EDITED BY ROSSITER JOHNSON
STORIES OF CHILDHOOD
BOSTON AND NEW YORK HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY _The Riverside Press Cambridge_
COPYRIGHT, 1875, BY JAMES R. OSGOOD & Co. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
A DOG OF FLANDERS . . . . . . . . . . _Louisa de la Ramé_ (_Ouida_)
THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER . . . . . _John Ruskin_
THE LADY OF SHALOTT . . . . . . . . . _Elizabeth Stuart Phelps_
MARJORIE FLEMING . . . . . . . . . . . _John Brown, M.D._
LITTLE JAKEY . . . . . . . . . . . . . _Mrs. S. H. DeKroyft_
THE LOST CHILD . . . . . . . . . . . . _Henry Kingsley_
GOODY GRACIOUS! AND THE FORGET-ME-NOT _John Neal_
A FADED LEAF OF HISTORY . . . . . . . _Rebecca Harding Davis_
A CHILD'S DREAM OF A STAR . . . . . . _Charles Dickens_
A DOG OF FLANDERS.
Nello and Patrasche were left all alone in the world.
They were friends in a friendship closer than brotherhood. Nello was a little Ardennois,--Patrasche was a big Fleming. They were both of the same age by length of years, yet one was still young, and the other was already old. They had dwelt together almost all their days; both were orphaned and destitute, and owed their lives to the same hand. It had been the beginning of the tie between them, their first bond of sympathy; and it had strengthened day by day, and had grown with their growth, firm and indissoluble, until they loved one another very greatly.
Their home was a little hut on the edge of a little village,--a Flemish village a league from Antwerp, set amidst flat breadths of pasture and corn-lands, with long lines of poplars and of alders bending in the breeze on the edge of the great canal which ran through it. It had about a score of houses and homesteads, with shutters of bright green or sky-blue, and roofs rose-red or black and white, and walls whitewashed until they shone in the sun like snow. In the centre of the village stood a windmill, placed on a little moss-grown slope; it was a landmark to all the level country round. It had once been painted scarlet, sails and all, but that had been in its infancy, half a century or more earlier, when it had ground wheat for the soldiers of Napoleon; and it was now a ruddy brown, tanned by wind and weather. It went queerly by fits and starts, as though rheumatic and stiff in the joints from age, but it served the whole neighborhood, which would have thought it almost as impious to carry grain elsewhere, as to attend any other religious service than the mass that was performed at the altar of the little old gray church, with its conical steeple, which stood opposite to it, and whose single bell rang morning, noon, and night with that strange, subdued, hollow sadness which every bell that hangs in the Low Countries seems to gain as an integral part of its melody.
Within sound of the little melancholy clock almost from their birth upward, they had dwelt together, Nello and Patrasche, in the little hut on the edge of the village, with the cathedral spire of Antwerp rising in the northeast, beyond the great green plain of seeding grass and spreading corn that stretched away from them like a tideless, changeless sea. It was the hut of a very old man, of a very poor man,--of old Jehan Daas, who in his time had been a soldier, and who remembered the wars that had trampled the country as oxen tread down the furrows, and who had brought from his service nothing except a wound, which had made him a cripple.
When old Jehan Daas had reached his full eighty, his daughter had died in the Ardennes, hard by Stavelot, and had left him in legacy her two-year-old son. The old man could ill contrive to support himself, but he took up the additional burden uncomplainingly, and it soon became welcome and precious to him. Little Nello--which was but a pet diminutive for Nicolas--throve with him, and the old man and the little child lived in the poor little hut contentedly.
It was a very humble little mud-hut indeed, but it was clean and white as a sea-shell, and stood in a small plot of garden-ground that yielded beans and herbs and pumpkins. They were very poor, terribly poor,--many a day they had nothing at all to eat. They never by any chance had enough; to have had enough to eat would have been to have reached paradise at once. But the old man was very gentle and good to the boy, and the boy was a beautiful, innocent, truthful, tender-natured creature; and they were happy on a crust and a few leaves of cabbage, and asked no more of earth or Heaven; save indeed that Patrasche should be always with them, since without Patrasche where would they have been?
For Patrasche was their alpha and omega; their treasury and granary; their store of gold and wand of wealth; their bread-winner and minister; their only friend and comforter. Patrasche dead or gone from them, they must have laid themselves down and died likewise. Patrasche was body, brains, hands, head, and feet to both of them: Patrasche was their very life, their very soul. For Jehan Daas was old and a cripple, and Nello was but a child; and Patrasche was their dog.
A dog of Flanders,--yellow of hide, large of head and limb, with wolf-like ears that stood erect, and legs bowed and feet widened in the muscular development wrought in his breed by many generations of hard service. Patrasche came of a race which had toiled hard and cruelly from sire to son in Flanders many a century,--slaves of slaves, dogs of the people, beasts of the shafts and the harness, creatures that lived straining their sinews in the gall of the cart, and died breaking their hearts on the flints of the streets.
Patrasche had been born of parents who had labored hard all their days over the sharp-set stones of the various cities and the long, shadowless, weary roads of the two Flanders and of Brabant. He had been born to no other heritage than those of pain and of toil. He had been fed on curses and baptized with blows. Why not? It was a Christian country, and Patrasche was but a dog. Before he was fully grown he had known the bitter gall of the cart and the collar. Before he had entered his thirteenth month he had become the property of a hardware-dealer, who was accustomed to wander over the land north and south, from the blue sea to the green mountains. They sold him for a small price, because he was so young.
This man was a drunkard and a brute. The life of Patrasche was a life of hell. To deal the tortures of hell on the animal creation is a way which the Christians have of showing their belief in it. His purchaser was a sullen, ill-living, brutal Brabantois, who heaped his cart full with pots and pans and flagons and buckets, and other wares of crockery and brass and tin, and left Patrasche to draw the load as best he might, whilst he himself lounged idly by the side in fat and sluggish ease, smoking his black pipe and stopping at every wineshop or café on the road.
Happily for Patrasche--or unhappily--he was very strong: he came of an iron race, long born and bred to such cruel travail; so that he did not die, but managed to drag on a wretched existence under the brutal burdens, the scarifying lashes, the hunger, the thirst, the blows, the curses, and the exhaustion which are the only wages with which the Flemings repay the most patient and laborious of all their four-footed victims. One day, after two years of this long and deadly agony, Patrasche was going on as usual along one of the straight, dusty, unlovely roads that lead to the city of Rubens. It was full midsummer, and very warm. His cart was very heavy, piled high with goods in metal and in earthenware. His owner sauntered on without noticing him otherwise than by the crack of the whip as it curled round his quivering loins. The Brabantois had paused to drink beer himself at every wayside house, but he had forbidden Patrasche to stop a moment for a draught from the canal. Going along thus, in the full sun, on a scorching highway, having eaten nothing for twenty-four hours, and, which was far worse to him, not having tasted water for nearly twelve, being blind with dust, sore with blows, and stupefied with the merciless weight which dragged upon his loins, Patrasche, for once, staggered and foamed a little at the mouth, and fell.
He fell in the middle of the white, dusty road, in the full glare of the sun: he was sick unto death, and motionless. His master gave him the only medicine in his pharmacy,--kicks and oaths and blows with a cudgel of oak, which had been often the only food and drink, the only wage and reward, ever offered to him. But Patrasche was beyond the reach of any torture or of any curses. Patrasche lay, dead to all appearances, down in the white powder of the summer dust. After a while, finding it useless to assail his ribs with punishment and his ears with maledictions, the Brabantois--deeming life gone in him, or going so nearly that his carcass was forever useless, unless indeed some one should strip it of the skin for gloves--cursed him fiercely in farewell, struck off the leathern bands of the harness, kicked his body heavily aside into the grass, and, groaning and muttering in savage wrath, pushed the cart lazily along the road up hill, and left the dying dog there for the ants to sting and for the crows to pick.
It was the last day before Kermesse away at Louvain, and the Brabantois was in haste to reach the fair and get a good place for his truck of brass wares. He was in fierce wrath, because Patrasche had been a strong and much-enduring animal, and because he himself had now the hard task of pushing his charette all the way to Louvain. But to stay to look after Patrasche never entered his thoughts: the beast was dying and useless, and he would steal, to replace him, the first large dog that he found wandering alone out of sight of its master. Patrasche had cost him nothing, or next to nothing, and for two long, cruel years he had made him toil ceaselessly in his service from sunrise to sunset, through summer and winter, in fair weather and foul.
He had got a fair use and a good profit out of Patrasche: being human, he was wise, and left the dog to draw his last breath alone in the ditch, and have his bloodshot eyes plucked out as they might be by the birds, whilst he himself went on his way to beg and to steal, to eat and to drink, to dance and to sing, in the mirth at Louvain. A dying dog, a dog of the cart,--why should he waste hours over its agonies at peril of losing a handful of copper coins, at peril of a shout of laughter?
Patrasche lay there, flung in the grass-green ditch. It was a busy road that day, and hundreds of people, on foot and on mules, in wagons or in carts, went by, tramping quickly and joyously on to Louvain. Some saw him, most did not even look: all passed on. A dead dog more or less,--it was nothing in Brabant: it would be nothing anywhere in the world.
After a time, amongst the holiday-makers, there came a little old man who was bent and lame, and very feeble. He was in no guise for feasting: he was very poorly and miserably clad, and he dragged his silent way slowly through the dust amongst the pleasure-seekers. He looked at Patrasche, paused, wondered, turned aside, then kneeled down in the rank grass and weeds of the ditch, and surveyed the dog with kindly eyes of pity. There was with him a little rosy, fair-haired, dark-eyed child of a few years old, who pattered in amidst the bushes, that were for him breast-high, and stood gazing with a pretty seriousness upon the poor great, quiet beast.
Thus it was that these two first met,--the little Nello and the big Patrasche.
The upshot of that day was, that old Jehan Daas, with much laborious effort, drew the sufferer homeward to his own little hut, which was a stone's-throw off amidst the fields, and there tended him with so much care that the sickness, which had been a brain-seizure, brought on by heat and thirst and exhaustion, with time and shade and rest passed away, and health and strength returned, and Patrasche staggered up again upon his four stout, tawny legs.
Now for many weeks he had been useless, powerless, sore, near to death; but all this time he had heard no rough word, had felt no harsh touch, but only the pitying murmurs of the little child's voice and the soothing caress of the old man's hand.
In his sickness they two had grown to care for him, this lonely old man and the little happy child. He had a corner of the hut, with a heap of dry grass for his bed; and they had learned to listen eagerly for his breathing in the dark night, to tell them that he lived; and when he first was well enough to essay a loud, hollow, broken bay, they laughed aloud, and almost wept together for joy at such a sign of his sure restoration; and little Nello, in delighted glee, hung round his rugged neck with chains of marguerites, and kissed him with fresh and ruddy lips.
So then, when Patrasche arose, himself again, strong, big, gaunt, powerful, his great wistful eyes had a gentle astonishment in them that there were no curses to rouse him and no blows to drive him; and his heart awakened to a mighty love, which never wavered once in its fidelity whilst life abode with him.
But Patrasche, being a dog, was grateful. Patrasche lay pondering long with grave, tender, musing brown eyes, watching the movements of his friends.
Now, the old soldier, Jehan Daas, could do nothing for his living but limp about a little with a small cart, with which he carried daily the milk-cans of those happier neighbors who owned cattle away into the town of Antwerp. The villagers gave him the employment a little out of charity,--more because it suited them well to send their milk into the town by so honest a carrier, and bide at home themselves to look after their gardens, their cows, their poultry, or their little fields. But it was becoming hard work for the old man. He was eighty-three, and Antwerp was a good league off, or more.
Patrasche watched the milk-cans come and go that one day when he had got well and was lying in the sun with the wreath of marguerites round his tawny neck.
The next morning, Patrasche, before the old man had touched the cart, arose and walked to it and placed himself betwixt its handles, and testified as plainly as dumb show could do his desire and his ability to work in return for the bread of charity that he had eaten. Jehan Daas resisted long, for the old man was one of those who thought it a foul shame to bind dogs to labor for which Nature never formed them. But Patrasche would not be gainsayed: finding they did not harness him, he tried to draw the cart onward with his teeth.
At length Jehan Daas gave way, vanquished by the persistence and the gratitude of this creature whom he had succored. He fashioned his cart so that Patrasche could run in it, and this he did every morning of his life thenceforward.
When the winter came, Jehan Daas thanked the blessed fortune that had brought him to the dying dog in the ditch that fair-day of Louvain; for he was very old, and he grew feebler with each year, and he would ill have known how to pull his load of milk-cans over the snows and through the deep ruts in the mud if it had not been for the strength and the industry of the animal he had befriended. As for Patrasche, it seemed heaven to him. After the frightful burdens that his old master had compelled him to strain under, at the call of the whip at every step, it seemed nothing to him but amusement to step out with this little light green cart, with its bright brass cans, by the side of the gentle old man who always paid him with a tender caress and with a kindly word. Besides, his work was over by three or four in the day, and after that time he was free to do as he would,--to stretch himself, to sleep in the sun, to wander in the fields, to romp with the young child, or to play with his fellow-dogs. Patrasche was very happy.
Fortunately for his peace, his former owner was killed in a drunken brawl at the Kermesse of Mechlin, and so sought not after him nor disturbed him in his new and well-loved home.
A few years later, old Jehan Daas, who had always been a cripple, became so paralyzed with rheumatism that it was impossible for him to go out with the cart any more. Then little Nello, being now grown to his sixth year of age, and knowing the town well from having accompanied his grandfather so many times, took his place beside the cart, and sold the milk and received the coins in exchange, and brought them back to their respective owners with a pretty grace and seriousness which charmed all who beheld him.
The little Ardennois was a beautiful child, with dark, grave, tender eyes, and a lovely bloom upon his face, and fair locks that clustered to his throat; and many an artist sketched the group as it went by him,--the green cart with the brass flagons of Teniers and Mieris and Van Tal, and the great tawny-colored, massive dog, with his belled harness that chimed cheerily as he went, and the small figure that ran beside him which had little white feet in great wooden shoes, and a soft, grave, innocent, happy face like the little fair children of Rubens.
Nello and Patrasche did the work so well and so joyfully together that Jehan Daas himself, when the summer came and he was better again, had no need to stir out, but could sit in the doorway in the sun and see them go forth through the garden wicket, and then doze and dream and pray a little, and then awake again as the clock tolled three and watch for their return. And on their return Patrasche would shake himself free of his harness with a bay of glee, and Nello would recount with pride the doings of the day; and they would all go in together to their meal of rye bread and milk or soup, and would see the shadows lengthen over the great plain, and see the twilight veil the fair cathedral spire; and then lie down together to sleep peacefully while the old man said a prayer.
So the days and the years went on, and the lives of Nello and Patrasche were happy, innocent, and healthful.
In the spring and summer especially were they glad. Flanders is not a lovely land, and around the burgh of Rubens it is perhaps least lovely of all. Corn and colza, pasture and plough, succeed each other on the characterless plain in wearying repetition, and save by some gaunt gray tower, with its peal of pathetic bells, or some figure coming athwart the fields, made picturesque by a gleaner's bundle or a woodman's fagot, there is no change, no variety, no beauty anywhere; and he who has dwelt upon the mountains or amidst the forests feels oppressed as by imprisonment with the tedium and the endlessness of that vast and dreary level. But it is green and very fertile, and it has wide horizons that have a certain charm of their own even in their dulness and monotony; and amongst the rushes by the waterside the flowers grow, and the trees rise tall and fresh where the barges glide with their great hulks black against the sun, and their little green barrels and varicolored flags gay against the leaves. Anyway, there is greenery and breadth of space enough to be as good as beauty to a child and a dog; and these two asked no better, when their work was done, than to lie buried in the lush grasses on the side of the canal, and watch the cumbrous vessels drifting by and bringing the crisp salt smell of the sea amongst the blossoming scents of the country summer.
True, in the winter it was harder, and they had to rise in the darkness and the bitter cold, and they had seldom as much as they could have eaten any day, and the hut was scarce better than a shed when the nights were cold, although it looked so pretty in warm weather, buried in a great kindly-clambering vine, that never bore fruit, indeed, but which covered it with luxuriant green tracery all through the months of blossom and harvest. In winter the winds found many holes in the walls of the poor little hut, and the vine was black and leafless, and the bare lands looked very bleak and drear without, and sometimes within the floor was flooded and then frozen. In winter it was hard, and the snow numbed the little white limbs of Nello, and the icicles cut the brave, untiring feet of Patrasche.
But even then they were never heard to lament, either of them. The child's wooden shoes and the dog's four legs would trot manfully together over the frozen fields to the chime of the bells on the harness; and then sometimes, in the streets of Antwerp, some housewife would bring them a bowl of soup and a handful of bread, or some kindly trader would throw some billets of fuel into the little cart as it went homeward, or some woman in their own village would bid them keep some share of the milk they carried for their own food; and then they would run over the white lands, through the early darkness, bright and happy, and burst with a shout of joy into their home.
So, on the whole, it was well with them, very well; and Patrasche, meeting on the highway or in the public streets the many dogs who toiled from daybreak into nightfall, paid only with blows and curses, and loosened from the shafts with a kick to starve and freeze as best they might,--Patrasche in his heart was very grateful to his fate, and thought it the fairest and the kindliest the world could hold. Though he was often very hungry indeed when he lay down at night; though he had to work in the heats of summer noons and the rasping chills of winter dawns; though his feet were often tender with wounds from the sharp edges of the jagged pavement; though he had to perform tasks beyond his strength and against his nature,--yet he was grateful and content: he did his duty with each day, and the eyes that he loved smiled down on him. It was sufficient for Patrasche.
There was only one thing which caused Patrasche any uneasiness in his life, and it was this. Antwerp, as all the world knows, is full at every turn of old piles of stones, dark and ancient and majestic, standing in crooked courts, jammed against gateways and taverns, rising by the water's edge, with bells ringing above them in the air, and ever and again out of their arched doors a swell of music pealing. There they remain, the grand old sanctuaries of the past, shut in amidst the squalor, the hurry, the crowds, the unloveliness and the commerce of the modern world, and all day long the clouds drift and the birds circle and the winds sigh around them, and beneath the earth at their feet there sleeps--RUBENS.
And the greatness of the mighty Master still rests upon Antwerp, and wherever we turn in its narrow streets his glory lies therein, so that all mean things are thereby transfigured; and as we pace slowly through the winding ways, and by the edge of the stagnant water, and through the noisome courts, his spirit abides with us, and the heroic beauty of his visions is about us, and the stones that once felt his footsteps and bore his shadow seem to arise and speak of him with living voices. For the city which is the tomb of Rubens still lives to us through him, and him alone.
It is so quiet there by that great white sepulchre,--so quiet, save only when the organ peals and the choir cries aloud the Salve Regina or the Kyrie Eleison. Sure no artist ever had a greater gravestone than that pure marble sanctuary gives to him in the heart of his birthplace in the chancel of St. Jacques.
Without Rubens, what were Antwerp? A dirty, dusky, bustling mart, which no man would ever care to look upon save the traders who do business on its wharves. With Rubens, to the whole world of men it is a sacred name, a sacred soil, a Bethlehem where a god of Art saw light, a Golgotha where a god of Art lies dead.
O nations! closely should you treasure your great men, for by them alone will the future know of you. Flanders in her generations has been wise. In his life she glorified this greatest of her sons, and in his death she magnifies his name. But her wisdom is very rare.
Now, the trouble of Patrasche was this. Into these great, sad piles of stones, that reared their melancholy majesty above the crowded roofs, the child Nello would many and many a time enter, and disappear through their dark, arched portals, whilst Patrasche, left without upon the pavement, would wearily and vainly ponder on what could be the charm which thus allured from him his inseparable and beloved companion. Once or twice he did essay to see for himself, clattering up the steps with his milk-cart behind him; but thereon he had been always sent back again summarily by a tall custodian in black clothes and silver chains of office; and fearful of bringing his little master into trouble, he desisted, and remained couched patiently before the churches until such time as the boy reappeared. It was not the fact of his going into them which disturbed Patrasche: he knew that people went to church: all the village went to the small, tumble-down, gray pile opposite the red windmill. What troubled him was that little Nello always looked strangely when he came out, always very flushed or very pale; and whenever he returned home after such visitations would sit silent and dreaming, not caring to play, but gazing out at the evening skies beyond the line of the canal, very subdued and almost sad.
What was it? wondered Patrasche. He thought it could not be good or natural for the little lad to be so grave, and in his dumb fashion he tried all he could to keep Nello by him in the sunny fields or in the busy market-place. But to the churches Nello would go: most often of all would he go to the great cathedral; and Patrasche, left without on the stones by the iron fragments of Quentin Matsys's gate, would stretch himself and yawn and sigh, and even howl now and then, all in vain, until the doors closed and the child perforce came forth again, and winding his arms about the dog's neck would kiss him on his broad, tawny-colored forehead, and murmur always the same words: "If I could only see them, Patrasche!--if I could only see them!"
What were they? pondered Patrasche, looking up with large, wistful, sympathetic eyes.
One day, when the custodian was out of the way and the doors left ajar, he got in for a moment after his little friend and saw. "They" were two great covered pictures on either side of the choir.
Nello was kneeling, rapt as in an ecstasy, before the altar-picture of the Assumption, and when he noticed Patrasche, and rose and drew the dog gently out into the air, his face was wet with tears, and he looked up at the veiled places as he passed them, and murmured to his companion, "It is so terrible not to see them, Patrasche, just because one is poor and cannot pay! He never meant that the poor should not see them when he painted them, I am sure. He would have had us see them any day, every day: that I am sure. And they keep them shrouded there,--shrouded in the dark, the beautiful things!--and they never feel the light, and no eyes look on them, unless rich people come and pay. If I could only see them, I would be content to die."
But he could not see them, and Patrasche could not help him, for to gain the silver piece that the church exacts as the price for looking on the glories of the Elevation of the Cross and the Descent of the Cross was a thing as utterly beyond the powers of either of them as it would have been to scale the heights of the cathedral spire. They had never so much as a sou to spare: if they cleared enough to get a little wood for the stove, a little broth for the pot, it was the utmost they could do. And yet the heart of the child was set in sore and endless longing upon beholding the greatness of the two veiled Rubens.
The whole soul of the little Ardennois thrilled and stirred with an absorbing passion for Art. Going on his ways through the old city in the early days before the sun or the people had risen, Nello, who looked only a little peasant-boy, with a great dog drawing milk to sell from door to door, was in a heaven of dreams whereof Rubens was the god. Nello, cold and hungry, with stockingless feet in wooden shoes, and the winter winds blowing amongst his curls and lifting his poor thin garments, was in a rapture of meditation, wherein all that he saw was the beautiful fair face of the Mary of the Assumption, with the waves of her golden hair lying upon her shoulders, and the light of an eternal sun shining down upon her brow. Nello, reared in poverty, and buffeted by fortune, and untaught in letters, and unheeded by men, had the compensation or the curse which is called Genius.
No one knew it. He as little as any. No one knew it. Only indeed Patrasche, who, being with him always, saw him draw with chalk upon the stones any and every thing that grew or breathed, heard him on his little bed of hay murmur all manner of timid, pathetic prayers to the spirit of the great Master; watched his gaze darken and his face radiate at the evening glow of sunset or the rosy rising of the dawn; and felt many and many a time the tears of a strange nameless pain and joy, mingled together, fall hotly from the bright young eyes upon his own wrinkled, yellow forehead.
"I should go to my grave quite content if I thought, Nello, that when thou growest a man thou couldst own this hut and the little plot of ground, and labor for thyself, and be called Baas by thy neighbors," said the old man Jehan many an hour from his bed. For to own a bit of soil, and to be called Baas--master--by the hamlet round, is to have achieved the highest ideal of a Flemish peasant; and the old soldier, who had wandered over all the earth in his youth, and had brought nothing back, deemed in his old age that to live and die on one spot in contented humility was the fairest fate he could desire for his darling. But Nello said nothing.
The same leaven was working in him that in other times begat Rubens and Jordaens and the Van Eycks, and all their wondrous tribe, and in times more recent begat in the green country of the Ardennes, where the Meuse washes the old walls of Dijon, the great artist of the Patroclus, whose genius is too near us for us aright to measure its divinity.
Nello dreamed of other things in the future than of tilling the little rood of earth, and living under the wattle roof, and being called Baas by neighbors a little poorer or a little less poor than himself. The cathedral spire, where it rose beyond the fields in the ruddy evening skies or in the dim, gray, misty mornings, said other things to him than this. But these he told only to Patrasche, whispering, childlike, his fancies in the dog's ear when they went together at their work through the fogs of the daybreak, or lay together at their rest amongst the rustling rushes by the water's side.
For such dreams are not easily shaped into speech to awake the slow sympathies of human auditors; and they would only have sorely perplexed and troubled the poor old man bedridden in his corner, who, for his part, whenever he had trodden the streets of Antwerp, had thought the daub of blue and red that they called a Madonna, on the walls of the wine-shop where he drank his sou's worth of black beer, quite as good as any of the famous altar-pieces for which the stranger folk travelled far and wide into Flanders from every land on which the good sun shone.
There was only one other beside Patrasche to whom Nello could talk at all of his daring fantasies. This other was little Alois, who lived at the old red mill on the grassy mound, and whose father, the miller, was the best-to-do husbandman in all the village. Little Alois was only a pretty baby with soft round, rosy features, made lovely by those sweet, dark eyes that the Spanish rule has left in so many a Flemish face, in testimony of the Alvan dominion, as Spanish art has left broadsown throughout the country majestic palaces and stately courts, gilded house-fronts and sculptured lintels,--histories in blazonry and poems in stone.
Little Alois was often with Nello and Patrasche. They played in the fields, they ran in the snow, they gathered the daisies and bilberries, they went up to the old gray church together, and they often sat together by the broad wood-fire in the mill-house. Little Alois, indeed, was the richest child in the hamlet. She had neither brother nor sister; her blue serge dress had never a hole in it; at Kermesse she had as many gilded nuts and Agni Dei in sugar as her hands could hold; and when she went up for her first communion her flaxen curls were covered with a cap of richest Mechlin lace, which had been her mother's and her grandmother's before it came to her. Men spoke already, though she had but twelve years, of the good wife she would be for their sons to woo and win; but she herself was a little gay, simple child, in no wise conscious of her heritage, and she loved no playfellows so well as Jehan Daas's grandson and his dog.
One day her father, Baas Cogez, a good man, but somewhat stern, came on a pretty group in the long meadow behind the mill, where the aftermath had that day been cut. It was his little daughter sitting amidst the hay, with the great tawny head of Patrasche on her lap, and many wreaths of poppies and blue cornflowers round them both: on a clean smooth slab of pine wood the boy Nello drew their likeness with a stick of charcoal.
The miller stood and looked at the portrait with tears in his eyes, it was so strangely like, and he loved his only child closely and well. Then he roughly chid the little girl for idling there whilst her mother needed her within, and sent her indoors crying and afraid; then, turning, he snatched the wood from Nello's hands. "Dost do much of such folly?" he asked, but there was a tremble in his voice.
Nello colored and hung his head. "I draw everything I see," he murmured.
The miller was silent; then he stretched his hand out with a franc in it. "It is folly, as I say, and evil waste of time; nevertheless, it is like Alois, and will please the house-mother. Take this silver bit for it and leave it for me."
The color died out of the face of the young Ardennois: he lifted his head and put his hands behind his back. "Keep your money and the portrait both, Baas Cogez," he said simply. "You have been often good to me." Then he called Patrasche to him, and walked away across the fields.
"I could have seen them with that franc," he murmured to Patrasche, "but I could not sell her picture,--not even for them."
Baas Cogez went into his mill-house sore troubled in his mind. "That lad must not be so much with Alois," he said to his wife that night. "Trouble may come of it hereafter: he is fifteen now, and she is twelve; and the boy is comely of face and form."
"And he is a good lad and a loyal," said the housewife, feasting her eyes on the piece of pine wood where it was throned above the chimney with a cuckoo clock in oak and a Calvary in wax.
"Yea, I do not gainsay that," said the miller, draining his pewter flagon.
"Then if what you think of were ever to come to pass," said the wife, hesitatingly, "would it matter so much? She will have enough for both, and one cannot be better than happy."
"You are a woman, and therefore a fool," said the miller, harshly, striking his pipe on the table. "The lad is naught but a beggar, and, with these painter's fancies, worse than a beggar. Have a care that they are not together in the future, or I will send the child to the surer keeping of the nuns of the Sacred Heart."
The poor mother was terrified, and promised humbly to do his will. Not that she could bring herself altogether to separate the child from her favorite playmate, nor did the miller even desire that extreme of cruelty to a young lad who was guilty of nothing except poverty. But there were many ways in which little Alois was kept away from her chosen companion: and Nello, being a boy proud and quiet and sensitive, was quickly wounded, and ceased to turn his own steps and those of Patrasche, as he had been used to do with every moment of leisure, to the old red mill upon the slope. What his offence was he did not know: he supposed he had in some manner angered Baas Cogez by taking the portrait of Alois in the meadow; and when the child who loved him would run to him and nestle her hand in his, he would smile at her very sadly and say with a tender concern for her before himself, "Nay, Alois, do not anger your father. He thinks that I make you idle, dear, and he is not pleased that you should be with me. He is a good man and loves you well: we will not anger him, Alois."
But it was with a sad heart that he said it, and the earth did not look so bright to him as it had used to do when he went out at sunrise under the poplars down the straight roads with Patrasche. The old red mill had been a landmark to him, and he had been used to pause by it, going and coming, for a cheery greeting with its people as her little flaxen head rose above the low mill-wicket, and her little rosy hands had held out a bone or a crust to Patrasche. Now the dog looked wistfully at a closed door, and the boy went on without pausing, with a pang at his heart, and the child sat within with tears dropping slowly on the knitting to which she was set on her little stool by the stove; and Baas Cogez, working among his sacks and his mill-gear, would harden his will and say to himself, "It is best so. The lad is all but a beggar, and full of idle, dreaming fooleries. Who knows what mischief might not come of it in the future?" So he was wise in his generation, and would not have the door unbarred, except upon rare and formal occasions, which seemed to have neither warmth nor mirth in them to the two children, who had been accustomed so long to a daily gleeful, careless, happy interchange of greeting, speech, and pastime, with no other watcher of their sports or auditor of their fancies than Patrasche, sagely shaking the brazen bells of his collar and responding with all a dog's swift sympathies to their every change of mood.
All this while the little panel of pine wood remained over the chimney in the mill-kitchen with the cuckoo clock and the waxen Calvary; and sometimes it seemed to Nello a little hard that whilst his gift was accepted he himself should be denied.
But he did not complain: it was his habit to be quiet: old Jehan Daas had said ever to him, "We are poor: we must take what God sends,--the ill with the good: the poor cannot choose."
To which the boy had always listened in silence, being reverent of his old grandfather; but nevertheless a certain vague, sweet hope, such as beguiles the children of genius, had whispered in his heart, "Yet the poor do choose sometimes,--choose to be great, so that men cannot say them nay." And he thought so still in his innocence; and one day, when the little Alois, finding him by chance alone amongst the cornfields by the canal, ran to him and held him close, and sobbed piteously because the morrow would be her saint's day, and for the first time in all her life her parents had failed to bid him to the little supper and romp in the great barns with which her feast-day was always celebrated, Nello had kissed her and murmured to her in firm faith, "It shall be different one day, Alois. One day that little bit of pine wood that your father has of mine shall be worth its weight in silver; and he will not shut the door against me then. Only love me always, dear little Alois, only love me always, and I will be great."
"And if I do not love you?" the pretty child asked, pouting a little through her tears, and moved by the instinctive coquetries of her sex.
Nello's eyes left her face and wandered to the distance, where in the red and gold of the Flemish night the cathedral spire rose. There was a smile on his face so sweet and yet so sad that little Alois was awed by it. "I will be great still," he said under his breath,--"great still, or die, Alois."
"You do not love me," said the little spoilt child, pushing him away; but the boy shook his head and smiled, and went on his way through the tall yellow corn, seeing as in a vision some day in a fair future when he should come into that old familiar land and ask Alois of her people, and be not refused or denied, but received in honor, whilst the village folk should throng to look upon him and say in one another's ears, "Dost see him? He is a king among men, for he is a great artist and the world speaks his name; and yet he was only our poor little Nello, who was a beggar, as one may say, and only got his bread by the help of his dog." And he thought how he would fold his grandsire in furs and purples, and portray him as the old man is portrayed in the Family in the chapel of St. Jacques; and of how he would hang the throat of Patrasche with a collar of gold, and place him on his right hand, and say to the people, "This was once my only friend"; and of how he would build himself a great white marble palace, and make to himself luxuriant gardens of pleasure, on the slope looking outward to where the cathedral spire rose, and not dwell in it himself, but summon to it, as to a home, all men young and poor and friendless, but of the will to do mighty things; and of how he would say to them always, if they sought to bless his name, "Nay, do not thank me,--thank Rubens. Without him, what should I have been?" And these dreams, beautiful, impossible, innocent, free of all selfishness, full of heroical worship, were so closely about him as he went that he was happy,--happy even on this sad anniversary of Alois's saint's day, when he and Patrasche went home by themselves to the little dark hut and the meal of black bread, whilst in the mill-house all the children of the village sang and laughed, and ate the big round cakes of Dijon and the almond gingerbread of Brabant, and danced in the great barn to the light of the stars and the music of flute and fiddle.
"Never mind, Patrasche," he said, with his arms round the dog's neck as they both sat in the door of the hut, where the sounds of the mirth at the mill came down to them on the night-air,--"never mind. It shall all be changed by and by."
He believed in the future: Patrasche, of more experience and of more philosophy, thought that the loss of the mill-supper in the present was ill compensated by dreams of milk and honey in some vague hereafter. And Patrasche growled whenever he passed by Baas Cogez.
"This is Alois's name-day, is it not?" said the old man Daas that night from the corner where he was stretched upon his bed of sacking.
The boy gave a gesture of assent: he wished that the old man's memory had erred a little, instead of keeping such sure account.
"And why not there?" his grandfather pursued. "Thou hast never missed a year before, Nello."
"Thou art too sick to leave," murmured the lad, bending his handsome young head over the bed.
"Tut! tut! Mother Nulette would have come and sat with me, as she does scores of times. What is the cause, Nello?" the old man persisted. "Thou surely hast not had ill words with the little one?"
"Nay, grandfather,--never," said the boy, quickly, with a hot color in his bent face. "Simply and truly, Baas Cogez did not have me asked this year. He has taken some whim against me."
