"I sketched one or two pretty views," she replied, taming away.

"Will you allow me to look at them?" said Horace, laying his hand on the portfolio she had carelessly thrown down.

"They are not worthy your notice, but such as they are, you are weleome to inspect them," answered Constance coldly, drawing forth one or two landscapes, and placing them in his hand.

Horace started with surprise and pleasure as his eye rested upon those beautiful and vivid representations of the scenery with which he had been familiar from childhood. They were the work of no unskilful hand,—taste, genius, culture, were indicated in every line, and he was about to express his pleasure, when Meggie, running in from the piazza, cried—

"You are going with us to the Glen, are you not, cousin? Say yes, do!"

"Well, yet," replied Horace, drawing her to his side and kissing her; "certainly I will go with you, and I will gather you some beautiful wild flowers which grow high up among the rocks."

"Cousin Horace, you will spoil that child by allowing her to tease you in this manner. Meggie, be still! I am astonished at you, for you know very well the impropriety of your request," said Constance.

"Why so, my fair cousin ?" replied Horace. "Her request is certainly a very flattering one to me, and with your leave I will avail myself of it to join your party to the Glen."

Constance hesitated, when Gabriella, with a half-pouting air, exclaimed—

"Indeed, I see you are already wishing us away from the Hall, Mr. Mansfield, for you continue to insist upon that which you know would mar our enjoyment as much as it would yours—is it not so, Constance,—girls, is it not so?—There, you hear they all agree with me; and now, unless you really wish us gone, never, never say another word about going with us anywhere. Come, girls, that we may not detain our cousin any longer, suppose we adjourn to the parlour, and have a little music."

And gayly nodding a good-bye, each fair lady glided past the more than half-angry student, leaving him alone to "chew the cud of sweet and bitter fancies."

"This is ridiculous!" he exclaimed aloud; "however, your wishes shall be gratified. I will no further trouble you with my importunities, fair ladies!" So saying, he turned upon his heel and strode with a lofty air through the long hall, unconscious of several pairs of wicked laughing eyes peeping at him through the halfopen door of the parlour.

Suddenly a strain of delicious music breathed around. He paused. The very air seemed

trembling with melody, as a rich voice, modulated to the sweetest intonations, warbled rather than sang, like a skylark on its upward flight, one of Beethoven's most exquisite melodies. Horace had no power to move; he stood as if spellbound—

•' Right bard it in far wight which did it hew,
To weet what manner music that might be,
For all that pleasing is to living ear,
Was there consorted in one barmonie."

Then the strain melted away "like the sweet south that breathes upon a bank of violets." Another moment the keys were swept with a rapid hand to a lively prelude, and a gay Venetian barcarole was sung in the same sweet accents, to which one or two other birdlike voices warbled a merry chorus.

A Week passed. Every day some party of pleasure was arranged by uncle and nieces without the least reference to Horace, who, true to his word, kept himself aloof from the society of his cousins.

There were sailing parties, and rides, and rambles among the hills, by day, while at evening, delicious music charmed the ear of the student as it swept up to his desolate nook—or the sprightly measure of waltz or cotillion told of the gay scene going on below, in which he was forbidden, as it were, to join.

Not that he wanted to—-oh no, not he—for he was never more bent upon study! Poor fellow! how he would pace the floor, book in hand, striving to fix his thoughts upon its pages—how for hours would he sit with head inclined, poring over all sorts of odd figures, some of them the queerest things, for all the world like the tiniest fairies—but then that must have been all fancy, as of course no such "airy nothings" could find "habitation" here. Then such a chattering, and laughing, and constant tripping up and down stairs, and through the long winding passages, and away out upon the lawn, and under the grave old trees; why it was as if a whole flock of wild geese were for ever circling about the premises, and it was terribly annoying! To make matters worse, he was continually haunted by one particular pair of dark melting eyes following him wherever he moved—and one particular voice, whose gentlest intonation set his heart in a perfect furor,—leaping, trembling, fluttering, bounding, longing to escape from its prison, and fly all enraptured to bask in the light of those beautiful eyes—the eyes of the queenly Constance.

One day little Meggie tapped at his door, and putting her pretty face timidly within, asked if she might enter and sit awhile with Cousin Horace. Dear little soul, her presence was like a sunbeam to the moody scholar; he kissed her rosy cheek, and drew a chair for her close beside his own, listened delighted to her childish prattle, and brought forth all his store of pictures for her entertainment. The morning passed pleasantly to both, and from that day the little maid seemed to prefer the society of the grave Horace to joining in the rambles of her sisters and cousins. They soon grew very cosy together, Meggie chatting continually, and whenever she made her sister Constance the theme, it was wonderful how patiently the student laid down his book and listened, without once chiding the little chatterbox. When Meggie was absent he devoted the most of his time to writing, scribbling, and then tearing up whole sheets of closely written blank verse or rhyme, and then beginning again, and again destroying. He might have been writing a poem of almost endless cantos, but as he always carefully locked within a little escritoire the labours of his pen, the fact remains undecided to this day.

