Page images
PDF
EPUB

not fine upon fo fair, fo quick-witted, and amiable a maid; and better fate did Maria deferve, than to have her banns forbid, by the intrigues of the curate of the parish who published them

He was going on, when Maria, who had made a short pause, put the pipe to her mouth and began the air againthey were the same notes ;-yet were ten times sweeter. It is the evening service to the Virgin, said the young manbut who has taught her to play it—or how she came by her pipe, no one knows: we think that Heaven has affifted her in both; for ever since she has been usettled in her mind, it seems her only consolation-- she has never once had the pipe out of her hand, but plays that service upon it almost night and day.

The postilion delivered this with fo much discretion and natural eloquence, that I could not help decyphering something in his face above his condition, and should have fifted out his history, had not poor Maria taken such full poffefsion of me.

We had got up by this time almost to the bank where Maria was fitting : she was in a thin white jacket, with her hair, all but two tresses, drawn up in a silk net, with a few olive leaves twisted a little fantastically on one side-he was beautiful; and if ever I felt the full force of an honest heart-ach, it was the moment I saw her

God help her! poor damfel! above a hundred masses, faid the poftilion, have been said in the several parishchurches and convents around for her-but without effect; we have ftill hopes, as she is sensible for fort intervals, that the Virgin at last will restore her to herself; but her parents, who know her best, are hopeless upon that score, and think her senses are lost for ever. D 6.1

As

As the poftilion spoke, this, Maria made a cadence so melancholy, so tender and querulous, that I sprung out of the chaise to help her, and found myself fitting betwixt her and her goat, before I relapsed from my enthusiasm.

Maria looked wistfully for some time at me, and then at her goat and then at me—and then at her goat again, and so on alternately

-WELL, MARIA, said I softly-What resemblance do you find ?

I do entreat the candid reader to believe me, that it was from the humbleft conviction of what a beast man is that 1 asked the question; and that I would not have let fall an unfeasonable pleasantry in the venerable presence of Mifery, to be entitled to all the wit that ever Rabelais scattered:

AD.EU, Maria !-adieu, poor hapless damsel !--some time, but not now, I may hear thy sorrows from thy own lips-but I was deceived: for that moment she took her pipe, and told me such a tale of wo with it, that I rose up, and with broken and irregular steps walked softly to my chaises

SECOND PART. When we had got within half a league of Moulines, at a little opening in the road leading to a thicket, I discovered poor Maria fitting under a poplar~he was fitting with her elbow in her lap, and her head leaning on one side within her hand-a small brock run at the foot of the tree.

I BADE the poftilion go on with the chaise to Moulines ----and La Fleur to be peak my supper-and that I would Falk after him.

Sao

She was dressed in white, and much as my friend described her, except that her hair hung loose, which before was twisted within a filk net. She had, fuperadded likewise to her jacket, a pale green riband, which fell across her shoulder to the waist; at the end of which hung her pipe. Her goat had been as faithless as her lover; and she had got a little dog in lieu of him, which she had kept tied by a string to her girdle; as I looked at her dog, she drew him towards her with the firing-" Thou shalt not leave me Sylvio!” said she. I looked in Maria's eyes, and saw she was thinking more of her father than of her lover or her little goat; for as she uttered them, the tears trickled down her cheeks.

I sat down close by her, and Maria let me wipe them away as they fell, with my handkerchief. I then steeped it in my own and then in her's—and then in mine and then I wiped hers again-and as I did it, I felt such undefcribable emotions within me, as I am sure could not be account. ed for from any combinations of matter and motion.

I am pofitive I have a soul; nor can all the books, with which materialists have peitered the world, ever convince me of the contrary.

When Maria had come a little to herself, I asked her if shę remembered a pale thin person of a man who had fat down betwixt her and her goat about two years before? She said, she was unsettled much at that time, but remembered it upon two accounts -that, ill as she was, she saw the person pitied her; and next, that her goat had stolen his handkerchief, and she had beat him for the theft--he had washed it, she said, in the brook, and kept it ever since in her pocket, to restore it to him in case she should ever see him again, *hich the added, he had half promised her. As the told

me this, she took the handkerchief out of her pocket to let me fee it: she had folded it up neatly in a couple of vine leaves, tied round with a tendril on opening it, I saw an S marked in one of the corners..

She had since that, she told me, strayed as far as Rome, and walked round St. Peter's once and returned back:that she found her way alone across the Appenines-had travelled all over Lombardy without money—and through the finty roads of Savoy without shoes : how he had borne it, and how she had got supported, she could not tell -but God tempers the wind, said Maria, to the shorn lamb.

Shorn indeed! and to the quick, said I: and wast thou in my own land, where I have a cottage, I would take thee to it and shelter thee; thou shouldst eat of

my wn bread, and drink of my own cup-I would be kind to thy Sylvio -in all thy weaknesses and wanderings I would seek after thee, and bring thee back-when the sun went down I would say my prayers, and when I had done, thou shouldit. play thy evening song upon thy pipe; nor would the incense of my facrifice be worse accepted, for entering hea. ven along with that of a broken heart.

NATURE melted within me, as I uttered this; and Maria: observing as I took out my handkerchief, that it was steeped too much already to be of use, would needs go wath it in the stream.And where will you dry it Maria ? said I. . - I will dry it in my bosom, said the-it will do me good.

And is your heart still so warn, Maria: said I.

I TOUCHED upon the string on which hung all her forrows she looked with wistful disorder for some time in

my

face; and then, without saying any thing, took her pipe, and played her service to the Virgin-The string I had touched ceased to vibrate-in a moment of two Maria returned to herself-let her pipe fall -and rose up.

AND

[ocr errors]

And where are you going Maria? said I. She said, to Moulines.- Let us go, faid I, together.- Maria put her arm within mine, and lengthening the string, to let the dog follow-in that order we entered Moulines.

THOUGH I hate falutations and' greetings in the marketplace, yet when we got into the middle of this, I stopped to take my last look and laft farewel of Maria.

MARIA, though not tall, was nevertheless of the first order of fine forms- Affliction had touched her looks with something that was scarce earthly-till she was feminine :and so much was there about her of all that the heart wilhes, or the eye looks for in woman, that could the traces be ever worn out of her brain, and those of Eliza's out of mine, she should not only eat of my bread and drink of my own cup, but Maria should lie in my bosom, and be unto me as a daughter.

Adieu, poor lucklefs maiden !-- imbibe the oil and wine which the compassion of a franger, as he journeyeth on his

way, now pours into thy wounds-the Being who has twice bruised thee can only bind them up for ever.

STERNE.

CHA P. XII.

THE CAME LION.
OFT it has been my lot to mark
A proud, conceited, talking spark,
With eyes, that hardly ferv'd at most
To guard their master 'gainit a post:
Yet round the world the blade has been
To see whatever could be seen,

Returning

« PreviousContinue »