"But thou hast done nothing wrong?"
"That I know--nothing. I took the portrait of Alois on a piece of pine: that is all."
"Ah!" The old man was silent: the truth suggested itself to him with the boy's innocent answer. He was tied to a bed of dried leaves in the corner of a wattle hut, but he had not wholly forgotten what the ways of the world were like.
He drew Nello's fair head fondly to his breast with a tenderer gesture. "Thou art very poor, my child," he said with a quiver the more in his aged, trembling voice,--"so poor! It is very hard for thee."
"Nay, I am rich," murmured Nello; and in his innocence he thought so,--rich with the imperishable powers that are mightier than the might of kings. And he went and stood by the door of the hut in the quiet autumn night, and watched the stars troop by and the tall poplars bend and shiver in the wind. All the casements of the mill-house were lighted, and every now and then the notes of the flute came to him. The tears fell down his cheeks, for he was but a child, yet he smiled, for he said to himself, "In the future!" He stayed there until all was quite still and dark, then he and Patrasche went within and slept together, long and deeply, side by side.
Now he had a secret which only Patrasche knew. There was a little outhouse to the hut, which no one entered but himself,--a dreary place, but with abundant clear light from the north. Here he had fashioned himself rudely an easel in rough lumber, and here on a great gray sea of stretched paper he had given shape to one of the innumerable fancies which possessed his brain. No one had ever taught him anything; colors he had no means to buy; he had gone without bread many a time to procure even the few rude vehicles that he had here; and it was only in black or white that he could fashion the things he saw. This great figure which he had drawn here in chalk was only an old man sitting on a fallen tree,--only that. He had seen old Michel the woodman sitting so at evening many a time. He had never had a soul to tell him of outline or perspective, of anatomy or of shadow, and yet he had given all the weary, worn-out age, all the sad, quiet patience, all the rugged, careworn pathos of his original, and given them so that the old lonely figure was a poem, sitting there, meditative and alone, on the dead tree, with the darkness of the descending night behind him.
It was rude, of course, in a way, and had many faults, no doubt; and yet it was real, true in Nature, true in Art, and very mournful, and in a manner beautiful.
Patrasche had lain quiet countless hours watching its gradual creation after the labor of each day was done, and he knew that Nello had a hope--vain and wild perhaps, but strongly cherished--of sending this great drawing to compete for a prize of two hundred francs a year which it was announced in Antwerp would be open to every lad of talent, scholar or peasant, under eighteen, who would attempt to win it with some unaided work of chalk or pencil. Three of the foremost artists in the town of Rubens were to be the judges and elect the victor according to his merits.
All the spring and summer and autumn Nello had been at work upon this treasure, which, if triumphant, would build him his first step toward independence and the mysteries of the art which he blindly, ignorantly, and yet passionately adored.
He said nothing to any one: his grandfather would not have understood, and little Alois was lost to him. Only to Patrasche he told all, and whispered, "Rubens would give it me, I think, if he knew."
Patrasche thought so too, for he knew that Rubens had loved dogs or he had never painted them with such exquisite fidelity; and men who loved dogs were, as Patrasche knew, always pitiful.
The drawings were to go in on the first day of December, and the decision be given on the twenty-fourth, so that he who should win might rejoice with all his people at the Christmas season.
In the twilight of a bitter wintry day, and with a beating heart, now quick with hope, now faint with fear, Nello placed the great picture on his little green milk-cart, and took it, with the help of Patrasche, into the town, and there left it, as enjoined, at the doors of a public building.
"Perhaps it is worth nothing at all. How can I tell?" he thought, with the heart-sickness of a great timidity. Now that he had left it there, it seemed to him so hazardous, so vain, so foolish, to dream that he, a little lad with bare feet, who barely knew his letters, could do anything at which great painters, real artists, could ever deign to look. Yet he took heart as he went by the cathedral: the lordly form of Rubens seemed to rise from the fog and the darkness, and to loom in its magnificence before him, whilst the lips with their kindly smile seemed to him to murmur, "Nay, have courage! It was not by a weak heart and by faint fears that I wrote my name for all time upon Antwerp."
Nello ran home through the cold night, comforted. He had done his best: the rest must be as God willed, he thought, in that innocent, unquestioning faith which had been taught him in the little gray chapel amongst the willows and the poplar-trees.
The winter was very sharp already. That night, after they had reached the hut, snow fell; and fell for very many days after that, so that the paths and the divisions in the fields were all obliterated, and all the smaller streams were frozen over, and the cold was intense upon the plains. Then, indeed, it became hard work to go round for the milk while the world was all dark, and carry it through the darkness to the silent town. Hard work, especially for Patrasche, for the passage of the years, that were only bringing Nello a stronger youth, were bringing him old age, and his joints were stiff and his bones ached often. But he would never give up his share of the labor. Nello would fain have spared him and drawn the cart himself, but Patrasche would not allow it. All he would ever permit or accept was the help of a thrust from behind to the truck as it lumbered along through the ice-ruts. Patrasche had lived in harness, and he was proud of it. He suffered a great deal sometimes from frost, and the terrible roads, and the rheumatic pains of his limbs, but he only drew his breath hard and bent his stout neck, and trod onward with steady patience.
"Rest thee at home, Patrasche,--it is time thou didst rest,--and I can quite well push in the cart by myself," urged Nello many a morning; but Patrasche, who understood him aright, would no more have consented to stay at home than a veteran soldier to shirk when the charge was sounding; and every day he would rise and place himself in his shafts, and plod along over the snow through the fields that his four round feet had left their print upon so many, many years.
"One must never rest till one dies," thought Patrasche; and sometimes it seemed to him that that time of rest for him was not very far off. His sight was less clear than it had been, and it gave him pain to rise after the night's sleep, though he would never lie a moment in his straw when once the bell of the chapel tolling five let him know that the daybreak of labor had begun.
"My poor Patrasche, we shall soon lie quiet together, you and I," said old Jehan Daas, stretching out to stroke the head of Patrasche with the old withered hand which had always shared with him its one poor crust of bread; and the hearts of the old man and the old dog ached together with one thought: When they were gone who would care for their darling?
One afternoon, as they came back from Antwerp over the snow, which had become hard and smooth as marble over all the Flemish plains, they found dropped in the road a pretty little puppet, a tambourine-player, all scarlet and gold, about six inches high, and, unlike greater personages when Fortune lets them drop, quite unspoiled and unhurt by its fall. It was a pretty toy. Nello tried to find its owner, and, failing, thought that it was just the thing to please Alois.
It was quite night when he passed the mill-house: he knew the little window of her room. It could be no harm, he thought, if he gave her his little piece of treasure-trove, they had been playfellows so long. There was a shed with a sloping roof beneath her casement: he climbed it and tapped softly at the lattice: there was a little light within. The child opened it and looked out, half frightened.
Nello put the tambourine-player into her hands. "Here is a doll I found in the snow, Alois. Take it," he whispered,--"take it, and God bless thee, dear!"
He slid down from the shed-roof before she had time to thank him, and ran off through the darkness.
That night there was a fire at the mill. Out-buildings and much corn were destroyed, although the mill itself and the dwelling-house were unharmed. All the village was out in terror, and engines came tearing through the snow from Antwerp. The miller was insured, and would lose nothing: nevertheless, he was in furious wrath, and declared aloud that the fire was due to no accident, but to some foul intent.
Nello, awakened from his sleep, ran to help with the rest: Baas Cogez thrust him angrily aside. "Thou wert loitering here after dark," he said roughly. "I believe, on my soul, that thou dost know more of the fire than any one."
Nello heard him in silence, stupefied, not supposing that any one could say such things except in jest, and not comprehending how any one could pass a jest at such a time.
Nevertheless, the miller said the brutal thing openly to many of his neighbors in the day that followed; and though no serious charge was ever preferred against the lad, it got bruited about that Nello had been seen in the mill-yard after dark on some unspoken errand, and that he bore Baas Cogez a grudge for forbidding his intercourse with little Alois; and so the hamlet, which followed the sayings of its richest landowner servilely, and whose families all hoped to secure the riches of Alois in some future time for their sons, took the hint to give grave looks and cold words to old Jehan Daas's grandson. No one said anything to him openly, but all the village agreed together to humor the miller's prejudice, and at the cottages and farms where Nello and Patrasche called every morning for the milk for Antwerp, downcast glances and brief phrases replaced to them the broad smiles and cheerful greetings to which they had been always used. No one really credited the miller's absurd suspicions, nor the outrageous accusations born of them, but the people were all very poor and very ignorant, and the one rich man of the place had pronounced against him. Nello, in his innocence and his friendlessness, had no strength to stem the popular tide.
"Thou art very cruel to the lad," the miller's wife dared to say, weeping, to her lord. "Sure he is an innocent lad and a faithful, and would never dream of any such wickedness, however sore his heart might be."
But Baas Cogez being an obstinate man, having once said a thing, held to it doggedly, though in his innermost soul he knew well the injustice that he was committing.
Meanwhile, Nello endured the injury done against him with a certain proud patience that disdained to complain; he only gave way a little when he was quite alone with old Patrasche. Besides, he thought, "If it should win! They will be sorry then, perhaps."
Still, to a boy not quite sixteen, and who had dwelt in one little world all his short life, and in his childhood had been caressed and applauded on all sides, it was a hard trial to have the whole of that little world turn against him for naught. Especially hard in that bleak, snow-bound, famine-stricken winter-time, when the only light and warmth there could be found abode beside the village hearths and in the kindly greetings of neighbors. In the winter-time all drew nearer to each other, all to all, except to Nello and Patrasche, with whom none now would have anything to do, and who were left to fare as they might with the old paralyzed, bedridden man in the little cabin, whose fire was often low, and whose board was often without bread, for there was a buyer from Antwerp who had taken to drive his mule in of a day for the milk of the various dairies, and there were only three or four of the people who had refused his terms of purchase and remained faithful to the little green cart. So that the burden which Patrasche drew had become very light, and the centime-pieces in Nello's pouch had become, alas! very small likewise.
The dog would stop, as usual, at all the familiar gates which were now closed to him, and look up at them with wistful, mute appeal; and it cost the neighbors a pang to shut their doors and their hearts, and let Patrasche draw his cart on again, empty. Nevertheless, they did it, for they desired to please Baas Cogez.
Noël was close at hand.
The weather was very wild and cold. The snow was six feet deep, and the ice was firm enough to bear oxen and men upon it everywhere. At this season the little village was always gay and cheerful. At the poorest dwelling there were possets and cakes, joking and dancing, sugared saints and gilded Jésus. The merry Flemish bells jingled everywhere on the horses; everywhere within doors some well-filled soup-pot sang and smoked over the stove; and everywhere over the snow without laughing maidens pattered in bright kerchiefs and stout kirtles, going to and from the mass. Only in the little hut it was very dark and very cold.
Nello and Patrasche were left utterly alone, for one night in the week before the Christmas Day, death entered there, and took away from life forever old Jehan Daas, who had never known of life aught save its poverty and its pains. He had long been half dead, incapable of any movement except a feeble gesture, and powerless for anything beyond a gentle word; and yet his loss fell on them both with a great horror in it; they mourned him passionately. He had passed away from them in his sleep, and when in the gray dawn they learned their bereavement, unutterable solitude and desolation seemed to close around them. He had long been only a poor, feeble, paralyzed old man, who could not raise a hand in their defence, but he had loved them well; his smile had always welcomed their return. They mourned for him unceasingly, refusing to be comforted, as in the white winter day they followed the deal shell that held his body to the nameless grave by the little gray church. They were his only mourners, these two whom he had left friendless upon earth,--the young boy and the old dog.
"Surely, he will relent now and let the poor lad come hither?" thought the miller's wife, glancing at her husband where he smoked by the hearth.
Baas Cogez knew her thought, but he hardened his heart, and would not unbar his door as the little, humble funeral went by. "The boy is a beggar," he said to himself: "he shall not be about Alois."
The woman dared not say anything aloud, but when the grave was closed and the mourners had gone, she put a wreath of immortelles into Alois's hands and bade her go and lay it reverently on the dark, unmarked mound where the snow was displaced.
Nello and Patrasche went home with broken hearts. But even of that poor, melancholy, cheerless home they were denied the consolation. There was a month's rent over-due for their little home, and when Nello had paid the last sad service to the dead he had not a coin left. He went and begged grace of the owner of the hut, a cobbler who went every Sunday night to drink his pint of wine and smoke with Baas Cogez. The cobbler would grant no mercy. He was a harsh, miserly man, and loved money. He claimed in default of his rent every stick and stone, every pot and pan, in the hut, and bade Nello and Patrasche be out of it on the morrow.
Now, the cabin was lowly enough, and in some sense miserable enough, and yet their hearts clove to it with a great affection. They had been so happy there, and in the summer, with its clambering vine and its flowering beans, it was so pretty and bright in the midst of the sun-lighted fields! Their life in it had been full of labor and privation, and yet they had been so well content, so gay of heart, running together to meet the old man's never-failing smile of welcome!
All night long the boy and the dog sat by the fireless hearth in the darkness, drawn close together for warmth and sorrow. Their bodies were insensible to the cold, but their hearts seemed frozen in them.
When the morning broke over the white, chill earth it was the morning of Christmas Eve. With a shudder, Nello clasped close to him his only friend, while his tears fell hot and fast on the dog's frank forehead. "Let us go, Patrasche,--dear, dear Patrasche," he murmured. "We will not wait to be kicked out: let us go."
Patrasche had no will but his, and they went sadly, side by side, out from the little place which was so dear to them both, and in which every humble, homely thing was to them precious and beloved. Patrasche drooped his head wearily as he passed by his own green cart; it was no longer his,--it had to go with the rest to pay the rent, and his brass harness lay idle and glittering on the snow. The dog could have lain down beside it and died for very heart-sickness as he went, but whilst the lad lived and needed him Patrasche would not yield and give way.
They took the old accustomed road into Antwerp. The day had yet scarce more than dawned, most of the shutters were still closed, but some of the villagers were about. They took no notice whilst the dog and the boy passed by them. At one door Nello paused and looked wistfully within: his grandfather had done many a kindly turn in neighbor's service to the people who dwelt there.
"Would you give Patrasche a crust?" he said timidly. "He is old, and he has had nothing since last forenoon."
The woman shut the door hastily, murmuring some vague saying about wheat and rye being very dear that season. The boy and the dog went on again wearily: they asked no more.
By slow and painful ways they reached Antwerp as the chimes tolled ten.
"If I had anything about me I could sell to get him bread!" thought Nello, but he had nothing except the wisp of linen and serge that covered him, and his pair of wooden shoes.
Patrasche understood, and nestled his nose into the lad's hand, as though to pray him not to be disquieted for any woe or want of his.
The winner of the drawing-prize was to be proclaimed at noon, and to the public building where he had left his treasure Nello made his way. On the steps and in the entrance-hall was a crowd of youths,--some of his age, some older, all with parents or relatives or friends. His heart was sick with fear as he went amongst them, holding Patrasche close to him. The great bells of the city clashed out the hour of noon with brazen clamor. The doors of the inner hall were opened; the eager, panting throng rushed in; it was known that the selected picture would be raised above the rest upon a wooden dais.
A mist obscured Nello's sight, his head swam, his limbs almost failed him. When his vision cleared he saw the drawing raised on high: it was not his own! A slow, sonorous voice was proclaiming aloud that victory had been adjudged to Stephan Kiesslinger, born in the burgh of Antwerp, son of a wharfinger in that town.
When Nello recovered his consciousness he was lying on the stones without, and Patrasche was trying with every art he knew to call him back to life. In the distance a throng of the youths of Antwerp were shouting around their successful comrade, and escorting him with acclamations to his home upon the quay.
The boy staggered to his feet and drew the dog into his embrace. "It is all over, dear Patrasche," he murmured,--"all over!"
He rallied himself as best he could, for he was weak from fasting, and retraced his steps to the village. Patrasche paced by his side with his head drooping and his old limbs feeble from hunger and sorrow.
The snow was falling fast: a keen hurricane blew from the north: it was bitter as death on the plains. It took them long to traverse the familiar path, and the bells were sounding four of the clock as they approached the hamlet. Suddenly Patrasche paused, arrested by a scent in the snow, scratched, whined, and drew out with his teeth a small case of brown leather. He held it up to Nello in the darkness. Where they were there stood a little Calvary, and a lamp burned dully under the cross: the boy mechanically turned the case to the light: on it was the name of Baas Cogez, and within it were notes for two thousand francs.
The sight roused the lad a little from his stupor. He thrust it in his shirt, and stroked Patrasche and drew him onward. The dog looked up wistfully in his face.
Nello made straight for the mill-house, and went to the house-door and struck on its panels. The miller's wife opened it weeping, with little Alois clinging close to her skirts. "Is it thee, thou poor lad?" she said kindly through her tears. "Get thee gone ere the Baas see thee. We are in sore trouble to-night. He is out seeking for a power of money that he has let fall riding homeward, and in this snow he never will find it; and God knows it will go nigh to ruin us. It is Heaven's own judgment for the things we have done to thee."
Nello put the note-case in her hand and called Patrasche within the house. "Patrasche found the money to-night," he said quickly. "Tell Baas Cogez so; I think he will not deny the dog shelter and food in his old age. Keep him from pursuing me, and I pray of you to be good to him."
Ere either woman or dog knew what he meant he had stooped and kissed Patrasche, then closed the door hurriedly, and disappeared in the gloom of the fast-falling night.
The woman and the child stood speechless with joy and fear: Patrasche vainly spent the fury of his anguish against the iron-bound oak of the barred house-door. They did not dare unbar the door and let him forth: they tried all they could to solace him. They brought him sweet cakes and juicy meats; they tempted him with the best they had; they tried to lure him to abide by the warmth of the hearth; but it was of no avail. Patrasche refused to be comforted or to stir from the barred portal.
It was six o'clock when from an opposite entrance the miller at last came, jaded and broken, into his wife's presence. "It is lost forever," he said with an ashen cheek and a quiver in his stern voice. "We have looked with lanterns everywhere: it is gone,--the little maiden's portion and all!"
His wife put the money into his hand, and told him how it had come to her. The strong man sank trembling into a seat and covered his face, ashamed and almost afraid. "I have been cruel to the lad," he muttered at length: "I deserved not to have good at his hands."
Little Alois, taking courage, crept close to her father and nestled against him her fair curly head. "Nello may come here again, father?" she whispered. "He may come to-morrow as he used to do?"
The miller pressed her in his arms: his hard, sunburned face was very pale, and his mouth trembled. "Surely, surely," he answered his child. "He shall bide here on Christmas Day, and any other day he will. God helping me, I will make amends to the boy,--I will make amends."
Little Alois kissed him in gratitude and joy, then slid from his knees and ran to where the dog kept watch by the door. "And to-night I may feast Patrasche?" she cried in a child's thoughtless glee.
Her father bent his head gravely: "Ay, ay! let the dog have the best"; for the stern old man was moved and shaken to his heart's depths.
It was Christmas Eve, and the mill-house was filled with oak logs and squares of turf, with cream and honey, with meat and bread, and the rafters were hung with wreaths of evergreen, and the Calvary and the cuckoo clock looked out from a mass of holly. There were little paper lanterns too for Alois, and toys of various fashions and sweetmeats in bright-pictured papers. There were light and warmth and abundance everywhere, and the child would fain have made the dog a guest honored and feasted.
But Patrasche would neither lie in the warmth nor share in the cheer. Famished he was and very cold, but without Nello he would partake neither of comfort nor food. Against all temptation he was proof, and close against the door he leaned always, watching only for a means of escape.
"He wants the lad," said Baas Cogez. "Good dog! good dog! I will go over to the lad the first thing at day-dawn." For no one but Patrasche knew that Nello had left the hut, and no one but Patrasche divined that Nello had gone to face starvation and misery alone.
The mill-kitchen was very warm; great logs crackled and flamed on the hearth; neighbors came in for a glass of wine and a slice of the fat goose baking for supper. Alois, gleeful and sure of her playmate back on the morrow, bounded and sang and tossed back her yellow hair. Baas Cogez, in the fulness of his heart, smiled on her through moistened eyes, and spoke of the way in which he would befriend her favorite companion; the house-mother sat with calm, contented face at the spinning-wheel; the cuckoo in the clock chirped mirthful hours. Amidst it all Patrasche was bidden with a thousand words of welcome to tarry there a cherished guest. But neither peace nor plenty could allure him where Nello was not.
When the supper smoked on the board, and the voices were loudest and gladdest, and the Christ-child brought choicest gifts to Alois, Patrasche, watching always an occasion, glided out when the door was unlatched by a careless new-comer, and as swiftly as his weak and tired limbs would bear him sped over the snow in the bitter, black night. He had only one thought,--to follow Nello. A human friend might have paused for the pleasant meal, the cheery warmth, the cosey slumber; but that was not the friendship of Patrasche. He remembered a bygone time, when an old man and a little child had found him sick unto death in the wayside ditch.
Snow had fallen freshly all the evening long; it was now nearly ten; the trail of the boy's footsteps was almost obliterated. It took Patrasche long to discover any scent. When at last he found it, it was lost again quickly, and lost and recovered, and again lost and again recovered, a hundred times or more.
The night was very wild. The lamps under the wayside crosses were blown out; the roads were sheets of ice; the impenetrable darkness hid every trace of habitations; there was no living thing abroad. All the cattle were housed, and in all the huts and homesteads men and women rejoiced and feasted. There was only Patrasche out in the cruel cold,--old and famished and full of pain, but with the strength and the patience of a great love to sustain him in his search.
The trail of Nello's steps, faint and obscure as it was under the new snow, went straightly along the accustomed tracks into Antwerp. It was past midnight when Patrasche traced it over the boundaries of the town and into the narrow, tortuous, gloomy streets. It was all quite dark in the town, save where some light gleamed ruddily through the crevices of house-shutters, or some group went homeward with lanterns chanting drinking-songs. The streets were all white with ice: the high walls and roofs loomed black against them. There was scarce a sound save the riot of the winds down the passages as they tossed the creaking signs and shook the tall lamp-irons.
So many passers-by had trodden through and through the snow, so many diverse paths had crossed and recrossed each other, that the dog had a hard task to retain any hold on the track he followed. But he kept on his way, though the cold pierced him to the bone, and the jagged ice cut his feet, and the hunger in his body gnawed like a rat's teeth. He kept on his way, a poor gaunt, shivering thing, and by long patience traced the steps he loved into the very heart of the burgh and up to the steps of the great cathedral.
"He is gone to the things that he loved," thought Patrasche: he could not understand, but he was full of sorrow and of pity for the art-passion that to him was so incomprehensible and yet so sacred.
The portals of the cathedral were unclosed after the midnight mass. Some heedlessness in the custodians, too eager to go home and feast or sleep, or too drowsy to know whether they turned the keys aright, had left one of the doors unlocked. By that accident the footfalls Patrasche sought had passed through into the building, leaving the white marks of snow upon the dark stone floor. By that slender white thread, frozen as it fell, he was guided through the intense silence, through the immensity of the vaulted space,--guided straight to the gates of the chancel, and, stretched there upon the stones, he found Nello. He crept up and touched the face of the boy. "Didst thou dream that I should be faithless and forsake thee? I--a dog?" said that mute caress.
The lad raised himself with a low cry and clasped him close. "Let us lie down and die together," he murmured. "Men have no need of us, and we are all alone."
In answer, Patrasche crept closer yet, and laid his head upon the young boy's breast. The great tears stood in his brown, sad eyes: not for himself,--for himself he was happy.
They lay close together in the piercing cold. The blasts that blew over the Flemish dikes from the northern seas were like waves of ice, which froze every living thing they touched. The interior of the immense vault of stone in which they were was even more bitterly chill than the snow-covered plains without. Now and then a bat moved in the shadows,--now and then a gleam of light came on the ranks of carven figures. Under the Rubens they lay together quite still, and soothed almost into a dreaming slumber by the numbing narcotic of the cold. Together they dreamed of the old glad days when they had chased each other through the flowering grasses of the summer meadows, or sat hidden in the tall bulrushes by the water's side, watching the boats go seaward in the sun.
Suddenly through the darkness a great white radiance streamed through the vastness of the aisles; the moon, that was at her height, had broken through the clouds, the snow had ceased to fall, the light reflected from the snow without was clear as the light of dawn. It fell through the arches full upon the two pictures above, from which the boy on his entrance had flung back the veil: the Elevation and the Descent of the Cross were for one instant visible.
Nello rose to his feet and stretched his arms to them: the tears of a passionate ecstasy glistened on the paleness of his face. "I have seen them at last!" he cried aloud. "O God, it is enough!"
His limbs failed under him, and he sank upon his knees, still gazing upward at the majesty that he adored. For a few brief moments the light illumined the divine visions that had been denied to him so long,--light clear and sweet and strong as though it streamed from the throne of Heaven. Then suddenly it passed away: once more a great darkness covered the face of Christ.
The arms of the boy drew close again the body of the dog. "We shall see His face--_there_," he murmured; "and He will not part us, I think."
On the morrow, by the chancel of the cathedral, the people of Antwerp found them both. They were both dead: the cold of the night had frozen into stillness alike the young life and the old. When the Christmas morning broke and the priests came to the temple, they saw them lying thus on the stones together. Above, the veils were drawn back from the great visions of Rubens, and the fresh rays of the sunrise touched the thorn-crowned head of the Christ.
As the day grew on there came an old, hard-featured man who wept as women weep. "I was cruel to the lad," he muttered, "and now I would have made amends--yea, to the half of my substance--and he should have been to me as a son."
There came also, as the day grew apace, a painter who had fame in the world, and who was liberal of hand and of spirit. "I seek one who should have had the prize yesterday had worth won," he said to the people,--"a boy of rare promise and genius. An old wood-cutter on a fallen tree at eventide,--that was all his theme. But there was greatness for the future in it. I would fain find him, and take him with me and teach him Art."
And a little child with curling fair hair, sobbing bitterly as she clung to her father's arm, cried aloud, "O Nello, come! We have all ready for thee. The Christ-child's hands are full of gifts, and the old piper will play for us; and the mother says thou shalt stay by the hearth and burn nuts with us all the Noël week long,--yes, even to the Feast of the Kings! And Patrasche will be so happy! O Nello, wake and come!"
But the young pale face, turned upward to the light of the great Rubens with a smile upon its mouth, answered them all, "It is too late."
For the sweet, sonorous bells went ringing through the frost, and the sunlight shone upon the plains of snow, and the populace trooped gay and glad through the streets, but Nello and Patrasche no more asked charity at their hands. All they needed now Antwerp gave unbidden.
Death had been more pitiful to them than longer life would have been. It had taken the one in the loyalty of love, and the other in the innocence of faith, from a world which for love has no recompense and for faith no fulfilment.
All their lives they had been together, and in their deaths they were not divided; for when they were found the arms of the boy were folded too closely around the dog to be severed without violence, and the people of their little village, contrite and ashamed, implored a special grace for them, and, making them one grave, laid them to rest there side by side--forever!
THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER.
BY JOHN RUSKIN.
In a secluded and mountainous part of Styria, there was, in old time, a valley of the most surprising and luxuriant fertility. It was surrounded, on all sides, by steep and rocky mountains, rising into peaks, which were always covered with snow, and from which a number of torrents descended in constant cataracts. One of these fell westward, over the face of a crag so high that, when the sun had set to everything else, and all below was darkness, his beams still shone full upon this waterfall, so that it looked like a shower of gold. It was, therefore, called by the people of the neighborhood the Golden River. It was strange that none of these streams fell into the valley itself. They all descended on the other side of the mountains, and wound away through broad plains and by populous cities. But the clouds were drawn so constantly to the snowy hills, and rested so softly in the circular hollow, that, in time of drought and heat, when all the country round was burnt up, there was still rain in the little valley; and its crops were so heavy, and its hay so high, and its apples so red, and its grapes so blue, and its wine so rich, and its honey so sweet, that it was a marvel to every one who beheld it, and was commonly called the Treasure Valley.
The whole of this little valley belonged to three brothers, called Schwartz, Hans, and Gluck. Schwartz and Hans, the two elder brothers, were very ugly men, with overhanging eyebrows and small, dull eyes, which were always half shut, so that you couldn't see into _them_, and always fancied they saw very far into _you_. They lived by farming the Treasure Valley, and very good farmers they were. They killed everything that did not pay for its eating. They shot the blackbirds, because they pecked the fruit; and killed the hedgehogs, lest they should suck the cows; they poisoned the crickets for eating the crumbs in the kitchen; and smothered the cicadas, which used to sing all summer in the lime-trees. They worked their servants without any wages, till they would not work any more, and then quarrelled with them, and turned them out of doors without paying them. It would have been very odd, if, with such a farm, and such a system of farming, they hadn't got very rich; and very rich they _did_ get. They generally contrived to keep their corn by them till it was very dear, and then sell it for twice its value; they had heaps of gold lying about on their floors, yet it was never known that they had given so much as a penny or a crust in charity; they never went to mass; grumbled perpetually at paying tithes; and were, in a word, of so cruel and grinding a temper, as to receive from all those with whom they had any dealings, the nickname of the "Black Brothers."
The youngest brother, Gluck, was as completely opposed, in both appearance and character, to his seniors as could possibly be imagined or desired. He was not above twelve years old, fair, blue-eyed, and kind in temper to every living thing. He did not, of course, agree particularly well with his brothers, or, rather, they did not agree with _him_. He was usually appointed to the honorable office of turnspit, when there was anything to roast, which was not often; for, to do the brothers justice, they were hardly less sparing upon themselves than upon other people. At other times he used to clean the shoes, the floors, and sometimes the plates, occasionally getting what was left on them, by way of encouragement, and a wholesome quantity of dry blows, by way of education.
Things went on in this manner for a long time. At last came a very wet summer, and everything went wrong in the country round. The hay had hardly been got in, when the haystacks were floated bodily down to the sea by an inundation; the vines were cut to pieces with the hail; the corn was all killed by a black blight; only in the Treasure Valley, as usual, all was safe. As it had rain when there was rain nowhere else, so it had sun when there was sun nowhere else. Everybody came to buy corn at the farm, and went away pouring maledictions on the Black Brothers. They asked what they liked, and got it, except from the poor people, who could only beg, and several of whom were starved at their very door, without the slightest regard or notice.
It was drawing toward winter, and very cold weather, when one day the two elder brothers had gone out, with their usual warning to little Gluck, who was left to mind the roast, that he was to let nobody in, and give nothing out. Gluck sat down quite close to the fire, for it was raining very hard, and the kitchen walls were by no means dry or comfortable looking. He turned and turned, and the roast got nice and brown. "What a pity," thought Gluck, "my brothers never ask anybody to dinner. I'm sure, when they've got such a nice piece of mutton as this, and nobody else has got so much as a piece of dry bread, it would do their hearts good to have somebody to eat it with them."
Just as he spoke, there came a double knock at the house-door, yet heavy and dull, as though the knocker had been tied up,--more like a puff than a knock.
"It must be the wind," said Gluck; "nobody else would venture to knock double knocks at our door."
No; it wasn't the wind; there it came again very hard, and, what was particularly astounding, the knocker seemed to be in a hurry, and not to be in the least afraid of the consequences. Gluck went to the window, opened it, and put his head out to see who it was.
It was the most extraordinary-looking little gentleman he had ever seen in his life. He had a very large nose, slightly brass-colored; his cheeks were very round and very red, and might have warranted a supposition that he had been blowing a refractory fire for the last eight-and-forty hours; his eyes twinkled merrily through long silky eyelashes, his mustaches curled twice round like a corkscrew on each side of his mouth, and his hair, of a curious mixed pepper-and-salt color, descended far over his shoulders. He was about four feet six in height, and wore a conical pointed cap of nearly the same altitude, decorated with a black feather some three feet long. His doublet was prolonged behind into something resembling a violent exaggeration of what is now termed a "swallow-tail," but was much obscured by the swelling folds of an enormous black, glossy-looking cloak, which must have been very much too long in calm weather, as the wind, whistling round the old house, carried it clear out from the wearer's shoulders to about four times his own length.
Gluck was so perfectly paralyzed by the singular appearance of his visitor, that he remained fixed without uttering a word, until the old gentleman, having performed another and a more energetic concerto on the knocker, turned round to look after his fly-away cloak. In so doing he caught sight of Gluck's little yellow head jammed in the window, with its mouth and eyes very wide open indeed.
"Hollo!" said the little gentleman, "that's not the way to answer the door; I'm wet, let me in."
To do the little gentleman justice, he _was_ wet. His feather hung down between his legs like a beaten puppy's tail, dripping like an umbrella; and from the ends of his mustaches the water was running into his waistcoat-pockets, and out again like a mill-stream.
"I beg pardon, sir," said Gluck, "I'm very sorry, but I really can't."
"Can't what?" said the old gentleman.
"I can't let you in, sir,--I can't, indeed; my brothers would beat me to death, sir, if I thought of such a thing. What do you want, sir?"
"Want?" said the old gentleman, petulantly, "I want fire and shelter; and there's your great fire there blazing, crackling, and dancing on the walls, with nobody to feel it. Let me in, I say; I only want to warm myself."
Gluck had had his head, by this time, so long out of the window, that he began to feel it was really unpleasantly cold, and when he turned, and saw the beautiful fire rustling and roaring, and throwing long bright tongues up the chimney, as if it were licking its chops at the savory smell of the leg of mutton, his heart melted within him that it should be burning away for nothing. "He does look _very_ wet," said little Gluck; "I'll just let him in for a quarter of an hour." Round he went to the door, and opened it; and as the little gentleman walked in, through the house came a gust of wind that made the old chimneys totter.
"That's a good boy," said the little gentleman. "Never mind your brothers. I'll talk to them."
"Pray, sir, don't do any such thing," said Gluck. "I can't let you stay till they come; they'd be the death of me."
"Dear me," said the old gentleman, "I'm very sorry to hear that. How long may I stay?"
"Only till the mutton's done, sir," replied Gluck, "and it's very brown."
Then the old gentleman walked into the kitchen, and sat himself down on the hob, with the top of his cap accommodated up the chimney, for it was a great deal too high for the roof.
"You'll soon dry there, sir," said Gluck, and sat down again to turn the mutton. But the old gentleman did _not_ dry there, but went on drip, drip, dripping among the cinders, and the fire fizzed and sputtered, and began to look very black and uncomfortable; never was such a cloak; every fold in it ran like a gutter.
"I beg pardon, sir," said Gluck at length, after watching the water spreading in long quicksilver-like streams over the floor for a quarter of an hour; "mayn't I take your cloak?"
"No, thank you," said the old gentleman.
