Imatges de pÓgina

Of the workhouse homeless hearth;

thus far to seek their fulfilment, and began Her bitter fare unkindly given; Knowing as little of jogs in Heaven

the self-discipline necessary to insure forAs of gladness on the earth.

getfulness by compelling myself to give From the darkness ani the light,

undivided attention to the beautiful study Weave the black thread, weave the white.

spread out by nature's hand before me. A soul that sprang from the rose-strewn turf, The breeze from the opposite hill brought With its carven cross adorned.

freedom and freshness on its wings; and Another, that left its pauper's grave, Where rank and coarse the grasses wave,

as I fixed my position and spread my O'er rest, unnamed, unmourned.

tools all around me on the grass, inAnd two, who sought their Redeemer's feet,

haling the while the intoxication of the By His saving blood to plead, May He in His mercy guide us all,

scene, I fondly hoped that all memory of For sunbeams and shadows strangely fall; the excitement I had undergone would soon The riddle is hard to read.

be obliterated. I can safely declare that I From the darkness and the light, Weave the black thread, weave the white.

tried to dissipate my thoughts by every means in my power. I whistled aloud ; I sang

the tunes most in vogue amongst us; ! THE BLUEBOTTLE FLY. I pulled up the long grass and nibbled it A FRENCH ART-STUDENT'S STORY.

between my teeth, and then set to work at

arranging my colours and crayons with IN FOUR CHAPTERS. CHAPTER III.

that feverish and noisy ardoar which never For the first few minutes I ran swiftly bodes good to the projects of the artisti down the hollow, anxious to escape as The White Thorn had long ceased to quickly as possible from the baleful in- blossom, but the dead flowers lay in thick | fluence of the occupants of the coucou, masses on the turf beneath, and every time! amongst whom the bluebottle fly had as- I stamped my foot impatiently a faint persumed the greatest importance to my fancy. fume arose like a souvenir of the past ! The descent was rapid, and the sound of the spring, balmy and aromatic as incense. It grating wheels was soon lost in the dis would have soothed me at any other time, tance. I knew this part of the wood well but just now it served but to add to my enough. The narrow gorge, dividing the irritation. Everything, in short, was at plateau on which stood the Three Acacias first inclined to assume a green and yellow from that occupied by that of the White tinge and flavour, and I was fain to Thorn, was steep and difficult to pass, and make a desperate effort to clear my brain, visitors in general preferred the broad and concentrate my attention on my labour. green alley to this rugged path. But I So great is the power of will, especially was too much delighted at finding myself when aided by outward circumstances, that once more at liberty to heed the danger at last I could view, without any great il presented either by the loose stones or the disturbance of mind, the myriads of flies slippery moss, and laughed in mockery at disporting themselves in their mazy dance my own awkwardness as I alternately over the pool beneath, and could even stumbled and slid to the bottom. Here I listen to the buzz of the humble-bee as he trod the green sward merrily enough, flew past, without that twitching of the rejoicing in the silence, and looking down mouth and quivering of the eyelids which each opening between the trees for new the remembrance of the carrion fly in the effects of light and sunshine. But what coucou had at first occasioned. By degrees was my dismay on perceiving that my I grew more calm, and began at last to nerves had become so completely shattered recover from the disagreeable impression I by the emotions I had undergone, and my bad experienced. head so completely bewildered - perhaps I sketched out the valley and the hills still rather disturbed by the petit bleu- of Sèvres which lay beyond. There were that I felt no longer the same eager in certain fleecy clouds gathered in strange terest in the beauties of nature that I had groups upon the summit of those hills, done on first starting in the morning. I and as I gazed intently on their airy and began to find myself burdened, moreover, fantastic shapes, all my enthusiastic love of with my tools, and much worn by my pre- art returned. Nature was victorious. The vious walk, and once or twice wished my enemy was conquered, and as I rubbed the self quietly seated in my usual place at the clouds in on the coarse grey tinted paper, studio.

