Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

A year agone, I sat in this window, handles her as no one except her owner and watched a scene that is present with has ever done before. me now as it was then. The sunset hush “All's well!" is his ringing cheer—and is broken in upon by the fierce, quick ere the echoes cease to repeat the sound, beat of the waves against the bank, the the friendly race is out of sight and hearsure token that swift oars are at work not ing—the waves are settling again into far off. And while I lean forward to see crimson repose. who comes in such furious haste, the whole Between my vision and the picture a of our mimic fleet sweeps into view from veil has fallen. They have fairer and eterbehind the upper curve. The Gennesaret nal sunlight, and softer airs than ours, up and Brownie are ably manned, and are do- there—lips that never whiten into dumbing their work well, riding high under ness, or moan the sorrows they cannot arlight weight, and impelled by strong, ticulate; eyes that know not tears. His true strokes, the keels cutting straight have looked upon the sea of glass mingled white furrows in the water. But two with fire, and he has learned the new song. boat-lengths before them flies the Sunny- All is well with the lad-more gloriously bank, lithe and keen as a greyhound, well than when he filled our home with leaping, not ploughing, and seemingly gladness by his visit, and our souls with not swaying or trembling under the long, prideful affection—with joy in his noble eren sweep of the oars. As she passes nature, his great loving heart, and the the cottage the occupant swings his cap, talents that promised him renown and his eyes brimful of merry light; the flush us enduring delight-how well we cannot of healthful exercise making brighter the know until we walk with him the sweet smile upon his happy face. He loves the fields beyond the flood that took him away. much-belied boat as he might a genial And yet-and yet-God knows the comrade in this, his summer vacation, and rest!

THE NIGHT WATCHES.

HER robes yet skirted with the sunset glimmer,

Into the twilight brown-
Into the twilight ever growing dimmer,

Calmly the world goes down.

Without a fear she seeth shut behind her

The iron gates of night.
The morning sun hath never failed to find her,

And lead her forth to light.

And friendly is the darkness, grown thus wonted;

With night, as well as day,
Is the eternal covenant appointed-

In both she knows her way.

So in the solemn darkness of this hiding,

That seems so like His frown,
A planet which the sun unseen is guiding,

Calmly my soul goes down.

When, on the dreamer, angels without number

From the still skies look out,
The revelers cannot know how sweet the slumber

He draws the dark about.

[blocks in formation]

66

CHAPTER XVII.

[ocr errors]

· Why will not to-morrow do as Nearly five weeks were past since well ?” the time of the great meteor and Dr. That I may not tell you; but you Firm's adventure at the cemetery en- must trust me, Jane. Can't you, when trance. At that time Dr. Firm had made you know I have never missed a Christa promise to the woman he had sheltered; mas dinner with you since we two were during the interim he had made two or left alone; I don't think I shalloenjoy my three promises to Morton Cloud. From visit so very much that you need to think day to day Dr. Firm had quieted the im- I prefer it to being at home to-day." patience of the youth by asserting that “There! there! I won't Bennie," she time was to him, in the interest he had said. It was many years since Jane at heart, an advantage; but at length Dr. Firm had called her brother by the old Firm was prepared to move, and on childhood's name, and it touched him so Christmas morning he shocked his good tenderly that he thought of it many times sister by requesting her to defer the on the railway that morning. dinner until nine o'clock in the evening, Poor Morton Cloud! He did not look on the penalty of not having him for host much like a gleeful college boy, going at the table.

home to holiday festivities, as he sat by “Benjamin Firm!” she said, too much the side of Dr. Firm in the car that mornstricken with surprise to say more.

ing. Every mile the youth dreaded more “Jane, my sister, it is a matter of im- and more. A vague, undefinable cloud portance," said he. “If you knew how of something terrible approaching seemed long I had put it off you would hate me to fill the air he breathed, until he seemed for not having gone earlier."

like one in physical suffering, and two "I do this minute, but if it has waited or three times, nay more, Dr. Firm so long, all I have to say is that it must watched him closely, and kindly words wait a little longer; for I cannot eat Christ- of encouragement were poured into his mas dinner without you; besides, what ear at intervals. will our friends think?"

" There is Dr. —"exclaimed Mor“Tell them my absence is professional, ton, when they were leaving the train at Jane."

