« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
ing her hands in agony, fled, as if for refuge, to her father's cottage. The officer retired, confounded, humiliated, and repen.
It is uncertain what might have been the result of the conflict of his feelings, had not his thoughts been diverted by the bustle of departure. New scenes, new pleasures, and new companions, soon dissipated his selfreproach, and stifled his tenderness; yet, amidst the stir of camps, the revelries of garrisons, the array of armies, and even the din of battles, his thoughts would sometimes steal back to the scene of rural quiet and village simplicity--the white cottage-the footpath along the silver brook and up the hawthorn hedge, and the little village maid loitering along it, leaning on his arm, and listening to him with eyes beaming with unconscious affection.
The shock which the poor girl had received, in the destruction of all her ideal world, had indeed been cruel. Faintings and hysterics, had at first shaken her tender frame, and were succeeded by a settled and pining melancholy. She had beheld from her window the march of the departing troops. She had seen her faithless lover borne off, as ifin triumph, amidst the sound of drum and trumpet, and the
of arms. She strained a last aching gaze after him, as the morning sun glittered about his figure, and his plume waved in the breeze : he passed away like a bright vision from her sight and left her all in darkness.
It would be trite to dwell on the particulars of her after-story. It was, like other tales of love, melancholy. She avoided society, and wandered out alone in the walks she had most frequented with her lover. She sought, like the stricken deer, to weep in silence and loneliness, and brood over the barbed sorrow that rankled in her soul. Sometimes she would be seen late of an evening sitting in the porch of the village church; and the milk. maids, returning from the fields, would now and then overhear her, singing some plaintive ditty in the hawthorn walk. She became fervent in her devotions at church: and as the old people saw her approach, so wasted away, yet with a hectic bloom, and that hallowed air which melancholy diffuses round the form, they would make way for her, as for a thing spiritual
, 'and," looking after her, would shake their heads in gloomy foreboding.
She felt a conviction that she was hastening to the tomb, but looked forward to it as a place of rest. The
silver cord that had bound her to existence was loosed. and there seemed to be no more pleasure under the sun. If ever her gentle bosom had entertained resentment against her lover, it was extinguished. She was incapable of angry passions; and in a moment of saddened tenderness, she penned him a farewell letter. It was couched in the simplest language ; but touching from its very simplicity. She told him that she was dying, and did not conceal from him that his conduct was the cause. She even depicted the sufferings which she had experienced; but concluded with saying, that she could not die in peace, until she had sent hím her forgiveness and her blessing,
By degrees her strength declined, so that she could no longer leave the cottage. She could only totter to the window, where, propped up in her chair, it was her enjoyment to sit all day and look out upon the landscape. Still she uttered no complaint, nor imparted to any one the malady that was preying upon her heart. She never even mentioned her lover's name; but would lay her head on her mother's bosom and weep in silence. Her poor parents hung in mute anxiety over this fading blossom of their hopes, still flattering themselves that it might again revive to freshness, and that the bright unearthly bloom which sometimes flushed her cheek might be the promise of returning health.
In this way she was seated between them one Sunday afternoon; her hands were clasped in theirs, the lattice was thrown open, and the soft air that stole in brought with it the fragrance of the clustering honeysuckle which her own hands had trained round the window.
Her father had just been reading a chapter in the Bible: it spoke of the vanity of worldly things and of the joys of heaven: it seemed to have diffused comfort and serenity through her bosom. Her eye was fixed on the distant village church; the bell had tolled for the evening service; the last villager was lagging into the porch and every thing had sunk into that hallowed stillness peculiar to the day of rest. Her parents were gazing on her with yearning hearts. Sickness and sorrow, which pass so roughly over some faces, had given her's the expression of a seraph's. tear trembled in her soft blue eye. Was she thinking of her faithless lover ?—or were her thoughts wandering to that distant church-yard, into whose bosom she might soon be gathered ?
Suddenly the clang of hoofs was heard—a horseman galloped to the cottage--he dismounted before the win dow—the poor girl gave a faint exclamation, and sunk back in her chair;-it was her repentant lover! He rushed into the house, and flew to clasp her to his bosom; but her wasted form-her death-like countenance So wan, yet so lovely in its desolation, --smote him to the soul, and he threw himself in an agony at her feet. She was too faint to rise--She attempted to extend her trembling hand-her lips moved as if she spoke, but no word was articulated-she looked down upon him with a smile of unutterable tenderness,—and closed her eyes for ever!
