ePub 版

rooms on the ground floor; two small and dexterous parry. The heavy iron bed-rooms, of equal size, in the rear, and glanced off his stick, but leveled a tall the large front room, which served as constable who had rushed in almost kitchen and parlor. The little attic, abreast of him. “ Surrender!" roared being hot in summer and cold in win- Curwin. “Hurrah, boys! Down with ter, was seldom used, except for a store him !" house.

Several others of the posse burst, More, left to himself, cleaned his shouting, into the room, and a contest gun, loaded it, sct it up by his bedside, ensued of the most frightful violence, barred the doors, and then flung bim- rendered still more confused and borriself down without undressing. Not a ble by the obscurity, the difficulty of sound of human presence crept to distinguishing forms, or of avoiding the his ear through the stifling midnight; blind,

furious blows which fell through and, even while thinking of Curwin's the darkness. More, standing in the threatened commitment, he fell sound shadow and facing the light, had the asleep.

advantage of seeing better where to Two hours afterward the moon had strike than bis assailants. He had no not yet risen, and only starlight crept opportunity to change ends, and use his through the stirless branches of the gun-breech; but three times be brought pines. But the faint glimmer betrayed down its barrel with such force as to the forms of twelve men, some of them knock as many stout fellows prostrato armed with guns, others with pistols, and senseless. Then Herrick caught swords, or heavy canes, who stalked in hold of the muzzle, and two others, Indian file from the cover of the older flinging themselves upon it, bore it to thickets, and advanced to the cabin. the ground; while Curwin clutched More “ Master Herrick," said one of them in by the collar, and held on stoutly. But, a gruff whisper, " take six of the lads before other hands could reinforce those and put a gun at every door and win- of the justice, a dreadful blow in the dow. Shoot him down if he runs, mind face made bim loose bis hold, and flung

bim across the bodies of his fallen comSeven of tho party filed off rapidly rades. The pious gentleman blasphemed around a corner, and halted, one by one, like a trooper in his rage, and, springat the outlets of the cabin. ** Anding up, regardless of his gashed cheek, now," resumed the speaker, "you that rushed again on the hunter, followed by haven't guns, you follow Cap'n Curwin. the entire gang. Four of the assailants Don't use your swords, if you can help had fallen, but the remaining eight were it. You might cut one another; and all in the cabin, as maddened and reokthen we want to take him alive, you less as hungry wolves. Their trampknow."

ling and their savage exclamations minHe stepped up to the front door, and gled with, and almost overpowered, a gave it a thundering rap with his knot- succession of piercing shrieks which ty oak staff. There was no reply, and, burst from the chamber behind More. after a moment's expectation, he re- Curwin again gripped his opponent by peated the summons." "Who's there ?" the collar, and clung to him with the cried a voice from within, recognizable tenacity of a wild-cat, although frightas that of More. At the same instant, fully beaten in the face and breast. one of the men saw a white girlish face Herrick, too, dropped under a blow, but at a window, which disappeared with a rose immediately, and, clubbing bis pissbriek, as he instinctively raised his tol, struck Moro violently on the head pistol. “Open !" shouted Curwin. with its heavy stock. Å flash, a dis.

Open, in the name of the king of persing radiance, as of ten thousand terrors !"

stars, glittered before the bunter's eyes; The door was suddenly Aung wide and, throwing his arms high aloft, he opon, and More appeared in it, with his fell beavily, with the tiger-like justice long fowling-piece half presented. Cur- still clinging to his neck. win struck up the unwieldy barrel “Damn it, boys!-I mean heaven bo with his cane, and the charge blazed praised !” said Curwin—"there be is, over his head, almost deafening him by quiet as a lamb. Satan didn't help bim its report. As More stepped back to much, after all. Who fetched him strike at greater ease, the justice sprang down! You, Herrick ? Hope you into the cabin, and made a second cool haven't killed him."


" Hope not,” growled the sheriff, girl in her night-dress. He was a stero, rubbing his head. “ He's most killed aprelenting magistrate; but he was no me, though. Strike a light, somebody. brute, and he remembered that he, too, Let's have a look at him !"

had a daughter. After some groping they found a can- It was strange to note how rapidly dle, and lighted it from the coals which the victors had become cool—there was still smouldered under the ashes of the no excitement, no unnecessary noisefire-place. All this time there was a those desperate fighters had subsided at dull groaning from the bruised men on once into grave, calm Puritans. They the foor, some of whom were slowly quietly tended their bruised comrades, wavering back to consciousness. The three of whom had now revived. More Aickering glimmer of the candle showed himself was gasping back to conscioustheir pale and bloody faces, occasionally Dess, under the effect of repeated dashes writhing as if in vaguely-felt pain, to- of water in the face; but, before he gether with the flusbed visages of their quite recovered bis senses, Herrick prucomrades as they gazed at the nerveless dently slipped a pair of manacles over limbs and gashed forehead of More. his dangerous wrists. Presently he Curwin put his hand on the hunter's opened his eyes; stared vacantly at the heart, and, after a moment of suspense, beams overhead; then sat ap with a declared that he was still alive.

