Imágenes de páginas

mime, from whence the blow was to come that should strike me down; he did not point to my boys-only to the gibbet!"

[ocr errors]

He remained for a few moments silent, and then Norris caught the words, "Poor Teresa!" A moment after, raising himself, as though by a great effort, he said, as he seized his friend's armNorris, I feel I am struck for death-1 have no life in my lower limbs; but I cannot die in peace without seeing Teresa Ayleworth. Promise me that you will send for her. She will come, I know, and she will make clear to me what is dark at present. My death will unite us at last.'

In faltering, broken tones, Norris gave the required promise; but all through the long hours of that weary night, whilst he watched by his friend's bedside, for Thorold had been struck by paralysis, he heard him murmur, at intervals, "Poor Teresa, poor Teresa !"

[ocr errors]



AT all times and seasons, the Shap Fells presents to the eye a bleak and uninviting prospect. This is the case even in summer, when the sun gilding their barren sides, purple with the bloom of the fragrant heather, lends a touch of life and beauty to their barrenness and desolation; but in winter, when the rivers and streamlets are ice-bound, the ground covered with snow-drifts, and a leaden sky lowering over the dreary solitude, nothing can well surpass the gloon of the landscape.

On a bleak February day a post-chaise which had achieved about half the distance from the village of Shap to Kendal, was brought, at length, in spite of its three horses, to a standstill; for at this point of the road the snow, which had fallen heavily the whole of the previous night, had formed a barrier which seemed to check all further progress.

The two postilions dismounted, and a gentleman who had. emerged from the interior of the chaise, after a short discussion with them, despatched one to a solitary cottage, at a little distance, to procure assistance to aid in the laborious task of cutting a path through the snow-drift.

Inside the chaise, with pale, anxious face, sits Teresa Ayleworth. Every moment of delay seems like an age, since the hour when Okey brought to her, at Newhaven, the tidings of Mr. Thorold's dangerous illness, and his earnest wish to see her.

She would have travelled by night, as well as by day, had not Okey pointed out to her, that did she not consult her strength a

little, she might break down, and never reach the end of her journey.

But, with feverish impatience, she counted the lapse of every minute, and watched the waning light of the short winter after


Sad and painful images filled her mind, and the bleak, savage nature of the surrounding scenery oppressed her with a still greater sense of gloom and desolation.

Heavy grey clouds, just coloured with a yellowish line, were piled up in the sky in strange, fantastic shapes.

On either side, the road, which wound at this point through a valley, rose up hills, almost mountainous in their height, but rugged and bare, not a tree or a shrub breaking their barren uniformity. Here and there the snow, whirled away by the north wind that swept over the Fells, left dark patches of stone; but in other places, where the drifts lay deep, the naked rock lost its unsightly, rugged appearance as it lay entombed beneath that dense white shroud.

Over this dreary, melancholy tract, sweeping through the openings in the hills, the wind came in wild, fierce gusts, dying away in the distance, till it sounded in the ears of Teresa like the wail of a departing spirit.

Beyond the dusky forms of Okey, the postilions, and a couple of labourers from the cottage, delving away in the snow, all seemed lifeless and inanimate. The stillness of death appeared to linger over the Fells during those intervals when the wind had died away sobbing and moaning amongst the hills. The waters of the beautiful Trent, winding onwards to Kendal, were now ice-bound, and lay, a frozen track over the boulder-stones, amidst which they had leapt and sparkled in the bright days of summer. As for Teresa, she appeared like a breathing statue, ouly that now and then there fell from her white lips broken prayers and earnest aspirations for that man whose image had still remained graven in her heart when the shrine had been despoiled and ravaged.

Once again they were on their way, and at length, with a longdrawn sigh of relief, Teresa saw, glittering like stars through the darkness which had suddenly fallen on the snow-covered hills, the lights in the town of Kendal, laying, in picturesque beauty, at the foot of a mountain as lovely in all its surroundings as the Shap Fells were grim in their desolation.


