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inmates of the Black Hound hurried up stairs; and stood round the traveller's bed, peeping dubiously over one another's shoulders, and prepared for immediate flight if there should arise occasion for it.
The stranger called for a pipe. It was brought to him; and in half a minute he was hidden from their gaze in a veil of impenetrable smoke. Then they heard his solemn and sonorous voice, speaking thus from the darkness.
“I have marred your mirth, my friends, this evening ; I will revive it by a song. An old stave it is, and there is a moral in its rhymes. If ye find it not, I beseech ye remember that there are mysteries in heaven, and earth, and the wide ocean, which move the sage to meditate, and the poet to dream, and the fool to laugh ;—but they are inscrutable alike to all.” And without further preface he began his strange song; renewing between every stanza the cloud in which he was enveloped.
There is a traveller on a steed,
From the city of his birth;
Ere ever he loose a girth,
There is a mariner in a bark,
Ploughing the billows hoar;
Ere ever he come to shore.
There is a race that was never won;
But no man knows the ending;
And still that suit is pending.,
What is the life of mortal man?
A welcome and farewell ;-
The stranger's never was finished! The clock of the distant monastery struck twelve. He was silent,motionless,-dead. . “ For mercy's sake! Frank,” said Lady Olivia, “ do let me know something of your hero. What was his name ? and what was there in his crimson bag? and what had he to confess? and whence did he come, and whither did he go?”
“ His name, Lady Olivia, was never ascertained; for the signature upon the will was perfectly illegible. His crimson bag was empty. And for his confession, of course it was between his conscience and his ghostly comforter. It was never divulged. I might have invented a confession on purpose for him, full of murders and treasons, ghosts and hobgoblins, sulphur and brimstone, but I scorn such frauds. I will add nothing to the truth.”
“ Then you have nothing more to tell us ?”
“ Nothing. Unless you are interested in the fate of the dead man's horse. There never was such an untameable beast. It ran away with a minister of state, dislocated a bishop's collar-bone, and flung, successively, a whole regiment of Walloons. At last, it came into the possession of a functionary of the Holy Inquisition, and in his hands was as quiet as a lamb.”
It was voted too late to begin another story that evening; and the following morning, upon hearing that Sir Jacob had resigned, the party broke up by common consent, and returned to Town. Lady Olivia has grieved ever since for the failure of her scheme; though she has consoled herself by hanging up a large piece of canvas in her drawing-room, in which she is framed and glazed, in the character of Pampinea.
TO A CHILD BLOWING BUBBLES.
BY ALARIC A. WATTS.
Ah, that I were once more a careless child.
Turice happy Babe! what golden dreams are thine,
As thus thou bidd'st thine air-born bubbles soar ;Who would not Wisdom's choicest gifts resign,
To be, like thee, “a careless child” once more!
Thy breathless wonder, thy unfeigned delight,
In swift succession, from thy straining sight!
To feel a power within himself to make,
Like thee, a rainbow wheresoe'er he goes ; To dream of sunshine, and like thee to wake
To brighter visions, from his charmed repose !
Who would not give his all of worldly lore,
The hard-earned fruits of many a toil and care, Might he but thus the faded past restore,
Thy guileless thoughts and blissful ignorance share!
The sterner dreams of man's maturer years ;
But melt, 'neath Truth's Ithuriel-touch, lo tears!
(What new illusion e'er can match the first!) We weep to see each cherished hope decline ;
Thy mirth is loudest when thy bubbles burst!