"Your cap, sir?"
"I'm all right, thank you," said the old gentleman, rather gruffly.
"But--sir--I'm very sorry," said Gluck, hesitatingly; "but--really, sir--you're putting the fire out."
"It'll take longer to do the mutton then," replied his visitor dryly.
Gluck was very much puzzled by the behavior of his guest; it was such a strange mixture of coolness and humility. He turned away at the string meditatively for another five minutes.
"That mutton looks very nice," said the old gentleman, at length. "Can't you give me a little bit?"
"Impossible, sir," said Gluck.
"I'm very hungry," continued the old gentleman; "I've had nothing to eat yesterday, nor to-day. They surely couldn't miss a bit from the knuckle!"
He spoke in so very melancholy a tone, that it quite melted Gluck's heart. "They promised me one slice to-day, sir," said he; "I can give you that, but not a bit more."
"That's a good boy," said the old gentleman again.
Then Gluck warmed a plate and sharpened a knife. "I don't care if I do get beaten for it," thought he. Just as he had cut a large slice out of the mutton, there came a tremendous rap at the door. The old gentleman jumped off the hob, as if it had suddenly become inconveniently warm. Gluck fitted the slice into the mutton again, with desperate efforts at exactitude, and ran to open the door.
"What did you keep us waiting in the rain for?" said Schwartz, as he walked in, throwing his umbrella in Gluck's face. "Ay! what for, indeed, you little vagabond?" said Hans, administering an educational box on the ear, as he followed his brother into the kitchen.
"Bless my soul!" said Schwartz, when he opened the door.
"Amen," said the little gentleman, who had taken his cap off, and was standing in the middle of the kitchen, bowing with the utmost possible velocity.
"Who's that?" said Schwartz, catching up a rolling-pin, and turning to Gluck with a fierce frown.
"I don't know, indeed, brother," said Gluck, in great terror.
"How did he get in?" roared Schwartz.
"My dear brother," said Gluck, deprecatingly, "he was so _very_ wet!"
The rolling-pin was descending on Gluck's head; but, at the instant, the old gentleman interposed his conical cap, on which it crashed with a shock that shook the water out of it all over the room. What was very odd, the rolling-pin no sooner touched the cap, than it flew out of Schwartz's hand, spinning like a straw in a high wind, and fell into the corner at the further end of the room.
"Who are you, sir?" demanded Schwartz, turning upon him.
"What's your business?" snarled Hans.
"I'm a poor old man, sir," the little gentleman began very modestly, "and I saw your fire through the window, and begged shelter for a quarter of an hour."
"Have the goodness to walk out again, then," said Schwartz. "We've quite enough water in our kitchen, without making it a drying-house."
"It is a cold day to turn an old man out in, sir; look at my gray hairs." They hung down to his shoulders, as I told you before.
"Ay!" said Hans, "there are enough of them to keep you warm. Walk!"
"I'm very, very hungry, sir; couldn't you spare me a bit of bread before I go?"
"Bread, indeed!" said Schwartz; "do you suppose we've nothing to do with our bread but to give it to such red-nosed fellows as you?"
"Why don't you sell your feather?" said Hans, sneeringly. "Out with you."
"A little bit," said the old gentleman.
"Be off!" said Schwartz.
"Off, and be hanged!" cried Hans, seizing him by the collar. But he had no sooner touched the old gentleman's collar, than away he went after the rolling-pin, spinning round and round, till he fell into the corner on the top of it. Then Schwartz was very angry, and ran at the old gentleman to turn him out; but he also had hardly touched him, when away he went after Hans and the rolling-pin, and hit his head against the wall as he tumbled into the corner. And so there they lay, all three.
Then the old gentleman spun himself round with velocity in the opposite direction; continued to spin until his long cloak was all wound neatly about him; clapped his cap on his head, very much on one side (for it could not stand upright without going through the ceiling), gave an additional twist to his corkscrew mustaches, and replied with perfect coolness: "Gentlemen, I wish you a very good morning. At twelve o'clock to-night, I'll call again; after such a refusal of hospitality as I have just experienced, you will not be surprised if that visit is the last I ever pay you."
"If ever I catch you here again," muttered Schwartz, coming, half frightened, out of the corner,--but, before he could finish his sentence, the old gentleman had shut the house-door behind him with a great bang; and past the window, at the same instant, drove a wreath of ragged cloud, that whirled and rolled away down the valley in all manner of shapes; turning over and over in the air; and melting away at last in a gush of rain.
"A very pretty business, indeed, Mr. Gluck!" said Schwartz. "Dish the mutton, sir. If ever I catch you at such a trick again-- Bless me, why the mutton's been cut!"
"You promised me one slice, brother, you know," said Gluck.
"Oh! and you were cutting it hot, I suppose, and going to catch all the gravy. It'll be long before I promise you such a thing again. Leave the room, sir; and have the kindness to wait in the coal-cellar till I call you."
Gluck left the room melancholy enough. The brothers ate as much mutton as they could, locked the rest in the cupboard, and proceeded to get very drunk after dinner.
Such a night as it was! Howling wind, and rushing rain, without intermission. The brothers had just sense enough left to put up all the shutters, and double bar the door, before they went to bed. They usually slept in the same room. As the clock struck twelve, they were both awakened by a tremendous crash. Their door burst open with a violence that shook the house from top to bottom.
"What's that?" cried Schwartz, starting up in his bed.
"Only I," said the little gentleman.
The two brothers sat up on their bolster, and stared into the darkness. The room was full of water, and by a misty moonbeam, which found its way through a hole in the shutter, they could see, in the midst of it, an enormous foam globe, spinning round, and bobbing up and down like a cork, on which, as on a most luxurious cushion, reclined the little old gentleman, cap and all. There was plenty of room for it now, for the roof was off.
"Sorry to incommode you," said their visitor, ironically. "I'm afraid your beds are dampish; perhaps you had better go to your brother's room; I've left the ceiling on there."
They required no second admonition, but rushed into Gluck's room, wet through, and in an agony of terror.
"You'll find my card on the kitchen table," the old gentleman called after them. "Remember the _last_ visit."
"Pray Heaven it may be!" said Schwartz, shuddering. And the foam globe disappeared.
Dawn came at last, and the two brothers looked out of Gluck's little window in the morning. The Treasure Valley was one mass of ruin and desolation. The inundation had swept away trees, crops, and cattle, and left, in their stead, a waste of red sand and gray mud. The two brothers crept, shivering and horror-struck, into the kitchen. The water had gutted the whole first floor: corn, money, almost every movable thing had been swept away, and there was left only a small white card on the kitchen table. On it, in large, breezy, long-legged letters, were engraved the words:--
SOUTHWEST WIND, ESQUIRE.
Southwest Wind, Esquire, was as good as his word. After the momentous visit above related, he entered the Treasure Valley no more; and, what was worse, he had so much influence with his relations, the West Winds in general, and used it so effectually, that they all adopted a similar line of conduct. So no rain fell in the valley from one year's end to another. Though everything remained green and flourishing in the plains below, the inheritance of the Three Brothers was a desert. What had once been the richest soil in the kingdom became a shifting heap of red sand; and the brothers, unable longer to contend with the adverse skies, abandoned their valueless patrimony in despair, to seek some means of gaining a livelihood among the cities and people of the plains. All their money was gone, and they had nothing left but some curious, old-fashioned pieces of gold plate, the last remnants of their ill-gotten wealth.
"Suppose we turn goldsmiths?" said Schwartz to Hans, as they entered the large city. "It is a good knave's trade; we can put a great deal of copper into the gold, without any one's finding it out."
The thought was agreed to be a very good one; they hired a furnace, and turned goldsmiths. But two slight circumstances affected their trade: the first, that people did not approve of the coppered gold; the second, that the two elder brothers, whenever they had sold anything, used to leave little Gluck to mind the furnace, and go and drink out the money in the ale-house next door. So they melted all their gold, without making money enough to buy more, and were at last reduced to one large drinking-mug, which an uncle of his had given to little Gluck, and which he was very fond of, and would not have parted with for the world; though he never drank anything out of it but milk and water. The mug was a very odd mug to look at. The handle was formed of two wreaths of flowing golden hair, so finely spun that it looked more like silk than like metal, and these wreaths descended into, and mixed with, a beard and whiskers, of the same exquisite workmanship, which surrounded and decorated a very fierce little face, of the reddest gold imaginable, right in the front of the mug, with a pair of eyes in it which seemed to command its whole circumference. It was impossible to drink out of the mug without being subjected to an intense gaze out of the side of these eyes; and Schwartz positively averred that once, after emptying it full of Rhenish seventeen times, he had seen them wink! When it came to the mug's turn to be made into spoons, it half broke poor little Gluck's heart; but the brothers only laughed at him, tossed the mug into the melting-pot, and staggered out to the ale-house; leaving him, as usual, to pour the gold into bars, when it was all ready.
When they were gone, Gluck took a farewell look at his old friend in the melting-pot. The flowing hair was all gone; nothing remained but the red nose, and the sparkling eyes, which looked more malicious than ever. "And no wonder," thought Gluck, "after being treated in that way." He sauntered disconsolately to the window, and sat himself down to catch the fresh evening air, and escape the hot breath of the furnace. Now this window commanded a direct view of the range of mountains, which, as I told you before, overhung the Treasure Valley, and more especially of the peak from which fell the Golden River. It was just at the close of the day, and, when Gluck sat down at the window, he saw the rocks of the mountain-tops, all crimson and purple with the sunset; and there were bright tongues of fiery cloud burning and quivering about them; and the river, brighter than all, fell, in a waving column of pure gold, from precipice to precipice, with the double arch of a broad purple rainbow stretched across it, flushing and fading alternately in the wreaths of spray.
"Ah!" said Gluck aloud, after he had looked at it for a little while, "if that river were really all gold, what a nice thing it would be!"
"No, it wouldn't, Gluck," said a clear, metallic voice, close at his ear.
"Bless me, what's that?" exclaimed Gluck, jumping up. There was nobody there. He looked round the room, and under the table, and a great many times behind him, but there was certainly nobody there, and he sat down again at the window. This time he didn't speak, but he couldn't help thinking again that it would be very convenient if the river were really all gold.
"Not at all, my boy," said the same voice, louder than before.
"Bless me!" said Gluck again, "what _is_ that?" He looked again into all the corners and cupboards, and then began turning round and round, as fast as he could, in the middle of the room, thinking there was somebody behind him, when the same voice struck again on his ear. It was singing now very merrily "Lala-lira-la"; no words, only a soft running effervescent melody, something like that of a kettle on the boil. Gluck looked out of the window. No, it was certainly in the house. Up stairs, and down stairs. No, it was certainly in that very room, coming in quicker time and clearer notes every moment. "Lala-lira-la." All at once it struck Gluck that it sounded louder near the furnace. He ran to the opening and looked in; yes, he saw right, it seemed to be coming, not only out of the furnace, but out of the pot. He uncovered it, and ran back in a great fright, for the pot was certainly singing! He stood in the farthest corner of the room, with his hands up, and his mouth open, for a minute or two, when the singing stopped, and the voice became clear and pronunciative.
"Hollo!" said the voice.
Gluck made no answer.
"Hollo! Gluck, my boy," said the pot again.
Gluck summoned all his energies, walked straight up to the crucible, drew it out of the furnace, and looked in. The gold was all melted, and its surface as smooth and polished as a river; but instead of its reflecting little Gluck's head, as he looked in, he saw meeting his glance, from beneath the gold, the red nose and the sharp eyes of his old friend of the mug, a thousand times redder and sharper than ever he had seen them in his life.
"Come, Gluck, my boy," said the voice out of the pot again, "I'm all right; pour me out."
But Gluck was too much astonished to do anything of the kind.
"Pour me out, I say," said the voice, rather gruffly.
Still Gluck couldn't move.
"_Will_ you pour me out?" said the voice, passionately. "I'm too hot."
By a violent effort, Gluck recovered the use of his limbs, took hold of the crucible, and sloped it so as to pour out the gold. But instead of a liquid stream, there came out, first, a pair of pretty little yellow legs, then some coat-tails, then a pair of arms stuck akimbo, and, finally, the well-known head of his friend the mug; all which articles, uniting as they rolled out, stood up energetically on the floor, in the shape of a little golden dwarf, about a foot and a half high.
"That's right!" said the dwarf, stretching out first his legs, and then his arms, and then shaking his head up and down, and as far round as it would go, for five minutes, without stopping; apparently with the view of ascertaining if he were quite correctly put together, while Gluck stood contemplating him in speechless amazement. He was dressed in a slashed doublet of spun gold, so fine in its texture that the prismatic colors gleamed over it, as if on a surface of mother-of-pearl; and over this brilliant doublet his hair and beard fell full half-way to the ground, in waving curls, so exquisitely delicate, that Gluck could hardly tell where they ended; they seemed to melt into air. The features of the face, however, were by no means finished with the same delicacy; they were rather coarse, slightly inclining to coppery in complexion, and indicative, in expression, of a very pertinacious and intractable disposition in their small proprietor. When the dwarf had finished his self-examination, he turned his small, sharp eyes full on Gluck, and stared at him deliberately for a minute or two. "No, it wouldn't, Gluck, my boy," said the little man.
This was certainly rather an abrupt and unconnected mode of commencing conversation. It might indeed be supposed to refer to the course of Gluck's thoughts, which had first produced the dwarf's observations out of the pot; but whatever it referred to, Gluck had no inclination to dispute the dictum.
"Wouldn't it, sir?" said Gluck, very mildly and submissively indeed.
"No," said the dwarf, conclusively. "No, it wouldn't." And with that, the dwarf pulled his cap hard over his brows, and took two turns of three feet long, up and down the room, lifting his legs very high, and setting them down very hard. This pause gave time for Gluck to collect his thoughts a little, and, seeing no great reason to view his diminutive visitor with dread, and feeling his curiosity overcome his amazement, he ventured on a question of peculiar delicacy.
"Pray, sir," said Gluck rather hesitatingly, "were you my mug?"
On which the little man turned sharp round, walked straight up to Gluck, and drew himself up to his full height. "I," said the little man, "am the King of the Golden River." Whereupon he turned about again, and took two more turns, some six feet long, in order to allow time for the consternation which this announcement produced in his auditor to evaporate. After which he again walked up to Gluck and stood still, as if expecting some comment on his communication.
Gluck determined to say something, at all events. "I hope your Majesty is very well," said Gluck.
"Listen!" said the little man, deigning no reply to this polite inquiry. "I am the King of what you mortals call the Golden River. The shape you saw me in was owing to the malice of a stronger king, from whose enchantments you have this instant freed me. What I have seen of you, and your conduct to your wicked brothers, renders me willing to serve you; therefore attend to what I tell you. Whoever shall climb to the top of that mountain from which you see the Golden River issue, and shall cast into the stream at its source three drops of holy water, for him, and for him only, the river shall turn to gold. But no one failing in his first, can succeed in a second attempt; and if any one shall cast unholy water into the river, it will overwhelm him, and he will become a black stone." So saying, the King of the Golden River turned away, and deliberately walked into the centre of the hottest flame of the furnace. His figure became red, white, transparent, dazzling,--a blaze of intense light,--rose, trembled, and disappeared. The King of the Golden River had evaporated.
"Oh!" cried poor Gluck, running to look up the chimney after him; "O dear, dear, dear me! My mug! my mug! my mug!"
The King of the Golden River had hardly made his extraordinary exit before Hans and Schwartz came roaring into the house, very savagely drunk. The discovery of the total loss of their last piece of plate had the effect of sobering them just enough to enable them to stand over Gluck, beating him very steadily for a quarter of an hour; at the expiration of which period they dropped into a couple of chairs, and requested to know what he had got to say for himself. Gluck told them his story, of which of course they did not believe a word. They beat him again, till their arms were tired, and staggered to bed. In the morning, however, the steadiness with which he adhered to his story obtained him some degree of credence; the immediate consequence of which was, that the two brothers, after wrangling a long time on the knotty question which of them should try his fortune first, drew their swords, and began fighting. The noise of the fray alarmed the neighbors, who, finding they could not pacify the combatants, sent for the constable.
Hans, on hearing this, contrived to escape, and hid himself; but Schwartz was taken before the magistrate, fined for breaking the peace, and, having drunk out his last penny the evening before, was thrown into prison till he should pay.
When Hans heard this, he was much delighted, and determined to set out immediately for the Golden River. How to get the holy water, was the question. He went to the priest, but the priest could not give any holy water to so abandoned a character. So Hans went to vespers in the evening for the first time in his life, and, under pretence of crossing himself, stole a cupful, and returned home in triumph.
Next morning he got up before the sun rose, put the holy water into a strong flask, and two bottles of wine and some meat in a basket, slung them over his back, took his alpine staff in his hand, and set off for the mountains.
On his way out of the town he had to pass the prison, and as he looked in at the windows, whom should he see but Schwartz himself peeping out of the bars, and looking very disconsolate?
"Good morning, brother," said Hans; "have you any message for the King of the Golden River?"
Schwartz gnashed his teeth with rage, and shook the bars with all his strength; but Hans only laughed at him, and advising him to make himself comfortable till he came back again, shouldered his basket, shook the bottle of holy water in Schwartz's face till it frothed again, and marched off in the highest spirits in the world.
It was, indeed, a morning that might have made any one happy, even with no Golden River to seek for. Level lines of dewy mist lay stretched along the valley, out of which rose the massy mountains,--their lower cliffs in pale gray shadow, hardly distinguishable from the floating vapor, but gradually ascending till they caught the sunlight, which ran in sharp touches of ruddy color along the angular crags, and pierced, in long level rays, through their fringes of spear-like pine. Far above, shot up red splintered masses of castellated rock, jagged and shivered into myriads of fantastic forms, with here and there a streak of sunlit snow, traced down their chasms like a line of forked lightning; and, far beyond, and far above all these, fainter than the morning cloud, but purer and changeless, slept, in the blue sky, the utmost peaks of the eternal snow.
The Golden River, which sprang from one of the lower and snowless elevations, was now nearly in shadow; all but the uppermost jets of spray, which rose like slow smoke above the undulating line of the cataract, and floated away in feeble wreaths upon the morning wind.
On this object, and on this alone, Hans's eyes and thoughts were fixed; forgetting the distance he had to traverse, he set off at an imprudent rate of walking, which greatly exhausted him before he had scaled the first range of the green and low hills. He was, moreover, surprised, on surmounting them, to find that a large glacier, of whose existence, notwithstanding his previous knowledge of the mountains, he had been absolutely ignorant, lay between him and the source of the Golden River. He entered on it with the boldness of a practised mountaineer; yet he thought he had never traversed so strange or so dangerous a glacier in his life. The ice was excessively slippery, and out of all its chasms came wild sounds of gushing water; not monotonous or low, but changeful and loud, rising occasionally into drifting passages of wild melody, then breaking off into short, melancholy tones, or sudden shrieks, resembling those of human voices in distress or pain. The ice was broken into thousands of confused shapes, but none, Hans thought, like the ordinary forms of splintered ice. There seemed a curious _expression_ about all their outlines,--a perpetual resemblance to living features, distorted and scornful. Myriads of deceitful shadows and lurid lights played and floated about and through the pale blue pinnacles, dazzling and confusing the sight of the traveller; while his ears grew dull and his head giddy with the constant gush and roar of the concealed waters. These painful circumstances increased upon him as he advanced; the ice crashed and yawned into fresh chasms at his feet, tottering spires nodded around him, and fell thundering across his path; and though he had repeatedly faced these dangers on the most terrific glaciers, and in the wildest weather, it was with a new and oppressive feeling of panic terror that he leaped the last chasm, and flung himself, exhausted and shuddering, on the firm turf of the mountain.
He had been compelled to abandon his basket of food, which became a perilous incumbrance on the glacier, and had now no means of refreshing himself but by breaking off and eating some of the pieces of ice. This, however, relieved his thirst; an hour's repose recruited his hardy frame, and, with the indomitable spirit of avarice, he resumed his laborious journey.
His way now lay straight up a ridge of bare, red rocks, without a blade of grass to ease the foot or a projecting angle to afford an inch of shade from the south sun. It was past noon, and the rays beat intensely upon the steep path, while the whole atmosphere was motionless, and penetrated with heat. Intense thirst was soon added to the bodily fatigue with which Hans was now afflicted; glance after glance he cast on the flask of water which hung at his belt. "Three drops are enough," at last thought he; "I may, at least, cool my lips with it."
He opened the flask, and was raising it to his lips, when his eye fell on an object lying on the rock beside him; he thought it moved. It was a small dog, apparently in the last agony of death from thirst. Its tongue was out, its jaws dry, its limbs extended lifelessly, and a swarm of black ants were crawling about its lips and throat. Its eye moved to the bottle which Hans held in his hand. He raised it, drank, spurned the animal with his foot, and passed on. And he did not know how it was, but he thought that a strange shadow had suddenly come across the blue sky.
The path became steeper and more rugged every moment; and the high hill air, instead of refreshing him, seemed to throw his blood into a fever. The noise of the hill cataracts sounded like mockery in his ears; they were all distant, and his thirst increased every moment. Another hour passed, and he again looked down to the flask at his side; it was half empty, but there was much more than three drops in it. He stopped to open it, and again, as he did so, something moved in the path above him. It was a fair child, stretched nearly lifeless on the rock, its breast heaving with thirst, its eyes closed, and its lips parched and burning. Hans eyed it deliberately, drank, and passed on. And a dark gray cloud came over the sun, and long snake-like shadows crept up along the mountain-sides. Hans struggled on. The sun was sinking, but its descent seemed to bring no coolness; the leaden weight of the dead air pressed upon his brow and heart, but the goal was near. He saw the cataract of the Golden River springing from the hillside, scarcely five hundred feet above him. He paused for a moment to breathe, and sprang on to complete his task.
At this instant a faint cry fell on his ear. He turned, and saw a gray-haired old man extended on the rocks. His eyes were sunk, his features deadly pale, and gathered into an expression of despair. "Water!" he stretched his arms to Hans, and cried feebly,--"Water! I am dying."
"I have none," replied Hans; "thou hast had thy share of life." He strode over the prostrate body, and darted on. And a flash of blue lightning rose out of the east, shaped like a sword; it shook thrice over the whole heaven, and left it dark with one heavy, impenetrable shade. The sun was setting; it plunged toward the horizon like a red-hot ball.
The roar of the Golden River rose on Hans's ear. He stood at the brink of the chasm through which it ran. Its waves were filled with the red glory of the sunset: they shook their crests like tongues of fire, and flashes of bloody light gleamed along their foam. Their sound came mightier and mightier on his senses; his brain grew giddy with the prolonged thunder. Shuddering, he drew the flask from his girdle, and hurled it into the centre of the torrent. As he did so, an icy chill shot through his limbs; he staggered, shrieked, and fell. The waters closed over his cry. And the moaning of the river rose wildly into the night, as it gushed over
THE BLACK STONE.
Poor little Gluck waited very anxiously alone in the house for Hans's return. Finding he did not come back, he was terribly frightened, and went and told Schwartz in the prison all that had happened. Then Schwartz was very much pleased, and said that Hans must certainly have been turned into a black stone, and he should have all the gold to himself. But Gluck was very sorry, and cried all night. When he got up in the morning, there was no bread in the house, nor any money; so Gluck went and hired himself to another goldsmith, and he worked so hard, and so neatly, and so long every day, that he soon got money enough together to pay his brother's fine, and he went and gave it all to Schwartz, and Schwartz got out of prison. Then Schwartz was quite pleased, and said he should have some of the gold of the river. But Gluck only begged he would go and see what had become of Hans.
Now when Schwartz had heard that Hans had stolen the holy water, he thought to himself that such a proceeding might not be considered altogether correct by the King of the Golden River, and determined to manage matters better. So he took some more of Gluck's money, and went to a bad priest, who gave him some holy water very readily for it. Then Schwartz was sure it was all quite right. So Schwartz got up early in the morning before the sun rose, and took some bread and wine in a basket, and put his holy water in a flask, and set off for the mountains. Like his brother, he was much surprised at the sight of the glacier, and had great difficulty in crossing it, even after leaving his basket behind him. The day was cloudless, but not bright: a heavy purple haze was hanging over the sky, and the hills looked lowering and gloomy. And as Schwartz climbed the steep rock path, the thirst came upon him, as it had upon his brother, until he lifted his flask to his lips to drink. Then he saw the fair child lying near him on the rocks, and it cried to him, and moaned for water.
"Water, indeed," said Schwartz; "I haven't half enough for myself," and passed on. And as he went he thought the sunbeams grew more dim, and he saw a low bank of black cloud rising out of the west; and, when he had climbed for another hour, the thirst overcame him again, and he would have drunk. Then he saw the old man lying before him on the path, and heard him cry out for water. "Water, indeed," said Schwartz; "I haven't half enough for myself," and on he went.
Then again the light seemed to fade from before his eyes, and he looked up, and, behold, a mist, of the color of blood, had come over the sun; and the bank of black cloud had risen very high, and its edges were tossing and tumbling like the waves of the angry sea. And they cast long shadows, which flickered over Schwartz's path.
Then Schwartz climbed for another hour, and again his thirst returned; and as he lifted his flask to his lips, he thought he saw his brother Hans lying exhausted on the path before him, and, as he gazed, the figure stretched its arms to him, and cried for water. "Ha, ha," laughed Schwartz, "are you there? Remember the prison bars, my boy. Water, indeed! do you suppose I carried it all the way up here for _you_?" And he strode over the figure; yet, as he passed, he thought he saw a strange expression of mockery about its lips. And, when he had gone a few yards farther, he looked back; but the figure was not there.
And a sudden horror came over Schwartz, he knew not why; but the thirst for gold prevailed over his fear, and he rushed on. And the bank of black cloud rose to the zenith, and out of it came bursts of spiry lightning, and waves of darkness seemed to heave and float between their flashes, over the whole heavens. And the sky where the sun was setting was all level, and like a lake of blood; and a strong wind came out of that sky, tearing its crimson clouds into fragments, and scattering them far into the darkness. And when Schwartz stood by the brink of the Golden River, its waves were black like thunderclouds, but their foam was like fire; and the roar of the waters below and the thunder above met, as he cast the flask into the stream. And, as he did so, the lightning glared in his eyes, and the earth gave way beneath him, and the waters closed over his cry. And the moaning of the river rose wildly into the night, as it gushed over the
TWO BLACK STONES.
When Gluck found that Schwartz did not come back, he was very sorry, and did not know what to do. He had no money, and was obliged to go and hire himself again to the goldsmith, who worked him very hard, and gave him very little money. So, after a month or two, Gluck grew tired, and made up his mind to go and try his fortune with the Golden River. "The little king looked very kind," thought he. "I don't think he will turn me into a black stone." So he went to the priest, and the priest gave him some holy water as soon as he asked for it. Then Gluck took some bread in his basket, and the bottle of water, and set off very early for the mountains.
If the glacier had occasioned a great deal of fatigue to his brothers, it was twenty times worse for him, who was neither so strong nor so practised on the mountains. He had several very bad falls, lost his basket and bread, and was very much frightened at the strange noises under the ice. He lay a long time to rest on the grass, after he had got over, and began to climb the hill just in the hottest part of the day. When he had climbed for an hour, he got dreadfully thirsty, and was going to drink like his brothers, when he saw an old man coming down the path above him, looking very feeble, and leaning on a staff. "My son," said the old man, "I am faint with thirst; give me some of that water." Then Gluck looked at him, and when he saw that he was pale and weary, he gave him the water; "Only pray don't drink it all," said Gluck. But the old man drank a great deal, and gave him back the bottle two thirds empty. Then he bade him good speed, and Gluck went on again merrily. And the path became easier to his feet, and two or three blades of grass appeared upon it, and some grasshoppers began singing on the bank beside it; and Gluck thought he had never heard such merry singing.
Then he went on for another hour, and the thirst increased on him so that he thought he should be forced to drink. But, as he raised the flask, he saw a little child lying panting by the roadside, and it cried out piteously for water. Then Gluck struggled with himself and determined to bear the thirst a little longer; and he put the bottle to the child's lips, and it drank it all but a few drops. Then it smiled on him, and got up, and ran down the hill; and Gluck looked after it, till it became as small as a little star, and then turned, and began climbing again. And then there were all kinds of sweet flowers growing on the rocks, bright green moss, with pale pink starry flowers, and soft-belled gentians, more blue than the sky at its deepest, and pure white transparent lilies. And crimson and purple butterflies darted hither and thither, and the sky sent down such pure light that Gluck had never felt so happy in his life.
Yet, when he had climbed for another hour, his thirst became intolerable again; and, when he looked at his bottle, he saw that there were only five or six drops left in it, and he could not venture to drink. And as he was hanging the flask to his belt again, he saw a little dog lying on the rocks, gasping for breath,--just as Hans had seen it on the day of his ascent. And Gluck stopped and looked at it, and then at the Golden River, not five hundred yards above him; and he thought of the dwarf's words, "that no one could succeed, except in his first attempt"; and he tried to pass the dog, but it whined piteously, and Gluck stopped again. "Poor beastie," said Gluck, "it'll be dead when I come down again, if I don't help it." Then he looked closer and closer at it, and its eye turned on him so mournfully that he could not stand it. "Confound the King and his gold too," said Gluck; and he opened the flask, and poured all the water into the dog's mouth.
The dog sprang up and stood on its hind legs. Its tail disappeared, its ears became long, longer, silky, golden; its nose became very red, its eyes became very twinkling; in three seconds the dog was gone, and before Gluck stood his old acquaintance, the King of the Golden River.
"Thank you," said the monarch; "but don't be frightened, it's all right"; for Gluck showed manifest symptoms of consternation at this unlooked-for reply to his last observation. "Why didn't you come before," continued the dwarf, "instead of sending me those rascally brothers of yours, for me to have the trouble of turning into stones? Very hard stones they make, too."
"O dear me!" said Gluck, "have you really been so cruel?"
"Cruel," said the dwarf, "they poured unholy water into my stream; do you suppose I'm going to allow that?"
"Why," said Gluck, "I am sure, sir,--your Majesty, I mean,--they got the water out of the church font."
"Very probably," replied the dwarf; "but," and his countenance grew stern as he spoke, "the water which has been refused to the cry of the weary and dying is unholy, though it had been blessed by every saint in heaven; and the water which is found in the vessel of mercy is holy, though it had been defiled with corpses."
So saying, the dwarf stooped and plucked a lily that grew at his feet. On its white leaves hung three drops of clear dew. And the dwarf shook them into the flask which Gluck held in his hand. "Cast these into the river," he said, "and descend on the other side of the mountains into the Treasure Valley. And so good speed."
As he spoke, the figure of the dwarf became indistinct. The playing colors of his robe formed themselves into a prismatic mist of dewy light; he stood for an instant veiled with them as with the belt of a broad rainbow. The colors grew faint, the mist rose into the air; the monarch had evaporated.
And Gluck climbed to the brink of the Golden River, and its waves were as clear as crystal and as brilliant as the sun. And when he cast the three drops of dew into the stream, there opened where they fell, a small circular whirlpool, into which the waters descended with a musical noise.
Gluck stood watching it for some time, very much disappointed, because not only the river was not turned into gold, but its waters seemed much diminished in quantity. Yet he obeyed his friend the dwarf, and descended the other side of the mountains, toward the Treasure Valley; and, as he went, he thought he heard the noise of water working its way under the ground. And when he came in sight of the Treasure Valley, behold, a river, like the Golden River, was springing from a new cleft of the rocks above it, and was flowing in innumerable streams among the dry heaps of red sand.
And as Gluck gazed, fresh grass sprang beside the new streams, and creeping plants grew, and climbed among the moistening soil. Young flowers opened suddenly along the river sides, as stars leap out when twilight is deepening, and thickets of myrtle, and tendrils of vine, cast lengthening shadows over the valley as they grew. And thus the Treasure Valley became a garden again, and the inheritance, which had been lost by cruelty, was regained by love.
And Gluck went and dwelt in the valley, and the poor were never driven from his door; so that his barns became full of corn, and his house of treasure. And, for him, the river had, according to the dwarf's promise, become a River of Gold.
And to this day the inhabitants of the valley point out the place where the three drops of holy dew were cast into the stream, and trace the course of the Golden River under the ground, until it emerges in the Treasure Valley. And, at the top of the cataract of the Golden River, are still to be seen two BLACK STONES, round which the waters howl mournfully every day at sunset; and these stones are still called, by the people of the valley,
THE BLACK BROTHERS.
THE LADY OF SHALOTT.
BY ELIZABETH STUART PHELPS.
It is not generally known that the Lady of Shalott lived last summer in an attic, at the east end of South Street.
The wee-est, thinnest, whitest little lady! And yet the brightest, stillest, and withal such a smiling little lady!
If you had held her up by the window,--for she could not hold up herself,--she would have hung like a porcelain transparency in your hands. And if you had said, laying her gently down, and giving the tears a smart dash, that they should not fall on her lifted face, "Poor child!" the Lady of Shalott would have said, "O, don't!" and smiled. And you would have smiled yourself, for very surprise that she should outdo you; and between the two there would have been so much smiling done that one would have fairly thought it was a delightful thing to live last summer in an attic at the east end of South Street.
This perhaps was the more natural in the Lady of Shalott because she had never lived anywhere else.
When the Lady of Shalott was five years old, her mother threw her down stairs one day, by mistake, instead of the whiskey-jug.
This is a fact which I think Mr. Tennyson has omitted to mention in his poem.
They picked up the Lady of Shalott and put her on the bed; and there she lay from that day until last summer, unless, as I said, somebody had occasion to use her for a transparency.
The mother and the jug both went down the stairs together a few years after, and never came up at all,--and that was a great convenience, for the Lady of Shalott's palace in the attic was not large, and they took up much unnecessary room.
Since that the Lady of Shalott had lived with her sister, Sary Jane.
Sary Jane made nankeen vests, at sixteen and three quarters cents a dozen.
Sary Jane had red hair, and crooked shoulders, and a voice so much like a rat-trap which she sometimes set on the stairs that the Lady of Shalott could seldom tell which was which until she had thought about it a little while. When there was a rat caught, she was apt to ask "What?" and when Sary Jane spoke, she more often than not said, "There's another!"
Her crooked shoulders Sary Jane had acquired from sitting under the eaves of the palace to sew. That physiological problem was simple. There was not room enough under the eaves to sit straight.
