Page images
PDF
EPUB

a pile of drift-wood, which filled an angle of the stream for twenty or thirty rods. It was in the month of September, when the trout seek such spots as this to spawn. Thousands of them were languidly playing in the shallows; scarcely moving, with their heads against the current, or springing out upon the stones. I found them very lazy, and requiring to be well teased before they would take the hook. Changing the fly for the spawn of the trout, I cast my line into one of the numerous deep holes formed by the drift-wood, which concealed me from the sharp eyes of the fish. I expected better luck, because it was now evening, and they were jumping in myriads from the water, as far as I could see. The moon, which shone brightly upon the place where I stood, left in shadow the thick belt of pines opposite. Finding my hook caught, and that I could not extricate it by repeated pulls, I laid down the pole and began to throw aside the plank and rubbish, to enable me to reach and loose it. I kneeled down and felt for the book. Suddenly, I shuddered ; a deadly sickness crept over me. What was it I had found? Again I took it in my trembling grasp. I could not be deceived ; it was the unmistakeable shape and structure of a human hand!

It was long before I recovered from my horror. Every thing appeared changed about me. That peculiar odor which vegetation emits seemed like the atmosphere of the grave; the breeze murmured among the forest leaves, like the whispers of the departed. Treachery, murder, were all around me! • But he is still there,'I thought; 'my fellow-man, justice, compassion, manliness, require me to overcome this weakness.' Again following the line, I found the book fastened into something which felt like leather, and grasping it with my whole strength, I lifted it from the water and laid it upon the timbers. Great God! what was my horror, when I recognized the bruised and disfigured features of the surveyor!

*The moon now shed her beams upon the pallid corpse of the man who yesterday enlivened our toil with his frank and kindly spirit. Who were bis murderers? Where were they? I gazed around, and thought I saw a face moving among the trees. It disappeared; again I saw it. I reflected that my excited fancy had perhaps transformed the shape of boughs and leaves into the features of a man; but as I fixed my eyes upon the spot, I felt that some one was watching me from the forest. I could not endure the apprehension, and I moved toward the object of my fear. I had not traversed half the intervening space, before a man emerged from the thicket. His face was that of a savage : his beard was unshorn, and when I saw him rapidly approaching, with rage and hatred in his countenance, I turned and fled. I heard him pursuing me through the recesses of the forest. How I longed then for my faithful rifle! I imagined every sound to be the footsteps of the murderer. I rejoiced now at the darkness which made it impossible for him to follow me. For more than three hours I ran, deeper and deeper into the woods. At the end of this period I perceived a light gleaming from the rocky glen beneath me. Stealthily I crept down the bank, till I reached a ruined hut, from which the light proceeded.

VOL. XXIX.

• Made cautious by experience, I looked through an aperture between the logs and beheld three men at work. One stood above a rude stone furnace, watching the melting contents of a crucible, and dropping into it occasionally small pieces of different kinds of metal ; another was heaping coal into the mouth of the furnace; and the third arranged the dies and trimmed and sorted the coin already stamped. The flames lit up their features, begrimed with dust and smoke, and illuminated every part of the hut.

"I was about to fly from this scene of wickedness, when I heard a rapid step approaching. I lay prostrate until the man passed me and burst into the hut; then looking again through the chink, I discovered the person who had pursued me, and who was doubtless the murderer of Flint. He was earnestly addressing the coiners with violent gestures; and I knew from his manner, and the sullen yet terrified appearance of his listeners, that he was describing or urging some act of violence. Again I Aed, but with less terror than before, because there was now no danger of being intercepted; and instead of the hills, I sought the valley of the stream. Long and painful was my course : at last I reached the road, where I fell upon my knees and thanked God for my deliverance.

It was still some distance to Teeples'; and when I heard the hell sound at the bridge, it was past midnight. The old woman opened the door. She was pale, and trembled in every limb. Astonished at her emotion, I was about to inquire the cause, when behind her I saw a lace which solved the mystery, and then I felt that God had decreed my death by the same hand which took the life of Flint. It was Teeples. He came up, and for a moment looked steadily in my face. He was seeking to discover from my countenance whether I recognized him. It was a dreadful trial. He turned away without speaking. His wife went to the window, in which a pane was broken, and saying that she heard a noise, held up the light, which the wind instantly extinguished, and left us in darkness.