But one morning a mischievous zephyr flew in at the window and stole a stray leaf of the student's poetry, and wafted it to the feet of little Meggie. She slyly seized it and saw that it was addressed to her sister Constance. Children are such matter-of-fact creatures! she saw no poetry at all in the matter, only as the paper was addressed to Constance, why of course it must belong to Constance, so she said never a word, but slyly hiding it in her bosom, took occasion to trip out of the room unobserved by Horace.

But it was not long ere the poet missed the precious document. In vain he sought among his papers, turned over sheet after sheet, rummaged his books, under the table, upon the shelves,—in vain, nowhere could he find it.

Now, if by chance he had about that time visited the little summer-house at the foot of the garden, he would have discovered that very paper in the fair hands of Constance herself, who, with glowing cheek, was intently perusing its hurried characters. Again and again she read it, and then pressing it to her lips, and to her beautiful eyes, all humid with tears, she placed it in her bosom.

Not many days after this, Mr. Mansfield and his nieces in a joyous mood met in the little grove.

"Come, girls," exclaimed the old gentleman, "I think our business is accomplished, and now we may give the reins with a little more freedom; yes, yes, I've watched him, and I'll lay you a wager the poor fellow is as completely sick of his books as one could wish. Why he

is actually pining away into a very shadow for the pleasure of your society, you mocking little gipsies !—And now what say you, shall we withdraw our liege commands,—shall we, Constance?"

A crimson blush mantled her features. It was surely a very simple question, but one which seemed very difficult to answer. At length she replied—

"If you really think it would give our cousin Horace pleasure, uncle."

"If it would—you know it would, minx! Ah, I've seen it; you know he follows you with his eyes wherever you move; and don't he listen as if under some siren's spell whenever you open your lips,—don't he, hey f—ah, no wonder you blush!"

"Yes, and he writes verses, too uncle!" exclaimed naughty little Meg.

"Hush, hush, child, nonsense!" said Constance quickly, endeavouring to check her.

"Ah Con' dear, and some other folks are given to nonsense too; let me see," and drawing from her reticule a small folded paper, Kate, with an arch glance at her cousin, cleared her voice and began

"Deem not the heart you—"

"Kate, Kate!" cried Constance springing up, every feature glowing with indignation. Then snatching the paper from her hand, she tore it in pieces, and bursting into tears fled from the group.

"Wh-e-w-w-w! what's all this, hey,—why what's the matter with my grave Constance?" cried the old gentleman.

"0 nothing, nothing, unole, only that your grave Constance is in love with your grave son, and our phlegmatic student fallen in love with Constance, that's all!" replied Oabriella with a merry laugh.

"Ha, I thought so! Kiss me, you jades, every one of you, for I am the happiest old fellow above ground," exclaimed Mr. Mansfield catching Kate in his arms.

But Meggie stooping down, slyly collected the fragments which Constance had so indignantly scattered upon the fresh, bright grass, and hid them in her bosom.


The next morning almost at break of day, Mr. Mansfield, wrapped in his dressing-gown, and his face swathed with a large red handkerchief, knocked at the door of Horace's sleepingroom.

"Horace, it is very provoking, and I am sorry to disturb you, but I have a most tormenting toothache—zounds, what a twinge!—and I promised the girls last night that I would go with them this morning before breakfast to the Glen; but this deuced tooth, ugh!—and I fear the poor things will be sadly disappointed. Now, my boy, if you could leave your studies just for an hour or so—ugh!—and take my place—"

"Certainly, my dear father," cried Horace, springing out of bed with great alacrity.

'' Constance, you see, has set her heart upon sketching something or other which she thinks will be prettiest at sunrise; but it is a pity to disturb you!"

"Don't give yourself any uneasiness upon that head," said Horace, rapidly throwing on his clothes. "I shall be very glad to be of service to my cousins."

"Perhaps after all it will be better to postpone it until to-morrow, only it is such a beautiful morning," said the old gentleman in a husky voice, and drawing the handkerchief still closer around his mouth.

"0 no, on no account should they be disappointed, and it is as you say, such a beautiful morning!" exclaimed Horace with uncommon earnestness, drawing on his boots.

"Very well, my son, very well—then I'll make myself easy and go to bed again, only I hate to break in upon your studies just to humour the whims of those giddy girls. Well, give my love to them, and do, Horace, try to be as agreeable as you can, and not be thinking too much of your confounded books—zounds, I shall go crazy!—Well, well, cold iron will relieve me!"

