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Yet I dream my dreams and attend to my castles in Spain. I have so much property there that I could not in conscience neglect it.
All the years of my youth and hopes of my manhood are stored away, like precious stones, in the vaults; and I know that I shall find everything elegant, beautiful, and convenient when I come into possession.
As the years go by, I am not conscious that my interest diminishes.
Shall I tell a secret? Shall I confess that sometimes when I have been sitting reading to my Prue “ Cymbe. line,” perhaps, or a Canterbury tale, I have seemed to see clearly before me the broad highway to my castles in Spain, and, as she looked up from her work and smiled in sympathy, I have even fancied that I was almost there?
Notes. This extract is from “ Prue and I,” a volume of delightful sketches on social topics, published in 1856.
Castles in Spain, or air castles, are expressions used to designate visionary projects that will probably never be realized.
Where shall wisdom be found?
It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir,
No mention shall be made of coral or of pearls ;
Whence, then, cometh wisdom ?
Destruction and Death say,
When He made a decree for the rain,
- From the Book of Job.
THE RELIEF OF LUCKNOW.
(From a letter to the London Times, by a lady, the wife of an officer at Lucknow.]
On every side death stared us in the face ; no human skill could avert it any longer. We saw the moment approach when we must bid farewell to earth, yet without feeling that unutterable horror which must have been experienced by the unhappy victims at Cawnpore. We were resolved rather to die than to yield, and were fully persuaded that in twenty-four hours all would be over. The engineer had said so, and all knew the worst. We women strove to encourage each other, and to perform the light duties which had been assigned to us, such as conveying orders to the batteries, and supplying the men with provisions, especially cups of coffee, which we prepared day and night.
I had gone out to try to make myself useful, in company with Jessie Brown, the wife of a corporal in my husband's regiment. Poor Jessie had been in a state of restless excitement all through the siege, and had fallen away visibly within the last few days. A constant fever consumed her, and her mind wandered occasionally, especially that day when the recollections of home seemed powerfully present to her. At last, overcome with fatigue, she lay down on the ground, wrapped up in her plaid. I sat beside her, promising to awaken her when, as she said, her father should return from the plowing."
She fell at length into a profound slumber, motionless and apparently breathless, her head resting in my lap. I myself could no longer resist the inclination to sleep, in spite of the continual roar of the cannon. Suddenly I
was aroused by a wild, unearthly scream close to my ear; my companion stood upright beside me, her arms raised, and her head bent forward in the attitude of listening.
A look of intense delight broke over her countenance. She grasped my hand, drew me toward her, and exclaimed: “ Dinna ye hear it ? dinna ye hear it? Aye. I'm no dreaming: it's the slogan o' the Highlanders! We're saved! we're saved !” Then flinging herself on her knees, she thanked God with passionate fervor.
I felt utterly bewildered ; my English ears heard only the roar of artillery, and I thought my poor Jessie was still raving, but she darted to the batteries, and I heard her cry incessantly to the men : “ Courage ! courage ! Hark to the slogan — to the Macgregor, the grandest of them a'! Here's help at last!”
To describe the effect of these words upon the soldiers would be impossible. For a moment they ceased firing, and every soul listened with intense anxiety. Gradually, however, there arose a murmur of bitter disappointment, and the wailing of the women, who had flocked to the spot, burst out anew as the colonel shook his head. Our dull Lowland ears heard only the rattle of the musketry.
A few moments more of this deathlike suspense, of this agonizing hope, and Jessie, who had again sunk on the ground, sprang to her feet, and cried in a voice so clear and piercing that it was heard along the whole line: “ Will ye no believe it noo? The slogan has ceased, indeed, but the Campbells are comin'! D'ye hear? d’ye hear?”
At that moment all seemed indeed to hear the voice of God in the distance, when the pibroch of the Highlanders brought us tidings of deliverance ; for now there was no longer any doubt of the fact. That shrill, pene