« AnteriorContinuar »
from the sweep of his cutlass, and as my pistols were both empty, retreated, acting on the defensive; when he pulled out his, fired, and hurled the weapon at my head. The shot passed without injuring me—but the pistol, aimed with better effect, struck me full on the forehead. A thousand sparks of light flashed from my eyes—I felt myself reeling and on the point of falling, when a cut across the shoulder stretched me at once on the ground. When I recovered from my stupor, and opened my eyes, the morning was far advanced —the sun was shining bright over head; and I found myself at sea, lying on the deck of the cutter; and Duff busily dressing my wounds. From him I learned that the pirates had been mastered after a severe conflict—in which four had been slain, and left on the Island; two had escaped unobserved during the fight, and made off with their boat; and two had been wounded, and were prisoners on board, one of whom was Mahone. On our arrival at Port Rico, we delivered them over to the civil power; and, soon afterwards, Mahone was tried for the murder of the Priest, when he was convicted on our evidence, condemned, and executed.
Under good nursing and care, I gradually recovered: and, by the fall of the season, without any further adventures, I once more landed safe in Scotland.
Isabella is not now that destitute and unprotected orphan whom I first saw on the middle of the western ocean—but the happy mistress of a happy home, diffusing life and gladness on all around her. My friend Duff has lately been placed on the list of post captains, and is anxiously waiting for more bustling times, when there will be more knocking about, and more hard blows got, than what our present peace establishment admits of. John Wylie, too, has had advancement in his line, being now master of one of the finest ships from Clyde; and I had the additional satisfaction of knowing that none of the crew had reason to regret their having jeopardized their lives in fighting for the " Pirate's Treasure."
Within, when sorrows lower,
Why givest thou, Nature! why,
To close the weary eye?
Oh! would on memory too
As quick a veil could fall—
And say,—Be darkness all!
Da Thomas Bkown.
HERBERT: A TALE.
The lowliest heart is ever nearest unto God; and so was it with the young Lord Bellincourt. His boyish years were full of confused and stormy thoughts; but, as he grew to manhood, his mind became serene and strong, and he was no longer vexed by those self-begotten miseries, which are often the mist of a summer morning, that indicate the glory to come, but which sometimes also deepen and burst into tempest. He found much gladness among books, and much study in the fields. The more he understood of men, the less he shunned them; and the more clear became his consciousness of his own nature, the more he learned to revere the ideal of humanity. The rich thought him strange, but the poor knew him to be kindly; and, while some conceived of his mind as of a quaint museum filled with rare fancies, and embalmed antiquities, and trivial knowledge won from our common earth, there were many who felt it to be a treasure-house filled with living symbols of joy and heaven-minded meditations, and overflowing with wealth on all the world.
He was the eldest son of the Earl of Marlow, who, when his heir had attained the age of twenty, lost his wife. The Countess left but one other child, a dumb boy, five years old, named Arthur. The Earl was now an old man, and was anxious that his son should marry. Sir William Clifford, who had wedded a cousinof the deceased Lady Marlow, lived in a distant part of the kingdom; and to him Lord Bellincourt went on a visit. His daughter, Louisa, was then about the young man's age, and a creature of the most intense beauty. Her dark eyes were fierce with splendour; and, when she wreathed her long black locks with flowers and with leaves of the elegant plant which bears her name,* and clothed herself in the airy garments which beseem a fancied wood-nymph, the power of her glance, and the haughty bearing of her imperial form, belied the humble gracefulness of her vesture and ornaments. She sought to dazzle and command the heart of Herbert; (for such was the name of Lord Bellincourt.) And, in truth, he was too young and too sensitive to beauty, not to feel admiration and delight in the presence of such a being. But he did not love her. His visions were all of a happiness which can be enjoyed in the narrow cell, or under the green-wood tree,—which belongs to ourselves, and is a part of our nature; and the only pageantries which it gave him joy to fancy, were the good man's natural garnitures, the bounties of the world to all, its skits, and woods, and rivers, and the symbols and triumphs of serene af- * In Spanish the vcrbina is called La Luiea.
fections. She dreamed of the highest seats in the halls of princes, of power, and magnificence, and successful vanity; and between them there could be little sympathy. When he left the house of Sir William Clifford, the look of scorn and detestation bent on him by Louisa, gave to her exquisite features the expression of a sorceress, baffled by the spirit whom she had hoped to make her slave.
The Earl of Marlow received his son with the utmost indignation. He told Herbert that he was resolved the marriage between him and Louisa Clifford should take place, and added that he would permit no more delay than three months. Lord Bellincourt replied, that he too was resolved, and that nothing could ever induce him to wed her. His father commanded him to leave the house, and not to return until he could consent to yield obedience where it was due.
