Rhyme Romance and Revery (IV)

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MEDITATIONS ON AN OLD HAT


TALK not to me of the rewards attendant upon long attachments, and the gratitude awaiting those who have served faithfully; I boldly assert that all, or almost all, are glad to get rid of an old servant, and supply the vacancy with a new one.  In support of my assertion, I ask, what object is universally more dreaded or despised than an old hat? and, on the contrary, what is more treasured and honoured than a new one?  A new hat is carefully preserved from the "pelting of the pitiless storm;" yea, even a gloomy cloud will drive its owner into the nearest shelter, in order to keep its sleek covering and glossy hue from being tainted by a single spot; and, when its master, at last, reaches his home, how tenderly does he brush it with the sleeve of his coat!  With what an eye of minute curiosity does he examine its every part, to see whether it has sustained the slightest injury; and when, with a glad heart, he finds it still faultless, how carefully does he place it in its paper tenement!  Alas! how different is the fate of an OLD hat!  After having, in its plenitude of youth and beauty, served as a shield and guardian to the temple of the mind; after having, perchance, by adding its strength to the thickness of its master's skull, preserved him from the attack of some midnight ruffian; after having protected and saved him harmless from the blows of the drunken brawl, and the descending staves of the policemen; after having, by its shining and fashionable appearance, gained him admittance into the gayest circles of society — I say, after having performed these, and numberless other pieces of service, equally important, when falling to decay, abroad it is exposed by its ungrateful master to all the inclemencies of the seasons — to the rain, the blast, or the snow; and at home it is thrown carelessly aside, and obliged to yield to the rude kicks and buffets of unfeeling servants.  Nay, sometimes, when its place has been occupied by a spruce rival, it is forced again to appear on duty, and exercise its functions throughout the dreariness of a rainy day, while the new comer glides on and basks amidst the sunshine and gladness of blue skies.

    A man, with an old hat, steals along, in the broad light of day, almost like an escaped convict, afraid of being recognised; and would, if possible, never quit his own walls, except shrouded by the murky night, that concealer of threadbare garments and cloak of evil practices.  A friend or acquaintance, on the opposite side of the street, he pretends not to see, for fear he should be seen in return, and have to cross to him, when all attempts to conceal the defects of his upper covering he well knows would be in vain.  If a titter be heard in the street, while he is passing, he dares not turn his head either to the one side or the other, for he believes it to be at the expense of his hat, and consequently with a face glowing with the ruby tint of shame and vexation, he quickens his pace, muttering a curse on the supposed object of ridicule.  All the pretty females, with whom he is intimate, he shuns, as though they were his mortal foes, and would rather go a mile out of his road than run the risk of meeting one of them.  Though, when his "old hat was new," he was the most gallant of men, he now dares venture nothing more, at furthest, than a sidelong glance at the sweet forms and faces that pass over this lower world, like earthly comets, lighting all susceptible hearts with the blaze of passion.  If he enter an inn, almost before he has passed the door, his hat is in his hand; not through his extraordinary politeness, but merely to hide it from observing eyes; he next looks around the room for a retired corner, or dark nook, and, if he can find one obscure enough, there the hat is deposited, but he would rather place it UNDER the table than ON it.  He has generally met with some illiberal remark from the vulgar, or some slight from a ci-devant friend; therefore, if he has, by any means an opportunity (and he will, on no account let an occasion slip) he rails at the ignorance of the lower orders, and the pride of upstarts; then he forces a laugh at the folly of being influenced by exterior appearances, and, casting an anxious look to the corner where is deposited the article that has occasioned this discourse, he sips his malt liquor, with something of satisfaction at having thus given vent to the bitterness of his feelings.  When, however, the hat is in reality unfit for any manner of service on the head, it is made to serve the heel; for often does its thrifty master, annihilating every vestige of its former shape, convert it into a sock.  Thus, to the last, does it still endeavour to preserve the UNDERSTANDING; and thus, though soulless itself, do its remains occupy a place betwixt TWO SOLES — the sole of the foot, and the sole of the shoe.

    Gentle reader! do not toss up thy nose and turn away with an air of contempt from this little sketch of the vicissitudes of an old hat, for even from so trifling a subject, thou mayest draw a moral lesson for thine own conduct through life!  Thou hast seen how prone man is to despise in adversity those whom he has honoured in prosperity; then let thy mind be prepared, and thy spirit strengthened, to bear up against the evils of thy destiny, instead of yielding tamely, like that which is senseless and inanimate, to the scorn and contumely that may encompass thee.  Thou hast seen how the ruined hat, in its final and worst misfortune, though to the mortification of its body, labours for the good of the soma, and verily I say unto thee, "Go thou and do likewise."


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OH, WELL I LOVE MY GENTLE MAID


Oh, well I love my gentle maid,
    For she is young and fair;
Her eye is as the summer sky,
    Like morn-clouds is her hair;
Her voice is tuneful as a bird's,
    Her step is light and free,
And better far than all besides,
    She dearly loveth me.

I chose my love from out the crowd
    Of beauty and of youth;
I chose her for her loveliness,
    I chose her for her truth;
I never cease to bless that hour,
    When first I chanced to see
The graceful and the beauteous one
    Who dearly loveth me.

'Tis not amid a festive group
    My love doth seem most fair,
She best becomes the cheerful hearth,
    And well I love her there;
For, oh, 'twas in her quiet home —
    A maid's sweet sanctuary —
That first I won her sinless heart,
    And knew her love for me.

It may be wrong — I cannot brook
    That each rude eye should greet
The brightness of her fawn-like glance,
    Her form and features sweet;
Oh, no! I would that her dear charms
    Should all mine own charms be,
I would not lose one glance of hers
    Who dearly loveth me.

I do not think a wish of hers
    To others e'er can stray—
I know I am her dream by night,
    Her thought throughout the day,
But as the miser hides his gold,
    His soul's divinity,
So would I hide from eyes of man
    The maid who loveth me.

'Tis sweet to know a treasure mine,
    Which none besides can share;
'Tis sweet to think that beauty's lips
    Are mov'd for me in pray'r;
'Tis sweet when she doth sooth my woe,
    Or light my hours of glee —
Oh, well I love the gentle maid
    Who dearly loveth me.


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REMINISCENCES


OH, well I remember the far-off time,
When I lov'd up the forest-tree to climb,
And toss on its branches to and fro,
Like a sprite whose home was the leafy bough;
Not a bird of the air, that floated by,
With its merry song, was more happy than I —
So free was my spirit, so buoyant and light,
I deem'd I could follow the bird in its flight.

Like a wild-deer I flew up the steepest hill,
And cool'd my hot blood at the singing rill;
Or I leapt in the waters so cool and bright,
And the torrent stemm'd in my youthful might.
When the wind, like an untam'd horse, rush'd
                past,
I lov'd to be out in the whirling blast,
And perch'd on the brow of a craggy rock,
I laugh'd aloud at the tempest's shock.

By bubbling brook, and in leafy bow'r,
Full oft did I pass the enchanted hour,
Whilst mine eyes on the wond'rous page did pore,
That told of romantic, and magic lore;
Till I started up, with a swelling breast,
And deem'd me a warrior with lance in rest;
Or the lamp of Aladdin I held in my hand,
And its slaves were awaiting their master's
                command.

