Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of coming happiness when I see her smile, but the narcissus will bloom only for a few days longer, then wither and sink to the earth.”

“But the flower will revive again in spring,” said Lucy, « more beautiful than at the time it faded.”

“ All things look glad in spring,” he continued, “ the notes of the various birds are more melodious, the buds burst forth, the mountain trees put on their rich attire, the flowers of the valley dispense their hidden fragrance, the ice-bound brook is freed from its fetters, and every breeze is fresh with fragrance; but I, amid this general revival, must fade and die alone. I would the autumn were already arrived, and the leaves were falling, for then to die would be natural, and I should leave the world with less regret.”

We returned to the cottage, and the widow resumed her station at the wheel, while Lucy prepared the teatable, which was covered with fine bleached linen, which the widow mentioned with an air of pride, was the product of her hands. The humble meal was soon ready, and was eaten with thankfulness and delight by the cottagers, a joy unknown to those who have not by their own labour, first produced the sustenance of life.

The meal being over, the widow returned to her wheel, and recounted the occurrences of former days, until the sadness of the present was forgotten in the remembrance of the past. The brow of the invalid became more cheerful, and Lucy's spirits resumed their natural buoyancy from the transient gleam of sunshine that lit up the face of her lover. She sang. Her voice was sweet, and there was a heart-thrilling wildness in it, seldom to be found in those more refined and cultivated. It was powerful and spirit-stirring. Hugh Cameron dwelt upon each note with intense interest. His features became animated, and he mingled his voice with her's. The widow stopped her incessant wheel and lifted her head to listen. The invalid suddenly raised his voice, and cried, “ that note again, Lucy, that note again.”

She repeated it with so full a tone, and so clearly that the glasses in the window, and on the cupboard, vibrated with the sound.

“ Hush ; that is the note, I know it well. Now listen.” He attempted to imitate the note, but he failed, for his voice was too feeble. He then added, “ Not yet, Lucy, not yet ; my time is not come yet.” The cheerfulness of the poor girl was suddenly changed to sadness ; she ceased to sing ; the widow's countenance fell, and she resumed her labour in silence.

The evening was now considerably advanced, and I arose to take my departure. The invalid accompanied me towards the inn. I expressed my curiosity to know what he meant by his observation, when he failed to imitate the note.

" That,” said he, “ was the note to which the heavenly spheres were attuned, when concord prevailed throughout creation; when the mighty plan was first set in motion, and God pronounced all good.”

I looked at him with astonishment. He continued, “ I have heard that note at midnight, proceed from the voice of my dog, as he howled beneath my chamber window at the moon. It was ominous. I have heard it in the voice of the screech-owl, while perched on the large cypress tree in the church-yard. I have heard it in the echoes of the mountains when I have shouted ; in the howling of the tempest, in the murmuring of the waters, and the rustling of the trees ; for every thing, both animate and inanimate, retains that sound, to which univer

sal harmony will again be attuned by the master-hand. And when that sound proceeds from this voice, I shall cease to think of earthly matters. I perceive you doubt the truth of my theory. If you suspend a piece of metal or glass by a thread, and strike the note which lies dormant therein, upon a musical instrument, you will draw it forth; the substance will respond ; and when the heavenly harps are attuned, and their notes are permitted to extend to the numberless spheres, all created things, both animate and inanimate, will join in the concord ; the discordant particles will be reconciled and all be harmony again. All things partake of heaven. Even the daisy of the valley and the wild flowers of the mountain, retain and diffuse a portion of the aromatic atmosphere, which prevails in purer regions than this. As we approach death, the sense of smelling becomes more acute and delicate ; so much so, that I can already discover in the flowers of the season, that fragrance which belongs to this world, and that which is ethereal. There are numberless omens in nature, which warn the wise man of approaching change, and they are not to be idly slighted.” With these remarks we arrived at the inn; he pressed my hand at parting, and slowly retraced his steps to the widow's cottage.

I arose early the succeeding morning, and continued my journey towards the border line of New York. I was absent about two weeks from the village, and it was a calm evening as I again approached it, through the valley formed by the Delaware. Before the village appeared, I heard the solemn tolling of a church bell, which grew louder and fainter, as the breeze that swept up the valley rose and died away. Every hill responded to the knell. I quickened my pace, and as I drew nigh to the village, it appeared quite deserted. I rode up to the tavern, but my attentive host did not make his appearance. I remained seated on my horse, with my face towards the Blue Ridge. The winding road which led across the mountain, though nearly concealed by the towering trees, was at intervals to be seen, perfectly bare, from the village. A long retinue appeared crossing one of these interstices; it moved slowly along, and was lost in the shades of the forest. When the last had disappeared I alighted, and discovered at a short distance a lad with his eyes fixed intently upon the spot, over which the mournful train had passed. It was little Gilbert, the drummer's child. I inquired the reason of the village being deserted, and he sobbed, “ Hugh Cameron is dead, and they are now burying him where he wished to be buried.” The boy, still weeping, led the way to the stable, and supplied my horse with food.

What are the promises of this world! There was a time when fancy whispered to Hugh Cameron, the ceaseless hum of the widow's wheel would be silenced ; her chair would occupy the most conspicuous place around his fire-side, and clambering on her knees would be seen, a little image of his lovely Lucy. The dream was a joyous one, and life is but a dream. He whose fancy can paint the hopes of to-morrow in the most vivid colours, attains the summit of all earthly bliss; for there is much, very much in anticipation, but little, very little in fruition.

In the evening I went to condole with the mourners. Lucy had already retired, for hers was a sorrow to obtrude upon which, would add to its poignancy.

6 The day you left us,” said the widow," the departed crossed the river with Lucy and little Gilbert. They strolled up the cypress hollow until they arrived at his favourite retreat, where the torrent dashes impetuously down the side of the mountain, and the surrounding pre cipice sends back numberless echoes. He seated him. self, and listened intently to the roar of the waters. Not a sound escaped him, and every note was tried by his ear. He stooped by the stream where the water gurgled over its pebbly bed, and discovered notes imperceptible to any ear less acute than his own. A sudden gust of wind agitated the tall pines ; he stood erect, paused and pointing to the bending tops of the trees, exclaimed, it is there too, Lucy, even in that hollow moan of the monarch of the forest I detect it.' He shouted, and the valley rung with echo; he repeated it'; listened to every sound, and his face became animated as he caught the faint return made by the most distant hill. His dog raised his ears and barked, it is there too, Lucy,' he exclaimed, even the voice of poor Carlo is full of melody, and your voice, Lucy, even when you first told me that you loved, sounded not so musically, so heavenly sweet.' He directed Gilbert to gather for him, the mountain honeysuckle, the cypress branches, the laurel, and such flowers and blossoms as were putting forth. The boy soon came with his arms full, and laid them at the feet of the invalid. “My sense of smelling,' he said, “ was never so acute. The fragrance arising from these branches almost overpowers me. Yet I enjoy it, and although widely different in their odours, I can perceive a portion of the same subduing fragrance proceeding from each. Their colours are more vivid, sounds are more distinct, and my touch more sensible than formerly. These changes tell me that I shall never visit this valley again.' He rose from the rock upon which he was seated, took Lucy by the arm, and proceeded towards the village in silence. Carlo walked closely, and dejectedly by his master's side, and even the reckless Gilbert did not ven

« AnteriorContinuar »