Herbert departed from his home a solitary wanderer. The pittance of which his father could not deprive him, amounted to no more than the income of a day-labourer; and like a labourer he determined to live. He betook himself to an obscure valley, hired a small cottage with a patch of garden, put on the dress of a peasant, and began to try the strength of his philosophy in a mode of existence destitute of all the appliances which had adorned and enriched his former state. And his was a mind too well-self-sustained to fail in the enterprise. Regular bodily labour in his garden improved his health. He studied the few old books which he now possessed, more minutely and profitably than when he was surrounded by the myriad volumes of Lord Marlow's library. The earth appeared to him more various and living when he was compelled to make it his friend, than when he stept along it with the consciousness of one of its masters; and, being driven to seek within himself for enjoyments to fill the place of those he had lost, he discovered in his own breast an ample store-house of brighter blessings than the palace in which he had lived, or the cities he had visited, could furnish. Herbert Winter,—for he laid aside his title with his condition,—was well known to the two or three yeomen, and the farmers, who with their families inhabited the valley. They had no suspicion of his rank; but they felt that he was of a different class and education from themselves, and they were gratified by the kindness and gentleness of his manner. He was eagerly sought for as a guest at their fire-sides; for he opened to them and their children a world of amusing and unpretending information, and the tales which he remembered or invented, and told in their cottages, brought wonder and delight to young and old.
So, for several years, he dwelt in the valley a happier man than Seged of Ethiopia. At a few intervals in the earliest summer dawn, or in the clear night, he walked to the neighbourhood of his father's mansion, and wandered among those familiar paths of his childhood, and beneath those ancient trees planted by his ancestors. His recollection of the pleasant places of his youth, of the father who for so many years had fondly loved him, and of his buried mother, and of Arthur the helpless boy, breathed natural sorrow to his heart. But, when he thought of that despotic and untempered loveliness with which he had been required to wed, he blessed God that he was not Lord Bellincourt, nor the husband of Louisa Clifford. Her headstrong and selfish loveliness sometimes haunted his dreams, and looked at him through the foliage with tyrannous eyes; or, intently gazing at him, glided, he knew not how, amidst the mists of the morning along some forest glade. And he thought that he would rather be wedded to the humblest and least cultivated maiden of the valley in which he lived, than to that high-born and resplendent lady.
On one occasion, about three years after he had first become an exile from the halls of his ancestors, he lingered in the woods longer than he had ever staid before, and taking a last look of the house, he saw his father on the lawn with Arthur by his side. The old man walked feebly, and laid his hand on the shoulder of the boy; and Herbert could distinguish his white locks glittering in the sun. Three years more passed away; and again he saw him seated in a chair on the terrace with a young woman standing beside him, and his son lurking, as if in fear, behind him. The young lord could perceive that the female was of a tall and striking figure, and richly dressed; but he could perceive nothing more. He abhorred the thought of being a spy upon his father, and turned to leave the woods. His last glance showed him the lady pressing the old man's hand to her bosom and then to her lips. Herbert saw no more; but in this there was abundant subject for reflection, and, to one less calm and self-relying than Herbert, for sorrow and alarm. He returned, however, to his narrow home, and the serene activity of his habitual occupations; and sometimes forgot, during many days, that he had once been called Lord Bellincourt, and that he was heir to wide domains and an ancient earldom. Wherefore should he think of these things, who was actual owner of the rich inheritance of earth, and the beauty of heaven, and the unbounded and undistracted kingdom of a free, contented, and fruitful mind?
Fb.om the time of his son's departure, the Earl of Marlow became more and more fretful and moody. He shunned the society of his equals, and was surrounded only by servants; for his son Arthur was in a great degree disabled by his misfortune from affording his father those pleasures of society which he refused to seek from without. The old man brooded in secret over the absence of Herbert; but pride forbade him to recall the outcast: the enjoyment which he had been accustomed to derive from his intercourse with his neighbours, was now replaced by the vulgar and servile flattery of menials; and the strong and highly-cultivated mind of the Earl rapidly decayed under their degrading influences. The affection and good temper of Arthur never diminished; but the impatience of his parent, and the unhappy condition of the boy, made communication between them difficult; and the presence of the dumb youth often served only to irritate LordMarlow, by recalling to him the misfortune of his family.
After some years, the Earl shut himself up almost entirely in his own chamber, and would scarcely ever consent to see his son. No one, except two or three favourite servants, could approach him without encountering an explosion of rage and disgust; and while he was indignant at the cessation of any attentions which he had before received, the most flattering civilities were repaid with anger and contempt.
He was seated one day in his cabinet, when an attendant informed him that a lady desired to see him. "I am too ill to see any one. I have nothing to do with ladies—tell her so, Martin; and let me hear no more of her." The servant returned in half an hour, looking confused and half-frightened. "What is the matter now? Are you determined to kill me?'' "My Lord, I am sorry to say that she will not go. She is a young lady, and looks like a person of distinction." "A person of distinction! Martin, you're a fool. Tell herlwouldnot seeherif she were Queen of England." "Yes,my Lord; but—but—but, my Lord—but—" "But what, you idiot? Am I to be persecuted in my own house by adventuring mantuamakers? What is the matter, I say? Tell me at once, or you and she shall leave the house together." "She gave me a look, my Lord, that I would not stand again for any thing. I am sure she is a person of high rank, and she is the most beautiful creature I ever saw; and she sits in the library as if she were at home, and told me to desire your Lordship to go down to her." The Earl was now nearly choking with rage. "She—she—she—she thinks herself at home, does she? And I am to go to her? Martin, we will see if I am master'in my own house. Let me say three words to her; and then she may force herself on me again if she pleases. Wheel my chair opposite to the door; and show her up." "Yes, my Lord," and the valet departed on his errand, while the Earl wrapped his dressinggown about him, pulled down his velvet cap till it shaded his eyes, and compressed his exuberant fury till he had made his trembling features a " loft of stored thunder.''
In a few moments, Martin opened the door of the cabinet, while