, must be a very fortunate man, if he preserve his conscience in any better condition. When Jack made this allusion, therefore, the dying man—for death was much nearer to Spike than even he supposed, though he no longer hoped for his own recovery—when Jack made this allusion, then, the dying man was a good deal at a loss to comprehend it. He saw no particular harm in making the best bargain he could; nor was it easy for him to understand why he might not dispose of any thing he possessed for the highest price that was to be had. Still he answered in an apologetic sort of way.
"The brig was old, I acknowledge," he said, "but she was strong, and might have run a long time. I only spoke of her capture as a thing likely to take place soon, if the Mexicans got her; so that her qualities were of no great account, unless it might be her speed—and that you know was excellent, Jack."
"And you regret that brig, Stephen Spike, lying as you do on your death-bed, more than any thing else."
"Not as much as I do pretty Rose Budd, Jack; Rosy is so delightful to look at!"
The muscles of Jack's face twitched a little, and she looked deeply mortified; for, to own the truth, she hoped that the conversation had so far turned her delinquent husband's thoughts to the past, as to have revived in him some of his former interest in herself. It is true, he still believed her dead; but this was a circumstance Jack overlooked—so hard is it to hear the praises of a rival, and be just. She felt the necessity of being more explicit, and determined at once to come to the point.
"Stephen Spike," she said, steadily, drawing near to the bed-side, "you should be told the truth, when you are heard thus extolling the good looks of Rose Budd, with less than eight-and-forty hours of life remaining. Mary Swash did not die, as you have supposed, three years a'ter you desarted her, but is living at this moment. Had you read the letter I gave you in the boat, just before you made me jump into the sea, that would have told you where she is to be found."
Spike stared at the speaker intently; and when her cracked voice ceased, his look was that of a man who was terrified as well as bewildered. This did not arise still from any gleamings of the real state of the case, but from the soreness with which his conscience pricked him, when he heard that his much-wronged wife was alive. He fancied, with a vivid and rapid glance at the probabilities, all that a woman abandoned would be likely to endure in the course of so many long and suffering years.
"Are you sure of what you say, Jack? You wouldn't take advantage of my situation to tell me an untruth?"
"As certain of it as of my own existence. I have seen her quite lately—talked with her of you—in short, she is now at Key West, knows your state, and has a wife's feelin's to come to your bed-side."
Notwithstanding all this, and the many gleamings he had had of the facts during their late intercourse on board the brig, Spike did not guess at the truth. He appeared astounded, and his terror seemed to increase.
"I have another thing to tell you," continued Jack, pausing but a moment to collect her own thoughts. "Jack Tier—the real Jack Tier—he who sailed with you of old, and whom you left ashore at the same time you desarted your wife, did die of the fever, as you was told, in eight-and-forty hours a'ter the brig went to sea."
"Then who, in the name of Heaven, are you? How came you to hail by another's name as well as by another sex?"
"What could a woman do, whose husband had desarted her in a strange land?"
"That is remarkable! So you've been married? I should not have thought that possible; and your husband desarted you, too. Well, such things do happen." Jack now felt a severe pang. She could not but see that her ungainly—we had almost said her unearthly appearance—prevented the captain from even yet suspecting the truth; and the meaning of his language was not easily to be mistaken. That any one should have married her, seemed to her husband as improbable as it was probable he would run away from her as soon as it was in his power after the ceremony.
"Stephen Spike," resumed Jack, solemnly, "I am Mary Swash—I am your wife!"
Spike started in his bed; then he buried his face in the coverlet—and he actually groaned. In bitterness of spirit the woman turned away and wept. Her feelings had been blunted by misfortune and the collisions of a selfish world; but enough of former self remained to make this the hardest of all the blows she had ever received. Her husband, dying as he was, as he must and did know himself to be, shrunk from one of her appearance, unsexed as she had become by habits, and changed by years and suffering.
[To be continued.
BY J. BAYARD TAYLOR.
I've left the keen, cold winds to blow Around the summits bare; My sunny pathway to the sea Winds downward, green and fair, And bright-leaved branches toss and glow Upon the buoyant air!
The fern its fragrant plumage droops O'er mosses, crisp and gray, Where on the shaded crags I sit, Beside the cataract's spray, And watch the far-off, shining sails Go down the sunny bay!
I've left the wintry winds of life On barren hearts to blow— The anguish and the gnawing care, The silent, shuddering wo! Across the balmy sea of dreams My spirit-barque shall go.
Learned not the breeze its fairy lore Where sweetest measures throng? A maiden sings, beside the stream, Some chorus, wild and long, Mingling and blending with its roar, Like rainbows turned to song!
I hear it, like a strain that sweeps The confines of a dream; Now fading into silent space, Now with a flashing gleam Of triumph, ringing through the deeps Of forest, dell and stream!
Away! away! I hear the horn Among the hills of Spain: The old, chivalric glory fires Her warrior-hearts again! Ho! how their banners light the morn, Along Grenada's plain!
