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of Robinson Crusoe, with only the cat at my elbow, and for amusement counting the flies crawling over the ceiling,—I am tired of it, I tell you!"
"Then, father, to be serious, why not get married? I really don't see how you can do better," said Horace.
"You don't, well I do,—for, after all, no pretty lass would fancy an old fellow like me, and as for the elderly damsels, they would prefer their snuff and tea;—no, no, I have a better plan than marriage in my head. Harkee, young gentleman! I am going to rejuvenate these old walls; I will fill them with beauty, with sparkling eyes and beaming smiles, angels and sylphs shall glide amid its lonely chambers, and the music of glad voices ring like marriage bells through these old elms!"
"Do you wield the wand of Prospero, my dear father, that you can thus at pleasure summon such dainty spirits?" said Horace, smiling.
"You shall see, for to-morrow I start for New York, from thence I shall take a trip into Jersey;—I have nieces by the dozen, young, glad creatures, as merry as the birds, and it shall go hard but I will bring home such a charming flock as shall make me young again. So, Mr. Horace, revel among your old tomes like a book-worm, as you are, while I cry ' Vive la bagatelle I'" Saying which, the old gentleman leaped up from his chair, cut the pigeon wing with a great flourish, snapped his fingers in the face of Horace, and then fairly danced out of the room with all the agility of a boy.
Sure enough it was no joke, the threat which Mr. Mansfield had uttered, for, that very evening, Pete was despatched to the village, three miles distant, to book the old gentleman for the Albany stage, whence the steamboat would bear him to the city, and, at an early hour the following morning, the quiet woods around the old Hall echoed, not with the merry peal of the huntsman's notes, but with the doleful "Toot-toot-too-oo-ot-toot" of the tin stage-horn, dolefully re-tooted on every side, and in a few moments the lumbering coach itself, with its four lean, spavined attachlet, appeared looming through the fog, and wheeled up with a desperate attempt at display to the door of the Hall.
"Well, good-bye, .Mrs. Dimity," exclaimed the old gentleman, slowly descending the steps, and drawing on his gloves; "have an eye on the boy that he don't starve upon his logical chips, and remember, too, to have everything in readiness, just as I told you,—see that the rooms are all well aired,—keep Pete busy among the weeds, and look out for the strawberry beds, for there will be dainty fingers busy there by-and-by,—and don't forget to send
Pete down to the village for Treble to come and tune up the old piano. There, good-bye to you." So saying, he mounted to the roof of the stage, where he seated himself comfortably by the side of the driver, then, with a chuckle and a significant nod toward the still closed shutters of his son, he gave the word, "AWs ready." The wheels groaned and shrieked— the coach grumbled—Jehu cracked his whip —the horses, looking sideways at each other, as if to say, "if we must—we must, that's all," stretched their sinews to the task, and the coach was set in motion.
Mr. Mansfield once more waved his hand to the housekeeper, and then bracing himself to bear the jolting of the crazy vehicle, was soon rattling over the turnpike, en route for Albany.
"Mr. Horace! Mr. Horace!—dear me, what a boy! I say, Mr. Horace, don't you know your father is coming home this very blessed day, with all those city girls, and yet here you sit, although it is past five o'clock, in your old dressing-gown and slippers !—Dear me, Mr. Hor-a-ce!" and elevating her voice almost to a scream, Mrs. Dimity, the housekeeper, approached close to the elbow of the student, and placed her hand upon his shoulder.
"Ah, Mrs. Dimity, dinner is ready then,— very well, don't wait, I will be down in a moment," said Horace, without, however, raising his eyes from his book.
"Dear me! dear me! do pray shut up your book, Mr. Horace!" cried the good woman; "why, bless me, they will be here in an hour! Do now, Mr. Horace, go and shave yourself, and put on your new black coat and your satin vest,—why dearee me, your beard is as long as any old patriarch's in the book of Genesis!—Come, Mr. Horace, I have laid your clothes all out for you—Mr. Horace! Mr. Horace! there, there!—Mercy on me, he don't hear no more than the dead!" And poor Mrs. Dimity made a second attempt to attract the attention of the absent young gentleman, by pulling his sleeve.
