« 上一頁繼續 »
She is full of histories olden,
Then her cheeks and eyes so hollow,
Nay, good moon, I'm loth to slander
So, fair moon, again I'm dreaming
A NOVEL IN THIRTY CHAPTERS.
light. Her father had made her a
couple of seats in the pine grove's shadiBEF EFORE plunging into the more est thicknesses; and, after her simple
tragic, and perhaps the more inter- housewifery was done, she took her esting, portions of this bistory, I pro- sewing to these leafy hermitages and pose to sketch something of Rachel's spent in them a great part of the day. wood-life at the cabin, in order (if for At times the pine needles, awakened by no other reason) to show how quietly the winds, sang to her in dirges and happy were many of those little Salem requiems; not woeful in the highest, cottages beforo they were struck by the such as organs thunder over the graves witchcraft avalanche. By the middle of perished mortality, but only sweetof March, indeed, there were plenty of ly mournful, as becomes funeral music ghostly narratives flying between the for the leaves and flowers of by-gone villages; but the cabin was so far from summers. Robins, larks, blackbirds, both of them that it lay beyond the and other feathered psalmists chanted usual circuit of even the most eccen- and responded in hymns whose cheerful tric and comet-like gossips ; so that piety, as More said, the colonists would Rachel heard less to terrify her than have done well to imitate. Partridges might have been expected. The sub- went by with a sudden whir, like giganject alarmed her at times, it is true; tic shuttle-cocks, tossed by gamesome but, in general, she did not believe in spirits. Woodpeckers hammered per. witchcraft, because her father did not tinaciously at the solemn trees, after the believe in it; and thus it was only after fashion of witches and troublesomo denightfall, or when she was accidentally mons bent on tormenting the elect. alone, that any persistent superstitious Crows cawed and cawed, with mocking terrors overbrooded her. Then. per- laughter, from the chestnuts around the haps, she grew a shade paler, and look- clearing, as if jesting with each other ed fearfully at tho windows, as the upon the infantine helplessness of the stormy winds smote them, or the hoot.
green corn sprouts. Then, later in the ing owls filled the air without with season, there came multitudes of criektheir melancholy complaint. Like the ets and katydids, sharply keeping up voices of wizards, and lost spirits, and the venerable controversies which have prowling fiends, seemed those wail- divided, from time inimemorial, those ings of fierce despair, those responses dogmatical races. An occasional cow of agony, those comfortless moanings lowed thankfully from the abundant over some unutterable sin.
grass in some near opening of the woodBut for the most part, the forest be- lands. The tramp of bobnailed shoes, friended her with murmurs and whis- or “great boots," went by, up or down perings of tenderest sympathy. Every the forest pathway.. Rarely by day, morning was full of birds, and every but always at nine in the evening, the noon freighted with treasures of sun- clamor of the shrill Salem bell reached the cabin, sweetened by the interval it gluttony. For a tiresoine while, any traversed, as the stern character of the attempt to take him wus followed by Puritans comes down to us, softened by his immediate flight; but at last he its journey over centuries.
would run up her dress, dive into her The sounds of the day were succeed- lap, and contentedly eat his breakfast od by others peculiar to the reign of
under her apron.
He learned to know moonlight and starlight. The frogs, in his name, Harry, and generally appearsummer time, held turbulent evening ed with bis capricious zigzags whenever congresses in the grassy brook before she called him. Poor little fellow ! he the cabin, appearing, sometimes, to her came to a bad end at last, and very quick imagination, as if they were cele- nearly involved Rachel in his own misbrating tho mysteries of some amphibi- erable condemnation. ous witch communion. Five minutes More constituted by far the most before or after sundown, the whip-poor- important part of his daughter's human wills began their regretful reiterations, society. He was around the cabin a tempting her to many groping hunts great part of every day, and always, after their nests, in which she always except in extraordinary cases, during failed, although lighted by the fire-fles. the evening, hoeing his corn and beans, An hour later arose the sharp, irregu- cleaning his gun, casting bullets, arlar bark of foxes, on the look-out for ranging his fishing tackle and fabricattheir fat friends, the partridges. On ing rude specimens of household furnithe deepening flow of eventide followed ture. Then again, he would be gone the moans and whoops of the wholo till noon, or perhaps night, returning race of owls, booting out their remorse- in most cases with a load of birds or ful and unforgiven wickedness; and at
At evening he read to nine came the rising and falling wave - Rachel, taking whiffs of tobacco beof bell music, dying, as if with its last tween the sentences, and commenting surge, among the pine tops, and warn- on the volume with a mixture of humor ing her to her tranquil, delicious slum- and gravity, which amused her endlessber.
