網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

opposite hill, and, with a few words of explanation, fastened their horses to a tree, and crossed to us by the parapet.

The chief returned his pistols to his girdle, and stood aside while I spoke first to Maimuna. It was a difficult task, but I felt that it was a moment decisive of her destiny, and the responsibility weighed heavily on my breast. Though excessively attached to her-though she had been endeared to me by sacrifices, and by the ties of protection-though, in short, I loved her, not with a passion, but with an affection—as a father more than as a lover-I still felt it to be my duty to leave no means untried to induce her to abandon me, to return to her own people and remain in her own land of the sun. What her fate would be in the state of society to which I must else introduce her, had been eloquently depicted by Job, and will readily be imagined by the reader.

After the first burst of incredulity and astonishment at my proposal, she folded her arms on her bosom, and, with the tears streaming like rain over her jacket, listened in silence and with averted eyes. I concluded with representing to her, in rather strong colours, the feelings with which she might be received by my friends, and the difficulty she would find in accommodating herself to the customs of people, to whom not only she must be inferior in the accomplishments of a woman, but who might find, even in the colour of that loveliest cheek, a reason to despise her.

Her lip curled for an instant, but the grief in her heart was stronger than the scorn for an imaginary wrong, and she bowed her head again, and her tears flowed on.

I was silent at last, and she looked up into my face.

“I am a burthen to you," she said.

[ocr errors]

No, dearest Maimuna! no! but if I were to see you wretched hereafter, you would become so. Tell me the chief will make you his wife; will you rejoin your people?"

[ocr errors]

She flung herself upon the ground, and wept as if her heart would break. I thought it best to let her feelings have way, and walking apart with the young gipsy, I gave him more of the particulars of her history, and exacted a promise that, if she should finally be left with the troop, he would return with her to the tribe of her mother, at Sardis.

Maimuna stood gazing fixedly into the ravine when we turned back, and there was an erectness in her attitude, and a fierté in the air of her head, that, I must acknowledge, promised more for my fears than my wishes. Her pride was roused, it was easy with half a glance to see.

With the suddenness of Oriental passion, the young chief had become already enamoured of her, and, with a feeling of jealousy which, even though I wished him success, I could not control, I saw him kneel at her feet and plead with her in an inaudible tone. She had been less than woman if she had been insensible to that passionate cadence, and the imploring earnestness of the noble countenance on which she looked. It was evident that she was interested, though she began with scarce deigning to lift her eyes from the ground.

I felt a sinking of the heart which I cannot describe when he rose to his feet and left her standing alone. The troop had withdrawn at his command, and Job, to whom the scene was too painful, had re-crossed the parapet, and stood by his horse's head waiting the result. The twi

light had deepened, the forest looked black around us, and a single star sprang into the sky, while the west was still glowing in a fast purpling gold and crimson.

66

Signore!" said Maimuna, walking calmly to my hand, which I stretched instinctively to receive her, "I am breaking my heart; I know not what to do."

At this instant a faint meteor shot over the sky, and drew its reflection across the calm mirror whose verge we were approaching. 66 Stay!' !" she cried; "the next shall decide the fate of Maimuna ! If it cross to the East, the will of Allah be done! I will leave you! I called to the gipsy, and we stood on the verge of the parapet in breathless expectation. The darkness deepened around us, the abyss grew black and indistinguishable, and the night-birds flitted past like audible shadows. I drew Maimuna to my bosom, and with my hands buried in her long hair, pressed her to my heart, that beat as painfully and as heavily as her own.

A sudden shriek! She started from my bosom, and as she fell upon the earth, my eye caught, on the face of the mirror from which I had forgetfully withdrawn my gaze, the vanishing pencil of a meteor, drawn like a beam of the sunset, from west to east!

I lifted the insensible child, impressed one long kiss on her lips, and flinging her into the arms of the gipsy, crossed the parapet, and rode, with a speed that tried in vain to outrun my anguish, to Constantinople.

SLINGSBY.

WEEDS AND FLOWERS.

No. II.

BY BARRY CORNWALL.

A SUDDEN CONVERSION.

(A Banquet-room-Guests entering. The Countess is seen at a distance.) 1st Guest.

Now, who comes here?

Juan (apart). O painted queen of hearts!

Who comes? Why Ruin comes; all arm'd, all crown'd
With beauty, as the Spirit left flaming Hell
And flew to prey on Eden.

2nd Guest (aside). Who's this rough fellow?
Methinks I see the modest moon grow sick,

Juan.

As at a tempest. Look, how sin survives

Pale Chastity, whilst Innocence-look, oh, look!
Though Virtue hath scarce a rose leaf on her cheek,
The devil goes mask'd in brass.

