Page images
PDF
EPUB

3. Edward started to his feet--the image of Marion was uppermost in his thoughts." Lady," he replied, unconsciously imitating her own highwrought language, “ in my country woman pleads not to man. I have not wooed, and I do not wish to win thee. Thou art wonderful and very fair, but thou art not my love.”. "She looked at him for moment with her large dark eyes. “I think," continued she, “ I could make thee love me, if thou wert to stay here awhile. I pray thee, give me lock of your sunny hair. I have seen none like it."

Edward gave her one of the bright curls which clustered golden around his head.

“ Look around thee,” said the lady, “for a little time. This hall is a triumph of my art. These birds and flowers belong to my native Mexico, and so do those glad valleys." - Edward gazed around in wonder, and while he gazed there came on the air the same melancholy song that he had heard while on the river. The very sound of his own steps disturbed him; and he flung himself on a couch, to enjoy without interruption the exquisite melody. The intense perfume of the flowers intoxicated him like wine. He felt as if lulled in a delicious trance, in which one image became more and more distinct-the pale but lovely face of his hostess. His heart was filling with love for those radiant eyes. A softer fragrance breathed around him- it was her breath. He looked, and she was again bending over him; he saw himself mirrored in the moonlight of her eyes.

“ You will not leave me?” whispered she, in those soft sweet tones which' were like notes from a lute. i “ Never!” exclaimed the youth, and threw himself at her feet.

Weeks had passed away, and done the work of years in Adam Leslie's cottage. His garden was now in the richest season of the sunshine had settled into crimson on the peach ; the bloom was on the plum, and the dahlias, whose colours might vie with a monarch's clothing, crowded the garden with unwonted prodigality. Arm-in-arm the old man and his niece wandered around the now mournful garden; che trying to speak that comfort which his every look belied, and she trying to smile as if she believed him; but the tears rose into her eyes as she tried to smile. It was now more than six weeks since Edward's mysterious disappearance, and the little hope that had once been cherished was now dying fast away. That night, after Adam Leslie had gone to bed, Marion strolled into the garden. She could not sleep, and the lovely moonlight she thought might soothe her. Alas, the tears that had been in her eyes all day now began to flow, when suddenly the sound of footsteps roused her attention. She raised her face from her hands, and saw a little deformed negro-woman standing beside

“Why do you cry,” said the strange visitor, fixing on her a pair of small, bright, snake-like eyes, “ like a child, when you might win your lover back like a woman ??

Marion stood silent with extreme astonishment, and the woman went on. “Yes, if you will follow me—though you look as if you were frightened to death, I can help you to set your lover free. There are other bright eyes in the world besides your own; but yours will be the best and last loved, if you dare to follow one who is your

friend."

year. The

her.

and massy,

“I will ask my uncle," said Marion, trembling with agitation.

“ You must ask no one, and nothing”-interrupted the little negro, her harsh voice growing yet harsher as she raised it—" but your own true heart: unless there be love enough to lead you on, your lover will remain bound by the spells of the sorceress for ever.”

The thought past rapidly through Marion's mind, that if she could but see Edward, old love must revive, even if he had deserted her for another. Led on by some strange fascination, she followed the little negro woman. They came to the river side, where a small boat was moored, and when her companion was seated, took up the oars and began rowing with great quickness down the river. They stopped at a small flight of wooden steps, and an almost worn-out door admitted them into a large, but desolate-looking garden; another door, but that huge

admitted them into a dark and winding passage. Marion shuddered as the little negro caught her hand to lead her forward ; she followed her for some distance, when the sudden opening of another door dazzled her eyes with a blaze of light. They had entered a magnificent chamber, fitted up in the utmost oriental luxury for a-sleepingroom. Marion was scarcely allowed time to look around, for her dwarfish companion whispered in a low tone, like the hissing of a serpent, “Open that gold box, and take out the lock of hair you see there ; it is your lover's." Well did the forsaken girl recollect the sunny hair ; she pressed it to her lips, while her fast-falling tears dimmed its lustre.

“ Come, come, I will show him to you,” exclaimed the little negro woman, again hurrying her on; if

you

still love him, when you see him, throw that charmed lock of hair into the fountain of fire by which we shall be standing, and the spell that binds him will be broken.”