Those visions have pass'd, and I wander now,
With a sober pace, and a thoughtful brow;
I have drank of the fountains of living thought,
And the lore of the world have most dearly
                bought;
But my heart leaps up with a thrill of joy,
When bounds before me some happy boy,
And I think of the days that have long since fled,
Like a mourner who sighs for the lost and dead.


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THE FAREWELL


OH, fare thee well! — heed not my sigh,
    The offspring of a broken heart;
Mind not the dimness of mine eye,
    Though from it burning tear-drops start;
Think not upon my sunken cheek,
    Deem it consumption's slow decay;
Oh! look not on my form so weak,
    Soon from the earth 'twill pass away.
I know thou art another's now,
    Thou feelest now another flame,
Another claims thy lasting vow,
    Whilst I alone am still the same —
Yes, still I love, as true, as well,
    As when I press'd thy cheek,
And thy bright eyes would fondly tell
    The love thou could'st not speak.
Still can I gaze upon that face,
    That beautiful and gentle eye,
That fairy form, so full of grace,
    Those cheeks which shame the roses' dye:
That face still seems so free of guile,
    That, doting still, again I seek
To find the glad, the sunny smile
    Which us'd to dimple that soft cheek;
But 'tis in vain — I see not there
    The welcome there was wont to be —
Thy blue eye still is bright, but where
    Is that dear glance which beam'd on me?
As from the youthful dreamer's mind,
    Visions of light and joy depart,
Passing, and leaving nought behind,
    Save what is pictur'd on the heart: —
So unto me, thy lost love be;
    And should'st thou, in thy beauty's bloom,
When I am gone e'er think of me,
    Oh! shed no tear upon my tomb,
Oh! sully not thy lovely eye,
    Oh! wet not thou that cheek so fair,
But let this check thy bosom's sigh —
    I shall be free from earthly care;
Nor weep nor sigh, for I would not
    Sorrow for me should ever dwell
With thee, though faithless — but forgot
    Be all my woes in this farewell!


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LINES ON A TOMB,
THE INSCRIPTION OF WHICH WAS EFFACED
BY TIME


O house of death! thou mouldering tomb,
    Thou marble palace of the dead,
Whom hast thou shut up in thy womb,
    Thou monument of grandeur fled?
Vain was his hope who put his trust
    In thee for lasting fame;
For thou art hast'ning to the dust,
    Like him whose titled name
Was once emblazon'd on thy side,
Who on thee trusted, when he died,
    To tell posterity his fame.
The lines have faded from thy brow,
    He thought would tell his worth;
His pride and power, where is it now?
    Gone to its parent— earth!
On thee let pomp and wealth now gaze,
    And tell them this their lot —
To live awhile in hireling praise,
    Then die, for aye forgot.
And thou, that still dost seem to say
Thou holdest more than common clay,
Thou too wilt quickly meet thy doom,
Thou relic of a once-proud tomb;
Crumbled to dust thou soon wilt lie,
No more wilt fix th' observing eye,
And the inquiring gaze will pass
O'er thee, as o'er a worthless mass.


――――♦――――

 
WOMAN'S LOVE


Oh! woman's love's a holy light
And when 'tis kindled ne'er can die:
It lives — though treachery and slight
To quench the constant flame may try.
Like ivy, where it grows, 'tis seen
To wear an everlasting green;
Like ivy, too, 'tis found to cling
Too often round a worthless thing!

ANON


OF all the passions, there is none more holy, and less subject to change than woman's love.  It is an evergreen of the heart — a flower blooming in sun or tempest — a thing imperishable amidst the perishing.  Though the object of woman's affection may prove base and unworthy of her, still she wavers not, still she is unchanged; clinging to him in prosperity and adversity.  Man may love fondly, devotedly, yet his love is subject to many temporary cessations; in the absence of her to whom he has pledged his faith, his thoughts often stray to others; he may toy with any female who falls in his way, and, for the moment, forget both his vows and her who claims them.  With woman it is different: her chamber is a sanctuary; home the sphere in which she moves; and seldom does she depart from that sphere, unless under the protection of him who has her plighted troth, the inspirer of her most secret wishes, the being in whom is concentrated her sole hopes of earthly happiness.  Many a man indulges himself in what he terms little acts of gallantry; that is, he conceives a slight attachment for some young and amiable woman, he visits her, accompanies her in her walks, and for awhile assiduously tenders every attention that is required of a professed lover; then he grows tired, and deserts her.  This is the most cruel thing that any one can be guilty of: perhaps he has won her love — and it is not unlikely that such may be the case, for woman's soul is much more easily awakened to that passion, in the true sense of the word, than man's — if so, what remedy has she? none!  She cannot drive away her painful sensations by flying to scenes of gaiety; she cannot drown her sorrows in the flow of the bottle; she cannot dissipate her cares by the bacchanalian song and the midnight revel — no, she retires to her chamber, and pines in secret; still, however, wishing and cherishing hopes for the false one's return, and ever doomed to find her wishes fruitless, and her hopes terminating in disappointment.

    I have said that woman's love is unchangeable; but I do not mean to include in my assertion that portion of the sex who are a kind of female coxcombs, and flirt and parley with every dashing fellow they meet; and who, in reality, are incapable of loving truly, and consequently cannot feel the effects of love.  I am here only speaking of that retired class of beings, who are brought up under the eyes of their parents, and restrained from frequenting those fashionable balls and assemblies where all sorts of frivolity, wantonness, and debauchery, are practised without distinction, both by men and women.  I have known instances of eyes growing dim, and cheeks fading, from blasted affection; and, at the present time, I am well acquainted with a lovely girl, who is hastening to her last abode, and the cause of her decay, I am convinced, proceeds entirely from slighted love.

    I shall just relate another case, which has fallen under my observation.  Such circumstances are often occurring, and the world regards them as things of no import; if, however, this simple record should interest one reader; if it should call forth the gentle glow of pity in one breast, I shall have achieved my end, and shall rest contented.  Emma F ――― , and myself were playmates in infancy, and our childish friendship increased with our years, though it never grew into love.  I have often heard it asserted that friendship cannot exist between the sexes, without partaking of a warmer feeling; but this assertion is untrue.  I felt the deepest interest in the welfare of Emma, yet I could have seen her united to a deserving man, without a sigh, nay even with gladness.  She was my confidant; in her breast I deposited all my little secrets, and her advice was my guide in the most important matters.  When about the age of eighteen, she was addressed by a young man of the name of Elwin; he was of a good family, but I soon learned that his fortune was small, and that he was exceedingly dissipated.  With grief I saw that the attachment he professed for Emma was returned, and the first opportunity I met with, I acquainted her with the reports I had heard, of his character.  I was in hopes this would have broken off their connection, instead of which I found them together more frequently than before; and I could plainly perceive that Emma strove to avoid me, and that her looks and manner were colder to me, since our conversation on the subject of her lover's demerits.  His influence over her every day became stronger.  I had never been a favourite of his; and as I now began to think that he was jealous of me, my visits were repeated at longer intervals, until at last they were almost discontinued.  The day on which Emma attained her nineteenth year, was fixed for their nuptials; a card of invitation was sent to me, and I attended.  My heart sickened, when I saw her clad in her costly bridal-robes, and slightly indeed did I partake of the cheer, for my soul had a secret foreboding that she was destined to a lot of misery.  Her beautiful countenance was lit up with smiles, and Elwin appeared all mirth and happiness; but the endearments which he lavished on his young bride, seemed to me to be constrained.  I left the scene of festivity at an early hour, and returned home sorely oppressed in spirit.