I hear the hymns of holy faith The red Crusaders sang, And the silver horn of Ronceval, That o'er the tecbir rang When prince and kaiser through the fray To the paladin's rescue sprang!
A beam of burning light I hold!— My good Damascus brand, And the jet-black charger that I ride Was foaled in the Arab land, And a hundred horsemen, mailed in steel, Follow my bold command!
Through royal cities speeds our march— The minster-bells are rung; The loud, rejoicing trumpets peal, The battle-flags are swung, And sweet, sweet lips of ladies praise The chieftain, brave and young.
And now, in bright Provencal bowers, A minstrel-knight am I: A gentle bosom on my own Throbs back its ecstasy; A cheek, as fair as the almond flowers, Thrills to my lips' reply!
I tread the fanes of wondrous Rome, Crowned with immortal bay, And myriads throng the Capitol To hear my lofty lay, While, sounding o'er the Tiber's foam, Their shoutings peal away!
Oh, triumph such as this were worth The poet's doom of pain, Whose hours are brazen on the earth, But golden in the brain: I close the starry gate of dreams, And walk the dust again!
POWER OF BEAUTY,
AND A PLAIN MAN'S LOVE.
BY N. P. WILLIS.
That the truths arrived at by the unaccredited short road of "magnetism" had better be stripped of their technical phraseology, and set down as the gradual discoveries of science and experience, is a policy upon which acts many a sagacious believer in "clairvoyance." Doubtless, too, there is, here and there, a wise man, who is glad enough to pierce, with the eyes of an incredible agent, the secrets about him, and let the world give him credit, by whatever name they please, for the superior knowledge of which he silently takes advantage. I should be behind the time, if I had not sounded to the utmost of my ability and opportunity the depth of this new medium. I have tried it on grave things and trifles. If the unveiling which I am about to record were of more use to myself than to others, perhaps I should adopt the policy of which I have just spoken, and give the result, simply as my own shrewd lesson learned in reading the female heart. But the truths I unfold will instruct the few who need and can appreciate them, while the whole subject is not of general importance enough to bring down cavilers upon the credibility of their source. I thus get rid of a very detestable though sometimes necessary evil, ("qui nescit dissimulare nescit vivere," says the Latin sage,) that of shining by any light that is not absolutely my own.
I am a very plain man in my personal appearance—so plain that a common observer, if informed that there was a woman who had a fancy for my peculiar type, would wonder that I was not thankfully put to rest for life as a seeker after love—a second miracle of the kind being a very slender probability. It is not in beauty that the taste for beauty alone resides, however. In early youth my soul, like the mirror of Cydippe, retained, with enamored fidelity, the image of female loveliness copied in the clear truth of its appreciation, and the passion for it had become, insensibly, the thirst of my life, before I thought of it as more than an intoxicating study. To be loved—myself beloved—by a creature made in one of the diviner moulds of woman, was, however, a dream that shaped itself into waking distinctness at last, and from that hour I took up the clogging weight of personal disadvantages, to which I had hitherto unconsciously been chained, and bore it heavily in the race which the well-favored ran as eagerly as I.
I am not to recount, here, the varied experiences of my search, the world over, after beauty and its smile. It is a search on which all travelers are more than half bent, let them name as they please their professed errand in far countries. The coldest scholar in art will better remember a living face of a new cast of expression, met in the gallery of Florence, than the best work of Michael Angelo, whose genius he has crossed an ocean to study; and a fair shoulder crowded against the musical pilgrim, in the Capella Sistiera, will be taken surer into his soul's inner memory than the best outdoing of "the sky-lark taken up into heaven," by the ravishing reach of the Miserere. Is it not true?
There can hardly be now, I think, a style of female beauty of which I have not appreciated the meaning and comparative enchantment, nor a degree of that sometimes more effective thing than beauty itself—its expression breathing through features otherwise unlovely—that I have not approached near enough to weigh and store truthfully in remembrance. The taste forever refines in the study of woman. We return to what, with immature eye, we at first rejected; we intensify, immeasurably, our worship of the few who wear on their foreheads the star of supreme loveliness, confessed pure and perfect by all beholders alike; we detect it under surfaces which become transparent only with tenderness or enthusiasm; we separate the work of Nature's material chisel from the resistless and warm expansion of the soul swelling its proportions to fill out the shape it is to tenant hereafter. Led by the purest study of true beauty, the eager mind passes on from the shrine where it lingered to the next of whose greater brightness it becomes aware; and this is the secret of one kind of "inconstancy in love," which should be named apart from the variableness of those seekers of novelty, who, from unconscious self-contempt, value nothing they have had the power to win.
An unsuspected student of beauty, I passed years of loiterings in the living galleries of Europe and Asia, and, like self-punishing misers in all kinds of amassings, stored up boundlessly more than, with the best trained senses, I could have found the life to enjoy. Of course I had a first advantage, of dangerous facility, in my unhappy plainness of person—the alarm-guard that surrounds every beautiful woman in every country of the world—letting sleep at my approach the cautionary reserve which presents bayonet so promptly to the good-looking. Even with my worship avowed, and the manifestation of grateful regard which a woman of fine quality always returns for elevated and unexacting admiration I was still left with such privilege of access as is granted to the family-gossip, or to an innocuous uncle, and it is of such a passion, rashly nurtured under this protection of an improbability, that I propose to tell the inner story.