Marion had not power to speak, but she followed the dwarfish creature with a heart beating louder than her steps. Again her eyes closed in the presence of sudden splendour, they were standing behind the fountain of mingled fire and water; from thence they could see without being seen. In the centre of that gorgeous hall, a lady was seated on a mattress covered with cloth of gold, and Edward was at her feet. They had eyes but for each other, and her one hand was in his, while the other was twisted in his bright hair.

“Now girl,” hissed the same whisper," fling the lock you hold in the fire.'

Marion almost mechanically obeyed; she flung it, and a burst of thunder shook the building—the little fountain grew crimson, as if with blood; but one heart-piercing shriek rang above every other sound-it came from the dark lady.

“ Hast thou found me, oh my enemy?” said she in the same low, sweet voice; but which now seemed the very echo of a broken heart.

Aye,” cried the little negro woman, “ the dark spell has the mastery.”

At this moment Marion rushed forward ; she had seen Edward sink back convulsed on the couch-she threw herself on her knees beside, and supported his head--the dews of death were upon it. The tall and stately lady stood by, paler than marble, and even her bright lips colourless. Still her radiant eyes flashed defiance on the negro dwarf; but the heart's agony was in the compressed mouth, and with tears in those

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

starry eyes, she turned to Edward. Marion saw her approach, and clasping him passionately in her arms, exclaimed

He is mine, loved long before you knew him—let us at least die together.”

“Ah,” exclaimed the stranger, “is it even so; I knew not of it.”

A shrill wild laugh came from the little negro woman, and a faint cry from Marion ; for Edward had sank down exhausted from her arm. Once more he unclosed his eyes, and fixing them on Marion with a look full of tenderness, murmured her name, and expired. The dark lady leant over him for a moment; whatever might be the anguish of that moment, she subdued it; but the veins swelled like chords in her clear temples, with the effort. She turned, and gave one look at the negro, who crouched beneath it like a beaten hound, and remained as if rooted to the spot.

“Take him to your home,” said she to Marion ; " what I must do, your eyes would shrink to witness. I will offer you nothing; my love and my gifts turn to curses."

She stainped on the ground, and four strange figures came forward, and raising Marion and Edward, carried them into the boat by the stairs, and there left them. The wind and tide slowly drifted them along, and the maiden sat floating over the river, with her lover's head upon her knee. Once, and once only she raised her eyes. A wild, melancholy song came upon her ear, and a dark bark, dimly seen amid the grey vapours of morning, flitted past. On the deck she fancied she saw a tall figure with long floating hair, stand wringing her hands in some passionate despair. It past rapidly out of sight, and as it past, the melancholy song died away in the distance; never since has it been heard on the Thames. The boat that bore the living and the dead was met by some watermen, who conveyed them on shore. Marion was perfectly insensible, and was carried home in a brain fever, from which she never recovered. At the last gasp they thought her sensible, for her eyes wandered round the room in search of her uncle; she caught sight of his face-a scarcely perceptible smile past over her countenance, and in that smile she died. The house and garden still remain, but they have a lonely and mournful look. The old man plants no more flowers in his garden; the few that he watches grow in the churchyard. He has planted some rose bushes on the grave of the lovers; those he still tends and waters. They are the last link between this living world and himself. Night and morning he visits those tombs; but he never visits them without a prayer that the time may soon come when he shall sleep. at their side.

L. E. L.

A TRIP OVER LONDON.

I had for many years been extremely solicitous to ascend in a balloon. It was a fancy of my youth, which did not fade in my riper years: at school I made balloons, and watched them wistfully as they sprang from my hands, and thought how happy I should be if I could take the same lofty flight.

When Mr. Green came to Liverpool--of which place I am a native, and have ever since my birth been a constant inhabitant-I visited him previous to his ascent, conversed with him upon my favourite topic, found him intelligent and communicative, and—which rendered him even still more interesting in my mind-confident in the safety and security of his high-going carriage ; and but for the fear of éclat, which I thought might do me an injury in my profession, I should most certainly have been tempted to accompany him from my native town. I debated the matter in my mind, while yet the inflation of the balloon was in progress, but the aëronaut (like the woman) who deliberates is lost; and while I was arguing with myself, and weighing the pleasures I should receive from my prospects of the heavens, against the damage likely to accrue to my prospects on earth, my flighty friend was off; the last rope was cut, the huge globe soared over my head, and I found myself occupying a mere point in the circle which, a moment before, had been wholly occupied by the vast machine.

