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I Wandered where the sunshine and the shade
Were alternating by a sparkling river, As gentle zephyrs roved along, and made The forest branches quiver.
My inmost spirit felt and blest the power
Of universal love, from heaven descending;
The white mist trailing over vales and rills,
Its garments spotless as a bride's adorning,
The dewy leaves, dependent from the trees,
Turned up coquettishly their shining faces, And whispered fondly, as the sighing breeie Wooed them to his embraces.
The wavelets dancing o'er the golden sands,
To pleasant musie, with a graceful motion, Donned bridal wreaths of foam, and linked their hands To journey to the ocean.
The flowers unfolding in the morning beam,
To bloom and breathe, by human hearts neglected, Leant gently o'er the bosom of the stream, To see themselves reflected.
The birds sang matins to the cheering light,
And then soared up in pairs on tours of pleasure,
From every blooming shrub and towering tree
Arose the voice of some small insect hummer,
And there, amidst the music, light, and bloom,
I felt the hot blood glowing on my cheek,
I almost heard my raptured heartstrings beating; But he was all unmoved, nor deigned to speak One kindly word of greeting.
I breathed with trembling lips his treasured name,
And whispered words of love in tones that faltered, I gazed upon his face, it was the same— The same, but oh I how altered.
Altered, because the soul was wanting there—
The soul that bathed it with a dreamy splendour; The soul that gave to brow and eye so fair, A light Bo warm and tender.
I yearned to hear the voice that thrilled of old,
But there, with pallid cheek, and lips apart,
Ho stood with folded hands in deathlike stillness, Until the life-tide circling in my heart Seemed freezing in its dullness.
I did not note the burning tears I shed,
Nor count the weary hours I stood beside him;
To my sad heart the mystic book of life
Disclosed the darkest lesson on its pages, And moments fraught with agony and strife Seemed long-enduring ages.
I whispered burning words of love In rain,
I spoke of bygone scenes of joy and sadness, I know not what I said, my burning brain Was goaded on to madness.
I told him of his vow, In other hours,
To love me till his heart should cease its beating; It cheered me then, as dewdrops cheer the flowers, Alas I it was as fleeting.
I told him I had thought of him at night,
When every other weary one was sleeping, Until the eyes, that he had called so bright, Grew dull and dim with weeping.
And only Hope, the angel in my heart,
That sung to me, in sweet, bewitching numbers, That death alone would rend our souls apart, Could lull mo to my slumbers.
That blessed Hope would sing to me no more—
And still, no word replying moved his Hps—
No feeling lit his cheek with life-like flashes;
There, like a statue, pale and cold and still,
Then came the bitter thought that he was dead—
That I beheld his image but in seeming— I shrieked, and shrieking started from my bed— Thank heaven, I had been dreaming.
BY Kiss C. M. l.ligWICI, "He that dlggeth a pit shall fall into it"
TnnRE are incidents and combinations of circumstances in domestic life which, if faithfully recorded when they occur, would give to a succeeding age a more definite idea, a more lively impression of the spirit of bygone days than can be got from volumes of subsequent history. History, of necessity, deals mainly with public events and marked characters, exceptional from the mass of their contemporaries. We may compare its records to a map of Switzerland which gives you its stupendous mountains, its lakes, and rivers in dots and lines; while the domestic story is like a picture of Lauterbrunnen, with its characteristic narrow valley, its wonderful fall of the Staubach, its overhanging and converging cliffs, its Jungfrau in the background, and a single cottage, with its appurtenances of domestic utensils and commodities, telling the story of family life.
It is the conviction of the worth of such records that induces me to write the following story, some hints of which are taken from the archives of a Congregational church, which archives consist of a faithful record kept by its excellent minister for the space of fifty years. Some particulars are gathered from the generation that preceded me, persons not related by ties of blood to the parties, but connected with them by the vivid sympathies of village life. Other aid has been received from more apocryphal sources.
The names, alas! are now only on the rudelysculptured monuments of the burying-ground. We shall not take the liberty of using them.
We shall for onoe designate the lower valley of the Housatonic by its euphonious Indian name Owasonook, instead of that given to it by the first Puritan settlers, who, in their designation, branded the virgin valley with a memorial of the "bank-note world," the old world of stocks and brokers.
This village of Owasonook has been favoured from the beginning. Missionaries were sent from Scotland to its aboriginal people. There, on the ample green where a village church now
stands, and where generations are now laid in holy rest, Brainard expounded his doctrines, and there the excellent Sergeant ministered to his Indian congregation in their goodly show of broadcloth mantles, the gift of Queen Anne.