“Light the candle, woman' growled Teeples.

* As she passed by me into the adjoining apartment, she slipped into my hand a key, which I immediately concealed about my person. When I entered the sleeping-room, and saw the bed in which the man had slept last night, who now lay dead in the creek, a feeling of suffocation almost overpowered me. Aroused by the danger I was in, I examined the room. The lock of the door through which I entered was broken. I tried the key in a door near the head of my bed. It fitted, and I stepped into a small room, at one end of which was a window, and beneath it a shed sloping nearly to the bank at the side of the house. I was overjoyed to find here my gun, which I supposed Teeples of course had removed. I spread the blankets and coverlids upon the floor, so that my steps should not be heard, and removing tbe bed into the small room, locked and bolted it. Then I lay down in my clothes, thinking it better to wait a little before I commenced my escape.

• It was not long before a tremendous blow dashed in a panel of. the door, and the dark outlines of the villain appeared at the open

ing. The time for flight had come. As the ruffian with awful imprecations strove to dash open the solid door, I seized my gun and was about to fire, but I feared that I should miss him in the darkness, and lose the precious time. Throwing up the window, therefore, I sprang out upon the shed and plunged into the creek. Scarcely bad my foot touched the opposite bank, when a shot struck the earth within a few feet of me; and as I fed along the road, with a speed which the dread of death alone could confer, the air resounded with the most dreadful shrieks, in which I recognized the voice of the old woman, whose compassion had preserved my life.

• It was broad day when I reached a settlement, about ten miles from the assassin's abode; and before noon I returned with a dozen well-armed men, determined to bring the murderer to justice. But we were too late. We found nothing save the blackened chimney and smouldering ruins of · Teeples' Castle.' The poor surveyor was buried on the banks of the creek, where he had been robbed and murdered; and I do not know to this day the fate of his destroyer, as I left the country immediately after the occurrence.

* And now that the story is told, my good friend, I am afraid you have been wearied. An old man, you know, as I am, has no mercy upon a good listener like yourself. But come, there 's the dinnerbell. Thank God, we are in old England, and not on the banks of the bloody Pine!

And the two gentlemen left the apartment.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

THEY'RE gone, all gone! the early friends with whom I used to be,
Sailing and sailing on the waves of Youth's unruffled sea ;
The winds of Time and Chance have driven our little fleet apart,
And nearer comes the final storm, and farther we depart.

And over some the waters roll - alas ! Death's winter gale
Has torn the loftiest pennon down, and rent the strongest sail ;
And not a wreck remains to show the billows where they flew,
When every breeze was fresh and fair, and the skies were ever blue.

It is the error of the young to think the world all bloom,
When clouds are coming up to wrap the sun itself in gloom;
To dream of safety, peace and joy when ruin hovers near,
And the star of Love is sinking down in the sombre wave of Fear.

Not now, as in those happy days when friends were all around,
And every spot Affection know was consecrated ground,
Doth my heart leap high to hear the voice that fondly speaks and sings,
Or thrill at footsteps falling soft as the flight of airy wings.

For the grave has cast its shadow on the beautiful and bright,
And the music of the morn of life is silent in the night ;
In the night of care and sorrow, where memory finds no ray

From the sunny fount that gushed and gleamed in youth's delightful day!
Norrick, Connecticut.

THE SAINT LEGER PAPERS.

NUMBER TWO PART SECOND.

No, I was not happy. Notwithstanding I had gained much in serenity of feeling; notwithstanding my repeated self-assurances that I had achieved my independence, I continued to ask myself what I had gained and where I stood. The future, with what I believed to be its solemn realities, had heretofore pressed heavily upon me. My great difficulty had been to connect the present life with a life to come, and to fix the relations between them. For faith had never been by me sufficiently cherished; and without this great connecting link between two worlds, what wonder that difficulties were presented which I could not overcome ?