softening down the hard black chalk into The bill gained, however, and the White the transparent tint which represented the Thorn reached, I felt a momentary return forms so well, I felt that faith and hope of the hope and faith which had led me were reviving fast within me, and that I

was myself again. I had just terminated on one side over the ravine beneath, which my rough sketch of the view from the is so completely choked up in that direcWhite Thorn, to which the clouds I had tion with brushwood and briars that the been rubbing in were destined to serve as view over the wood is completely hidden. horizon-a little too hard perhaps, for my Down this very side had been worn a rough hand had scarcely recovered its wonted uneven path through the covert which lies lightness and elasticity. But I left the below; and the joyous laugh of the young softening to some future time, for I was artist in search of the picturesque even eager to accomplish many other sketches there is often heard issuing from amongst before the strong glare of noon should drive the seemingly impenetrable wood, startling me to seek shelter in the deep shade of the almost into fits the good bourgeois who wood. Alas! the drawing of the White has been toiling up the hill on the other Thorn was never softened down, and a long side, to enjoy the view from the White and dreary time elapsed before I completed Thorn. But no joyous langhter greeted another My mother had it framed, how my ear at this moment. The deadly shriek ever, rough and unfinished as it was, and it which had caused me suddenly to abandon hangs over the little font of holy water by my work just when I was at the highest her bedside. Poor soul ! for many months point of interost had been followed by a she thought it would be the last I should pause, during which the stillness seemed ever execute, and prized and treasured it dread and awful as that of the grave. accordingly.

And terrible as the shock had been, the The sketch was concluded. The effect silence which ensued appeared more frightwas satisfactory even to myself, and I ful still. stepped back with true artistic compla- While I stood pale and trembling, listencency to view the drawing from a distance, ing with intense eagerness to catch the and compare it with the original clouds, slightest sound, the boughs of the ravine now fast sailing away behind the hills, and began to rustle furiously, and I became growing tinged with the reflection of the aware of the gasping effort and the pantfoliage, while the line of wood was lighted ing breath of some individual striving with in its turn by the strange blending of both might and main to attain the height at objects into one undefined outline, leaving which I stood. Presently a hoarse voice the gazer ir doubt as to where the earth called aloud from half-way up the path. ended, and the sky began

The accents were rude and rough: I had just determined on seizing this “Hallo there, you painter; just make effect, said to be the most difficult to pro- haste here, will you, and lend us a hand. duce in the whole range of the landscape Curse the prickly brambles; they are tearpainter's art. I was in a rapture of de ing me to pieces !_Here, come along quick, light. A sudden enlightenment had broken for God's sake! The devil seize me if I can in upon me. I knew I should succeed; I get a step higher! We are in the greatest felt that the hour had arrived. Nature trouble down below, and want your help.” herself was whispering in my ear the secret The speaker had opened the branches of which I had been so long in search, and wide. I looked down to where he was in a kind of artistic frenzy I Aung myself standing with extended arms and head upon the ground, burying my face amid thrown back. In a moment I recognised the grass to listen to her holy teaching. the military man who had sat on the swing

Just then, when my whole soul was board of Tony Lanterneau's coucou. detached from earth in communion with “ Come quick !” exclaimed he, in a breathitself, and my very life had entered, as it less tone." You must lose no time.” And were, into the new world thus suddenly as he let go the boughs on one side, and opened to my sight, I was startled by a swung round to stretch his hand towards cry of anguish-a human cry, so full of me, the action was so helpless, so like that pain and agony that, as it broke upon the of a drowning mariner endeavouring to stillness of the air, every fibre in my frame seize the rope thrown to him amid the boil. became conyulsed. Strange to say, it ing surge, that I obeyed the summons seemed so close to my ear that I could almost mechanically, and scrambled down hardly believe that it had not proceeded to where he was standing, in actual danger, from some one standing by my side, and upon a loose stone which threatened each it was only on reflection I remembered moment to give way beneath his feet. that it must have been brought by the “Come quick--come quick!" again exwind across the hollow. The sort of crag claimed he in a hoarse whisper, at the same on which stands the White Thorn juts out | time seizing me by the arm with such strong grip that he almost threw me off my scarcely more than an hour ago. I felt balance, and for a moment we both tottered, as if in a hideous dream, from which the in doubt whether we should not roll to- questioning and peremptory suggestions gether to the bottom of the hollow. But my of the party, all uttered at once, and all youth and elastic step soon cleared the diffi- demanding a reply, had scarcely power to cnlties of the passage, and I followed the arouse me. The man in his shirt-sleeves, stranger in bewilderment, the only impres- having finished his ablutions, turned tosion on my brain being that my evil destiny wards me his pale, guilty countenance, and, was about to begin once more, and that the perhaps in answer to my inquiring gaze, hot burning pain on the top of my head, began to exculpate himself before he was acwhich had begun to subside during that cused. He said that he had intended to give momentary repose I had enjoyed up by the his adversary but a slight wound, in order to White Thorn, was returning with redoubled teach him to be more guarded in his lanviolence.