Such are the particulars which I gathered of this village story. They are but scanty, and I am conscious have little novelty to recornmend them. In the present rage also for strange incident and high-seasoned narrative, they may appear trite and insignificant, but they interested me strongly at the time; and, taken in connexion with the affecting ceremony which I just witnessed, left a deeper impression on my mind than many circumstances of a more striking, nature. I have passed through the place since, and visited the church again, from a better motive than mere curiosity. It was a wintry evening; the trees were stripped of their foliage; the churchyard looked naked and mournful, and the wind rustled coldly through the dry grass. Evergreens, however, had been planted about the grave of the village favourite, and osiers were bent over it to keep the turf uninjured.
The church door was open, and I stepped in. There hung the chaplet of flowers and the gloves as on the day of the funeral : the flowers were withered, it is true, but care seemed to have been taken that no dust should soil their whiteness, I have seen many monuments, where art has exhausted its powers to awaken the sympathy of the spectator; but I have met with none that spoke more touchingly to my heart, than this simple, but delicate memento of departed innocence.
The family meeting was warm and affectionate; as the evening was far advanced, the Squire would not permit
us to change our travelling dresses, but ushered us at once to the company, which was assembled in a large old-fashioned hall. It was composed of different branches of a numerous family connexion, where there were the usual proportion of old uncles and aunts, comfortable married dames, superannuated spinsters, blooming country cousins, half-fledged striplings, and bright-eyed boarding school hoydens. They were variously occupied ; some at a round game of cards; others conversing around the fire-place; at one end of the hall was a group of the young folks, some nearly grown up, others of a more tender and budding age, fully engrossed by a merry game; and a profusion of wooden horses, penny trumpets, and tattered dolls about the floor, showed traces of a troop of little fairy beings, who having frolicked through a happy day, had been carried off to slumber through a peaceful night.
The mirth of the company was greatly promoted by the humours of an eccentric personage whom Mr. Bracebridge always addressed with the quaint appellation of Master Simon. He was a tight brisk little man, with the air of an arrant old bachelor. His nose was shaped like the bill of a parrot; his face slightly pitted with the small pox, with a dry perpetual bloom on it
, like a frost-bitten leaf in autumn. "He had an eye of great quickness and vivacity, with a drollery and lurking waggery of expression that was irresistible. He was evidently the wit of the family, dealing, very much in sly jokes and innuendoes with the ladies, and making infinite merriment by harpings upon old themes; which, unfortunately, my ignorance of the family chronicles did not permit me to enjoy. It seemed to be his great delight during supper to keep a young girl next him in a continual agony of stifled laughter, in spite of her awe of the reproving looks of her mother, who sat opposite. Indeed, he was the idol of the younger part of the company, who laughed at every thing he said or did, and at every turn of his countenance. I could not wonder at it; for he must have been a miracle of accomplishments in their eyes.
He could imitate Punch and Judy; make an old woman of his hand, with the assistance of a burnt cork and pocket handkerchief: and cut an orange into such a ludicrous caricature, that the young folks were ready to die with laughing.
LIKE as a mighty grampus, who, though assailed and buffeted by roaring waves and brawling surges, still keeps on an undeviating course; and though overwhelmed by boisterous billows, still emerges from the troubled deep, spouting and blowing with tenfold violence-so did the inflexible Peter pursue, unwavering, his determined career, and rise contemptuous above the clamours of the rabble,
A DOLEFUL DISASTER OF ANTHONY
RESOLUTELY bent, however, upon defending his beloved city, in despite even of itself, he called unto him his trusty Van Corlear, who was his right-hand man in all times of emergency. Him did he adjure to take his war-denouncing trumpet, and mounting his horse, to beat up the country, night and day-sounding the alarm along the pastoral borders of the Bronx-startling the wild solitudes of Croton-arousing the rugged yeomanry of Weehawk and Hoboken-the mighty men of battle of Tappan Bay*;-and the brave boys of Tarry town and Sleepy hollow-together with all the other warriors of the coun. try round about; charging them one and all, to sling their powder horns, shoulder their fowling-pieces, and march merrily down to the Manhattoes.
Now there was nothing in all the world, the divine sex excepted, that Anthony Van Corlear loved better than errands of this kind. So, just stopping to take a lusty
* A corruption of Top paun; so called from a tribe of Indians which boasted of 150 fighting men. See Ogilvie's History.