Page images

When the man had left the room, evidently very much astonished at finding me as I was, I began to revolve in my mind the events which had occurred during the evening and night. I perfectly recollected the extraordinary scene which had been performed, and felt conscious of the responsibility which I had taken upon myself—nor was I, in the slightest degree, affected by it; because I was sure that Harriet was a loveable creature, and that, after all, as Mr. Wells had said, matrimony gave a man a place and respectability; and that I should be delighted whenever the moon shone, to walk about with my dear blue-eyed girl and look at it, and talk about it; and then she was such an affectionate daughter, there could be no doubt but she would make a kind, dutiful wife; and she was such a kind sister, that she must make a tender mother, and so on; and I was charmed with the prospect, until I began to consider, what I always had considered before when in my sober senses, the power of three hundred and forty pounds a-year to afford those comforts, not to say luxuries of life, which a well-bred woman absolutely requires.

“Of course,” said I to myself, “ as I never made any disguise of the smallness of my income, Mr. Wells must intend to put us at least beyond the difficulties of the world; and if he contributes an equal sum to my own income, I do think with management something like seven hundred a-year will do-a cottage-a cow

--and content; nothing can be more charming and more rational.” And so, by the time I had changed my costume in order to breakfast with “ the family," I had worked myself up into the belief that the thing would answer; always, however, with a proviso, that the events which I had registered in my mind of the previous evening had not occurred in a dream, instead of being realities.

I scarcely knew how to excuse myself from Mr. and Mrs. Woodbridge at breakfast ; however, as the thing was done, in the course of the day I should be able to make one general apology for my apparent ill-breeding in passing so much of my time at the Wellses”; and I resolved to make my retreat as early as possible, so as to avoid the questions of my kind host, or the significant looks of his lady, who I knew was perfectly aware of that of which I myself was utterly unconscious, that I had been caught. Harriet was an interesting creature, and that is the truth of it, and Mrs. Woodbridge was too much a woman of the world not to see what was going on. What may be thought of the policy or delicacy of Mr. Wells's conduct, I know nothing; but I have seriously reflected upon it very frequently since-however, it was une affaire finie, and so away I went, looking like a simpleton and feeling like a fool, to be received in his house as the affianced husband of his darling daughter.

The Judgment of Paris.



I. ONCE upon a time there lived an aged shepherd, whose numerous flocks and herds covered the green busom of Mount Ida. The vicinity of the Trojan capital afforded a ready and an ample market for his stock, and being a man of an enterprising and a speculative turn of mind, he had succeeded, in the course of a long career, in accumulating considerable wealth. Prosperity, however, had never tempted the old Marenor to depart from the simple and frugal manners which had doubtless not a little contributed to his success. Upon a gentle elevation of Ida, screened from the north wind by a grove of pines, rose the humble dwelling where he lived, surrounded by his serving men, sharing with them the same food, and presiding over their diversions, as in due season he would join them in their labour, and direct them in their duties. Marenor had one son, born to him in his old age, yet beautiful as if he were the child of youth and passion. The name of his son was Paris--a shepherd like his father, but the leader of the youth of Ida—the hero of their gamesand the champion of their frightened flocks, when winter drove the wild beasts from the mountain heights, and the lion was detected, at the break of dawn, lapping his blood-stained jaws in the waters of Scamander or Simois.

Young, brave, beautiful, and popular, ignorant of the world, and innocent of heart, no one could lead a happier and more contented life than Paris. With no wants that were not easily gratified, and no cares that ever lasted longer than an hour, he tended his flocks and followed the chace, sang with the sunrise and danced in the moonlight, and deemed that Jupiter or the Fates could afford him no happier destiny than to be greeted every eve with the blessing of his father, and the smiles of his mistress; for, like all men of sense and spirit, our shepherd had a mistress, deeming indeed that life without love was not a little like the dried-up course of one of his mountain-torrents-a very barren and rugged affair indeed. (Enone was the name of the exquisite being to whom he had pledged his vows of faith and affection, and surely no painter, in his most favoured dreams, had ever fancied a more nymph-like form than this beauty of Ida. She was amiable too as fair-frank, generous, and devoted; and as eminent among her own sex as Paris himself among his companions. No one danced with more grace or sang with more sweetness; she could follow the chace too with her quiver and her bow, and share the perils of Paris as well as his pleasures. The old Marenor smiled with complacency on the choice of his son, and it was understood

among all the inhabitants of Ida that ere the obedient flocks yielded their annual tribute of wool to their prosperous master, or the grapes were plucked in his jocund vineyards, his neighbours would be invited to repair in procession to the neighbouring fane of Neptune, and celebrate the nuptials of Paris and Enone.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

