Imágenes de páginas

ly it is too bad, Mrs. Campbell ; I must my quizzical scruples, and replied to try if other people are not more to be them with the common-place remark, depended on.”—“ Indeed, my lady, we that “ the few things they occasionally have tried hard to get it for your lady- purchased could make no difference; ship ; but there's such a sharp look out for that the people would' smuggle all now, and the Ranger has been lying off the same, and find encouragement from the island for this week past, our people others, if not from them.” And when haven't been able to get nothing ashore, I pressed the question a little further, and yet I am sure my husband and son suggesting to their consciences whether have been upon the watch along the all who encouraged the trade were not, beach, and in the boat these three in a great measure answerable for the nights in all this dreadful weather ; and guilt incurred, and the lives lost in the to-night, though it blows a gale, they're prosecution of it, they bade me not talk out again;" and the poor woman cast of such horrid 'things, and huddled a tearful shuddering glance towards the away their recent purchases in a sort of window, against which the wind beat disconcerted silence, that spoke any dismally, accompanied with thick driv- thing rather than remorse of conscience ing sleet, that half obscured the glimpses and purposed reformation. My “serof a sickly moon.

monizing,” as it was termed, seemed to The lady was pacified by these as- have thrown a spell over the frank sosurances, that the foreign luxury should ciability that usually enlivened our be procured for her that night, is human evening coteries. Conversation lanexertions made at the peril of human guished—the piano was out of tunelife, could succeed in landing it. The and the young ladies not in a singing silks, &c. were examined and approved mood. Their mamma broke her netof by the young ladies, and finally ta- ting-thread every three minutes, and, ken and paid for, after some haggling from a digression on the degenerate about “the price of blood,” as the pur- rottenness of modern cotton, digressed chase-money might too justly have been insensibly into a train of serious obserdenominated. Mrs. Campbell receiv- vations on the dangers impending over ed it with a deep sigh, and humbly curt- Church and State, from the machinaseying, withdrew from the presence, tions of evangelical reformers--ever not without (involuntarily, as it were) and anon, when the storm waxed loudstealing an abashed glance towards my er, interspersing her remarks with pacountenance as she passed me. She thetic complaints of the perverseness was no sooner out of the room than her with which the very elements seemed fair customers began to expatiate with to conspire with Government against rapturous volubility, on the cheapness the landing of the precious bales. of their purchases, an inconsistency of The storm did rage fearfully, and remark that puzzled me exceedingly, its increasing violence warned me to as, not five minutes before, while bar- retrace my homeward way, before the gaining with the seller, they had averred disappearance of a yet glimmering her goods to be of very inferior manu moon should leave me to pursue it in facture, and exorbitantly dear. “Ay, total darkness. Flapping my hat over but,” observed the prudent mother, my eyes, and wrapping mysef snugly “ you were in such a hurry, or you round in the thick folds of a huge boatmight have made better bargains ; but cloak, I issued forth from the cheerful it's always the way—and yet I winked brightness of the cottage parlour into and winked at you both. I should the darkness visible of the wild scene have got those things half as cheap without. Wildly magnificent it was ! again."

My path lay along the shore, against Indulgently tender as I am inclined which mountainous waves came rolling to be to the little whims and foibles of in long ridges, with a sound like thunthe sex, I could not, on the present oc- der. Sleet, falling at intervals, mincasion, refrain from hinting to my fair gled with the sea surs, and both were friends a part of what was passing in driven into my face by the south-east my mind. At first they laughed at blast, with a violence that obliged me