Sary Jane's red hair was the result of sitting in the sun on July noons under those eaves, to see to thread her needle. There was no question about that. The Lady of Shalott had settled it in her own mind, past dispute. Sary Jane's hair had been--what was it? brown? once. Sary Jane was slowly taking fire. Who would not, to sit in the sun in that palace? The only matter of surprise to the Lady of Shalott was that the palace itself did not smoke. Sometimes, when Sary Jane hit the rafters, she was sure that she saw sparks.
As for Sary Jane's voice, when one knew that she made nankeen vests at sixteen and three quarters cents a dozen, that was a matter of no surprise. It never surprised the Lady of Shalott.
But Sary Jane was very cross; there was no denying that; very cross.
And the palace. Let me tell you about the palace. It measured just twelve by nine feet. It would have been seven feet post,--if there had been a post in the middle of it. From the centre it sloped away to the windows, where Sary Jane had just room enough to sit crooked under the eaves at work. There were two windows and a loose scuttle to let in the snow in winter and the sun in summer, and the rain and wind at all times. It was quite a diversion to the Lady of Shalott to see how many different ways of doing a disagreeable thing seemed to be practicable to that scuttle. Besides the bed on which the Lady of Shalott lay, there was a stove in the palace, two chairs, a very ragged rag-mat, a shelf with two notched cups and plates upon it, one pewter teaspoon, and a looking-glass. On washing-days Sary Jane climbed upon the chair and hung her clothes out through the scuttle on the roof; or else she ran a little rope from one of the windows to the other for a drying-rope. It would have been more exact to have said on washing-nights; for Sary Jane always did her washing after dark. The reason was evident. If the rest of us were in the habit of wearing all the clothes we had, like Sary Jane, I have little doubt that we should do the same.
I should mention that there was no sink in the Lady of Shalott's palace; no water. There was a dirty hydrant in the yard, four flights below, which supplied the Lady of Shalott and all her neighbors. The Lady of Shalott kept her coal under the bed; her flour, a pound at a time, in a paper parcel, on the shelf, with the teacups and the pewter spoon. If she had anything else to keep, it went out through the palace scuttle and lay on the roof. The Lady of Shalott's palace opened directly upon a precipice. The lessor of the house called it a flight of stairs. When Sary Jane went up and down she went sidewise to preserve her balance. There were no bannisters to the precipice, and about once a week a baby patronized the rat-trap, instead. Once, when there was a fire-alarm, the precipice was very serviceable. Four women and an old man went over. With one exception (she was eighteen, and could bear a broken collar-bone), they will not, I am informed, go over again.
The Lady of Shalott paid one dollar a week for the rent of her palace.
But then there was a looking-glass in the palace. I think I noticed it. It hung on the slope of the rafters, just opposite the Lady of Shalott's window,--for she considered that her window at which Sary Jane did not make nankeen vests at sixteen and three quarters cents a dozen.
Now, because the looking-glass was opposite the window at which Sary Jane did _not_ make vests, and because the rafters sloped, and because the bed lay almost between the looking-glass and the window, the Lady of Shalott was happy. And because, to the patient heart that is a seeker after happiness, "the little more, and how much it is!" (and the little less, what worlds away!) the Lady of Shalott was proud as well as happy. The looking-glass measured in inches 10 X 6. I think that the Lady of Shalott would have experienced rather a touch of mortification than of envy if she had known that there was a mirror in a house just round the corner measuring almost as many feet. But that was one of the advantages of being the Lady of Shalott. She never parsed life in the comparative degree.
I suppose that one must be the Lady of Shalott to understand what comfort there may be in a 10 X 6 inch looking-glass. All the world came for the Lady of Shalott into her looking-glass,--the joy of it, the anguish of it, the hope and fear of it, the health and hurt,--10 X 6 inches of it exactly.
"It is next best to not having been thrown down stairs yourself!" said the Lady of Shalott.
To tell the truth, it sometimes occurred to her that there was a monotony about the world. A garret window like her own, for instance, would fill her sight if she did not tip the glass a little. Children sat in it, and did not play. They made lean faces at her. They were locked in for the day and were hungry. She could not help knowing how hungry they were, and so tipped the glass. Then there was the trap-door in the sidewalk. She became occasionally tired of that trap-door. Seven people lived under the sidewalk; and when they lifted and slammed the trap, coming in and out, they reminded her of something which Sary Jane bought her once, when she was a very little child, at Christmas time,--long ago, when rents were cheaper and flour low. It was a monkey, with whiskers and a calico jacket, who jumped out of a box when the cover was lifted; and then you crushed him down and hasped him in. Sometimes she wished that she had never had that monkey, he was so much like the people coming in and out of the sidewalk.
In fact, there was a monotony about all the people in the Lady of Shalott's looking-glass. If their faces were not dirty, their hands were. If they had hats, they went without shoes. If they did not sit in the sun with their heads on their knees, they lay in the mud with their heads on a jug.
"Their faces look blue!" she said to Sary Jane.
"No wonder!" snapped Sary Jane.
"Why?" asked the Lady of Shalott.
"Wonder is we ain't all dead!" barked Sary Jane.
The people in the Lady of Shalott's glass died, however, sometimes,--often in the summer; more often last summer, when the attic smoked continually, and she mistook Sary Jane's voice for the rat-trap every day.
The people were jostled into pine boxes (in the glass), and carried away (in the glass) by twilight, in a cart. Three of the monkeys from the spring-box in the sidewalk went, in one week, out into the foul, purple twilight, away from the looking-glass, in carts.
"I'm glad of that, poor things!" said the Lady of Shalott, for she had always felt a kind of sorrow for the monkeys. Principally, I think, because they had no glass.
When the monkeys had gone, the sickly twilight folded itself up, over the spring-box, into great feathers, like the feathers of a wing. That was pleasant. The Lady of Shalott could almost put out her fingers and stroke it, it hung so near, and was so clear, and gathered such a peacefulness into the looking-glass.
"Sary Jane, dear, it's very pleasant," said the Lady of Shalott. Sary Jane said it was very dangerous, the Lord knew, and bit her threads off.
"And, Sary Jane, dear!" added the Lady of Shalott, "I see so many other pleasant things."
"The more fool you!" said Sary Jane.
But she wondered about it that day over her tenth nankeen vest. What, for example, _could_ the Lady of Shalott see?
"Waves!" said the Lady of Shalott, suddenly, as if she had been asked the question. Sary Jane jumped. She said, "Nonsense!" For the Lady of Shalott had only seen the little wash-tub full of dingy water on Sunday nights, and the dirty little hydrant (in the glass) spouting dingy jets. She would not have known a wave if she had seen it.
"But I see waves," said the Lady of Shalott. She felt sure of it. They ran up and down across the glass. They had green faces and gray hair. They threw back their hands, like cool people resting, and it seemed unaccountable, at the east end of South Street last summer, that anything, anywhere, if only a wave in a looking-glass, could be cool or at rest. Besides this, they kept their faces clean. Therefore the Lady of Shalott took pleasure in watching them run up and down across the glass. That a thing could be clean, and green, and white, was only less a wonder than cool and rest last summer in South Street.
"Sary Jane, dear," said the Lady of Shalott, one day, "how hot _is_ it up here?"
"Hot as Hell!" said Sary Jane.
"I thought it was a little warm," said the Lady of Shalott. "Sary Jane, dear, isn't the yard down there a little--dirty?"
Sary Jane put down her needle, and looked out of the blazing, blindless window. It had always been a subject of satisfaction to Sary Jane, somewhere down below her lean shoulders and in the very teeth of the rat-trap, that the Lady of Shalott could not see out of that window. So she winked at the window, as if she would caution it to hold its burning tongue, and said never a word.
"Sary Jane, dear," said the Lady of Shalott, once more, "had you ever thought that perhaps I was a little--weaker--than I was--once?"
"I guess you can stand it if I can!" said the rat-trap.
"O, yes, dear," said the Lady of Shalott. "I can stand it if you can."
"Well, then!" said Sary Jane. But she sat and winked at the bald window, and the window held its burning tongue.
It grew hot in South Street. It grew very hot in South Street. The lean children in the attic opposite fell sick, and sat no longer in the window making faces, in the Lady of Shalott's glass.
Two more monkeys from the spring-box were carried away one ugly twilight in a cart. The purple wing that hung over the spring-box lifted to let them pass; and then fell, as if it had brushed them away.
"It has such a soft color!" said the Lady of Shalott, smiling.
"So has nightshade!" said Sary Jane.
One day a beautiful thing happened. One can scarcely understand how a beautiful thing _could_ happen at the east end of South Street. The Lady of Shalott herself did not entirely understand.
"It is all the glass," she said.
She was lying very still when she said it. She had folded her hands, which were hot, to keep them quiet too. She had closed her eyes, which ached, to close away the glare of the noon. At once she opened them, and said:--
"It is the glass."
Sary Jane stood in the glass. Now Sary Jane, she well knew, was not in the room that noon. She had gone out to see what she could find for dinner. She had five cents to spend on dinner. Yet Sary Jane stood in the glass. And in the glass, ah! what a beautiful thing!
"Flowers!" cried the Lady of Shalott aloud. But she had never seen flowers. But neither had she seen waves. So she said, "They come as the waves come." And knew them, and lay smiling. Ah! what a beautiful, beautiful thing!
Sary Jane's hair was fiery and tumbled (in the glass), as if she had walked fast and far. Sary Jane (in the glass) was winking, as she had winked at the blazing window; as if she said to what she held in her arms, Don't tell! And in her arms (in the glass), where the waves were--oh! beautiful, beautiful! The Lady of Shalott lay whispering: "Beautiful, beautiful!" She did not know what else to do. She dared not stir. Sary Jane's lean arms (in the glass) were full of silver bells; they hung out of a soft green shadow, like a church tower; they nodded to and fro; when they shook, they shook out sweetness.
"Will they ring?" asked the Lady of Shalott of the little glass.
I doubt, in my own mind, if you or I, being in South Street, and seeing a lily of the valley (in a 10 X 6 inch looking-glass) for the very first time, would have asked so sensible a question.
"Try 'em and see," said the looking-glass. Was it the looking-glass? Or the rat-trap? Or was it--
O, the beautiful thing! That the glass should have nothing to do with it, after all! That Sary Jane, in flesh and blood, and tumbled hair, and trembling, lean arms, should stand and shake an armful of church towers and silver bells down into the Lady of Shalott's little puzzled face and burning hands!
And that the Lady of Shalott should think that she must have got into the glass herself, by a blunder,--as the only explanation possible of such a beautiful thing!
"No, it isn't glass-dreams," said Sary Jane, winking at the church towers, where they made a solemn, green shadow against the Lady of Shalott's bent cheek. "Smell 'em and see. You can 'most stand the yard with them round. Smell 'em and see! It ain't the glass; it's the Flower Charity."
"The what?" asked the Lady of Shalott slowly.
"The Flower Charity."
"Heaven bless it!" said the Lady of Shalott. But she said nothing more.
She laid her cheek over into the shadow of the green church towers. "And there'll be more," said Sary Jane, hunting for her wax. "There'll be more, whenever I can call for 'em,--bless it!"
"Heaven bless it!" said the Lady of Shalott again.
"But I only got a lemon for dinner," said Sary Jane.
"Heaven bless it!" said the Lady of Shalott, with her face hidden under the church towers. But I don't think that she meant the lemon, though Sary Jane did.
"They _do_ ring," said the Lady of Shalott by and by. She drew the tip of her thin fingers across the tip of the tiny bells. "I thought they would."
"Humph!" said Sary Jane, squeezing her lemon under her work-box. "I never see your beat for glass-dreams. What do they say? Come, now!"
Now the Lady of Shalott knew very well what they said. Very well! But she only drew the tips of her poor fingers over the tips of the silver bells. Clever mind! It was not necessary to tell Sary Jane.
But it grew hot in South Street. It grew very hot in South Street. Even the Flower Charity (bless it!) could not sweeten the dreadfulness of that yard. Even the purple wing above the spring-box fell heavily upon the Lady of Shalott's strained eyes, across the glass. Even the gray-haired waves ceased running up and down and throwing back their hands before her; they sat still, in heaps upon a blistering beach, and gasped for breath. The Lady of Shalott herself gasped sometimes, in watching them.
One day she said: "There's a man in them."
"A _what_ in _which_?" buzzed Sary Jane. "Oh! There's a man across the yard, I suppose you mean. Among them young ones, yonder. I wish he'd stop 'em throwing stones, plague on 'em! See him, don't you?"
"I don't see the children," said the Lady of Shalott, a little troubled. Her glass had shown her so many things strangely since the days grew hot. "But I see a man, and he walks upon the waves. See, see!"
The Lady of Shalott tried to pull herself up upon the elbow of her calico night-dress, to see.
"That's one of them Hospital doctors," said Sary Jane, looking out of the blazing window. "I've seen him round before. Don't know what business he's got down here; but I've seen him. He's talkin' to them boys now, about the stones. There! He'd better! If they don't look out, they'll hit--"
"_O, the glass! the glass!_"
The Hospital doctor stood still; so did Sary Jane, half risen from her chair; so did the very South Street boys, gaping in the gutter, with their hands full of stones, such a cry rang out from the palace window.
"_O, the glass! the glass! the glass!_"
In a twinkling the South Street boys were at the mercy of the South Street police; and the Hospital doctor, bounding over a beachful of shattered, scattered waves, stood, out of breath, beside the Lady of Shalott's bed.
"O the little less, and what worlds away!"
The Lady of Shalott lay quite still in her little brown calico night-gown [I cannot learn, by the way, that Bulfinch's studious and in general trustworthy researches have put him in possession of this point. Indeed, I feel justified in asserting that Mr. Bulfinch never so much as _intimated_ that the Lady of Shalott wore a brown calico night-dress]--the Lady of Shalott lay quite still, and her lips turned blue.
"Are you very much hurt? Where were you struck? I heard the cry, and came. Can you tell me where the blow was?"
But then the doctor saw the glass, broken and blown in a thousand glittering sparks across the palace floor; and then the Lady of Shalott gave him a little blue smile.
"It's not me. Never mind. I wish it was. I'd rather it was me than the glass. O, my glass! my glass! But never mind. I suppose there'll be some other--pleasant thing."
"Were you so fond of the glass?" asked the doctor, taking one of the two chairs that Sary Jane brought him, and looking sorrowfully about the room. What other "pleasant thing" could even the Lady of Shalott discover in that room last summer, at the east end of South Street?
"How long have you lain here?" asked the sorrowful doctor, suddenly.
"Since I can remember, sir," said the Lady of Shalott, with that blue smile. "But then I have always had my glass."
"Ah!" said the doctor, "the Lady of Shalott!"
"Sir?" said the Lady of Shalott.
"Where is the pain?" asked the doctor, gently, with his finger on the Lady of Shalott's pulse.
The Lady of Shalott touched the shoulder of her brown calico night-dress, smiling.
"And what did you see in your glass?" asked the doctor, once more stooping to examine "the pain."
The Lady of Shalott tried to tell him, but felt confused; so many strange things had been in the glass since it grew hot. So she only said that there were waves and a purple wing, and that they were broken now, and lay upon the floor.
"Purple wings?" asked the doctor.
"Over the sidewalk," nodded the Lady of Shalott. "It comes up at night."
"Oh!" said the doctor, "the malaria. No wonder!"
"And what about the waves?" asked the doctor, talking while he touched and tried the little brown calico shoulders. "I have a little girl of my own down by the waves this summer. She--I suppose she is no older than you!"
"I am seventeen, sir," said the Lady of Shalott. "Do they have green faces and white hair? Does she see them run up and down? I never saw any waves, sir, but those in my glass. I am very glad to know that your little girl is by the waves."
"Where you ought to be," said the doctor, half under his breath. "It is cruel, cruel!"
"What is cruel?" asked the Lady of Shalott, looking up into the doctor's face.
The little brown calico night-dress swam suddenly before the doctor's eyes. He got up and walked across the floor. As he walked he stepped upon the pieces of the broken glass.
"O, don't!" cried the Lady of Shalott. But then she thought that perhaps she had hurt the doctor's feelings; so she smiled, and said, "Never mind."
"Her case could be cured," said the doctor, still under his breath, to Sary Jane. "The case could be cured yet. It is cruel!"
"Sir," said Sary Jane,--she lifted her sharp face sharply out of billows of nankeen vests,--"it may be because I make vests at sixteen and three quarters cents a dozen, sir; but I say before God there's something cruel somewheres. Look at her. Look at me. Look at them stairs. Just see that scuttle, will you? Just feel the sun in't these windows. Look at the rent we pay for this 'ere oven. What do you s'pose the meriky is up here? Look at them pisen fogs arisen' out over the sidewalk. Look at the dead as have died in the Devil in this street this week. Then look out here!"
Sary Jane drew the doctor to the blazing, blindless window, out of which the Lady of Shalott had never looked.
"Now talk of curin' her!" said Sary Jane.
The doctor turned away from the window, with a sudden white face.
"The Board of Health--"
"Don't talk to me about the Board of Health!" said Sary Jane.
"I'll talk to them," said the doctor. "I did not know matters were so bad. They shall be attended to directly. To-morrow I leave town--" He stopped, looking down at the Lady of Shalott, thinking of the little lady by the waves, whom he would see to-morrow, hardly knowing what to say. "But something shall be done at once. Meantime, there's the Hospital."
"She tried Horspital long ago," said Sary Jane. "They said they couldn't do nothing. What's the use? Don't bother her. Let her be."
"Yes, let me be," said the Lady of Shalott, faintly. "The glass is broken."
"But something must be done!" urged the doctor, hurrying away. "I will attend to the matter directly."
He spoke in a busy doctor's busy way. Undoubtedly he thought that he should attend to the matter directly.
"You have flowers here, I see." He lifted, in hurrying away, a spray of lilies that lay upon the bed, freshly sent to the Lady of Shalott that morning.
"They ring," said the Lady of Shalott, softly. "Can you hear? 'Bless--it! Bless--it!' Ah, yes, they ring!"
"Bless what?" asked the doctor, half out of the door.
"The Flower Charity," said the Lady of Shalott.
"Amen!" said the doctor. "But I'll attend to it directly." And he was quite out of the door, and the door was shut.
"Sary Jane, dear?" said the Lady of Shalott, a few minutes after the door was shut.
"Well!" said Sary Jane.
"The glass is broken," said the Lady of Shalott.
"Should think I might know that!" said Sary Jane, who was down upon her knees, sweeping shining pieces away into a pasteboard dust-pan.
"Sary Jane, dear?" said the Lady of Shalott again.
"Dear, dear!" echoed Sary Jane, tossing purple feathers out of the window and seeming, to the eyes of the Lady of Shalott, to have the spray of green waves upon her hands. "There they go!"
"Yes, there they go," said the Lady of Shalott. But she said no more till night.
It was a hot night for South Street. It was a very hot night for even South Street. The lean children in the attic opposite cried savagely, like lean cubs. The monkeys from the spring-box came out and sat upon the lid for air. Dirty people lay around the dirty hydrant; and the purple wing stretched itself a little in a quiet way, to cover them.
"Sary Jane, dear?" said the Lady of Shalott, at night. "The glass is broken. And, Sary Jane, dear, I am afraid I _can't_ stand it as well as you can."
Sary Jane gave the Lady of Shalott a sharp look, and put away her nankeen vests. She came to the bed.
"It isn't time to stop sewing, is it?" asked the Lady of Shalott, in faint surprise. Sary Jane only gave her sharp looks, and said,--
"Nonsense! That man will be back again yet. He'll look after ye, maybe. Nonsense!"
"Yes," said the Lady of Shalott, "he will come back again. But my glass is broken."
"Nonsense!" said Sary Jane. But she did not go back to her sewing. She sat down on the edge of the bed, by the Lady of Shalott; and it grew dark.
"Perhaps they'll do something about the yards; who knows?" said Sary Jane through the growing dark.
"But my glass is broken," said the Lady of Shalott.
"Sary Jane, dear!" said the Lady of Shalott, when it had grown quite, quite dark. "He is walking on the waves."
"Nonsense!" said Sary Jane. For it was quite, quite dark.
"Sary Jane, dear!" said the Lady of Shalott. "Not that man. But there _is_ a man, and he is walking on the waves."
The Lady of Shalott raised herself upon her little calico night-dress sleeve. She looked at the wall where the 10 X 6 inch looking-glass had hung.
"Sary Jane, dear!" said the Lady of Shalott. "I am glad that girl is down by the waves. I am very glad. But the glass is broken."
Two days after, the Board of Health at the foot of the precipice, which the lessor called a flight of stairs, which led into the Lady of Shalott's palace, were met and stopped by another board.
"_This_ one's got the right of way, gentlemen!" said something at the brink of the precipice, which sounded so much like a rat-trap that the Board of Health looked down by instinct at its individual and collective feet to see if they were in danger, and dared not by instinct stir a step.
The board which had the right of way was a pine board, and the Lady of Shalott lay on it, in her little brown calico night-dress, with Sary Jane's old shawl across her feet. The Flower Charity (Heaven bless it!) had half covered the old shawl with silver bells, and solemn green shadows, like the shadows of church towers. And it was a comfort to know that these were the only bells which tolled for the Lady of Shalott, and that no other church shadow fell upon her burial.
"Gentlemen," said the Hospital doctor, "we're too late, I see. But you'd better go on."
The gentlemen of the Board of Health went on; and the Lady of Shalott went on.
The Lady of Shalott went out into the cart that had carried away the monkeys from the spring-box, and the purple wing lifted to let her pass; and fell again, as if it had brushed her away.
The Board of Health went up the precipice, and stood by the window out of which the Lady of Shalott had never looked.
They sent orders to the scavenger, and orders to the Water Board, and how many other orders nobody knows; and they sprinkled themselves with camphor, and they went their ways.
And the board that had the right of way went its way, too. And Sary Jane folded up the shawl, which she could not afford to lose, and came home, and made nankeen vests at sixteen and three quarters cents a dozen in the window out of which the Lady of Shalott had never looked.
BY JOHN BROWN, M.D.
One November afternoon in 1810,--the year in which "Waverley" was resumed and laid aside again, to be finished off, its last two volumes in three weeks, and made immortal in 1814, and when its author, by the death of Lord Melville, narrowly escaped getting a civil appointment in India,--three men, evidently lawyers, might have been seen escaping like school-boys from the Parliament House, and speeding arm in arm down Bank Street and the Mound, in the teeth of a surly blast of sleet.
The three friends sought the _bield_ of the low wall old Edinburgh boys remember well, and sometimes miss now, as they struggle with the stout west-wind.
The three were curiously unlike each other. One, "a little man of feeble make, who would be unhappy if his pony got beyond a foot pace," slight, with "small, elegant features, hectic cheek, and soft hazel eyes, the index of the quick, sensitive spirit within, as if he had the warm heart of a woman, her genuine enthusiasm, and some of her weaknesses." Another, as unlike a woman as a man can be; homely, almost common, in look and figure; his hat and his coat, and indeed his entire covering, worn to the quick, but all of the best material; what redeemed him from vulgarity and meanness were his eyes, deep set, heavily thatched, keen, hungry, shrewd, with a slumbering glow far in, as if they could be dangerous; a man to care nothing for at first glance, but, somehow, to give a second and not-forgetting look at. The third was the biggest of the three, and though lame, nimble, and all rough and alive with power; had you met him anywhere else, you would say he was a Liddesdale store-farmer, come of gentle blood; "a stout, blunt carle," as he says of himself, with the swing and stride and the eye of a man of the hills,--a large, sunny, out-of-door air all about him. On his broad and somewhat stooping shoulders was set that head which, with Shakespeare's and Bonaparte's, is the best known in all the world.
He was in high spirits, keeping his companions and himself in roars of laughter, and every now and then seizing them, and stopping, that they might take their fill of the fun; there they stood shaking with laughter, "not an inch of their body free" from its grip. At George Street they parted, one to Rose Court, behind St. Andrew's Church, one to Albany Street, the other, our big and limping friend, to Castle Street.
We need hardly give their names. The first was William Erskine, afterwards Lord Kinnedder, chased out of the world by a calumny, killed by its foul breath,--
"And at the touch of wrong, without a strife, Slipped in a moment out of life."
There is nothing in literature more beautiful or more pathetic than Scott's love and sorrow for this friend of his youth.
The second was William Clerk,--the _Darsie Latimer_ of "Redgauntlet"; "a man," as Scott says, "of the most acute intellects and powerful apprehension," but of more powerful indolence, so as to leave the world with little more than the report of what he might have been,--a humorist as genuine, though not quite so savagely Swiftian as his brother Lord Eldon, neither of whom had much of that commonest and best of all the humors, called good.
The third we all know. What has he not done for every one of us? Who else ever, except Shakespeare, so diverted mankind, entertained and entertains a world so liberally, so wholesomely? We are fain to say, not even Shakespeare, for his is something deeper than diversion, something higher than pleasure, and yet who would care to split this hair?
Had any one watched him closely before and after the parting, what a change he would see! The bright, broad laugh, the shrewd, jovial word, the man of the Parliament House and of the world, and, next step, moody, the light of his eye withdrawn, as if seeing things that were invisible; his shut mouth, like a child's, so impressionable, so innocent, so sad: he was now all within, as before he was all without; hence his brooding look. As the snow blattered in his face, he muttered, "How it raves and drifts! On-ding o' snaw,--ay, that's the word,--on-ding--" He was now at his own door, "Castle Street, No. 39." He opened the door, and went straight to his den; that wondrous workshop, where, in one year, 1823, when he was fifty-two, he wrote "Peveril of the Peak," "Quentin Durward," and "St. Ronan's Well," besides much else. We once took the foremost of our novelists, the greatest, we would say, since Scott, into this room, and could not but mark the solemnizing effect of sitting where the great magician sat so often and so long, and looking out upon that little shabby bit of sky, and that back green where faithful Camp lies.
[Footnote 1: This favorite dog "died about January, 1809, and was buried, in a fine moonlight night, in the little garden behind the house in Castle Street. My wife tells me she remembers the whole family in tears about the grave, as her father himself smoothed the turf above Camp with the saddest face she had ever seen. He had been engaged to dine abroad that day, but apologized on account of the death of 'a dear old friend.'"--_Lockhart's Life of Scott_.]
He sat down in his large, green morocco elbow-chair, drew himself close to his table, and glowered and gloomed at his writing apparatus, "a very handsome old box, richly carved, lined with crimson velvet, and containing ink-bottles, taper-stand, etc., in silver, the whole in such order that it might have come from the silversmith's window half an hour before." He took out his paper, then, starting up angrily, said, "'Go spin, you jade, go spin.' No, d---- it, it won't do:--
'My spinnin'-wheel is auld and stiff; The rock o't wunna stand, sir; To keep the temper-pin in tiff Employs ower aft my hand, sir.'
I am off the fang. I can make nothing of 'Waverley' to-day; I'll awa' to Marjorie. Come wi' me, Maida, you thief." The great creature rose slowly, and the pair were off, Scott taking a _maud_ (a plaid) with him. "White as a frosted plum-cake, by jingo!" said he, when he got to the street. Maida gambolled and whisked among the snow; and her master strode across to Young Street, and through it to 1 North Charlotte Street, to the house of his dear friend, Mrs. William Keith of Corstorphine Hill, niece of Mrs. Keith of Ravelston, of whom he said at her death, eight years after, "Much tradition, and that of the best, has died with this excellent old lady, one of the few persons whose spirits and _cleanliness_ and freshness of mind and body made old age lovely and desirable."
[Footnote 2: Applied to a pump when it is dry and its valve has lost its "fang."]
Sir Walter was in that house almost every day, and had a key, so in he and the hound went, shaking themselves in the lobby. "Marjorie! Marjorie!" shouted her friend, "where are ye, my bonnie wee croodlin doo?" In a moment a bright, eager child of seven was in his arms, and he was kissing her all over. Out came Mrs. Keith. "Come yer ways in, Wattie." "No, not now. I am going to take Marjorie wi' me, and you may come to your tea in Duncan Roy's sedan, and bring the bairn home in your lap." "Tak' Marjorie, and it _on-ding o' snaw!_" said Mrs. Keith. He said to himself, "On-ding--that's odd--that is the very word." "Hoot, awa'! look here," and he displayed the corner of his plaid, made to hold lambs,--the true shepherd's plaid, consisting of two breadths sewed together, and uncut at one end, making a poke or _cul de sac_. "Tak' yer lamb," said she, laughing at the contrivance; and so the Pet was first well happit up, and then put, laughing silently, into the plaid neuk, and the shepherd strode off with his lamb,--Maida gambolling through the snow, and running races in her mirth.
Didn't he face "the angry airt," and make her bield his bosom, and into his own room with her, and lock the door, and out with the warm, rosy little wifie, who took it all with great composure! There the two remained for three or more hours, making the house ring with their laughter; you can fancy the big man's and Maidie's laugh. Having made the fire cheery, he set her down in his ample chair, and, standing sheepishly before her, began to say his lesson, which happened to be, "Ziccotty, diccotty, dock, the mouse ran up the clock, the clock struck wan, down the mouse ran, ziccotty, diccotty, dock." This done repeatedly till she was pleased, she gave him his new lesson, gravely and slowly, timing it upon her small fingers,--he saying it after her,--
"Wonery, twoery, tickery, seven; Alibi, crackaby, ten, and eleven; Pin, pan, musky, dan; Tweedle-um, twoddle-um, Twenty-wan; eerie, orie, ourie, You, are, out."
He pretended to great difficulty, and she rebuked him with most comical gravity, treating him as a child. He used to say that when he came to Alibi Crackaby he broke down, and pin-Pan, Musky-dan, Tweedle-um, Twoddle-um made him roar with laughter. He said _Musky-Dan_ especially was beyond endurance, bringing up an Irishman and his hat fresh from the Spice Islands and odoriferous Ind; she getting quite bitter in her displeasure at his ill behavior and stupidness.
Then he would read ballads to her in his own glorious way, the two getting wild with excitement over "Gil Morrice" or the "Baron of Smailholm"; and he would take her on his knee, and make her repeat Constance's speeches in "King John," till he swayed to and fro, sobbing his fill. Fancy the gifted little creature, like one possessed, repeating,--
"For I am sick, and capable of fears,-- Oppressed with wrong, and, therefore, full of fears; A widow, husbandless, subject to fears; A woman, naturally born to fears."
"If thou, that bidst me be content, wert grim, Ugly, and slanderous to thy mother's womb,-- Lame, foolish, crooked, swart, prodigious--"
Or, drawing herself up "to the height of her great argument,"--
"I will instruct my sorrows to be proud, For grief is proud, and makes his owner stout. Here I and sorrow sit."
Scott used to say that he was amazed at her power over him, saying to Mrs. Keith, "She's the most extraordinary creature I ever met with, and her repeating of Shakespeare overpowers me as nothing else does."
Thanks to the little book whose title heads this paper, and thanks still more to the unforgetting sister of this dear child, who has much of the sensibility and fun of her who has been in her small grave these fifty and more years, we have now before us the letters and journals of Pet Marjorie: before us lies and gleams her rich brown hair, bright and sunny as if yesterday's, with the words on the paper, "Cut out in her last illness," and two pictures of her by her beloved Isabella, whom she worshipped; there are the faded old scraps of paper, hoarded still, over which her warm breath and her warm little heart had poured themselves; there is the old watermark, "Lingard, 1808." The two portraits are very like each other, but plainly done at different times; it is a chubby, healthy face, deep-set, brooding eyes, as eager to tell what is going on within as to gather in all the glories from without; quick with the wonder and the pride of life: they are eyes that would not be soon satisfied with seeing; eyes that would devour their object, and yet childlike and fearless; and that is a mouth that will not be soon satisfied with love; it has a curious likeness to Scott's own, which has always appeared to us his sweetest, most mobile, and speaking feature.
There she is, looking straight at us as she did at him,--fearless, and full of love, passionate, wild, wilful, fancy's child. One cannot look at it without thinking of Wordsworth's lines on poor Hartley Coleridge:--
"O blessed vision, happy child! Thou art so exquisitely wild, I thought of thee with many fears,-- Of what might be thy lot in future years. I thought of times when Pain might be thy guest, Lord of thy house and hospitality; And Grief, uneasy lover! ne'er at rest But when she sat within the touch of thee. O too industrious folly! O vain and causeless melancholy! Nature will either end thee quite, Or, lengthening out thy season of delight, Preserve for thee, by individual right, A young lamb's heart among the full-grown flock."
And we can imagine Scott, when holding his warm, plump little playfellow in his arms, repeating that stately friend's lines:--
"Loving she is, and tractable, though wild; And Innocence hath privilege in her, To dignify arch looks and laughing eyes And feats of cunning, and the pretty round Of trespasses, affected to provoke Mock chastisement and partnership in play. And, as a fagot sparkles on the hearth Not less if unattended and alone Than when both young and old sit gathered round And take delight in its activity, Even so this happy creature of herself Is all-sufficient; solitude to her Is blithe society: she fills the air With gladness and involuntary songs."
But we will let her disclose herself. We need hardly say that all this is true, and that these letters are as really Marjorie's as was this light brown hair; indeed, you could as easily fabricate the one as the other.
There was an old servant--Jeanie Robertson--who was forty years in her grandfather's family. Marjorie Fleming, or, as she is called in the letters and by Sir Walter, Maidie, was the last child she kept. Jeanie's wages never exceeded £3 a year, and when she left service she had saved £40. She was devotedly attached to Maidie, rather despising and ill-using her sister Isabella,--a beautiful and gentle child. This partiality made Maidie apt at times to domineer over Isabella. "I mention this," writes her surviving sister, "for the purpose of telling you an instance of Maidie's generous justice. When only five years old, when walking in Raith grounds, the two children had run on before, and old Jeanie remembered they might come too near a dangerous mill-lade. She called to them to turn back. Maidie heeded her not, rushed all the faster on, and fell, and would have been lost, had her sister not pulled her back, saving her life, but tearing her clothes. Jeanie flew on Isabella to 'give it her' for spoiling her favorite's dress; Maidie rushed in between, crying out, 'Pay (whip) Maidjie as much as you like, and I'll not say one word; but touch Isy, and I'll roar like a bull!' Years after Maidie was resting in her grave, my mother used to take me to the place, and told the story always in the exact same words." This Jeanie must have been a character. She took great pride in exhibiting Maidie's brother William's Calvinistic acquirements when nineteen months old, to the officers of a militia regiment then quartered in Kirkcaldy. This performance was so amusing that it was often repeated, and the little theologian was presented by them with a cap and feathers. Jeanie's glory was "putting him through the carritch" (catechism) in broad Scotch, beginning at the beginning with "Wha made ye, ma bonnie man?" For the correctness of this and the three next replies, Jeanie had no anxiety, but the tone changed to menace, and the closed _nieve_ (fist) was shaken in the child's face as she demanded, "Of what are you made?" "DIRT," was the answer uniformly given. "Wull ye never learn to say _dust_, ye thrawn deevil?" with a cuff from the opened hand, was the as inevitable rejoinder.