I was at the Baths of Lucca during a season made gay by the presence of a large proportion of the agreeable and accessible court of Tuscany. The material for my untiring study was in abundance, yet it was all of the worldly character which the attractions of the place would naturally draw together, and my homage had but a choice between differences of display, in the one pursuit of admiration. In my walks through the romantic mountain-paths of the neighborhood, and along the banks of the deep-down river that threads the ravine above the village, I had often met, meantime, a lady accompanied by a well-bred and scholar-like looking man; and though she invariably dropped her veil at my approach, her admirable movement, as she walked, or stooped to pick a flower, betrayed that conscious possession of beauty and habitual confidence in her own grace and elegance, which assured me of attractions worth taking trouble to know. By one of those "unavoidable accidents" which any respectable guardian angel will contrive, to oblige one, I was a visiter to the gentleman and lady—father and daughter—soon after my curiosity had framed the desire; and in her I found a marvel of beauty, from which I looked in vain for my usual escape—that of placing the ladder of my heart against a loftier and fairer.
Mr. Wangrave was one of those English gentlemen who would not exchange the name of an ancient and immemorially wealthy family for any title that their country could give them, and he used this shield of modest honor simply to protect himself in the enjoyment of habits, freed, as far as refinement and culture could do it, from the burthens and intrusions of life above and below him. He was ceaselessly educating himself—like a man whose whole life was only too brief an apprenticeship to a higher existence—and, with an invalid but intellectual and lovely wife, and a daughter who seemed unconscious that she could love, and who kept gay pace with her youthful-hearted father in his lighter branches of knowledge, his family sufficed to itself, and had determined so to continue while abroad. The society of no Continental watering-place has a very good name, and they were there for climate and seclusion. With two ladies, who seemed to occupy the places and estimation of friends, (but who were probably the paid nurse and companion to the invalid,) and a kind-hearted old secretary to Mr. Wangrave, whose duties consisted in being as happy as he could possibly be, their circle was large enough, and it contained elements enough—except only, perhaps, the reveille that was wanting for the apparently slumbering heart of Stephania.
A month after my first call upon the Wangraves, I joined them on their journey to Vallambrosa, where they proposed to take refuge from the sultry coming of the Italian autumn. My happiness would not have been arranged after the manner of this world's happiness, if I had been the only addition to their party up the mountain. They had received with open arms, a few days before leaving Lucca, a young man from the neighborhood of their own home, and who, I saw with half a glance, was the very Eidolon and type of what Mr. Wangrave would desire as a fitting match for his daughter. From the allusions to him that had preceded his coming, I had learned that he was the heir to a brilliant fortune, and was coming to his old friends to be congratulated on his appointment to a captaincy in the Queen's Guards—as pretty a case of an "irresistible" as could well have been compounded for expectation. And when he came—the absolute model of a youth of noble beauty—all frankness, good manners, joyousness, and confidence, I summoned courage to look alternately at Stephania and him, and the hope, the daring hope that I had never yet named to myself, but which was already master of my heart, and its every pulse and capability, dropped prostrate and lifeless in my bosom. If he did but offer her the life-minute of love, of which I would give her, it seemed to me, for the same price, an eternity of countless existences—if he should but give her a careless word, where I could wring a passionate utterance out of the aching blood of my very heart—she must needs be his. She would be a star else that would resign an orbit in the fair sky, to illumine a dim cave; a flower that would rather bloom on a bleak moor, than in the garden of a king—for, with such crushing comparisons, did I irresistibly see myself as I remembered my own shape and features, and my far humbler fortunes than his, standing in her presence beside him.
Oh! how every thing contributed to enhance the beauty of that young man. How the mellow and harmonizing tenderness of the light of the Italian sky gave sentiment to his oval cheek, depth to his gray-blue eye, meaning to their overfolding and thick-fringed lashes. Whatever he said with his finely-cut lips, was looked into twenty times its meaning by the beauty of their motion in that languid atmosphere—an atmosphere that seemed only breathed for his embellishment and Stephania's. Every posture he took seemed a happy and rare accident, which a painter should have been there to see. The sunsets, the moonlight, the chance back-ground and fore-ground, of vines and rocks—every thing seemed in conspiracy to heighten his effect, and make of him a faultless picture of a lover.
"Every thing," did I say? Yes, even myself—for my uncomely face and form were such a foil to his beauty as a skillful artist would have introduced to heighten it when all other art was exhausted, and every one saw it except Stephania; and little they knew how, with perceptions far quicker than theirs, I felt their recognition of this, in the degree of softer kindness in which they unconsciously spoke to me. They pitied me, and without recognizing their own thought—for it was a striking instance of the difference in the gifts of nature—one man looking scarce possible to love, and beside him, another, of the same age, to whose mere first-seen beauty, without a word from his lips, any heart would seem unnatural not to leap in passionate surrender.