guage for the future, and not to call a man The sudden glare of the strong sunlight "a cheat and sharper" because the run of as I emerged from the dark_shade of the luck happened to be in his favour; but the thicket almost blinded me. I felt the rush turf was slippery, and before he could reof blood to my head, and every object cover himself, he had slipped forward, and seemed to dance before my eyes, so that I the point of his sword being raised at that conld scarcely steady my pace sufficiently moment, it had entered his adversary's neck, to draw near to the group towards which and the blood had gushed out with such my companion was hurrying. At the bot-sudden violence that the youth, uttering but tom of the hollow runs a long narrow gorge one shriek, had fallen lifeless on the grass. -always moist and damp, always soft and “ Ay, but all that will never be listened green. In this space was gathered a knot to by the Procureur Imperial,” said one of of gentlemen busily engaged in some hot his companions, hurriedly. “Lose no time, dispute, as I inferred from the murmur of I advise you, in talking, but get away at their voices, which seemed sharp and angry, once.” Then turning to me he added: “This and from the exuberance of gesture with duel, lawful and loyal as it in reality is, which the conversation was being carried wears an ugly aspect, monsieur. By an on. No sooner had my conductor joined unfortunate accident, the doctor who was them than they all simultaneously turned to have accompanied the party was left to me, and as the group opened I beheld, behind, when the coach which bore the anwith horror and amazement, a human form fortunate victim in this affair broke down stretched out upon the grass, the head snp- in the wood; then, the only second on his ported by a stone, and the blood pouring side happens to be Bras-de-Fer, the fencingfrom a wound in the throat, so rapidly that master, with whom he has been in training, its crimson stream had dyed the grass and and who must have been aware how little he flowers all around. As I approached I was fitted to cope with Monsieur de Marsiac, recognised at once in the young man who the most skilful swordsman in all Paris. lay before me, and whose life-blood was Then again the quarrel took place at the ebbing away with such fearful speed, the gaming-table, where the victor in this youth who had been my companion on my combat was the winner of a tremendous ill-starred journey from Clamart. Not one sum from the young man he has killed--as of the individuals present appeared to re- he declares—by accident. In short, we must member for a moment the awful presence be off at once, ere people are abroad, or we of the dead. All seemed under the in- shall have the gensdarmes about our ears, fluence of some personal fear; two of the and we shall none of us escape easily under party appeared to be engaged in discussion, such circumstances.” pointing in various directions, as if in dif- “Come along, De Ferville," exclaimed ference of opinion concerning the route the individual in his shirt-sleeves, who had they were to follow. One of the gentlemen, been the murderer, for as such I looked in his shirt-sleeves, was bending low to wash upon him, of the poor youth who lay dead his hands in the little spring. I alone knelt at my feet. “We have scarcely time to down by the corpse, and laid my hand upon catch the train, and we have then to get to the heart to see if it were beating still; but the Gare du Nord for the Brussels rail. no pulsation was perceptible. The youth lay way. This young gentleman will best there with his face turned upwards to the know what to do. He will only have to sky, his eyeballs glistening through the half- go at once to the commissaire and declare closed lids, his lips wide apart, just as he had to the loyalty of the fight in which our appeared before me reclining in the coucou | adversary has fallen. The body must not

be left alone, or it would look like-" his head, I stooped down to cover his face He hesitated for a word, but finding from the glare of day. As I did so, a faint none but the right one, spoke it out boldly buzzing noise smote my ear with as great