ly. The work oftenest selected was the It was natural, amid this solitude, that Útopia of Sir Thomas Moro, a per: Rachel should feel a desire for pets, and sonage who was reported to be one of in her gentleness try to domesticate, our hunter's very remote relatives in instead of harming, the wild creatures some by-gone generation. He translated around her. The only savage individ
the Utopia into English, period by peuals, however, with which she could riod, inasmuch as Rachel knew nothing form any tolerable intimacy, were the of Latin ; often pausing to dilate upon squirrels. The gray ones, indeed, con- the hidden wisdom of that wonderful ceitedly thought themselves too much production, and its applicability to the of a prize, to trust their fat sides and civilization of the human race. Occalong furs within reach of her fingers; sionally, too, he spent bours in reverie, but the red ones and the little chipinuks weaving Utopias of his own for the were soon seduced into a most gossipy government of the colony, which, if familiarity. One loquacious fellow of they had been put into successful practhe red sort cottoned to her, as the tice, would have made the present Southerners say, with particular quick- Yankee population the most extraorness. Every morning she carried out, dinary people that ever astonished the for his personal use, a nubbin of corn, world by its existence. or some other article of squirrel diet. At other times More passed an entire At her appearance he galloped towards evening over pen and paper, trying to her through the grass, in a zigzag of pin down in rhyme and measure some rapid motions, as if he were some kind poetic invention. In general, he tore of a bushy-tailed, four-legged streak of up his patience and his paper before he lightning Halting at her feet, he completed his Parnassian design ; but would take the nubbio from her hand, sometimes he was successful in stating balance it over & root with one paw, his idea, and then he would read the nibble voraciously at its hard kernels, sit verses to Rachel. His most fortunate up suddenly on bis hind legs to rest, effort, as he thought, was the followput his head on one side to hear the ing little hymn, inscribed to Sister talkative wind and leaves, and then re- Ann, in memory of her buriod daughcommence his brisk and amusing little ter:
“When little children die,
think he did wid the poultice, Misthress They are not fearful ;
Rachel ? First he turned his nose
short round an smelt of it; and thin be
grunted twice, as much as to say, Ar“ Each smiles a wistful smile,
rah, an that's good for me ; and thin Though he seems sleeping; Then in a little while
the next thing he did was to ate it up He has done weeping.
intirely, be gorra! Oh, he's a curious
crayther, the pig, an has his own ways, " Look in his pallid face ;
good cess to him! I wish that Daycon There is no sadness ; But a sweet waiting grace,
Bowson was meself, an he'd give ye Calmer than gladness.
the darlint afore he was a day older.
He'd be a great loss to the family ; but “ Still is the Holy One
ye'd find him such gintale company out Calling and blessing; Still little children run
here alone. Ownly ye'd have to take To his caressing."
bim into the cabin wid ye, or the bears
wud be atin him up every blessed night, Of the witchcraft troubles be seldom the noisy baste. He's a powerful anispokc; not that his mind did not run mal at a squale; an they'd be sure to sufficiently on the subject, but, be- hear him, no matter if they was the cause he wished to keep Rachel's ima- t'other side o' the Bay." gination free of those fascinating hor. One incident connected with Rachel's rors. As for several sanctimonious gos- forest life is worth narrating, inassips who used to come to the cabin much as it afterwards camo up in judgwith tales of possessed children, and ment against her. She was sitting on " dangerous old women,” he so effectu- the ground, under the shadow of a dense ally routed them with harsh words that hazel thicket, watching the pranks of they left him to bis own ways, and Harry on a patch of open green sward, never tried thereafter to make his when she was startled by the report of household miserable. In fact, his re- a gun. Some grass flew into the air putation as a Sadducee soon became around the squirrel, who instantly dartnotorious in the village, and caused a ed toward her, as his nearest refuge. sensible diminution in the number of his He reached the covert of her apron, respectable guests ; so that, as summer and nestled under it, just in time to drew on, Rachel was left more and more escape the jaws of a lean hound, who alone. Her uncle, however, still camo rushed forward as suddenly as if he had to see her about twice a week, and her sprung out of the earth. With one aunt nearly as often. Teague Rooney, hand Rachel put Harry into her bosom, also, was a frequent visitor at the cab- while with the other she caught up a in; for he regarded Master Moro with stick, and struck gallantly at the canine reverence, and the handsome girl with caitiff. He sprang away, and, opening a truly Hibernian adoration. His de- his red, slavering mouth, gave forth a light at seeing her call the squirrel, and deep and dismal howl. In the same at beholding the lively little pet run instant a man came upon her, gun in over her dress and into her pockets, band, but immediately leaped back, with was something memorably infantine. an air of amazement and terror. It was