II. Amid these gladsome anticipations, the venerable Marenor was seized with a violent illness. His friends in alarm hastened to fetch to his assistance an ancient herdsman, famous for his knowledge of simples, in whose science they reposed implicit faith ; but Marenor, who knew that his hour was come, requested to be left alone with his son.

· My child,” exclaimed the venerable shepherd, ere the sun may sink behind the mountains, I shall be gathered to our fathers. Behold, there is something heavy on my mind, listen, then, while I yet have power to speak. Know, that while I have educated you in the simple career which we have pursued together on our native hills, I have in silence amassed an immense treasure. Once it was my proud hope that my Paris should mingle with the great ones of the land, and that society should forget in the grandeur of his posterity the humility of his ancestors. But when I observed you happy and innocent, I asked myself, 'Canst thou mend this ? and this, oh, frail mortal! wouldst thou make better ?' My treasure is hidden where none can discover it, and for your sake, my child, I had resolved it should never be discovered ; but now that the hand of death is upon me, the weakness of my nature reasserts itself— I would not that my creation should share my doom-I cannot endure the thought that my treasure should also die. Obtain it then, my child; obtain it, and, if possible, be happier than you are. Know then, that beneath the spot where the altar in my garden rises to Pan, there is a cave-I can no more -Paris, you were happy-you are wealthy—you may yet be wise.” So saying, the old man died.

III. It is certain that there is no incident which produces a greater revolution in the characters of men than their sudden and unexpected accession to a great fortune. Paris was the most affectionate of sons. Under any other circumstances he would have been absolutely overwhelmed with grief for the deprivation which he had just experienced, but when, after having closed the eyes of the venerable Marenor, he knelt by the side of the paternal couch, and pressed to his agitated lips the hand of the beloved corpse, it was in vain that he attempted to concentrate his meditations on the awful event that had just occurred. Other thoughts and images would interfere, and from his father's sudden death to his father's unexpected fortune was one of those irresistible transitions which even the mind of the dutiful Paris could not withstand. Plunged in a reverie on the sorrowful event that had just happened, and the extraordinary communication that had just been made, Paris remained until the beams of the rising moon entered the chamber, and lifting his head from the drapery of the couch in which it had hitherto been hid, Paris beheld the ghastly countenance of Marenor.

It was then that, pressing once more to his lips the insensible hand that he had so long clasped, Paris arose and stepped forth into the garden. The stars were shining brightly, and, by the position of the moon, he discovered that he had been unconsciously closeted with his father's body for several hours. All was silent. Before him rose, tipped with the moonlight, the piny grove in which was situated the altar of Pan. He gazed upon it for some moments with a glance which indicated his


blended desire and doubt; his eager anxiety to ascertain whether it indeed was the seat of surpassing treasures, or whether, in indulging such imaginations, he were not all this time the victim of some maddening dream. He recalled to himself with an effort the very tones of his father's voice, the very phrases in which Marenor had imparted to him this marvellous secret. And he then remembered that his father was dead. As the fast-flowing tears coursed down his face, he cursed himself that, at such a moment, he could think of anything but this fatal loss.

The son of Marenor re-entered the house. All was still. The household, wearied with watching, were buried in sleep. Unwilling to disturb Paris, and disinclined themselves on such a night to retire to formal repose, they had unconsciously sunk to rest, and were lying in different positions on the divan of the hall. A single lamp burned in the centre of the chamber, and by it, on this night of disorder, some careless peasants had thrown their rustic implements,-some crooks and goads, a mattock and a spade.

