Imatges de pÓgina



there were attached to it some rich abbey days she had known him so. She had been lands, which made a comfortable farm. It saving the pittance of her fortune, acting had been built while Christianity was yet as governess to little French children. She very young; it had swarmed with busy was not going to settle down in idleness, monks, and its bell had been heard for and eat up every farthing of her income. miles around calling over the land. It had How did she know whoni she might not sent forth blazoned manuscripts to the have to help before she died? How could readers of its day, it had fed the poor, any one tell how useful it might be that and it had tilled the earth. The sun had she should have a little money saved when blazed upon its jewelled windows, where she was old ? Now every one could witsaints and angels gazed back again at the ness how useful it had been when the

Its music had floated towards the money had been saved, and an object for hills, and been the melody of paradise to her charity had been found. many a wanderer astray upon the night. It was a nine-days' wonder in the country The legend of its ornaments, its mottoes when she arrived from her foreign exile, among lilies and cherubs, had been perfect and was seen hovering about the lands and to the eye. Rainbows had streamed through the walls of Monasterlea. A patient-lookits hollow arches, and the breath of incense ing lady in a brown silk cloak appeared had been warm upon its sculptured stones. suddenly in the country. She was noticed Its friars had slept, and waked, and prayed, poking about the ruins with a large umand toiled; then slept, and waked no more. brella. Peasants passing on the road, or And there were their graves under the travelling the moors at a distance, saw carved stone crosses, whose lettering the strange and varied apparitions at this time. hungry moss had nigh effaced. The jewelled One had seen a fairy waving her wand at saints had been carried to other shrines, the ruin, and striving to put an enchantwalled up in trees, or trodden into dust ment on the blessed walls; another had upon the earth. The winds had rent away seen the ghost of one of the friars; while a the hospitable roof; the fickle winds, which third had beheld a vision of a strange in so many a past winter had set a friendly brown bird fluttering among the bushes. sanctuary was but a sheltered field where greatly when he received a lawyer's letter the sweet wild roses would blow out of offering him a tenant, not alone for the their season. The tall grey tower was a lands, but for the ruin and graveyard of building-place for rooks, and the clouds Monasterlea. A heap of waste walls and peeped pityingly through the high hollow a wild, useless field full of rugged green arches. The sun filtered coldly through mounds and broken crosses ! Let the fool the ornaments of the vast Gothic window- who coveted them have them to be sure, frames. No glowing glass was there to provided he paid a heavy rent. Perhaps turn its rays to flame.

the miser received a shock when, the barThe graves were everywhere - in the gain being made, he read a legible signachurchyard, where the people of the ture on parchment. His tenant was called country still came to leave their dead; Martha Mourne. among the walls; in the archways; in But when the workmen began, then the doorways. Yet this did not deter indeed there was a wonder in the country. Martha Mourne, spinster, from thinking Miss Martha chose a corner to the south-a of making a home among the hollows of pleasant little nook, where the sun loved to its walls. Miss Martha had had troubles shine. She roofed in a space, and covered of her own. In her youth she had been it with a warm, golden thatch. She had comely and Jovable, and she had seen be- five latticed windows and a whitewashed fore her a certain prospect of wedded life, front. She had four odd bedrooms and a of matronhood, motherhood, and something quaint sunny parlour. Miss Martha had of fine ladyhood besides. But now? Who no fear of the dead. There was a strange could picture old Simon Finiston in the Gothic doorway in the parlour wall close character of a wooer ? No one certainly beside the homely hearth. This led away who saw him cowering over a single brand into a long dim cloister. The cloisters in the winter day in his mouldering man. were rather in the way to be sure, but sion, or riding by like a spectre on a spec- they could not be got rid of, and were tral horse. Who but Miss Martha herself coaxed into service. A piece of one percould remember that he had been once sisted in running right across the dwelling, handsome, and generous, and kind ? would not be expelled, and so was obliged

Miss Martha had travelled since the to do duty as a passage into the kitchen.