We were the best of sudden friends, Palgray and I. He, like the rest, walked only the outer vestibule of the sympathies, viewlessly deepening and extending, hour by hour, in that frank and joyous circle. The interlinkings of soul, which need no language, and which go on, whether we will or no, while we talk with friends, are so strangely unthought of by the careless and happy. He saw in me no counter-worker to his influence. I was to him but a well-bred and extremely plain man, who tranquilly submitted to forego all the first prizes of life, content if I could contribute to society in its unexcited voids, and receive in return only the freedom of its outer intercourse, and its friendly esteem. But, oh! it was not in the same world that he and I knew Stephania. He approached her from the world in whose most valued excellences, beauty and wealth, he was pre-eminently gifted—I, from the viewless world, in which I had at least more skill and knowledge. In the month that I had known her before he came, I had sedulously addressed myself to a character within her, of which Palgray had not even a conjecture; and there was but one danger of his encroachment on the ground I had gained—her imagination might supply in him the nobler temple of soul-worship, which was still unbuilt, and which would never be builded except by pangs such as he was little likely to feel in the undeepening channel of happiness. He did not notice that I never spoke to her in the same key of voice to which the conversation of others was attuned. He saw not that, while she turned to him with a smile as a preparation to listen, she heard my voice as if her attention had been arrested by distant music—with no change in her features except a look more earnest. She would have called him to look with her at a glowing sunset, or to point out a new comer in the road from the village; but if the moon had gone suddenly into a cloud and saddened the face of the landscape, or if the wind had sounded mournfully through the trees, as she looked out upon the night, she would have spoken of that first to me.
I am flying over the track, of what was to me a torrent—outlining its course by alighting upon, here and there, a point where it turned or lingered.
The reader has been to Vallambrosa—if not once as a pilgrim, at least often with writers of travels in Italy. The usages of the convent are familiar to all memories—their lodging of the gentlemen of a party in cells of their own monastic privilege, and giving to the ladies less sacred hospitalities, in a secular building of meaner and unconsecrated architecture. (So, oh, mortifying brotherhood, you shut off your only chance of entertaining angels unaware!)
Not permitted to eat with the ladies while on the holy mountain, Mr. Wangrave and his secretary, and Palgray and I, fed at the table with the aristocratic monks—(for they are the aristocrats of European holiness, these monks of Vallambrosa.) It was somewhat a relief to me, to be separated with my rival from the party in the feminine refectory, even for the short space of a meal-time; for the all-day suffering of presence with an unconscious trampler on my heart-strings; and in circumstances where all the triumphs were his own, were more than my intangible hold upon hope could well enable me to bear. I was happiest, therefore, when I was out of the presence of her to be near whom was all for which my life was worth having; and when we sat down at the long and bare table, with the thoughtful and ashen-cowled company, sad as I was, it was an opiate sadness—a suspension from self-mastery, under torture which others took to be pleasure.
The temperature of the mountain-air was just such as to invite us to never enter doors except to eat and sleep; and breakfasting at convent-hours, we passed the long day in rambling up the ravines and through the sombre forests, drawing, botanizing, and conversing in group around some spot of exquisite natural beauty; and all of the party, myself excepted, supposing it to be the un-dissenting, common desire to contrive opportunity for the love-making of Palgray and Stephania. And, bitter though it was, in each particular instance, to accept a hint from one and another, and stroll off, leaving the confessed lovers alone by some musical water-fall, or in the secluded and twilight dimness of some curve in an overhanging ravine—places where only to breathe is to love—I still felt an instinctive prompting to rather anticipate than wait for these reminders, she alone knowing what it cost me to be without her in that delicious wilderness; and Palgray, as well as I could judge, having a mind out of harmony with both the wilderness and her.
He loved her—loved her as well as most women need to be, or know that they can be loved. But he was too happy, too prosperous, too universally beloved, to love well. He was a man, with all his beauty, more likely to be fascinating to his own sex than to hers, for the women who love best, do not love in the character they live in; and his out-of-doors heart, whose joyfulness was so contagious, and whose bold impulses were so manly and open, contented itself with gay homage, and left unplummeted the sweetest as well as deepest wells of the thoughtful tenderness of woman.
To most observers, Stephania Wangrave would have seemed only born to be gay—the mere habit of being happy having made its life-long imprint upon her expression of countenance, and all of her nature, that would be legible to a superficial reader, being brought out by the warm translucence of her smiles. But while I had seen this, in the first hour of my study of her, I was too advanced in my knowledge (of such works of nature as encroach on the models of Heaven) not to know this to be a light veil over a picture of melancholy meaning. Sadness was the tone of her mind's inner coloring. Tears were the subterranean river upon which her soul's bark floated with the most loved freight of her thought's accumulation—the sunny waters of joy, where alone she was thought to voyage, being the tide on which her heart embarked no venture, and which seemed to her triflingly garish and even profaning to the hallowed delicacy of the inner nature.
