« AnteriorContinuar »
MORNI AND ETHNEA.
A TALE OF ST. COLUMBA.
" You ask not,” replied the Naiad, "wherefore the wind hovers around the Thus passed time-if, indeed, time flower, and while it gives freshness and could be said to fly, in realms whose strength, hives within its bosom those endless pleasure and ceaseless light ditreasured perfumes, which consecrate vide the external world from that of our its flight, like visitants from paradise. own thoughts and actions, which mark You ask not, wherefore the moon-beam our epochs upon earth. Of all the spirits rests upon the wave, wooing it with who thronged the realms, who turned the passion and purity of a bride ; or their eyes to the praise and beauty of wherefore the dew of midnight, which their queen, Morni was the favorite. sleeps upon the flower, glitters like stars He felt her prophecy of gradual change in the firmament—'Tis the universal progressing; but though he looked spirit of love, which pervades the silent around him with the eyes of a spirit,fadepths of nature; which weds the breath miliar with the object of mystery which of summer to the flower, and pledges met his gaze, and felt himself irrevocathe kiss of moonlight to the swelling bly the tenant of a world for which he wave, that mirrors her radiance and was adapted by a secret and unfelt proglory."
cess of conformation-his heart still re" Yet I am but man,” exclaimed mained unchanged, like a particle of Morni, as he hung enraptured upon dust polluting the purity and brightness the words of the Naiad.
of his spiritual form. "In fancy he yet “One wave of my wand," replied pressed to it his earthly bride; return
“could make thee in all ed with ardour those glances which things, even as I am, and the bright rested on him, as she hung upon his company which heralded thee hither— breast, and felt, with a delicious joy, yet it is not the change of a moment. the fevered pressure of her lip, strong Slowly, as a decaying and corrupted as the embrace of death, and murmurgovernment, must thine earthly nature ing the accents of a broken heart. be detached from thee, Thou art here Queen!" he exclaimed, starting to share my throne, and hold my scep- from a reverie of earth, as he reclined tre ; yet though thou art to hold com- by her side—"thy love cannot deny munion with spirits-though thou may me its first boon and its last ?" resemble them in form, and wear their "Speak thy request," replied the light and gauze-like raiment—thy mind Naiad. will for a time retrace the scenes of Morni paused for a moment in an earth; thine ear listen, as in dreams, to agony of doubt and fear. He dreaded the voices of those thou last loved, and to incur the penalty of eternal exilethine heart wander back to the affec- perhaps of death, should his request be tions of its nature."
denied. He turned his tear-dimmed • Then I am doomed—” said Morni, eyes upon the queen. He felt a gentle as he felt the words of the Naiad al pressure, as of down, upon his lidsready verified by the struggle within the tears had passed away beneath his heart, and himself but an exile the lip of the Naiad, and every object amid the wealth and splendor which, around him was batlied in a voluptulike a gilded serpent, fascinates his eye, ous light, hitherto a stranger to his and coils its folds around him.
vision. “ To be loved by me, and sit upon Thy request ?-Speak it,” repeatmy throne,” replied the Naiad, as, ed the queen. " She who hath shared rising, she waved her sceptre over him, her kingilom with thee, cannot refuse and he sank senseless at her feet. thee aught."
That I may revisit earth,” replied stronger, though unseen ties, which Morni, tremblingly.
bind thee 10 our realm beyond the light The queen was silent. A moment breath which speaks the oath, and ary frown, like the dew clouding the either leaves it chained to the altar of blush of the flower, passed over her the heart by the vow of honor, or scatface, as she heard and paused on Mor- ters it to the wild air, a thing as light as ni's wish.
that with which it mingles.” " Your heart still wanders back to · What ties !” faltered the prince. earth ?” she said.
" Thy change of nature," replied the ** Blame me not,” responded Morni, queen, and a mysterious power, which “ for the condition thou thyself hast im- will haunt thee through the caves and posed upon my nature.-Oh! were it biding-places of the earth, to cancel but for a moment, I implore thee, bright thy perjury, and reclaim thee to the spirit,” he continued, earnestly, “let me nature thou hast foresworn." but see nature once again, as she crowns * Perjury!" repeated Morni; “by and beautifies earth, fixes ber eternal these vales of light, which rise around throne of adamant upon the mountain, us like an air-wrought palace, I seek or scatters her painted treasures through neither to break the oath I have the depths of ihe valley. Let me once swory before thy throne, nor release more return to the friends whom I have myself from the sacred nature thy left, whose smiles I see trembling on power has breathed upon me! Should their lips as ready to-greet me ;-let me thou or thy realm be forgotten while I once more wander through the vales of tread the earth, thou hast within thy that isle, consecrated by the love it has grasp an element, which carries in its witnessed and the despair passion has bosom the strength of thunder and the left behind ;-let me ascend-be it for vengeance of death." but a day-an hour--and I return, And such shall be thy doom, son of content to share the glories of thy earth,” returned the queen, - should'st throne, or the pleasures of thine im- thou forget to return the love of the morial love."
