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Bewildered, I flew to the ottoman, and endeavoured to arouse the sleeper to a sense of the startling intelligence; but his limbs were rigid-his lips were livid-his lately beaming eyes were riveted in death. I staggered back towards the table, - my hand fell upon a cracked and blackened goblet, — and a consciousness of the entire and terrible truth flashed suddenly over my soul.
A FRAGMENT FROM THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
OF A DUCK.
BY HAL. WILLIS. Some men are said to make “ ducks and drakes" of their fortune; my provident master, on the contrary, made his fortune of ducks and drakes.
A large weedy pond on the borders of his little patrimony was the scene of my youthful pleasures. The place was surrounded by sedgy banks, agreeably shaded by willows which they call “weeping," although I can assert from personal observation that they never added a single tear-drop to our aquatic demesne. People may “cry them up," but they never cry themselves.
In a snug nest, on the borders of this secluded place, I first “saw the light,” with eight brothers and sisters. Led by our dear mother, we might be seen on our birthday rushing instinctively towards the cooling element, as bright and yellow as a new issue of gold from the Bank?
My mother was congratulated upon the appearance of her family by all except an old duck, who was dabbling solitarily in the distance. “ That old duck in the weeds yonder,” observed my mother, “is a widow, she has lately lost her drake, and feeis no sympathy in my pleasure.” We rapidly gained strength, and were soon able to provide for ourselves ; in fact no family ever went on more swimmingly. We were very gay, and sported about, with all the heedlessness of youth, during the day; and in the evening, harboured by her downy breast, we lay as snug as a little fleet in Brest harbour !
One day, in the midst of our pastime, the whole community was thrown into the utmost confusion by the bark of a dog, and the next minute the monster leaped into the water.
My mother, with her usual presence of mind, dived, and we, following her example, reached the opposite bank in safety. I do not know what might have been the consequences of this intrusion if our master and a friend had not arrived immediately, and expelled the dog; who went howling away to his owner, - a shabby-genteel fellow, who appeared on the opposite bank to our asylum ; and so the affair ended with our master beating the dog, and our beating a retreat.
“Do you know that fellow ? " inquired our master.
“O! very well,” replied his friend. “'Tis Tim Consol, the stockbroker. I suppose he wanted a pair of white ducks,' for he is very much out of feather. What a "dabbler' he has been! You know that he is a lame duck, I suppose? Yes; he lately waddled ; but, though a lame duck, he is a great bettor, and still lays !”
“Do you hear that, my ducklings?” said my mother ; “that fellow is a bad character. There is no doubt, from what our master's
friend asserts, that he is a duck, and changed to a man for some sin he has committed. What a punishment! I dare say he would give something to be afloat again."
“He cannot provide for his bills”
“And so," continued our master's friend, “he is at present on the wing.”
“Feeding on the air, I suppose," said my mother.
“Having once lost his feet, he will never keep his head above water."
“No more should we !” sighed my mother. “Alas ! he must have been a wild duck, indeed!”
“He used to take spirit with his water,” continued the friend ; but now he takes it neat, and he must sink !"
“ There's a lesson !” said my moralizing mother. “I wish all my children to be of the 'temperance society. Never abandon the water. Take to the water with spirit, but never spirit with the water! I shall call a meeting to-morrow while this water's in my head — this moral, I mean, -and I have no doubt my resolutions on the subject will be approved by an universal quack! I shall conclude my address by proposing this appropriate sentiment:— May every duck die with water on his chest !"
THE OLD MAN'S LOVE.
BY T. J. OUSELEY.
The breathing of a single sigh-
Within the cup of misery :
'When light of gold and silver hue
To drink from each the crystal dew,
How sad soe'er the change is now,
That frights Care's furrows from my brow :
Look out beyond the mid-day storm,
Clad in its glowing multiform?
For ever fled the raven tress ;
A life of faith and godliness :
BOOK THE THIRD.
CHAPTER IV. Introduces certain new characters upon the stage, and amongst them the real heroine of this history. Besides containing a love-story far superior to the last.
While the loves of Miss Sowersoft and Mr. Palethorpe yet leave their tender impress on the mind, let me take advantage of the opportunity to mention another delicate matter which has been making some progress, although no allusion has been hitherto made to it.
Notwithstanding the little amours in which our hero has been engaged, it must have been evident that the opportunity which promised the most appropriate match for him had not yet arrived. Towards Fanny, it is true, he had never entertained any love, nor professed any ; on that unfortunate girl herself lay all the pain of having nourished an affection for one who was insensible of it: while, with respect to Miss Wintlebury, not only had she herself withdrawn from his knowledge, but the altered circumstances in which he was placed by Mr. Lupton, could scarcely fail to influence him in his decisions upon this important point.
While in this uncertainty, Mr. Lupton had taken an opportunity of introducing him to one Mr. Henry Calvert, a gentleman of fortune, residing in the suburbs of London, and in whose family he soon found—as his father had secretly desired,-a companion much after the heart of any young man of sense and sensibility. This was Miss Jenny Calvert, the youngest of two sisters, and within a year or two of his own age. Well-educated, sensible, and good-tempered, she was one of those creatures who, as they grow up, become unconsciously the life and light of the household. To whom parents, brothers, and sisters, — all instinctively look up; one of those happy things that would be most missed if taken away ; but who was least felt while present, save in the quiet and gentle sense of unobtrusive happiness which her presence ever occasioned. She was sufficiently tall to give dignity to an elegant figure, while a brilliant complexion, associated with hair and eyes of a hue which nature had coloured in admirable correspondence, gave no fairer a representation exteriorly than the soul within deserved.