-"murder!" "He had been hurrying on a shock as though a cannon-ball had been his paletôt the while, and tying on his fired close beside me, and the next moment cravat, and when this was completed he the sensation of some crawling object bewalked with a quick pace down the gorge, neath my fingers renewed the terror and and his form was lost amid the hanging loathing I had felt before! The accursed wood of the opposite bank. His two com- blue-bottle fly was still hovering there, and, panions followed quickly, and soon the coward that I was, I durst not raise the fencing-master and myself were left stand- kerchief to drive it away, but fled without ing alone beside the corpse.

turning to look again, and rushed with “ I, too, must go and hide,” murmured desperate haste towards Meudon. Bras-de-Fer; “but whither? I have no It was well for me that the hour was still means to fly to Brussels like these young so early, or I should have had the whole of sparks. Ah, that De Marsiac! who shall Meudon at my heels, as I tore like a madman ever tell whether it was luck or intention down the narrow, ill-paved street to the resiwhich made his sword fly upwards at the dence of the commissaire. I had anticipated first lunge ? Had the boy but had time to some difficulty in obtaining an audience at give that thrust which I had been at so that unusual time; but the clerk in waiting mach pains to teach him, it would have received me readily. He scented a crime, been, not himself, but De Marsiac who and hurried me into the commissaire's would be lying here !"

private room to await his honour's pleaAll the while he had been speaking he sure.

The commissaire, in dressing-gown had been gathering up the two long wea- and slippers, listened to my explanation of pons which lay half-buried amongst the the business which had bronght me there grass. And, after wiping them carefully with evident impatience, for my manner upon the silk handkerchief in which they was so wild and incoherent that he could had been enveloped, and looking down the scarcely be expected to place confidence in blades with a scrutiny that made me my statement, and when the procès verbal shudder, he replaced them in the green had been made out according to my debaize bag, which all this while hung sus- position, he merely nodded his head and pended on his arm. Then, as if suddenly said, “We shall see, mon garçon,” and remembering my presence, he said, looking disappeared to his café au lait, the aromatic over his shoulder as he departed :

steam of which pervaded the whole place; “ You cannot bear witness to much, my but, as he retired, I saw him make a sign friend; but you can say with truth that to the gendarme, and point to my shoulder. I had chosen the open space beneath the And the latter, with the instinct of his Three Acacias for this encounter, but De calling, must have understood, for, as he Marsiac declared that the sun was already followed the commissaire out, I heard him too powerful up there, and so we drew lots turn the key in the lock in order to secure for the choice of this spot or the other. me safely. The tumult of my soul can Of course, De Marsiac had the luck-he hardly be conceived, as I was left alone in always has. He knew well enough he could that large, dreary room. I paced to and not have 'slipped' so as to have thrust the fro in the restlessness of despair, and as point of his sword through his adversary's I passed by the looking-glass which hung throat up at the Three Acacias: the ground in front of his honour's bureau, I could is dry and gravelly there, not soft and scarcely believe that the wild and haggard slippery as it is in the gorge.”

countenance I beheld reflected there was With this dark and terrible hint, he too the same as that which had greeted my disappeared, leaving me face to face with sight in the little mirror opposite the winthe dead. I could not turn away without dow of my mansarde at early dawn on that giving one last look upon those poor, pale very same morning. My hair was all on features and that stiffening form; and then end, my cheeks of ashy paleness, and my I thought it would be cruel and unmanly to lips parched and cracked. My blouse, all leave him thus exposed to the chance of in- torn and ragged with my forced passage jury from sun, from air—from insects—and through the brambles, seemed to hang summoning all my courage, I approached, loosely, all out of shape, upon my sunken

zing the long silk neckerchief the figure, and-great God! what was that Fouth had taken off before the combat, and stain upon my sleeve ? Ah, yes, I rewhich was hanging on a branch just above membered that Bras-de-Fer had clutched


my arm we slid together down the my ears as I hurried by, lest I should steep bank into the hollow. This was the obtain physical evidence of the presence of precise spot where the fly had alighted, what I dreaded more than any other living when I had sought to seize him in the thing upon this earth—the bluebottle fly! coucou; the superstition had found its ample fulfilment there, and this was evidently the testimony which had risen

AN HOUR OF AGONY. against me to make the gendarme lock me in on a sign from the commissaire.