    In a few weeks after the marriage, I left my native town for the metropolis.  Twelve months had expired, when I again entered the place of my birth, on a visit to my parents.  I took a circuitous route over the fields — one that was dear to me from early remembrances — my way lay through the churchyard, and I loitered, to look at the names of those who had sought their "long home" since my departure.  My attention was soon attracted to a small white tomb, that seemed to be newly raised: I advanced towards it, and read the words "Here lyeth the body of Emma Elwin."  I stood as if stupefied —was she indeed dead?  When I had beheld her last, she was glowing with health and beauty, and was now cold and inanimate as the earth I trod upon.

    I learned that soon after the nuptial ceremony, Elwin had thrown off the veil in which he had disguised his intentions; and no sooner had he gained possession of his wife's fortune, than he abandoned himself entirely to the most dissipated courses.  Night after night was he absent from his own dwelling, and night after night did his youthful bride spend in sleeplessness and sorrow.  For some time he bore her reproaches and expostulations in moody silence; at length, with the look of a demon, he flung her from him, told her I had never loved her, and, having obtained the object of his wishes, her fortune, he would no longer brook a restraint upon his actions: then, with frantic violence, he dashed from the room, and left the house.  Emma had fainted, and the noise occasioned by her fall summoned the servants to her assistance — she was conveyed to a bed, from which she never arose.


――――♦――――

 
VIOLETS


I have wreath'd my lute with violets,
    As if its tones could be
Blent with the odour of their breath,
    Whilst it is wak'd for thee.

I know 'twas but a childish thought,
    To deem the magic power,
To blend its sweets with strains of love,
    Should dwell with simple flower.

'Twas but a childish thought, and yet
    What meeter wreath could be
Than flowers whose hue is type of faith,
    Whose beauty tells of thee?

I thought of thee as I twin'd around
    My lute each living gem:
Thou wilt say, perchance, there are brighter
                flowers —
    There are, but I chose not them.

And why? — I will tell thee why, my love,
    These deep blue buds I chose,
Nor pluck'd, as an emblem, the lily's cup,
    Or the proud and queen-like rose.

'Twas a balmy eve, and the star-wrought sky
    Like a festive temple seem'd,
When I wander'd, my dearest, to muse on thee,
    O'er the paths where the flow'rets gleam'd.

I look'd on the lily, but chill and pale
    Its silver leaflets lay —
'Twas all too cold for affection's type,
    And I turn'd from its beauties away.

I sought out the home of the crimson rose,
    But the brightness of its bloom,
And the leaves which had courted the sunny
                day,
    Had shrunk from the evening's gloom.

And I thought it not meet that my humble lute
    'Mid the breath of the rose should flow,
For I could not deem that thy youthful heart
    Would change in the hour of woe.

I found the spot where the violets grew,
    By the light of their dewy eyes,
Which shone as I stood by their lowly bed,
    And the incense of their sighs.

Oh, not like the rose did they woo the sun
    In a glad and a smiling hour,
And shrink, like the false and treacherous heart,
    When the shadows began to low'r.

They were still unchang'd when the darkness
                came,
    And around my lute I twin'd
Their buds, as an emblem of thy truth,
    And the heart where thou art shrin'd.


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THE FATHER
ON THE LOSS OF A TWIN-CHILD


MY child of love, I look for thee,
    When night has chas'd the day;
Thy sister seeks her father's knee,
    But thou — thou art away:
Thy sister is but as a thing
That tells me of thy withering.

I hop'd to rear you as twin-flowers,
    Both springing from one bed;
But thou — the light of darkest hours,
    My favourite one art dead:
The lonely bud still left to bloom,
Doth but remind me of thy doom.

I do not know how love doth start,
    Yet when, at evening's fall,
I press'd thy form unto my heart,
    I felt thou wert my all;
I saw thee innocent and fair,
And quite forgot my toil and care.

Oft does thy sister search around,
    To find her playmate dear;
She looks — but thou no more art found,
    She calls — thou can'st not hear;
And yet though thou no more art seen,
She scarce can tell what death may mean.

Few months have vanish'd since I heard
    Thy accents form my name;
Oh, how I dwelt upon each word
    That from thy young lips came;
I bless'd thee, and I had no fear
That I so soon should see thy bier.

Short time has pass'd since in my arms
    Thou claim'dst a father's kiss,
And I did view thy infant charms
    With all a father's bliss:
Alas! I dreamt not then that thou
So soon wouldst lie where thou dost now.

Sometimes when I have look'd upon
    Thy sweetly playful face,
I've deem'd thou wert too fair a one
    To dwell with earthly race,
Yet did not think so soon would roam
Thy soul from out its beauteous home.

So quick I thought thou would'st not fade,
    So soon thy bloom be gone,
So very soon thy form be laid
    Beneath the churchyard stone;
But life is like a taper's ray,
Which slightest breeze may waft away.

I do not weep to mourn thy fate,
    For happier now thou art ;
I weep that I am desolate,
    And that we are apart;
I weep that life still keeps me here,
From thee, and from thy blessed sphere.

I will not cherish my despair,
    And mourn thy loss in vain,
But live in hope to meet thee where
    We may not part again,
Where friend meets friend, and parent child,
Where joy by grief is ne'er defil'd.


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THE HAUNTED STREAM
A GERMAN LEGEND


But he that was there in that secret spot,
Regarded the stream and the blossoms not:
He regarded the stream and the blossoms less,
For his glance was on brighter loveliness.

ANON


IN a small valley near the Rhine stood the dwelling of Harold, the fisherman.  His family consisted of a wife and five children, three sons and two daughters; and though it required all his industry to support them, his heart was light, and he was content with such cheer as his labour enabled him to obtain.

    His eldest son, Arnaud, who was about the age of fourteen, usually accompanied him in his fishing excursions, and assisted him to draw his nets.  Arnaud's chief delight was to hear his father, whilst waiting for the filling of the nets, recount the various legends of the valley, of which he possessed an almost inexhaustible store.  The tales which Arnaud used to listen to with the greatest pleasure, and which he often prevailed upon his father to repeat, were those which told of the fairies, who were said to haunt the stream that flowed at a short distance from the fisherman's dwelling.  It was believed that at certain times of the year, a bark glided along the stream, filled by a group of fairies, who landed on the banks, and after amusing themselves for some time on shore, betook them to their bark again, and, floating to a particular part of the water, disappeared.  "I will endeavour to obtain a sight of these fairies," thought Arnaud; and seeking the banks of the river, he would linger there for hours together.  Many a time would his heart beat fast and loud as he heard a rushing sound, and hid himself amid the bushes, scarcely daring to look up, until he was at once relieved and disappointed to find the object of his alarm merely the noise occasioned by the flight of a water-fowl.  Still his patience did not forsake him; and though he incurred his father's displeasure, when he returned home, for his long absence, he murmured not, for he hoped he should soon be recompensed for all his scoldings and disappointments by a sight of those mysterious beings whom he so ardently longed to behold.

