Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

If round your neck her soft arms she had wove,

If your cheek had been swept by her glorious hair; If your heart had been thrilled by the beating of hers,

If you had seen her tears and her look of despair. No, by heaven! no matter what might come after, You'd have pledged your own soul here and hereafter. A few stones to steady the canoe, it was sent

Darting down stream, to blind all who might follow;
And lifting the girl in my arms, I stole out

To travel the trail through a dark lonely hollow;
Stole out, nor dared to even look back,
For the woods rang with cries of the wolves on our track-
The black-throated human wolves!

Hark to that shout!
Thick as the leaves, fierce as the storm,
They came for the beautiful girl who clung

Round my neck, with her lips to my own pressed warm,
And begging with every breath that came

(Sweet as the perfume of blossoming clover) That if I could not save I would kill

(Just as if I had been her lover!); Would plunge deep my knife, burl her from the height

Down on the rocks that pitiless night,
For the wolves and the vultures! The thought made me mad,

And I swore as I never had done before,
That no bird or beast should make of her feast,

No matter what was for me in store.

On they came, the red devils! On we fled,

One rifle and arm were as thistle-down
In the breath of the tempest, to battle with those

Who stole through the woods frost-touched and brown,
Swarming by scores-swarmi:g like bees-

Like buzzards where the dead buffalo lies-
With hate in their yells-hate in their hearts-

Hate flashing forth from their snakelike eyes!
A foul loathsome band-a foul human flood,
Longing to lap their tongues in blood.
Did I save her? Never man worked as hard

To baffle the crafty Indian scout;
Like a fox I doubled and hid my trail,

Like a serpent I wove it in and out
Mid the forest trees. Then out in the prairie

I dashed along like a hunted doe,
Till my breath was a sob, my lips blood-stained,

And my steps grew unsteady, heavy and slow;
Till with that sweet girl, face to face,
I fell headlong in the dizzy race.
They found us? The black fiends knew too well
The crack of my rifle was a death-knell,
That the ball sped further than any bow
Could send arrow; and as from the Manitou,
They kept beyond reach, rending the skies
With their wild and devilish battle-cries.
A sudden bursting of light on every side,

The rolling of stroke black as thunder-cloud,

The flames as when wide the gates of hell

Are open swung; and my spirit bowed,
For matchless, resistless, came the prairie fire,
With its billows of flame ever rising higher.
We were in the midst of a flaming circle,

Growing smaller as fast as the ligbtnings fly,
Yet that brave girl shrank not, but whispered, sweetly,

“Better thus than as Indian's captive to die.
Brave man, for me you have lost your life;

Here I can only repay with a kiss;
But over the river, beyond the skies,
I'm thine forever."

Hiss upon hiss,
Like ten thousand serpents tortured and stung,

Nearer and nearer rolled fiery waves,
O’erleaping each other in mad desire

To scorch us to ashes-to dig our graves
With red-hot fingers. O God! it was madness

To see that girl smile, as if it were bliss
To save herself from the redman's power,

By e'en such a horrible death as this!
And fire-wrapped, smoke-blanketed, standing there,
Her still red lips breathed a thankful prayer!
Escape? The seams upon brow and cheek,

Plowed by the fire, can tell the tale,
How sternly I fought till my sinews cracked,

And brain and heart began to fail.
Saved ? Should I strip off my hunting-shirt,

And give my back to your wondering gaze,
You'd see but a mass of lurid lines

A record writ down by lurid blaze!
Yes, her life was saved. Not on glorious limbs,

Nor on silken hair was left a trace,
No scar on lip, no blinding of eyes,

Not a sign of fire upon her face.
I flung her down, and covered her well
With my own body. I passed through hell,
But, thank God! she was saved.

Where is she now?
(Forgive if I wipe the tears away,)
I know not where, for I have not seen

Her matchless form for many a day.
Married? Yes. I have been told so.