At the date of our humble story, Brainard had passed on to wilder tribes, Sergeant was gathered to his fathers, and a young man by the name of Stephen West, sound and zealous in doctrine, of good parts, and most gracious heart, was ordained over the small congregation of all the white people who then dwelt in the valley. There were then no dissenters from the established doctrine and independent government of the Puritan Church. The Baptists were unknown in New England. Methodism had not begun. Catholicism was held to be that faith over which the woman who sat on the seven hills reigned, and Episcopacy was in little better odour. The fathers of those days had no prophetic vision of the infinite diversity of shades of colour into which their religion was to be distributed among their descendants, from the deep dye of Papistry, to the faint outside shade, the evanescent and almost imperceptible hue of transcendentalism.
"Belief, not practice, was then prized at highest rate." Among the sturdiest in belief, the least scrupulous in practice, was Deacon Nathan Bay. I remember him well in his old age; that tall brawny figure, with broad and stooping shoulders, and short neck; that high intellectual brow, all written over with lines of calculation and craft; the cold gray eye, with bushy black brows that overhung them like thatch. His eyebrows were then still untouched by time. His hair was sabled and combed on each side of his face with a Pharisaical sleekness, that did not harmonize with his general air of cherished and allowed potentiality. His skin was as dark as a Spaniard's, his cheeks ploughed in deep furrows, his nose aquiline and rather handsome, his mouth sharklike. I believe he thus vividly lives in my imagination because, in my timid childhood, I have many a time felt my eyes spellbound to him, while he appeared to me the impersonation of the Schedoni of Mrs. Radcliffe's most terrible novel. I recoiled from him then—I have since had a sterner horror of him.
There was a little ewe-lamb dwelt under the rooftree of Deacon Bay, a fur-off orphan relative of his wife, who having a sufficient inheritance to indemnify the Deacon for all expenses on her account, he complied with his wife's wishes, and became her guardian and nominal protector. Jessie Blair was the child of godly parents; and the Deacon said he should have dono the same by Jessie if she had been poor, for 'professora' should see to it, and fulfil the prophecy, that the seed of the righteous should never be seen begging their bread. The Deacon was scriptural in another point; no one harboured under his roof ever ate the bread of idleness. Jessie who came there a petted (not spoiled) child, had her playful spirit soon sobered by the uniform routine of domestic toil. There is nothing duller, more soulless, than the daily recurrence and satisfaction of the lowest wants of our being. The pleasant lights of rural life were excluded from the Deacon's household, or rather converted to a dreary shadow, by the medium through which they passed. If he did not, like one of his contemporaries, marshal his children on Monday morning, and do up the week's whipping by an exactly equal and thorough application of the birch,* he kept down the spirit of his household more effectually by its mournful monotony. The Deacon's helpmate was a wife after the feudal pattern, of unquestioning conformity, and serflike obedience. The only indication that she was not merged in her husband—a drop of water lost in his oceim,—was a phraseology indicative of his distinct existence; as "the Deacon judges," and "the Deacon concludes." If her opinion were asked in divinity or ethics, her common reply was, "I don't know the Deacon's opinion, but I think as he thinks." This exemplary subject had one son of a former marriage, Isaac Remington. Isaac was a harmless young man of two or three and twenty. As far as quiet subserviency to the Deacon was concerned, he never escaped from his minority. He lives in tradition only as a still, steady, sleek youth, with a nose like the tower of Lebanon. Thus associated, the only fitting sustenance of poor Jessie's childhood was companionship with the chickens she fed, and the kittens that played in spite of the Deacon; and an occasional romp in the playtime at the village school.
Time went on, and in its progress unfolded
manifold charms and graces in Jessie, so that when she reached the age of fifteen, when the half-open flower discloses its possible beauty, every eye turned admiringly and kindly on her.
There occurred about this time in the church, a revival of religion. Jessie, naturally enough, recoiled from religion as exhibited in the Deacon's family. Its cold formulas froze her spirit, but it as naturally melted in an atmosphere where she felt the influence of sympathy. Her gentle pastor received her confessions of her past opposition to the divine character with a joyful recognition of her perceptions of truth, and received her profession of submission and faith with tears of joy. Alas for poor Jessie! this faith and submission, so surely rewarded by their divine object, were destined to be cruelly tested by human tyranny.
Isaac was a subject of the same ' awakening" that brought Jessie into the fold, though there was never a term that seemed less applicable than this to Isaac. There was no vitality in the man—nothing to kindle, nothing to rouse, nothing to 'awake.' He passed through the examination to which young converts are subjected, he answered as others did, and was received to the communion of the church.
Not long after this there was a sort of curtain conversation between the Deacon and his wife to the following effect.
"Beauty is a temptation," observed the Deacon. This was a self-evident truth, and seemed a very inconsequential remark, but the good dame apparently did not think so. She looked up from her knitting with more expression than usual; there was meaning in her face; perhaps she anticipated something in the nature of a confession, for a hypocrite is not nearly so much a saint to his wife as a man is a hero to his valet-de-chambre. "It is best to clip the chicken's wings," continued the Deacon, "if you mean to keep the hen within bounds."