    One day, exhausted with watching, he laid himself down beneath the shade of a spreading tree, and fell asleep, and dreamt of Fairyland.  Arnaud was a beautiful youth, and as he reclined in slumber, though his bright blue eyes were closed, the flowing ringlets of his golden hair, his fair and blooming cheeks, his graceful form, and well-fashioned limbs, which the meanness of his dress could not conceal, made him appear a being destined to move in a far superior circle to that in which he had been brought up.  He was awakened from his romantic vision by a warm pressure on his lips.  He started from his sleep, and saw the loveliest creature his eyes had ever beheld.  A female, whose charms were of the most dazzling description, bent over him in an attitude of fondness and admiration.  She was clad in white drapery, interwoven with threads of silver; her zone was inlaid with gold, and studded with precious stones, that shone like so many stars.  Strings of the finest pearl enwreathed her neck, and gleamed amongst her dark tresses; but the lustre of the shining stones was not so bright as her eyes, nor were the pearls as pure as her neck and bosom.  She held in her hand a chaplet of water-lilies, and placing them around Arnaud's temples, she exclaimed, in a voice of melody, "Beautiful mortal! thou beholdest in me one of the fairies who haunt this place.  My companions are diverting themselves on the banks of the river, and I, having chosen this spot for my gambols, was attracted by thy surpassing loveliness.  Fairest of the children of men, wilt thou not go with me? wilt thou not accompany me to my own blessed regions, where sorrow comes not, and joy reigneth for ever in the hearts of the inhabitants?  I will build thee a bower of crystal; the floor shall be of coral, sprinkled with pearls and rubies, and the windows shall be formed of the most brilliant diamonds.  Sweet son of the earth, wilt thou I not go with me?"

    Arnaud cast his eyes around, and beheld a numerous group of those beings whom he had so long wished to see, some bounding along the shore, and others diving beneath the waters.  His glance again rested on the fair form by his side, and as he gazed on its unearthly beauty, his heart throbbed violently, and a throng of more exquisite sensations than he had ever felt before took possession of his soul: all thoughts of home vanished from his mind.

    "Gentle being," said he to the fairy, "if I look on and am near to thee, I cannot fail to be happy: willingly, therefore, would I go with thee to thine own country; but I fear thy companions will not consent that a poor mortal like myself should be a partaker of their gladness."

    "Fear not, my beloved," replied the fairy, "those of our race know not what it is to give pain to each other, and the thing which I request will not be denied.  Remain here a few moments; I will away and acquaint my sisters with my desire, and on my return we will bound into our bark, and depart to the land of light and beauty."

    When Arnaud was alone he almost repented of the promise he had made, for the thoughts of home came to his heart, and with difficulty he repressed his tears, as he pictured to himself the grief his family would feel on his account.  "They will assemble round the hearth," thought he, "when the evening falls, and my father will ask, 'Where is Arnaud?'  My brothers and sisters will repeat the question, and when they find that I come not, they will search for me in the wood and by the stream, and their search will be fruitless.  My mother will weep, and she will say, ''If my son were living, he would not be absent thus long; oh, Arnaud, dear Arnaud, where art thou?  Wilt thou return no more to the arms of thy mother?  Alas, we mourn in vain my children, your brother must have perished in the waters.'"

    The fairy now returned with a countenance beaming with joy.  "Arouse thee, dearest," said she, "my friends have consented that thou should'st be as one of us; already do they prepare for their journey homewards, and soon wilt thou be far, far from this dull earth, and the cares and pains which are the lot of its children."

    A band of fair creatures bounded lightly over the green turf, with their shining tresses and loose drapery floating in the wind.  A shout of admiration burst from the group, as they gazed on Arnaud, and they cried, "Truly, sister, this is a charming youth, and not unworthy to dwell amongst us.  Away, away, let us unfurl our sails, for the breeze blows freshly.  Follow us, sister, and bring with thee the graceful stranger."

    They sprang into their vessel, and Arnaud and the fairies were borne rapidly along the stream for a few minutes; then the fairies furled their sails, and the boat moved slower.  By degrees its motion grew almost imperceptible, and then it became transfixed in the middle of the water.  Arnaud gazed around with astonishment, for the fairies seemed as though they intended to proceed no further.  "Shrink not," said the sweet voice of her who was by his side, "the waves are about to close over us, but they will harm thee not.  From this spot will our boat descend to the land of beauty."

    The fairy enveloped him in a slight veil, and then the bark sank into the stream.  He felt no inconvenience from the water, but breathed as freely as if he had inhaled the fresh breeze; whilst by him swept innumerable creatures of the waves.  In a short time; though the vessel still descended at the same rate, he saw that they were in a purer element, and the water through which they had passed lay like a firmament above their heads.  They now arrived at the place of their destination; but who shall describe the effect produced upon Arnaud by the enchanting scenes spread before him!  The most beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers, seemed to have been culled from all parts of the earth, and transplanted to this fair abode.  Here were vine-covered valleys, there the peach tree bloomed in all its luxuriance, and here the orange and the lemon trees, loaded with golden fruitage.  The sturdy oak, the spreading elm, and the graceful willow, flung around their shadows.  The blue-eyed violet, the pale passion flower, the sweet-breathing honeysuckle, the maiden-like rose, the silver clematis, and the white stars of the jessamine, with numerous unknown and fragrant plants and flowers, combined to render the place more lovely than any before looked on by mortal eyes.

    The name of the fairy whom Arnaud had first seen was Rosaura, which word signifies 'air of roses,' and she was so called because of the perfume of her breath.  When Arnaud had gazed for awhile on the things around him, Rosaura led him to her dwelling, which was composed of the most brilliant spars.  She brought him fruit, and he ate and found it delicious; she pressed the juice from the bursting grape, and the goblet out of which he drank was formed of a single pearl.

    After he had refreshed himself, he wandered with the beautiful Rosaura through the enchanting groves and valleys of fairy-land.  There were neither sun, moon, nor stars above them, yet it was far more light than the sunniest day of earth, and the air was far more pure.  The trees and the flowers wore a brighter bloom, and every object had a radiance thrown over it which belongs not to the world of mortals.  This happy country was never visited by darkness nor storms, snow, nor rain; it felt not the chill breath of winter, nor the oppressive heat of summer; but all was one continued season of light and tranquillity.  No wish was entertained which might not be gratified; and there was a never-ending succession of joy and festivity.