sudden effort, and looked sternly at the “Very good,” said Herrick. “I stooping Curwin. “Well, how do you should ha' been sorry to have killed him find yourself now, Master More ?" said outright. Oughter be hung, of course. the justioe with perfect coolness. More Well, boys, catch hold now, and put returned him no answer, but bent forthem poor fellers on the beds in the ward with an air of eager attention, for other rooms. Some on yo git some he heard a feeble voice in the next water to fetch 'em to. I s'pose they're room, wailing out, “ Father !" ony in a stound."

“Want to see her ?" asked Curwin. “I say, sheriff, this is queer," ob- “Come, get up then, and I'll help you served one of the men, as he wrenched in there." at the door of Rachel's chamber. “ This More rose, with the magistrate's as'ere place is bolted on the outside ; sistance, and walked rather unsteadily and yet, I'd take oath that I hearn å into the bed-room. Rachel was weakly scroam from the inside when we was a trying to rise; but as soon as she saw fighting.”

him she fell back on the pillow, and held “Oh, very likely Rachel is in there," out her arms with a sob of joy like an said Curwin. "Sure enough, where infant. “Oh, he isn't dead, then. Oh, should she be? I reckon that he bolted he is alive. Oh, Captain Curwin, please the girl in there so as to keep her out don't kill him. He isn't a witch ; ob, of harm's way."

indeed he isn't.” He lighted a second candle, and “ The court will settle that, Rachel," came to the door just as the man suc- replied the justice, growing a little testy ceeded in throwing it open. There lay at hearing More's innocence 80 stoutly Rachel on her face, in her night-dress, affirmed. “Come, child, let go of bim. with her hands. extended, as if she had We must take him to the jail without fainted in trying to force the portal. tarrying." Curwin raised her with sudden gen- * Oh, let me go with him," supplicated tleness, laid her on the bed, and oovered Rachel. "I won't say a word to youhor up decently. She was quite sense- I won't trouble you, if you only will loss and almost cold. He chafed her let me go with him." hands, and flung some water over her “She go to jail!" echoed Herrick neck and forehead. After a while she from the door. "No! It's cram fall gasped and opened her eyes, upon already." which he went out immediately, shutting “Let her go with me to the village,'' the door behind him. He thought it said More. “She shall stop at her was not best to have her learn at once uncle's. It is too bad to leave her here the whole of her misfortune; and, crying." strangely as the feeling may contrast * Yes, yes ; let me go with him as with the scene which he had just helped far as uncle Bowson's," urged the poor to enact, he did not like to force bim- child, tears all the while running down self upon the consciousness of a young her cheeks, her eyes fixed pleadingly or

[ocr errors]

Curwin, and her hands clutched nerv- stables had, by this time, led, the prisously around her father's neck. The oper out of the cabin. "Where's that magistrate's face was woefully bruised, gal ?" shouted the brutal sheriff. his teeth painful, and some of them *Come along, will ye? But none of shaky in their sockets, so that we must yer whining. I won't bave it." dot blame him very severely for being Rachel stifled her sobs and placed a little bearish toward the hunter and herself close behind her father, who was his daughter. He rejected Rachel's held by two of the constubles. “Forpetition positively at first, but then ward," said Herrick, and they moved changed his mind and said that she on, at a quick walk, along the narrow might go; for it really seemed the best pathway. Curwin remained at the way. They left the room, and in five cabin, partly to tend the bruised ones, minutes the girl came out ready dressed. partly to search for puppets and other Herrick and four of the special con- instruments of sorcery.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


HE lyceum is the American theatre. We have all had a good deal of

It is thu ono institution in which we perience of this lecture performance take our nose out of the hands of our during the last six years. The hunt English prototypes-the English whom has been prosecuted for

that period with we are always ridiculing and always fol- unwearied vigor. Before that, there lowing—and go alone. The consequence were courses of lectures, and occasional is, that it is a great success. It has found- single lectures. The members of lyed a new profession. It provides a weekly ceums, in small towns, volunteered to amusement in the smallest and remotest contribute a series of discourses them. towns, and it secures to the insatiable selves, or they hired some provincial Yankee the chance, an hour long, of celebrity for a half-dozen evenings. seeing any notability about whom he was Scientific lectures did well-provided a curious.