Here is Maidie's first letter, before she was six. The spelling is unaltered, and there are no "commoes."
"MY DEAR ISA,--I now sit down to answer all your kind and beloved letters which you was so good as to write to me. This is the first time I ever wrote a letter in my Life. There are a great many Girls in the Square, and they cry just like a pig when we are under the painfull necessity of putting it to Death. Miss Potune, a Lady of my acquaintance, praises me dreadfully. I repeated something out of Dean Swift, and she said I was fit for the stage, and you may think I was primmed up with majestick Pride, but upon my word I felt myselfe turn a little birsay,--birsay is a word which is a word that William composed which is as you may suppose a little enraged. This horrid fat simpliton says that my Aunt is beautifull, which is intirely impossible, for that is not her nature."
What a peppery little pen we wield! What could that have been out of the Sardonic Dean? What other child of that age would have used "beloved" as she does? This power of affection, this faculty of _be_loving, and wild hunger to be beloved, comes out more and more. She perilled her all upon it, and it may have been as well--we know, indeed, that it was far better--for her that this wealth of love was so soon withdrawn to its one only infinite Giver and Receiver. This must have been the law of her earthly life. Love was indeed "her Lord and King"; and it was perhaps well for her that she found so soon that her and our only Lord and King Himself is Love.
Here are bits from her Diary at Braehead: "The day of my existence here has been delightful and enchanting. On Saturday I expected no less than three well-made Bucks, the names of whom is here advertised. Mr. Geo. Crakey (Craigie), and Wm. Keith, and Jn. Keith,--the first is the funniest of every one of them. Mr. Crakey and I walked to Craky-hall (Craigiehall), hand in hand in Innocence and matitation (meditation) sweet thinking on the kind love which flows in our tender-hearted mind which is overflowing with majestic pleasure no one was ever so polite to me in the hole state of my existence. Mr. Craky you must know is a great Buck, and pretty good-looking.
"I am at Ravelston enjoying nature's fresh air. The birds are singing sweetly, the calf doth frisk, and nature shows her glorious face."
Here is a confession: "I confess I have been very more like a little young divil than a creature for when Isabella went up stairs to teach me religion and my multiplication and to be good and all my other lessons I stamped with my foot and threw my new hat which she had made on the ground and was sulky and was dreadfully passionate, but she never whiped me but said Marjory go into another room and think what a great crime you are committing letting your temper git the better of you. But I went so sulkily that the Devil got the better of me but she never never never whips me so that I think I would be the better of it and the next time that I behave ill I think she should do it for she never never does it.... Isabella has given me praise for checking my temper for I was sulky even when she was kneeling an hole hour teaching me to write."
Our poor little wifie,--_she_ has no doubts of the personality of the Devil! "Yesterday I behave extremely ill in God's most holy church for I would never attend myself nor let Isabella attend which was a great crime for she often, often tells me that when to or three are geathered together God is in the midst of them, and it was the very same Divil that tempted Job that tempted me I am sure; but he resisted Satan though he had boils and many many other misfortunes which I have escaped.... I am now going to tell you the horible and wretched plaege (plague) that my multiplication gives me you can't conceive it the most Devilish thing is 8 times 8 and 7 times 7 it is what nature itself cant endure."
This is delicious; and what harm is there in her "Devilish"? It is strong language merely; even old Rowland Hill used to say "he grudged the Devil those rough and ready words." "I walked to that delightful place Craky-hall with a delightful young man beloved by all his friends espacially by me his loveress, but I must not talk any more about him for Isa said it is not proper for to speak of gentalmen but I will never forget him!... I am very very glad that satan has not given me boils and many other misfortunes--In the holy bible these words are written that the Devil goes like a roaring lyon in search of his pray but the lord lets us escape from him but we" (_pauvre petite!_) "do not strive with this awfull Spirit.... To-day I pronunced a word which should never come out of a lady's lips it was that I called John a Impudent Bitch. I will tell you what I think made me in so bad a humor is I got one or two of that bad bad sina (senna) tea to-day,"--a better excuse for bad humor and bad language than most.
She has been reading the Book of Esther: "It was a dreadful thing that Haman was hanged on the very gallows which he had prepared for Mordeca to hang him and his ten sons thereon and it was very wrong and cruel to hang his sons for they did not commit the crime; _but then Jesus was not then come to teach us to be merciful._" This is wise and beautiful,--has upon it the very dew of youth and of holiness. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings He perfects His praise.
"This is Saturday and I am very glad of it because I have play half the Day and I get money too but alas I owe Isabella 4 pence for I am finned 2 pence whenever I bite my nails. Isabella is teaching me to make simme colings nots of interrigations peorids commoes, etc.... As this is Sunday I will meditate upon Senciable and Religious subjects. First I should be very thankful I am not a begger."
This amount of meditation and thankfulness seems to have been all she was able for.
"I am going to-morrow to a delightfull place, Braehead by name, belonging to Mrs. Crraford, where there is ducks cocks hens bubblyjocks 2 dogs 2 cats and swine which is delightful. I think it is shocking to think that the dog and cat should bear them" (this is a meditation physiological), "and they are drowned after all. I would rather have a man-dog than a woman-dog, because they do not bear like women-dogs; it is a hard case--it is shocking. I cam here to enjoy natures delightful breath it is sweeter than a fial (phial) of rose oil."
Braehead is the farm the historical Jock Howison asked and got from our gay James the Fifth, "the gudeman o' Ballengiech," as a reward for the services of his flail, when the King had the worst of it at Cramond Brig with the gypsies. The farm is unchanged in size from that time, and still in the unbroken line of the ready and victorious thrasher. Braehead is held on the condition of the possessor being ready to present the King with a ewer and basin to wash his hands, Jock having done this for his unknown king after the _splore_, and when George the Fourth came to Edinburgh this ceremony was performed in silver at Holyrood. It is a lovely neuk this Braehead, preserved almost as it was 200 years ago. "Lot and his wife," mentioned by Maidie,--two quaintly cropped yew-trees,--still thrive, the burn runs as it did in her time, and sings the same quiet tune,--as much the same and as different as _Now_ and _Then_. The house full of old family relics and pictures, the sun shining on them through the small deep windows with their plate glass; and there, blinking at the sun, and chattering contentedly, is a parrot, that might, for its looks of eld, have been in the ark, and domineered over and _deaved_ the dove. Everything about the place is old and fresh.
This is beautiful: "I am very sorry to say that I forgot God--that is to say I forgot to pray to-day and Isabella told me that I should be thankful that God did not forget me--if he did, O what would become of me if I was in danger and God not friends with me--I must go to unquenchable fire and if I was tempted to sin--how could I resist it O no I will never do it again--no no--if I can help it!" (Canny wee wifie!) "My religion is greatly falling off because I dont pray with so much attention when I am saying my prayers, and my charecter is lost among the Braehead people. I hope I will be religious again--but as for regaining my charecter I despare for it." (Poor little "habit and repute"!)
Her temper, her passion, and her "badness" are almost daily confessed and deplored: "I will never again trust to my own power, for I see that I cannot be good without God's assistance,--I will not trust in my own selfe, and Isa's health will be quite ruined by me,--it will indeed." "Isa has giving me advice, which is, that when I feal Satan beginning to tempt me, that I flea him and he would flea me." "Remorse is the worst thing to bear, and I am afraid that I will fall a marter to it."
Poor dear little sinner! Here comes the world again: "In my travels I met with a handsome lad named Charles Balfour Esq., and from him I got ofers of marage--offers of marage, did I say? Nay plenty heard me." A fine scent for "breach of promise"!
This is abrupt and strong: "The Divil is curced and all his works. 'Tis a fine work _Newton on the profecies_. I wonder if there is another book of poems comes near the Bible. The Divil always girns at the sight of the Bible." "Miss Potune" (her "simpliton" friend) "is very fat; she pretends to be very learned. She says she saw a stone that dropt from the skies; but she is a good Christian." Here comes her views on church government: "An Annibabtist is a thing I am not a member of--I am a Pisplekan (Episcopalian) just now, and" (O you little Laodicean and Latitudinarian!) "a Prisbeteran at Kirkcaldy!"--(_Blandula! Vagula! coelum et animum mutas quæ trans mare_ (i.e. _trans Bodotriam_)--_curris!_)--"my native town." "Sentiment is not what I am acquainted with as yet, though I wish it, and should like to practise it." (!) "I wish I had a great, great deal of gratitude in my heart, in all my body." "There is a new novel published, named _Self-Control_" (Mrs. Brunton's)--"a very good maxim forsooth!" This is shocking: "Yesterday a marrade man, named Mr. John Balfour, Esq., offered to kiss me, and offered to marry me, though the man" (a fine directness this!) "was espused, and his wife was present and said he must ask her permission; but he did not. I think he was ashamed and confounded before 3 gentelman--Mr. Jobson and 2 Mr. Kings." "Mr. Banester's" (Bannister's) "Budjet is to-night; I hope it will be a good one. A great many authors have expressed themselves too sentimentally." You are right, Marjorie. "A Mr. Burns writes a beautiful song on Mr. Cunhaming, whose wife desarted him--truly it is a most beautiful one." "I like to read the Fabulous historys, about the histerys of Robin, Dickey, flapsay, and Peccay, and it is very amusing, for some were good birds and others bad, but Peccay was the most dutiful and obedient to her parients." "Thomson is a beautiful author, and Pope, but nothing to Shakespear, of which I have a little knolege. 'Macbeth' is a pretty composition, but awful one." "The _Newgate Calender_ is very instructive." (!) "A sailor called here to say farewell; it must be dreadful to leave his native country when he might get a wife; or perhaps me, for I love him very much. But O I forgot, Isabella forbid me to speak about love." This antiphlogistic regimen and lesson is ill to learn by our Maidie, for here she sins again: "Love is a very papithatick thing" (it is almost a pity to correct this into pathetic), "as well as troublesome and tiresome--but O Isabella forbid me to speak of it." Here are her reflections on a pineapple: "I think the price of a pine-apple is very dear: it is a whole bright goulden guinea, that might have sustained a poor family." Here is a new vernal simile: "The hedges are sprouting like chicks from the eggs when they are newly hatched or, as the vulgar say, _clacked_." "Doctor Swift's works are very funny; I got some of them by heart." "Moreheads sermons are I hear much praised, but I never read sermons of any kind; but I read novelettes and my Bible, and I never forget it, or my prayers." Bravo, Marjorie!
She seems now, when still about six, to have broken out into song:--
"EPHIBOL (EPIGRAM OR EPITAPH,--WHO KNOWS WHICH?) ON MY DEAR LOVE, ISABELLA.
"Here lies sweet Isabel in bed, With a night-cap on her head; Her skin is soft, her face is fair, And she has very pretty hair: She and I in bed lies nice, And undisturbed by rats or mice. She is disgusted with Mr. Worgan, Though he plays upon the organ. Her nails are neat, her teeth are white; Her eyes are very, very bright. In a conspicuous town she lives, And to the poor her money gives. Here ends sweet Isabella's story, And may it be much to her glory!"
Here are some bits at random:--
"Of summer I am very fond, And love to bathe into a pond: The look of sunshine dies away, And will not let me out to play. I love the morning's sun to spy Glittering through the casement's eye; The rays of light are very sweet, And puts away the taste of meat. The balmy breeze comes down from heaven, And makes us like for to be living."
"The casawary is an curious bird, and so is the gigantic crane, and the pelican of the wilderness, whose mouth holds a bucket of fish and water. Fighting is what ladies is not qualyfied for, they would not make a good figure in battle or in a duel. Alas! we females are of little use to our country. The history of all the malcontents as ever was hanged is amusing." Still harping on the Newgate Calendar!
"Braehead is extremely pleasant to me by the companie of swine, geese, cocks, etc., and they are the delight of my soul."
"I am going to tell you of a melancholy story. A young turkie of 2 or 3 months old, would you believe it, the father broke its leg, and he killed another! I think he ought to be transported or hanged."
"Queen Street is a very gay one, and so is Princes Street, for all the lads and lasses, besides bucks and beggars parade there."
"I should like to see a play very much, for I never saw one in all my life, and don't believe I ever shall; but I hope I can be content without going to one. I can be quite happy without my desire being granted."
"Some days ago Isabella had a terrible fit of the toothake, and she walked with a long night-shift at dead of night like a ghost, and I thought she was one. She prayed for nature's sweet restorer--balmy sleep--but did not get it--a ghostly figure indeed she was, enough to make a saint tremble. It made me quiver and shake from top to toe. Superstition is a very mean thing and should be despised and shunned."
Here is her weakness and her strength again: "In the love-novels all the heroines are very desperate. Isabella will not allow me to speak about lovers and heroins, and 'tis too refined for my taste." "Miss Egward's (Edgeworth's) tails are very good, particularly some that are very much adapted for youth (!) as Laz Laurance and Tarelton, False Keys, etc. etc."
"Tom Jones and Grey's Elegey in a country churchyard are both excellent, and much spoke of by both sex, particularly by the men." Are our Marjories nowadays better or worse because they cannot read Tom Jones unharmed? More better than worse; but who among them can repeat Gray's Lines on a distant prospect of Eton College as could our Maidie?
Here is some more of her prattle: "I went into Isabella's bed to make her smile like the Genius Demedicus" (the Venus de Medicis) "or the statute in an ancient Greece, but she fell asleep in my very face, at which my anger broke forth, so that I awoke her from a comfortable nap. All was now hushed up again, but again my anger burst forth at her biding me get up."
She begins thus loftily,--
"Death the righteous love to see, But from it doth the wicked flee."
Then suddenly breaks off as if with laughter,--
"I am sure they fly as fast as their legs can carry them!"
"There is a thing I love to see,-- That is, our monkey catch a flee!"
"I love in Isa's bed to lie,-- Oh, such a joy and luxury! The bottom of the bed I sleep, And with great care within I creep; Oft I embrace her feet of lillys, But she has goton all the pillys. Her neck I never can embrace, But I do hug her feet in place."
How childish and yet how strong and free is her use of words!--"I lay at the foot of the bed because Isabella said I disturbed her by continial fighting and kicking, but I was very dull, and continially at work reading the Arabian Nights, which I could not have done if I had slept at the top. I am reading the Mysteries of Udolpho. I am much interested in the fate of poor, poor Emily."
Here is one of her swains:--
"Very soft and white his cheeks; His hair is red, and grey his breeks; His tooth is like the daisy fair: His only fault is in his hair."
This is a higher flight:--
"DEDICATED TO MRS. H. CRAWFORD BY THE AUTHOR, M. F.
"Three turkeys fair their last have breathed, And now this world forever leaved; Their father, and their mother too, They sigh and weep as well as you: Indeed, the rats their bones have crunched; Into eternity theire laanched. A direful death indeed they had, As wad put any parent mad; But she was more than usual calm: She did not give a single dam."
This last word is saved from all sin by its tender age, not to speak of the want of the _n_. We fear "she" is the abandoned mother, in spite of her previous sighs and tears.
"Isabella says when we pray we should pray fervently, and not rattel over a prayer,--for that we are kneeling at the footstool of our Lord and Creator, who saves us from eternal damnation, and from unquestionable fire and brimston."
She has a long poem on Mary Queen of Scots:--
"Queen Mary was much loved by all, Both by the great and by the small; But hark! her soul to heaven doth rise, And I suppose she has gained a prize; For I do think she would not go Into the _awful_ place below. There is a thing that I must tell,-- Elizabeth went to fire and hell! He who would teach her to be civil, It must be her great friend, the divil!"
She hits off Darnley well:--
"A noble's son,--a handsome lad,-- By some queer way or other, had Got quite the better of her heart; With him she always talked apart: Silly he was, but very fair; A greater buck was not found there."
"By some queer way or other"; is not this the general case and the mystery, young ladies and gentlemen? Goethe's doctrine of "elective affinities" discovered by our Pet Maidie.
SONNET TO A MONKEY.
"O lively, O most charming pug! Thy graceful air and heavenly mug! The beauties of his mind do shine, And every bit is shaped and fine. Your teeth are whiter than the snow; Your a great buck, your a great beau; Your eyes are of so nice a shape, More like a Christian's than an ape; Your cheek is like the rose's blume; Your hair is like the raven's plume; His nose's cast is of the Roman: He is a very pretty woman. I could not get a rhyme for Roman, So was obliged to call him woman."
This last joke is good. She repeats it when writing of James the Second being killed at Roxburgh:--
"He was killed by a cannon splinter, Quite in the middle of the winter; Perhaps it was not at that time, But I can get no other rhyme!"
Here is one of her last letters, dated Kirkcaldy, 12th October, 1811. You can see how her nature is deepening and enriching:--
"MY DEAR MOTHER,--You will think that I entirely forget you but I assure you that you are greatly mistaken. I think of you always and often sigh to think of the distance between us two loving creatures of nature. We have regular hours for all our occupations first at 7 o'clock we go to the dancing and come home at 8 we then read our Bible and get our repeating, and then play till ten, then we get our music till 11 when we get our writing and accounts we sew from 12 till 1 after which I get my gramer, and then work till five. At 7 we come and knit till 8 when we dont go to the dancing. This is an exact description. I must take a hasty farewell to her whom I love, reverence and doat on and who I hope thinks the same of
"_P.S._--An old pack of cards (!) would be very exeptible."
This other is a month earlier:--
"MY DEAR LITTLE MAMA,--I was truly happy to hear that you were all well. We are surrounded with measles at present on every side, for the Herons got it, and Isabella Heron was near Death's Door, and one night her father lifted her out of bed, and she fell down as they thought lifeless. Mr. Heron said, 'That lassie's deed noo,'--'I'm no deed yet.' She then threw up a big worm nine inches and a half long. I have begun dancing, but am not very fond of it, for the boys strikes and mocks me.--I have been another night at the dancing; I like it better. I will write to you as often as I can; but I am afraid not every week. _I long for you with the longings of a child to embrace you,--to fold you in my arms. I respect you with all the respect due to a mother. You dont know how I love you. So I shall remain, your loving child,_--M. FLEMING."
What rich involution of love in the words marked! Here are some lines to her beloved Isabella, in July, 1811:--
"There is a thing that I do want,-- With you these beauteous walks to haunt; We would be happy if you would Try to come over if you could. Then I would all quite happy be _Now and for all eternity_. My mother is so very sweet, _And checks my appetite to eat;_ My father shows us what to do; But O I'm sure that I want you. I have no more of poetry; O Isa do remember me, And try to love your Marjory."
In a letter from "Isa" to
"Miss Muff Maidie Marjory Fleming, favored by Rare Rear-Admiral Fleming,"
she says: "I long much to see you, and talk over all our old stories together, and to hear you read and repeat. I am pining for my old friend Cesario, and poor Lear, and wicked Richard. How is the dear Multiplication table going on? Are you still as much attached to 9 times 9 as you used to be?"
But this dainty, bright thing is about to flee,--to come "quick to confusion." The measles she writes of seized her, and she died on the 19th of December, 1811. The day before her death, Sunday, she sat up in bed, worn and thin, her eye gleaming as with the light of a coming world, and with a tremulous, old voice repeated the following lines by Burns,--heavy with the shadow of death, and lit with the fantasy of the judgment-seat,--the publican's prayer in paraphrase:--
"Why am I loth to leave this earthly scene? Have I so found it full of pleasing charms?-- Some drops of joy, with draughts of ill between, Some gleams of sunshine 'mid renewing storms? Is it departing pangs my soul alarms? Or Death's unlovely, dreary, dark abode? For guilt, for GUILT, my terrors are in arms; I tremble to approach an angry God, And justly smart beneath his sin-avenging rod.
"Fain would I say, Forgive my foul offence, Fain promise never more to disobey; But should my Author health again dispense, Again I might forsake fair virtue's way, Again in folly's path might go astray, Again exalt the brute and sink the man. Then how should I for heavenly mercy pray, Who act so counter heavenly mercy's plan, Who sin so oft have mourned, yet to temptation ran?
"O thou great Governor of all below, If I might dare a lifted eye to thee, Thy nod can make the tempest cease to blow, And still the tumult of the raging sea; With that controlling power assist even me Those headstrong furious passions to confine, For all unfit I feel my powers to be To rule their torrent in the allowed line; O, aid me with thy help, OMNIPOTENCE DIVINE."
It is more affecting than we care to say to read her mother's and Isabella Keith's letters written immediately after her death. Old and withered, tattered and pale, they are now: but when you read them, how quick, how throbbing with life and love! how rich in that language of affection which only women and Shakespeare and Luther can use,--that power of detaining the soul over the beloved object and its loss!
"K. PHILIP (_to_ CONSTANCE).
You are as fond of grief as of your child.
Grief fills the room up of my absent child, Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me; Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words, Remembers me of all his gracious parts, Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form. Then I have reason to be fond of grief."
What variations cannot love play on this one string!
In her first letter to Miss Keith, Mrs. Fleming says of her dead Maidie: "Never did I behold so beautiful an object. It resembled the finest waxwork. There was in the countenance an expression of sweetness and serenity which seemed to indicate that the pure spirit had anticipated the joys of heaven ere it quitted the mortal frame. To tell you what your Maidie said of you would fill volumes; for you was the constant theme of her discourse, the subject of her thoughts, and ruler of her actions. The last time she mentioned you was a few hours before all sense save that of suffering was suspended, when she said to Dr. Johnstone, 'If you let me out at the New Year, I will be quite contented.' I asked her what made her so anxious to get out then. 'I want to purchase a New Year's gift for Isa Keith with the sixpence you gave me for being patient in the measles; and I would like to choose it myself.' I do not remember her speaking afterwards, except to complain of her head, till just before she expired, when she articulated, 'O mother! mother!'"
* * * * *
Do we make too much of this little child, who has been in her grave in Abbotshall Kirkyard these fifty and more years? We may of her cleverness,--not of her affectionateness, her nature. What a picture the _animosa infans_ gives us of herself,--her vivacity, her passionateness, her precocious love-making, her passion for nature, for swine, for all living things, her reading, her turn for expression, her satire, her frankness, her little sins and rages, her great repentances! We don't wonder Walter Scott carried her off in the neuk of his plaid, and played himself with her for hours.
The year before she died, when in Edinburgh, she was at a Twelfth Night Supper at Scott's, in Castle Street. The company had all come,--all but Marjorie. Scott's familiars, whom we all know, were there,--all were come but Marjorie; and all were dull because Scott was dull. "Where's that bairn? what can have come over her? I'll go myself and see." And he was getting up, and would have gone; when the bell rang, and in came Duncan Roy and his henchman Tougald, with the sedan chair, which was brought right into the lobby, and its top raised. And there, in its darkness and dingy old cloth, sat Maidie in white, her eyes gleaming, and Scott bending over her in ecstasy,--"hung over her enamored." "Sit ye there, my dautie, till they all see you"; and forthwith he brought them all. You can fancy the scene. And he lifted her up and marched to his seat with her on his stout shoulder, and set her down beside him; and then began the night, and such a night! Those who knew Scott best said, that night was never equalled; Maidie and he were the stars; and she gave them _Constance's_ speeches and "Helvellyn," the ballad then much in vogue, and all her _répertoire_,--Scott showing her off, and being ofttimes rebuked by her for his intentional blunders.
We are indebted for the following to her sister: "Her birth was 15th January, 1803; her death, 19th December, 1811. I take this from her Bibles. I believe she was a child of robust health, of much vigor of body, and beautifully formed arms, and, until her last illness, never was an hour in bed.
[Footnote 3: "Her Bible is before me; _a pair_, as then called; the faded marks are just as she placed them. There is one at David's lament over Jonathan."]
"I have to ask you to forgive my anxiety in gathering up the fragments of Marjorie's last days, but I have an almost sacred feeling to all that pertains to her. You are quite correct in stating that measles were the cause of her death. My mother was struck by the patient quietness manifested by Marjorie during this illness, unlike her ardent, impulsive nature; but love and poetic feeling were unquenched. When Dr. Johnstone rewarded her submissiveness with a sixpence, the request speedily followed that she might get out ere New Year's day came. When asked why she was so desirous of getting out, she immediately rejoined, 'O, I am so anxious to buy something with my sixpence for my dear Isa Keith.' Again, when lying very still, her mother asked her if there was anything she wished: 'O yes! if you would just leave the room-door open a wee bit, and play "The Land o' the Leal," and I will lie and _think_, and enjoy myself' (this is just as stated to me by her mother and mine). Well, the happy day came, alike to parents and child, when Marjorie was allowed to come forth from the nursery to the parlor. It was Sabbath evening, and after tea. My father, who idolized this child, and never afterwards in my hearing mentioned her name, took her in his arms; and, while walking her up and down the room, she said, 'Father, I will repeat something to you; what would you like?' He said, 'Just choose yourself, Maidie.' She hesitated for a moment between the paraphrase, 'Few are thy days, and full of woe,' and the lines of Burns already quoted, but decided on the latter, a remarkable choice for a child. The repeating these lines seemed to stir up the depths of feeling in her soul. She asked to be allowed to write a poem; there was a doubt whether it would be right to allow her, in case of hurting her eyes. She pleaded earnestly, 'Just this once'; the point was yielded, her slate was given her, and with great rapidity she wrote an address of fourteen lines, 'to her loved cousin on the author's recovery,' her last work on earth;--
'Oh! Isa, pain did visit me, I was at the last extremity; How often did I think of you, I wished your graceful form to view, To clasp you in my weak embrace, Indeed I thought I'd run my race: Good care, I'm sure, was of me taken, But still indeed I was much shaken, At last I daily strength did gain, And oh! at last, away went pain; At length the doctor thought I might Stay in the parlor all the night; I now continue so to do, Farewell to Nancy and to you.'
"She went to bed apparently well, awoke in the middle of the night with the old cry of woe to a mother's heart, 'My head, my head!' Three days of the dire malady, 'water in the head,' followed, and the end came."
"Soft, silken primrose, fading timelessly."
It is needless, it is impossible, to add anything to this: the fervor, the sweetness, the flush of poetic ecstasy, the lovely and glowing eye, the perfect nature of that bright and warm intelligence, that darling child,--Lady Nairne's words, and the old tune, stealing up from the depths of the human heart, deep calling unto deep, gentle and strong like the waves of the great sea hushing themselves to sleep in the dark; the words of Burns touching the kindred chord, her last numbers "wildly sweet" traced with thin and eager fingers, already touched by the last enemy and friend,--_moriens canit_,--and that love which is so soon to be her everlasting light, is her song's burden to the end.
"She set as sets the morning star, which goes Not down behind the darkened west, nor hides Obscured among the tempests of the sky, But melts away into the light of heaven."
BY MRS. S. H. DEKROYFT.
At the time of the opening of this story, there were in the rear of the New York Institution for the Blind, two small but pleasant parks, full of trees and winding walks, where the birds sang, and blind boys and girls ran and played. The little gate between the two parks was usually left open during school hours, and one bright June morning, while the sun was drinking up the dews from the leaves and the flowers, I chanced to be walking there, and I heard the little gate opening and shutting, opening and shutting; rattle went the chain, then bang went the gate, until suddenly, as I was passing it, a little voice saluted me, so sweet and musical and up so high, that for the moment I almost fancied one of the birds had stopped his song to speak with me.
"I know you. I knows ven you come. Sometimes you tell stories to ze girls, and I hear you ven I bees dis side."
Going up and putting my hand on the little speaker's head, I said,--
"Pray, what little girl is this here, with these long pretty curls, swinging on the gate?"
"I bees not a girl,--I bees a boy, I be."
Then passing my hand down over a little coat covered with buttons, I said,--
"Surely, so you are a little boy; but what is your name?"
"My name bees Little Jakey; dot is my name."
"Little Jakey! Indeed! and pray, when did you come here?"
Quick as thought his little foot struck out against the post again, and the gate went flying to and fro, as before; then coming to a sudden halt, he said,--
"Vell, I tink I tell you. I bees here von Sunday and von Sunday and _von_ Sunday; so long I bees here."
"How old are you, Jakey?"
"I bees seving; dot is my old,--dot is how old I bees."
"And can you not see?"
"No, I not see. Ven Gott make my eyes, my moder say he not put ze light in zem."
"And are you going to school here, Jakey?"
"Yes, some ze time I go in ze school, and I read ze letters mit my fing-er. Von letter vot live on ze top ze line, I know him, ven I put my fing-er on him; hees name bees A; and von oder letter, I know him, ven I put my fing-er on him,--round like ze hoop; hees name bees O."
"Who teaches you the letters, Little Jakey?"
"Cassie, ce teach me, but all ze time ce laugh, ven I say ze vords; so Miss Setland sen her avay, and now Libbie, ce teach me. But not much I go in ze school. I come down here mit ze birds in ze trees. Up to ze house ze birds not go. Eddy and Villy, and all ze boys, ven zey play, make big noise, and zey scare ze birds. But down here zey not scare, and all ze time zey sing."
"You love the birds, Jakey?"
"Yes, I love ze birds. I love von bird up in dot tree. You not see him vay high dare? Ven I have eat my dinner in ze morning, I come down here, and ven I have eat my dinner in ze noon, I come down here; and all ze time, ven I come, he sing. Sometimes some oder birds come in ze tree, and zey sing mit him; but all ze time he sing. I vish I sing like ze birds. I vish I have vings, and I go vay high in ze sky, vare ze stars be. Gott make ze stars, and Georgy say dot zey shine vay down in ze vater, he see zem dare; and von time I tell him dot he vill get me von mit hees hook vot he catch ze fishes mit; but he laugh and say dot he cannot. But I tink I see ze stars ven I come im Himmel mit"--
"Im Himmel! Where is that, Jakey? Where is Himmel?"
"Vy! you not know dot? Himmel bees vare Gott live."
I caught him down from the gate in my arms, and nearly smothered him with kisses.
Then he put his hands up and felt my face over, so softly and tenderly, that I fancied his little creeping fingers reading there every thought in my heart; and finally, clasping his loving arms around my neck, he said, in a voice hardly above a whisper,--
"I love you,--you love me?"
"I do indeed love you, you dear lamb," I said; but I could hardly speak, my voice was so choked with tears. Perceiving this, he rested his little hand softly on my cheek again, and whispered timidly,--
"Vy for you cry?"
But hearing some one approaching, and fearing to be disturbed, I took his little hand in mine and led him away, across the park, to a seat under the big mulberry, where I held him long and lovingly on my lap, as I did often afterwards, while coaxing from his sweet lips the following chapters of his strange little life.
Little Jakey was indeed _little_ Jakey. I have often seen boys three years old both taller and heavier; but never one more perfect in form and feature. His little feet and hands might have belonged to a fairy. His black eyes were bright and full, with long lashes and arched brows. His long curls were blacker than the raven, and while holding him there in my arms, I could think of nothing but a beautiful cherub with folded wings, astray from heaven. After smoothing down his curls awhile, and kissing him many times, I said to him,--
"Dear Jakey, pray where did you come from, and who brought you here?"
Then dropping both his little hands in mine, he said,--
"I come fon Germany. My moder, ce bring me. I come mit her, and mit ze baby. Ven I come in ze America, ze flowers bees in ze garden, and ze birds bees in ze trees, and ze opples bees on ze trees, and ze pot-a-toes bees in ze ground. Zen ze vinds blow and ze birds go avay, and ze opples bees in ze cellar, and ze pot-a-toes bees in ze cellar. Zen ze vinds blow too hard and ze snow bees on ze ground, and it bees cold vinter. Zen long time ze snow go avay, and ze leaves come on ze trees, and ze birds come back again, and it bees varm; so long I bees in ze America."
"And so you have been here one year? But pray, dear, where is your father? Is he dead?"
"No, he bees not dead. He bees in Germany, mit Jeem and mit Fred and mit my granfader."
"But, Jakey, why did your mother come away here to America, and leave your father away there in Germany?"
I felt his little hands stir in mine; but after a moment he drew a little sigh and said,--
"Vell, I tink I tell you. My granfader have some lands, some big lands he have, and he sell zem; and may be he not buy it, but he get von big house in ze city, mit vindows vay down to ze ground, and in ze vindows he put--I not know vot you call zem, but zey have vine in zem, and beer in zem."
"Yes, dot bees it, bottles mit vine and mit beer in zem; and my fader go dare, and he give my granfader ze pennies, and he drink ze vine and he drink ze beer. Much times and all ze time he go dare, and he do dot. And von day he come home, and he have drunk too much ze beer, and hees head go von vay and von vay; and he say vicked vords, and my moder ce cry. Jeem and Fred bees afraid, and zey hide; but I bees not afraid, I bees mit my moder. And ven my fader tink he sit down on ze chair, he go vay fall on ze floor; and ven Jeem and Fred hear him, zey run out, and ven zey see him dare on ze floor, zey laugh; and my fader say dot he vill kill zem, and he vill trow ze chair at zem, but too quick zey run avay; and all ze time my moder ce cry and ce cry, and ce not eat ze dinner, and ce make my fader go lay on ze bed.
"Von time my fader come home and he have drunk too much ze beer, and he have sold ze piano. And von time he come home and he have drunk too much ze beer, and he have sold ze harp; and ze man come mit him vot have buy it; and ven ze harp go avay, my moder ce cry, and my fader strike her mit hees hand, and he strike Jeem and Fred; and me he vill strike, but my moder ce not let him.
"Von oder time ze men come dare, and zey take avay all ze tings vot my moder have,--ze chair, and ze sofa, and all ze tings. Zen my moder ce go live in von leetle house, and some ze time ce not have ze fire dare, and some ze time ce not have ze bread. And von time in ze night my fader come home, and he bring too much men mit him vot have drunk ze beer; and he tell my moder dot ce give ze men ze supper. And my moder say dot ce have not ze supper, ce have not ze fire, and ce have not ze bread; and ven ce tell ze men go avay, zey say bad vords to my moder, and my fader he strike her dot ce go on ze floor. Zen mit her hair he drag her to ze door, and mit hees feets he strike her vay out on ze stone, and her head bleed. And Jeem he see her dare, and he cry, and Fred cry, and I cry; and my moder ce groan like ce die. And von ze men vot come mit him strike my fader, and von oder man strike _him_, and zey say vicked vords, and zey all strike, and zey break ze tings. And vile zey do dot, my moder ce get up, and ce come avay in ze dark, and Jeem and Fred come mit her, and I come mit her, and long vay ce sit down on ze stone by ze big house; and Jeem bees cold dare, and he cry; and Fred bees cold, and he cry. I bees not cold, I not cry, my moder ce hold me tight; but all ze time ce cry.