But in my present course I was not to be distressed with doubts or fears. I tried to assume the quiet feeling which characterized De Lisle, and with a serene aspect regard my destiny as some necessary result of causes long, long antecedent.

Unfortunately mine was not the temper for such calm complacency. Beside, I had a fresh enemy to contend with, and one hitherto quite unknown, namely: The idea of DEATH! This now constantly obtruded itself before my mind. I had never regarded that last great consummation with any peculiar dread; but now, I could not indulge in a momentary anticipation, but the grim form of the Destroyer would stalk before me and whisper, .Soon I will be with you !' To be haunted with the apprehension of a positive coming evil is dreadful; but to be tortured with fears of what may be, because we know nothing and will believe nothing of what shall be, is still more dreadful. One thing I did know.

That death would close all my earthly relations. The Beyond — the BEYOND! what had it to do with me? So long as I kept my hold on life, my philosophy bore me along smoothly enough. I was a king, a monarch; all were monarchs. But when I had to admit that at any moment this frame-work of mine was liable to be shattered and resolved into the dust which composed it, and my spiritpart be dissolved, to mix with the elements, to enter into new combinations, or return to what it had been before it was me; when the thought forced itself upon my mind that I should then lose my individuality, my identity — my very Me, Myself — great God! what absolute horror would seize upon me; what terrific apprehensions hung like clouds around my heart! It is impossible to portray the tortures I suffered. I tried to rid myself of them by looking altogether earthward ; but the more I learned to gather satisfaction from the prospect, the greater became the power of my foe. Bah! how as by a spectre was I haunted! Yet I roused myself, and with all my strength determined to conquer the fearful illusion. I found I could not cope with it single-handed; that I must call in a superior to my aid; for my enemy was beyond any mortal reach. Alas! I acknowledged no superior. So it was, that in the moment of my chiefest exaltation I stood in the greatest need.

I will not enter more minutely into a detail of my mental struggles. They partook mainly of the character heretofore described. After battling with them for nearly three years, I felt convinced that I must seek some new ground or yield to the foe. To travel had always been my delight. The prospect of a journey was in itself a restorative to my spirits; and I looked to a change of scene as my only salvation. I cast my eyes toward Germany as the place where above all others I would choose to go. There I should find religion, philosophy and romance. There I could commune with men-students, busy, active, independent thinkers. There I should behold every beauty of scenery coupled with wild legends of what had been and what by report still was; the rising fame of several German names which promised a bright poetic day for their Fatherland; served also to impel me thither. I told De Lisle my earnest wish. He at once fell in with it, and promised to use his influence with my father; for the same reason perhaps that physicians recommend change of scene to an incurable patient in order to escape the responsibility of a death. I do believe De Lisle thought me incurable; but I will do him the justice to say that his attention to my education was faithful; and as he was every way competent, I made excellent progress under him. As agreed upon, he sought an interview with my father, and obtained permission with less difficultythan was anticipated for me to visit the continent. The favorable report De Lisle was pleased to make of my studies, with the opinion that it would be advisable for me to continue them abroad, induced my father to consent to my going. As I have before said, he was an indulgent although a requiring parent; and if his children came up to bis requirements his favors were not measured with a scanty hand. Of course he knew nothing of my inner life; my trials, my severe heart-strivings. But he knew I had made rapid progress in my studies, and was willing and happy to reward me. One restriction was placed upon me; I was not to spend any time in France nor upon the route toward the place of my destination, which was Leipsic. Should I continue to deserve the praise of a diligent and proficient student, I was promised, after a period, the privilege of an entire tour of Europe.

How my heart beat with excitement at the prospect of breaking loose! I forgot every grief, every trouble, in the anticipation of what was before me. Even my grim enemy, Death, seemed willing for a while to make a truce, and was no longer thrusting his icy finger before my eyes. Still all did not go smoothly. My mother strongly opposed my leaving England. She could not endure the thought of my going alone to a foreign land, and becoming exposed to all the temptations to which youth are subject. She knew nothing of the state of my mind, as I have before hinted, but she saw that something disturbed my peace; and she pictured to herself

« PreviousContinue »