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the cottage roofs in Unterseen rose here and there a thin column of smoke over the tops of the trees, and mingled with the evening shadows. The valley of Lauterbrunnen was filled with a blue haze. Far above, in the clear, cloudless heaven, the white forehead of the Jungfrau blushed at the last kiss of the departing sun. It was a glorious transfiguration of Nature! And when the village bells began to ring, and a single voice at a great distance was heard yodling forth a ballad, it rather broke than increased the enchantment of a scene, where silence was more musical than sound.
For a long time they gazed at the gloaming landscape, and spake not. At length people came in, and laid aside their shawls and hats, and exchanged a word or two with Berkley. To Flemming they were all unknown. The conversation turned upon the various excursions of the day. Some had been at the Staubbach, others at the Grindelwald, others at the lake of Thun; and nobody before had ever experienced half the rapture which they had experienced that day. And thus they sat in the twilight, as people love to do, at the close of a summer day. As yet the lamps had not been lighted, and one could not distinguish faces; but voices only and forms like shadows.
Presently a female figure, clothed in black, entered the room and sat down by the window. She rather listened to the conversation, than joined in it; but the few words she said were spoken in a voice so musical and full of soul, that it moved the soul of Flemming, like a whisper from heaven.
Oh, how wonderful is the human voice! It is indeed the organ of the soul! The intellect of man sits enthroned visibly upon his forehead and in his eye; and the heart of man is written upon his countenance. But the soul reveals itself in the voice only; as God revealed himself to the prophet of old in the still, small voice, and in the voice from the burning bush. The soul of man is audible, not visible. A sound alone betrays the flowing of the eternal fountain, invisible to man !
Flemming would fain have sat and listened for hours to the sound of that unknown voice. He felt sure, in his secret heart, that the being
from whom it came was beautiful. His imagination filled up the faint outline which the eye beheld in the fading twilight, and the figure stood already in his mind like Raphael's beautiful Madonna in the Dresden gallery. He was never more mistaken in his life. voice belonged to a beautiful being, it is true; but her beauty was different from that of any Madonna which Raphael ever painted; as he would have seen, had he waited till the lamps were lighted. But in the midst of his reverie and saint-painting the landlord came in, and told him he had found a room, which he begged him to go and look at.
Flemming took his leave and departed. Berkley went with him, to see, he said, what kind of a nest his young friend was to sleep in.
" The room is not what I could wish,” said the landlord, as he led them across the street. " It is in the old cloister. But to-morrow or next day, you can, no doubt, have a room at the house."
The name of the cloister struck Flemming's imagination pleasantly. He was owl enough to like ruins and old chambers, where nuns or friars had slept. And he said to Berkley :
“So, you perceive, my nest is to be in a cloister. It already makes me think of a bird's nest I once saw on an old tower of Heidelberg Castle, built in the jaws of a lion, which formerly served as a spout. But pray tell me, who was that young lady with the soft voice ?” 66
What young lady with the soft voice ?" “ The young lady in black who sat by the window."
" Oh, she is the daughter of an English officer, who died not long ago at Naples. She is passing the summer here with her mother."
6. What is her name?”
“Not beautiful, but very intellectual. А woman of genius, I should say.”
And now they had reached the walls of the cloister, and passed under an arched gateway, and close beneath the quaint towers, which Flemming had already seen, rising with their cone-shaped roofs above the trees, like tall tapers, with extinguishers upon them.
“ It is not so bad as it looks," said the land
lord, knocking at a small door, in the main building. “ The bailiff lives in one part of it.”
A servant girl, with a candle in her hand, opened the door, and conducted Flemming and Berkley to the chamber which had been engaged. It was a large room on the lower floor, wainscoted with pine, and unpainted. Three lofty and narrow windows, with leaden lattices and small panes, looked southward towards the valley of Lauterbrunnen and the mountains. In one corner was a large square bed, with a tester and checked curtains. In another, a huge stove of painted tiles, reaching almost to the ceiling. An old sofa, a few highbacked, antique chairs, and a table, completed the furniture of the room.
Thus Flemming took possesion of his monkish cell and dormitory. He ordered tea, and began to feel at home. Berkley passed the evening with him. On going away, he said :
“Good-night! I leave you to the care of
the Virgin and all the Saints. If the ghost of any old monk comes back after his prayerbook, my compliments to him. If I were a younger man, you certainly should see a ghost. Good-night!”
When he had departed, Flemming opened the lattice of one of the windows. The moon had risen, and silvered the dark outline of the nearest hills; while, afar off, the snowy summits of the Jungfrau and the Silver-Horn shone like a white cloud in the sky. Close beneath the windows was a flower-garden ; and the breath of the summer night came to him with dewy fragrance. There was a grateful seclusion about the place. He blessed the happy accident which gave him such a lodging, and fell asleep that night thinking of the nuns who once had slept in the same quiet cells; but neither wimpled nun nor cowled monk appeared to him in his dreams; — not even the face of Mary Ashburton ; nor did he hear her voice.