[blocks in formation]

2nd Guest. We'll pay our court betimes. [They address her.] Juan. O scorn! O hate!

Have ye no tongue? no sting? How is't I stand

Dumb by these fawners? Yet, she is most lofty,-
Most queenlike, most commanding.-Now she smiles,
Bows-beckons--ha! her hand? Jove! I forgive 'em.

Countess. What! Señor Juan?

Juan. Now, who calls on me?

Countess. Your friend, Sir.

[blocks in formation]

Juan.

Gods!

Close not your gates! Such music comes but once
From your rich viols and cerulean shells.

Let the sound live-until I hear no more.

Oh! hast thou hoarded up all grace till now?
Hast damm'd the current of thy soul, and now

Wilt drown me with its sweetness? Speak, divine one!
Speak-lest great Love and I go dead together,
And thou be left unmated!

[blocks in formation]

Yet we have still the love
Which warmed our youth,
Have still bright hopes above,
And a song of truth.

3.

Ant. Think, noble Juan.

Need we then care, my love,

Whate er betide,

Since we can sing old songs

By the fire-side?

CARPE DIEM.

There are double ties

Which bind thee down to virtue. Diego's wife Is a gem, but not thine own. Another claims herJuan. I loved her first,-before this monster lord Fetter'd her falsehood with a golden ring. Oh, how I loved her, then!

[blocks in formation]

Juan. I would, by burning Cupid. Look! I have
A blood as rich as ever run in Spain,

And yet I droop my proud Castilian knee,
To do her worship.

Ant. She is half a Moor-

Juan. And I am a Duke; rich, by my brother's will.
Ant. That brother proudly loved to trace his line,
Through stainless generations, all renown'd,
Unto that shining hero of the cross,

Godfrey of Bulloigne. Was it fear that bade him
Chain to thy vast inheritance-a wife,

Whom he knew poor but noble ?

Juan. I am struck.

Ant. She whom your brother's will

Juan. Away! I'll wear

My rags again. O brother, brother!

Whom Death has kiss'd to stone, was it for this
That thou hast mock'd me from thy ghastly tomb
Dost thou rain riches on me, but to show

How heavy the storm may be?

[ocr errors][merged small]

My brother's wish-command-what follows, Sir?
Ant. Save one estate, which will be Helena's,
All goes unto the monks.

Juan.

Ant.

Let it go. I'll raise
A hectic blush upon his marble cheek

Shall shame him in his shroud. What! shall I sell
Freedom, my birthright, for some dusty dross ?

Shall I bow down before that breathless thing
That was my brother, but is now dust-dust,
Like this I trample on? I do refuse.

Forbear, Sir. There are laws which must make vain
All cavil. You must forfeit, or obey.

Juan. The forfeit, then, be mine. Heaven! why am I
Thrust out a beggar from thy bosom? Why
Am I alone, of all my noble house,

Cursed like a Cain?

Ferrand is dead, you say?

Ant.

Juan.

Why, that were well. But from his ashes springs
A blast that blows me from my father's home,
And sends me, Irus-like, about the world,
Seeking for food and shelter. Must I be
Again a beggar on a stranger's hearth?
Or kiss a cheek I loathe, and swear I love it?
I will not do 't.

You have a year to choose
'Tween poverty and power. Meanwhile, you are
A duke, with mighty revenues.
What! a year?
A large, long year?-and I a Duke? Enough!
I'll spend it, as the Roman triumvir

Compress'd life's pleasures into one sweet span,
And gave 't to Cleopatra. Yet he fell ;-

She, too. But then they had their last great day,
And kept all night their Alexandrian feast,
Scaring the reedy echoes of the Nile

With laughter, until dawn. For one bright year
I'll hang the ducal crown upon my brows,
And frown the master of a thousand slaves.
Afterwards-what Fate wills.

ON THE DEATH OF A FRIEND.
Where is gone the bubble-Life?
Upwards-soaring-flying;

With the wrack and winds at strife,
Yet soaring-Ah! and dying
In the Heaven's absorbing light,
As the dark and solemn night
Dies, drowned in the morning bright.

Is it lost?—Then, what remains
(Tell us, Angels !) on this earth
Now to soothe us through our pains?
To make us prouder of our birth?
What to imparadise our lot,

On this bleak and sullen spot,

Where Power is crown'd, and Love-forgot?

Why, Peace, who e'er hath some sweet haunt,

Shelter'd from the war and wind;

Sage Content, who hath no want;

And the inward Mind,

Whose thoughts are borne on Seraph's wings,
Beyond where orb or planet sings,

Around the Universe of things.

« 上一頁繼續 »