    Arnaud soon became universally beloved by the fairies, and each strove to find favour in his sight, and endeavoured to contribute to his felicity.  They were exempt from the pains which attend on mortals, and they needed not rest or repose; yet Rosaura would watch by the couch of Arnaud whilst he slumbered, and imprint on his young cheek her warm kisses.  In the groves large and splendid diamonds were suspended from the trees, and shone like stars amid the gloom.  Their principal amusement was the dance, and the music to which they danced was produced from sweet-toned harps, whose melody was awakened by the wind.  Sometimes they would strive to excel each other in the race, and bound along like a troop of startled fawns.  The prize for which they usually contended was a coronal of flowers, which was placed on the victor's brow by the hand of Arnaud.  There was no envy in these contests; there was no ill-will borne by the vanquished; but each was as ready to rejoice in the victor's success, as though she herself had been the conqueror.  Rosaura taught Arnaud to play upon the lute, and would often accompany its music with the melody of her own voice.  At other times, a group of the fair dwellers in this romantic land would join their voices together in some delightful air peculiar to themselves, until the breeze became replete with sweet sounds, and the senses of Arnaud were wrapt in a dream of ecstasy.

    Innumerable were the devices practised to amuse the favoured mortal thus placed amongst them; but the human mind is not fitted for a state of uninterrupted happiness.  It is the alternate succession of joy and grief which renders existence desirable; it is the remembrance of the past and the uncertainty of the future which makes us cling to life with so much tenacity.  It is the mingling of hope and fear, the expectation, and not unpleasing dread, of our coming years, "gloomy and indistinct as feverish dream," which makes us wish to live on.  With Arnaud the memory of the past still lived; the future, however, no longer formed a theme of conjecture to his mind.  All would be a scene of changeless and unchequered brightness; all would be calm, all would be beautiful; yet there would be no interruption to the calm, there would be no variation in the beauty, and as he who has long dwelt beneath a tropic sun longs even for the chill blasts of winter, so did his young heart soon yearn for his own native home, with its changeful sky, at times frowning in gloomy grandeur, and at others radiant with light and silvery clouds, floating over its surface like winged heralds of heaven sent forth to speak of peace to man.

    Two years passed away, two years in an abode where pleasure was the only study, where neither sickness nor fatigue interrupted the revels of its inhabitants; where age weakened not their powers of enjoyment, and where all was one continued round of harmony and bliss.  Things which at first sight excite our imagination, by being ever before our eyes lose their power of charming.  Beauty, when uncontrasted with deformity, palls upon the sense, and becomes uninteresting from the very uniformity of its perfection.  We are only adapted to a state of earthly existence.  To fit the soul for a more celestial abode, it must be rid of its bodily encumbrance, it must be divested of its fleshy clothing.  If we analyze our feelings, if we strictly review our hearts, we shall find that however strong may be our belief in a future state of reward, however confident may be our anticipations of attaining it, we are still loath to quit this mortal life, this world of toil and suffering.  Earthly ties still bind us down, and the frail affections of our nature triumph over the purer and more lofty aspirations of the spirit.

    Arnaud had long sighed for his former life.  He knew himself to belong to a race of beings inferior to those with whom he now dwelt.  He was a favourite, and loaded with caresses; yet their favour had become painful, their caresses were coldly received, for he saw he was considered but as a bird admired for the sweetness of its voice or the beauty of its plumage; or as a pet lamb caressed by a gentle girl.  He was loved, but not with the love which mortal bears to mortal; he was loved, but not as one on terms of equality with those who loved him.  He never for a moment could forget their superior natures; he was convinced that his inferiority — his very deficiency and want of those qualities which formed their perfection — the very imperfectness of his nature caused him to be admired and caressed; and I who could submit complacently to have his infirmities set up as an idol of worship?  Then he thought, too, of one he dearly loved, of one who dearly loved him — the young and fair-haired Madeline.  She was the daughter of a neighbouring fisherman; they had been companions almost from their birth, and often in their later years the boy's arm had encircled her slender waist, and his lips pressed her cheek, whilst he vowed that when he became a man fair Madeline should be his bride.  More beauteous than ever seemed her image now as it came upon his lonely musings, and dearer far than kindred, friends, or home did he feel she was to his youthful heart.  When Rosaura gazed, spoke, or smiled in tenderness, he thought of the look, the voice, the smile of Madeline, and felt that one glance, one word, one smile of hers was worth all the joys that Fairyland could afford him, and bitterly he sighed and pined for home and her.

    Rosaura marked the change that had come over him, and when she asked the cause, no answer did he give save "home!"  Anxiously and unceasingly did the fairy watch over him, and anticipate his wants; but pale and sunken grew his features; he smiled not — a worm was at his heart, and ever and anon he murmured, "Home, home, home; oh, bear me to my home again!"  Sorely grieved was Rosaura to separate from her favourite; yet she feared the young exile was dying; and after fruitless efforts to cheer his drooping spirits, she consented to his departure, on his promising, at the expiration of two months, to return with her to Fairyland.

    Reluctantly did the fairies, after vain entreaties, prepare to transport the boy to earth again. They loaded him with costly presents as tokens of their love; and at parting, Rosaura's lips clung fondly unto his, as she placed around his neck her farewell gift.  It was a chain of pure and spotless pearls, to which was attached a glittering diamond in the form of a star.  "Take thou," said she "my parting token, wear it next thy heart, and when the diamond's light grows pale, thou wilt know that Rosaura is sorrowing for thy return."  Lightly Arnaud sprang on shore — the boat sailed slowly back — Rosaura mournfully waved her hand, and then was hidden by the closing waters.

    The day of Arnaud's return was indeed a day of rejoicing to those who had so long wept over his loss.  He seemed to re-appear amongst them like one who had long slumbered with the dead, but, in pity to their wailings, had left the land of spirits to revisit once more his earthly companions, and gladden them by his presence.  He told the tale of his wondrous adventures, and numbers flocked to listen to his strange narration; and when they seemed incredulous, he produced his costly chain and star, and they believed him.  The mutual happiness of Madeline and her lover at meeting again may be easily imagined.  With what delight did she dwell upon his words, and hear him vow that never in his absence had he forgotten his early love!

    The youthful and beautiful pair were sitting one night under the shade of a large tree, whose verdant and drooping branches almost excluded the light of the full moon.  At times, however, its white and placid rays glanced brightly through the dark foliage; and one fair star which the leaves had not shut out, fixed in its sphere, an emblem of their love and beauty, seemed smiling sweetly on them.  A lovelier night was never gazed upon; and folded in each other's arms, they felt no hearts could taste of bliss more pure than that which now they tasted.

    "And shall we never part again, and wilt thou never leave me more?" murmured the low voice of Madeline.

    "Never, my love;" replied her lover; "a few short years and thou shalt be my bride, and death alone again shall part us."

    "Oh, Arnaud," said the maiden, "thou knowest me but a mortal.  Perchance, ere long, thou wilt turn with indifference from a simple peasant-girl and sigh for Fairyland, and her who loved thee there."

    "Name not," exclaimed Arnaud, "name not the hated abode, nor her who decoyed me to it.  I would not sacrifice thy love for all the wealth which that enchanted land contains.  Rosaura and her gifts to me are valueless, and we have parted never more to meet."

    No sooner had he uttered these words than a wild shriek of agony and despair rung in his ears.  He started to his feet, and beheld a white figure dart past him with the swiftness of an arrow, and vanish from his sight.  The truth now flashed upon his memory.  It was on this spot, at this hour, that he had promised, on his parting from Rosaura, to meet her again for the purpose of returning with her to Fairyland.  Here had she repaired, and here had she heard the words which rang in her ears like a knell, and caused her to emit the loud and anguished cry which told the death of hope.  So much had Arnaud been engrossed with his own happiness, that his promise had entirely faded from his remembrance until the present moment.  To prevent the possibility of again encountering the fairy, he carefully avoided approaching the place of appointment, and for a length of time forebore to leave his parents' dwelling unless accompanied by Madeline or some of his kindred, for he well knew, that unless he was alone the fairy would not appear.