Hartford. “I am certain that I saw him They will want to know who is so ill. this very morning in New Haven." What shall I tell them, Benjamin ? " “You did without doubt, for he came

“ That it is none of their business, if on the same train" you please," he said, and then instantly Time for further information was not repenting, as he saw the signs of pain granted, for so soon as he could reach quivering along that face which had Dr. Firm, Dr. joined him and Morwatched, waited and worked for him so ton, and with them proceeded to the asymany years, he went up to her, and put- lum for the insane. ting his hand kindly on her shoulder, Poor Morton was left in a receptionwhispered, "It is your business, Jane, room for full half an hour while the physiand I will tell you. I am going to Hart- cians from New Haven were in consultaford to learn something about the body I tion with the physicians of the asylum. found one night, you know where." He looked out from the windows, but

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

there was nothing pleasing in the view The substance of the story was like to him that day; he listened with all his unto the following statement: Mrs. Norpowers of hearing, but no sound of in- man Cloud was the possessor of a comsane cry or laughing maniac smote on his fortable fortune inherited from her father, hearing; the place was as quiet as a vil. together with some of his own personal lage burying-ground. He walked up and peculiarities. This fortune was repredown the room, sighing as he went, and sented by certain plots and parcels of real quite determined in his own mind the estate, improved and unimproved. To this important fact that he did not care to live land, with a kind of allegiance that some long, if his life was to be made up of the natures owe and seem determined to pay days and cares that had lately formed the to mother earth, her father had bound himsum of it.

self in life, and, at death, had most solemnAt length they came in, a stately array, ly warned his daughter not to alienate. Into the youth—four physicians as opposite herited tendency and dying request fallin type and spirit as the four cardinal ing into the same parallel, their combined points of the compass, and they seemed to strength assumed the appearance of obstand about the boy for a minute in silence, stinacy. making him feel as if he were in the very Norman Cloud was a speculating admidst of a compass-saw. Then Dr. Firm venturer from his cradle, he having even introduced Morton to the asylum physi- in the days of his infancy whittled himself cians, and they began to question the out from it, evidently with a view to findyouth, asking him of places and points ing out its construction. Life was with in his life so apparently without connec- him one grand, gayly-colored bubble, that, tion with the subject he had at heart, that toss it howsoever he might, would, if it at last Morton burst out with the words, broke, shower down on him all manner "Let me see my mother first and question of brilliances. He had married the young me afterward.”

lady, who was known to be the posses"We would, were she here," was the sor of many roods of soil, believing that reply.

he had only to bring such treasures as he "You do not mean that she is dead!” would out from the earth. He dreamed

The look of the youth touched the hearts of finding therein mines of gold, and of all, for with one voice they made haste house lots without number. He thought to tell him that his mother had been re- he loved the possessor of this fine promoved from the asylum because no reason perty, and he did, as a part of it. The for her confinement there had been found; lady, witnessing the love he had for, and that she had gone to New York two days the interest he took in her lands, mistook earlier, and been consigned to the care of the love and interest, and applied it to her husband by one of the physicians of the wrong account of self. The gold the asylum. Furthermore, that the advice mines did not appear above the surface, to his father had been to take her to new for want of capital, possibly; certain it is, places and new scenes.

that the husband spent hours and days in Morton then underwent a catalogue of the vain effort to convince his young wife questioning longer than any catechism, and that the needed capital, for great plans quite as comprehensible to him as cate- of improvement that he made in his brain chism to infancy. He was so relieved to to become realities, lay in her inherited find that his mother was no longer an in- acres. " Then it must lie there," she said. mate of that dreaded place, that he re- “But it does not remove the lands to plied to every question with exceeding mortgage them,” he said, "and the repatience and care. Morton Cloud was a turns will readily remove the encumtruth-teller, and his statements made the brances." physicians doubt their own wisdom in so The wife was firm, obstinate, ugly, a speedily dismissing the woman.

