Imatges de pÓgina

and hungry, and never murmur. I like well-fitting clothes, but rough furs suit me just as well in season. Why, it would make you laugh fit to kill yourself to see these Danish workingmen, -the laborers, you know, with whom I sometimes travel, - fellows that can't read nor write, poor mechanics, rough sailors, 'hewers of wood and drawers of water' generally for this poor settlement, who never tasted Burgundy in all their lives, and would rather have one keg of corn brandy than a tun of it, and who never took their frugal fare off anything more tempting than tin. Do you think that these people can, under any circumstances, be induced to strengthen their limbs with eating blubber or drinking train-oil? Not a bit of it. Do you think they can be induced to sleep outside of their own not overly elegant lodgings, without groaning, and everlastingly desiring to get back again? Not they."

I could not help asking the Doctor what impelled him to exposure, of which he had grown so fond.

"The motives are various. I have done a good deal of exploring, have reached many of the glaciers, have dabbled in natural history, meteorology, magnetism, &c., &c., besides making many photographs and geographical surveys, and have sent home to various societies and museums many curiosities and much information. My name, as you know, stands well enough among the dons of science. But apart from this, my duties require me to travel about at all times and all seasons. You must know that everybody in this country lives upon the shore, and therefore the settlements are reached only by the sea. In the winter I travel over the ice with my dog sledge, and in the summer, when the ice has broken up, I go from place to place in that little fiveton yacht which you saw lying in the harbor. Sometimes I go from choice, stopping at the villages, and exhibiting my professional abilities upon Dane or native, as the case may be. Often I am sent for. The Greenlanders don't like to die any better than other people,

and they all have an impression that, if Dr. Molke only looks upon them, they are safe. So if an old woman but gets the belly-ache, away goes her son or husband for the Doctor. Perhaps it is in summer, and the distance may be a hundred miles or more. No matter, he gets into his kayak and paddles through all sorts of weather, and, at the rate of seven knots an hour, comes for me. Glad of the excuse for a change, to say nothing (and the less perhaps any of us say on that score the better) of the claims of humanity, I send Sophy after Adam (a converted native), and directly along comes Adam with his son Carl; and my medicine and instrument cases, my gun and rifle, and a plentiful supply of ammunition, a tent, and some fur bedding, a lamp, and other camp fixtures, and a little simple food, are put into the boat, and off we go. Perhaps a gale springs up, and we are forced to make a harbor in some little island; or perhaps it falls calm, and we crawl into one, under oars. It is sure to be alive with ducks and geese and snipe. The shooting is superb. Happen what may, come storm or calm or fine weather, though often wet and cold, and frequently in danger, yet I have a grand time of it. I may be back in a day, two days, a week, or I may be gone a month. Then the winter comes back, and I have again to answer another summons. The same traps are put on the sledge, to which are harnessed the twelve finest dogs in the town,—my own team, and, at the wildest pace with which this wolfish herd can rush along, Adam guides me to my destination. Perhaps it may be early in the winter, and the ice is in places thin. We very likely break through, and get wet, and are in danger of freezing. Perhaps we reach a crack which we cannot pass, and have to hold on, possibly in a hut of snow, waiting for the frost to build a bridge for us to pass. This is the wildest and most dangerous of my experiences, this dog-sledging it from place to place in the early or late winter, and I have had many wild adventures. In the middle of the winter,

when it is dark pretty much all the time, and the snow is hard and crisp, and the clear, cold bracing air makes the blood run freely through the veins, is the best time for travelling; for then we may start a bear, and be pretty sure of catching him before he gets on rotten ice or across a crack defying us in the pursuit."

By this time the sun had begun to climb above the hills, and the shadow of the cliffs had passed over the town, so we stole back again to the Doctor's house. The Doctor insisted that I should not sleep on board, so we returned to the study, where I was soon wrapt in a sound sleep on the Doctor's shake-down," from which I never once awoke until there came a loud tapping on the door. "Who's there?" "Sophy."

"What's Sophy want?" "Breakfast."

Breakfast indeed! It was hard to believe that I was to come back to the experiences of life under such a summons, for I had dreamed that I was on a visit to the Man in the Moon, and was enjoying a genuine surprise at finding him happy and well contented, seated in the centre of an extinct volcano, with all the riches of the great satellite gathered round him, hanging in tempting clusters on its horns.

But my eyes at length were opened wide enough to see, near by, the very terrestrial ruins of our evening's pastime; and if these had left any doubts upon my mind as to the reality of my present situation, those doubts would certainly have been removed by the cheerful voice of the Doctor; for a loud "Good

morning!" came from out the painted chamber, and from beneath the skyblue canopy a graceful query of the night. "What of the night, sleeper?

what of the night?" Then I was quickly out upon the floor, and dressed, and in the cosey little room where the fruits and flowers were hanging on the wall, and where the bright face of Sophy, and aromatic coffee, and a charming little breakfast, were awaiting us with a kindly welcome.