"Zen long time ze man vot live in ze big house open ze door, and he say some vords to my moder, and my moder ce tell him dot my fader have got ze bad men mit him in ze house, and he tell my moder dot ce come in; and Jeem and Fred zey go up ze step, and ze man he lif me, and my moder ce come up ze step; and ven ce come in, ze man see ze blood, vare my fader have strike her, and he go tell ze lady dot ce come, and ze lady vash my moder's head, and ce give her ze medicine vot ce drink. Zen ce lay her on ze bed, and I lay on ze bed mit her; and Jeem and Fred zey go in von leetle bed to ze fire.
"In ze morning my moder come home, and my fader sleep dare on ze floor, and vile he sleep, he make big noise mit hees nose; and Jeem and Fred laugh, cause my fader make big noise mit hees nose, but my moder ce cry.
"Long time Jeem bees hungry and he cry, Fred bees hungry and he cry, but my moder say ce have not ze meat and ce have not ze bread. Zen long time my fader vake, and ven he see my moder dare, he say dot he vill be good, dot he vill not drink ze vine and ze beer any more; and he kiss my moder, and he say dot he love her, and dot he vill get ze fire, and he vill get ze bread, but he have not ze money. Zen my moder say dot ce vill give him ze vatch vot ce have, ven ce vas mit her moder in Italy, to get ze money mit, but ce tink ven he get ze money he vill drink ze beer. My fader say No! vile he live and vile he die, he not drink any more ze beer; and he kiss Jeem and he kiss Fred and he kiss me, and he tell my moder dot ven he sell ze vatch, he vill bring ze money, and he vill get ze fire, and he vill get ze meat and ze bread. Zen my moder ce get him ze vatch, and he go avay.
"Long time he not come. Zen long time in ze night he come, and he bring ze bread mit him, but he have drunk ze beer. My moder tell him dot he have, and he say dot he have not; but all ze time hees head go von vay and von vay, and some ze vords he speak, and some ze vords he not speak. My moder ce tell him, Vare ze money vot he get mit ze vatch? and he say dot he have not ze money, dot he not sell ze vatch. Zen my moder say, Vare ze vatch den? and he say dot he have loss it, dot vile he sell it, von man get it! But my moder say No, he have got ze money and he have drunk ze beer mit ze bad men, ce know he have. Zen my fader strike her von time and von time; and ven ce go on ze floor, he strike her dare mit hees feets, and ce not move, like ce be dead, and he say he vill kill her, he vill, he vill! And Jeem scream and Fred scream, and my fader get ze big knife vot he cut ze bread mit, and he lif it vay high, and say loud much times dot he vill kill zem all! But ze men vot vatch in ze night come in, and ven zey see my fader dare mit ze knife, zey put ze chain on hees feets and on hees hands, and zey go avay mit him. And quick von man come back mit ze doctor, and ven, mit hees leetle knife, he have make my moder's arm bleed, ce speak, and ce say, Vare my fader be? and ze man tell her dot zey have lock him up, and he vill be hang mit ze rope; and my moder ce cry, and long time ce bees sick in ze bed."
"Did your mother come from Italy, Jakey?"
"Yes; ven my fader have not drunk ze beer, he make ze peoples mit ze brush; and he go in Italy, and ven he have make my moder dare mit ze brush, ce love him, and ce run away mit him ven her moder not know it. And ven ce come in Germany, von oder time he make her mit ze brush, and ce hang on ze vall; and Jeem he make, and Fred he make mit ze brush, and zey hang on ze vall. Much ze peoples he make mit ze brush, and zey give him ze money. Me he not make, but my moder ce make me mit ze leetle brush; but ven I bees made, I not hang on ze vall, I bees sut like ze book. And ce make Jeem dot vay, and Fred dot vay, and ce keep zem. Von time my fader go to ze drawer, and he get zem all, and he go avay and he sell zem, and he get ze money; and ven my moder know it, ce come vare ze man be vot have buy zem, and I come mit her, and ce give him ze ring fon her fing-er, and ce get me back and ce hide me.
"Von time my fader have sell my moder vot hang on ze vall, and ze man come dare, and my fader have take her down, and Jeem cry and Fred cry; and Fred say let hees go, and Jeem say let hees go, but my moder say no, and ze man go avay mit her."
"But, dear Jakey, how long did they keep your father locked up there with the chains on him?"
"Oh! big long time; and von time my granfader come dare, and my moder bees sick in ze bed; ce not get vell vare my fader have strike her; and my granfader tell her dot ze man vot sit vay high in ze seat have said _ze vord_, dot my fader go vay off, and be lock up mit ze dark and mit ze chains on him, vile he live and vile he die. Zen my moder say ce vill go vare he be. My granfader lif her, and ce get up, and I come mit zem. And ven my moder come dare, ce go to ze man vot have said _ze vord_, and ce tell him dot he vill let my fader go, he vill, _he vill!_ And ce say dot ce vill die, if he not let my fader go, and ce cry; and ce tell ze man vot sit vay high in ze chair, dot he vill let him go? but ze man say No, he have said _ze vord_. Zen my moder go down vare my fader be mit ze chains on him, and ven ce come dare, ce scream, and ce fall on ze ground, like ce be dead. Zen my granfader say dot I go tell ze man dot he vill let my fader go, and ven my granfader bring me, and I come dare, I tink I say dot; but I tell him dot he vill not kill my moder, and I cry, _too loud_ I cry. Zen ze man go _vay high_ on hees feets mit his hand on my head, and he say some vords to ze men vot bees dare, and he say some vords to my granfader. Zen he go roun on his feets and he say some vords to my fader. He tell him, dot he vill be good? dot he vill not drink ze beer? dot he vill vork? dot he vill make ze peoples mit ze brush? dot he vill love my moder, and get ze bread and ze fire and ze meat? and my fader say he vill, he vill! Zen ze man vot have said _ze vord_ tell my fader dot he may go; and quick von oder man take ze chains fon hees feets and fon hees hands, and he bees too glad; and he lif up my moder, and he sake her dot ce speak, and he love her, and he come avay mit her. And my granfader bring me; I come mit him in hees arms, and vile my granfader valk, he cry.
"Ven it bees night, ze big man vot sit vay high in ze chair and vot have said _ze vord_, come to ze house, and he see my moder dare in ze bed; and he talk mit her, and he talk mit my fader, and he say some vords mit Jeem and mit Fred, and he hold me on hees lap.
"Long time he stay dare, and ven he go vay, he tell my fader, if he vill make him mit ze brush? and my fader say dot he vill. Zen much times he come dare, and ven my fader have make him big all aroun, fon hees feets to hees head, mit ze chair vot he sit in vay high, ven he say _ze vord_, he give my fader much ze money, much money he give; and my fader get ze fire mit it, and ze bread and ze meat; and he love my moder, and he love Jeem, and he love Fred, and me he love.
"Zen my moder sing, but ce have not ze harp, and ce have not ze piano; and my fader sing mit her; and much ze peoples he make mit ze brush; and my moder ce help him, all ze time ce help him, and Jeem and Fred zey help; zey grind ze tings vot he make ze peoples mit. Von time I help; ven Fred bees gone, I vash ze brushes, and my moder say dot I have make zem clean so better as Fred. And all ze time I rock ze baby in ze leetle bed, and I sing ze song vot my moder make ze baby sleep mit."
"Did your father stay always good, Jakey, and did he never drink the beer any more?"
"Oh! no," he answered, with an earnestness that chilled my very heart, and made me feel that he had not yet told me half the sorrow shut up in his little bosom; and while, with tears in my eyes, I tried to encourage him to go on, I felt almost guilty, and was about deciding to probe his little heart no more, when of his own accord he resumed.
"Von time my fader say dot he vill go to ze man mit ze pic-sure vot he have make, and he vill get ze money; and my moder say dot ce vill go mit him; but my fader say No, he vill go mit hees-self, and ven he have got ze money, he vill come home to ze supper. But long time he not come. Jeem he go in ze bed, and Fred he go in ze bed, and I go in ze leetle bed, and my moder ce have ze baby mit her to ze fire.
"Zen long time my fader come to ze door, and vile he come, he say loud ze vicked vords, and my moder know dot he have drunk ze beer. Quick ce go to ze vindow, and ven ce see him, ce cry and ce bees afraid, and ce not open ze door. Zen my fader tink he have not fine ze door, and he go vay roun ze house, and tink he have fine ze door dare; and he strike, and he pound, and all ze time he say loud ze vicked vords. Zen he come back to ze door, and he strike it mit hees feets much times, and ven ze door come open and he see my moder dare, he strike her dot ce fall on ze floor mit ze baby. Ze baby cry, but my moder ce not speak, and ce not cry. Zen my fader strike her much times mit hees feets, dot ce not open ze door, and he go vay to get ze big knife, and he say dot he vill kill her. Long time he not fine it; zen vile he come back he not see, and he fall on ze floor, and some ze vay he get up and some ze vay he not get up, and all ze time he say dot he vill kill, he vill, he vill! But all ze time he not kill, he have not ze knife; and he have drunk too much ze beer, dot he not get up. Zen long time hees head go down on ze floor, and he sleep, and he make big noise mit hees nose.
"Zen I come out ze leetle bed, and I go on ze floor, and ven I come vare my moder be, I sake her and I sake her, but ce not speak. Zen I come to ze bed vare Jeem be, and I sake him, and I tell him dot my fader have kill my moder. Quick Jeem come dare, and he lif her up; and Fred come out ze bed, and he get ze baby; and Jeem put ze vater on my moder, and he sake her much times, and ce vake, and ce sit up in ze chair mit ze baby. And ce tell Jeem dot he get ze blanket fon ze bed and he put it on my fader, and he lif hees head, and he put under ze pillow.
"Jeem and Fred zey go in ze bed, and I go in ze leetle bed, but all ze time my moder ce sit up dare in ze chair, mit ze baby, to ze fire, and ce cry and ce cry."
"In ze morning my moder tell my fader dot ce vill go back to Italy, mit her moder; and my fader say dot ce may, but ce not go.
"Ze peoples come, but my fader bees not dare, and he not make zem any more mit ze brush, but some my moder make.
"All ze time my fader go vay, and he drink ze beer mit ze bad men; and ze fire he not get, and he not get ze bread, and too much he strike.
"Von time my moder tell my fader dot ce vill come in ze America, and ce vill make ze peoples dare mit ze brush, and ce vill get ze money, and ce vill live; and my fader say dot ce may. Zen my moder say dot ce vill take ze boys mit her; and my fader say No, he keep ze boys mit him. My moder say No, ce take ze boys mit her; and my fader say No, he keep ze boys mit him. Zen my moder say ce vill take ze baby and her little blind boy mit her, and ce vill come in ze America; and my fader say dot ce may.
"Zen my moder sell ze ring fon her fing-er, and some ze money ce get, and some ze money my granfader give her. Zen ce make me mit ze brush. I sit up in ze chair, and ce look at me, and ce make me all roun mit ze flowers. Ce make my curls go roun her fing-er, and zen ce make zem mit ze brush in ze pic-sure, and ce make me mit vings; and ce make in my hand vot ze boys shoot mit,--not ze gun vot make ze big noise and vot kill, but ze bow mit ze tring, I not know vot you call it."
"The bow and arrow, Jakey."
"Yes, dot bees it, ze bow and ze arrow; and von time Jeem have shoot Fred mit it in hees back, and he cry, and he come and he tell my moder dot Jeem have kill him.
"Ven I bees done, ven my moder have make me, von lady ce come dare and ce tell my moder, Vot ce make? and my moder tell her dot ce make me mit ze brush, and ce vill sell me, and ce vill get ze money, and ce vill come in ze America. Zen von oder day ze lady come dare, and ce give my moder much ze money, and ce take ze pic-sure avay mit her; and ven ce have go mit it, my moder ce cry and ce cry.
"Von day my granfader come dare mit ze carriage, and Jeem he go in ze carriage, and Fred he go in, and my moder ce come in mit ze baby. My granfader bring me, and he come in, and ze carriage come vay down to ze--I not know vot you call it, but it bees von big house on ze vater."
"A ship, Jakey."
"Yes, ze ship, mit ze trees vay high, and on ze trees, Fred say, long tings go vay out like ze sheet; and ze vinds blow in zem, and ze ship ce go and ce go. My moder ce come in ze ship mit ze baby in von arm, and my granfader bring me, and Jeem and Fred bees dare; and my granfader say zey vill go, dot ze ship not come avay mit zem. Zen my moder ce kiss Jeem and ce kiss Fred, von time and von time, and ce cry and ce cry; and ce tell zem dot zey vill be good, and ven ce get ze money, ce vill send it, and zey vill come in ze America mit her. Jeem say dot ven he bees a man, he vill come in ze America; and Fred say dot he vill come in ze America ven he bees not a man,--ven he get ze money he come, and he vill get it.
"My moder ce kiss zem much times, and ce cry too hard dot ce leave zem. And ce tell my granfader dot he vill not give my fader ze beer? and my granfader say, No, he not give him, but he vill get it; and my granfader cry ven he say dot. And my moder tell him dot ven my fader have not ze money, he vill keep him in ze house mit him? and my granfader say dot he vill, and he vill keep Jeem and he vill keep Fred mit him, and he vill make zem go in ze school. Zen my moder tank my granfader much times, and ce kiss him, and ce kiss Jeem, and ce kiss Fred; and zey kiss me, and zey kiss ze baby, and zey kiss my moder; and zey cry and zey go avay, and my moder ce scream and ce cry. Zen my granfader leave Jeem and Fred, and he come back, and he tell my moder dot ce not cry; much vords he tell her. Zen he go avay, and ze vinds blow, and ze ship ce go and ce go.
"Long time ze ship go, much days and much nights. And von time ze vinds blow too hard, and ze ship go von vay and von vay, and ze vaters come vay high, and ze vinds make big noise, and it tunder, like ze sky break; and von ze trees have come crash down on ze ship, and all ze peoples cry, Gott im Himmel! Gott im Himmel! and all ze time zey cry, and zey tink dot zey go vay down in ze deep. My moder ce be kneeled down, mit ze baby in von arm and mit me in von arm, and ce not cry, but all ze time ce pray and ce pray; and vile ce pray, ze ship come crash on ze rock, and much ze peoples go vay down in ze vater, and too much zey cry, too loud. Zen my moder have tie ze baby mit her shawl, and me ce hold mit von arm, and mit von arm ce hold on ze ship. Von time ze vater, ven it come vay high, take me avay, and my moder have loss me, and too loud ce scream, and von man dare he get me fon ze vater mit my hair, and long time he hold me mit his arm.
"Ven it bees morning, and ze vater not come vay high, and ze vinds not blow, von oder ship come dare vot have not ze sail, but ce have von big fire, and all ze time ce go, _burrh! burrh!_ and all ze peoples vot have not go vay down mit ze fishes come in dot ship, and zey get ze bread dare, and zey get ze meat dare, and much tings zey get dare.
"Long time zey go in dot ship, and ven zey see ze America, zey come in von oder leetle ship vot have no tree, vot have no sail, and vot have no fire, but ze men have ze long sticks, and zey go _so_, and zey go _so_" (imitating men rowing, with his little hands).
"How did you know that, Jakey; you could not see them?"
"No, I not see zem, but my moder ce tell me; and ven ze leetle boat have come close up in ze America, mit ze baby in von arm and mit me in von arm, my moder come out ze leetle boat, and ven ce have valk some ze vay, ce go down on ze ground and ce pray and ce cry. Not ce feel bad dot ce come in ze America, but ce bees too glad dot ce have not go vay down in ze deep mit ze fishes, and ze baby and me mit her dare, vare von big fish be, vot eat ze peoples."
"Were you not afraid, Jakey?"
"No, I not cry. My moder ce be dare, and ce hold me tight, and I tink Gott hear my moder vot ce pray."
"Where did your mother go, Jakey, when she first came into this country? where did she stop?"
"I not know ze place vare," he said, "but ce go mit ze peoples in von big house, up ze steps vay high and ce stay dare. And ven ze bells ring, and von Sunday have come, ze baby, ce be dead. I not know zen vot dead mean. I not know ce bees cold; and too quick I take my hand avay, and I tell my moder dot ce bring ze baby to ze fire. My moder say, No, ze fire not varm her, ce bees dead, and ze man vill come and put her avay in ze ground; and my moder ce cry and ce cry. And vile ce cry, ze man come mit ze box, and he pull ze baby fon my moder, and quick he put her in ze box; and ven he make ze nail drive, my moder cry like ce die.
"My moder ce stay dare in ze big house, and von day ce go to fine ze peoples vot ce vill make mit ze brush, and von oder day ce go to fine ze peoples, and von oder day ce go. Zen von day ce go to fine ze place vare ce vill live; and ven ce come back, ce say dot ce have fine it, and in ze morning ce vill go dare mit me. But in ze night, all ze time ce talk, and ce not know vare ce be. Some ze time ce tink ce bees in Germany mit my fader, and ce tink he have drunk ze beer, and he vill kill her. Some ze time ce tink ce bees in Italy mit her moder, and ce have not run avay mit my fader. And some ze time ce tink ce bees in ze ship, and ze vinds blow too hard, and ze tree come crash down. Zen all ze time ce say Vater, vater, vater! but ce have not ze vater, and ce bees hot, too hot. Ven ce touch me, I tink ce burn me, and ce go up in ze bed, and ce pull ze blanket and ze tings, and all ze time ce say Vater, vater, vater! And I cry dot I not fine ze vater. I scream, I fine ze door, but it not open. I call ze voman, but ce not come; all ze day ce not come, all ze night ce not come; and all ze time my moder ce burn, burn, and all ze time ce say Vater, vater, vater! I call her, but ce not know vot I say; ce not see me; ce not know vare ce be; and ven I cry ce not hear me. All ze time ce talk and ce talk.
"Zen dot morning ze man come dare, and ven he see my moder, he go quick avay; and von man come mit someting vot he give my moder, and vot ce drink, and ven ce have drink it, ce sleep. Long time ce sleep, and ven ce vake, ce know vare ce be, and ce know vot ce say. Zen ce put her hand on my head, and ce kiss me,--much times ce kiss me; and ce say dot ce die, and ce go im Himmel mit ze baby. Zen I cry; and ce tell me dot I not cry, dot Gott vill come von time, and he vill bring me im Himmel mit her and mit ze baby. He vill, ce know he vill.
"Zen ce not talk, and I tink ce be sleep; and I sake her and I sake her, but ce not move. I put my fing-er on her eyes, but zey not open; and I call her and I call her, but ce not hear; and I kiss her and I kiss her, but ce not know it. I sake her, but ce not vake; and ven I feel dot ce bees cold, I know dot ce bees dead, like ze baby, and I scream and I scream. I call ze voman, I call ze man, but zey not come, zey not hear. Zen long time ze voman ce come, and ven ce open ze door ce pull me avay quick fon my moder, and ce pull me up ze stair, von stair and von stair. Zen ce push me in ze room, and ce lock ze door, and ce take ze key avay mit her. Zen I push ze door and I scream, all ze time I scream. I say dot I vill go mit my moder, I vill, I vill!"
"Long time, vile I cry dare, Meme come, and ce say von vord in ze keyhole. I not know vot ce say, but I say dot I will go mit my moder, but ce not hear me. And ce say von oder time in ze keyhole, Little boy, cause vy you cry? Zen I come dare, and I say in ze keyhole dot I shall go mit my moder, dot ze voman have lock me up, and ce have take ze key avay mit her. Zen Meme tell me dot I not cry, ce know vare ze key be, and ce vill get it. Zen quick ce run avay, and ce come back mit ze key, and ce put ze key in ze keyhole, and ce go vay high on her feets, and ce push and ce push, but ze door not open. Zen ce take ze key out, and Meme say von vord in ze keyhole, and I say von vord in ze keyhole. Zen ce put ze key in ze keyhole von oder time, and ce go vay high on her feets, and ce push and ce push, and ze door come open; and ven Meme see me dare, ce say, Vy! little boy, you not see! No, I say, I not see. Zen ce say dot ce vill come mit me vare my moder be, and ce take hold my hand, and ven ce have come down von stair, and von step and von step, ze voman ce be dare; and ce tell Meme dot ce go back, dot ce vill vip her. Zen Meme ce come up ze stair, and ce pull von vay and I pull von vay, and I say dot I go mit my moder, I vill, I vill! and I cry. Zen Meme ce tell me dot I not cry, and ce say low, dot ven ze voman have go avay, ce vill come back mit me. Zen I not cry, and I go up ze steps mit Meme; and ven I not hear ze voman, and Meme not see her, ce come back mit me; von step and von step ce pull me, all ze steps quick down ce pull me, and ven ce come on ze floor, quick ce come to ze door vare my moder be, and ce make it go open; and ven ce see my moder dare, ce cry. But I not cry; I go to ze bed, vare ce be, and ven I feel her mit my hands, I tell Meme dot ce be not my moder, ce have not ze curls; and Meme say dot ze voman have cut zem; dot ce have cut ze curls fon her moder, ven ce vas dead, and ce have sell zem, and ce get ze money.
"Zen ze man come mit ze box, and he push Meme, dot ce go avay; and Meme ce pull me, but I say dot I not come, dot I stay mit my moder. Zen ze man push me, and he sut ze door, and I scream, I scream! Zen Meme tell me dot I not cry, dot ze voman vill hear, and ce vill come and ce vill vip her. Zen I not cry too loud, and I come mit Meme up ze stair; and ven ce come to ze room, ce go avay, and ce bring me von cake in von hand, and von opple in von hand; and ce kiss me, and ce tell me dot ce love me; and ce say dot her moder have die, and ze voman have got ze gold fon her moder, and ze vatch, and ze locket, mit ze chain, vot have her fader and her moder in it, and all ze tings. And Meme say dot her moder come to ze America dot ce fine her fader, but ce have die ven ce not fine him; and ven ce say dot, ce cry, and vile ce cry, ze voman come dare; and ce pull Meme, and ce tell her go avay. And ce lock ze door von oder time, and ce take ze key avay mit her; and ven I bees alone, I cry, I cry.
"Zen long time ze voman come back, and ce lif me on her lap; and ven ce make my curls come roun her fing-er, like my moder, I tink ce bees good; but zen I hear ze shear cut, and quick I put my hand, and vile ce cut ze curls, ce cut my fing-er dot it bleed, and von curl and von curl ce have cut. Zen much I scream, loud I scream. I call my moder, I call Meme. I say dot I not have my curls cut, my moder say I not. Zen ze voman ce sake me too hard, and ce push me dot I fall, and ce go avay; and ce lock ze door, and ce take ze key avay mit her. All ze time I cry, and I hold my curls mit von hand and mit von hand; and ven I have cry too much, I sleep on ze floor, and I not know it; and long time, ven I vake, ze voman have come dare, and vile I sleep, ce have cut all ze curls. Some I cry, zen some I not cry; I tink vot my moder have say, dot Gott vill come, and he vill bring me im Himmel mit her and mit ze baby, and all ze time I tink, Vill he come? Vile I tink, Meme ce come, and ce take hold my hand, and ce tell me dot ce have see ze voman cut ze curls, and ce say dot I come avay mit her; and ven I come in ze room mit Meme, ze voman ce be dare, and ce say some vords. Meme know vot ce say, I not know; but I stay dare mit Meme, and I sleep in ze leetle bed mit Meme, and I say ze prayer vot Meme say.
"All ze time in ze day Meme go up to ze vindow, and votch dot her fader come; and ven ze bell ring to ze door, ce tink dot he have come, and quick ce run, but he have not come.
"Von time von man come dare, and vile he mend ze vindow, he talk mit Meme, and ven ce tell him vot her name be, he say dot he know her fader, dot he have see him, and dot he vill tell him vare ce be. Zen Meme ce hop and ce jump and ce laugh, and ce be too glad. All ze days ce go up to ze vindow, and ce look and ce look; and ze voman put on Meme von oder frock. Ce give Meme ze locket, and ce give her much tings, ven ce tink dot Meme's fader come. But much days he not come; and von time ze voman vill take avay ze locket fon Meme, and ven Meme say dot ce not give it, dot ce have got ze gold fon her moder, and ze vatch, and all ze tings, ce strike Meme.
"Zen ven it bees dark, ze voman come avay mit Meme and mit me in von oder big house, vare much ze girls and much ze boys be vot have no fader and vot have no moder; and ven ze voman have talk mit ze lady dare, ce go avay, but ce leave Meme dare, and ce leave me dare. Long time Meme stay dare, and I stay dare. Meme go in ze school, and I go in ze school, mit ze boys and mit ze girls. And Meme read mit zem ze English, and ven ce learn ze vords, ce tell me ze vords, and ven I know ze vords, I talk mit zem, and Meme talk mit zem.
"Ze lady dare be good, but all ze time, ven Meme go in ze bed, ce cry dot her fader not come, and dot ce not fine him.
"Von time ven it bees cold, too cold, and ze vinds blow, Meme say dot ce go, dot ce fine her fader, dot ce know vare he be; and ven ze lady not know it, ce get her bonnet and ce get her shawl, and ce kiss me much times; and ce say dot ven ce come back, ce vill bring her fader mit her, and ce vill take me avay; and zen ven nobody see, ce go out. Long time ce go, and ven it bees night, ce have not come back.
"Ze lady come and ce tell me, Vare is Meme? and I tell ze lady ce go dot ce fine her fader. Zen ze lady tell ze man dot he go and he fine Meme; and ven long time ze man not come back, ze lady ce go; but zey not fine her.
"In ze morning von man come dare, and he bring Meme mit him in hees arms; and von her hand be freezed, and von her feet be freezed, and Meme cry; and ce tell ze lady dot vile ce fine her fader, ce have loss ze vay, and ce bees cold, and ce go up ze step to von door, but zey not let her come in; and ce go up ze step to von oder door, but zey not let her come in. All ze time ce do dot: ce go up and ce go up, but zey not let her come in, and some ze time zey sut ze door, ven zey not know vot ce say. Zen ce bees too cold, and vile ce vait by von door, ce sleep on ze stone; and ze man vot vatch in ze street, he fine her dare all vite mit ze snow. He bring her avay to hees place, and he varm her, and ce cry and ce cry; and in ze morning von man bring her home to ze lady; and long time Meme bees in ze bed, and ce bees sick, and ce cough,--much ce cough.
"Much times ze doctor come dare, and he give Meme ze medicine, but ce not get vell; and von time, ven I go to ze bed vare ce be, ce tell me dot ce die. Zen I cry, and Meme cry; and ce tell me dot ven her fader come, I vill tell him dot ze voman have got ze gold fon her moder, and ce have got ze locket, and ze vatch, and all ze tings. Zen Meme kiss me, and ce tell me dot I vill tell her fader dot ce love me, and dot he vill take me avay mit him; and vile Meme say dot, ce cry and ce cough. Zen quick ce not cough, and too quick ze lady come dare; and ven ce call Meme, Meme ce not hear,--ce have go im Himmel, ce have die, ce be dead. Ze lady cry; and all ze girls and ze boys come in, and ven zey see Meme dare, zey cry. Zen ze lady ce make nice tings, and ce put zem on Meme, all vite like ze snow; and von man bring dare ze box vot zey put Meme in, and it bees smooth like ze glass, and it open vare her face be; and all ze girls and ze boys see Meme, ven ce bees in ze box all vite. And von oder lady dare vot love Meme and vot teach her ze English, put ze flowers in ze box mit Meme; and ce kiss her, and I kiss her, and ze lady kiss her; and ze man make ze box tight, and he go avay off mit Meme, and he put her in ze ground.
"Long time I stay dare, and Meme's fader not come; but von day von good man come dare, and he lif me vay high in hees arms, and ven I feel him mit my hands, he have von big hat, mit no hair on hees head, and mit no but-tens on hees coat. Some English he speak, and some English he not speak. All ze time he say zee and zou, zee and zou; and ven he say dot he love me, and dot he vill take me avay mit him, I tink he bees Gott,--dot he have come, and he vill take me im Himmel mit my moder, and mit ze baby, and mit Meme, and I hold him tight aroun mit my arms; and zen ze lady say dot I go, and ce tell me Good-by, too quick I take my hand avay,--I tink dot ce keep me.
"Zen ze good man come mit me in hees carriage, and he make hees coat come roun me; and ven he come to hees house, he go up ze steps mit me in hees arms; and ven he have ring ze bell, ze lady come to ze door, and ze good man tell her dot he have got me. Zen he stand my feets down on ze floor, and he come mit ze tring, and he make it go roun me, and he make it how long I bees; and he make hees fing-er go on my feets, and he make ze tring go roun my head.
"Zen ze lady take me down ze stair, and ze voman dare put me in ze vater, and ce vash me and ce vash and ce vash; zen ce vipe and ce vipe; zen ce comb and ce comb, and ce make my curls come roun her fing-er. Zen ze good man have come back, and he bring mit him von leetle coat, and ze sirt and ze trouser vot I have, and ze stockings and ze shoes and ze hat; and ze lady ce put zem on me, and ce put von leetle hankchief in my pocket; and ce bring someting vot smell like ze rose, and ce spill it on my head, and ce spill it on my hands and on my hankchief, and ce vet my face mit it. Zen ze lady ce kiss me much times, much times ce kiss; and ze good man kiss me, and he lif me in hees arms, and he come avay mit me up ze stair to ze parlor, and ze lady bring me ze cake.
"Georgy come fon ze school, and Mary come fon ze school, and Franky, and ven zey talk, zey say zee and zou.
"I love ze good man, and I love ze lady; but I know dot ze good man bees not Gott, dot he not take me im Himmel mit my moder, and mit ze baby, and mit Meme. But he love me dare; and Georgy love me, he give me ze pennies in my pocket; and Mary love me, ce kiss me much times; and Franky say dot he vill give me hees horse vot go vay up and vay down, but he not valk, he have not ze life. He bees von vood horse, mit ze bridle and mit ze saddle on him, and Franky's fader have buy him to ze store; and much times Franky ride on him, and I ride on him."
Usually, when Little Jakey stopped his sweet talk, it was like the running down of a music-box, but not always as easy to set him going again. Besides, at the close of the last chapter he seemed to think his story ended, and put up his face for a kiss, as much as to say, Now please love me a little, and not tease me any more. So I yielded to his mood, and petted him awhile; wound his curls around my finger, and talked with him about everything likely to amuse him, until coming to a little pause in the conversation, I said,--
"How long did you stay with those _thee_ and _thou_ friends, Jakey? How long did the good man keep you with him in his house?"
"O, big long time I stay dare," he said, "and von time I come mit Mary in ze school vare ce go, and all ze Sundays ze lady and ze good man say dot I come mit zem all to ze Meeting. I love Mary; ce give me ze flowers, and I sleept mit her in ze bed; and all ze time I go mit her in ze garden, and ce tell me ze vords and ze flowers vot I not know.
"Much times ven ze peoples come dare vot say zee and zou, ze good man lif me in hees arms, and he tell me dot I talk mit zem, and much zey kiss me. Von time von man give me in my pocket ze big moneys, and zen Mary ce come mit me to ze store, and ce sell zem, and ce buy me ze coat mit ze but-tens, vot I vear in ze Meeting. And ven I go to ze Meeting, Mary ce tie ze ribbon roun my hat, and ce bruss me, and ce vash me, and ce make my curls come roun her fing-er, like my moder; and ce valk mit me to ze Meeting, and all ze time I sit mit her dare.
"Von day, ven ze good man say dot he bring me here in ze Institution, vare I read ze letters mit my fing-er, Mary say dot ce vill come mit me, and Georgy say dot he come; and Franky say dot he come; and Franky's fader say dot he may, and zey all come in ze carriage, and ze lady come. Ven zey go avay I not go mit zem, I stay here. Von time Mary have come here, and ce kiss me much times, and ce bring me ze flowers, and ce bring me ze cakes; and ven ce go avay ce cry, and ce say dot ce vill come von oder time, and ce vill bring Franky mit her. But ce have not come; von day ce vill come.
"Vill Gott know vare I bees, and vill he fine me here, ven he come? My moder say dot he vill come, and I know he vill."
Two days after these sweet words, to my surprise, I found Little Jakey pillowed in an arm-chair.
"Bless me!" I exclaimed, "what has happened to this dear treasure? Are you sick, Little Jakey?"
"No," he replied, hardly able to speak, "I not sick, but I have got ze pain in my life," placing his little hand on his chest, "dot bees all. Vile I hear ze birds sing in ze park, I not know it, and I sleep on ze ground; and vile I sleep I tink my moder and ze baby, and Meme mit her, come vare I be. I tink zey all come fon Himmel, and I see zem, and I talk mit zem, and zey talk mit me, and zey say dot I vill go mit zem; but ven I vake I bees sleep on ze ground, and ze big rains have come down, and zey have vet me too vet, and I bees too cold; and ven I tink I come to ze house, I not fine ze vay; and I have got ze pain in my head, and ze pain in my neck. Long time I not fine ze vay; zen long time Bridget ce come, and ce bring me to ze house, and ce put me in ze bed; and in ze night I have got ze pain in my life."
I knelt down before the dear, stricken lamb, and blaming my neglect of him, I kissed him many times, and tried to smooth the pain from his little brow; but what I felt, words can never speak.
The next morning Little Jakey was regularly installed in the sick-room.
Days passed, but the doctors would not say that they thought him any better. Some days, however, he was able to be pillowed up in an arm-chair, and amuse himself a little with the toys the children were constantly bringing him; for by this time the desire to do something for Little Jakey had come to pervade the whole house.
Once, sitting by his little bed, I discovered that he was trying very hard to keep awake, and I said to him softly,--
"Dear Jakey, why do you not shut those sweet eyes of yours, and go to sleep? Surely you must be sleepy."
"Yes, but I tink I not sleep. Vile I sleep, ze pain make me groan, and Mattie ce hear me, and ce not sleep."
Mattie was then very sick also, and lying on a little bed not far from his.
One day Mr. Artman, a German, called on Jakey, who asked for his little box of moneys, which had been presented to him mostly by visitors, and placing it in Mr. Artman's hand, he said to him, in his own sweet way,--
"You vill keep ze leetle box mit you. Von time Jeem and Fred vill come in ze America, and ven zey come, you vill give ze big money to Jeem, and ze leetle moneys to Fred; and you vill tell zem dot I have go im Himmel mit my moder, and mit ze baby, and mit Meme."
One warm day when I visited Little Jakey his bed had been drawn around facing the window, and I found him sitting bolstered up there, with his long black curls lying out on the pillows.