    Weeks, months, years passed away, and Arnaud began to regard his sojourn in Fairyland as little more than a bright vision; nay, he would almost have been tempted to doubt its reality, had he not still held in his possession many valuable presents, and, above all, the splendid star, which, when he gazed upon it, would often wax dim and colourless.  At times, too, in the stillness of night, when all had retired to rest, his ears were greeted with strains of plaintive music, and a voice which had of old been familiar to him, sung the following words to a sweet and mournful air: —


THE FAIRY'S SONG


Oh, come with me, my mortal love,
    To our home of bliss below,
And rove through the lone and shadowy grove,
    Where the gleaming waters flow.

Oh, come with me — I will lead thee where,
    By the diamond's starry light,
To the harps that are woke by the silent air,
    Through the dance we take our flight.

We will wander where the flow'rets spring,
    Which of old were so prais'd by thee;
I have shelter'd them e'en from the butterfly's wing,
    And the kiss of the golden bee.

But the light of the diamond waxeth pale,
    And the dance is unheeded now,
And the flowers, oh, their odours seem to fail —
    Beloved, why com'st not thou?

Dost thou still remember thy fairy maid?
    Are the hours still unforgot,
When she pillow'd thy head in the vine-clad shade?
    I ask, but thou answer'st not.

Dost thou stay to gaze on the sunny sky?
    Our own, love, is far more bright;
Can the changeful moon, or the pale stars vie
    With the Fairyland's cloudless light?

There is, joy, perchance, by thy father's hearth —
    Can it match with our ceaseless glee?
The maiden who loves thee may bind thee to earth —
    Not like mine clings her heart unto thee.

Wilt thou come? — for the sail of our bark is set,
    And I dare not longer dwell;
Wilt thou come, my beloved? — I linger yet —
    Unkind one, I weep my farewell.


    The last verse was repeated, until the voice died gradually away in the distance.  Arnaud, however, was proof against all temptations, and when he attained his twenty-first year, he married the maiden of his choice, the fair-haired Madeline, and never was he heard to regret his lot.

    After his marriage the fairy never disturbed his repose, and he saw spring up around him a group of little beings who united in their persons the loveliness of their parents.  He lived to a green and prosperous old age; and when the evening fire blazed brightly, many a time did he repeat to his children his early adventures, and thus was he accustomed to conclude his marvellous narrative.  "Oh, then, my children, content yourselves with the blessings which fall to your lot, and yearn not after the things which are wisely denied to you.  Happiness depends not so much upon external circumstances, as upon the temperament of the mind; and the mind is too often restless and unsatisfied in whatever situation the body may be placed.  We are unfitted for a state of perfect felicity, and should soon become as dissatisfied with uninterrupted joy, as with a climate unvisited by clouds or rain.  Man is generally the author of his own misery, and is ever pining for that which he has not; the poor peasant envies those who are wealthy and great, and the rich and the great, in their turn, look with envy on the seeming glad and healthy clown.  We sum up the sorrows of life, and forget its joys; we pass over the flowers, and gaze upon the weeds.  In whatever situation you are cast, compare it impartially with that of others, and you will ever find it possessed of some advantages.  Keep to yourselves pure and guiltless hearts; love virtue, and practise it for its own sake, and not for the applause the profession of it may gain you from the multitude; hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst, and you cannot fail to be as happy as any of your fellow-mortals."


――――♦――――

 
MARGARET


MARGARET is young and fair,
    With eyes, whose joyous rays
Are brighter far than diamonds are,
    And lovelier to the gaze.
You may have look'd on eyes, whose hue
Was witching, and dissolving blue;
Or jet black eyes, whose dazzling fire
All those who saw must needs admire;
But woman's glances ne'er beam'd yet
More soft than those of Margaret.

Lily pale is Margaret's cheek,
    And yet surpass'd by none;
For if for beauty's blush you seek,
    It dwells that cheek upon.
Oh! who can look upon her smile,
And feel his soul unmov'd the while?
Or mark her lips of love unclose,
And give to view the shining rows
Of pearl in beds of coral set,
And not adore fair Margaret?

Margaret's hair, like streams of light,
    Doth o'er her white neck flow,
And twines, in yellow ringlets bright,
    Around her polish'd brow:
Each silken lock, each curling tress,
Glows like a star of loveliness;
Her voice is like a bow, whose dart
Is sure to sink into the heart:
Who once has seen, can ne'er forget,
Or cease to love young Margaret.


――――♦――――

 
NIGHT THOUGHTS


I think of thee in the stilly night,
    When others lie in dreams,
And the moon is raining on the earth
    A shower of silver beams.

I think of thee when I see a star
    On a quiet stream look down,
And flash again from its hidden depths,
    Like a radiant golden crown.

I think of thee when I see its beams
    Rush forth from their glorious sphere,
As though they lov'd their beauty to bathe
    In the waters cool and clear.

I have thought that stream as a mirror might be,
    That star a maiden fair,
Gazing in joy on her loveliness,
    As it shone reflected there.

Or I have thought that fair star lov'd
    The quiet stream's pure breast,
And guarded its slumbers through the night,
    And kiss'd it into rest.

My faithful heart is as that stream,
    A mirror sweet of thee;
Thy beauty lights its inmost depths —
    THOU art that star to me.


――――♦――――

 
I LOVE THEE


I can but breathe, my gentle love,
    In wild and simple song,
The name and beauty which should be
    Borne deathlessly along.
I ask no laurel for the lyre
    Which tells of love for thee:
'Tis but a record of the heart —
    A smile its guerdon be.

I love thee! — in those few sweet words
    A hidden magic lies;
And in my bosom, at their sound,
    A thousand glad thoughts rise;
And, as the Patriarch beheld
    His incense upwards spring,
E'en so one dear thought tells that thou
    Smil'st on my offering.

I love thee! — still those words shall be
    The burthen of my lay —
Thou art my star in sorrow's night,
    My sun in pleasure's day.
I love thee! — even the very place
    Where thou do'st love to be;
All things thou lov'st to look upon
    I love, because of thee.

I love thee! — if, when far away,
    I dwell on some sweet tone,
I listen but because the voice
    Is like unto thine own;
And if I mark some sylph-like form
    Move gracefully along,
'Tis but that it resembles hers
    Who claims my heart and song.

I love thee for thy dove-like eyes,
    And for each silken tress,
Thy rose-like cheek, and snow-white brow —
    Thy all of loveliness.
I love thee! — and so deep the spell
    Entwin'd around my heart,
That, e'er it cease to beat for thee,
    Both love and life must part.