Alas! she was young, and I was old.
But what can a hunting-shirt avail

'Gainst officer's plumes and trappings of gold !
Curse her! Don't dare to breathe a word,

Or you'll find that I still wear a knife;
That my eye is sharp, and my bullet swift,

And I haven't forgotten the ways of strife.
No, nothing but blessings.

Stranger, look here,
She was an angel, glorious, bright,

I but a trapper, wandering, poor.

God ever bless her! So good-night. Black Walnut, Penn., 1873.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

THE VALENTINE.

BY ELLIS CLARE.
CHAPTER 1.

“Will you ever get sense, Gracie printer The Roctory stood on one side of the rupted her mother. road, and the linen manufactory was on the Well, really," resumed Gracie,“ Willie other, just on the banks of “the silver took me to inspect this wonderful animal; Bann.” Sloping verdant hills lay around, and we concluded that it was either a scorgenerally-at all events during the sunny pion or a crocodile." season of the year-decorated with the “ Get off the hearthrug, Gracie,” said linen in process of being bleached. A little her mother. “You are scorching your face; way from the manufactory, and with its and besides, you are too old to be sitting orchard skirting the river's bank, stood an there like a little girl. It is not a dignified old-fashioned, substantial-looking, gray position for a young lady just come out.'" stone country-house, standing in the midst And the fond mother looked proudly at her of trimly-kept grounds. In the summer lovely daughter. time the roses clambered in wild profusion “Mother dear, I am sorry you were not all over the walls of the house, and peeped able to come to the ball last night,” said in at the wide windows; but at this season Gracie. I should have enjoyed it twice of the year there were no roses to peep in, as much as going with Aunt Jane; but I asfor it was a bleak dreary afternoon in Feb- sure you I was very proper, and didn't flirt ruary, with the wind whistling and driving a bit more than was absolutely necessary." the rain against the windows. But, suppos- “You saucy girl!” exclaimed her mother. tug there had been roses to peep in at the “Was it absolutely necessary to flirt at all?" windows, he would have been very hard to “O dear, yes!" replied Gracie. “ You please who could have wished to look upon know it was an officers' ball, and of course a prettier face or form than that of Gracie I was obliged to flirt just enough to let MacAlister, who, seated on the beartbrug them think what an agreeable member of in the drawing-room, in a position more in- society I am." dicative of comfort than elegance, was hold- “What an agreeable member of society ing a most animated dialogue with a pleas- you are!" repeated her mother. “Why, do ant delicate-looking lady, who was lying you suppose any one of them will give you on a couch by the tire.

a second thought ?'' Dialogue ? Monologue, rather; for Miss “ Indeed I know one who will,” said Gracie hardly gave her placid, gentle moth- Gracie, turning her bright eyes laughingly er any opportunity of putting in a word. on her mother and such a nice man too; Perhaps it was not to be wondered at, see- only I am afraid he did not consider me ing that she was telling her mother all quite grown-up.” about that momentous event in the life of That must have been very trying to a young lady-her first “grown-up" ball. your feelings,” observed her mother, dryly.

“And O mother dear,” she cried, " if you: “May I ask what led you to come to that could only have seen the headdress Mrs. conclusion ?!? Harley wore! Why I think it had all the “0, he told me at one time that he plagues of Egypt upon it-flies, and locusts, thought I had much better sit down, as he and reptiles of all kinds."

was sure I was tired." “Gracie, you should not be satirical," I dare say he-whoever 'he' is-was said her inother.

quite right," said Mrs. MacAlister. "And, mother," continued Gracie, heed- * Yes, I was a little tired,” confessed less of the remark she had just heard, “I Gracie, so I sat down for a while; and he made the same observation to Willie Cros- talked to me just as if I were a baby." bie; and he said Mrs. Harley's headdress “Why, what did he say?" was nothing, as there was another lady in “He asked me if I was not looking forthe room far more daring, for he verily be- ward very anxiously for to-morrow, as it is lieved she had a scorpion on her head." St. Valentine's Day. And I said, not par