Suddenly Paris seized the lamp, the spade, and the mattock, and again quitted the house. Swiftly, but cautiously, he gained the grove, and stood before the altar. It was a small, thick, stunted-looking pillar of marble about two feet in height, and sculptured with a semblance of the god in rude relief. Putting aside his lamp and his instruments, Paris embraced the altar, and, with a vigorous effort, raised it from the carth, and flung it on the neighbouring turf. With the aid of his lamp, for the moon scarcely penetrated through the glimmering grove, he detected a brazen plate of the exact circumference of the altar. Over this he passed his hand several times with great care, until at length he pressed upon a spring, and the brazen door disappeared into the earth, affording an aperture through which a man's body might with difficulty penetrate. Paris, however, contrived to descend, holding his lamp above his head, and at length found a firm footing on a regular flight of steps. At its termination he paused before a low portal of braes, which he surveyed with the excitement which accompanies us in an adventure half achieved. It yielded to his pressure, and admitted him into a circular chamber, which, to his surprise, was not wholly dark, but illumined by a strange lurid and fitful glow, of which the cause was not apparent. Around the chamber were arranged a hundred vases, each of a man's height. Paris perceived, with breathless admiration, that they were filled with gold coin. Above each vase, in a small niche carved in the rock, was a casket filled with precious stones; and above each niche, depending nearly from the top of the cavern, was a chaplet of pearls larger than the choicest almonds he had ever plucked among the woods of Ida for his beloved Enone. Now, too, was it that he detected that the strange light that had so perplexed him on first entering the cavern was occasioned by a huge carbuncle which studded the very centre of the vault.

He stood in the midst of all this mighty wealth of which he was the master. Here were treasures for which kings might sigh; gems that might pale the diadem of Troy, and for which the princesses of the earth might come forward and kneel. Visions of splendour and magnificence rose in his mind, gorgeous as those material spectacles on which he gazed in silent and ravished wonderment. He stood, indeed, amid his riches a man changed in all his thoughts, and hopes, and feelings. Fate had invested him with mighty power, and he felt bound

to exercise it. He required a fitting stage for his becoming exploits. His pastoral heart deserted him. Nature had formed him beautiful; fortunately he was in the very flush of youth; everything now seemed, at his command. And Vanity whispered that everything should be commanded.

From each vase he took a piece of gold, which he secured in his girdle: he filled his pouch with the most precious gems; and he wound a chaplet of pearls round his neck. Thus furnished, Paris quitted the cavern, closed the brazen door, ascended the steps, fixed the plate, and placed the altar exactly on its old foundation. · Carefully ascertaining that everything had assumed its accustomed appearance, he returned to his home.

IV. Silent and thoughtful, Paris lingered at Ida until the obsequies of his father were consummated. His uncommunicative moodiness was ascribed by his friends to his grief, and they extended to him, in consequence, even a warmer sympathy. There was, however, one among them who felt that she, at least, could scarcely exhibit her sympathy at such a moment merely by silence. It was on the afternoon ensuing the funeral of Marenor that Enone ventured to approach Paris. She had observed him alone, reclining on a bank beneath the shade of a cypress, and plunged, as she doubted not, in sorrowful meditation. She approached him unperceived, and she attracted his attention by kneeling at his side, and pressing his hand to her lips. “Enone !” said Paris, looking round, in a faint voice.

My Paris !” said the beautiful girl ; " would that I could bear all your grief, and not merely share it."

He smiled upon her languidly, but did not reply.

“ Death is the doom of all,” said (Enone, with the tears trembling in her

eyes. “ Let us be grateful that, at least, your father's life was happy.”

And his death too,” replied Paris. “Marenor was full of years, and has closed, without a pang, his prosperous career,-yes, his eminently prosperous career, none. It is bitter to lose a father; and yet, under all circumstances, I have great sources of consolation,—very great sources of consolation indeed."

“How good you are, dear Paris !” said none, again pressing his hand to her lips.

“ I feared—we all feared—that you were giving way too much to your most natural grief. You have much to live for, my Paris. You are our master now: we all look up to you, now that good Marenor is dead.”

“ I feel but little inclined to be your guide,” said Paris, not in the most amiable tone, whose thoughts, indeed, were rather at Troy than at Ida.

(Enone looked a little astonished.

“ Sweet Paris, without you what should we be ? What should I be, my Paris?"

"I see you come in good time to remind me of your rights,” replied Paris, somewhat harshly, and annoyed at being disturbed in a reverie about princesses.

“ My Paris !” exclaimed the amiable and astonished (Enone; you are unjust.",

« PreviousContinue »