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A TALE OF THE KREMLIN.
“You that are skill'd so well in the sad story
The deep, reverberating tones, which proceeded from one of the towers of the monastery of the Holy Trinity, proclaiming the soft hour of eventide, had died away, when, after the labouring hours of a sultry day, the peasantry who peopled the province of Novogorod, assembled in their various districts, to enjoy, what to them constituted the chief charm of life, their native rural sports. Among the number of these were the dwellers of Valdai, and its vicinity.
Nature, as if prodigal of her gifts in this part of the land of snows, and at this season of the year, had scattered, with unsparing hand, her abundance and embellishments around the base of the mountains of Valdai. Here, the rich natives of the shores of the Euxine, the red-barked Arbutus, is not unfrequently seen, cheering the vision with its foliage of perpetual green. At the foot, and on the sides of the mountains, thick waving woods, composed of pine, fir, alder, aspen, birch, and linden trees, give a majestic appearance and solemn grandeur to the scene, while rivers, lakes, and groves, complete a bona fide picture of Nature, such as the Arcadia of the poets never possessed.
Upon a level plot beside one of these lakes, a happy group, made up of either sex and of every age, had assembled: a dance had commenced, bearing a close resemblance to those of the Pyrrhic order, when the vesper hymn of the monks belonging to a noble monastery, which stood on an island in the lake, stole soothingly, and with something of an unearthly-like melody, across the waters, and staid awhile the cheerful villagers in their sports. The responses were indistinctly heard, as of some soft music, borne by the evening breeze, from the waving forests which rose in the distance: the chorus was more distinctly audible, and swelled, in powerful harmony, above the dashing sound of an adjacent waterfall.
Gently wanes the hours of day,
And the sun will leave us soon ;
Life's gay dawn-our being's noon.
Hours and years, -away, away ;
The peasants stood uncovered, listening with deepest attention, until the voices of the choristers could no longer be heard ; they then piously crossed themselves, and the dancers speedily resumed their diversion.
Apart from the cheerful company, stood a youthful individual of prepossessing appearance, over whose head it was evident not many more than twenty summer suns had passed. tall and graceful, while his contour proclaimed him of Slavonic extraction. His arms were folded, in moody bearing, upon his breast: for a few seconds he watched the mazy rounds of the native waltzes, and then, turning suddenly from the scene, which appeared to impart to him anything but pleasure, he sought concealment beneath the wide spreading foliage of the trees of the forest.
His precipitate departure had not been unnoticed; there was one amidst the revellers who was not so occupied as that the uneasiness and flight of the manly Sobiesky escaped her vigilant eye;—this was the lovely and affectionate Eudocia. She had recently observed an unusual cloud hanging on the brows of her beloved brother, without being able to acoount for the change. On all their hunting excursions he was ever foremost in danger and success; and in the gentler exercises at village fetes, Sobiesky had been the life: but in neither did he now appear to take delight;—loneliness and seclusion had recently become more suited to his taste.
Anxious to divert his mind, if possible, from its gloomy state, Eudocia had pressed him to attend the evening dance, and at length succeeded: he did not, however, as was his former practice, lead it off, or even join in it afterwards, but, as we have said, looked on, an unamused spectator, until, as if annoyed by the pleasantry of others, he abruptly turned away, and sought a musing place in the thickest shade. Thither Eudocia followed, and, before she reached the spot where he stood, she heard him, in tones of sorrow and mystery, lamenting concerning his birth, his father, and his future destiny.
The thickness of the leafy covert he had chosen, threw a gloom, bordering on darkness, over the place. The maiden beheld the object of her solicitude at a small distance from her, and stood, for a moment, gazing upon him, with a mixture of sorrow and delight. The figure of Eudocia needed not the exaggerations of the poet to pass it off; while the fair complexion, so natural to her countrywomen, which she possessed, had not been injured by the application of the juice of the echium Italicum to her cheeks. The glowing tinge which health had supplied, infinitely sur
passed all that the ruinous power of paint could have afforded, even for a short period. 'She was habited after the usual custom of the female peasants, and yet with a grace far above them
; wearing the seraphan, much like the ancient stola, while her light chesnut tresses were bound up
with the lenta, a ribbon like the vitta of Greece.
Sobiesky turned and saw her, and for awhile appeared to forget the internal emotions with which he was struggling; he instantly ran towards, and pressing her to his bosom, inquired, “What do you here, Eudocia?” “Nay, my
, dear brother," returned the maiden, as she looked most affectionately in his face, “that inquiry had better been made to, than by you, for certainly, had you not left the lawn so abruptly, I should not have been absent from it. But come now, my dear Sobiesky," she continued, placing her left hand fondly on his shoulder, as she took one of his in her right,“ tell me, my brother, what has of late made you so evidently unhappy: is it anything that may not be made known to your Eudocia ?”
Sobiesky started : thought seemed suddenly to have been revived, throwing him back again to the misery of his own reflections. He attempted at some excuse, but prevarication formed no part of his character, and he found he could but awkwardly assume what to him was not natural: at length he mournfully replied, “I may no longer call you sister; I must no more hear from your lips the hitherto always-delightful title of brother.”