"Ah, yes; well, Mrs. Dimity, what were you saying?"
"Why that it is time for you to make yourself decent to appear before the company," replied the housekeeper. "For shame, Mr. Horace; why most young men would have been dressed an hour ago, and all on tiptoe, like Prince Chorazzin in the fairy tale, to see your beautiful cousins,—come now, throw away your book, do!"
"My good Mrs. Dimity," replied Horace smiling, " if you ever read Shakespeare I would ask,
'What's Hecuba to me or I to Hecuba!' Yet I thank you for reminding me of these expected guests, whom I had indeed forgotten."
"Forgotten! dear me, did any one ever hear the Hke!" exclaimed Mrs. Dimity, raising her hands in astonishment.
"How many of these cousins of mine do you expect?" asked Horace. "Mere school-girls, I suppose."
'' All I know is, your father said he would bring home a whole coach-load, if he could get them," answered Mrs. Dimity, "and I have been all the week getting the house in order for them—rubbing up the old furniture—cleaning the brasses, whitening the linen, and filling the store closet with plenty of plum-cake and ginger-nuts I I Tow and declare, Mr. Horace, it is absolutely provoking to see you take it so coolly, just as if your father was only going to bring home a new brood of ducks or chickens!"
"They will gabble as fast, no doubt," said Horace. "I shall be glad, however, if my father finds pleasure from their society, Mrs. Dimity; so far, their presence will be a relief to roe."
"Well, well, aren't you going to dress yourself?—Mercy on me, if you appear before them in that dishabilly, the poor things will think you are Valentine and Orson t"
"Rest easy, Mrs. Dimity—I will be in readiness to receive our guests. Don't stop longer on my account, I beg," returned Horace.
"A-hem! hem !—just as sure as I live he will never stir a step if I don't keep teasing him!" said the old housekeeper to herself, pretending to leave the room, but stopping midway to watch the effect of her previous admonition.
In another moment Horace had apparently forgotten everything but the page before him, to which he now gave his most rapt attention.
"How beautiful!" he exclaimed abstractedly —" as A is to B, so is C to D—let me see—as X is to Y—so is M to N—what harmony!"
"Dear, dear, only hear him!" cried Mrs. Dimity. "What is the use of spending so much time if one can't learn? Poor boy, he is always puzzling over A, B, and C—well, I don't know much to be sure, but thank Heaven, I do know that AB spells ab, and CA spells ca! Mr. Horace!" and this time the vexed old lady shook our hero not very gently.
"Ah yes, true—I had forgotten—well I will go now;" and most reluctantly the student rose from the table, and casting 'a long lingering look behind,' proceeded to the duties of the toilet.
Feeling that she had thus successfully acquitted herself of this responsibility, the housekeeper now hurried to the kitchen to see if the supper was in progress—the coffee boiling, and the rolls ready to put in the oven—from thence she put her head into the dairy, to look after
the fine, fragrant butter, and the rich cream set apart for the table. The tea-room next demanded her attention—lifting the fine damask cloth spread over the tea equipage, to discover if the flies had dared to crawl within any chance opening, and were now, little thieves, feasting upon the delicious cake, the dishes of ruby quince, or the lumps of snowy sugar heaped so generously upon the social board. Her next visit was to the parlour, surveying for, at least, the twentieth time that day the proofs of her neatness and taste, displayed in its arrangement, and every time finding a little something to do —a chair to move half an inch to the right, a table to wheel a little more to the left—the curtains to be looped up or let down—books to move, and the little china vases filled with pretty flowers to rearrange, so as to exhibit to greater advantage some favourite blossom; and lastly, the notable old lady took a hurried and satisfactory inspection of the chambers, and then hastened to her own little room to doff the homely dark chintz gown for a more becoming attire, ere the arrival of Mr. Mansfield and his young nieces.
