網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

the bastion', and tolled the funeral dirge of the notary from the Torre de la Campaná,* or tower of the bell.

The notary's wife pressed through the crowd with a whole progeny of little embryo Escribanoes at her heels', and throwing herself

at the feet of the captain-general', implored him not to sacrifice the life of her husband', and the welfare of herself and her numerous little ones', to a point of pride ; “ for you know the old governor too well?,” said shé, “ to doubt that he will put his threat in execution if you hang the soldier.”

The captain-general was overpowered by her tears and lamentations', and the clamors of her callow brood. The corporal was sent up to the Alhambra under a guard, in his gallows garb', like a hooded friar'; but with head erect' and a face of iron. The Escribano was demanded in exchangé, according to the cartel. The once bustling and self-sufficient man of the law was drawn forth from his dungeon', more dead than alive. All his flippancy and conceit had evaporated'; his hair, it is said', had nearly turned gray with affright', and he had a downcast', dogged look', as if he still felt the halter round his neck.

The old governor stuck his one arm a kimbó, and for a moment surveyed him with an iron smile. “Henceforth, my friend'," said hé,“ moderate your zeal in hurrying others to the gallows'; be not too certain of your own safety', even though you should have the law on your sidè; and above al”, take care how you play off your schoolcraft another time upon an old soldier."

LESSON LXXII.

A THUNDER STORM ON THE PRAIRIES.

In crossing a prairie of moderate extent, rendered little better than a slippery bog by the recent showers', we were overtaken by a violent thunder-gust. The rain came rattling upon us in torrents', and spattered up like steam along the ground'; the whole landscape was suddenly wrapped in gloom that gave a vivid effect to the intense sheets of lightning', while the thunder seemed to burst over our very heads', and was reverberated by the groves

and forests that checkered and skirted the prairie. Man and beast were so pelted', drenched', and confounded', that the line was thrown in complete confusion`; some of the horses were so frightened as to be almost unmanageable, and our scattered cavalcade looked like a tempest-tossed fleet, drive ing hither and thither, at the mercy of wind and wave.

[ocr errors]

* Tor-ra, Campa-na.

At length', at half-past two o'clock', we came to a halt', and, gathering together our forces', encamped in an open and lofty grové, with a prairie on one side, and a stream on the other. The forest immediately rung with the sound of the axé, and the crash of falling trees. Huge fires were soon blazing'; blankets were stretched before them, by way of tents'; booths were hastily reared of bark and skins'; every fire had its group drawn close around it, drying and warming themselves', or preparing a comforting meal. Some of the rangers were discharging and cleaning their rifles', which had been exposed to the rain'; while the horses', relieved from their saddles and burthens', rolled in the wet grass.

The showers continued from time to time, until late in the evening. Before dark, our horses were gathered in and tethered about the skirts of the camp', within the outposts', through fear of Indian prowlers', who are apt to take advantage of stormy nights for their depredations and assaults. As the night thickened’, the huge fires became more and more luminous'; lighting up masses of the overhanging foliage, and leaving other parts of the grove in deep gloom. Every fire had its goblin group around it', while the tethered horses were dimly seen', like specters', among the thickets"; excepting that here and there a gray' one stood out in bright relief.

The grove thus fitfully lighted up by the ruddy glare of the fires', resembled a vast leafy domé, walled in by opake darkness'; but every now and then two or three quivering flashes of lightning in quick succession', would suddenly reveal a vast champaign country', where fields and forests', and running streams', would starť, as it weré, into existence for a few brief seconds', and', before the eye could ascertain them', vanish again into gloom.

A thunder storm on a prairié, as upon the ocean', derives grandeur and sublimity from the wild and boundless waste over which it rages and bellows. It is not surprising that these awful phenomena of nature should be objects of superstitious reverence to the poor savages', and that they should consider the thunder the angry voice of the Great Spirit. As our halfbreeds sat gossiping round the firé, I drew from them some of the notions entertained on the subject by their Indian friends. The latter declare that extinguished thunderbolts are sometimes picked up by hunters on the prairies', who use them for the heads of arrows and lances', and that any warrior thus armed' is invincible. Should a thunder storm occur', however', during battlé, he is liable to be carried away by the thunder, and never be heard of more.

A warrior of the Konza tribé, hunting on a prairie, was overtaken by a storm', and struck down senseless by the thunder. On recovering', he beheld the thunderbolt lying on the ground', and a horse standing beside it. Snatching up the bolt”, he sprang upon the horse, but found', too laté, that he was astride of the lightning. In an instant he was whisked away over prairies, and forests', and streams', and deserts', until he was flung senseless at the foot of the Rocky Mountains'; from whencé, on recovering', it took him several months to return to his own people.

This story reminded me of an Indian tradition', related by a traveler', of the fate of a warrior who saw the thunder lying upon the ground', with a beautifully wrought moccason on each side of it. Thinking he had found a prizé, he put on the moccasons'; but they bore him away to the land of spirits', from whence he never returned.