frequently to pause and gasp for a guide, should the younger Campbell breath. Large masses of clouds were chance to be at home. hurried in sublime disorder across the I had no need to tap for admittance dim struggling moon, whose pale light at the humble door." It was open, and gleamed at intervals, with ghastly in- on the threshold stood the mother of distinctness, along the white sands, and the family. The light from within on the frothy summits of the advancing gleamed across her face and figure, and billows. As I pursued my way, buf- I could perceive that she was listening feting the conflicting elements, other with intent breathlessness, and with sounds, methought, appeared to mingle eyes rivetted, as if they could pierce in their uproar. The deep and shrill the darkness, towards the quarter from intonation of human voices seemed whence I was approaching. My steps blended with the wailing and sobbing on the loose shingle at length reached of the storm; the creaking and labour- the ear, and she darted forward, exing of planks, the splash of oars was claiming, “Oh Amy! thank God ! distinguishable, I thought, in the pause here's your father.” The woman of the receding waves. I was not de- sprang to the door with a light, and its ceived. A momentary gleam of moon- beams revealed my then unwelcome light glanced on the white sails of a ves- features, instead of those of the husband sel at some distance from the land, and and father. “Oh, sir ! I thought”one of her boats a black speck on the was poor Margaret's eloquently unfinbillows) was discernible, making her ished ejaculation, when she discovered way towards the shore. At that mo- her mistake; “ but you are kindly welment, another boat close in shore, shot come,” she quickly added, “ for this is by with the velocity of lightning, and no night for any Christian soul to be at the same instant a man rushed quick- out in, though my husband and son ly by me, whose tall remarkable figure -Oh, sir ! they are both, both tossI recognized for Campbell's in that ing in one little boat on that dreadful dim momentary glance, he darted on sea ; and that is not all, the Ranger's with the rapidity of an arrow, and im- boats are on the look out for the lugmediately I heard a long shrill whistle ger they are gone to meet, and God re-echoed by another and another from knows what may happen-I prayed the cliffs, from the shore, and from the and beseeched them for this night only sea. The moon had almost withdrawn to stay peaceably at home, such a night her feeble light, and I could no longer of weather as was working up, but all discern any object but the white sands in vain ; we had promised our lady and under my feet, and the sea foam that the cargo was to be landed to-nightfrothed over them. More than two Oh, sir! my lady, and the like of she, miles of my homeward path was yet little think”. And the poor woman before me; and in their progress I burst into tears. This was no time for should have to cross two gullies furrow- admonition and reproof, or for the coned through the sand by land-springs solatory remarks so often addressed to from the adjacent cliffs. Intermingled the unhappy, of “ I told you it would and bedded in these were several rocky come to this,” or “ This would not crags, and portions of the foundered have happened if you had listened to cliff, amongst which it was easy to pick me,” or, “ Well, you have brought it * one's day-light way ; but the impene- all upon yourself.” The consequences trable gloom that now enveloped every of their illicit traffic was now brought object, made me pause for a moment more forcibly home to the minds of to consider how far it might be safe to these poor people, by the agonizing continue onward in my wave-washed suspense they were enduring, than they path. A light streaming from one of could have been by any arguments I the windows of Campbell's cottage, a might have laboured to enforce._I did few furlongs from the beach, decided my best to calm their terrors. To disthe result of my deliberation, and I pel them was impossible, while the turned towards the little dwelling, pur- tempest raged louder and louder ; and posing to apply there for a lantern and independent of that there were other

too reasonable grounds for apprehen- of unusual length, there was nothing sion. I suggested the probability of uncommon in her countenance, and Campbell not being in the boat, as he her naturally dark and colourless comhad passed me on the beach so recent- plexion was tinged with the sallow hue ly; but at all events he was abroad in of sickness ;-her lips were whiter than a tremendous night, and with a despe- her cheek, and her uncommonly tall rate gang, expecting and armed against figure, slender and fragile as the reed, resistance. Forgetting my own pur- bowed down with the languor of weakpose of borrowing a lantern to continue ness and sorrow. But when she lifted my homeward path, I entered the cabin up those dark eyes, their melancholy with the distressed females, whose looks light was touchingly expressive, and in thanked me for abiding with them in unison with the general character of the this their hour of need. A cheerful slight shadowy frame, that seemed alfire brightened the interior of the little most transparent to the 'workings of the dwelling, where neatness and order still wounded spirit within. Amy's young bore testimony that the habits of its in- heart had never recovered the shock of mates had at least been those of peace- her William's untimely death, and her ful industry. The fire-light gleamed timid tender nature was weighed down ruddy red on the clean brick Hoor : a under a perpetual load of conscious carved oak table, and a few clumsy old self-reproach, that for her sake, and chairs of the same fashion, were bright that of her infants, her father and her with the polish of age and housewifery; brother had engaged in the perilous unand one, distinguished by capacious lawfulness of their present courses. As arms, a high stuffed back, and red cush- she sat looking on her mother's face, I ion, was placed close beside the ingle could perceive what thoughts were nook, the accustomed seat of the fa- passing in her mind. At last a large ther of the family. His pipe lay close tear, that had been some time collectat hand, on the high mantle shelf, where ing, swelled over the quivering lid, and a pair of brass candlesticks, a few china trickled slowly down her cheek, and cups, some long-shanked drinking rising suddenly, and letting fall the netglasses, and sundry tobaceo stoppers, of ting and shuttle, she came and edged fantastical figure, were ranged in sym- herself on the corner of her mother's metrical order. The dresser was elab- chair, and clasping one arm round her orately set out with its rows of various neck, and hiding her face on her shoulshape and quaint diversity of motto, der, “Mother !"_“ My Amy! my and device, its japanned tray, and ma- dear child !" whispered the fond pahogany tea-chest, proudly conspicuous rent, tenderly caressing her, “why in the middle. The walls were hung should you always reproach yourself round with nets, baskets, and fishing so ? You who have been a good dutiful apparatus, and to the rafter various ar- child, and a comfort to us ever since you ticles of the same description were ap were born. Before your father fell inpended; but Campbell's duck gun, and to evil company, and listened to their his two clumsy pistols, rested not on temptations, did we not contrive to the hooks he was wont to call his ar- maintain ourselves, and you and your moury. An unfinished net was sus- dear fatherless babies, by honest induspended by the chimney corner, at try; and where should you have taken which the youthful widow had appar- refuge, my precious Amy, but under ently been employed. She resumed your parents' roof?” A look of eloher seat and shuttle, but the hand that quent gratitude and a tender kiss was held it rested idly on her lap, while her Amy's reply to these fond assurances. eyes were rivetted in mournful solici- For a few moments this touching intertude on the anxious countenance of her course of hearts, beguiled them from mother. There was something pecu- the intense anxiousness with which they liarly interesting in this young woman; had been listening to every sound from not beauty of feature, for excepting á without; but the redoubled violence of pair of fine dark eyes, shaded by lashes the storin fearfully roused them from