It was so strange to me that Palgray did not see this through every lineament of her marvelous beauty. There was a glow under her skin, but no color—an effect of paleness—fair as the lotus-leaf, but warmer and brighter, and which came through the alabaster fineness of the grain, like something the eye cannot define, but which we know by some spirit-perception to be the effluence of purer existence, the breathing through, as it were, of the luminous tenanting of an angel. To this glowing paleness, with golden hair, I never had seen united any but a disposition of predominant melancholy; and it seemed to me dull indeed otherwise to read it. But there were other betrayals of the same inner nature of Stephania. Her lips, cut with the fine tracery of the penciling upon a tulip-cup, were of a slender and delicate fullness, expressive of a mind which took—(of the senses)—only so much life as would hold down the spirit during its probation; and when this spiritual mouth was at rest, no painter has ever drawn lips on which lay more of the unutterable pensiveness of beauty which we dream to have been Mary's, in the childhood of Jesus. A tear in the heart was the instinctive answer to Stephania's every look when she did not smile; and her large, soft, slowly-lifting eyes, were to any elevated perception, it seemed to me, most eloquent of tenderness as tearful as it was unfathomable and angelic.
I shall have failed, however, in portraying truly the being of whom I am thus privileged to hold the likeness in my memory, if the reader fancies her to have nurtured her pensive disposition at the expense of a just value for real life, or a full development of womanly feelings. It was a peculiarity of her beauty, to my eye, that, with all her earnest leaning toward a thoughtful existence, there did not seem to be one vein beneath her pearly skin, not one wavy line in her faultless person, that did not lend its proportionate consciousness to her breathing sense of life. Her bust was of the slightest fullness which the sculptor would choose for the embodying of his ideal of the best blending of modesty with complete beauty; and her throat and arms—oh, with what an inexpressible pathos of loveliness, so to speak, was moulded, under an infantine dewiness of surface, their delicate undulations. No one could be in her presence without acknowledging the perfection of her form as a woman, and rendering the passionate yet subdued homage which the purest beauty fulfills its human errand by inspiring; but, while Palgray made the halo which surrounded her outward beauty the whole orbit of his appreciation, and made of it, too, the measure of the circle of topics he chose to talk upon, there was still another and far wider ring of light about her, which he lived in too dazzling a gayety of his own to see—a halo of a mind more beautiful than the body which shut it in; and in this intellectual orbit of guidance to interchange of mind, with manifold deeper and higher reach than Palgray's, upon whatever topic chanced to occur, revolved I, around her who was the loveliest and most gifted of all the human beings I had been privileged to meet.
The month was expiring at Vallambrosa, but I had not mingled, for that length of time, with a fraternity of thoughtful men, without recognition of some of that working of spontaneous and elective magnetism to which I have alluded in a previous part of this story. Opposite me, at the table of the convent refectory, had sat a taciturn monk, whose influence I felt from the first day—a stronger consciousness of his presence, that is to say, than of any one of the other monks—though he did not seem particularly to observe me, and till recently had scarce spoken to me at all. He was a man of perhaps fifty years of age, with the countenance of one who had suffered and gained a victory of contemplation—a look as if no suffering could be new to him, and before whom no riddle of human vicissitudes could stay unread; but over all this penetration and sagacity was diffused a cast of genial philanthropy and good-fellowship which told of his forgiveness of the world for what he had suffered in it. With a curiosity more at leisure, I should have sought him out, and joined him in his walks to know more of him; but spiritually acquainted though I felt we had become, I was far too busy with head and heart for any intercourse, except it had a bearing on the struggle for love that I was, to all appearance, so hopelessly making.
Preparations were beginning for departure, and with the morrow, or the day after, I was to take my way to Venice—my friends bound to Switzerland and England, and propriety not permitting me to seek another move in their company. The evening on which this was made clear to me, was one of those continuations of day into night made by the brightness of a full Italian moon; and Palgray, whose face, troubled, for the first time, betrayed to me that he was at a crisis of his fate with Stephania, evidently looked forward to this glowing night as the favorable atmosphere in which he might urge his suit, with nature pleading in his behalf. The reluctance and evident irresolution of his daughter puzzled Mr. Wangrave—for he had no doubt that she loved Palgray, and his education of her head and heart gave him no clue to any principle of coquettishness, or willingness to give pain, for the pleasure of an exercise of power. Her mother, and all the members of the party, were aware of the mystery that hung over the suit of the young guardsman, but they were all alike discreet, while distressed, and confined their interference to the removal of obstacles in the way of the lovers being together, and the avoidance of any topics gay enough to change the key of her spirits from the natural softness of the evening.