mimic house were kindled by the elecLecturing is the manner in which the trical battery, or a little cannon were Yankee hunts lions. He clubs with his fired off by å mirror. Then the fever neighbors and they make up a purse. shifted from science to Shakespeare, They call themselves a lyceum. They and the lecturer spread his eagle wings hire a large room, for a trap, and hang

above those of the swan. In those earfifty dollars over the desk, as a bait. lier days, not very remote, the lecturer's Then they scour the hills and valleys, fee was small. To go from a Boston the cities and villages of their own, their feather-bed, out into the dreary Purinative land, and wherever they see a tanic wilds, whereon the east wind pas. lion of fair size and tolerable roar, they tures, and the relentless year, in the seize him by letter, hurry him by steam intervals of chilly fogs, sow3 snow, was to the trap, turn him in, crowd after considered to be worth ten dollars. For him, and watch him carefully during the that sum you were privileged to addross, hour bo occupies in consuming the

bait. in a cold room-haply a school-houseThe lecture audience is usually large. a cold crowd of your fellow-Puritans, Tbo clergyman of the village deems the who regarded you severely, as a man lectare an instructive and healthy who was being potted and spoiled by amusement; the literary man of the indulgent over-payment. Thence, with neighborhood goes to criticise; Corydon out applause--for the severity of the and Phillis go to flirt; the boys go for season, and the habitual rigor of rural fun; and a few stragglers drop in as to manners, forbade such folly—you were a warm place for sleeping. If the loc- taken to a house—the chairman's, perturo is laughable, all goes well. If grave, haps—and there entertained with intelit is rather dull. If the grave lecturer lectual conversation and cold apples. is young, it is a passable evening; if Thence to bed! Oh! draw the curhe is old and married, and, above all, a tains, before the fingers freeze ! No! bishop, it is intolerable.

nobody knows what. coldness is, they

tell us, who has not been a lecturer, and where within reach of the post, the re-
put to bed in the best chamber, in Janu- turn mail, without doubt, brought him a
ary. Saddened and humbled, you do. hundred letters from the Y. M. A. of
scended to the fried pork, swimming B., C., and D., to address them upon
in its own sap, for breakfast; or the Thursday evening, the 25th ; but, if he
toothsome steak, boiled in a skillet; and went, he did stand upon his head ; or,
drowning it all in a dreadful decoction if he could not, it was the end of his
of boot-heels, mixed with cold milk, lecturing career, and he was asked no
which is drank with enthusiasm by the more.
American from Maine to Texas, and What do the results show? That,
called_coffee, you were sent back to although it was the roar of the animal
your Boston, with the thermometer at which attracted the hunters, yet it was
zero, and ten dollars in your pocket. his strength or his beauty which en-
You were remorselessly handled in the chanted their eyes and hearts. You, for
weekly village paper of the next Satur- instance, had walked over the desert, or
day by Aristides and Z, a copy of the through the valleys of the sea; your
paper being sent to you by each of the blithe genius or your fiery rhetoric had
nibbling anonymouses, and you threw lighted the house of God with the
them into the fire hastily, to spare your beauty of holiness; your mme was,
dear Jane Maria's feelings—thereby consequently, tossed from tongue to
getting the only warmth you had de- tongue, and the editor's trumpet had
rived from your little lecturing effort, in whispered your deed to overy lonely
the Puritanic parlious of the metropolis corner of the land with its morning
of Suffolk.

music. Then the lion-hunters came
But times change, and fees. While down upon you. Then you were sum-
Mr. Ticknor gave his admirable lectures moned to leave a looture and take fifty
upon Shakespeare, and Mr. Dana his, dollars. But when your hour was past,
and Mr. Hudson his, and Mr. Emer. if, in your tone, or mien, or manner, if,
son intoned his lyric wisdom; while Dr. somewhere in your presence, there were
Cyclopædia Lardner proved to us, scien- no touch of that power, whose mere re-
tifically, that steam-ships could not cross port fascinated, then, indeed, and for.
the sea—and the demonstration and over, your hour was past.
steamer arrived together—while the Think, how few men have done the
pious and persuasive Joseph Silk Buck. lecturing for this country, during half-a-
ingham told us of Lebanon and the dozen years. Hundreds of men have
Ganges, and innumerable “Professors,” lectured, yet there are but a score or
with electrical machines and mirrors, two whose names figure upon the lists
flashed between, the public taste was of every lyceum, and who are first in-
gradually ripening for the system of vited everywhere. A lecturer told us,
popular lectures as it is now conducted, that he went from Maine to the Missis-
and as the far-seeing Herald and other sippi, two years ago, and there were
E. M.'s of the press regularly inform certain names that appeared upon every
us, at the beginning of every season, it programme along the route. With only
will not be conducted much longer. one or two exceptions, the same names