THE EVENING AND THE MORNING STAR.
OLD Froissart tells us, in his Chronicles, that, when King Edward beheld the Countess of Salisbury at her castle-gate, he thought he had never seen before so noble nor so fair a lady; he was stricken thereupon to the heart with a sparkle of fine love, that endured long after; he thought no lady in the world so worthy to be beloved as she. And so likewise thought Paul Flemming, when he beheld the English lady in the fair light of a summer morning. I will not disguise the truth. She is my heroine ; and I mean to describe her with great truth and beauty, so that all shall be in love with her, and I most of all.
Mary Ashburton was in her twentieth summer. Like the fair maiden Amoret, she was sitting in the lap of womanhood. They did her wrong who said she was not beautiful;
“ She was not fair, Nor beautiful; — those words express her not. But, oh, her looks had something excellent, That wants a name!”
nous, but not sparkling. Such eyes the Greek poets give to Immortals.
The lady's figure was striking. Every step, every attitude, was graceful, and yet lofty, as if inspired by the soul within. Angels in the old poetic philosophy have such forms; it was the soul itself imprinted on the air. And what a soul was hers! A temple dedicated to Heaven, and, like the Pantheon at Rome, lighted only from above.
And earthly passions in the form of gods were no longer there, but the sweet and thoughtful faces of Christ, and the Virgin Mary, and the Saints. Thus there was not one discordant thing in her; but a perfect harmony of figure, and face, and soul, — in a word, of the whole being. And he who had a soul to comprehend hers must of necessity love her, and, having once loved her, could love no other woman forevermore.
No wonder, then, that Flemming felt his heart drawn towards her, as, in her morning walk, she passed him, sitting alone under the great walnut-trees near the cloister, and thinking of heaven, not of her. She, too, was alone. Her cheek was no longer pale; but glowing and bright, with the inspiration of the summer air. Flemming gazed after her, till she disappeared, even as a vision of his dreams, he knew not whither. He was not yet in love, but very near it; for he thanked God that he had made such beautiful beings to walk the earth.
Last night he had heard a voice to which his soul responded ; and he might have gone on his way and taken no further heed. But he would have heard that voice afterwards, whenever at evening he thought of this evening at Interlachen. To-day he had seen more clearly the vision, and his restless soul grew calm. The place seemed pleasant to him ; and he
He did not ask himself whence came this calm. He felt it, and was happy in the feeling; and blessed the landscape and the summer morning, as if they possessed the wonder-working power.
Her face had a wonderful fascination in it. It was such a calm, quiet face, with the light of the rising soul shining so peacefully through it. At times it wore an expression of seriousness, - of sorrow even; and then seemed to make the very air bright with what the Italian poets so beautifully call the lampeggiar dell' angelico riso, — the lightning of the angelic smile.
And, oh, those eyes, — those deep unutterable eyes, with “down-falling eyelids full of dreams and slumber," and within them a cold, living light, as in mountain lakes at evening, or in the river of Paradise, forever gliding,
“ With a brown, brown current, Under the shade perpetual, that never Ray of the sun lets in, nor of the moon."
could not go.
I dislike an eye that twinkles like a star. Those only are beautiful which, like the planets, have a steady, lambent light,
to haunt you.
“A pleasant morning-dream to you," said a friendly voice; and at the same moment some one laid his hand upon Flemming's shoulder. It was Berkley. He had approached unseen and unheard.
"I see by the smile on your countenance," he continued, “ that it is no day-incubus.”
“ You are right," replied Flemming. was a pleasant dream, which
have put to flight.”
“ And I am glad to see that you have also put to flight the gloomy thoughts which used
I like to see people cheerful and happy. Why give way to sadness in this beautiful world ?"
“ Ah! this beautiful world!" said Flemming, with a smile. · Indeed, I know not what to think of it. Sometimes it is all gladness and sunshine, and heaven itself lies not far off. And then it changes suddenly, and is dark and sorrowful, and clouds shut out the sky. In the lives of the saddest of us there are bright days like this, when we feel as if we could take the great world in our arms.
Then come the gloomy hours, when the fire will neither burn on our hearths nor in our hearts; and all without and within is dismal, cold, and dark. Believe me, every heart has its secret sorrows which the world knows not, and oftentimes we call a man cold, when he is only sad.”
“ And who says we do not?” interrupted Berkley. “Come, come! Let us go to breakfast. The morning air has given me a rude appetite. I long to say grace over a fresh egg, and eat salt with my worst enemies; namely, the Cockneys at the hotel. After breakfast you must give yourself up wholly to me. I shall take you to the Grindelwald !”
" To-day, then, you do not breakfast like Diogenes, but consent to leave your tub."
6 Yes, for the pleasure of your company. I shall also blow out the light in' my lantern, having found you.”
" Thank you."