"My dear," said I, "I have brought you a bouquet, and let us pull it into pieces and see what we can make of it."
Soon Little Jakey's bed was strewn over with the flowers. I do not remember ever having seen him so cheerful as he was that evening. Making a little hoop from a piece of wire, I twined him a wreath, while he amused himself handing me the flowers for it, and feeling over their soft leaves, and asking their names. Whether large or small, he never asked the name of the same kind of flower but once. When we placed it on his little head,--
"Vy!" he exclaimed, "von time my moder have vear ze flowers like dis. Ce go vare von lady sing vot have come fon Italy; my fader go mit her dare. And von time ze lady come to my moder's house, and ce sing to ze harp, and ce sing to ze piano, and my moder and my fader sing mit her; and ce stay dare to ze supper, and much peoples come to ze supper."
I remained with Little Jakey that night, and when all were still, and the night taper was glimmering faintly through the room, I felt his little hand pull mine, as if he would draw me closer to him.
"What, dear?" I said, stooping over him.
"I tink I die," he whispered; "I tink I go im Himmel mit my moder, and mit ze baby, and mit Meme."
"Why, Jakey," I asked, coaxingly, "what makes you think so?"
"Vy, ven ze baby die, ce be sick; and ven my moder die, ce be sick; and ven Meme die, ce be sick; and I be sick, and I tink I die."
"So you are, very sick indeed, dear Jakey," I said; "but you will not be sorry to die, will you, dear?"
"No, I not sorry; but all ze time I tink, How vill it be? Ven Gott take me im Himmel, vill he come mit me in ze leetle boat? zen vill he come mit me in ze big boat, mit ze big fire? and zen vill he come in ze big ship, mit ze tree vay high, and mit ze sail? and ven ze vinds blow too hard, and ze ship come crash on ze rock, and all ze peoples cry, vill Gott hold me tight in hees arms, like my moder?"
"Yes, you dear, dear child," I said, "God will surely keep you close in his arms always, and when you come where he is, dear Jakey, your sweet eyes will have the light in them. You will see the stars then, and the angels, and all the good people who have gone to heaven from this world, and God, and his dear Son, Jesus. You know about him, do you not? He loves little children."
"Yes, I know him," he said; "my moder have tell me dot von time he have come fon Himmel in ze vorld, and ze wicked men have kill him; zey have nail him to ze tree; and my moder say dot Jazu be ze Lord, and dot he love ze little children, and von time he have lif zem in hees arms; and he say dot he love zem all, and dot he vill bring zem im Himmel mit him, ven zey bees good. Meme ce know him too, and much times ce talk mit him in ze prayer vot ce say; and ce say dot he hear her, ce know he do. Ze good man know him, and much he talk mit him in ze Meeting; but to ze table he not talk, he tink mit him, mit hees hands so (crossing his own little ones, as if in the act of devotion). Georgy do dot vay, and Franky, and zey all; and Mary tell me, and I do dot vay."
After a little, he asked again with great earnestness,--
"How vill it be? If Gott not know ven I die, and if he bees not here, vill zey keep me von day and von day, vile he come?"
"O yes, dear Jakey," I said; "but God will be here. He is here now. Let me explain it to you. God is a great Spirit, and he is everywhere. You have a little spirit in you, too, Jakey, that makes you talk and think and feel; now, while your spirit is shut up in your little body here, it cannot see God, but when this little body dies, your spirit will come out, and then it will see God, and see everything, and have wings and rise up, like the angels, and fly away to heaven, or Himmel, as you call it."
I was wondering what Little Jakey was thinking of this, when, after a moment, he exclaimed,--
"Vy! ven my moder have make me in ze pic-sure, ce make me mit vings, but ce not say dot I have ze vings, ven I come im Himmel. Heaven bees in America, but Himmel bees in Germany. My moder go dare, and ce say dot Gott vill come, and he vill bring me mit him dare, vare ce be. I vish I come dare now!"
"Darling, you must shut your sweet eyes now and go to sleep."
"No," he said, "ven I sut my eyes, zey not sut, and ven I tink I sleep, I not sleep. I bees cold; too cold I bees. I tink I die; I tink I go im Himmel now mit my moder, and mit ze baby, and mit Meme. Vill Gott come, and vill he fine me here? How vill it be? How--vill--it--be?"
We sprang to him, and, leaning over his little form, felt that his pulse was really still, and his sweet breath hushed forever.
THE LOST CHILD.
BY HENRY KINGSLEY.
Remember? Yes, I remember well that time when the disagreement arose between Sam Buckley and Cecil, and how it was mended. You are wrong about one thing, General; no words ever passed between those two young men; death was between them before they had time to speak.
I will tell you the real story, old as I am, as well as either of them could tell it for themselves; and as I tell it I hear the familiar roar of the old snowy river in my ears, and if I shut my eyes I can see the great mountain, Lanyngerin, bending down his head like a thoroughbred horse with a curb in his mouth; I can see the long gray plains, broken with the outlines of the solitary volcanoes Widderin and Monmot. Ah, General Halbert! I will go back there next year, for I am tired of England, and I will leave my bones there; I am getting old, and I want peace, as I had it in Australia. As for the story you speak of, it is simply this:--
Four or five miles up the river from Garoopna stood a solitary hut, sheltered by a lofty, bare knoll, round which the great river chafed among the bowlders. Across the stream was the forest sloping down in pleasant glades from the mountain; and behind the hut rose the plain four or five hundred feet overhead, seeming to be held aloft by the blue-stone columns which rose from the river-side.
In this cottage resided a shepherd, his wife, and one little boy, their son, about eight years old,--a strange, wild, little bush child, able to speak articulately, but utterly without knowledge or experience of human creatures, save of his father and mother; unable to read a line; without religion of any sort or kind; as entire a little savage, in fact, as you could find in the worst den in your city, morally speaking, and yet beautiful to look on; as active as a roe, and, with regard to natural objects, as fearless as a lion.
As yet unfit to begin labor, all the long summer he would wander about the river-bank, up and down the beautiful rock-walled paradise where he was confined, sometimes looking eagerly across the water at the waving forest boughs, and fancying he could see other children far up the vistas beckoning to him to cross and play in that merry land of shifting lights and shadows.
It grew quite into a passion with the little man to get across and play there; and one day when his mother was shifting the hurdles, and he was handing her the strips of green hide which bound them together, he said to her, "Mother, what country is that across the river?"
"The forest, child."
"There's plenty of quantongs over there, eh, mother, and raspberries? Why mayn't I get across and play there?"
"The river is too deep, child, and the Bunyip lives in the water under the stones."
"Who are the children that play across there?"
"Black children, likely."
"No white children?"
"Pixies; don't go near 'em, child; they'll lure you on, Lord knows where. Don't get trying to cross the river, now, or you'll be drowned."
But next day the passion was stronger on him than ever. Quite early on the glorious, cloudless, midsummer day he was down by the river-side, sitting on a rock, with his shoes and stockings off, paddling his feet in the clear tepid water, and watching the million fish in the shallows--black fish and grayling--leaping and flashing in the sun.
There is no pleasure that I have ever experienced like a child's midsummer holiday,--the time, I mean, when two or three of us used to go away up the brook, and take our dinners with us, and come home at night tired, dirty, happy, scratched beyond recognition, with a great nosegay, three little trout, and one shoe, the other having been used for a boat till it had gone down with all hands out of soundings. How poor our Derby days, our Greenwich dinners, our evening parties, where there are plenty of nice girls, are, after that! Depend on it, a man never experiences such pleasure or grief after fourteen as he does before,--unless in some cases in his first love-making, when the sensation is new to him.
But meanwhile there sat our child, bare-legged, watching the forbidden ground beyond the river. A fresh breeze was moving the trees and making the whole a dazzling mass of shifting light and shadow. He sat so still that a glorious violet and red kingfisher perched quite close, and, dashing into the water, came forth with a fish, and fled like a ray of light along the winding of the river. A colony of little shell parrots, too, crowded on a bough, and twittered and ran to and fro quite busily, as though they said to him, "We don't mind you, my dear; you are quite one of us."
Never was the river so low. He stepped in; it scarcely reached his ankle. Now surely he might get across. He stripped himself, and, carrying his clothes, waded through, the water never reaching his middle, all across the long, yellow, gravelly shallow. And there he stood, naked and free, on the forbidden ground.
He quickly dressed himself, and began examining his new kingdom, rich beyond his utmost hopes. Such quantongs, such raspberries, surpassing imagination; and when tired of them, such fern boughs, six or eight feet long! He would penetrate this region, and see how far it extended.
What tales he would have for his father to-night! He would bring him here, and show him all the wonders, and perhaps he would build a new hut over here, and come and live in it? Perhaps the pretty young lady, with the feathers in her hat, lived somewhere here, too?
There! There is one of those children he has seen before across the river. Ah! ah! it is not a child at all, but a pretty gray beast with big ears. A kangaroo, my lad; he won't play with you, but skips away slowly, and leaves you alone.
There is something like the gleam of water on that rock. A snake! Now a sounding rush through the wood, and a passing shadow. An eagle! He brushes so close to the child, that he strikes at the bird with a stick, and then watches him as he shoots up like a rocket and, measuring the fields of air in ever-widening circles, hangs like a motionless speck upon the sky; though, measure his wings across, and you will find he is nearer fifteen feet than fourteen.
Here is a prize, though! A wee little native bear, barely a foot long,--a little gray beast, comical beyond expression, with broad flapped ears,--sits on a tree within reach. He makes no resistance, but cuddles into the child's bosom, and eats a leaf as they go along; while his mother sits aloft and grunts indignant at the abstraction of her offspring, but on the whole takes it pretty comfortably, and goes on with her dinner of peppermint leaves.
What a short day it has been! Here is the sun getting low, and the magpies and jackasses beginning to tune up before roosting.
He would turn and go back to the river. Alas! which way?
He was lost in the bush. He turned back and went, as he thought, the way he had come, but soon arrived at a tall, precipitous cliff, which by some infernal magic seemed to have got between him and the river. Then he broke down, and that strange madness came on him, which comes even on strong men, when lost in the forest--a despair, a confusion of intellect, which has cost many a man his life. Think what it must be with a child!
He was fully persuaded that the cliff was between him and home, and that he must climb it. Alas! every step he took aloft carried him further from the river, and the hope of safety; and when he came to the top, just at dark, he saw nothing but cliff after cliff, range after range, all around him. He had been wandering through steep gullies all day unconsciously, and had penetrated far into the mountains. Night was coming down, still and crystal clear, and the poor little lad was far away from help or hope, going his last long journey alone.
Partly perhaps walking, and partly sitting down and weeping, he got through the night; and when the solemn morning came up, again he was still tottering along the leading range, bewildered, crying from time to time, "Mother, mother!" still nursing his little bear, his only companion, to his bosom, and holding still in his hand a few poor flowers he had gathered up the day before. Up and on all day, and at evening, passing out of the great zone of timber, he came on the bald, thunder-smitten summit ridge, where one ruined tree held up its skeleton arms against the sunset, and the wind came keen and frosty. So, with failing, feeble legs, upward still, toward the region of the granite and the snow; toward the eyry of the kite and the eagle.
* * * * *
Brisk as they all were at Garoopna, none were so brisk as Cecil and Sam. Charles Hawker wanted to come with them, but Sam asked him to go with Jim, and, long before the others were ready, our two had strapped their blankets to their saddles, and followed by Sam's dog Rover, now getting a little gray about the nose, cantered off up the river.
Neither spoke at first. They knew what a solemn task they had before them; and, while acting as though everything depended on speed, guessed well that their search was only for a little corpse, which, if they had luck, they would find stiff and cold under some tree or crag.
Cecil began: "Sam, depend on it, that child has crossed the river to this side. If he had been on the plains, he would have been seen from a distance in a few hours."
"I quite agree," said Sam. "Let us go down on this side till we are opposite the hut, and search for marks by the river-side."
So they agreed, and in half an hour were opposite the hut, and, riding across to it to ask a few questions, found the poor mother sitting on the doorstep, with her apron over her head, rocking herself to and fro.
"We have come to help you, mistress," said Sam. "How do you think he is gone?"
She said, with frequent bursts of grief, that "some days before he had mentioned having seen white children across the water, who beckoned him to cross and play; that she, knowing well that they were fairies, or perhaps worse, had warned him solemnly not to mind them; but that she had very little doubt that they had helped him over and carried him away to the forest; and that her husband would not believe in his having crossed the river."
"Why, it is not knee-deep across the shallow," said Cecil.
"Let us cross again," said Sam; "he _may_ be drowned, but I don't think it."
In a quarter of an hour from starting, they found, slightly up the stream, one of the child's socks, which in his hurry to dress he had forgotten. Here brave Rover took up the trail like a bloodhound, and before evening stopped at the foot of a lofty cliff.
"Can he have gone up here?" said Sam, as they were brought up by the rock.
"Most likely," said Cecil. "Lost children always climb from height to height. I have heard it often remarked by old bush hands. Why they do so, God, who leads them, only knows; but the fact is beyond denial. Ask Rover what he thinks."
The brave old dog was half-way up, looking back for them. It took them nearly till dark to get their horses up; and, as there was no moon, and the way was getting perilous, they determined to camp, and start again in the morning.
They spread their blankets, and lay down side by side. Sam had thought, from Cecil's proposing to come with him in preference to the others, that he would speak of a subject nearly concerning them both; but Cecil went off to sleep and made no sign; and Sam, ere he dozed, said to himself, "If he doesn't speak this journey, I will. It is unbearable that we should not come to some understanding. Poor Cecil!"
At early dawn they caught up their horses, which had been hobbled with the stirrup leathers, and started afresh. Both were more silent than ever, and the dog, with his nose to the ground, led them slowly along the rocky rib of the mountain, ever going higher and higher.
"It is inconceivable," said Sam, "that the poor child can have come up here. There is Tuckerimbid close to our right, five thousand feet above the river. Don't you think we must be mistaken?"
"The dog disagrees with you," said Cecil. "He has something before him, not very far off. Watch him."
The trees had become dwarfed and scattered; they were getting out of the region of trees; the real forest zone was now below them, and they saw they were emerging toward a bald elevated down, and that a few hundred yards before them was a dead tree, on the highest branch of which sat an eagle.
"The dog has stopped," said Cecil; "the end is near."
"See," said Sam, "there is a handkerchief under the tree."
"That is the boy himself," said Cecil.
They were up to him and off in a moment. There he lay dead and stiff, one hand still grasping the flowers he had gathered on his last happy play-day, and the other laid as a pillow between the soft cold cheek and the rough cold stone. His midsummer holiday was over, his long journey was ended. He had found out at last what lay beyond the shining river he had watched so long.
That is the whole story, General Halbert; and who should know it better than I, Geoffry Hamlyn?
GOODY GRACIOUS! AND THE FORGET-ME-NOT.
BY JOHN NEAL.
Once there was a little bit of a thing,--not more than so high,--and her name was Ruth Page; but they called her Teenty-Tawnty, for she was the daintiest little creature you ever saw, with the smoothest hair and the brightest face; and then she was always playing about, and always happy; and so the people that lived in that part of the country, when they heard her laughing and singing all by herself at peep of day, like little birds after a shower, and saw her running about in the edge of the wood after tulips and butterflies, or tumbling head-over-heels in the long rich grass by the river-side, with her little pet lamb or her two white pigeons always under her feet, or listening to the wild bees in the apple-blossoms, with her sweet mouth "all in a tremble," and her happy eyes brimful of sunshine,--they used to say that she was no child at all, or no child of earth, but a fairy-gift, and that she must have been dropped into her mother's lap, like a handful of flowers, when she was half asleep; and so they wouldn't call her Ruth Page,--no indeed, that they wouldn't!--but they called her little Teenty-Tawnty, or the Little Fairy; and they used to bring her fairy tales to read, till she couldn't bear to read anything else, and wanted to be a fairy herself.
Well, and so one day, when she was out in the sweet-smelling woods, all alone by herself, singing, "Where are you going, my pretty maid, my pretty maid?" and watching the gold-jackets, and the blue dragon-flies, and the sweet pond-lilies, and the bright-eyed glossy eels, and the little crimson-spotted fish, as they "coiled and swam," and darted hither and thither, like "flashes of golden fire," and then huddled together, all of a sudden, just underneath the green turf where she sat, as if they saw something, and were half frightened to death, and were trying to hide in the shadow; well and so--as she sat there, with her little naked feet hanging over and almost touching the water, singing to herself, "My face is my fortune, sir, she said! sir, she said!" and looking down into a deep sunshiny spot, and holding the soft smooth hair away from her face with both hands, and trying to count the dear little fish before they got over their fright, all at once she began to think of the water-fairies, and how cool and pleasant it must be to live in these deep sunshiny hollows, with green turf all about you, the blossoming trees and the blue skies overhead, the bright gravel underneath your feet, like powdered stars, and thousands of beautiful fish for playfellows! all spotted with gold and crimson, or winged with rose-leaves, and striped with faint purple and burnished silver, like the shells and flowers of the deep sea, where the moonlight buds and blossoms forever and ever; and then she thought if she could only just reach over, and dip one of her little fat rosy feet into the smooth shining water,--just once--only once,---it would be _so_ pleasant! and she should be _so_ happy! and then, if she could but manage to scare the fishes a little,--a very little,--that would be such glorious fun, too,--wouldn't it, you?
Well and so--she kept stooping and stooping, and stretching and stretching, and singing to herself all the while, "Sir, she said! sir, she said! I'm going a milking, sir, she said!" till just as she was ready to tumble in, head first, something jumped out of the bushes behind her, almost touching her as it passed, and went plump into the deepest part of the pool! saying, "_Once! once!_" with a heavy booming sound, like the tolling of a great bell under water, and afar off.
"Goody gracious! what's that?" screamed little Ruth Page, and then, the very next moment, she began to laugh and jump and clap her hands, to see what a scampering there was among the poor silly fish, and all for nothing! said she; for out came a great good-natured bull-frog, with an eye like a bird, and a big bell-mouth, and a back all frosted over with precious stones, and dripping with sunshine; and there he sat looking at her awhile, as if he wanted to frighten her away; and then he opened his great lubberly mouth at her, and bellowed out, "_Once! once!_" and vanished.
"Luddy tuddy! who cares for you?" said little Ruth; and so, having got over her fright, she began to creep to the edge of the bank once more, and look down into the deep water, to see what had become of the little fish that were so plentiful there, and so happy but a few minutes before. But they were all gone, and the water was as still as death; and while she sat looking into it, and waiting for them to come back, and wondering why they should be so frightened at nothing but a bull-frog, which they must have seen a thousand times, the poor little simpletons! and thinking she should like to catch one of the smallest and carry it home to her little baby-brother, all at once a soft shadow fell upon the water, and the scented wind blew her smooth hair all into her eyes, and as she put up both hands in a hurry to pull it away, she heard something like a whisper close to her ear, saying, "_Twice! twice!_" and just then the trailing branch of a tree swept over the turf, and filled the whole air with a storm of blossoms, and she heard the same low whisper repeated close at her ear, saying, "_Twice! twice!_" and then she happened to look down into the water,--and what do you think she saw there?
"Goody gracious, mamma! is that you?" said poor little Ruth; and up she jumped, screaming louder than ever, and looking all about her, and calling, "Mamma, mamma! I see you, mamma! you needn't hide, mamma!" But no mamma was to be found.
"Well, if that isn't the strangest thing!" said little Ruth, at last, after listening a few minutes, on looking all round everywhere, and up into the trees, and away off down the river-path, and then toward the house. "If I didn't think I saw my dear good mamma's face in the water, as plain as day, and if I didn't hear something whisper in my ear and say, "_Twice! twice!_"--and then she stopped, and held her breath, and listened again,--"if I didn't hear it as plain as I ever heard anything in my life, then my name isn't Ruth Page, that's all, nor Teenty-Tawnty neither!" And then she stopped, and began to feel very unhappy and sorrowful; for she remembered how her mother had cautioned her never to go near the river, nor into the woods alone, and how she had promised her mother many and many a time never to do so, never, never! And then the tears came into her eyes, and she began to wish herself away from the haunted spot, where she could kneel down and say her prayers; and then she looked up to the sky, and then down into the still water, and then she thought she would just go and take one more peep,--only one,--just to see if the dear little fishes had got over their fright, and then she would run home to her mother, and tell her how forgetful she had been, and how naughty, and ask her to give her something that would make her remember her promises. Poor thing! little did she know how deep the water was, nor how wonderfully she had escaped! once, once! twice, twice! and still she ventured a third time.
Well and so--don't you think, she crept along, crept along to the very edge of the green, slippery turf, on her hands and knees, half trembling with fear, and half laughing to think of that droll-looking fat fellow, with the big bell-mouth, and the yellow breeches, and the grass-green military jacket, turned up with buff and embroidered with gems, and the bright golden eye that had so frightened her before, and wondering in her little heart if he would show himself again; and singing all the while, as she crept nearer and nearer, "Nobody asked you, sir, she said! sir, she said! nobody asked you, sir, she said!" till at last she had got near enough to look over, and see the little fishes there tumbling about by dozens, and playing bo-peep among the flowers that grew underneath the bank, and were multiplied by thousands in the clear water, when, all at once, she felt the turf giving way, and she put out her arms and screamed for her mother. Goody gracious! how she did scream! and then something answered from the flowing waters underneath, and from the flowering trees overhead, with a mournful sweet sound, like wailing afar off, "_Thrice! thrice!_" and the flashing waters swelled up, saying, "_Thrice! thrice!_" and the flowering branch of the tree swept over the turf, and the sound was the same, "_Thrice! thrice!_" and in she went, headlong, into the deepest part of the pool, screaming with terror, and calling on her mother to the last: poor mother!
Well and so--when she came to herself, where do you think she was? Why, she was lying out in the warm summer air, on a green bank, all tufted with cowslips and violets and clover-blossoms, with a plenty of strawberries underneath her feet, and the bluest water you ever saw all round her, murmuring like the rose-lipped sea-shells; and the air was full of singing-birds, and there was a little old woman looking at her, with the funniest cap, and a withered face not bigger than you may see when you look at the baby through the big end of a spyglass: the cap was a morning-glory, and it was tied underneath the chin with bleached cobweb, and the streamers and bows were just like the colors you see in a soap-bubble.
"Goody gracious! where am I now?" said little Ruth.
"Yes, my dear, that's my name," said the little old woman, dropping a low courtesy, and then spinning round two or three times, and squatting down suddenly, so as to make what you call a cheese.
"Why, you don't mean to say that's your real name," whispered little Ruth.
"To be sure it is! just as much as-- And pray, my little creature, what's your name?"
"Mine! O, my name is Ruth Page, _only_ Ruth Page." And up she jumped, and spun round among the strawberries and flowers, and tried to make a courtesy like the little old woman, and then they both burst out a-laughing together.
"Well," said Goody Gracious, "you're a nice, good-natured, funny little thing, I'll say that for you, as ever I happened to meet with; but haven't you another and a prettier name, hey?"
"Why, sometimes they call me little Teenty-Tawnty," said Ruth.
"Fiddle-de-dee, I don't like that name any better than the other: we must give you a new name," said the little old woman; "but first tell me,"--and she grew very serious, and her little sharp eyes changed color,--"first tell me how you happened to be here, in the very heart of Fairy-land, with nobody to take care of you, and not so much as a wasp or a bumble-bee to watch over you when you are asleep."
"Indeed, and indeed, ma'am, I don't know," said little Ruth; "all I do know is, that I have been very naughty, and that I am drowned, and that I shall never see my poor dear mamma any more!" And then she up and told the whole story to the little old woman, crying bitterly all the while.
"Don't take on so, my little dear, don't, don't!" said Goody Gracious; and out she whipped what appeared to Ruth nothing but a rumpled leaf of the tiger-lily, and wiped her eyes with it. "Be a good child, and, after a trial of three days in Fairy-land, if you want to go back to your mother you shall go, and you may carry with you a token to her that you have told the truth."
"O, bless your little dear old-fashioned face," cried Ruth; "O, bless you, bless you! only give me a token that will make me always remember what I have promised my poor dear mother, and I shall be so happy! and I won't ask for anything else."
"What, neither for humming-birds, nor gold-fish, nor butterflies, nor diamonds, nor pearls, nor anything you have been wishing for so long, ever since you were able to read about Fairy-land?"
"No, ma'am; just give me a ring of wheat-straw, or a brooch from the ruby-beetle, if you like, and I shall be satisfied."
"Be it so; but, before I change you to a fairy, you must make choice of what you want to see in Fairy-land for three days running; for, at the end of that time, I shall change you back again, so that if you are of the same mind then, you may go back to your mother, and, if not, you will stay with us for ever and ever."
"For ever and ever?" said Ruth, and she trembled; "please, ma'am, I should like to go now, if it's all the same to you?"
"No! but take this flower," and, as she spoke, she stooped down, and pulled up a forget-me-not by the roots, and breathed upon it, and it blossomed all over; "take this root," said she, "and plant it somewhere, and tend it well, and at any time after three days, if you get tired of being here, all you have to do will be just to pull it up out of the earth, and wish yourself at home, and you will find yourself there in a moment, in your own little bed."
"Goody gracious! you don't say so!"
"But I do say so."
"I declare, I've a good mind to try!"
"What, pull it up before you have planted it? No, no, my dear. It must be left out threescore and twelve hours, and be watered with the dews and the starlight of the South Sea, where you are now, thousands and thousands of miles from your own dear country; but there is one thing I would have you know before you plant the flower."
"If you please, ma'am," said little Ruth.
"It is given to you, my dear, to help you correct your faults; you mean to do right, and you try pretty hard, but you are _so_ forgetful, you say."
"Well, now, but just so long as you tend this plant with care, and water it every day at the same hour,--every day, mind you, and at the same hour,--you will be growing better."
Ruth was overjoyed.
"But," continued the fairy, "if you neglect it for a single day, it will begin to droop and wither, the leaves will change, and some of the blossoms will drop off, and your mother will begin to feel unhappy and low-spirited."
"O yes; but I never shall, ma'am,--never, _never!_"
"Don't be too sure; and if you neglect it for two whole days running, all the flowers will drop off but one, and your mother will take to her bed, and nobody but you will know what ails her."
Poor Ruth began to tremble, and the tears came in her eyes.
"But," continued the fairy,--"_but_ if you should neglect it for three days running, my poor child,--but for three days running,--the last flower will drop off, and your mother will die of a broken heart."
"O mercy, mercy!" cried poor little Ruth. "O, take it! take it! I wouldn't have it for the world!" And she flung it down upon the loose earth, and shook her little fingers, just as if something had stung her.
"It is too late now. See, my dear, it has already taken root, and now there is no help for it. Remember! your mother's health, happiness, and life depend upon that flower. Watch it well! And now, daughter of earth," and, as she spoke, she stooped, and pulled up a whole handful of violets, dripping with summer rain,--and repeating the words, "Daughter of earth, away! Rosebud, appear!" shook the moisture all over her; and instantly the dear child found herself afloat in the air, with pinions of purple gauze, bedropped with gold, with millions of little fairies all about her, swarming like butterflies and blossoms after a pleasant rain, and welcoming their sister Rosebud to Fairy-land.
"Well," thought Rosebud,--we must call her Rosebud now,--"well, if this being a little fairy isn't one of the pleasantest things." And then she recollected that she had only three days to stay there and see the sights, and she looked round her to ask if there was anybody near to help her, and take charge of her, and tell her what to do and where to go.
"Daughter," said a sweet voice that she knew, though it appeared to come out and steal up from the leaves of another morning-glory,--"Daughter!"
"Mother," said Rosebud.
"You may have your choice to-day of these three things,--a butterfly-hunt, a wedding, or a play."
"O, a wedding, a wedding," said Rosebud. "O, I have always wanted to see a wedding."
"Be it so," said the voice; and instantly a sweet wind arose, and lifted her up, and swept her, and thousands more like her, over the blue deep so swiftly that nothing could be seen but a mist of sparkles here and there, till they all found themselves on the sea-shore, at the mouth of a deep sparry cave, all hung about with the richest moss, and lighted with pearls in clusters, and with little patches of glow-worms, and carpeted with the wings of butterflies. In the midst were a multitude of little fairies, hovering and floating over a throne of spider-net ivory, on which lay the bride, with a veil of starlight, interwoven with the breath of roses, covering her from head to foot, and falling over the couch like sunshine playing on clear water.
By and by a faint, strange murmuring was heard afar off, like the ringing of lily-bells to the touch of the honey-bees, growing louder and louder, and coming nearer and nearer every moment. Rosebud turned toward the sea with all the other fairies, and held her breath; and after a few moments a fleet of little ships, with the most delicate purple and azure sails, so thin that you could see the sky through them, came tilting along over the sea as if they were alive,--and so they were,--and drew up, as if in order of battle, just before the mouth of the cave; and then a silver trumpet sounded on the shore, and a swarm of hornets appeared, whizzing and whirring all about the cave; and then there was another trumpet, and another, about as loud as you may hear from a caged blue-bottle, and compliments were interchanged, and a salute fired, which frightened the little lady-fairies into all sorts of shapes, and made the little fairy-bride jump up and ask if her time had come, though, to tell you the truth, the noise did not appear much more terrible to Rosebud than her little brother's pop-gun; and then a sort of barge, not unlike the blossom of a sweet pea in shape, was manned from the largest of the fleet, and, when it touched the bright sparkling sand, out leaped a little prince of a fellow, with a bunch of white feathers in his hat, plucked from the moth-miller, a sword like the finest cambric-needle belted about his waist, and the most unimpeachable small-clothes.
This turned out to be the bridegroom; and after a few more flourishes, and not a little pulling and hauling among the bridesmaids, the bride and the bridegroom stood up together, and looked silly and sheepish, as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths; and after listening awhile to an old droning-beetle, without hearing a word he said, they bowed and courtesied, and made some sort of a reply, nobody could guess what; and then forth stepped the master of ceremonies, a priggish-looking grasshopper, with straw-colored tights, and a fashionable coat, single-breasted, and so quakerish it set poor little Rosebud a-laughing, in spite of all she could do, every time she looked at his legs; and _then!_ out ran the ten thousand trumpeting bumble-bees, and the katydid grew noisier than ever, and the cricket chirruped for joy, and the bridegroom touched the bride's cheek, and pointed slyly toward a little heap of newly gathered roses and violets, piled up afar off, in a shadowy part of the cave, just underneath a trailing canopy of changeable moss; the bride blushed, and the fairies tittered, and little Rosebud turned away, and wished herself at home, and instantly the bride and the bridegroom vanished! and the ships and the fairies! and the lights and the music! and Rosebud found herself standing face to face with the little withered old woman, who was looking mournfully at the drooping forget-me-not. The tears came into her eyes, and for the first time since the flower took root,--for the very first time,--she began to think of her mother, and of her promise to the fairy; and she stooped down, in an agony of terror and shame and self-reproach, to see how it fared with her forget-me-not. Alas! it had already begun to droop and wither; and the leaves were changing color, and the blossoms were dropping off, and she knew that her mother was beginning to suffer.
"O that I had never seen the hateful flower!" cried Rosebud; and then instantly recollecting herself, she dropped upon her knees, and kissed it, and wept upon it, and the flower seemed refreshed by her tears; and when she stood up and looked into the face of the good little fairy, and saw her lips tremble, and the color change in her sweet mournful eyes, she felt as if she never should be happy again.
"Daughter of earth! child of the air!" said the fairy, "two more days remain to thee. What wouldst thou have?"
"O nothing! nothing! Let me but go back to my dear, dear mother, and I shall be so happy!"
"That cannot be. These trials are to prepare thee for thy return to her. Be patient, and take thy choice of these three things,--a tournament, a coronation, or a ball!"
"Goody gracious! how I _should_ like to see a coronation!" cried Rosebud; and then she recollected herself, and blushed and courtesied, and said, "if you please, ma'am."
"Call me mother, my dear; in Fairy-land I am your mother."
"Well, mother," said Rosebud, the tears starting into her eyes, and her heart swelling, as she determined never to call her mamma, no, never!--"well, mother, if you please, I would rather stay here and watch the flower: I don't want to see anything more in Fairy-land; I've had enough of such things to last me as long as I live. But O, if I should happen to fall asleep!"
"If you should, my dear, you will wake in season; but take your choice."
"Thank you, mother, but I choose to stay here."
At these words the fairy vanished, and Rosebud was left alone, looking at the dear little flower, which seemed to grow fresher and fresher, and more and more beautiful every minute, and wondering whether it would be so with her dear mamma; and then she fell to thinking about her home, and how much trouble she had given her mother, and how much better she would always be after she had got back to her once more; and then she fell asleep, and slept so soundly that she did not wake till the sun was up, and it was time to water the flower.
At first she was terribly frightened; but when she remembered what the fairy told her, she began to feel comfortable, and, lest something might happen, she took a little sea-shell that lay there, and running down to the water, dipped it up full, and was on her way back, thinking how happy her poor dear mamma would feel if she could only know _what_ it was and _who_ it was that made her so much better, when she heard the strangest and sweetest noises all about her in the air, as if the whole sky was full of the happiest and merriest creatures! and when she looked up, lo! there was a broad glitter to be seen, as if the whole population of Fairy-land were passing right over her head, making a sort of path like that you see at sunrise along the blue deep, when the waters are motionless and smooth and clear.
"Well," said she, looking up, "I _do_ wonder where they are going so fast,"--and then she stopped,--"and I do think they might be civil enough just to let a body know; I dare say 'tis the coronation, or the butterfly-hunt, or the tournament, or the-- O, how I should like to be there!"
No sooner was the wish uttered, than she found herself seated in a high gallery, as delicately carved as the ivory fans of the east; with diamonds and ostrich-feathers all about and below her, and a prodigious crowd assembled in the open air,--with the lists open,--a trumpet sounding,--and scores of knights armed cap-à-pie, and mounted on dragon-flies, waiting for the charge. All eyes were upon her, and everybody about was whispering her name, and she never felt half so happy in her life; and she was just beginning to compare the delicate embroidery of her wings with that of her next neighbor, a sweet little fairy who sat looking through her fingers at a youthful champion below, and pouting and pouting as if she wanted everybody to know that he had jilted her, when she happened to see a little forget-me-not embroidered on his beaver; and she instantly recollected her promise, and cried out, "O mamma! mamma!" and wished herself back again, where she might sit by the flower and watch over it, and never leave it, never! till her three days of trial were ended.