So saying the old gentleman withdrew, but had no sooner closed the door, than he threw off the handkerchief, and indulged in a hearty but silent laugh, while at the same moment the roguish faces of Gabriella and Kate peeped from an opposite chamber. Then placing a finger significantly on their lips, with a knowing nod to their uncle, they stole softly down stairs, when, no longer able to repress their glee, their musical laugh mingled with the morning song of the birds.

"Ha! ha! ha! there they go! Caught at last, Mr. Philosopher!" exclaimed Mr. Mansfield as he saw the party setting forth on their excursion. "Here, old lady ; look out there; what do you see?"

"Why bless me if that ain't Mr. Horace!"

"To be sure it's Mr. Horace; and now let me tell you, Mrs. Dimity, there will be a Mistress Horace ere six months are come and gone. Now what do you think of that?"

"Well, well, now if that ain't a sight, to see Mr. Horace a talking and laughing with them pretty creatures! Dear me, dear me, I have lived most long enough!" cried the good woman.

"No you haven't—what do you tell that story

for? I tell yon, you have got to dance at his wedding yet, you silly old woman!"

As Mr. Mansfield's toothache obstinately continued for several days, why of course Horace was obliged to forsake his books entirely, and devote his time to his cousins—a necessity which on the whole, seemed very agreeable all round; and when at length the old gentleman thought it prudent to join the circle, Horace still kept his place, probably from right of possession, possibly from inclination.

Four weeks of this pleasant visit were already flown, and in one more, the charming visiters were to bid farewell to Mansfield Hall and their kind old uncle.

To Horace this announcement seemed as the parting knell to all his happiness. He loved Constance. His soul was filled with her image. She was the idol before whom all his thoughts bowed down, and for whose happiness life itself were too slight a sacrifice. But he dared not tell her this; for in the lofty bearing of Constance, in her reserve, and evident avoidance of his presence, he read not only indifference, but scorn!

Ah little skilled was he in the heart of woman!

It was the evening previous to the departure of the cousins. Dell and dingle had been visited for the last time, the last sail upon the beautiful lake had been taken, the last ramble to the favourite Glen; and now with saddened hearts and countenances, the party once more assembled upon the little portico to talk over past joys, and to anticipate joys as bright in future visits to the old Hall.

Turning suddenly to Horace, who was slowly and thoughtfully pacing up and down, Gabriella said,

"Now, Cousin Horace, just listen. Do you agree with Kate that love can make a poet out of a dull, prosy scholar?"

"Why not, coz, since 'Love can transform an oyster ?' " replied Horace smiling.

"Ah! but answer me seriously now. Do you believe one of your prosaic scholars could be suddenly transformed, through the power of Cupid, into a scribbler of verses—a rhyming sentimentalist V

Horace was embarrassed, while Constance drew up her beautiful head with an air of disdain, as if the subject in debate were certainly a very foolish one, and unworthy any one's attention.

"Why you know, dear Kate," said Horace, at length, "what the greatest poet the world e'er saw has said—

'Never durst poet touch a pen to write,
Until bis ink be tempered with Love's sighs!'"

"Ah true; well listen then, for here is proof conclusive!" And drawing from her bosom those rery verses for which Horace had so often and so vainly sought, and which lately reposed so near the heart of Constance, Gabriella commenced reading them.

Imagine the consternation of the student; vainly he attempted to snatch them from her


hand; but springing upon one of the seats, the mischievous girl held them above her head, while she continued to repeat them with the most affected sentimentality.

Constance arose, and walked off with the step of a Juno.

Horace was provoked—he was really angry— mortified—and it was in no very gentle accents that he let his displeasure be known.

"What must she think of me! Good heavens, how much she must despise me! Fool, fool that I have been!" he exclaimed, as he strode rapidly back and forth the portico.

"Nay, dear cousin, never vex yourself about my proud sister Constance," whispered Meggie stealing his hand and kissing it; "here is your revenge,"—and as she spoke, she slipped into it the tell-tale fragments she had so carefully gathered up.

It was yet light enough for Horace to recognise the writing of Constance, and to see his own name traced in the same delicate chirography!

To the privacy of his own apartment did he hie with the speed of thought, and there patiently, no, rather impatiently, dispose and arrange every tiny fragment, until he had deciphered enough to fill his soul with rapture. Leaning from the window he courts the gentle evening breeze to fan his fevered brow, ere he again trusts himself to join the group below. He hears the cheerful, happy voices of his cousins, and the hearty good-humoured laugh of his father—but afar down the winding path of the shrubbery, he catches the gleam of a white dress, slowly moving amid its deepest shades. Well did his heart tell him to whom that fluttering robe belonged, and in another moment he had joined Constance in her solitary ramble. We will not intrude upon this interview, but content ourselves with the knowledge, that in the bright month of September, just three months after this moonlight ramble, a happy bridal party drove up to the door of the old Hall, where stood the worthy housekeeper to welcome them, her eyes filling with tears of joy as she pressed to her honest heart, the happy bridegroom and his beautiful bride.