66

ticularly, as I knew who would send me “How do you do, Miss MacAlister? I valentines, and I did not care for them. would not let the servant announce mo, as Then he said he would send me one if I I wished to hear that pretty set of waltzes would answer it. So I agreed to do so. you were playing." And the subject of Wont it be fuu? Don't look so shocked, her thoughts advanced towards the alcovo please, mother.”

where the piano stood. “Gracie, Gracie, you are a dreadful girl! "Captain Vilmar! Does my mother You must not think of doing such a thing." know you are here ?"

“But, mother, I promised; and, if he I really do not know," he replied. “I sends me one, I must send him one, too. seem to have disturbed you ?” He's quite nice,” she continued, anxious to “O no, you haven't disturbed me!” said prepossess her mother in her admirer's Gracie; “ but what a dreadfully wet day favor; “he is Captain Edgar Vilmar, of for you to come out!” the —th Rangers.”

“I called to know how you enjoyed your “No matter who he is, dear; you should ball. You had great fun, hadn't you?” be more reserved in your conversation with “Yes, I enjoyed it very much," said gentlemen. Come to luncheon now, and Gracie, adding to herself, “Dear me, what then go to your practising afterwards.". a baby he thinks me!"—then aloud, as her

"It's too bad,” soliloquized Gracic, as mother entered, “Mother, this is. Captain sbe dashed off a brilliant “ Mazurka,”? to Vilmar, the gentleman I was telling you think I may not answer his valentine; and about,” she continued, to her mother's he's the nicest man lever met-and an extreme annoyance, who very naturally officer, too. I wish I could see him and did not wish that any man should have it tell him. I am sure he will keep his word, in his power to say that her Gracie had and of course he will think me horrible to been thinking of or speaking about him. break mine." And Gracie thought that to “I am happy to see you, Captain Vilbe considered “borrible” by Captain mar," she said. “I presume you were one Edgar Vilmar would be very dreadful of my daughter's partners last night. It

was her first ball, and she has been quite Gracie MacAlister was the only daughter enthusiastic about it.” and heiress of Mr. George MacAlister, the “She seemed to enjoy herself thorough, owner of one of the large linen manufacto- ly, at all events," said he, looking at Gracie ries which are so common in the north of with a smile, much as one looks at a pretty Ireland. She was just past seventeen, a spoiled child. blithesome innocent girl, gradually ripen- Mrs. MacAlister-self-possessed woman ing into womanhood. She had a perfectly of the world-managed to engross nearly shaped oval face but faintly tinged with the whole of the conversation. She had no color, which was, however, fully made up intention of allowing Gracie to have any for by the rich coloring of the prettily more private or confidential interviews curved lips, and by the delicately pencilled with this man until she knew something eyebrows that surmounted a pair of lovely about him. The longer she conversed with violet-blue eyes. She was of about the him the more she wondered at the conver. middle height, and a mass of soft wavy sation Gracie had repeated to her; for brown hair crowned her well-shaped bead. Captain Vilmar did not look at all like the

Gracie played on, her thoughts all the kind of person to trouble his head about time running upon the probabilities of such nonsense as valentines. He was a Captain Vilmar's sending her a valentine. tall distinguished looking man, of about One minute she wished he would do so- three-and-thirty; dark complexioned, and she thought she should like him to think with a face which would have been decidabout her again, then the next minute she

edly plain but for the rare smile which now wished he would not, for of course she

and then illumined it, and lit up the honest could not send hiin one in return. Her

brown eyes; the mouth was sbaded by a mother had been lecturing her during the

thick drooping mustache, the rest of the whole of luncheon time, and presenting

face being shaved a la militaire. Gracie ber conduct to her “ mind's eyein such felt rather proud of her admirer; she grare colors that poor Gracie felt ready to

thought he was a great deal nicer than Mr. Hawkins the curate, although Mr. Hawkins

indeed.

