網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

could be so blind as not to observe your frequent absencé, or that I should not feel uneasy when I was at home alone', whilst you have been here chatting with Monsieur ? The quantities of bread', too, which you have been in the habit of carrying off”, have excited my suspicions; but“, Toinetté, how could you think of permitting this gentleman to remain here so long in the midst of so much mis ery'? Had you told me of his being here, I would at once have found him an equally sāfe“, and more commodious retreat.”

“My good sir'," interrupted Monsieur Passot with great emotion', " it was not the fault of this dear child', for I have uniformly resisted her entreaties to take me to your homé, through my fear of bringing you into difficulty or danger. I have suffered so much', that I would not willingly bring another into similar trouble.”

“ If that' be all your fear',” replied the miller', with a smilé, "you may set your mind at rest. I shall run no risks; and even if I should', I have, at most”, but one life to losè, and that I shall gladly endanger to serve my suffering fellow-creatures. No : you must not stay here. This evening', at dusk', Toinette shall come for you. A few days ago, I was obliged to dismiss my assistant', who was an idle fellow. You shall take his placé, and do his work when you are able; but we will first rid you of this long beard', which would make you look more like a Capuchin friar' than a miller's man; and having arrayed you in one of my dresses', all suspicion will be lulled', and by the assistance of Providencé, all will go on securely and well. But I must leave you now"; farewell", Monsieur', for the present', and at night-fall" I shall expect to see you at my mill."

So saying, Maturin took the hand of his daughter', and both went away together", leaving the heart of Monsieur Passot swelling with gratitude to heaven', and to them as the agents of its bounty.

At night Toinette arrived, according to promise', at the forest. She was delighted at the thought of her friend being no longer exposed to the inclemency of the weather, and deprived of the necessaries of life. They left the ruined cottage together, traversed the paths of the wood in silence, and at last arrived', without having been seen', at the mill. Here Monsieur Passot was immediately shaved', and being dressed in a suit of the miller's clothes', obtained the new name of “ Nicholas",” and took his seat at the table between Maturin' and his daughter. A few glasses of good wine recruited his spirits', and he had soon the pleasure of stretching his weary limbs on a comforta

ble bed, after lying for six weeks exposed to the dew', and the rain', upon the cold dāmp floor of the ruined cottage.

During the few succeeding days', wholesome and plentiful food', and above all', the tranquillity of his mind', served to recruit the strength of the stranger; and one morning he informed his good host of his previous adventures', and his melancholy story. He had been denounced“, he said', and condemned to death', without being permitted to speak', or being even asked for a defence', by the revolutionary committee of the town of Bressuiere', * where he resided. A friend who knew his dayger', and to whom he had once shown a-trifling kindness', gate him information of his impending fate', in time to permit him to make his escape', under the disguise of a beggar. During his flight' he traversed each night the high roads of the department', and during the day, lay concealed in the woods among the lonely hills', where he happened to find himself. By these means he had reached the forest near the mill', and had hid himself in the ruins where Toinette first discovered him. “But even here',” continued he', “I should soon have perished from cold and exhaustion', had it not been for the arrival of your dēar child ; since the terror of falling into the hands of my enemies' seldom permitted me to go beyond the walls of my retreat', and I was fast sinking under the pains of hunger, when Toinette came in time to render me assistance', and to save my life.”

One morning soon after this conversation had taken place, Toinette came running in', out of breath', to say that four soldiers', armed with sabres and muskets', and of a very ferocious appearance', were approaching the mill from the high road.

Monsieur Passot eagerly inquired where he could hide himself.

" That would be impossible," said Maturin', " for if they search the mill', as it is likely they will', they would be sure to find you', and your fate would be inevitable. You must now put a bold face on the matter'; summon up all

your

hardihood', and leave it to me to deceive them.”

Two minutes after', the soldiers entered the mill. “ Good mòrrow', citizen'," said they', striking Maturin on the shoulder', here we are', four worthy fellows', sadly fatigued with following an aristocrat',t (the name given by the revolutionists to those who supported the party of the government and the no

* Pronounced Bress-weer.

Aristocrat denoted at that time in France one who favored a regular government of king, nobles, and representatives ; or even any government in opposition to the misrule of usurpers.

66

bility',) who has unfortunately eluded our pursuit. Come', what can you give us to eat?”

“ The best in my house, to be sure',” replied the miller. “Gò, Toinette', put a clean napkin on the tablè, fetch down that piece of ham which was left from yesterday's dinner'; and you', Nicholas', off to the cellar', and bring up four bottles of the primest Burgundy for these worthy citizens : quick', blockhead!” he added, pushing him rudely by the shouldero; and Monsieur Passot hastened to do as he was directed. It took some minutes to perform his errand", and on his re-appearance with the wine', Maturin again seemed very angry with Nicholas for presuming to make them wait so long. He appeared', in fact, ready to strike him", and in such a passion', that the soldiers interfered to appease him", and observed that Nicholas seemed really an honest sort of a fellow', though somewhat too much of a simpleton.