Breakfast over, I left the Doctor to expend his skill and knowledge on a patient who had sent to claim his services, and strolled out over the rocks behind the town, -wondering all the while at the strangeness of the human fancy and its power on the will; and I reflected, too, and remembered that, in the explanation of the satisfying character of the life which my newfound friend was leading, there had been no clew given to the first great motive which had destined such a finely organized and altogether splendid man to such a career. Was he exempt from the lot of other mortals, or must he too own, like all the rest of us, when we own the truth, that every firm step we ever made in those days of our early lives when steps were critical, was made to please a woman, to win her slightest praise, to heal a wound or drown a sorrow of her making? I would have given much to have the question answered, for then a thing now mysterious would have become as plain as day; but there was no one there to heed the question, or to give the answer, and I could only wander on over the rough rocks, wondering more and more.



NE morning last April, as I was passing through Boston Common, which lies pleasantly between my residence and my office, I met a gentleman lounging along The Mall. I am generally preoccupied when walking, and often thrid my way through crowded streets without distinctly observing a single soul. But this man's face forced itself upon me, and a very singular face it was. His eyes were faded, and his hair, which he wore long, was flecked with gray. His hair and eyes, if I may say so, were seventy years old, the rest of him not thirty. The youthfulness of his figure, the elasticity of his gait, and the venerable appearance of his head, were incongruities that drew more than one pair of curious eyes towards him. He was evidently an American, the New England cut of countenance is unmistakable, evidently a man who had seen something of the world; but strangely old and young.

Before reaching the Park Street gate, I had taken up the thread of thought which he had unconsciously broken; yet throughout the day this old young man, with his unwrinkled brow and silvered locks, glided in like a phantom between me and my duties.

The next morning I again encountered him on The Mall. He was resting lazily on the green rails, watching two little sloops in distress, which two ragged ship-owners had consigned to the mimic perils of the Pond. The vessels lay becalmed in the middle of the ocean, displaying a tantalizing lack of sympathy with the frantic helplessness of the owners on shore. As the gentleman observed their dilemma, a light came into his faded eyes, then died out, leaving them drearier than before. I wondered if he, too, in his time, had sent out ships that drifted and drifted and never came to port;


"I would like to know that man's story," I said, half aloud, halting in one of those winding paths which branch off from the quietness of the Pond, and end in the rush and tumult of Tremont Street.

"Would you?" replied a voice at my side. I turned and faced Mr. H—, a neighbor of mine, who laughed heartily at finding me talking to myself. "Well,” he added, reflectingly, "I can tell you this man's story; and if you will match the narrative with anything as curious, I shall be glad to hear it." "You know him then?"

"Yes and no. I happened to be in Paris when he was buried." "Buried!"

"Well, strictly speaking, not buried; but something quite like it. If you 've a spare half-hour," continued my interlocutor, "we 'll sit on this bench, and I will tell you all I know of an affair that made some noise in Paris a couple of years ago. The gentleman himself, standing yonder, will serve as a sort of frontispiece to the romance, -a fullpage illustration, as it were."

The following pages contain the story that Mr. H— related to me. While he was telling it, a gentle wind arose ; the miniature sloops drifted feebly about the ocean; the wretched owners flew from point to point, as the deceptive breeze promised to waft the barks to either shore; the early robins trilled now and then from the newly fringed elms; and the old young man leaned on the rail in the sunshine, wearily, little dreaming that two gossips were discussing his affairs within twenty yards of him.

Three people were sitting in a chamber whose one large window overlooked the Place Vendôme. M. Dorine, with his back half turned on the other

and if these poor toys were to him, two occupants of the apartment, was types of his own losses.

reading the Moniteur, pausing from

time to time to wipe his glasses, and taking scrupulous pains not to glance towards the lounge at his right, on which were seated Mademoiselle Dorine and a young American gentleman, whose handsome face rather frankly told his position in the family. There was not a happier man in Paris that afternoon than Philip Wentworth. Life had become so delicious to him that he shrunk from looking beyond to-day. What could the future add to his full heart? what might it not take away? In certain natures the deepest joy has always something of melancholy in it, a presentiment, a fleeting sadness, a feeling without a name. Wentworth was conscious of this subtile shadow, that night, when he rose from the lounge, and thoughtfully held Julie's hand to his lip for a moment before parting. A careless observer would not have thought him, as he was, the happiest man in Paris.

M. Dorine laid down his paper and came forward. "If the house," he said, "is such as M. Martin describes it, I advise you to close with him at once. I would accompany you, Philip, but the truth is, I am too sad at losing this little bird to assist you in selecting a cage for her. Remember, the last train for town leaves at five. Be sure not to miss it; for we have seats for M. Sardou's new comedy to-morrow night. By to-morrow night," he added laughingly, "little Julie here will be an old lady,—'t is such an age from now until then."