――――♦――――

 
THE SECRET BRIDAL


THE marble walls of the magnificent cathedral of Florence gleamed in the summer sun, whose beams cast a dim and chastened light over the interior of the stately pile, when two youths, each evidently the scion of some noble and wealthy house, strode proudly up the aisle.  With an easy and confident air, dangling their plumed and jewelled caps carelessly in their hands, they made their way to a seat, apparently with no great intention of listening to the holy man who was then addressing his flock.  The elder and most confident of the two seemed to be pointing out to his companion and expatiating on the various specimens of art with which the walls of the building were adorned.  Suddenly the younger cavalier, who at first appeared remarkably attentive to his companion, lost all interest in his discourse, and its objects, which he was previously surveying with much curiosity.  It was some moments before the other perceived his inattentiveness, and the earnestness with which his eyes were fixed upon a certain part of the cathedral.

    "In heaven's name, Eribert," said his friend, "on what gazest thou so long and admiringly."

    "Azzo," whispered the other, "tell me, I pray thee, the name of yonder maiden."

    "Truly, my friend," replied Azzo, smiling, "my acquaintance is not of so general a character as to enable me to inform thee of the name of each damsel who happens to meet thine eye."

    "Looks she not more like a saint," said Eribert, "than any of the creations of fancy that surround us?  Didst ever see a face so fair, a form so faultless?"

    His companion answered only by a smile, and until the service was concluded, and the congregation began to disperse, the youths sat in silence, the younger never for a moment withdrawing his glance from the object of his admiration.  The instant she quitted her seat, he started from his own, and hurried towards the door, but the pressure of the retiring crowd barred his progress, and when he was able to force a passage, she whom he sought had vanished he knew not where.  After a considerable time spent in fruitless attempts to ascertain the way she had taken, he was obliged to abandon his search, and returned to his friend, not a little chagrined at his disappointment.  It was in vain that Azzo tried to banter his friend out of his sudden prepossession in favour of an unknown damsel.  He remained, during the day, so unusually absent and gloomy, that his companion, after resorting to all the means in his power to overcome the melancholy of the enamoured youth, was fain to leave him to himself, and seek resource from his apathy in the company of more lively acquaintance.

    Eribert de Alberti was the only son and heir of an ancient and wealthy house, and was, as only sons generally are, the idol of his parents.  He was now on a visit to his quondam school-fellow, the dissipated, yet frank and open-hearted Azzo de Carrara.  Eribert and Azzo were sworn friends, and seldom, if ever before, had they found each other's fellowship wearisome.  Eribert had, until the present moment, considered himself perfectly invulnerable to female charms, and had always been the first to jest at the raptures of his too susceptible friend, but he now felt that an unknown, and perhaps worthless object — though he could not bear to think that the latter might be the case — had cast a spell over his heart, from which he strove in vain to free himself.  For many days he was a constant attendant at the cathedral, in the hope of again seeing the fair unknown, but his visits were fruitless; though his eyes keenly scrutinised each female countenance, he saw not that which was so deeply graven on his heart.

    Several weeks had elapsed, when as Eribert and his friend were one day passing through the Palazzo del Duca, Azzo proposed that they should call on a promising young painter who resided in the neighbourhood, and whom he had lately rescued from poverty and taken under his patronage.  The artist had amply confirmed the judgment and generosity of his patron by proofs of ability and excellence which had already obtained numerous admirers.  The two friends found the painter busily employed with his pencil, and whilst he was pouring forth expressions of gratitude to Azzo, his companion's gaze was attracted by an unfinished portrait.  An exclamation of delight burst from him.  He recognized the image of his long-sought enchantress.  The artist replied to his eager enquiries, by informing him that he knew the original of the picture by the name of Constance Durazzo, and that she was the only child of a widow in respectable but not affluent circumstances.  One part of the information he received made the young lover's heart bound with joy.  The lady was in the habit of coming to the artist's study alone, and the next day was appointed for one of her visits.

    Long before the time appointed for the maiden's arrival, Eribert was at the artist's chamber.  Wooing scenes are tedious; suffice it to say that the youth became a successful suitor.  He was now at the height of happiness, but there was a mystery enveloping the birth of Constance which he strove in vain to penetrate.  She had resided, from the period of her earliest recollection, in her present abode, and with her present protectress, whom she had long thought her mother, until a few years ago, she had learned that no relationship existed between them.  From her adopted mother she had obtained the following statement.

    Eighteen years ago Madame Durazzo had lost her husband, and was sitting one dull evening in her lonely mansion, musing over her recent loss and the straitened circumstances in which her husband's death had involved her, when she was informed that a stranger wished to speak with her.  She gave orders for his admittance, and was surprised by the entrance of a young and handsome man, apparently of rank and distinction.  He informed her that he had known her deceased partner, and had heard of his death, and the embarrassments which that event had entailed upon her.  If Madame Durazzo was previously at a loss to account for the stranger's visit, she was still more perplexed on seeing him produce, from beneath the cloak in which he was enveloped, an infant.  He proceeded to state to her his business.  He wished her to take charge of the child, and adopt it as her own.  If she consented to his request, he would place in her hands any sum she might think adequate for its future maintenance and her own remuneration.  Its true rank, and the name of its parents, she must ever remain in ignorance of.  He wished her in all respects to consider it as her own offspring, to bestow upon it what name she thought proper, and to bring it up in the belief that she was its mother.

    Strange as this proposal appeared to Madame Durazzo, when she saw the extreme loveliness of the child, and thought of her own desolate state and pecuniary embarrassments, and of the purposes to which the money she would receive with the infant might be applied, she accepted of the trust.  The stranger immediately deposited in her hands double the sum she demanded.  He kissed the cheek of the smiling babe, and she observed that a tear was trembling in his eye, but he turned hastily away, and bade her farewell.  She saw him no more.  She bestowed upon the child her own name of Constance; it had grown up in beauty, and loving it as a mother, she had wished it ever to regard her in that light, until in an unguarded moment, the secret had escaped her lips beyond recall.

    With this vague account Eribert was obliged to rest satisfied.  The idea of betraying the being whose young heart he had won, never for a moment crossed his imagination, but he smiled at times to think that he, the heir of an illustrious house, who had beheld with indifference the proud and beauteous dames of his own rank, was now devotedly attached to one whose name and true station in life was unknown to him.  He was well aware that his father, however indulgent he might be to his minor follies, would never consent to his union with one whose birth was involved in so much obscurity.  It was in vain that he attempted to reason himself out of his prepossession, for when did love ever yield to reason's dictates?  Each succeeding day did but rivet his fetters more strongly, and convince him of the futility of his endeavours to subdue his passion.

    The time of his returning home was rapidly approaching, and the struggle betwixt his duty and his love must be brought to a close — the victory was love's.  He determined to make Constance Durazzo his bride.  There are few female hearts which could resist the united attractions of rank, wealth, and love.  Constance yielded to his proposal of a secret marriage.  Madame Durazzo was a woman who worshipped rank as a divinity, and in the weakness and vanity of her nature was transported with delight at the thought of the beloved child of her adoption becoming the wife of the heir of the Marquis de Alberti.  It was not likely, therefore, that she would offer any obstacle to the completion of Eribert's wishes.  On the contrary, her utmost influence was used on his behalf, and the preparations for the union were speedily completed.

