« AnteriorContinuar »
“ Why, man, that's right; howl—howl! It will do you good, poor, doomed wretch; if anything will do you good. Ha! that's sweet music_sweet as the sackbut and timbrel,” said the self-complacent Mr. Cloudy, as old Cramp yelled in a higher pitch. This spiritual comforter was a fat, squat man, of large breadth of back, huge legs and arms, and a big head, thatched with short black hair, and sunk between his shoulders. He had large, rolling black eyes, a flattened nose, and wide dropping mouth, with the complexion of antiquarian parchment.
“And so you've suffered, poor, wretched worm! eh?” asked Mr. Cloudy, comfortably seating himself in an armchair by the bedside.
Ugh! I have suffered,” cried the card-maker. “It's a blessed thing,” said the Muggletonian. you have suffered? Beware, beware that Beelzebub doesn't deceive you. You're sure you've suffered? Well then thank God!” “I do, I do—that is, I hope I do," answered the man.
I “ And now, do you really, my kind, good friend—my dear, charitable friend-do you really think I shall be damned? Are you sure?”
“Cock-sure," cried Cloudy. “ Ain't you a wretched sinner? Haven't you lived upon perdition? Haven't you sold traps for sinners' souls? How many lost sheep have you sent before you?”
“But then, my dear friend, I was card-maker to the Court; and that may go for something-eh? Mayn't it, mayn't it?" exclaimed Cramp despairingly.
“Don't hope it; quite lost if you hope," answered Cloudy. “Wretched old man! haven't you put snares into the hands of the wicked? Haven't you sold beggary, and robbery, and self-murder? How many precious souls are now roaring out against you?”
“True, true, true!” screamed the card-maker—"no hope, no hope!”—and then he fell back and groaned. In a moment he jumped up again in bed, and with such new terror in his face, that he made his spiritual comforter leap up also. With an uneasy look, Mr. Cloudy pulled the belì, immediately answered by Becky. She no sooner
threw a glance at her master, than she hurried downstairs, and almost immediately returned with her mistress. "If you please, mem," I heard her say upon the stairs, “ if you please, mem, he's going mad again.”
Mrs. Cramp entered the room, and to my amazement burst into tears. “Dear Mr. Cloudy," she cried, “is it come so near? Is he really going? '
“ I have seen many things of the sort,” said the tranquil Cloudy, “and I should say really going."
Mrs. Cramp wiped her eyes, and, approaching the bed, asked, “ Joseph, don't you know me?”.
Old Cramp looked at his pretty young wife, and with a smile of imbecility answered, “You're the Queen of Hearts." “Poor wretch !” groaned Cloudy, “now he's wander
I'm going—I'm going—see, now they're all about me!-- why, the counterpane's all ten of diamonds! And there, there at my bedside—don't you see him ?—there's the King of Spades digging my grave—digging my
on and the card-maker roared, and his face became hideously distorted.
“There's nobody on the bed, Joseph; nobody at all, dear,” said Mrs. Cramp, feeling that she ought to say something
“ There they are,” cried Cramp; “two of 'em. Two upon the quilt-here, right upon my knees-playing cribbage for my precious soul! Hush! that's the Jack of Clubs !—the devil-I know him, can't be mistaken in him! And there—that's the King of Hearts; bless his sweet face !-that's my good spirit. Ha, ha! he may win-he may win!”
“A dreadful sight, Mrs. Cramp,” said Cloudy; “but now he's going. Comfort yourself-he can't last now.”
—. Hush, hush! they're at it. The King of Hearts has first crib. Ha, ha! the devil loses—the devil loses."
For more than an hour Cramp, in bis madness, watched the progress of a game of cribbage played by his good and bad angel; and, with intense anxiety, looked over the cards, talking loudly of the fortune of the game.
Now he advised his good angel in the laying out of his crib, and the playing of his cards; now he rejoiced and chuckled at his successes; and now spat and gnashed his teeth at the prosperity of his antagonist.
At length the game approached its close; and Cramp sat with his eyes glaring and riveted upon the counterpane, resting his chin upon his hands, and, in the agony of his expectations, scarcely seeming to breathe. 5 “Hush," he cried; "there is but one hole apiece to
“ play; only one hole, and, with Inck, I may be an angel yet! Silence, I say; not a word, not a syllable. The devil has to deal—that's bad; never mind-silence. Yes, yes; that will do; never mind the crib now, cried Cramp, still counselling the play of his good angel. “ You only want one hole, and you must get it-you must get it. Silence;-it's you to cut, it's you to—What! the Jack of Spades !—One for his nob. The devil pegs !”
And with these words the card-maker sank back upon his bed, and died.
HOW JANE CONQUEST RANG THE BELL.
BY JAMES MILNE,
'Twas about the time of Christmas, a many years ago, When the sky was black with wrath and rack, and the
earth was white with snow,
Harry Conquest's wife.
white sea mist. Jane Conquest's heart was hopeless, she could only weep
That the Shepherd mild would take the child painlessly
The night grew deeper and deeper, and the storm had a
stronger will, And buried in deep and dreamless sleep, lay the hamlet
under the bill. And the fire was dead on the hearthstone within Jane
Conquest's room, And still sat she with her babe on her knee, at prayer
amid the gloom, When, borne above the tempest, a sound fell on her ear, Thrilling her through, for well she knew 'twas a voice of
mortal fear. And a light leapt in at the lattice, sudden and swift and
red, Crimsoning all the whited wall, and the floor and the roof
o'erhead. It shone with a radiant glory on the face of the dying child, Like a fair first ray of the shadowless day of the land of
the undefiled; And it lit up the mother's features with a glow so strange That the white despair that had gathered there seemed
changed to hope's own hue. For one brief moment, heedless of the babe upon her knee, With the frenzied start of a frightened heart up to her
feet rose she; And thro' the quaint old casement she looked upon the
Thank God, that the sight she saw that night so rare a
sight should be. Hemm'd in by hungry billows, whose madness foam'd at
lip, Half a mile from the shore, or hardly more, she saw a
gallant ship Aflame from deck to topmast, aflame from stem to stern, For there seemed no speck on all the wreck where the
fierce fire did not burn. And the night was like a sunset, and the sea like a sea of
blood, And the rocks and the shore were bathed all o'er as by
some gory flood.
She looked and looked, till the terror crept cold thro'
every limb, And her breath came quick, and her heart turned sick,
and her sight grew dizzy and dim, And her lips had lost their utterance; tho' she strove sbe
could not speak, But her feeling found no channel of sound in prayer, or
sob, or shriek.
Silent she stood and rigid, with her child to her bosom
prest, Like a woman of stone with stiff arms thrown round a
stony babe at breast. Till once more that cry of anguish thrilld thro' the
tempest's strife, And it stirr'd again in her heart and brain the active,
thinking life; And the light of an inspiration leapt to her brightened eye, And on lip and brow was written now a purpose pure
and high. Swiftly she turn'd and softly she crossed the chamber
floor, And faltering not, in his tiny cot, she laid the babe she
bore; And then, with a holy impulse, she sank to her knees and
made A lowly prayer in the silence there, and this was the
prayer she prayed : “ Christ, who didst bear the scourging, but now dost wear I at Thy feet, О true and sweet, would lay my burden
down. Thou badest me love and cherish the babe Thou gavest me, And I have kept Thy word, nor stept aside from
following Thee; And lo! the boy is dying, and vain is all my care, And my burden's weight is very great, yea I greater than
I can bear. And, Lord, Thou know'st what peril doth threat these
poor men's lives,