Two worlds,—but not this world,—! love:
On* fs the world that night reveals above,

When the pale stars look down with friendly ray;
The other lies below in endless night,
Where stirs no zephyr's wing, no star sheds light,

Where fear thrills not, nor hope, this mortal clay.

"Why not this world? Why is not this world dear 7* 0 grief, transfix my heart! She is not here,

Who gave me power to live—and love I Her body lies below in breathless night, Her spirit soars aloft in heavenly light,

I must go down to her!—must follow her above!



(Sec Engraving.)

Oh, who would build upon the changing flood;

Or tm.-t the air hi - footsteps to sustain; Or lean on the capricious multitude,

Than changing flood, than empty air, more vain f

"A godl a god!" erics Lystra, "oxen bring,
Milk-white, with gilded horns and fillets gay!"—

And scarce can Paul restrain the offering,
Paul,—stoned and left for dead another day.

For him Galatia would her ready eyes
Have plucked out; God's angel not more dear;

But soon, estranged by error's witcheries,
To gall her fondness turns, her lore to fear.

With generous haste the shipwrecked crew he leads,
Shivering and numbed, upon Melita's strand,

Where fagots poor a cheerful blase; nor heeds
The viper fastening on his busy hand.

"A murderer, sure!" the Punic people cry,
"Spared, for more horrid fate, from ocean's brine 1"


But when nor harm nor swelling they espy,
Their fickle fancy owns him as divine.

Brave Paul! nor thought of human praise or blame

Thy well-poised soul from duty could allure;
Onward thy course, come honour or come shame,
Conscience thy guide, Christ's will thy cynosure.

No sea-girt cliff, patient of driving rains,
And lashed by angry wind and brawling wave,

Tempest and thunder more unmoved sustains,
While harmless round its base the breakers rare.*

Be thou our model I ours the same high part.

Ours the same loyal faith to Heaven's loved Lord,

Ours the same eagle eye and lion heart,
And ours, from Christ's dear hand, the same reward!

• "Ma come alle procelle esposto monte,
Che percossn dai llutti al mar sovrasta,
Sostien fcrmo in se stesso i tuonl e l'onte
I'd cielo irato e 1 vcuti s Pondc vaste."

Tasso, Gee. lib. c . lx. at- 31



A Little child, whose sweet and ringing laugh
Made music for the household,—whose gay step
Kept time to the light measure of her heart,—
Whose nature ever claimed a kindredship
With glad and joyous things, and only found
Pleasure in these, when others shared them too;—
This loving, fair, companionable child
Lay struggling wearily with mortal pnin.
The sportive light had faded from her eye,
The laughter from her lip—the playful mien
From her whole being, as the rudiant path
Through which she danced her pleasant hours away,
Darkened beneath a sudden giant shadow,
That stalked between her and life's golden sun.
She raised her young eyes wonderiugly, and sought
To know whence came the gloom;— and she was told
That the mysterious shadow's name was—Death;
And he was come to call her to a land
Where no such startling presence ever more
Should mar her joy.

Imploringly, she twined
Her arms a1iout her father as he knelt
Tearful beside her, and thus fondly plead:
"Father, go with me, then 1 will not fear
The dark, deep valley, thou bast told me of,
Nor tremble, if thy hand is holding mine;

fell fast

But not alone, oh! father, t entreat thee,
Lot not thy little one depart BdOM
"Nay, daughter."—and the father's tears fell I
Upon the silken ringlets.
Her pallid forehead, —" Nay.
Thou shalt not go alone; the Savioui s hand,
A kinder, surer, tenderer hand than mine,
Will lift thee up, and gently carry thee
Home to thy mother, darling, and thy God!
Thou art not fearful now?"

The eager eyes
Closed a brief moment, and Intenser thought
Burdened the brow, as gathering up its strength,
The spirit turned its anxious gaxe within.
And there demanded answer. When again
The quivering lash was lifted, the dim clouds
Whieh doubt and fear hnd summoned, all were gone:
And the familiar look of joy came back,
Filling her soul with sunshine. From her lips,
Now tremulous with death, a murmur broke ^B"TM
But half articulate, of glad consent
And joyous exultation, which to him,
Whose ear caught up its precious meaning, seemed
The first, faint prelude to that heavenly song.
Which the sweet angel-child should sing for everl

« 上一页继续 »