Vespers were over, and the sad-colored figures of the monks were gliding indolently here and there, and Stephania, with Palgray beside her, stood a little apart from the group at the door of the secular refectory, looking off at the fading purple of the sunset. I could not join her without crossing rudely the obvious wishes of every person present; yet for the last two days, I had scarce found the opportunity to exchange a word with her, and my emotion now was scarce controllable. The happier lover beside her, with his features heightened in expression (as I thought they never could be) by his embarrassment in wooing, was evidently and irresistibly the object of her momentary admiration. He offered her his arm, and made a movement toward the path off into the forest. There was an imploring deference infinitely becoming in his manner, and see it she must, with pride and pleasure. She hesitated—gave a look to where I stood, which explained to me better than a world of language, that she had wished at least to speak to me on this last evening—and, before the dimness over my eyes had passed away, they were gone. Oh! pitying Heaven! give me never again, while wrapt in mortal weakness, so harsh a pang to suffer.
The convent-bell struck midnight, and there was a foot-fall in the cloister. I was startled by it out of an entire forgetfulness of all around me, for I was lying on my bed in the monastery cell, with my hands clasped over my eyes, as I had thrown myself down on coming in; and, with a strange contrariety, my mind, broken rudely from its hope, had flown to my far away home, oblivious of the benumbed links that lay between. A knock at my door completed the return to my despair, for with a look at the walls of my little chamber, in the bright beam of moonlight that streamed in at the narrow window, I was, by recognition, again at Vallambrosa, and Stephania, with an accepted lover's voice in her ear, was again near me, her moistened eyes steeped with Palgray's in the same beam of the all-visiting and unbetraying moon.
Father Ludovic entered. The gentle tone of his benedicite, told me that he had come on an errand of sympathy. There was little need of preliminary between two who read the inner countenance as habitually as did both of us; and as briefly as the knowledge and present feeling of each could be re-expressed in words, we confirmed the spirit-mingling that had brought him there, and were presently as one. He had read truly the drama of love, enacting in the party of visiters to his convent, but his judgment of the possible termination of it was different from mine.
* * * * *
Palgray's dormitory was at the extremity of the cloister, and we presently heard him pass.
"She is alone, now," said Father Ludovic, "I will send you to her."
My mind had strained to Stephania's presence with the first footsteps that told me of their separation; and it needed but a wave of his hand to unlink the spirit-wings from my weary frame. I was present with her.
I struggled for a moment, but in vain, to see her face. Its expression was as visible as my hand in the sun, but no feature. The mind I had read was close to me, in a presence of consciousness; and, in points, here and there, brighter, bolder, and further-reaching than I had altogether believed. She was unutterably pure—a spirit without a spot—and I remained near her with a feeling as if my forehead were pressed down to the palms of my hands, in homage mixed with sorrow, for I should have more recognized this in my waking study of her nature.
A moment more—a trembling effort, as if to read what were written to record my companionship for eternity—and a vague image of myself came out in shadow—clearer now, and still clearer, enlarging to the fullness of her mind. She thought wholly and only of that image I then saw, yet with a faint coloring playing to and from it, as influences came in from the outer world. Her eyes were turned in upon it in lost contemplation. But suddenly a new thought broke upon me. I saw my image, but it was not I, as I looked to myself. The type of my countenance was there; but, oh, transformed to an ideal, such as I now, for the first time, saw possible—ennobled in every defective line—purified of its taint from worldliness—inspired with high aspirations—cleared of what it had become cankered with, in its transmission through countless generations since first sent into the world, and restored to a likeness of the angel of whose illuminated lineaments it was first a copy. So thought Stephania of me. Thus did she believe I truly was. Oh! blessed, and yet humiliating, trust of woman! Oh! comparison of true and ideal, at which spirits must look out of heaven, and of which they must long, with aching pity, to make us thus rebukingly aware!
* * * * *
I felt myself withdrawing from Stephania's presence. There were tears between us, which I could not see. I strove to remain, but a stronger power than my will was at work within me. I felt my heart swell with a gasp, as if death were bearing out of it the principle of life; and my head dropped on the pillow of my bed.
"Good night, my son," said the low voice of Father Ludovic, "I have willed that you should remember what you have seen. Be worthy of her love, for there are few like her."
He closed the door, and as the glide of his sandals died away in the echoing cloisters, I leaned forth to spread my expanding heart in the upward and boundless light of the moon—for I seemed to wish never again to lose in the wasteful forgetfulness of sleep, the consciousness that I was loved by Stephania.
* * * * *
I was journeying the next day, alone, toward Venice. I had left written adieux for the party at Vallambrosa, pleading to my friends an unwillingness to bear the pain of a formal separation. Betwixt midnight and morning, however, I had written a parting letter for Stephania, which I had committed to the kind envoying of Father Ludovic, and thus it ran:—
"When you read this, Stephania, I shall be alone with the thought of you, traveling a reluctant road, but still with a burthen in my heart which will bring me to you again, and which even now envelopes my pang of separation in a veil of happiness. I have been blessed by Heaven's mercy with the power to know that you love me. Were you not what you are, I could not venture to startle you thus with a truth which, perhaps, you have hardly confessed in waking reality to yourself; but you are one of those who are coy of no truth that could be found to have lain without alarm in your own bosom, and, with those beloved hands pressed together with the earnestness of the clasp of prayer, you will say, 'yes! I love him!'
