Page images

"Tom's a light fellow, but right-thinking."


And honest Wat Tyrril with his monotonous Indian intonation, read aloud a description of a

"And I have no doubt she'll make him an ex-summer's ramble on a country brook-side. cellent wife."

"That life is a greater than the life of cities, friend Wat," said Sully.

"No doubt of it," said Sully. "The marriage, friend Sully, will take place in a week, they tell me, (I don't meddle with these matters.) and that will bring us to Christmas. We'll have a jolly time, my youngster." "No doubt. By-the-bye, Frank, when does the stage pass west again?"

“Why do you ask?”

[merged small][ocr errors]

-Forlorn Sully! how could you be happy in that quiet country-house, when in your own bosom was your misery. You had committed that unpardonable crime in a youth of sense, drawn on the bank of Love without a fund to answer your demand.


"Yes, Squire, and for why?"
"Tell me."

66 Pshaw! No business shall take you from for he loved from his own childhood the pure and Inglewood in that way!" unsullied hearts of children, more than the scheming and worldly-wise of older persons.

And so Frank went on urging, but I was determined in my purpose. See Fanny married before my eyes! I could not.

Frank set out on his morning ride promising to return in an hour, and I clapped on my hat, folded my arms and took my way through the pines to see the Angler once more at his island lodge.

The Angler wished him to go and angle with him in a favorite spot of his, but he was in too sad a mood, and slowly turned towards home. Kate sat in the stern, while he shot the little canoe across, and he thought she did not look at him.

"God is plainer and nearer all around us in the mountains," said Wat, solemnly, "you can't see his face in the city. Here you find him in the woods, in the river, and in the Ridge. He is all around you."

"True, Angler. Your's is the genuine creed." -And while he was speaking, Kate entered and flushed and started like a timid fawn at seeing a stranger; but Sully and she were old acquaintances, and soon they were talking cosily,

"He never had its equal in England, Wat." "But what he had he has written about as I could never write, Squire-never."

On the shore was Frank, Jr., pretending to be angling, lazily on a bank, while his eyes wandered ever and anon to the boat and the lodge.

Foolish, ridiculous Frank! Have you no eyes for aught save the cottage-beauty in her little hat of straw! But such is youth; and Sully—is he neither foolish nor ridiculous?

The Angler was in his lodge reading a book which Fanny had brought him, he said, on the day before, as his Christmas present, with his own name, " Walter Tyrril," written on a blank leaf in her own fair haud. Sully looked at it mournfully. It was · Izaak Walton's Complete Angler," and Wat Tyrril read it with the zest of a proficient in the joyous art.


"Squire," said he to Sully, "this is a real book that happened in earnest. What sport old Izaak might have had with me here on the quiet Shen-poor Sully. andoah, in these dark pools and eddies, under the shadow of the Ridge!"



The woods wore that clear and bare aspect, In the woods, bathed in the clear, golden sunwhich the glorious sun of the winter-Indian-sum-light, Fanny was rambling without an object; mer renders so plain. There is no other name for her eyes were fixed upon the ground, and her so appropriate for this breath of August, the an- fingers idly played with the string of her bonnet, cient "nurse of the Halcyon," in the midst of ice whose removal left her beautiful fair hair to float and snow. upon the wind. On seeing Sully she started. “Oh, you are down here, are you?" "As you see, fair cousin."

"And what were you thinking of?"
Sully was desperate.

"Of a marriage," he said, mournfully.
Fanny's laugh was a most musical laugh.
“Won't we have a gay time?" said she.
"No doubt," replied Sully.
"Then Tom is such a fine fellow."


"I have no doubt you think so,” murmured

“He has a rising practice too.”
"Has he?"

[ocr errors][merged small]

"I always thought they were suited to each his which reflects in its blue depths more plainly other-they are so contrary."

Who?" said Sully, starting.

than any memory the incidents here traced;-
and a touch is on his hand which long ago, in
the leafless wood, made his pulse throb with a
dreamy and passionate joy.