"Ah, ah, indeed !" said his wife with a tone of pleased comprehension, " the speckled hen's last brood got into the garden, and picked the seeds out of Jessie's flower-bed."
There was the dimmest smile at the corners of the Deacon's mouth. He proceeded: "It was a remarkable Providence that bound Jessie up in the same bundle with Isaac."
"There's many others in the same bundle," replied his literal wife; "there is scarce a lad in town that has not come in."
"True, it was a goodly harvest. But some stout shocks were not gathered in. There's Archy Henry among the reprobate—just such a spark as is like to catch a young girl's eye— a handsome build, and well-favoured, ruddy— plenty of brown hair — curling. I marked him at Colonel Davis's funeral singing out of the same psalm-book with Jessie. They both held on to the book, hands close together, and cheeks too near neighbours."
"Deacon, Jessie is but a child."
"In her sixteenth, wife—fast coming out of childhood. Notions grow apace at that age. 'Fast bind, fast find.' Would not you like Jessie for a daughter-in-law J"
"Why, if everything is suitable, and Isaac is of a coming disposition towards her—and she is willing—one of these days maybe I should."
The Deacon was of a temper to decree events, and let suitabilities take care of themselves.
"Willing!" he exclaimed, "what has a girl of fifteen to do but obey the will of her elders? I rather think you will find it 'suitable,' when I tell you that after deducting a reasonable sum for the cost of Jessie's board and education," (the actual outlay for her education had been two pounds, one shilling, and threepence,) "she has one hundred pounds at interest."
"Dear me 1 a pretty fortune, Deacon!"
"Well, it is personal property, and will become Isaac's on the day they are married. Wait for Isaac's coming disposition!—Isaac is a dolt—saving your presence, ma'am. He says he 'never so much as thought on't,' the ninny !' But he won't object if father, mother, and Jessie consent.'"
To the astonishment of the congregation, a publishment of " intention of marriage between Isaac Remington and Jessie Blair," appeared on the church-door the next Sabbath. The tears that poor Jessie shed and the reluctance she felt were hidden in the secrecy of her own bosom and the privacy of her dreary home. She never doubted the duty of implicit obedience—she had no friend to authorize the rebellion of her own instincts. She did not suspect that her kind pastor had remonstrated with the Deacon on his consenting to the marriage of a child, too young to know her own mind; and in three weeks she received from him the marriage charge and benediction.
The union proved like many others, not unhappy, but a total waste. The seeds of virtue, of happiness, of progress in Jessie's character were like the seeds in the bosom of the earth, there to lie undeveloped and inactive to an unknown future—in this world it might be—it might be in another.
After six years of wedded life Isaac Remington died, and left Jessie a widow, just past her majority, with a boy five years old, with, as she believed, a property that, to her modest wants, was independence, and with the rational expectation of her son's succession to the Deacon's property. It was not then so much the custom as now for persons to endow charitable societies, and as the Deacon had no near relatives of his own, it was believed that he would
transmit his hoarded gains to the heir of his wife.
The beautiful little widow naturally became at Isaac's death an object of close observation. The Deacon hardly waited for the funeral offices to be over, when he proposed that, as it was difficult for a young widow to be a widow indeed, Jessie should relinquish her independent home, and return to his watch and care. This she declined doing. She lived on a small farm on the borders of a lovely lake a little north of the village of Owasonook. Without probably being able to define why, she enjoyed the companionship of Nature, and grew to love as friends—as vital friends the forms of beauty around her. She declined the Deacon's proposition ;—he urged; she was resolute, and, to her amazement, he was gentle to her. He persisted, but with mildness. He often visited her. He always founcTit convenient, whenever he was in her neighbourhood, to drop in and ask how she was getting on, and often, to her astonishment, he brought her roses from the bushes she had planted at his door, or bunches of pinks from her bed in his garden, such pears as his crabbed trees bore, and early apples for her little Raphe.
"It's something new, your liking flowers, is it not, sir ?" said Jessie to him, as she extended her hand to receive a nosegay he had brought to her. "Maybe so," he replied, detaining her hand for a moment, and pressing it, "but I love everything you love, Jessie." "Tones of voice express the affections," says Swedenborg. True, and bad as well as good ones. There was something in the tone, the manner, the look of Deacon Bay that was like a flash of lightning to a traveller in a dark night. To Jessie they revealed a danger and a terror that she had never dreamed of. The sagacious man read her face; he changed his manners, resumed his sanctimonious aspect and conversation, but still continued to urge Mrs. Remington's removal from the farm.