"I leave you, now, not to put our love to trial, and still less in the ordinary meaning of the phrase, to prepare to wed you. The first is little needed, angels in heaven well know. The second is a thought which will be in time, when I have done the work on which I am newly bent by the inspiration of love—the making myself what you think me to be. Oh, Stephania! to feel encouraged, as God has given me strength to feel, that I may yet be this—that I may yet bring you a soul brought up to the standard you have raised, and achieve it by effort in self-denial, and by the works of honor and goodness that are as possible to a man in obscurity and poverty as to his brother in wealth and distinction—this is to me new life, boundless enlargement of sphere, food for a love of which, alas! I was not before worthy.
"I have told you unreservedly what my station in life is—what my hopes are, and what career I had marked out for struggle. I shall go on with the career, though the prizes I then mentally saw have since faded in value almost as much as my purpose is strengthened. Fame and wealth, my pure, Stephania, are to you as they now can only be to me, larger trusts of service and duty; and if I hope they will come while other aims are sought, it is because they will confer happiness on parents and friends who mistakenly suppose them necessary to the winner of your heart. I hope to bring them to you. I know that I shall come as welcome without them.
"While I write—while my courage and hope throb loud in the pulses of my bosom—I can think even happily of separation. To leave you, the better to return, is bearable—even pleasurable—to the heart's noonday mood. But I have been steeped for a summer, now, in a presence of visible and breathing loveliness, (that you cannot forbid me to speak of, since language is too poor to out-color truth,) and there will come moments of depression—twilights of deepening and undivided loneliness—hours of illness, perhaps—and times of discouragement and adverse cloudings over of Providence—when I shall need to be remembered with sympathy, and to know that I am so remembered. I do not ask you to write to me. It would entail difficulties upon you, and put between us an interchange of uncertainties and possible misunderstandings. But I can communicate with you by a surer medium, if you will grant a request. The habits of your family are such that you can, for the first hour after midnight, be always alone. Waking or sleeping, there will then be a thought of me occupying your heart, and—call it a fancy if you will—I can come and read it on the viewless wings of the soul.
"I commend your inexpressible earthly beauty, dear Stephania, and your still brighter loveliness of soul, to God's angel, who has never left you. Farewell! You will see me when I am worthy of you—if it be necessary that it should be first in heaven, made so by forgiveness there.
* * * * *
Cell of St. Eusebius, Vallambrosa—day-breaking."
A BUTTERFLY IN THE CITY.
BY THOMAS BUCHANAN READ.
Dear transient spirit of the fields, Thou com'st, without distrust, To fan the sunshine of our streets Among the noise and dust.
Thou leadest in thy wavering flight My footsteps unaware, Until I seem to walk the vales And breathe thy native air.
And thou hast fed upon the flowers, And drained their honied springs, Till every tender hue they wore Is blooming on thy wings.
I bless the fresh and flowery light Thou bringest to the town, But tremble lest the hot turmoil Have power to weigh thee down;
For thou art like the poet's song, Arrayed in holiest dyes, Though it hath drained the honied wells Of flowers of Paradise;
Though it hath brought celestial hues To light the ways of life, The dust shall weigh its pinions down Amid the noisy strife.
And yet, perchance, some kindred soul Shall see its glory shine, And feel its wings within his heart As bright as I do thine.
THE RIVAL SISTERS.
AN ENGLISH TRAGEDY OF REAL LIFE.
BY HENRY WILLIAM HERBERT, AUTHOR OF "THE ROMAN TRAITOR," "MARMADUKE WYVIL," ETC.
(Concluded from page 22.)
A lovely summer's evening in the year 168-, was drawing toward its close, when many a gay and brilliant cavalcade of both sexes, many of the huge gilded coaches of that day, and many a train of liveried attendants, winding through the green lane, as they arrived, some in this direction from Eton, some in that, across Datchet-mead, from Windsor, and its royal castle, came thronging toward Ditton-in-the-Dale.
Lights were beginning to twinkle, as the shadows fell thick among the arcades of the trim gardens, and the wilder forest-walks which extended their circuitous course for many a mile along the stately hall of the Fitz-Henries; loud bursts of festive or of martial music came pealing down the wind, mixed with the hum of a gay and happy concourse, causing the nightingales to hold their peace, not in despair of rivaling the melody, but that the mirth jarred unpleasantly on the souls of the melancholy birds.
The gates of Ditton-in-the-Dale were flung wide open, for it was gala night, and never had the old hall put on a gayer or more sumptuous show than it had donned that evening.
From far and near the gentry and the nobles of Buckingham and Berkshire had gathered to the birth-day ball—for such was the occasion of the festive meeting.
Yes! it was Blanche Fitz-Henry's birth-day; and on this gay and glad anniversary was the fair heiress of that noble house to be introduced to the great world as the future owner of those beautiful demesnes.