IN California's garden, on wide Sonoma plain,

Where flowers bloom around, as if dropped there by the rain,
Stood a little cabin, in the leafy shadows hid,

Where all day long the woodpecker, and at night the katy-did,
Kept the woods from seeming lonely, by their lively noise,
And the manzanita bushes echoed back each voice.

In the manzanita bushes, where the red contrasts with green, Dodge and dart the humming birds with their gold and ruby sheen,

And underneath the chapparel, the rabbits hide and run,

And the many-coloured lizards lie basking in the sun,

And in the rich inadsona trees, where the darkest shadows fall,
Sit expectant robins, waiting for the parents' call.

Inside the lonely cabin, on a little wretched bed
Lay a dying miner: his flushed and burning head
Tossed restlessly about, discontented everywhere,
Yet beautiful with his bright and floating golden hair;
He picked with restless fingers at the woollen coverlet,

As if searching to do something that he always would forget.

"Mother, darling mother," whispered he so very faint,

You'd have thought it but the sighing of some little rustling plant;

"Mother, darling mother, why don't you come to me?

Or are you here, and is it then so dark I cannot see?

Mother, mother, speak to me, put your hand in mine?

Then, though the room be dark to me, your love will make it shine.

She does not answer me, alas! and does not see this tear,

For I know she'd not refuse my dying hour to cheer;

No, she is in the old homestead, and I am here alone;

And the voice that I once loved so well, I'll never hear its tone. Mother, tell me, is it true? am I ill? and must I die?

And in this little cabin till the last alone must lie?

"Then, who will close my eyes for me? who will breath a prayer?

And who will tell my mother, and will my mother care?

Oh, yes, for mother loved me well, how sweet she was and mild!

Yes, she will grieve to know he's dead, her son-her only child.
But who will dare to tell her that her absent boy is dead,
And add another trouble on her already whitened head?

Mother oh, my mother! must I die here all alone?
And no one ever tell you of the better man I've grown ?
Must I, your petted darling, the fate of many others share,
My body turn to dust without a consecrating prayer?
I do not care so much for that, I am not afraid to die;
But who will take to you, mother, my last and long good-bye?

It's growing very cold, mother, and no one comes to me.
I wish that I written, but it's too dark now to see.

I will try to find my pencil"-he sought and found a nail,
And with a hand that trembled, a hand claw-like and pale,
He traced, with dreadful effort, on the wall-" I die !
Won't some one write to mother, and send her my good-bye?"

It was morning in Sonoma, the birds in millions throng,
And chanted to their Maker their loud, harmonious song;
The crickets chirped right merrily, the sun shone bright and


And nothing showed in Nature that a man was dead so near. At noon one of his miner friends made a rough miner's call, And found the silent cabin, and the writing on the wall!






THREE days after the event related in the last chapter, the inspector called on Darcy. He began to talk of the Théâtre Français, and the piece which was then being enacted. He had been there the night before, and had admired it highly. This is the plot," said he :"Sir John Valdemar, an Englishman about the tenth century, went to Italy to make the grand tour, and in Apulia he became connected with the Conde Aquapendente--'

[ocr errors]

Darcy interrupted him-" I shall go to the Français to-night, and see the play; so don't tell me the plot. Rather tell me how your own little drama has progressed. How is our friend Eugéne? and has he given you the information you asked? Has he told you where his brother is?"

"That was what I was coming to."

[ocr errors]

"Indeed; rather, I think, in a round about way. Is it necessary you should go over the five acts of Scribe or Jules Simon ?"

"You will see," said the inspector.

"The Conde Aquapendente-I pray you, recollect the nameshad a son, Osric, a brother, Father Benedict, and a daughter, Alicia."

"Well, well," said Darcy impatiently.

"Sir John Valdemar," continued the inspector, heedless of the interruption, "falls in love with Alicia. The Conde won't allow the marriage. There is a scene-a quarrel-the pit are in tears. Sir John goes to the Crusades, with your Richard Lion Heart-or Joan of Arc-no matter which. Alicia marries Baron Furioso. But the Baron dies in childbirth -I mean, he dies leaving his widow and a child. Sir John is not killed by the Turks, but June.-VOL. VII., NO. XLI.


« AnteriorContinuar »