In a moment, before she could speak a word, or even make a bow to the nice little boy-fairy, who had just handed her up her glove on the point of a lance like a sunbeam, she found herself seated by the flower. Poor little thing! It was too late! Every blossom had fallen off but one, and that looked unhealthy, and trembled when she breathed upon it. She thought of her mamma, and fancied she could see them carrying her up to bed, and all the doctors there, and nobody able to tell what ailed her; and she threw herself all along upon the grass, and wished all the fairies at the bottom of the Red Sea, and herself with them! And when she looked up, what do you think she saw? and where do you think she was? why, she was at the bottom of the Red Sea, and all the wonders of the Red Sea were about her,--chariots and chariot-wheels and the skeletons of war-horses, and mounted warriors, with heaps of glittering armor, and jewels of silver and jewels of gold, and banner and shield and spear, with millions and millions of little sea-fairies, and Robin Goodfellows, and giants and dwarfs, and the funniest-looking monsters you ever heard of; and the waters were all bright with fairy-lamps that were alive, and with ribbons that were alive, and with changeable flowers that swam about and whispered to each other in a language of their own; and there were great heaps of pearl washed up into drifts and ridges, and a pile of the strangest-looking old-fashioned furniture, of gold and ivory, and little mermaids with their dolls not longer than your finger, with live fishes for tails, jumping about and playing hide-and-seek with the sun-spots and star-fishes, and the striped water-snakes of the Indian seas,--the most brilliant and beautiful of all the creatures that live there.
And while she was looking about her, and wondering at all she saw, she happened to think once more of the _forget-me-not_, and to wish herself back again! At that instant she heard a great heavy bell booming and tolling,--she knew it was tolling--and she knew she was too late--and she knew that her mother was dead of a broken heart,--and she fell upon her face, and stretched forth her hands with a shriek, and prayed God to forgive her! and allow her to see her mother once more,--only once more!
"Why, what ails the child?" whispered somebody that seemed to be stooping over her.
It was her mother's voice! and poor Ruth was afraid to look up lest it should all vanish forever.
"Upon my word, Sarah," said another voice,--it was her father's,--"upon my word, Sarah, I do not know; but the poor little creature's thoughts appear to have undergone another change. I have heard nothing to-day of the forget-me-not which troubled her so the first week, have you?"
"She has mentioned it but once to-day, and then she shuddered; but perhaps we had better keep it in the glass till we see whether it will bear to be transplanted, for she seems to have set her little heart upon having that flower live; I wish I knew why!"
"Do you, indeed, mamma?" whispered poor Ruth, still without looking up; "well, then, I will tell you. That flower was given me by a fairy to make me remember my promises to you, my poor, dear, dead mamma; and so long as I water that every day at the same hour, so long I shall be growing better and better, and my poor dear mamma,--boo-hoo! boo-hoo!" and the little thing began to cry as if she would break her heart.
"Why, this is stranger than all," said the father. "I can't help thinking the poor child would be rational enough now, if she hadn't read so many fairy-books; but what a mercy it was, my dear Sarah, and how shall we ever be thankful enough, that you happened to be down there when she fell into the water."
"Ah!" Ruth Page began to hold her breath, and listen with the strangest feeling.
"Yes, Robert; but I declare to you, I am frightened whenever I think of the risk I ran by letting her fall in, head first, as I did."
Poor Ruth began to lift her head, and to feel about, and pinch herself to see if she was really awake.
"And then, too, just think of this terrible fever, and the strange, wild poetry she has been talking, day after day, about Fairy-land."
"Poetry! Fudge, Robert, fudge!"
Ruth looked up, full of amazement and joy, and whispered, "Fudge, father, fudge!" and the very next words that fell from her trembling lips as she sat looking at her mother, and pointing at a little bunch of forget-me-nots in full flower, that her mother had kept for her in a glass by the window, were these, "O mother! dearest mother! what a terrible dream I have had!"
"Hush, my love, hush! and go to sleep, and we will talk this matter over when you are able to bear it."
"Goody gracious, mamma!"
"There she goes again!" cried the father; "now we shall have another fit!"
"Hush, hush, my love! you must go to sleep now, and not talk any more."
"Well, kiss me, mamma, and let me have your hand to go to sleep with, and I'll try."
Her mother kissed the dear little thing, and took her hand in hers, and laid her cheek upon the pillow, and in less than five minutes she was sound asleep, and breathing as she hadn't breathed before since she had been fished out of the water, nearly three weeks back, on her way to Fairy-land.
A FADED LEAF OF HISTORY.
BY REBECCA HARDING DAVIS.
One quiet, snowy afternoon this winter, I found in a dark corner of one of the oldest libraries in the country a curious pamphlet. It fell into my hands like a bit of old age and darkness itself. The pages were coffee-colored, and worn thin and ragged at the edges, like rotting leaves in fall; they had grown clammy to the touch, too, from the grasp of so many dead years. There was a peculiar smell about the book which it had carried down from the days when young William Penn went up and down the clay-paths of his village of Philadelphia, stopping to watch the settlers fishing in the clear ponds or to speak to the gangs of yellow-painted Indians coming in with peltry from the adjacent forest.
The leaves were scribbled over with the name of John,--"John," in a cramped, childish hand. His father's book, no doubt, and the writing a bit of boyish mischief. Outside now, in the street, the boys were pelting each other with snowballs, just as this John had done in the clay-paths. But for nearly two hundred years his bones had been crumbled into lime and his flesh gone back into grass and roots. Yet here he was, a boy still; here was the old pamphlet and the scrawl in yellowing ink, with the smell about it still.
_Printed by Rainier Janssen_, 1698. I turned over the leaves, expecting to find a sermon preached before Andros, "for the conversion of Sadducees," or some "Report of the Condition of the Principalities of New Netherland, or New Sweden, for the Use of the Lord's High Proprietors thereof" (for of such precious dead dust this library is full); but I found, instead, wrapped in weighty sentences and backed by the gravest and most ponderous testimony, the story of a baby, "a Sucking Child six Months old." It was like a live seed in the hand of a mummy. The story of a baby and a boy and an aged man, in "the devouring Waves of the Sea; and also among the cruel devouring Jaws of inhuman Canibals." There were, it is true, other divers persons in the company, by one of whom the book is written. But the divers persons seemed to me to be only part of that endless caravan of ghosts that has been crossing the world since the beginning; they never can be anything but ghosts to us. If only to find a human interest in them, one would rather they had been devoured by inhuman cannibals than not. But a baby and a boy and an aged man!
All that afternoon, through the dingy windows of the old building, I could see the snow falling soft and steadily, covering the countless roofs of the city, and fancying the multitude of comfortable happy homes which these white roofs hid, and the sweet-tempered, gracious women there, with their children close about their knees. I thought I would like to bring this little live baby back to the others, with its strange, pathetic story, out of the buried years where it has been hidden with dead people so long, and give it a place and home among us all again.
I only premise that I have left the facts of the history unaltered, even in the names; and that I believe them to be, in every particular, true.
On the 22d of August, 1696, this baby, a puny, fretful boy, was carried down the street of Port Royal, Jamaica, and on board the "barkentine" Reformation, bound for Pennsylvania; a Province which, as you remember, Du Chastellux, a hundred years later, described as a most savage country which he was compelled to cross on his way to the burgh of Philadelphia, on its border. To this savage country our baby was bound. He had by way of body-guard his mother, a gentle Quaker lady; his father, Jonathan Dickenson, a wealthy planter, on his way to increase his wealth in Penn's new settlement; three negro men, four negro women, and an Indian named Venus, all slaves of the said Dickenson; the captain, his boy, seven seamen, and two passengers. Besides this defence, the baby's ship was escorted by thirteen sail of merchantmen under convoy of an armed frigate. For these were the days when, to the righteous man, terror walked abroad, in the light and the darkness. The green, quiet coasts were but the lurking-places of savages, and the green, restless seas more treacherous with pirates. Kidd had not yet buried his treasure, but was prowling up and down the eastern seas, gathering it from every luckless vessel that fell in his way. The captain, Kirle, debarred from fighting by cowardice, and the Quaker Dickenson, forbidden by principle, appear to have set out upon their perilous journey, resolved to defend themselves by suspicion, pure and simple. They looked for treachery behind every bush and billow; the only chance of safety lay, they maintained, in holding every white man to be an assassin and every red man a cannibal until they were proved otherwise.
The boy was hired by Captain Kirle to wait upon him. His name was John Hilliard, and he was precisely what any of these good-humored, mischievous fellows outside would have been, hired on a brigantine two centuries ago; disposed to shirk his work in order to stand gaping at Black Ben fishing, or to rub up secretly his old cutlass for the behoof of Kidd, or the French when they should come, while the Indian Venus stood by looking on, with the baby in her arms.
The aged man is invariably set down as chief of the company, though the captain held all the power and the Quaker all the money. But white hair and a devout life gave an actual social rank in those days, obsolete now, and Robert Barrow was known as a man of God all along the coast-settlements from Massachusetts to Ashley River, among whites and Indians. Years before, in Yorkshire, his inward testimony (he being a Friend) had bidden him go preach in this wilderness. He asked of God, it is said, rather to die; but was not disobedient to the heavenly call, and came and labored faithfully. He was now returning from the West Indies, where he had carried his message a year ago.
The wind set fair for the first day or two; the sun was warm. Even the grim Quaker Dickenson might have thought the white-sailed fleet a pretty sight scudding over the rolling green plain, if he could have spared time to his jealous eyes from scanning the horizon for pirates. Our baby, too, saw little of sun or sea; for, being but a sickly baby, with hardly vitality enough to live from day to day, it was kept below, smothered in the finest of linens and the softest of paduasoy.
One morning when the fog lifted, Dickenson's watch for danger was rewarded. They had lost their way in the night; the fleet was gone, the dead blue slopes of water rolled up to the horizon on every side and were met by the dead blue sky, without the break of a single sail or the flicker of a flying bird. For fifteen days they beat about without any apparent aim other than to escape the enemies whom they hourly expected to leap out from behind the sky-line. On the sixteenth day friendly signs were made to them from shore. "A fire made a great Smoak, and People beckoned to us to putt on Shoar," but Kirle and Dickenson, seized with fresh fright, put about and made off as for their lives, until nine o'clock that night, when, seeing two signal-lights, doubtless from some of their own convoy, they cried out, "The French! the French!" and tacked back again as fast as might be. The next day, Kirle being disabled by a jibbing boom, Dickenson brought his own terrors into command, and for two or three days whisked the unfortunate barkentine up and down the coast, afraid of both sea and shore, until finally, one night, he run her aground on a sand-bar on the Florida reefs. Wondering much at this "judgment of God," Dickenson went to work. Indeed, to do him justice, he seems to have been always ready enough to use his burly strength and small wit, trusting to them to carry him through the world wherein his soul was beleaguered by many inscrutable judgments of God and the universal treachery of his brother-man.
The crew abandoned the ship in a heavy storm. A fire was kindled in the bight of a sand-hill and protected as well as might be with sails and palmetto branches; and to this, Dickenson, with "Great trembling and Pain of Hartt," carried his baby in his own arms and laid it in its mother's breast. Its little body was pitiful to see from leanness, and a great fever was upon it. Robert Barrow, the crippled captain, and a sick passenger shared the child's shelter. "Whereupon two Canibals appeared, naked, but for a breech-cloth of plaited straw, with Countenances bloody and furious, and foaming at the Mouth"; but on being given tobacco, retreated inland to alarm the tribe. The ship's company gathered together and sat down to wait their return, expecting cruelty, says Dickenson, and dreadful death. Christianity was now to be brought face to face with heathenness, which fact our author seems to have recognized under all his terror. "We began by putting our trust in the Lord, hoping for no Mercy from these bloody-minded Creatures; having too few guns to use except to enrage them, a Motion arose among us to deceive them by calling ourselves Spaniards, that Nation having some influence over them"; to which lie all consented, except Robert Barrow. It is curious to observe how these early Christians met the Indians with the same weapons of distrust and fraud which have proved so effective with us in civilizing them since.
In two or three hours the savages appeared in great numbers, bloody and furious, and in their chronic state of foaming at the mouth. "They rushed in upon us, shouting 'Nickalees? Nickalees?' (Un Ingles.) To which we replied 'Espania.' But they cried the more fiercely 'No Espania, Nickalees!' and being greatly enraged thereat, seized upon all Trunks and Chests and our cloathes upon our Backs, leaving us each only a pair of old Breeches, except Robert Barrow, my wife, and child, from whom they took nothing." The king, or Cassekey, as Dickenson calls him, distinguished by a horse-tail fastened to his belt behind, took possession of their money and buried it, at which the good Quaker spares not his prayers for punishment on all pagan robbers, quite blind to the poetic justice of the burial, as the money had been made on land stolen from the savages. The said Cassekey also set up his abode in their tent; kept all his tribe away from the woman and child and aged man; kindled fires; caused, as a delicate attention, the only hog remaining on the wreck to be killed and brought to them for a midnight meal; and, in short, comported himself so hospitably, and with such kindly consideration toward the broad-brimmed Quaker, that we are inclined to account him the better-bred fellow of the two, in spite of his scant costume of horse-tail and belt of straw. As for the robbery of the ship's cargo, no doubt the Cassekey had progressed far enough in civilization to know that to the victors belong the spoils. Florida, for two years, had been stricken down from coast to coast by a deadly famine, and in all probability these cannibals returned thanks to whatever God they had for this windfall of food and clothes devoutly as our forefathers were doing at the other end of the country for the homes which they had taken by force. There is a good deal of kinship among us in circumstances, after all, as well as in blood. The chief undoubtedly recognized a brother in Dickenson, every whit as tricky as himself, and would fain, savage as he was, have proved him to be something better; for, after having protected them for several days, he came into their tent and gravely and with authority set himself to asking the old question, "Nickalees?"
"To which, when we denied, he directed his Speech to the Aged Man, who would not conceal the Truth, but answered in Simplicity, 'Yes.' Then he cried in Wrath 'Totus Nickalees!' and went out from us. But returned in great fury with his men, and stripped all Cloathes from us."
However, the clothes were returned, and the chief persuaded them to hasten on to his own village. Dickenson, suspecting foul play as usual, insisted on going to Santa Lucia. There, the Indian told him, they would meet fierce savages and undoubtedly have their throats cut, which kindly warning was quite enough to drive the Quaker to Santa Lucia headlong. He was sure of the worst designs on the part of the cannibal, from a strange glance which he fixed upon the baby as he drove them before him to his village, saying with a treacherous laugh, that after they had gone there for a purpose he had, they might go to Santa Lucia as they would.
It was a bleak, chilly afternoon as they toiled mile after mile along the beach, the Quaker woman far behind the others with her baby in her arms, carrying it, as she thought, to its death. Overhead, flocks of dark-winged grakles swooped across the lowering sky, uttering from time to time their harsh, foreboding cry; shoreward, as far as the eye could see, the sand stretched in interminable yellow ridges, blackened here and there by tufts of dead palmetto-trees; while on the other side the sea had wrapped itself in a threatening silence and darkness. A line of white foam crept out of it from horizon to horizon, dumb and treacherous, and licked the mother's feet as she dragged herself heavily after the others.
From time to time the Indian stealthily peered over her shoulder, looking at the child's thin face as it slept upon her breast. As evening closed in, they came to a broad arm of the sea thrust inland through the beach, and halted at the edge. Beyond it, in the darkness, they could distinguish the yet darker shapes of the wigwams, and savages gathered about two or three enormous fires that threw long red lines of glare into the sea-fog. "As we stood there for many Hour's Time," says Jonathan Dickenson, "we were assured these Dreadful Fires were prepared for us."
Of all the sad little company that stand out against the far-off dimness of the past, in that long watch upon the beach, the low-voiced, sweet-tempered Quaker lady comes nearest and is the most real to us. The sailors had chosen a life of peril years ago; her husband, with all his suspicious bigotry, had, when pushed to extremes, an admirable tough courage with which to face the dangers of sea and night and death; and the white-headed old man, who stood apart and calm, had received, as much as Elijah of old, a Divine word to speak in the wilderness, and the life in it would sustain him through death. But Mary Dickenson was only a gentle, commonplace woman, whose life had been spent on a quiet farm, whose highest ambition was to take care of her snug little house, and all of whose brighter thoughts or romance or passion began and ended in this staid Quaker and the baby that was a part of them both. It was only six months ago that this first-born child had been laid in her arms; and as she lay on the white bed looking out on the spring dawning day after day, her husband sat beside her telling her again and again of the house he had made ready for her in Penn's new settlement. She never tired of hearing of it. Some picture of this far-off home must have come to the poor girl as she stood now in the night, the sea-water creeping up to her naked feet, looking at the fires built, as she believed, for her child.
Toward midnight a canoe came from the opposite side, into which the chief put Barrow, Dickenson, the child, and its mother. Their worst fears being thus confirmed, they crossed in silence, holding each other by the hand, the poor baby moaning now and then. It had indeed been born tired into the world, and had gone moaning its weak life out ever since.
Landing on the farther beach, the crowd of waiting Indians fled from them as if frightened, and halted in the darkness beyond the fires. But the Cassekey dragged them on toward a wigwam, taking Mary and the child before the others. "Herein," says her husband, "was the Wife of the Canibal and some old Women sitting in a Cabbin made of Sticks about a Foot high, and covered with a Matt. He made signs for us to sitt down on the Ground, which we did. The Cassekey's Wife looking at my Child and having her own Child in her lapp, putt it away to another Woman, and rose upp and would not bee denied, but would have my Child. She took it and suckled it at her Breast, feeling it from Top to Toe, and viewing it with a sad Countenance."
The starving baby, being thus warmed and fed, stretched its little arms and legs out on the savage breast comfortably and fell into a happy sleep, while its mother sat apart and looked on.
"An Indian did kindly bring to her a Fish upon a Palmetto Leaf and set it down before her; but the Pain and Thoughts within her were so great that she could not eat."
The rest of the crew having been brought over, the chief set himself to work and speedily had a wigwam built in which mats were spread, and the shipwrecked people, instead of being killed and eaten, went to sleep just as the moon rose, and the Indians began "a Consert of hideous Noises," whether of welcome or worship they could not tell.
Dickenson and his band remained in this Indian village for several days, endeavoring all the time to escape, in spite of the kind treatment of the chief, who appears to have shared all that he had with them. The Quaker kept a constant, fearful watch, lest there might be death in the pot. When the Cassekey found they were resolved to go, he set out for the wreck, bringing back a boat which was given to them, with butter, sugar, a rundlet of wine, and chocolate; to Mary and the child he also gave everything which he thought would be useful to them. This friend in the wilderness appeared sorry to part with them, but Dickenson was blind both to friendship and sorrow, and obstinately took the direction against which the chief warned him, suspecting treachery, "though we found afterward that his counsell was good."
Robert Barrow, Mary, and the child, with two sick men, went in a canoe along the coast, keeping the crew in sight, who, with the boy, travelled on foot, sometimes singing as they marched. So they began the long and terrible journey, the later horrors of which I dare not give in the words here set down. The first weeks were painful and disheartening, although they still had food. Their chief discomfort arose from the extreme cold at night and the tortures from the sand-flies and mosquitoes on their exposed bodies, which they tried to remedy by covering themselves with sand, but found sleep impossible.
At last, however, they met the fiercer savages of whom the chief had warned them, and practised upon them the same device of calling themselves Spaniards. By this time, one would suppose, even Dickenson's dull eyes would have seen the fatal idiocy of the lie. "Crying out 'Nickalees, No Espanier,' they rushed upon us, rending the few Cloathes from us that we had; they took all from my Wife, even tearing her Hair out, to get at the Lace, wherewith it was knotted." They were then dragged furiously into canoes and rowed to the village, being stoned and shot at as they went. The child was stripped, while one savage filled its mouth with sand.
But at that the chief's wife came quickly to Mary and protected her from the sight of all, and took the sand out of the child's mouth, entreating it very tenderly, whereon the mass of savages fell back, muttering and angry.
The same woman brought the poor naked lady to her wigwam, quieted her, found some raw deerskins, and showed her how to cover herself and the baby with them.
The tribe among which they now were had borne the famine for two years; their emaciated and hunger-bitten faces gave fiercer light to their gloomy, treacherous eyes. Their sole food was fish and palmetto-berries, both of which were scant. Nothing could have been more unwelcome than the advent of this crowd of whites, bringing more hungry mouths to fill; and, indeed, there is little reason to doubt that the first intention was to put them all to death. But, after the second day, Dickenson relates that the chief "looked pleasantly upon my Wife and Child"; instead of the fish entrails and filthy water in which the fish had been cooked which had been given to the prisoners, he brought clams to Mary, and kneeling in the sand showed her how to roast them. The Indian women, too, carried off the baby, knowing that its mother had no milk for it, and handed it about from one to the other, putting away their own children that they might give it their food. At which the child, that, when it had been wrapped in fine flannel and embroidery had been always nigh to death, began to grow fat and rosy, to crow and laugh as it had never done before, and kick its little legs sturdily about under their bit of raw skin covering. Mother Nature had taken the child home, that was all, and was breathing new lusty life into it, out of the bare ground and open sky, the sun and wind, and the breasts of these her children; but its father saw in the change only another inexplicable miracle of God. Nor does he seem to have seen that it was the child and its mother who had been a protection and shield to the whole crew and saved them through this their most perilous strait.
I feel as if I must stop here with the story half told. Dickenson's narrative, when I finished it, left behind it a fresh, sweet cheerfulness, as if one had been actually touching the living baby with its fair little body and milky breath; but if I were to try to reproduce the history of the famished men and women of the crew during the months that followed, I should but convey to you a dull and dreary horror.
You yourselves can imagine what the journey on foot along the bleak coast in winter, through tribe after tribe of hostile savages, must have been to delicately nurtured men and women, naked but for a piece of raw deerskin and utterly without food save for the few nauseous berries or offal rejected by the Indians. In their ignorance of the coast they wandered farther and farther out of their way into those morasses which an old writer calls "the refuge of all unclean birds and the breeding-fields of all reptiles." Once a tidal wave swept down into a vast marsh where they had built their fire, and air and ground slowly darkened with the swarming living creatures, whirring, creeping about them through the night, and uttering gloomy, dissonant cries. Many of these strange companions and some savages found their way to the hill of oyster-shells where the crew fled, and remained there for the two days and nights in which the flood lasted.
Our baby accepted all fellow-travellers cheerfully; made them welcome, indeed. Savage, slave, and beast were his friends alike, his laugh and outstretched hands were ready for them all. The aged man, too, Dickenson tells us, remained hopeful and calm, even when the slow-coming touch of death had begun to chill and stiffen him, and in the presence of the cannibals assuring his companions cheerfully of his faith that they would yet reach home in safety. Even in that strange, forced halt, when Mary Dickenson could do nothing but stand still and watch the sea closing about them, creeping up and up like a visible death, the old man's prayers and the baby's laugh must have kept the thought of her far home very near and warm to her.
They escaped the sea to fall into worse dangers. Disease was added to starvation. One by one strong men dropped exhausted by the way, and were left unburied, while the others crept feebly on; stout Jonathan Dickenson taking as his charge the old man, now almost a helpless burden. Mary, who, underneath her gentle, timid ways, seems to have had a gallant heart in her little body, carried her baby to the last, until the milk in her breast was quite dried and her eyes grew blind, and she too fell one day beside a poor negress who, with her unborn child, lay frozen and dead, saying that she was tired, and that the time had come for her too to go. Dickenson lifted her and struggled on.
The child was taken by the negroes and sailors. It makes a mother's heart ache even now to read how these coarse, famished men, often fighting like wild animals with each other, staggering under weakness and bodily pain, carried the heavy baby, never complaining of its weight, thinking, it may be, of some child of their own whom they would never see or touch again.
I can understand better the mystery of that Divine Childhood that was once in the world, when I hear how these poor slaves, unasked, gave of their dying strength to this child; how, in tribes through which no white man had ever travelled alive, it was passed from one savage mother to the other, tenderly handled, nursed at their breasts; how a gentler, kindlier spirit seemed to come from the presence of the baby and its mother to the crew; so that, while at first they had cursed and fought their way along, they grew at the last helpful and tender with each other, often going back, when to go back was death, for the comrade who dropped by the way, and bringing him on until they too lay down, and were at rest together.
It was through the baby that deliverance came to them at last. The story that a white woman and a beautiful child had been wandering all winter through the deadly swamps was carried from one tribe to another until it reached the Spanish fort at St. Augustine. One day therefore, when near their last extremity, they "saw a Perre-augoe approaching by sea filled with soldiers, bearing a letter signifying the governor of St. Augustine's great Care for our Preservation, of what Nation soever we were." The journey, however, had to be made on foot; and it was more than two weeks before Dickenson, the old man, Mary and the child, and the last of the crew, reached St. Augustine.
"We came thereto," he says, "about two hours before Night, and were directed to the governor's house, where we were led up a pair of stairs, at the Head whereof stood the governor, who ordered my Wife to be conducted to his Wife's Apartment."
There is something in the picture of poor Mary, after her months of starvation and nakedness, coming into a lady's chamber again, "where was a Fire and Bath and Cloathes," which has a curious pathos in it to a woman.
Robert Barrow and Dickenson were given clothes, and a plentiful supper set before them.
St. Augustine was then a collection of a few old houses grouped about the fort; only a garrison, in fact, half supported by the king of Spain and half by the Church of Rome. Its three hundred male inhabitants were either soldiers or priests, dependent for supplies of money, clothing, or bread upon Havana; and as the famine had lasted for two years, and it was then three since a vessel had reached them from any place whatever, their poverty was extreme. They were all, too, the "false Catholicks and hireling Priests" whom, beyond all others, Dickenson distrusted and hated. Yet the grim Quaker's hand seems to tremble as he writes down the record of their exceeding kindness; of how they welcomed them, looking, as they did, like naked furious beasts, and cared for them as if they were their brothers. The governor of the fort clothed the crew warmly, and out of his own great penury fed them abundantly. He was a reserved and silent man, with a grave courtesy and an odd gentle care for the woman and child that make him quite real to us. Dickenson does not even give his name. Yet it is worth much to us to know that a brother of us all lived on that solitary Florida coast two centuries ago, whether he was pagan, Protestant, or priest.
When they had rested for some time, the governor furnished canoes and an escort to take them to Carolina,--a costly outfit in those days,--whereupon Dickenson, stating that he was a man of substance, insisted upon returning some of the charges to which the governor and people had been put as soon as he reached Carolina. But the Spaniard smiled and refused the offer, saying whatever he did was done for God's sake. When the day came that they must go, "he walked down to see us embark, and taking our Farewel, he embraced some of us, and wished us well saying that _We should forget him when we got amongst our own nation_; and I also added that _If we forgot him, God would not forget him_, and thus we parted."
The mischievous boy, John Hilliard, was found to have hidden in the woods until the crew were gone, and remained ever after in the garrison with the grave Spaniards, with whom he was a favorite.
The voyage to Carolina occupied the month of December, being made in open canoes, which kept close to the shore, the crew disembarking and encamping each night. Dickenson tells with open-eyed wonder how the Spaniards kept their holiday of Christmas in the open boat and through a driving northeast storm; praying, and then tinkling a piece of iron for music and singing, and also begging gifts from the Indians, who begged from them in their turn; and what one gave to the other that they gave back again. Our baby at least, let us hope, had Christmas feeling enough to understand the laughing and hymn-singing in the face of the storm.
At the lonely little hamlet of Charleston (a few farms cut out of the edge of the wilderness) the adventurers were received with eagerness; even the Spanish escort were exalted into heroes, and entertained and rewarded by the gentlemen of the town. Here too Dickenson and Kirle sent back generous gifts to the soldiers of St. Augustine, and a token of remembrance to their friend, the governor. After two months' halt, "on the eighteenth of the first month, called March," they embarked for Pennsylvania, and on a bright cold morning in April came in sight of their new home of Philadelphia. The river was gay with a dozen sail, and as many brightly painted Indian pirogues darting here and there; a ledge of green banks rose from the water's edge dark with gigantic hemlocks, and pierced with the caves in which many of the settlers yet lived; while between the bank and the forest were one or two streets of mud-huts and of curious low stone houses sparkling with mica, among which broad-brimmed Friends went up and down.
The stern Quaker had come to his own life and to his own people again; the very sun had a familiar home look for the first time in his journey. We can believe that he rejoiced in his own solid, enduring way; gave thanks that he had escaped the judgments of God, and closed his righteous gates thereafter on aught that was alien or savage.
The aged man rejoiced in a different way; for, being carried carefully to the shore by many friends, they knowing that he was soon to leave them, he put out his hand, ready to embrace them in much love, and in a tender frame of spirit, saying gladly that the Lord had answered his desire, and brought him home to lay his bones among them. From the windows of the dusky library I can see the spot now, where, after his long journey, he rested for a happy day or two, looking upon the dear familiar faces and waving trees and the sunny April sky, and then gladly and cheerfully bade them farewell and went onward.
Mary had come at last to the pleasant home that had been waiting so long for her, and there, no doubt, she nursed her baby, and clothed him in soft fooleries again; and, let us hope, out of the fulness of her soul, not only prayed, but, Quaker as she was, sang idle joyous songs, when her husband was out of hearing.
But the baby, who knew nothing of the judgments or mercy of God, and who could neither pray nor sing, only had learned in these desperate straits to grow strong and happy in the touch of sun and wind, and to hold out its arms to friend or foe, slave or savage, sure of a welcome, and so came closer to God than any of them all.
Jonathan Dickenson became a power in the new principality; there are vague traditions of his strict rule as mayor, his stately equipages and vast estates. No doubt, if I chose to search among the old musty records, I could find the history of his son. But I do not choose; I will not believe that he ever grew to be a man, or died.
He will always be to us simply a baby; a live, laughing baby, sent by his Master to the desolate places of the earth with the old message of Divine love and universal brotherhood to his children; and I like to believe, too, that as he lay in the arms of his savage foster-mothers, taking life from their life, Christ so took him into his own arms and blessed him.
A CHILD'S DREAM OF A STAR.
BY CHARLES DICKENS.
There was once a child, and he strolled about a good deal, and thought of a number of things. He had a sister, who was a child too, and his constant companion. These two used to wonder all day long. They wondered at the beauty of the flowers; they wondered at the height and blueness of the sky; they wondered at the depth of the bright water; they wondered at the goodness and the power of God who made the lovely world.
They used to say to one another, sometimes, Supposing all the children upon earth were to die, would the flowers, and the water, and the sky be sorry? They believed they would be sorry. For, said they, the buds are the children of the flowers, and the little playful streams that gambol down the hillsides are the children of the water; and the smallest bright specks playing at hide-and-seek in the sky all night, must surely be the children of the stars; and they would all be grieved to see their playmates, the children of men, no more.
There was one clear shining star that used to come out in the sky before the rest, near the church-spire, above the graves. It was larger and more beautiful, they thought, than all the others, and every night they watched for it, standing hand in hand at the window. Whoever saw it first, cried out, "I see the star!" And often they cried out both together, knowing so well when it would rise, and where. So they grew to be such friends with it, that before lying down in their beds, they always looked out once again, to bid it good night; and when they were turning round to sleep, they used to say, "God bless the star!"
But while she was still very young, O, very, very young, the sister drooped, and came to be so weak that she could no longer stand in the window at night; and then the child looked sadly out by himself, and when he saw the star, turned round and said to the patient pale face on the bed, "I see the star!" and then a smile would come upon the face, and a little weak voice used to say, "God bless my brother and the star!"
And so the time came, all too soon! when the child looked out alone, and when there was no face on the bed; and when there was a little grave among the graves, not there before; and when the star made long rays down towards him, as he saw it through his tears.
Now, these rays were so bright, and they seemed to make such a shining way from earth to heaven, that when the child went to his solitary bed, he dreamed about the star; and dreamed that, lying where he was, he saw a train of people taken up that sparkling road by angels. And the star, opening, showed him a great world of light, where many more such angels waited to receive them.
All these angels who were waiting turned their beaming eyes upon the people who were carried up into the star; and some came out from the long rows in which they stood, and fell upon the people's necks, and kissed them tenderly, and went away with them down avenues of light, and were so happy in their company, that lying in his bed he wept for joy.
But there were many angels who did not go with them, and among them one he knew. The patient face that once had lain upon the bed was glorified and radiant, but his heart found out his sister among all the host.
His sister's angel lingered near the entrance of the star, and said to the leader among those who had brought the people thither,--
"Is my brother come?"
And he said, "No."
She was turning hopefully away, when the child stretched out his arms, and cried, "O sister, I am here! Take me!" And then she turned her beaming eyes upon him and it was night; and the star was shining into the room, making long rays down towards him as he saw it through his tears.
From that hour forth the child looked out upon the star as on the home he was to go to, when his time should come; and he thought that he did not belong to the earth alone, but to the star too, because of his sister's angel gone before.
There was a baby born to be a brother to the child; and while he was so little that he never yet had spoken word, he stretched his tiny form out on his bed and died.
Again the child dreamed of the opened star, and of the company of angels, and the train of people, and the rows of angels with their beaming eyes all turned upon those people's faces.
Said his sister's angel to the leader,--
"Is my brother come?"
And he said, "Not that one, but another."
As the child beheld his brother's angel in her arms, he cried, "O sister, I am here! Take me!" And she turned and smiled upon him, and the star was shining.
He grew to be a young man, and was busy at his books when an old servant came to him and said,--
"Thy mother is no more. I bring her blessing on her darling son!"
Again at night he saw the star, and all that former company. Said his sister's angel to the leader,--
"Is my brother come?"
And he said, "Thy mother!"
A mighty cry of joy went forth through all the star, because the mother was reunited to her two children. And he stretched out his arms and cried, "O mother, sister, and brother, I am here! Take me!" And they answered him, "Not yet." And the star was shining.
He grew to be a man whose hair was turning gray, and he was sitting in his chair by the fireside, heavy with grief, and with his face bedewed with tears, when the star opened once again.
Said his sister's angel to the leader, "Is my brother come?"
And he said, "Nay, but his maiden daughter."
And the man who had been the child saw his daughter, newly lost to him, a celestial creature among those three, and he said, "My daughter's head is on my sister's bosom, and her arm is round my mother's neck, and at her feet there is the baby of old time, and I can bear the parting from her, God be praised!"
And the star was shining.
Thus the child came to be an old man, and his once smooth face was wrinkled, and his steps were slow and feeble, and his back was bent. And one night as he lay upon his bed, his children standing round, he cried, as he had cried so long ago,--
"I see the star!"
They whispered one another, "He is dying."
And he said, "I am. My age is falling from me like a garment, and I move towards the star as a child. And O, my Father, now I thank thee that it has so often opened, to receive those dear ones who await me!"
And the star was shining; and it shines upon his grave.