The next morning the train bore Philip to one of the loveliest spots within thirty miles of Paris. An hour's walk through green lanes brought him to M: Martin's estate. In a kind of dream the young man wandered from room to room, inspected the conservatory, the stables, the lawns, the strip of woodland through which a merry brook sang to itself continually; and, after dining with M. Martin, completed the purchase, and turned his steps towards the station, just in time to catch the express train.

with its million lights twinkling in the early dusk, and its sharp spires here, and there pricking the sky, it seemed to Philip as if years had elapsed since he left the city. On reaching Paris he drove to his hotel, where he found several letters lying on the table. He did not trouble himself even to glance at their superscriptions as he threw aside his travelling surtout for a more appropriate dress.

If, in his impatience to see Mademoiselle Dorine, the cars had appeared to walk, the fiacre which he had secured at the station appeared to creep. At last it turned into the Place Vendôme, and drew up before M. Dorine's residence. The door opened as Philip's foot touched the first step. The servant silently took his cloak and hat, with a special deference, Philip thought; but was he not now one of the family ?

"M. Dorine" said the servant slowly, "is unable to see Monsieur at present. He wishes Monsieur to be shown up to the salon."

"Is Mademoiselle -"
"Yes, Monsieur."

"Alone, Monsieur," repeated the man, looking curiously at Philip, who could scarcely repress an exclamation of pleasure.

It was the first time that such a privilege had been accorded him. His interviews with Julie had always taken place in the presence of M. Dorine, or some member of the household. A well-bred Parisian girl has but a formal acquaintance with her lover.

Philip did not linger on the staircase; his heart sang in his bosom as he flew up the steps, two at a time. Ah! this wine of air which one drinks at twenty, and seldom after! He hastened through the softly lighted hall, in which he detected the faint scent of her favorite flowers, and stealthily opened the door of the salon.

The room was darkened. Under neath the chandelier stood a slim black casket on trestles. A lighted candle,

As Paris stretched out before him, a crucifix, and some white flowers were

on a table near by. Julie Dorine was dead.

When M. Dorine heard the indescribable cry that rang through the silent house, he hurried from the library, and found Philip standing like a ghost in the middle of the chamber.

It was not until long afterwards that Wentworth learned the details of the calamity that had befallen him. On the previous night Mademoiselle Dorine had retired to her room in seemingly perfect health. She dismissed her maid with a request to be awakened early the next morning. At the appointed hour the girl entered the chamber. Mademoiselle Dorine was sitting in an arm-chair, apparently asleep. The candle had burnt down to the socket; a book lay half open on the carpet at her feet. The girl started when she saw that the bed had not been occupied, and that her mistress still wore an evening dress. She rushed to Mademoiselle Dorine's side. It was not slumber. It was death.

Two messages were at once despatched to Philip, one to the station at G, the other to his hotel. The first missed him on the road, the second he had neglected to open. On his arrival at M. Dorine's house, the servant, under the supposition that Wentworth had been advised of Mademoiselle Dorine's death, broke the intelligence with awkward cruelty, by showing him directly to the salon.

Mademoiselle Dorine's wealth, her beauty, the suddenness of her death, and the romance that had in some way attached itself to her love for the young American, drew crowds to witness the funeral ceremonies which took place in the church in the Rue d'Aguesseau. The body was to be laid in M. Dorine's tomb, in the cemetery of Montmartre.

This tomb requires a few words of description. First there was a grating of filigraned iron; through this you looked into a small vestibule or hall, at the end of which was a massive door of oak opening upon a short flight of stone steps descending into the tomb. The vault was fifteen or twenty feet

square, ingeniously ventilated from the ceiling, but unlighted. It contained two sarcophagi: the first held the remains of Madame Dorine, long since dead; the other was new, and bore on one side the letters J. D., in monogram, interwoven with fleurs-de-lis.

The funeral train stopped at the gate of the small garden that enclosed the place of burial, only the immediate relatives following the bearers into the tomb. A slender wax candle, such as is used in Catholic churches, burnt at the foot of the uncovered sarcophagus, casting a dim glow over the centre of the apartment, and deepening the shadows which seemed to huddle together in the corners. By this flickering light the coffin was placed in its granite shell, the heavy slab laid over it reverently, and the oaken door revolved on its rusty hinges, shutting out the uncertain ray of sunshine that had ventured to peep in on the darkness.

M. Dorine, muffled in his cloak, threw himself on the back seat of the carriage, too abstracted in his grief to observe that he was the only occupant of the vehicle. There was a sound of wheels grating on the gravelled avenue, and then all was silence again in the cemetery of Montmartre. At the main entrance the carriages parted company, dashing off into various streets at a pace that seemed to express a sense of relief. The band plays a dead march going to the grave, but Fra Diavolo coming from it.

It is not with the retreating carriages that our interest lies. Nor yet wholly with the dead in her mysterious dream; but with Philip Wentworth.

The rattle of wheels had died out of the air when Philip opened his eyes, bewildered, like a man abruptly roused from slumber. He raised himself on one arm and stared into the surrounding blackness. Where was he? In a second the truth flashed upon him. He had been left in the tomb! While kneeling on the farther side of the stone box, perhaps he had fainted, and in the last solemn rites his absence had been unnoticed.

« AnteriorContinua »