“I a

Thus right between the kitchen and the the little French children, who were all parlour sat a grim stone angel with a font grown np and quite ready to forget the old in his lap. And old Nanny would aver governess. Ah, Felix, the rogue, he could that there were nights when this angel not do without her! Strong as he was he arose from off his perch and walked about wanted her to lean upon. Felix had prothe cloister, scattering holy water to keep tected her, a child, but now it was he who evil from the place.

was to be the child, and she, Martha, the But the little home looked shining and protectress. warm with the ivy from the wall, which So the friars in the convent had a visit was its prop and background, trailing in from Miss Mourne. She came in on tipwild wreaths over its amber thatch. A toe, with a bloom of delight under her well-stocked flower-garden ran down the weary eyes. She saw a little withered old slope beside the graves to the river-side. man, in a coarse brown gown, tied with a The hedges of sweetbriar and acacia flung rough white cord. His face was wasted blossoms over the moss-covered tombstones, to the size of a child's, and his features and here and there the mutilated crosses were not those which Miss Martha had leaned a little to one side, and peered known. But the countenance was meek through the rifts between the roses. and benign, and a placid light seemed to

It was not for the purpose of watching shine from it. over her ancient lover, of testing the tough- “Ah, little Martha !” he said, in answer ness of his miserly heart, or striving to to her broken words. “She was a dear win him from his unnatural ways, that the little girl. Have


met her lately, woman in the brown silk cloak had come madam ? I should like to see her again poking with her umbrella about the walls before I die." of Monasterlea.

There was

one to be The tears dripped down Miss Martha's thought of who was an older and a nearer face. friend. In days long past Martha had am Martha," she said with a smile. spent her childhood by the side of a very “ I am now grown old. But it is little dear mother and two brothers in a home, Martha's heart which is beating here still.” now swept away, which had stood but a And she pressed his withered hand to the mile from Monasterlea. The elder brother brown silk cloak. had been many years her senior, but they “You Martha ?” he said, and gazed had been happy together, when she was wistfully in her face. “Nay, do not cry. but an infant and he a big boy. He had Forgive me, dear. I am older, a long been good to her, and his memory clung way,


you. I am grown very old and warm round her heart. The gates of a feeble. But it is so much the better for monastery had closed on him early, and both you and me. Eternal youth is drawshe had seen but glimpses of him during ing near.” a long lonely life. But at last there had Reluctant, but obedient, the old man come to her a message in her exile, praying turned his back upon his convent, the her to visit and assist him. The message prior, more aged still, kneeling to ask his came from the prior of his convent. The blessing on the threshold; and Miss Martha old man, Brother Felix, was weakly. He carried him away to the home she had needed to have some care, some comfort, prepared for his reception. some change. The convent was too poor, It had been worthy of her love, that the rules too rigid, to allow of such luxuries thought of making him a nest in the old as these. Would the sister take compas- monastery. It was a spot that had been sion on the brother of her youth ?

familiar to his childhood, and as a boy he “Gladly would I minister to him myself," had delighted to dream among the ruins. wrote the prior, who was the aged superior His dreams in the place had been to him of an aged community,“ but I have not a what poems and fairy tales are to other shilling of my own in the world, and there wonder-loving children. He had lain in is nothing I could sell of more value than the long grass among the graves, and my girdle, which if I were to offer to a peopled the walls with his fancy. In spirit peasant he could but use as a spancel for he had swung the censer, and rung the his horse."

peal of bells from the belfry. Time had But, ah! how the woman clasped her been when his mother, missing him long hands over the letter, and how the tears from home, had found him rapt in prayer of joy coursed down her face! Blessed among the tombs. A long life had passed now be God, who had inspired her to lay over his head since then, of fasting and by þer poor savings! Adieu very fast to doing penance, of praying and contem


plating, of much labour and little rest. No wonder that such things should be And now he had come back here to die. talked about in the country. Father Felix Broken and spent and feeble, but infinitely had been received with much welcome by happy and at peace, the old man had found the people. They loved him as a Frana home for his last days in the very haunts ciscan friar; for these friars have always of his boyhood's dreams.