that momentary abstraction, and they the first to leave me, and now"started and looked in each other's She was interrupted by the low inarfaces, and then in mine, as if beseech - ticulate murmur of a human voice, that ing comfort, when, alas ! I had only sounded near us. We all started, but sympathy to bestow. The conflict of Amy's ear was familiarized to the tone winds and waves was indeed tremen- it was one of her little ones talking dous, and I felt too forcibly convinced, and moaning in its sleep. The small that if the poor Campbells were indeed chamber where they lay opened from exposed to it, in their little fishing boat, that we were in, and the young mother nothing short of a miracle could save crept softly towards the bed of her them from a watery grave. There sleeping infants. She was still bending was a chance, however, that the landing over them, when the outer door was of the contraband goods might have suddenly dashed open, and Campbell been effected by the crew of the lugger, —Campbell himself, burst into the cotwithout help from shore, and, in that tage. Oh! with what a shriek of eccase, the prolonged absence of the fa- stacy was he welcomed ! With what ther and son might arise from their a rapture of inarticulate words, clinging having proceeded with them to some embraces, and tearful smiles ! But the inland place of concealment. The joy was transient, and succeeded by a probability of this suggestion was ea- sudden chill of nameless apprehensions; gerly caught at by the conscious pair, for, disengaging himself almost roughly but the ray of hope gleamed with from the arms of his wife and daughtransient brightness : A gust of wind, ter, he staggered towards his own old more awful than any which had pre- chair, and flinging himself back in it, ceded it, rushed past with deafening covered his face with his clasped hands. uproar, and as it died away, low One only cause for this fearful agitation sobs, and shrill moaning lamentations, suggested itself to his trembling wife. seemed mingled with its deep bass.“ My son! my son!” she shrieked out, We were all silent, now straining our grasping her husband's arms, what sight from the cabin door into the mur- have you done with him ? He is dead! ky gloom without,—now gathering to- he is murdered! Oh! I knew it would gether round the blazing hearth, where come to this.”-“ Peace, woman!" the neglected embers emitted only a shouted Campbell, in a voice of thunfitful glimmer. The wind rushing der, uncovering his face as he started through every chink and cranny, wa- up wildly from his chair with a look of ved to and fro the flame of the small appalling fierceness—“ Peace, woman! candle, declining in its socket, and at your son is safe ;" then his tone last the hour of twelve was struck by suddenly dropping to a low hoarse the old clock that “ ticked behind the murmur, he added, “ This is not his door” in its dark heavy case. At that blood," and he flung on the table his moment a large venerable looking book, broad white belt, on which the tokens that lay with a few others on a hang of a deadly fray were frightfully appaing shell, near the chimney, slipped rent. “ Campbell !" I cried, “ unhappy from the edge on which it rested, and man! what have you done ? to what fell with a dull heavy sound at Marga- have you brought your wretched famiret's feet. It was the Bible that had ly ? For their sakes, escape, escape belonged to her husband's mother, and for you life, while the darkness favours as she stooped to pick it up and replace you.” He trembled, and looked irreit, she perceived that it had fallen open solute for a moment, but immediately at the leaf, where, twenty-two years resuming the voice and air of desperate back from that very day, the venerable sternness, replied, “ It is too late--they parent had recorded, with pious grati- are at my heels—they tracked me tude, the birth of her son's first born. home;" and while he yet spoke, the " Ah, my dear son! my good Mau- trampling of feet, and the shout of loud rice!" ejaculated the heartstruck mo- voices were heard ; the door burst ther ; “ I was not used to forget the open, and several rough looking men, day God gave thee to me-Thou wert in the garb of sailors, rushed into the