These are simple and artless tales', but they had a wild and romantic interest heard from the lips of half-savage narrators', round a hunter's firé, in a stormy night, with a forest on one side, and a howling waste on the other'; and wheré, peradventuré, savage foes might be lurking in the outer darkness.

LESSON L X XIII.

PRINCE ARTHUR.

A room in the Castle.

Enter Hubert and two attendants. Hubert. Heat me these irons hot': and, look' thou stand' Within the arras: when I strike

my

foot' Upon the bosom of the ground', rush forth', And bind the boy', which you shall find with mé,

Fast to the chair": be heedfulo: hence, and watch'. 1. Attend. I hope, your warrant will bear out the deed. Hub. Uncleanly scruples'! Fear not yoù : look to 't'.

(Exeunt Attendants.) Young lado, come forth'; I have to say with you.

Enter ARTHUR. Arthur. Good morrow', Hubert'. Hub.

Good morrow', little princé. Arth. As littlè princé, (having so great a titlé

To be more princé,) as māy be.—You are sad". Hub. Indeed', I have been' merrier'.

Arth.

Mercy on me!
Methinks', nobody should be sad but I':
Yet, I remember', when I was in Francé,
Young gentlemen would be as sad as night',
Only for wantonness. By my christendom',
So I were out of prison', and kept sheep',
I should be as merry as the day is long ;
And so I would be here, but that I doubt
My uncle practises more harm to mè:
He is afraid of mé, and I of him':
Is it my' fault' that I was Geffrey's son' ?
Nò, indeed, is 't not'; And I would to heaven',

I were your son', so you would love mé, Hubert .
Hub. If I talk to him', with his innocent praté

He will awake my mercy', which lies dead':

Therefore I will be sudden', and despatch. (Aside.) Arth. Are you sick’, Huberť ? you look pāle to-day' :

In sooth', I would you were a little sick',
That I might sit all night, and watch with yoù :

I warrant, I love you more than yoù do me'.
Hub. His words do take possession of my bosom'.-
Read herè, young Arthur'. (

(Showing a paper.)

How now, foolish rheum', (Aside.)
Turning dispiteous torture out of door'!
I must be brief“, lest resolution drop'
Out at mine eyes', in tender womanish tears.-

Can you not read it' ? is it not fair writ' ?
Arth. Too fairly, Hubert', for so foul effect:
Must
you

with hot irons burn out both mine eyės' ? Hub. Young boy', I must'. Arth.

And will' you? Hub.

And I will.
Arth. Have you the heart ? When your head did but aché,

I knit my handkerchief about your brows',
(The best I had', a princess wrought it mé,)
And I did never ask it you again';
And with my hand at midnight held your head';
And', like the watchful minutes to the hour',
Still and anon cheered up the heavy timé,
Saying, What lack you? and Where lies your grief" ?
Or, What good love may I perform for you?
Many a poor man's son' would have lain still,
And ne'er have spoken a loving word to you ;
But you', at your sick servicé, had a princè.

[ocr errors]

Nay', you may

think

my

love was crâfty lové,
And call it cun'ning“; Do', an if you will? :
If heaven be pleased that you must use me ill',
Why', then you mụst.-Will' you put out mine eyes ?
These eyes', that never did', nor ever shall”,

So much as frown', on you?
Hub.

I have sworn' to do it';
And with hot irons must I burn them out.
Arth. Ah', none but in this iron' age would do it'!

The iron of itself, though heat* red-hot',
Approaching near these eyes', would drink my tears,
And quench his fiery indignation',
Even in the matter of mine innocence:
Nay', after that\, consume away in rust“,
But for containing fire to harm mine eyes.
Are you more stubborn-hard than hammered iron'?
And if an angel should have come to me,
And told mé, Hubert should put out mine eyes',

I would not have believed a tongue but Hubert's'.
Hub. Come forth'.

(Stamps.) Re-enter Attendants, with cords, irons, fc.

Dò as I bid

you

dò. Arth. O', save me, Hubert', savè me! my eyes are ouť,

Even with the fierce looks of these bloody men'.
Hub. Give me the iron', I say', and bind' him here.
Arth. Alas', what need

you be so boist'rous rough' ?
I will not struggle, I will stand stone still”.
For heaven's saké, Hubert', let me not be bound',
And I will sit as quiet as a lamb';
I will not stir’, nor wincé, nor speak a word',
Nor look upon the iron angerly:
Thrust but these men away, and I'll forgive you,

Whatever torment you do put me to.
Hub. Gò, stand within'; let me alone with him.
1. Attend. I am best' pleased to bè, from such a deed'.

(Exeunt Attendants.) Arth. Alas! I then have chid away my friend';

He hath a stērn look', but a gentlè heart":
Let him come back“, that his compassion may

Give life to yours'.
Hub.

Come boy', prepare yourself.

* Pronounced het.

« 上一頁繼續 »