been friends of the Irish poor. They loved But at the opening of this story the him, also, for his simple face and gentle establishment of the home among the ruins sympathetic ways. Now, added to this was a thing of old date, and little May was was the fame of his sanctity, which went growing up at Monasterlea.

forth in whispers among the hills. It was said he could restore the sick by the great

strength and faith of his prayers. The LITTLE May Mourne was born in Italy. poor had no other doctor, and they ran to She made her humble entry into life amidst bring their sick to him. He prayed bethe sunshine of a Roman summer. Her side them; long wrestling prayers, which father had been a painter, younger brother left him utterly exhausted. The sick went of Martha and Felix, one of those who give away declaring themselves healed, and the up home, country, and friends to follow Art old man was carried fainting to his bed. whither she may

lead them. She had led So he was looked upon as the saint of him into care and difficulty, had given him the country. His fastings, and vigils, and hard tasks to do, and bitter bread to eat. communions with Heaven were talked of He had had too much love, and too little at mountain firesides. If people caught a power, and disappointment had broken his glimpse of his white head moving among heart in the end. May's mother had been a the ruined walls, up and down between beautiful Roman girl, who had not lived long the rose hedges, they went forward on after the death of her husband. Little May their journey with a lighter heart. The had disported herself in an Italian vine- simple mountain world was the gladder yard until she was five years old. Then and brighter on account of his coming. the friends of her mother, who were poor Father Felix had become a part of the people, had yielded to the yearning of Miss poetry of the district. Martha, and allowed her to come to Rome Monasterlea was a very strange home and take the child away with her. Miss for a child. The stories of the ghosts that Martha had left her home in the ruins, her walked abroad from twilight in the evenfireside among the tombs, had left old ing till sunrise in the morning, would have Nanny taking care of Father Felix, and made any ordinary mortal feel uncomforthad journeyed to Rome, and returned in able. But the inhabitants of this house triumph with the child. And so the girl, were not like other people. Miss Martha with her soft dark eyes and picturesque had no objection to ghosts. They did not ways, had become a part of this curious harm her, and she was such a hospitable household. It was like engrafting a crim- soul, that she was glad to give a shelter son rose on a wild thorn, to bring little to anything, natural or supernatural, that May to Monasterlea.

chose to seek a harbour under her roof. Miss Martha brought home various other She rather liked to think, as she lay in her treasures besides the one whose tiny hand bed, that her snug fireside, where the warm was squeezed in hers. She brought a red ashes glowed all the night through, quaint silver lamp, and a picture painted was a comfort and a refuge for wandering by May's father, both for the little chapel spirits, who, before she lit her hearth upon which she had made for Father Felix. For the spot, inust have had a chill, damp time she had roofed in a space off one of the of it during their inevitable vigils. cloisters, and set up an altar, and orna- Then there was old Nanny, to whom mented the walls. It might have been ghosts were a delight. She knew more of formerly a chapter-room, or a refectory, or them than she would like to tell. It was a scriptorium. Now it

Now it was a chapel, not given to many to see and hear the which May could dress with flowers, and things that she had seen and heard. She where Felix could pray the day long if he could give form and significance to every pleased. Ay, and the night long too. Miss shadow on the wall, and could interpret Martha had not counted upon this when every murmur of the wind. She knew out of sympathy she humoured him so far. what went on when other folks were asleep. But he would leave his bed, which she had She knew, but she dared not tell. If she spread so soft, and would pass whole nights did not keep their counsel they would drag upon the stones.

her from her bed, and carry her through the mountains. She should be dashed blooming little maiden and the aged ascetic against every rock, and dipped in every became the fastest of simple-hearted friends. stream that she passed over, whilst being And thus out of its many odd elements whirled through the air the whole of the Miss Martha's household contrived to make long night. So, though the ghosts might a cheerful and harmonious whole. As for come trooping down the cloisters in the her, she had her farm to attend to; and darkness, raising their voices, and making her house and her servants, besides her a tempest in the corners, though they two children, Felix and May. She was a might meet her face to face in the pas- very happy woman, who felt herself a power sages, dash the things about the kitchen, for the protection of the weak. She had and bend over her and talk to her in her known what it was to lead a lonely life; bed, yet of all this and more she dared not but now she was in right good company. tell.