A short time sufficed for her toilet, and Mrs. Dimity came forth arrayed in a shining black silk petticoat, relieved by a short gown or negligee of white cambric falling just below the hips, and ornamented with a broad ruffle neatly plaited, and her gray hair combed smoothly back under a cap of the whitest and stiffest lawn. But of all her earthly possessions, that which the old lady most prized wns the gold spectacles which Mr. Mansfield had presented her on Christmas, and these she had now mounted, together with the large silver watch once the property of her deceased husband. In this becoming and tidy garb, she now paused before the door of Horace's chamber.
"I may as well give him a call," said she, "for just as likely as not he is off in one of his absent fits again."
She listened a moment,—all was still—taptap-tap—no answer—tap-tap—" Mr. Horace!" —knock, knock,—" Mr. Hor"—knock,—" ace! —Come, are you ready, Mr. Horace?" And the good lady, now quite out of patience, shook and pounded the door as if the house was on fire, and unconscious of danger, the inmate of the chamber calmly sleeping.
"Yes, Mrs. Dimity, yea, yes, I am coming, I hear," said the voice of Horace, aroused at length by the din.
Even as he spoke, the winding of the stagehorn proclaimed the approach of the travellers.
"Mercy on me, here they come! There—the coach is now turning into the great gate,—do make haste, do, Mr. Horaoe." And as rapidly as she could the old lady descended the stairs, and throwing open the hall door, stepped out upon the piazza to receive them. Horace almost mechanically followed close behind her,— but, to the horror of the worthy housekeeper, all her labour of speech had been thrown away, for there he stood in the full glare of sunlight, still in robe-dt-ckambre andpantoufflu, his beard unshorn, his hair disordered.
"Good gracious, Mr. Horace! Do go back— you look like a fright—pray go quick,—I will say you are sick, or out, or anything, only don't stand there in such a trim."
But it was too late. The driver cracked his whip—the horses bounded forward, and the crazy old coach drew up to the door.
Merry peals of laughter met the ear, and the music of young, girlish voices,—bewitching little straw bonnets clustered together, and taper fingers and snowy wrists rested upon the old brown sides of the coach—then suddenly these were withdrawn, and fluttering veils thrown back, and out blazed a galaxy of the most brilliant orbs, all fixed with mischievous glance upon the person of our hero, standing ready to assist their egress from the stage.
Agile as sylphs, out they sprang upon the bright green turf, and gathered around poor Horace, whilst Mr. Mansfield, his good-humoured face all in a glow of delight, slowly dismounted.
"You need not laugh, you little jades, I am not as young as you are!—Ah, Horace, my boy, how are you ?" cried the old gentleman. "Bless me, why don't jou salute your cousins? Never be bashful, man,—here, this is your cousin Kate, and this is her sister, Lucy Mansfield, and here is my stately Constance, and this, the mirth-loving Gabriella Lincoln, and this is roguish Bessie, and this little—hey,
where is Meg ?—ah, there she goes, the gipsy, skimming over the lawn like a lapwing!"
And each fair cousin in turn presented a rosy cheek to the salute of the embarrassed Horace.
"Well, girls, weleome to Mansfield Hall,'' continued the old gentleman, as the gay party tripped up the steps of the portico. "Here, Mrs. Dimity, I make over these merry girls to you. Show them their rooms, if you please, and then let's have supper, for this long ride over the hills has given me a pretty sharp appetite. Hark ye, girls, you need not stop to beautify yourselves; there is nobody here but your old uncle to see you, for as for your cousin Horace, he will never look at you, or fall in love with you."
There was more than one arch glance cast toward the spot where Horace stood leaning against one of the pillars, feeling, it must be confessed, a little foolish at this blunt speech of his father,—and more than one little head was saucily tossed, ere the fair girls disappeared with Mrs. Dimity into the house.
"Nice girls, Horace, full of life and spirit!" exclaimed Mr. Mansfield, slapping him on the shoulder. "Bless their sunny faces, why they have made me young again!—Hark, did yon ever hear such music as that?" as a joyons laugh rang out upon the summer air from one of the upper windows. "Ah, I see you, minx '." shaking his cane at a mirthful face peeping J down upon him through the fragrant sweetbrier which clustered around the casement.