As they wandered hand-in-hand through that
old dim forest, near that winding stream, will
they wander through the light and shadow of the
world, and along the murmuring river of Time

L. I. L.

Va. March, 1851.

[ocr errors]


Why Tom and sister Judith."

Sully caught her haud.

And Tom Barry is not to be married tois to marry Judith ?"


Certainly didn't you know it?"

Why," said Sully, laughing with the lightest heart under heaven, "I thought Tom was to marry you."




Sully never heard such a ringing, rippling laugh.

[ocr errors]

Marry me? Tom Barry!"

Perhaps this time it was to hide a little confusion and a rising blush.

[blocks in formation]

Never did Inglewood rejoice so through all its borders, as on that happy and merry Christmas -never did the shouts of "Noël, Noël!" in the olden time so ring through the shaking rafters, as throughout that broad domain the bursts of merriment and full-hearted laughter. To tell of the joy, the uproar, the assembling of friends from far and near, with the noise of wheels and hoofs on the frosty ground, would be but a vain attempt. These things could not be depicted, and Sully lays down his pen.

Before him rise the eternal mountains, and yonder hawk looks down from his eyrie-oak on the dim windings of a noble river. All is beautiful and bright, and the heart is dimmed with the glories of the scene framing its olden menories. But Sully's thoughts are neither of the mountains, nor the river, nor the white clouds trailing over verdant meadows their mighty shadows, nor yet of the golden past.

As he raises his eye from the sheet, where he has jotted down these rambling and disconnected memories of that bygone time, his glance falls, behind his shoulder, on a rosy face framed in auburn curls, which speaks to him in every linea ment and expression of that happy and joyous past, more clearly than all else ;-an eye meets

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Farewell to thee, Virginia,-
This simple parting strain,
Is all that I can give thee now,
But I will come, again

To make my home with thee,

Thy flowers above me then shall bloom,
And thy mountains, oh Virginia,
Shall guard my lowly tomb!

Stony Point, Virginia.



All should be prophets to themselves; foresee
Their future fate; their future fate foretaste:
This art would waste the bitterness of death.
The thought of death alone the fear destroys;
A disaffection to that precious thought

Is more than midnight darkness on the soul,
Which sleeps beneath it, on a precipice,
Pull'd off by the first blasts, and lost forever.-Young.

Mr. Selden passed a sleepless night; the sudden death of poor Williams had not only shocked, but distressed him; all the days of their early friendship, the hours of careless gaiety and good fellowship they had enjoyed together, the scenes in which they had been engaged his looks, his words, his tone, when they parted for the last time, recurred to his memory; so many early associations and recollections were connected exclusively with the friend of his youth, that it made him feel as if a portion of his own life had been taken away with him, and the fearful suddenness of this event made him realize deeply, "that it is an awful thing to die." He would fain have recalled some expression of his departed friend, which showed that his thoughts ever dwelt with interest on any subject connected with his immortal weal-some action that could be traced with any probability to religious motives, but nothing recurred to his recollection. Indeed, he now remembered, with far more pain than it had given him at the time the conversation occurred, that when he last saw him, Mr. Williams had made several speeches, that led him to believe that he was infected with the prevailing notions of French philosophy, though he made no open avowal of infidelity.

And then, too, though Mr. Selden was eminently generous and liberal in all his feelings, he could not think of the possible consequences that might follow the death of Mr. Williams, if, as Dr. Irving intimated, he had left his affairs in great disorder, without sentiments of regret and self-reproach. If the consequences of his

imprudence could fall on himself alone, he should him, and touched by this evidence of his son's meet them with comparative indifference, but he generous affection, he relieved himself in some could not without great pain be the cause of pri- measure of the burthen that oppressed his heart, vations and embarrassments to his wife and chil- by expressing to him his apprehensions with redren, and this too, without even the comfort of gard to his own liabilities for Mr. Williams, the reflecting that he had really benefitted the family consequences of which, he said, he feared greatly of his friend by these sacrifices. Then a visit to more for his family than for himself. He was a house of mourning, when he had no consola- relieved to find that Reginald listened without tion to offer, under such peculiarly distressing surprise or dismay, and seemed quite prepared circumstances, was very oppressive to his mind; to meet any losses which might come upon them thick coming evils clouded his imagination, and with a brave and cheerful spirit. he felt for a time almost overwhelmed.

