Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

rather, sent fresh from hell, to test the resisting strength of virtuous resolution, should tempt me back, with all the wealth and all the honors which a world can bestow; not for all that time and all that earth can give, would I cast from me this precious pledge of a liberated mind, this talisman against temptation, and plunge again into the dangers and the horrors which once beset my path;;-so help me Heaven! sir, as I would spurn beneath my very feet all the gifts the universe could offer, and live and die as I am, poor but ober.

THE WIDOW.-C. F. GELLERT.

[Translated by Longfellow.]

Dorinda's youthful spouse,

Whom as herself she loved, and better too-
"Better?"-methinks I hear some caviler say,
With scornful smile; but let him smile away!
A true thing is not therefore the less true,
Let laughing cavilers do what they may.
Suffice it, death snatched from Dorinda's arms-
Too early snatched, in all his glowing charms—
The best of husbands and the best of men;
And I can find no words,-in vain my pen,
Though dipped in briny tears, would fain portray,
In lively colors, all the young wife felt,

As o'er his couch in agony she knelt,

And clasped the hand, and kissed the cheek, of clay.

The priest, whose business 'twas to soothe her, came;
All friendship came, in vain;

The more they soothed, the more Dorinda cried;
They had to drag her from the dead one's side.

A ceaseless wringing of the hands

Was all she did; one piteous "Alas!"

The only sound that from her lips did pass:

Full four-and-twenty hours thus she lay.

Meanwhile a neighbor o'er the way

Had happened in, well skilled in carving wood.
He saw Dorinda's melancholy mood,

And, partly at her own request,

Partly to show his reverence for the blest,

And save his memory from untimely end,

Resolved to carve in wood an image of his friend.

Success the artist's cunning hand attended;
With most amazing speed the work was ended;
And there stood Stephen, large as life.

A masterpiece soon makes its way to light.

The folk ran up and screamed, so soon as Stephen met their sight:

"Ah, Heavens! Ah, there he is! Yes, yes, 'tis he!

O happy artist! happy wife!

Look at the laughing features! Only see

The open mouth, that seems as if 'twould speak

I never saw before in all my life

Such nature, no, I vow, there could not be
A truer likeness; so he looked to me,
When he stood godfather last week."

They brought the wooden spouse,

That now alone the widow's heart could cheer,
Up to the second story of the house

Where he and she had dwelt one blessed year.
There in her chamber, having turned the key,
She shut herself with him, and sought relief
And comfort in the midst of bitter grief,
And held herself as bound, if she would be
Forever worthy of his memory,

To weep away the remnant of her life.
What more could one desire of a wife?
So sat Dorinda many weeks, heart-broken,
And had not, my informant said,

In all that time to living creature spoken,
Except her house-dog and her serving-maid.
And this, after so many weeks of woe,
Was the first day that she had dared to glance
Out of her window; and to-day, by chance,

Just as she looked, a stranger stood below.
Up in a twinkling came the house-maid running,
And said, with look of sweetest, half-hid cunning,
"Madam, a gentleman would speak with you,
A lovely gentleman as one would wish to view,
Almost as lovely as your blessed one;

He has some business with you must be done,-
Business, he said, he could not trust with me."
"Must just make up some story then," said she,
"I cannot leave, one moment, my dear man;
In short, go down and do the best you can;
Tell him I'm sick with sorrow; for, O me!
It were no wonder-"

"Madam 'twill not do;
He has already had a glimpse of you,
Up at your window as he stood below!
You must come down; now do, I pray;
The stranger will not thus be sent away,
He's something weighty to impart I know.
I should think, madam, you might go."

A moment the young widow stands perplexed,
Fluttering 'twixt memory and hope; the next
Embracing, with a sudden glow,

The image that so long had soothed her woe.
She lets the stranger in. Who can it be?
A suitor? Ask the maid: already she
Is listening at the key-hole; but her ear
Only Dorinda's plaintive tone can hear.
The afternoon slips by. What can it mean?
The stranger goes not yet, has not been seen
To leave the house. Perhaps he makes request-
Unheard-of boldness!-to remain, a guest.

Dorinda comes at length, and, sooth to say, alone.—
Where is the image, her dear, sad delight?--
"Maid," she begins, "say, what shall now be done?
The gentleman will be my guest to-night.

Go instantly, and boil the pot of fish."
“Yes, madam, yes, with pleasure, as you wish.”

Dorinda goes back to her room again.

The maid ransacks the house to find a stick
Of wood to make a fire beneath the pot,-in vain.
She cannot find a single one; then quick

She calls Dorinda out, in agony.

66

Ah, madam, hear the solemn truth," says she;

"There's not a stick of fish-wood in the house.

do!

Suppose I take that image down and split it? That Is good hard wood, and to our purpose pat." "The image? No, indeed!-But-well-yes, What need you have been making all this touse?” "But, ma'am, the image is too much for me; I cannot lift it all alone, you see;

'Twould go out of the window easily."

"A lucky thought! and that will split it for you, too. The gentleman in future lives with me;

I may no longer nurse this misery."

Up went the sash, and out the blessed Stephen flew.

Part Eighteenth.

Each of the Four Numbers of

"100 Choice Selections" contained in this volume is paged separately, and the Index is made to correspond therewith. See EXPLANATION on first page of Contents.

The entire book contains nearly

1000 pages.

« AnteriorContinua »