Horace quickly retreated into the hall, and passed on to his chamber, his ears yet ringing with that happy, merry laugh.
(To be continued.)
BY. MISS E. W. BARNES.
On, there is music at my heart,
If thou wilt bend thine ear
And listen to the plaintive tone
That is to me so dearl
Tis the echo of my mother's voice,
And I bore it thence with me,
When they tore mo from her heaving breast,
The bosom of the sea.
Now. ye may bear me where soe'er
Ye may bear me o'er the mountain peak,
Ye may bear me where ye will,
Ye may not bid it die away
Upon the passing breeze,
For, 'tis treasured like the diver's pearls,
Ay, dearer far than these,
Within the heart which ye must break
Ere the sound will cease to be,
Of my mother's voice—the Ocean's voice—
The murmur of the sea.
At a distance of two miles above Hey wood's farm, and on the southern branch of the Chicago, which winds its slightly serpentine coarse between the wood and the prairie, there was at that period a small deep bay, formed by two adjacent and abrupt points of densely wooded land, in the cool shadows of which the pike, the black bass, and the pickerel loved to lie in the heat of summer, and where, in early spring, though in less numbers, they were wont to congregate. This was the customary fishing spot of the garrison—six men and a non-commissioned officer going almost daily, with their ample store of lines and spears, as much, although not avowedly, for their own amusement, as for the supply of the officers' table. What remained, after a certain division among these, became the property of the captors, who, after appropriating to themselves what was necessary for their next day's meal, distributed the rest among the non-commissioned officers and the company. As the season advanced and the fish became more plentiful, there was little limitation of quantity, for the freight nightly brought home, and taken by the line and fpear alone, was sufficient to afford to every one abundance. In truth, even in the depth of winter, there was little privation on the score of fresh food endured by the garrison,—the fat venison brought in, and sold for the veriest trifle by the Indians, the luscious and ample prairie-hen, chiefly shot by the officers, and the fish we have named, leaving little necessity for the consumption of the salt food with which it was but indifferently stored.
On the day on which our narrative has commenced, the usual fishing party had ascended the river at an early hour, for the severeness of the season and the shortness of the days Tendered it an object that they should be on the accustomed "spot" as soon as possible.
They had left the Fort at daybreak, passing Heywood's farm at the moment when, for the purpose of foddering the cattle, he was with the boy, William, crossing in the canoe in which Ephraim Giles afterwards made his escape; the latter, with the Canadian, being engaged in felling trees, although in a different direction. Arrived at the little bay to which we have just adverted, the boat was fastened to the trunk of a tree which projected over the deep water at the point. This done, they stepped on shore, taking with them their fishing rods, bait, and haversacks, but leaving their spears and muskets in the boat, and dispersed themselves at short distances along the curve that formed the bay—which, however, was not more than three hundred yards in extent, from point to point.
When they first cast their lines into the water, the sun's rays were dimly visible through the thick wood in their rear. The early morning too had been cold, almost frosty, so much so that the wild ducks, which generally evinced a good deal of shyness, now seemingly emboldened by the briskness of the atmosphere, could be seen gliding about in considerable numbers about half a mile below them, while the fish, on the contrary, as though dissatisfied with the temperature of their element, refused to do what the men called the "amiable," by approaching the hook. Their occupation had been continued until long past midday, during which time not more than a dozen fish had been taken. Vexed at his nonsuccess, for he had not even had a nibble, one of the men flung his rod upon the bank impatiently, and then seated himself on the projecting root of a large tree, declaring it was all nonsense to play the fool any longer, and that the most sensible thing they could do was to take their dinners, smoke their pipes, and wash down the whole with a little of the Wabash.
"I say, Collins," remarked the Corporal good-naturedly, "we shall have poor fare even for the officers' mess, let alone ourselves, if we all follow your example, and give up so soon. But, as you say, it's time to have some grub, and we'll try our luck afterwards."
