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of the orchard, he saw the fated pear tree. One great branch stretched from the old contorted trunk across the path, and threw the darkest shadow on that one spot.
But something seemed to struggle beneath the branch!
The pedler had never pretended to more courage than befits a man of peaceable occupation, nor could he account for his valor on this awful emergency. Certain it is, however, that he rushed forward, prostrated a sturdy Irishman with the but end of his whip, and found not indeed hanging on the St. Michael's pear tree, but trembling beneath it, with a halter round his neck — the old, identical Mr. Higginbotham !
Mr. Higginbotham,' said Dominicus tremulously, 'you're an honest man, and I'll take your word for it. Have you been hanged, or not?'
If the riddle be not already guessed, a few words will explain the simple machinery, by which this
coming event' was made to ó cast its shadow before.' Three men had plotted the robbery and murder of Mr. Higginbotham; two of them, successively, lost courage and fled, each delaying the crime one night, by their disappearance ; the third was in the act of perpetration, when a champion, blindly obeying the call of fate, like the heroes of old romance, appeared in the person of Dominicus Pike.
It only remains to say, that Mr. Higginbotham took the pedler into high favor, sanctioned his addresses to the pretty schoolmistress, and settled his whole property on their children, allowing themselves the interest. In due time, the old gentleman capped the climax of his favors, by dying a Christian death, in bed, since which melancholy event, Dominicus Pike nas removed from Kimballton, and established a large tobacco manufactory in my native village.
LITTLE ANNIE'S RAMBLE
DING-DONG! Ding-dong! Ding-dong!
The town crier has rung his bell, at a distant corner, and little Annie stands on her father's door. steps, trying to hear what the man with the loud voice is talking about. Let me listen too. 0! he is telling the people that an elephant, and a lion, and a royal tiger, and a horse with horns, and other strange bcasts from foreign countries, have come to town, and will receive all visitors who choose to wait upon them. Perhaps little Annie would like to go. Yes; and I can see that the pretty child is weary
of this wide and pleasant street, with the green trees flinging their shade across the quiet sunshine, and the pavements and the sidewalks all as clean as if the housemaid had just swept them with her broom. She feels that impulse to go strolling away
that longing after the mystery of the great world — which many children feel, and which I felt in my child. hood. Little Annie shall take a ramble with me. See! I do but hold out my hand, and, like somo brigh: bird in the sunny air, with her blue silk frock Auttering upwards from her white pantalets, she comes bounding on tiptoe across the street.
Smooth back your brown curls, Annie ; ard let
me tie on your bonnet, and we will set forth! What a strange couple to go on their rambles together! One walks in black attire, with a measured step, and a heavy brow, and his thoughtful eyes bent down, while the gay little girl trips lightly along, as if she were forced to keep hold of my hand, lest her feet should dance away from the earth. Yet there is sympathy between us. If I pride myself on any thing, it is because I have a smile that children love ; and, on the other hand, there are few grown ladies that could entice me from the side of little Annie ; for I delight to let my mind go hand in hand with the mind of a sinless child. So, come, Annie; but if I moralize as we go, do not listen to me; only look about you, and be merry !
Now we turn the corner. Here are hacks with two horses, and stage coaches with four, thundering to meet each other, and trucks and carts moving at a slower pace, being heavily laden with barrels from the wharves, and here are rattling gigs, which per. haps will be smashed to pieces before our eyes. Hitherward, also, comes man trundling a wheel. barrow along the pavement. Is not little Annie afraid of such a tumult? No; she does not even shrink closer to my side, but passes on with fearless confidence, a happy child amidst a great throng of grown people, who pay the same reverence to her infancy, that they would to extreme old age. Nobody justies her; all turn aside to make way for little Annie ; and what is most singular, she appears conscious of her claim to such respect. Now her eyes brighten with pleasure! A street musician has seated himself on
the steps of yonder church, and pours forth his strains to the busy town, a melody that has gone astray among the tramp of footsteps, the buzz of voices, and the war of passing wheels. Who heeds the poor organ grinder ? None but myself and little Annie, whose feet begin to move in unison with the lively tune, as if she were loath that music should be wasted without a dance. But where would Annie find a partner ? Some have the gout in their toes, or the rheumatism in their joints ; some are stiff with age ; some feeble with disease ; some are so lean that their bones would rattle, and others of such ponderous size that their agility would crack the flagstones; but many, many have leaden feet, because their hearts are far heavier than lead. It is a sad thought that I have chanced upon. What a company of dancers should we be ! For I, too, am a gentlemen of sober footsteps, and therefore, little Annie, let us walk sedately on.
It is a question with me, whether this giddy child, or my sage self, have most pleasure in looking at the shop windows. We love the silks of sunny hue, that glow within the darkened premises of the spruce dry goods' men; we are pleasantly dazzled by the burnished silver, and the chased gold, the rings of wedlock and the costly love ornaments, glistening at the window of the jeweller ; but Annie, more than J, seeks for a glimpse of her passing figure in the dusty looking glasses at the hardware stores. All that is bright and gay attracts us both.
Here is a shop to which the recollections of my boy hood, as well as present partialities, give a fecu. liar magic. How delightful 1c let the fancy revel on