As the carriage approached Oak Hill, Mr. Selden's heart sank within him; the recollection of his old friend, his hearty greeting, his cordial shake of the hand, his merry laugh, came back unbidden with all the vividness of life, contrasting painfully with the reality of his melancholy fate, the proofs of which he was so soon to witness. Everything about the house and grounds bore the impress of their late owner's character and habits-the love of style, of display; the

Mrs. Selden conjectured truly as to the train of thought that was passing through her husband's mind, and the feelings to which it gave rise, and sought with the utmost tenderness and skill to fortify his mind and cheer his spirits. She answered his thoughts rather than his words, and by meeting the threatening evil bravely, and speaking openly and cheerfully of the pecuniary difficulties and embarrassments which might arise from his liabilities for Mr. Williams, and the spirit fickleness, the want of consistency, of minute in which she thought they ought to meet them, and patient industry, which had marked his course and by the more than usual gentleness and ten-through life. derness of her words and manner, greatly com- A highly ornamented gateway opened into the forted and sustained him. Happy the man who grounds which surrounded the mansion, and a has such a wife as Mary Selden; thrice happy porter's lodge stood near it, but no porter was to if he has the wisdom to appreciate the treasure he found. After sundry bawlings and remonhe possesses! Mr. Selden had supposed that strances, half coaxing, half angry, to a black he understood the whole worth of his wife's char-child, who was peeping through a broken winacter, but was convinced now that he had never dow at the carriage, old Thomas was compelled fully appreciated it before. And in this he was to dismount to open the gate, as it was out of right, for no character has been fully proved until order, and opened with much difficulty. An exit has been tried by the touchstone of adver- peusive inclosure, which surrounded the grounds, sity. was broken down in several places, and botched up with poles or rails of the rudest description.

The morning was clear and cold; every object was covered with a dazzling sheet of snow, and Noble oaks, "the monarchs of the woods," had the prospect out was anything but inviting for a been felled to give way to spruce Lombardy journey of three days over bad roads, and a river poplars, and ill-thriven Pride-of-China trees. A to cross, and nothing in prospect but a termina-variety, too, of short ornamental hedges placed tion to it, more melancholy than the journey about the grounds without any apparent regard itself. Mr. Selden was much gratified at Regi- to use or propriety, produced a very unpleasant nald's proposing to accompany him; it would be and formal effect. the greatest imaginable relief to have some one Mr. Williams had designed and partly execuwith him who would take all the most trouble-ted large and expensive additions to his house— some part of settling up complicated and difficult originally a substantial brick building in a square accounts off his hands, and he considered the form: he had wished to modernize it, and give it offer too as a strong proof of Reginald's desire a more stylish air; but nothing had been comto oblige him, as he knew that he entertained a pleted, so that there was an incongruity and want peculiar horror for funeral occasions and visits of of finish about the whole, which produced an abcondolence. solutely ludicrous effect, when beheld for the first time. Mr. Selden was, however, in no humor to receive ludicrous impressions; all spoke to him of death, of change, of the vanity of human life and wishes.

Their journey was dreary and tedious, but Reginald made a much better travelling companion than Mr. Selden had anticipated; he seemed generally awake to things around him, attentive to his father's little wants, and evidently desirous to entertain him. Such exertions were so unusual from Reginald, that Mr. Selden guessed at the nature of the motives which actuated

Dr. Irving and Edward Williams, who were standing in the portico to await the entrance of their guests, received them with that sort of subdued welcome which befits the house of mourn

ing, but there were no traces of severe mental who knows their own importance too well to be

suffering visible in the faces of either gentleman. in a hurry.
Edward Williams had a face and figure, which
at the first glance always struck the beholder as
almost faultless, but his face was so destitute of
character, that you would as soon contemplate a
handsome piece of furniture, with an expecta-
tion of interest or variety of expression, as his
countenance. Mr. Selden had not seen him be-
fore for many years; and he perceived at the
first glance, that he was but a broken reed for a
ruined family to lean upon.