"Rome wasn't built in a day," said the man who had been fishing next to Collins, and drawing in his line also; "we've a good many hours left yet."
Following the recommendation of their chief, the rest of the party sat down near the edge of the bank, and, opening their haversacks, produced each his allowance of corn bread and venison, or salted pork, after despatching which, with the aid of clasp-knives, they took a refreshing " horn" from the general canteen that Collins carried suspended over his shoulder, and then drew forth and lighted their pipes.
As the latter puffed away, with a vigour that proved either a preoccupied mind, or extreme gratification in the "weed," he cast his eyes carelessly down the stream, where a large description of duck, called, by the French natives of the country, the eou rouge, from the colour of their necks, were disporting tbemselves as though nothing in the shape of a firearm was near them—now diving—now rising on their feet, and shaking their outstretched wings—now chasing each other in limited circles—and altogether so apparently emboldened by their immunity from interruption, as to come close to the bank, at a distance of little more than fifty yards from the spot where he sat.
"It's very ridiculous," he at length remarked, pouring forth, at the same time, an unusual volume of smoke, and watching its curling eddies as it rose far above his head, "its very ridiculous, I say, that order of the Captain's, that we sha'n't fire. Look at them ducks, how they seem to know all about it, too."
"By Gosh," said another, "I've a great notion to git my musket and have a slap into them—shall I, Corporal?"
"Certainly not, Green," was the answer. "If'twas known in the Fort I had permitted any of the party to fire, I should be broke, if I didn't get picketed for my pains—and none of us would ever get out again."
"No great harm in that either," said the man who had made the novel observation that Rome had not been built in a day.
The Corporal looked sharply at the last speaker, as if not fully comprehending his meaning.
"Jackson means, no great harm if we never get out again," interposed Collins, "and I think as he does; for I see no fun in rowing
four or five miles to fish, and scarcely get a sight of one."
"Well, but Collins, that's not always our luck; I'm sure we've had sport enough before. It must be because the weather's rather cold to-day that the fish won't bite."
"It's of no use his grumbling, Philips," remarked Corporal Nixon. "We're here not so much for our own sport, as on a duty for the garrison. Let me hear no more of this, Collins."
"Well, Corporal, that's true enough," said Green; "but, dash me, if it isn't temptin' to see them fellows there stealin' upon us, and we lookin' on and doin' nothin'."
"What fellows do you mean ?" inquired the Corporal, suddenly starting to his feet, and looking down the river.
"Why, them ducks to be sure—see how they come sailin' towards us, as if they knew all about the Captain's order—no jumpin' or friskin' now, but all of a heap."
"Yes, but I say, what's that black-looking thing beyond the ducks?" asked one who had not hitherto spoken, pointing with his finger.
"Where—where, Weston?" exclaimed one or two voices, and the speakers looked in the direction indicated.
"Hang me if it isn't a bear!" said Collins, in a low tone; "that's the chap that has sent the ducks so near us. Do let me have a crack at him, Corporal. He's large enough to supply the whole garrison with fresh meat for three days, and will make up for the bad fishing— only one shot. Corporal, and I engage not to miss him."
True enough, there was, near the centre of the stream, a dark object, nearly half a mile distant, which all joined in pronouncing to be a bear. It was swimming vigorously across to their own side of the river.
"I think we might take him as he lands," observed Green. "What say you, Corporal? I reckon you'll let us try that, if you won't let us fire."
"Stay all of you where you are," was the reply. "I can manage him myself with a spear, if I can only be in time before he reaches the shore. If not, it's no matter, because I won't allow a trigger to be pulled."
Corporal Nixon was a tall, active, stronglimbed Virginian. He soon cleared the space that separated them from the boat, and jumping to the stern, seized one of the fishingspears, and then moved on through the wood that densely skirted the bank. But he had not been ten minutes gone when he again made his appearance, not immediately by the halfformed path he had previously taken, but by a slight detour to the rear.
"Hist, hist!" said he in an audible whisper,