Has the reader ever had a tussle with a The minutes seemed hours as I paced Bengal tiger in full vigour and appetite ? the floor. I tried to divert my thoughts Has it chanced him to be in a balloon by gazing throngh the iron grating of the when perforated by Prussian bullets ? Has window looking into the garden; but close it occurred to him to have been indulging beneath lay a bed of scarlet verbena, and a commendable curiosity in the remoter my eyes blinked and my soul sickened at recesses of a coal-mine, when an explosion the colour; and over it the bees were suddenly severed the connexion between hovering with unceasing hum, and my ears himself and the world without? These are could not bear the sound. It made me forms of uneasiness not to be lightly shudder as if with cold, while my brain treated of. They shrink into nothing beside seemed on fire.

that supreme commingling of grief, astoAt length the sound of footsteps slowly nishment, and horror it was my lot to exapproaching gave a turn to my thoughts; perience on a certain never-to-be-forgotten the peculiar tread which denotes the bear. evening of January, 'forty-nine. ing of a heavy load, the low murmur of Time's soothing influence has wrought the crowd, and the scuffling of many feet, its accustomed effect. All bitterness, all announced that the errand of death was self-reproach, have died gradually away. completed, and the corpse brought into In place of that mental tumult which, for the office yard.

a long period, attended the remembrance I need not trouble you with the tale of of the incident in question, I now find mythe tedious process of the law, the endless self able to narrate with indifference, nay, questioning and examination. The legal even with a smile, the circumstance to persecution ended in my entire acquittal of which, but recently, my most intimate all participation in the death of the young friends durst hardly hazard an allusion. Count de Sorgerac, for such the letters The Guild of Lumpeters represents one and papers found on the deceased proved of the most ancient and honoured of Lonhim to be, and as his watch and chain, and don's civic institutions. What they are, the rings upon his fingers, remained un- why they are, I have not the remotest idea. touched, I was allowed to go free, with the Enough that, on a certain day in November, sole obligation of appearing as witness they are seen in their glory, their banners against the criminals, for whose arrest a brighter, their bands brassier, their knights warrant was immediately made out. My more corpulent, themselves sleeker an portfolio and drawings, my colour-box and more redolent of wealth than any of their tin case, were all deposited at the greffe, so prosperous rivals. They have a hall that I went forth from the office lightened solely, it would seem, for purposes of hosof the burden which I had began to feel pitality. They give dinners of inconceivwearisome, but borne down by a strange able succulency and toothsomeness. They and ponderous weight ten times more invite mayors, nay, kings, who don't always painful to bear, a load which seemed to be come, and princes, who generally do, and crushing me to the very earth. As I passed they also invite me. I go, for I like them. out from the commissaire's bureau I turned All the Lampeters of my acquaintance are my anxious gaze towards the out-house noble, large-hearted men, citizen gentlewhere I knew that the dead body had been men, on whom London, in need of arm or laid. A heavy padlock was on the door, and purse, might confidently rely. I think if a gendarme was standing by to prevent the I were other than what I am, I would be approach of idlers seeking to peep through a Lumpeter. the crannies of the ill-joined planks; but Pretexts were never wanting for a LumI knew well enough that neither bolt nor peter feed. The recovery of the chief city bar could exclude the deadly foe, now en- magistrate from a bilious attack, the breakdowed by my diseased imagination with a ing up of the frost, the birth of a son and superstitious terror, and I was weak and heir to the Ban of Croatia, the arrival of a foolish enough to close my eyes and stop piebald elephant at the gardens of the

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