Miss Jenny had seen our hero but few times before she became conscious that, happy as she was, she might yet be happier. Up to this time she had never dreamed of love beyond the circle of her own home: now she felt that loveable creatures exist out in the world, that the heart is capable of other affection than that of parents, sisters, and brothers: and that such may become too necessary to its happiness, ever to be happy without it.
Her family lived in that quiet retirement which sought not the excitement of company to enable them to get through life without ennui. A tasteful home afforded them higher pleasures than the conventional affectations of happiness which occupy so much of that class in which they might have shone conspicuous. But Mr. Calvert was too much a man of mind to precipitate his family into the whirl of fashionable life. At the risk of having his daughters neglected, and his sons regarded as “unlike what one expects young men would be,” he preferred to all other pleasures that pure domestic training, and quiet attention to his estate, which never fails to produce real happiness. Hence, his daughters had never been carried to market, neither had his two sons any knowledge of those vices which, though they might have added to their character as young men of spirit, could not have done them credit on any other account.
This happy family found abundant recreation in an admirablyselected library, as well as amusement in an extensive garden, which enclosed the house on three sides, and threw a quiet air of English comfort over the scene.
With such a man, and in a family with such an attraction it is not to be wondered at that Colin soon found himself happier than ever.
Happiness, however, especially in love, seems like sunlight in the world, as too bright to endure without intervals of shade. Not long had Colin and Jenny been acquainted; they had just learned to speak confidingly, and to tell each other those thoughts which before had been stifled, when our hero was astonished to find in the behaviour of Mr. Calvert a marked difference from that which hitherto he had pursued towards him. It was not less kind, but seemed marked by regret, as though the bosom in which it originated felt like that of a friend who knows that he must part, not that he wishes to do so. Miss Jenny, too, seemed downcast. And sometimes, when her father chanced to catch a glance of her countenance, he would find those pretty eyes wet, as if the well-spring within would overflow in spite of her. Did he ask what was the matter? she smiled, and replied “Nothing;" but instantly would leave the room, thus telling there was something, though something not to be told.
These things, it was observed by Colin, first occurred after Mr. Lupton and Mr. Calvert had had an interview ; during which, he now felt little doubt, his union with Jenny had been discussed.
Still it was not easy to imagine the cause of this difference. All that he knew was that all the family, with the exception of Roger Calvert, even Jenny herself-and that was worst of all-conducted themselves in a manner which left little doubt that some cause appeared to render the continuance of his acquaintance with the young lady unadvisable. Still there was no offensive carriage from any party.
One day, as he was rambling with Roger, the most open-hearted friend he had in the family, Colin mentioned the subject, and ventured to ask the cause of this coldness.
"Perhaps,” replied Roger, “I am not doing right by telling you, —though, for my own part, I think you ought to know. But, since you require me to name the reason, I will. Mark, however, that I do not agree in the opinion; nor do I see how we, at all events, ought to visit the sins of the fathers upon the children.”
Conviction flashed on Colin's mind. His cheek became pale, then red, he would have burst into tears had not his pride forbidden.
“I told you,” continued Roger, “that I did not know whether it was right to tell you ; but I am no keeper of secrets. Frankly I tell you, it is owing to the story of your birth, which your father told to mine some days ago, with all he meant to do for you, that there might be no misunderstanding between the families. My father and mother like you ; as for myself, I think you a good-hearted fellow, and should have no objection to your wedding Jenny; but their notions are not mine. I assure you it is nothing else ; for though such a match would be equal to anything Jenny could expect, as Mr. Lupton volunteered to give you a handsome fortune ; yet, with them, especially with my mother, it is a sort of matter of conscience, which cannot readily be overcome. Yet it is the source of a deal of grief to them, especially as Jenny seems to have taken a liking to you.—However, I can only say this, that if I were in your place, and in love with any young lady, I would make up my mind to have her, and HAVE HER I would.”
In this strange speech Colin saw at once the cause of all his fear, combined with something which yet inspired hope. Surely he could not fail with perseverance, and the assistance of such a spirited auxiliary as Roger.
That same night, as he was on the eve of departure for the liberation of Woodruff, our hero obtained an interview with the lady of his heart. It was about eight in the evening, when this unhappy couple walked along the garden in view of Mr. Calvert's house. It was a soft, autumnal night; while an increasing moon seemed to sail, like a lone wreck, amongst white and billowy clouds. Jenny leaned more lovingly, he thought, upon his arm than ever; and during some minutes they paced to and fro, without either venturing to speak. At length that meaning silence became insupportable. Colin stopped, and bent his face earthward, as he said,
«Young lady, there is no farther occasion for disguise. I know all. We must part—and for ever. I am thought unworthy of you; but I will not render myself so by persisting in attentions which even she to whom they are offered, thinks proper to reject.”
“Oh! no — do not say so !” exclaimed Miss Calvert. “It is not so, indeed!”
“I speak,” replied Colin, “from what I have seen. I have - I do love you. The rest you know as well as I.”
“In truth," answered Jenny, “ I know nothing. Only a few days ago I thought we were so happy, and now " A flow of tears told the painful difference between then and now.
“ You know nothing ?” demanded Colin.
“Oh! if you love me, do not ask me. I ought not to say it. But I feel — yes, dear Colin, I feel that what they demand is impossible.”
If ever the reader have been in love, he or she must be aware that a climax of feeling of the kind described is not arrived at without involving ulterior consequences of a physical nature, which philo