Time and tide, I had always heard, wait for no man, I found that the same might be said of balloons. I had fancied and considered, until the opportunity of going was gone; and I stood like a fool, gazing at my darling object until I saw nothing of my friend Green, but the waggle of his flag. The rapidity with which the object diminished gave me a sort of aching pang, and when my verdant friend plunged into a black cloud, I stamped my foot upon the ground, as if only then convinced of the impossibility of catching him.

“ The boy thus, when his sparrow 's flown,

The bird in silence eyes;
Till out of sight at last 'tis gone,

He whimpers, sobs, and cries.” So says Gay; and although by no means gay myself, so felt I, upon the occasion to which I refer.

Well! the disappointment served rather to inflame than abate the anxiety I felt for an aërial trip, and so I lived on. But my friend and idol, the aëronaut, did not return to Liverpool ; spring came, but no Green-summer passed, and autumn died away-yellow-—all my expectations fell like the leaves, and I was doomed for several years to smother, or rather conceal from others, my violent passion for the clouds.

Yet, why should I feel ashamed of my partiality? Wyndham-not a very inappropriate name, to be sure —the great Wyndham went up in a balloon; so did the exemplary Edward Hawke Locker. The Duc de Chartres went up in a fire-balloon; a most respectable Doctor of Medicine crossed the channel from England to France with Mr. Blanchard ; a Paget has accompanied Mr. Sadler; a General has ascended by him

[ocr errors]

self, and immortalized his name by tumbling into the sea; and a learned Barrister on the northern circuit quitted the earth, only a few years since, with Green himself. Still I kept my desire pent up, lest the kind anxiety of my respectable mother and two elegant sisters (both still unmarried) -treasures, with such hearts should be unnecessarily excited, and their influence too successfully exerted in order to pin me to the earth.

Little did I imagine that an unforeseen accident should occur to afford me the gratification I had so long thirsted after. Business, sudden and important, called me to London about the middle of August—that fact of itself was important to me; for, although I have passed my twentyeighth year, London I had never seen. A first visit to such a metropolis is as an insulated, unaccompanied circumstance-an epoch in a life. I felt it so; I anticipated all the pleasures of novelty-all the gratification of curiosity-all the realization of the fancies I had conjured up of splendour, opulence, magnificence, and amusement. These, however, I was much inclined to believe could hardly exceed the realities of Liverpool, which even now, after having seen all the great features of this great town, I do not consider, taken as a whole, likely to lose by comparison with the capital of the empire. This is my present feeling, and I have written to express it to the unsophisticated young creature to whom I am engaged to be married-No matter, I arrived at the Bulland-Mouth in Bull-and-Mouth Street. I certainly was disappointed it did not at all fulfil my expectations of comfort, or even convenience. I could not help comparing it with “ The Waterloo ;” and even descended to a comparison of an uncouth, unwashed female attendant who received me under the gateway, with the neat, nice, smart, clean, good-natured Lancashire witches, who, in the shape of chambermaids, get everything in order at our palace of a hotel, in the twinkling of an eye.

I was dreadfully tired; went to bed-slept soundly till three o'clock in the afternoon--rang my bell-called for hot water--shaved, dressed, and descended into the coffee-room-hot, dark, and dirty—took a meal which served for breakfast, luncheon, and even dinner, as it turned out; again grievously disappointed-nevertheless made up in quantity for what seemed a falling off in quality, and while I was discussing a third slice of cold roasted beef, the sun happening to shine, by reflection, on the back of a tin lamp, the original ray having darted inwards between a group of chimnies which overhung the yard, I caught a glimpse of a bill stuck over the fire-place, in the middle of which I distinguished two black balls ; at first I fancied it a globe-maker's advertisement—then I took it for the representation of a pair of kettle-drums—then for a pair of stays—then for a pair of spectacles; I could not, in the very phrenzy of my imagination, have conjured it into what it really was. “ What is that bill about ?" said I to a waiter.

That, Sir?” said the man; “it's the bill of the balloon-race to-day.”

A what!” exclaimed I. “A balloon-race from Vauxhall," was the answer.

A race !” screamed I; “ what! two balloons ?-impossible—this is a variety! I, like the poet, could have found

Variety in one.
But a pair of balloons—this is too much! Where is Vauxhall ?"

« PreviousContinue »