monomaniac, by turns, as the firmness

a

grew, and the time lengthened, until, at attention of the world, his world at least. the period when Norman Cloud and Na- This great aim could not be carried on to than Wave launched their great steam- success without money, more money ship enterprise on the highways of finance, than the stockholders cared to pay in her temper had positively reached, in her until further evidence of its future greathusband's view, the limit of reason, and ness revealed itself. To that end it had he delighted to announce to himself that been voted that each person should conshe was insane, yes—really insane. “The tribute according to his ownership; a thing had been growing upon her for measure, be it known, that was carried at years; indeed, ever since his married life a meeting held during the absence of began," he stated to the doctors, and in Christopher Kroy and Mr. Cloud from fact, by reference to those persons who the city. had been acquainted with his wife's fa- To compel acquiescence in his wish to ther and familiar with his grasp over pro- obtain the desired amount, Mr. Cloud had perty, he had reason to believe that the exhausted all measures before he resorted madness was inherited, Norman Cloud to that of the confinement in vault and did not narrate to the medical gentlemen asylum. It is true that his wife had dwelt the number of weeks he had devoted to upon the idea so long, that it had outthe enterprise of trying to induce his grown, overshadowed, and absorbed her wife to sell some portion of her property ideas to such extent, that the theme of this and invest the amount thus obtained in property was almost the only subject that steamships. Then, when entreaty had had chance to present itself before the failed, he likewise omitted to mention imperial court of mind in her person. It that he had tried a course of absence from was always before her by day and it led home with no better effect—that he had the succession of her dreams by night, added thereto the discipline of silence until the poor lady was in a condition “reand inattention, in fact he had revolved quiring change," as the physicians at the himself around the circle of her nature, asylum had suggested, and which her good, trying to find some weakness, some door kind husband seemed only too anxious to of attack, by which he could conquer and carry out, for before the advice came, he wave his flag of manly victory over his had engaged passage for her with himself wife. Over all these minor details the man in the Liverpool steamer for a certain Satdrew the curtain of silence; they apper- urday in December of that year. tained alone to the privacy of home. His That Saturday preceded the Monday last method to win the sweet “I-will- wherein Dr. Firm and Morton Cloud had write-my-name-there," was the incarce- gone to Hartford. The very train which ration in the gloomy vault. If she would carried them from New Haven had borne say that sentence, he would take her on its way from New York to that place back to New York with him, he prom- a letter from Norman Cloud to his son. ised. She did not say it. Norman Cloud The son found it awaiting his arrival in did not desire to kill his wife, as was evi- New Haven. denced in his concealment in the ceme- The dinner bell rang at precisely two tery on the night Dr. Firm passed by o'clock in the Firm house. The invited and found her. He had no especial dis- individuals were all prompt and were like for her, either as an individual, or as seated at table, Miss Jane combining the wife that he had chosen because of the duties of her brother with her own. her acres, but every other will, and mo- She was in the midst of the said duties tive, and power of his nature had given when suddenly down went her knife and way before the mighty pressure of his fork, and the noise of the falling of the desire to speculate. He did not want same caused a silence, in which silence any few-dollar affair on his hands; it must Miss Jane spoke. “I hope there hasn't be something which should command the anything happened to Benjamin," she said,

m

CHAPTER XVIII.

"for as certainly as I live I heard him sneeze just now, and he is in Hartford.” On a day, your nature being specially

They all laughed at her fancy, but some- polished to receive certain moral influences how Miss Firm's firmness was departed passing by, you take up a chance bit of from her. She was confused in her du- printed matter and find therein a gem of ties, and in less than two minutes she emotion, rounded into form, and theretoincried out again, “There! did you hear itial letters appended. How, in after days, that?” but no ear save her own had been you pick up the thread of that soul by the acute enough to catch the note.

token of the initial letters and unwind it, Miss Firm was a lover of order. She hoping to find anew the pleasure you thought it a semi-divine institution, and well remember, and, like a pleasant envery rarely permitted herself to pass its trance into some enchanted ground, the boundaries, but on this occasion she arose initial letters seem to you. Though many from the table and left the room. She times doomed to disappointment in folwent through the hall and looked out from lowing up the clew, you yet trace it, the front door. The street was still and trusting still to find yourself led into a deserted, for it was the Christmas dinner garden of beauty. hour throughout the little city. Involun- To Mrs. Norman Cloud the days wheretarily she looked at the hat-rack in the ball, in she first met Mr. Cloud were initial but it was already so laden with hats and days, leading into a golden vestibule. coats that one more or less did not signify. She had entered through it and found the A little rustle of sound from the region temple cold and the worship colder. For above caused her to go up and investigate years she had tried to get back into the the cause. There, with his door stand- golden vestibule. To that end she waited ing open, stood Dr. Firm, brushing his and watched, and when she thought she hair. He was so intent on the occupation saw the initial letters she tried to follow that he had not heard a sound, nor did he their leading, but never again had they until it was accompanied by a rush of arms guided her to the enchanted ground of and a flow of words quite bewildering. early days. She was always watching

" Benjamin, did you sneeze twice, and and listening, hungry for a word of affechow in the world did you get here, and tion from the lips of Norman Cloud; so what on earth did you want to frighten that when, on the steamship, he gave me so for?

to her the simplest attention, showed for “Don't kill me wita words and I'll an- her the smallest consideration, her heart swer every question. I can't tell how arose and floated in a mist of emotion, many times I did sneeze, railway or insane requiring but one glance from the sun of dust, I reckon, and I came by rail and love to transform her into a happy womy own feet, and I did not want to frighten you, nor was I conscious that I She was sorry when the steamship had done so until you pounced upon me. reached its harbor; she could not willNow, Jane, run back to your guests, and ingly give her husband back; she deemed I'll be down at my post in less than no that the world was her enemy; that it time."

stole away, with its shining lures, a heart “No! you don't escape me that way; that else might have been hers. besides they will believe that I have seen "Well, I never was more disappointed a ghost unless I present you in person.” in a man in my life than in that Norman

In vain the brother insisted; Miss Jane Cloud,” remarked a lady passenger after resisted, even although her guests were Mr. and Mrs. Cloud had passed out from sitting around the table, until he was the steamship. “I thonght,” she added, forced to tell her that he was waiting for " that he was a bear or some other wild a very particular guest to arrive; that he animal, for ferocity and cunning; but no had invited Morton Cloud to dine with one could have been more polite and athim.

tentive to a wife than he has been during

man,

[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »