Imatges de pÓgina

looking man, came out with a fusee in his hand, surprise painted on every feature. A female more beautiful than words can describe, rushed after him and caught his arm. • Oh,' said the islander, scanning his visitor from head to foot— Mille pardons ! Monsieur, nos malheurs, ils nous ont rendus craintifs. En verite,' added the lady with a smile playing about her mouth, 'c'est ma faute Monsieur. Je suis sa gardienne.' Gardienne tutelaire! Madame!' replied the stranger, ' and I must beg pardon,' he continued, in French, 'for interrupting the quiet of your charming retreat. I am fearful, removed as you are from the comforts and enjoyments of social life, that you have sometimes regretted the pleasures of former days. Can I be of any service to you? I am Mr L****, of C****, and nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be useful to you. Would to God, I could be as fortunate in tracing the footsteps of one family, who since their arrival in America, have completely evaded my pursuit. But pray, whom have I the honor of addressing ? The young man seized his hand, and with the air of one accustomed to courts, presented him gaily to the lady, as, 'La Dame du Lac, mais autrefois, la Comtesse Genevieve St Hilary! Heavens ! cried the stranger,


can it be possible? do I indeed behold the daughter of Clairmont? Is it in the wilds of America, that the belle of the Quartier St Germain holds her levée ? The lady and her husband looked astonished. Do you not remember me?' said the gentleman; have you forgotten the Champs Elysées and the fete given in honor of your birth day in which I participated so largely, as your father's American friend. Thank heaven I have found you at last; and yet how strange are the circumstances that have brought me hither.'

The lady seemed awakened from a dream; but instead of returning the cordial pressure of the stranger's hand, she threw herself upon her husband's arm and wept. Ah mes amis !' cried she, Ah chere France ! Adieu, Je ne te reverai jamaistout est perdutout est perdu!' The husband while he endeavored to soothe her distress, overwhelmed the stranger with his thanks, and the latter - albeit unused to the melting mood,' found the plaintive tones of her voice, and the unaffected expressions of her grief followed in spite of himself by some natural tears. At this moment the awkwardness of the scene was relieved by the young man's entreaties, that he would accompany them into the hut. As they moved onward, the stranger intimated as delicately as

possible his plan for their immediate romoval. He enlarged upon his obligations of gratitude to the father of the fair Genevieve, at the same time representing the necessity of their accepting his offers, as a matter not admitting even a discussion. The conversation was for a time interrupted as they reached the door of the cabin.

The countess, stepping lightly before, received them as they entered. “I am ashamed,' said she, • to have behaved so rudely; but here I throw away my griefs, to play the lady mistress of this hotel. You are welcome, my dear friend, although our mansion is somewhat straightened since you were last a guest of the family. But sit down, and give

an account of the strange occurrence which brings you to the Island. Quel miracle vous amene donc ici, Monsieur.'

Mr L**** then informed them of the nature of the business which had led him so far into the interior, and related the stories, he had heard on his way up the lake of which they were the unconscious subjects. He expressed his happiness at having found the very persons about whom he had been so deeply solicitous, and ended by offering them an asylum


under his own roof, and the society of a family who would be devoted to their comfort.

During the impressive silence which followed his remarks, the visitor had leisure to look about him. The cabin was of the rudest materials. It was evidently the work of its inmates, with the exception of a rude window and an ill constructed chimney, which some artizans from the neighboring settlement had doubtless fabricated. The furniture consisted of a few chairs, a few articles for the table, and a rough couch on which were carelessly thrown the skins of some wild animals. A genuine cremona hung on a nail near the chimney, and a cracked toilet glass over a tottering stand in the corner. The eye was almost instantly attracted from these, however, to a small box of inlaid satin wood, which stood near the glass, half open, and was resplendent with jewels of gold and bijouteries of silver. A few trunks, secured by heavy brazen bands, were arranged about the room and completed its brief inventory, save that a silver tankard curiously chased, and, like those sometimes seen in pictures of still life, stood upon the hearth keeping company with a tin cup filled with boiling milk, and by its fragrant odor proclaimed the intended refreshment of Cafe au lait.

•You look about you,' said the count,' and well you may. Yet we have resided here for many months, and scarce know how we reached this lonely spot. The treachery of our countrymen, and the horrid crimes we have witnessed, have almost led us to doubt the existence of social virtue. These alone have driven us to solitude. But you shall know all, It is to a friend that we commit the story of our wanderings.

· My Genevieve had scarce made me happy with her hand, ere the frightful scenes of the revolution commenced. We flattered ourselves that the concessions of the king to the people would lead to mutual confidence, but the Poissardes desired blood, and not tranquillity. The father of the countess did not live to witness its greatest atrocities. Happily he did not anticipate the ruin of his estates, or the sufferings of his daughter. We retreated as soon as possible to the western coast, where I had a retired country seat, but in our haste the most valuable of our personal effects were left behind. Indeed the attempt to convert them to money would have led to our detection, and the assignats which we should have received in exchange were already worthless even in the eyes of their inventors. That casket is

« AnteriorContinua »