The breakfast passed without any unusual occurrence. Flemming watched the entrance of every guest; but she came not, he most desired to see.
" And now for the Grindelwald !” said Berkley.
Why such haste? We have the whole day before us.
There is time enough.” “ Not a moment to lose, I assure you.
The carriage is at the door."
They drove up the valley of Lauterbrunnen, and turned eastward among the mountains of the Grindelwald. There they passed the day ; half-frozen by the icy breath of the Great Glacier, upon whose surface stand pyramids and blocks of ice, like the tombstones of a cemetery. It was a weary day to Flemming. He wished himself at Interlachen; and was glad, when, towards evening, he saw once more the cone-roofed towers of the cloister rising above the walnut-trees.
That evening is written in red letters in his history. It gave him another revelation of the beauty and excellence of woman's character and intellect; not wholly new to him, yet now renewed and fortified. It was from the lips of Mary Ashburton that the revelation came. Her form arose, like a tremulous evening-star, in the firmament of his soul. He conversed with her, and with her alone; and knew not
All others were to him as if they were not there. He saw their forms, but saw them as the forms of inanimate things. At length her mother came ; and Flemming beheld in her but another Mary Ashburton, with beauty more mature; the same forehead and eyes, the same majestic figure ; and, as yet, no trace of age. He gazed upon her with a feeling of delight, not unmingled with holy awe. She was to him the rich and glowing Evening, from whose bosom the tremulous star was born.
Berkley took no active part in the conversation, but did what was much more to the purpose, – that is to say, arranged a drive for the next day with the Ashburtons, and of course invited Flemming, who went home that night with a halo round his head, and wondering much at a dandy, who stood at the door of the hotel, and said to his companion, as Flemming passed: “What do you call this place? I have been here two hours already, and find it devilish dull!”
when to go.
A RAINY DAY.
Leaning Tower of Pisa. I always tremble for the little men under them."
“How absurd!” exclaimed Mary Ashburton, with a smile that passed through the misty air of Flemming's thoughts like a sunbeam. “For one, I succeed much better in straight lines than in any others. Here I have been trying a half-hour to make this water-wheel round; and round it never will be.”
6. Then let it remain as it is. It looks uncommonly picturesque, and may pass for a new invention."
The lady continued to sketch, and Flemming to gaze at her beautiful face; often repeating to himself those lines in Marlow's "Faust":
“Oh, thou art fairer than the evening air, Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars!”
WHEN Flemming awoke the next morning, he saw the sky dark and lowering. From the mountain-tops hung a curtain of mist, whose heavy folds waved to and fro in the valley below. Over all the landscape the soft summer rain was falling. No admiring eyes would look up that day at the Staubbach.
A rainy day in Switzerland puts a sudden stop to many diversions.
The coachman may drive to the inn, and then back to the stable; but no farther. The sunburnt guide may sit at the ale-house door, and welcome; and the boatman whistle and curse the clouds, at his own sweet will; — but no foot stirs abroad for all that; no traveller moves, if he has time to stay. The rainy day gives him time for reflection. He has leisure now to take cognizance of his impressions, and make up his account with the mountains. He remembers, too, that he has friends at home; and writes up the journal, neglected for a week or more, and letters neglected longer ; or finishes the rough pencil-sketch begun yesterday in the open air. On the whole, he is not sorry it rains, — though disappointed.
Flemming was both sorry and disappointed; but he did not on that account fail to go over to the Ashburtons at the appointed hour. He found them sitting in the parlor. The mother was reading, and the daughter retouching a sketch of the Lake of Thun. After the usual salutations, Flemming seated himself near the daughter, and said:
“We shall have no Staubbach to-day, I presume; only this Giessbach from the clouds."
· Nothing more, I suppose. So we must be content to stay indoors, and listen to the sound of the eaves-dropping rain. It gives me time to finish some of these rough sketches.”
“ It is a pleasant pastime,” said Flemming ; "and I perceive you are very skilful. I am delighted to see that you can draw a straight line. I never before saw a lady's sketch-book in which all the towers did not resemble the
He certainly would have betrayed himself to the maternal eye of Mrs. Ashburton, had she not been wholly absorbed in the follies of a fashionable novel. Erelong, the fair sketcher had paused for a moment; and Flemming had taken her sketch-book in his hands and was looking it through from the beginning with everincreasing delight, half of which he dared not express, though he favored her with some comments and bursts of admiration.
“This is truly a very beautiful sketch of Murten and the battle-field! How quietly the landscape sleeps there by the lake, after the battle! Did you ever read the ballad of Veit Weber, the shoemaker, on this subject? He says the routed Burgundians jumped into the lake, and the Swiss Leaguers shot them down like wild ducks among the reeds. He fought in the battle, and wrote the ballad afterwards;
• He had himself laid hand on sword,
He who this rhyme did write; Till evening mowed he with the sword,
And sang the song at night.”
“ You must give me the whole ballad,” said