    The ceremony was to be performed in private, and attended only by Madame Durazzo and one of her neighbours.  Eribert led the beautiful Constance to the altar.  A strange oppressive, and indefinable feeling came over the heart of Eribert as he led his intended bride up the dim aisle of the chapel where the marriage was to take place.  The priest commenced the ceremony, and a sensation almost amounting to horror took possession of the bridegroom.  He felt like one about to take a part in some unholy and accursed sacrifice, and as he looked on the downcast and trembling Constance, his imagination pictured her as the victim.  He strove vainly to overcome these feelings, and he shuddered involuntarily as the priest pronounced the closing benediction.  Constance was, however, now his bride, and as he pressed her to his breast, he fondly thought that, in spite of his previous ominous sensations, his bliss would be both lasting and perfect.

    The period appointed for his return to his parents had gone by, and as they would no longer be pacified by his reiterated excuses, he was compelled, shortly after his union, to bid his bride a reluctant adieu.

    Proudly did the Marquis and Marchioness de Alberti embrace their beloved son, but Eribert's thoughts were with his bride at Florence, and he found some difficulty in evading the inquiries of his mother who with the keen eye of maternal love soon saw that he met her not with his usual expression of frank delight.  Eribert shrank from the idea of deceiving his parents, yet when he gazed on their dignified forms, and saw the state with which they were surrounded, he felt that it would be almost madness in him to expect their sanction to his union.  The secret, therefore, remained closely shut up in his own breast.  Slowly passed the time which he was obliged to spend at the seat of his ancestors, ere he returned to his adored Constance.  Several months had glided on, when availing himself of the absence of his father, who had departed to visit a distant estate, he again set out on his way to Florence.  Attended only by a confidential servant, he travelled with a lover's speed, and joyfully did he enter the fair city in which he had treasured up his hopes.

    Day had closed when Eribert arrived at the place of his destination, and leaving his steed to the care of his attendant, he proceeded on foot to his wife's habitation.  He paced the well-known street with rapid steps.  The night was one of alternate gloom and brightness, and a cloud had now veiled the face of the moon, but he perceived a light burning in the home of Constance, and was in the act of bounding over the street, when he beheld the dark figure of a man muffled in a cloak emerging from the house.  He started back in astonishment, and retreating beneath the shade of a projecting door-way, he watched unseen the man's movements.  The stranger cast around looks of anxious observation, and then glided stealthily away.  What did he there?  Could Madame Durazzo be the object of his visit — if so why did he steal away in such a guilty manner?  Perchance Constance — at the thought a jealous fury fired his brain, and he rushed after the figure.  The person whom he pursued, on hearing the advance of footsteps, stopped short, and turned suddenly round.

    "Villain!" cried Eribert, "defend yourself!" and unsheathing his sword, he dashed madly at the unknown, who drawing forth his own weapon, vigorously repelled the attack.  They struck at random, for they were in darkness.  By a chance thrust Eribert wounded the sword arm of his opponent, whose weapon fell from his grasp.  Eribert's blade was aimed in the direction of his enemy's heart, when the moon burst its shroud, and shone brightly on the combatants.  Eribert's hand sank powerless by his side — he sprang back as from a spectre — he gazed upon his father!

    For a few moments they stood in mute astonishment.  The silence was broken by the Marquis de Alberti.  "What means this, sir!" said he, "have you turned spy — or think you I have lived too long, that thus you come upon me like a midnight assassin — boy would'st thou commit parricide?"

    "By heavens, I knew you not!" said Eribert, in horror and surprise.

    "Follow me," said the Marquis.

    Eribert obeyed in silence, and his father led the way to an obscure house of entertainment.  They entered a small room.  The Marquis locked the door, and sank exhausted on a chair.  Eribert would have assisted in binding up the wound he had inflicted, but his aid was refused.

     "Away!" cried the Marquis, "I seek no help from an assassin — explain this conduct, or you are henceforth no son of mine."

    "Father," said Eribert, "first tell me, in mercy I beseech you tell me, what know you of Constance Durazzo?"

    The Marquis started from his seat with a pale and a shy countenance, and his lips quivered with passion.  His hand sought his sword, but the scabbard was empty.

    "Death and hell!" he cried, "must I endure this, madman; forbear, forbear —tempt not thy father thus!"

    Then suddenly subduing his emotion, he recovered his former cold and haughty bearing, and thus addressed his son.

    "Presumptuous boy, by what right playest thou the spy upon my actions?  How darest thou thus to question me?"

    "Hear me," said Eribert, "father, hear me.  In this case, in this alone, I have a right to question you — the right of Constance Durazzo's husband!"

    "Her husband!" groaned the Marquis and fell senseless on the floor.

    Eribert, utterly confounded, used every means for his father's recovery, and he was at length restored to consciousness.  He gazed around, with a wild and haggard look, and murmured "what horrid dream is this? — ha! Eribert — Great God! 'tis real!"

    He was again relapsing into insensibility, but, with a powerful effort, he mastered his feelings, and retained his faculties.  "God, oh, God!" continued he, "the sins of the father are indeed visited on his children.  Answer me — is Constance Durazzo thy wife?"

    "Father, we are married."

    "Then Heaven pardon thee, my child, for THOU ART WEDDED TO THY SISTER!"

    "My sister!" gasped Eribert, convulsively—"no, no, it cannot be — father you rave — trifle not with me thus!"

    "Listen to me," said the Marquis, "listen, whilst my parched lips give utterance to a tale whose every word must sink into thy soul, as though impressed upon thy brain with brand of burning iron.  Thou well know'st that a deadly feud subsisted betwixt thy mother's father and mine own.  The enmity of parents descends not always to their offspring — thy mother and myself saw, and loved each other.  We met often in secret, for we knew that our sires would never consent to our union, and in an evil hour, when passion triumphed over reason, thy mother fell from virtue.  Oh, the agonies I was destined to endure from that fatal indiscretion!  More than a year had elapsed, when I was informed that the effects of our stolen interviews could no longer be concealed.  Feigning an invitation from a relative who resided at a distance from her father's residence, thy mother contrived to leave her home for a time, and taking refuge in a retreat I had provided for her near Florence, she gave birth to an infant.  I placed the child in the care of Madame Durazzo, with an injunction that she would adopt it as her own.  A short period after this event, thy mother's father died, and as the enmity of my sire extended not beyond the grave, with some difficulty I obtained his consent to my union with the daughter of his deceased foe.  Thy mother and myself were united, but still I resolved to preserve the reputation of my bride unsullied, and the offspring of our guilt knew not her parents.  Having completed the business which was the cause of my present journey, I halted to-night, on my return homewards, at Florence.  An irresistible impulse led me to re-visit the house of Madame Durazzo, and inquire from her the destiny of the infant I had confided to her care.  I found that it had grown up to womanhood, rich in beauty and accomplishments.  I enfolded the innocent fruit of my crime in my arms, and bestowed upon it my blessing.  Constance (such I found was the name bestowed upon my child) knelt before me, and earnestly entreated that I would at least inform her of her parents' names and rank, but pride, and a slavish fear of the world's censure, prevailed over the dictates of my heart, and I was proof against her supplications.  I tore myself from her, and left the house."

    After that night the Marquis de Alberti never again beheld his son, who soon found in battle the death which he sought.  The brief remainder of the existence of the ill-fated Constance was terminated in a convent.


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