He cast a look upon Edward Williams, who taking the hint, exerted himself so far as to go to the kitchen, for he knew that ringing a bell would be worse than useless in such a case as this, in pursuit of the delinquent.

"Sam, you little rascal, bring some dry wood into the drawing room immediately; you must have taken logs out of the swamp to put in the the fire."

"Sam said, Mas Edward, that he had fixed every thing in the house, and he reckoned he had better take this chance to go to his snow-bird traps."

"He has fixed every thing, indeed; call him at once, and ask him if he is not ashamed of himself to make such a fire for strange gentlemen, coming from such a journey too. See about it at once: will you?"

Thomas who had left Jacob to do the honors of the stable to Cæsar, and repaired himself quickly to the kitchen, anxious to requite the hospitable attentions he had received at Sherwood, upon hearing Edward's last words, determined to put his own shoulder to the wheel for the credit of the family; and coming to the door immediately, said—

"Don't trouble yourself, Mas Edward, I'll make the fire myself."

"Ah, how goes it, Thomas, I am glad to see you are going to put your hand to it; now I am sure it will be well and quickly done;" so saying he ran back into the house.

"Ah, I wonder what'll be done when all the

The impression produced by the manner and appearance of Dr. Irving was still less favorable than that made by Edward. He was about the middle height, but from the effect of a very portly figure, appeared to be rather beneath the middle stature; he held his head, however, thrown back as if to make the most of himself, and his very step denoted the self-sufficiency which characterized his whole appearance. The room into which he ushered Mr. Selden and Reginald, with an emphatic wave of the hand, was of ample proportions and expensively furnished, but the want of neatness and care was so visible, as to produce an immediate sense of discomfort, a sort of Castle Rackrent, or Headlong Hall impres-old niggers is gone; I don't see no young ones sion. The heavy silk fringe on the curtains was coming on fit to take their places," said Tom to torn in various places, the rich chair covers put the cook, with a smile of gratified self-imporon awry and visibly soiled, the Brussels carpet tance. stained, and there was a want of arrangement in all the furniture, which made every thing look as if it were in the way of something else; but worst of all, for the comfort of the guests, damped and chilled to the heart's core, some wet logs smouldered in the fire-place, making one of those black fires, which would be sufficient to cast a gloom over the most cheerful company.

"Cold comfort, gentlemen, I regret to see," said Dr. Irving, in a slow and measured tone, giving not only to every syllable, but to every letter, its utmost length; "I was engaged in another apartment, looking over some rather important papers at the time of your arrival, and was not aware of the uncomfortable situation of the fire."

“Ah, sure enough," rejoined the old cook, "that's what I says."

Thanks to the exertions of old Thomas, a cheerful fire soon blazed on the hearth, and Mr. Selden felt his heart warm somewhat beneath its reviving influence, and he was able to listen with a decent degree of apparent attention to


the bald, disjointed chat," with which Dr. Irving endeavored to entertain him, without even a momentary suspicion that his efforts were not perfectly successful. The two daughters of Mr. Williams, Mrs. Simms and Miss Lucy Williams, appeared at supper as a compliment to their father's earliest and most intimate friend, but they looked pale and sad, and after exchanging a few civil speeches with their guests remained totally silent.

Amongst the family group, no one interested Mr. Selden so much as a little boy apparently about twelve years of age, who sat at the corner of the table unnoticed by any one but little Sam, who seemed very attentive in supplying his wants; there were indications of intelligence and quick feeling in his face, which prepossessed him in his favor; and this prepossession was heightened by a strong feeling of compassion, for he concluded at once he must be Will Howard, of whom he

The cook, who was pausing from the labors dire, which she had been carrying on, in preparing for the approaching funeral occasion, came had heard his late friend speak with much affecslowly out of the kitchen, with the air of one tion. This child was the son of a sister of Mr.

« PreviousContinue »