“ But, Misthress Rachel,” he ob- William Stacey, a fellow whoin she served, “sure, an if ye had a pig to knew, by sight and reputation, as one take care of, ye'd be much happier. of the loosest characters of the village. Daycon Bowson's pig there, be jabers! He stood aghast for a moment, with an what a swate crayther he is! I open mouth ; pointed to a spot of blood thought I should cry whin he got in the on her neck, and then hurried away. sthrate the other day, an Eldther Par- She, too, was so much surprised, by the ris's dog bit his pratty hind leg. But
But suddenness of the whole occurrence, that he's a sthrange crayther, as I'll proceed she never uttered a word, and probably to tell ye. Hannah,' says I, can't ye looked sufficiently pale and startled. make a sup o' bread and milk poultice,' As soon as the dog had followed his says I. An if ye can, I'll put it to his master, she drew Harry from his warm leg and cure him o' the bite.' Well, asylum, and found that one buckshot the poultice was made, an wid the help had just grazed his panting sides, and o' Hannah, I put it on, ap tied it nately drawn a few drops of blood. The little around wid a cloth. An what do ye fellow was well in a few days, and, perhaps, entirely forgot the circumstance, dressed person who met them. A very before both he and Rachel had occasion proper habit it was, too, and one which to tremble at its ultimate consequences. young America of the present day
But, who was it that warned Stacey would do well to imitate. not to hunt any more around the cabin ? But we must return to our Mark. It Who was it that stoned his dog, and was not all sunshine for him at the would have whipped its owner, but for cabin. Sometimes he thought Rachel the law ? Ah, Rachel ! who was it that was distant to him ; and then he was used to bring Harry nubbins of corn, distant also, but excessively miserable. and more walnuts than he ever saw be- Rachel quickly noticed any such freak fore, in the whole range of squirrel ex. of reserve, and felt annoyed about it, perience? Was it Mark Stanton, Ra- but dared not ask an explanation. He cbel? Yes, it was Mark, as every bird would go away, thinking that he could and squirrel in the grove could have never feel towards her as he had done, sworn ; let Rachel say what she would. and that it was all over ; but the next They knew him by sight-the birds and time they met, a single smile from her squirrels—for they had occasion to see set everything right, and made him him at least four days out of every wonder why he was so yphappy the seven. Mark was conscious of it, too; day before. Once he came to the cabin, and, I verily believe, felt ashamed to resolved to ask the meaning of a conlook some of these impertinent jays in versation which she had held with Elder the face. The very katydids seemed Noyse. Miserable upshot-he never to change their song, and make it refer dared open bis lips on the subject. Rato him; maliciously repeating, for hours chel, in the mean time, was less steadtogether, right in his burning ears, ily gay than formerly, especially when “ Stanton did! Stanton didn't! Stanton Mark was away from the cabin two did! Stanton didn't!"
days altogether; and, after every one of Rachel must have understood them, these absences, when she again saw him and felt that they had some right to coming through the alders, her heart make these impudent observations; else, beat so fast, that she would get frightwhy did she blush so, occasionally, as ened, and vory absurdly look the other they chirped above her and Mark, in
way. the gathering mellowness of twilight ? Now, what did all this mean? Where But, for my part, I believe that it was would it naturally lead to ? Ah! when all a katydid fabrication. I am sure two young people get in this way, I that Stanton didn't, certainly not at am generally afraid that it will all end this period of their acquaintance. He in their keeping house. So thought the would not have dared to attempt such katydids, and they began to scream a thing. I would swear that the only hysterically from the trees: “Keeping use he made of his lips, ix her com- house !" To which the frogs in the pany, was to talk or whistle ; and even grassy brook responded in their hoarsthat with very little confidence, or suc- est bass : "Keeping house! Keep
ing house! Keeping house !" Timid as he was, however, in the pre- While Mark was doing his best to sence of Rachel, he was bold enough win the heart of his wood-nymph, and toward that Stacey. If they had both the frogs and katydids were predictlived a hundred years earlier, or a hun- ing bim all manner of good luck, Elder dred years later, Stacey would have Noyse, as we have just hinted, was holdcaught it, without doubt; but, just then, ing suspiciously long, conversations the blackguard was protected by Puri- with the young damsel. As Martha tan statutes, and the terrors of justice Carrier said, Noyse loved handsome Hawthorne. There were few blows women, and Rachel was certainly handgiven in the streets of Salem, except some enough to draw out the entire such as were laid on at the whipping depth and energy of his passion. She post, or when a grave elder out the did draw them out; she fascinated him legs of some unlucky urchin, who for- without willing it, and, even against her got to make his manners. This, by the will; fascinated him in spite of that way, seldom happened; for the Puritan weird peril which he saw daily and children were early slapped into the hourly lowering upon himself and his duty of rendering bows and courtesies people; until, since the landing of the not to ministers only, but to every well. Mayflower, there had not been a New