And there was light-hearted Bridget, who was the young housemaiden. This

NOISES. lass of the mountains was so laughterloving that she could afford even to laugh

“ BE not afcard; the isle is full of at the ghosts of Monasterlea. Her polished noises.” Yes; and not only the enchanted red cheeks would dimple, and her black home of Prospero, but the whole habiteyes glitter, to hear the very mention of able globe, and prosaic, work-a-day life their fearful freaks. It was her delight to itself, are noise-ful. come rushing into the kitchen of a dark I am speaking only, now, of the noises evening, panting and laughing, and de- of common life; of those of the street, the claring that the great stone angel had risen house, the workshop, and the field; and, up and kissed her, or that a terrible appa- knowing them to be as innumerable as the rition had accosted her in the cloisters and hairs on the head, or the sands in the glass, invited her out for a walk. Yet in spite of you will not complain if, within the narrow all the strange influences of the place, the space at my disposal, I only tabulate and little flower from Italy grew hardily and comment upon a very few. For there are freshly in the moorland soil.

“sounds and sweet airs that give delight, It was a curious occurrence which first and hurt not ;” and, sometimes, " a thoudrew little May towards her visionary sand twangling instruments will hum uncle.

about our ears ;” and sometimes there are The child had feared him. His looks utterances savage and discordant as those struck her with awe. She shrank from of Brute Caliban, when the Spirits pinched him, and dreaded to pass the door of his him for bringing wood in slowly ; or, light room. Nevertheless, she fretted about him. and joyous as those of the Dainty Ariel ; or, She wakened in the night and wept to hoarse and drunken as those of Trinculo; think of him prostrate on the cold flags or, solemn and sonorous as those of the upon the chapel floor. She mourned to Royal Magician; or, low and melodious as see him touch no food. She hid little cakes those of Ferdinand wooing Miranda. Every in his pocket, hoping that he might find one of these vocal phases is susceptible of them and eat them.

a thousand subdivisions. In the organ of One night at last she got up in her sleep love alone there are myriads more stops and made her way through the long dark than ever Father Schmidt dreamt of; and cloister of the chapel. There was no light Swift's “little language” to Stella is no within but the glimmer of the sanctuary more the same piccolo as Steele's twitterlamp. The old inan believed that he saw ings to his “ Prue” than the tremendous a white-robed angel approaching to com- compass of diapason in Mirabeau's outpourfort and bear him company. His cry of ings to Sophie is identical with the passurprise awakened the child, who, look- sionate wail of Heloise to Abelard. ing wildly around her, shuddered a few Then, let me come to the common noises, moments, and then fled to him, clinging and, in a brief span, endeavour to discern round his neck in her fear,

which are the sounds usually most agreeThe old friar soothed her kindly. Absent- able, and most unpleasant to humanity. I minded as he was, he could not but gather say usually;" for I think there is a from her sobbing account that anxiety and tolerable unanimity among us as to sounds sympathy for him had caused her to wander which please the car, and sounds which jar in her sleep. He carried her in his arms upon it. There are deep-rooted prejudices, to her chamber door. Next morning she almost monomaniacal in their tendency, flew to meet him with smiles: and the in certain peculiarly constituted organisa


tiors, against certain noises; just as there bellowing, grunting, wailing, and gnashing are violent abhorrences to certain colours, of teeth of the savage brutes, could be heard and odours, and even names. Of these I may the roaring of the lions. The noise, pertreat hereafter ; but I must premise that haps, was one which might have amused our experiences of sound being necessarily some people, even if they had been fain to based on our own personal sensations, it stop their ears to avoid being stunned; may eventually appear to the reader that but, while I listened, there suddenly flashed I am the prejudiced and monomaniacal across my mind the remembrance of a person, and that what to me may be deli- certain passage in a book called Oliver cate nutriment is to other people ratsbane. Twist, in which Sikes remarks, “It was