cottage. « Ah! we have you, my his weeping daughter, he said quietly, man," they vociferated—“ we have you Amy, my dear child ! take the poor at last, though the young villain has baby ; I little thought, dear lamb! given us the slip.”—“ Villain !" shout- she would ever find hurt or harm in ed Campbell ; " who dares to call my her old grandfather's arms.” It was a son a villain ?” But checking himself touching scene-even the rough sailinstantaneously, he added, in a subduedors seemed affected by it, and they were tone, “ but I am in your power now, more gently executing their task of you may do what you will ;” and once fitting on the other manacle, when again more he seated himself in sullen sub- steps and voices approached ; again missiveness. The women clung round the door opened, and a second band aphim, his unhappy wife exclaiming, peared at it, a group of sailors like“ Oh! what has he done ? If there has wise, bearing amongst them a ghastly been mischief, it is not his fault-he burthen, the lifeless body of the unforwould not hurt a fly-For all his rough tunate young man who had been shot way he is as tender-hearted as a child in the execution of his duty, by the rash

- Richard! Richard ! speak to them hand of the wretched culprit before us, -tell them 'tis a mistake.” He nei- whose aim was not the less fatal, for ther spoke nor moved, nor lifted up his having been almost unconsciously taeyes from the ground on which they ken in the bustle of a desperate conwere fixed. “ No mistake at all, mis- flict. 66 We've missed our boat, and tress,” said one of the men, “ he has we could not let him lie bleeding on the only shot one of our people, that's all, beach,” said one of the new comers, in and we must just fit him with a couplé reply to an exclamation of surprise of these new bracelets ” And so say- from those who before occupied the ing, he began fastening a pair of hand-cottage. Campbell's agitation was cuffs round Campbell's wrists. He of- dreadful-He turned, shuddering, from fered no resistance, and seened indeed the sight of his victim. The women almost unconscious of what was doing, stood petrified with horror. I alone when the eldest of Amy's children, a retaining some self-possession, advancpretty little girl of four years old, who ed to examine if human aid might yet having been awakened by the noise, avail to save the poor youth, who was had crept softly from her bed, and laid (apparently a corpse) on three and made her way unperceived' tow- chairs, near the door. Comprehendards her grandfather, burst into a fit of ing my purpose, the humane tenderloud sobbing, and climbing up upon his ness of poor Margaret's nature surknees, and clasping her little arms mounted her agonizing feelings, and she about his neck, and laying her soft came trembling to assist in the painful cheek to his dark rough one, lisped out, examination. The young man's face “ Send away naughty men grandad was turned from us towards the wall, naughty men frighten Amy."

and almost covered by the luxuriant The springs of sensibility that seem- hair, (a sailor's pride) which, escaping ed frozen up in Campbell's bosom were from the confining ribbon, had fallen touched electrically by the loving tones in dark wet masses over his cheek and and caresses of his little darling. He brow. His right hand hung down from hugged her to his bosom, which began his side, and on taking it into mine, I to heave with deep convulsive sobs, found that it was already cold as marand for a moment the tears of the old ble, and that no pulse was perceptible man and the child mingled in touching in the artery. Margaret had, as expesilence. As he clasped her thus, the ditiously as her agitation would permit, handcuff that was already fastened to unclosed his sailor's jacket, and checkhis left wrist, pressed painfully on bered shirt, and though she started and tender arms, and as she shrink from shuddered at the sight of blood thickly it, he seemed first to perceive the igno- congealed over his bosom, she persisted minious fetter. His brow was wrung heroically in her trying task. His neck with a sudden convulsion, but its dis- handkerchief had been previously untortion was momentary, and turning to tied, and stuffed down as a temporary


« AnteriorContinuar »