Jessie had been a widow rather more than a year and a day, when the Deacon, on entering the pathway that led to her dwelling, saw her with her little boy and Archy Henry going down the declivity behind her house to the lake. The just risen full moon lit up the western shore, so that the wave that rippled on the brink was like a silver rim to the lake. Bay followed the happy little company stealthily, like an unclean beast (as he was), watching his prey, and creeping behind a clump of young hemlocks, be continued to watch them there, as full of evil purpose as the evil spirit in Paradise. A paradise of beauty and innocence it was to this happy young pair.
The boat was so placed that it could not be reached dryshod. Henry swung the boy upon his shoulder and carried him to it; and after a ■ little playful resistance on Jessie's part, he caught her in his arms, and placed her beside her boy. He then took off his overcoat, and put it under and around her feet, with perhaps not quite the grace of Raleigh, but with as respectful chivalry as the young courtier manifested to his royal mistress. The little boat was then pushed from its mooring, and was so gently rowed away, that it was long before the voices from it, in tones of tenderness and happiness, passed beyond Bay's hearing. His senses seemed endowed with preternatural acuteness to torment him. He went away brooding on ripening plans of mischief.
The next day he came again to the farm to remonstrate with Mrs. Remington on the bad economy of remaining there, when she might live free of cost in his house.
"Inever did, sir, live in thatway"with you," she said, with a spirit that provoked the Deacon to reply.
"You have some one to back you, Jessie, or you would not dare to speak to me in this wise, and to hold out against the will of your elder, and your spiritual father as it were."
She blushed slightly, but she replied undaunted. "I am not alone, sir. I have that dear child, who will one day be a man—and, I trust, a staff for his mother to lean on."
"Well done! well done! But you had best consider what you are to lean on in the mean time." And then softening his tone to affected kindness, he added, "Perhaps you don't know that this place was bought with my partner's money, which might have been her son Isaae's, if he had survived her. You understand, Jessie? The deed was made out to me. The property is legally mine; she, you understand, being nobody—dead as it were—in the eye of the law; and though I mean it shall come into your boy's hands one day or other, in the mean time, and, following the golden rule, I shall take care of it, as if it were to all intents mine. I might make a pretty penny now, if I would," he added, with an indescribable expression of triumph and cupidity proper to his face. "This orchard and upland pasture, together with the joining tillage land, would make a master farm."
"What joining tillage land?" asked Jessie Remington eagerly.
"Why Archy Henry's farm," he answered, fixing his freezing eyes upon her; "I thought everybody knew that farm was mortgaged to me for more than it is worth—perhaps you did not?"
Poor Jessie! a fly caught in a spider's web was a faint type of her conscious misery and helplessness—the spider a fainter symbol of the gloating tyrant who now enjoyed his
triumph over her. She sickened and turned away. But in another minute thoughts rose that overcame the fear of poverty, and she said courageously, "You can take possession here, sir, as soon as you please-^I shall go at once."
"And come to my house, dearie?" "No—no sir, never!"
"But you will, sweetheart," he said coaxingly, and drew her to him (she was standing near him), and would have kissed her, but instinctively she struck him on Ms face, and sprang from him, and her brave little boy catching his mother's feeling, without understanding it, hurled the wooden stool on which he had been sitting at the Deacon's head. The blow blinded and confused him for a moment. But when he rallied, he turned on mother and child such a look of black vengeance, that both instinctively shrank from him, and the mother, dragging the boy with her, escaped to an inner room, and bolted the door.
Wrath mastered every other passion in Bay's breast for the time.
"Unbolt your door," he cried. There was no reply. The poor mother and child were cowering together like frightened doves. "Hear me, you must," he continued. "You cannot help yourself—a pretty widow you—a hopeful professor! I have found out your plans—I have mine too, and we will see which is the strongest. Marry Archy Henry, and you will be ruined in this world—ruined in the next. Look for excommunication now, and poverty for ever. I saw you, you that could not so much as let me touch the ends of your dainty fingers, I saw you in Archy Henry's arms! Good-bye, Widow Remington"—he walked to the outer door, then returned, and added, "If you blab of what has taken place here to-day, no one will believe you—no one—and for every word you speak, I'll take revenge on Archy Henry— remember that! remember that!"
As the sound of his footsteps died away, Jessie Remington yielded to a burst of grief and despair. "Oh, don't cry, mother, dear mother," said her little boy, clasping his arms round her neck, "he is a bad man—I hate him —I always did hate him. When he first came in to-day, when you were up stairs, he asked me if Archy Henry was here last Saturday night. I would not tell him. I wish Archy would come every Saturday night, and every other night, and he, never—never!"
The mother fondly kissed the child, and I doubt not breathed a fervent Amen! amen!
She revolved her miserable case. She now understood why Archy, who, she well knew had loved her from her childhood, long before that time when the Deacon had marked his I holding her hymn-book, had not yet since her