And first of sounds that are dreadful. Let Bartlemy time when I was shopped.” The me ask you a question. Do you like the ruffian goes on to describe how in his roaring of wild beasts?' Some three or four Newgate cell he could hear the fifing and years since it was my ugly errand to go drumming and squib-and-cracker-exploddown into Kent to see a murderer hanged ing in the fair in Smithfield; and how in the interior of Maidstone Jail

. It was the noises nearly drove him to dash his to be the first private execution under a brains out against his dungeon wall, in freshly passed act of parliament; and al. frenzy. Straightway, my thoughts turned though in my time I had seen, in the way from Newgate to Maidstone Jail. That of business, half a score of felons hanged in Man in the Cell : could he hear the roaring front of Newgate and elsewhere, this pro- of the lions; and what impression could spect of witnessing the strangling of a those sounds have made on his distempered fellow-creature in a back-yard made me brain ? For no human creature, I take it, exceedingly nervous and wretched. Do who is going to be hanged, is quite sane. not for an instant imagine that I am about That story of the lions will not bear dwel. to indulge in a digression descriptive of the ling on any more in print; but do you horrible scene 1 beheld. What I have to weigh and ponder over it, and perchance say relates exclusively to the Philosophy of you will come to understand the shrinking Noises. Two old and dear friends of mine, horror which I felt then, and, remembering bent on the same errand, accompanied me to the noises, feel now. Maidstone; and we did our best to make How are you affected by the noise of ourselves, during the evening preceding“ machinery in motion,” as the Exhibition the execution, as cheerful as we could under phrase goes ? As I put the query on the circumstances, and to stave off that paper I rise from my chair; grind my ugly spectre of a Man in a Cell, who, do teeth ; pace the room in agony ; lean my what we would, was ever present to our fevered brow against a cool marble mantel.

We dined, and smoked, and piece, and, on the cook knocking at the tried to chat; but the conversation hung door, to ask what I would like for lunch, I fire; and the cigars had an ugly habit of am afraid that I say something very rude going out, rekindle them as we might, never to her. There is some “ machinery in so often.

At last we went out for a stroll. motion” over against my study window, It was fair-time at Maidstone; and tower which is at the back of the house. A ing amidst the booths and roundabouts, in speculative builder, who is running up a great area not far from the prison, had terraces, crescents, and gardens by the been drawn up the caravans of our old score in the suburb where I dwell, has familiar friend Wombwell of the menagerie. erected a range of workshops at the bottom We paid our fees, and went in. The lions of my garden, where all his carpentry and were in fine form; the tigers were in ad- joinery work is done; and he has further mirable rages;

and the hyænas were, as marred the prospect by raising a colossal usual, choking in spasms of hysterical mer- chimney, which, in defiance of the Smoke riment. They were all wide awake; and Consumption Act, belches forth volumes the gas, and a large, noisy, and nut-throw- of fiery fumes all day long. Can't I indict ing audience made them still more wakeful. that builder as a nuisance--for obstructThey were fiercely hungry, too-feeding ing my light and air ? No; I am told time, to increase the attraction, having been that he is too far off. But ah! how I postponed until nine o'clock. And, when should like to indict him for his noises ! the wheelbarrows with the shin-bones of He has gotten-I know he has—a drivingbeef did come round, you may imagine, and wheel with an endless strap on the tire. I need not describe, the pandemoniacal row That wheel is driving me to distraction; which ensued. Only, I may mark, that that strap has entered into my soul. He tremendous above the yelling, shrieking, has set up a circular saw--twenty circular

mind's eye.

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