cry with shame and vexation.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

had lovely, fair, curly hair, which he part- whom she met there, also called here toed down the middle; and nicer than Willie day, and I really think Gracie seemed quite Crosbie, who was the son of a neighboring to encourage him." manufacturer, and a devoted admirer of “Nonsense !" returned Mr. MacAlister, Gracie's; and she feit sure that, since he in a tone of annoyance; she must put all had taken the trouble to come and see her, such ideas out of her head. I know what he would not forget about the valentine. these military men are-a set of fortune

Captain Vilmar soon rose to go, but not hunters." before he had obtained permission to call “ Then I assure you he and Gracie again—a circumstance which greatly de- seemed to have made rapid advances," lighted Gracie. Her satisfaction was ob- said Mrs. MacAlister, “ for there was sonie livious enough to secretly annoy her moth- talk of valentines between them." er, and very much please Captain Vilmar, “I wonder at you, Jessie !” exclaimed who sat that evening in his sitting-room at her husband, now thoroughly angry. the hotel nervously penning a few honest, “You know I told you a year ago that manly, loving words, which Gracie's bright Gracie must make a good marriage." look when saying farewell that afternoon “But I thought, dear,” said the wife, had given him courage to write.

nervously, that all occasion for that was

past. Are not your affairs in a more set Jessie," said Mr. MacAlister to his tled state ?" wife, as they sat alone together that night Mr. MacAlister hesitated; he almost after Gracie had gone to bed, “I received shrank from telling his wife the real state a proposal of marriage to-day for our of the case, but he knew that without her Gracie."

help nothing could be done in the matter. “From whom ?" she inquired, eagerly, Gazing gloomily, so as not to meet her her thoughts reverting to Captain Vilmar. gaze, he said, “No-affairs are worse than

“From Mr. Marmaduke Osborne," he they have ever been. The new machinery replied. “Certainly he is much older than that has just been put up at such enormous Gracie, but it would be a splendid match expense is lying there idle; next to nothing for her."

is doing in consequence of this talked-of The mother's eyes glistened; Mr. Og- war." borne was closely counected with the aris- “But, George dear, will not the soldiers tocracy, and moved in the best society- want linen ?" asked the wife, thinking sho many a titled mother would willingly have was saying something comforting. given him a daughter in marriage—and a “O, you women understand nothing proud woman was Mrs. MacAlister when about business!” he replied. she heard of the proposal. At last that you can help me if you like." for which she had planned and schemed “How?" said she, eagerly. all her life seemed within her grasp; for, “ By bringing Gracie round to marry despite her husband's reputed great wealth, Osborne," was the reply. “I know girls she had failed in gaining admittance with- have sentimental notions, but you must get in the charmed circle of high life-being them out of her head. He has plenty of the wife of a manufacturer," she was by money, and I have no doubt will be glad common consent ostracised. She did not enough to lend me some if he thinks he reflect that the man to whom she was will- can get Gracie.” ing to give her pure innocent young daugh- I shall do my best,said his wife ter was old enough to be that daughter's “Gracie ought not to require much pergrandfather, and that he was a noted roue suasion; it would be a most brilliant marand gambler besides. No, she only thought riage for a girl in her position.” that she would be enabled to hold her head “ Mr. Osborne is to dine here to-morhigher than other mothers in her station row," continued Mr. MacAlister; “ so prein life.

pare Gracie to make herself agreeable to “ Where did Mr. Osborne see Gracie ?" him. And mind, I'll not have any flirta. she inquired.

tion or nonsense with that officer fellow. “At the ball last night."

If he comes here, just give him the cold “ By-the-by," said Mrs. MacAlister, shoulder.” " that reminds me — a Captain Vilmar, “Let me manage it," said Mrs. Mae

“ However,

« AnteriorContinua »