The miller seated himself at table beside them'; pressed them again and again to do honor to his provisions', and supplied them plentifully with winè; and then inquired what was passing in the world', or what news they were charged with. “ Wār,” said they', goes on against all who

oppose

the

progress of the revolution. The prisons are still overflowing with criminals, in spite of the daily execution of thousands', and are at this moment in pursuit of one of the most decided aristocrats in France,

-a man called Pās 'sot', who lived at Bressuieré and was condemned by the tribunal; some traitor gave notice of his sentencé, and he escaped from the city'; but we know that he is at this moment not far distant from the spot where we siť, and we are in hope of soon having him in our custody: There are five hundred crowns proclaimed as a reward for him, which we are determined to earn if possible.” They then asked for another bottle of winè, and when they had finished it, they prepared searching the mill. To this proceeding the miller offered no resistance; but', on the contrary', ordered Nicholas to go for the keys, and to throw open all the doors in the house.

When this was doné, Toinette took the hand of her father, and accompanied him through the mill; every door was opened', and the soldiers', having inspected every corner', were about to retirè, when one of them recollected that they had not searched the cellar', where”, he said', a dozen of traitors might be concealed. Nicholas was accordingly again summoned', and the cellar was visited in due form. On coming up they expressed themselves perfectly satisfied; they then drank another glass of wine to the health of Robespierre', and departed well

we

pleased with the reception they had met with from the miller, his daughter', and the stupid Nicholas.

Maturin, however, began to fear that he could not long continue to shelter Monsieur Passot with equal security. He knew that such visits as this would be frequent; and in some of them he might be surprised and discovered. He accordingly pretended that he was going a journey of fifty leagues into the country, and obtained

a passport for himself and his servant. He set off in a few days"; and the miller conducted his friend in safety to the house of one of his brothers, who lived at some distance from Bressuiere', and leaving him under his protection', returned home to Toinette.

Here Monsieur Passot lived securely' till the termination of the revolution"; when it was not difficult for him to prove his innocence', and reclaim his property.

In his prosperity, however', he did not forget his former benefactors. He returned to visit Maturin the miller', and justly regarding Toinette as the preserver of his life', he undertook to have her educated at one of the best schools in Paris'; supplied her with masters of every description', and finally', on the sudden death of her father', adopted her as his own child, and took upon himself the charge of establishing her in the world.

LESSON XIX.

POETRY.

Iambic. Four feet, and three feet, alternately.
Morn on her rosy couch awoke',

Enchantment led the hour',
And mirth and music drank the dews'

That freshened Beauty's flower;
Then from her bower of deep delight'

I heard a young girl sing,
“ Oh', speak no ill of poetry,

For 'tis a holy thing."
The sun in noon-day heat rose high',

And on, with heaving breast',
I saw a weary pilgrim toil'

Unpitied and unblest;
Yet still in trembling measures flowed

Forth from a broken string',
“Oh', speak no ill of poetry

For 'tis a holy thing."

'Twas night', and Death the curtains drew

'Mid agony severè,
While there a willing spirit went'

Home to a glorious sphere;
Yet still it sighed', even when was spread

The waiting angel's wing',
“Oh, speak no ill of poetry',

For 'tis a holy thing."

LESSON X X.

AURELIA AND THE SPIDER.-A FABLE.

Iambic. Four feet.
The muslin torn“, from tears of grief
In vain Aurelia sought relief;
In sighs and plaints she passed the dayo;

The tattered frock neglected lay:
5. While busied at the weaving trade',

A spīder heard the sighing maid',
And kindly stopping in a trice,
Thus offer'd', gratis', her advice :-

“ Turn', little girl', behold in me 10. A stimulus to industry';

Compare your woes', my dear', with minè,
Then tell me who should most repine :
This morning', ere you'd left your room',

The chamberinaid's remorseless broom' 15. In onē sad moment thāto destroyed',

To build which', thousands were employed'
The shock was great; but as my life'
I saved in the relentless strife',

I knew lamenting was in vain", 20. So patient went to work again.

By constant work', a day or more'
My little mansion will restore':
And if each tear which yoù have shed'

Had been a needle-full of thread", 25. If every sigh of sad despair'

Had been a stitch of proper care',
Closed would have been the luckless rent',
Nor thus the day have been misspent.”

« 上一頁繼續 »