From the roof to the foundation the old manor-house—it was a stately red brick mansion of the latter period of Elizabethan architecture, with mullioned windows, and stacks of curiously wreathed chimneys—was one blaze of light; and as group after group of gay and high-born riders came caracoling up to the hospitable porch, and coach after coach, with its running footmen, or mounted outriders lumbered slowly in their train, the saloons and corridors began to fill up rapidly, with a joyous and splendid company.
The entrance-hall, a vast square apartment, wainscoted with old English oak, brighter and richer in its dark hues than mahogany, received the entering guests; and what with the profusion of wax-lights, pendant in gorgeous chandeliers from the carved roof, or fixed in silver sconces to the walls, the gay festoons of green wreaths and fresh summer flowers, mixed quaintly with old armor, blazoned shields, and rustling banners, some of which had waved over the thirsty plains of Syria, and been fanned by the shouts of triumph that pealed so high at Cressy and Poitiers, it presented a not unapt picture of that midway period—that halting-place, as it were, between the old world and the new—when chivalry and feudalism had ceased already to exist among the nations, but before the rudeness of reform had banished the last remnants of courtesy, and the reverence for all things that were high and noble—for all things that were fair and graceful—for all things, in one word, except the golden calf, the mob-worshiped mammon.
Within this stately hall was drawn up in glittering array, the splendid band of the Life Guards, for royally himself was present, and all the officers of that superb regiment, quartered at Windsor, had followed in his train; and as an ordinary courtesy to their well-proved and loyal host, the services of those chosen musicians had been tendered and accepted.
Through many a dazzling corridor, glittering with lights, and redolent of choicest perfumes, through many a fair saloon the guests were marshaled to the great drawing-room, where, beneath a canopy of state, the ill-advised and imbecile monarch, soon to be deserted by the very princes and princesses who now clustered round his throne, sat, with his host and his lovely daughters at his right hand, accepting the homage of the fickle crowd, who were within a little year to bow obsequiously to the cold-blooded Hollander.
That was a day of singular, and what would now be termed hideous costumes—a day of hair-powder and patches, of hoops and trains, of stiff brocades and tight-laced stomachers, and high-heeled shoes among the ladies—of flowing periwigs, and coats with huge cuffs and no collars, and voluminous skirts, of diamond-hilted rapiers, and diamond buckles, ruffles of Valenciennes and Mecklin lace, among the ruder sex. And though the individual might be metamorphosed strangely from the fair form which nature gave him, it cannot be denied that the concourse of highly-bred and graceful persons, when viewed as a whole, was infinitely more picturesque, infinitely more like what the fancy paints a meeting of the great and noble, than any assemblage now-a-days, however courtly or refined, in which the stiff dress coats and white neckcloths of the men are not to be redeemed by the Parisian finery—how much more natural, let critics tell, than the hoop and train—of the fair portion of the company.
The rich materials, the gay colors, the glittering jewelry, and waving plumes, all contributed their part to the splendor of the show; and in those days a gentleman possessed at least this advantage, lost to him in these practical utilitarian times, that he could not by any possibility be mistaken for his own valet de chambre—a misfortune which has befallen many a one, the most aristocratic not excepted, of modern nobility.
A truly graceful person will be graceful, and look well in every garb, however strange or outre; and there is, moreover, undoubtedly something, apart from any paltry love of finery, or mere vanity of person, which elevates the thoughts, and stamps a statelier demeanor on the man who is clad highly for some high occasion. The custom, too, of wearing arms, peculiar to the gentleman of that day, had its effect, and that not a slight one, as well on the character as on the bearing of the individual so distinguished.
As for the ladies, loveliness will still be loveliness, disguise it as you may; and if the beauties of King James's court lost much by the travesty of their natural ringlets, they gained, perhaps, yet more from the increased lustre of their complexions and brilliancy of their eyes.
So that it is far from being the case, as is commonly supposed, that it was owing to fashion alone, and the influence of all powerful custom, that the costume of that day was not tolerated only, but admired by its wearers.
At this time, however, the use of hair-powder, though general, was by no means universal; and many beauties, who fancied that it did not suit their complexions, dispensed with it altogether, or wore it in some modified shape, and tinged with some coloring matter, which assimilated it more closely to the natural tints of the hair.
At all events, it must have been a dull eye, and a cold heart, that could have looked undelighted on the assemblage that night gathered in the ball-room of Ditton-in-the-Dale.
But now the reception was finished; the royal party moved into the ball-room, from which they shortly afterward retired, leaving the company at liberty from the restraint which their presence had imposed upon them. The concourse broke up into little groups; the stately minuet was performed, and livelier dances followed it; and gentlemen sighed tender sighs, and looked unutterable things; and ladies listened to soft nonsense, and smiled gentle approbation; and melting glances were exchanged, and warm hands were pressed warmly; and fans were flirted angrily, and flippant jokes were interchanged—for human nature, whether in the seventeeth or the nineteenth century, whether arrayed in brocade, or simply dressed in broadcloth, is human nature still; and, perhaps, not one feeling, or one passion, that actuated man's or woman's heart five hundred years ago, but dwells within it now, and shall dwell unchanged forever.