For ourselves, wo doubt whether the and men do lecture-duty this year, and lecturing term has yet completed its probably will during the next. great cycle. If it has, we are quite Who are those men, and what does confident that another one has com- their universal popularity imply? menced. If you will reflect a moment, They are the intellectual leaders of you will see that the public of this an intelligent progress in the country. • country bas been addressed now, for They are especially, and in the best more than six years, weekly, upon every seuse, Americans. They are, we bevariety of topic, by the best oratorical lieve, without an exception, of the talent of the land. Now, every seed largest and wisest liberality of thought helps some kind of harvest. If you now and culture. They are men of all purtares, tares, at least, will come up. suits, and ages, and denominations ; The public has been pursuing lions but if they are clergymen, as some of without mercy; but, then, it has also the chiefest are, then, whatsoever their watched them while they devoured the form of faith, it is vivified by Christian bait. If a man stood upon his lead, for charity. Week after week, from Noten minutes, upon a clothes-pole, any- vember to April, these men go through

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the land, talking in the most genial, institution has done more in humanizing serious, witty, learned, or wise way, and refining us than the lecture. How about all kinds of subjects. Week rapidly it has done this may be seen in after week, throngs of people, of every the kind of lecture that is now required. age and every degree of cultivation, The old recipe was simply, having come to listen and enjoy. The lyceum caught your encyclopædia or biograph. is opera, theatre, ball; and yet this fact ical article, to flay it, and squeeze it, is remarkable: if the lecture be only and cover it with some worsted work ludicrous or amusing, if the object of of your own, lard it liberally with the the lecturer be plainly only to make least worn jokes that could be procured; himself a buffoon, and to make his then serve, warm, for an hour. This is audience laugh-they do laugh, but they no longer possible. The audience grado not forgive him. The experience of dually tired of such diet, higher prices the system shows, that the men who and higher-toned lectures came in tobave hidden the soundest sense under gether, and the public, which had been the most brilliant and humorous rhet- educated by a constantly improving orio are the permanently popular lec- character, now demands the best. The turers.

very number of the most popular lecThis, of course, is in the nature of tures shows this. Why are there no the case. The value of a lecture is in more? Why are there not new ones its general tone, rather than in its de- every year? It seems so easy and so tails. It is a fresco picture. It is to delightful to pass a summer week in be contemplated by a multitude at a writing a lecture, and three months of distance. With the utmost propriety, the winter in delivering it, and so comtherefore, the lecturer lays on his color pleting the business of the year. It is freely. If he be a man accustomed easy to those who can do it. There rather to write to be read than to be seems to be no especial reason for you beard, he will soon discover that the to laugh at them, until you have tried ossay, polished with care in his study, it for yourself and contemplated the reand full of genial delights to the eye, sult falls dull upon the ear—for they are Undoubtedly, a lecture is the most different organs. To the secret bower profitable form of literary labor. A lecof your heart's approval, as to a boudoir turer, in the flood-tide of his career, will in a palace, there aro two approaches, write a discourse of sixty or eighty pages, the stately gateway and the private occupying an hour in the delivery, door. Through the one you pass with which he will deliver five evenings in noiseless, gliding footstep; but through the week for three months; and if he be the other with the resonant prance of paid, as he probably will be, fifty dollars steeds. Therefore, many a lecturer every timo, his three months' lecturing will not allow his lecture to be printed, give bim just three thousand dollars. and they all quarrel with the reporters. If he publish bis manuscript as a pamHo will tell you that you must not read phlet, how soon would he get three thouit. You must bear it. What right have sand dollars for it? And the next you to climb into the lofty belfry, and season he may repeat his lecture, and survey, with curious inquisition, the his receipts-or, if he prefers not to be hues and joints of the statue that strikes paid, he may decline the fee, but express the hour? Does it seem to you a buge, his willingness to receive “a complisbapeless, bronze giant, banging with a ment" of double the amount. great hammer

a shield of metal, and caus- But no hod-carrier or mariner earns ing a crash of roaring sound? To the his money more Jaboriously and faitheye below, for which it was designed, it fully than a lecturer. Wherever, beseems a fairy tapping a flower-bell

, and tween November and April, there is a the enr, it was meant for, hears musio snow-drift, you may be sure there is a trickling from it like melodious drops lecturer in it. Wherever there is a of dew.

tough beef-steak, you may be sure there Now, is it likely these men have been is a lecturer eating it. Wherever there talking all this time quite without effect? is a sullen, dusky dawn, with the mer. Have the towns and cities been piped cury lost below zero, you may know to and wept to in such various measures, there is a lecturer getting up in it. And and must no dance or tears be looked for? oh, north poles and glaciers ! wherever We believe, on the contrary, that no there is a bed-chamber without a fire

« 上一頁繼續 »