Naiad, or the duty thou hast sworn to As he knelt before her, his arms ex- her throne." tended in the intensity of prayer, and “Oh! I am mad for joy,” exclaimbis lips still quivering with the throng- ed Morni, as ho pressed the sceptre to ing, unuttered emotions of his heart, his lips ;-" I shall see the bright sun the Naiad looked upon him with a again, as like a racer of proud and unmingled expression of tenderness and wearied mettle, he speeds his heavenly reproof.
course, and pants for the golden gaol ** Ah ! thou smil'st upon thy suppli- where twilight hangs her banners from ant," cried Morni, as he started in rap- the clouded turrets of the vanquished ture at the softness which beamed from day. I shall seeher eyes, and overspread her features, * Thy bride, the princess Ethnea," like the
ray of earliest dawn blushing interrupted the Naiad, in a sterner tone through the mist of morning :-—" thou than she had hitherto adopted. “ Fool! smil'st, bright queen; thou wilt not immortality is within thy grasp, and can'st not refuse me ?”
yet thou cling'st to dust and death, * Then thou weariest already of my while the former crumbles in thine emparadise ?" returned the Naiad. brnce, and death conceals his dart from
" Not so, fair spirit,” exclaimed the thee, beneath the embroidered robe he prince ;-—" by the light which gilds it, hath flung on thy painted earth. To like an eternal sun-by the sceptre thy love away! Yet stay," she thou hold'st, I swear my homage to thy added, checking herself, as Morni, deaf throue, and, if thou'lt not disown it, the to her words, and unconscious of the love of an earth-born creature." desire of vengeance, which lurked like
She extended her crystal sceptre to a serpent beneath them, was dashing him, and Morni pressed it to her lips in from the spot, and felt his wings already token of fealty and passion.
spread for fight;
stay ; ere thou "Should we restore thy nature to seek'st thine earth, I have a parting thee,” said the Naiad, " and allow thee charge to give thee. The period of to ascend to earth-beware, there are thy visit must be short, and thy return
marked by the signs with which thy gering on every place which reminded brethren of dust count the flight of him of hours passed in the dalliance of time."
love--of vows plighted in truth, to be · Thy commands, fair quoen," re- broken, alas! by the hand of death. plied the prince, “shall be cherished As thus he wandered, living over again and obeyed. Say on."
days and hours, whose memory multi"When the moon rides highest in plied the happiness they brought; and, the sky, and mountain, vale, and plain in the ecstacy of retrospective life, forsleep beneath the spell of her light- getful of the nature which claimed him that be thine hour of return. Thou as its own, and the oath whose fulfilrememberest thine oath? Thou know- ment bound him to an exacting, reest my power? To thy bride of dust, morseless future, a burst of minstrelsy
rose from within the castle walls, and The resurrection of the prince from died away in silence, like some parting the deep was the flight of a moment. spirit, upon the bosom of the night. The blood once more circled through That sound dispelled memory and his veins ; to the mind was once more reverie, and awakened within him a restored impressions and recollections, sense of his condition, on which he was as though he had never abandoned permitted to revisit earth. He looked earth or his nature, but which, in the toward the sky;-time was yet mercichange he had undergone, lay vague, ful to him—the moon was far from ber confused and undefined, like the sever noon. He turned to the castle ; every ered and dislocated relics of life as they turret glowed with light, and the great spread and scatter through the vault of hall was a scene of mirth, festivity and death. His heart once more leaped to rejoicing. Anon broke upon his ear the living impulses, which flowed back the merry peal of the revellers, the upon it, like streams returning their rich minstrelsy of the harps, as the tributes to the fountain ; and amid the dancers kept measure to their strains. emotions which thronged and swelled “And is this thy love, Ethnea ?" within a bosom, hitherto pulseless and said Morni, as he vainly endeavored to inanimate, he felt the returning glow of wake one chord from the harp he bore, a warrior's ambition—the unbending while a tear-drop glistened in the moonloftiness of a prince's pride--and love, light, as it fell among the strings—"İs flowing through every vein, like a tide this the love for which I wept, even of flame, and springing from the heart, amid the vales of paradise ; which as its centre-its exhaustless fount. made those crystal depths a place of
As he stood on the border of the darkness, and their bright spirits delake, thus divested of every influence formed to the eye, when I thought of of his spiritual nature, the thought thee! Ethnea, weepest thou thy love, flashed on him of entering the castle, amid the revel, the dance, and the and standing in the presence of Ethnea, song ?" in the disguise of a minstrel. The Dispirited and sad amid these witmoon, like a bride parting the curtained nesses of her forgetfulness, yet almost clouds, was slowly ascending, “ her incredulous of the festive light which highest noon,” while her troop of spark- broke on his eye, and the strains of ling satellites glanced in her wake, mirth which assailed his ear, with like handmaidens bearing her silver quick and agitated step he bent his way train. The lake was one mirror of towards the castle. He paused a molight. The prince stooped over the ment on the threshold of the gate. It bank, and beheld the transformation was no longer the vision, which, in his realised by enchantment—the despair, he had fondly hoped ; but a Barrad around his head—the long beard stern and revolting truth, which crushed floated on his breast, and the harp was out the so long cherished image of Ethin his hand.
nea from his heart, and made it yearn " Thanks! thanks! bright queen,” for the presence of the Naiad—the love he cried in rapture, and he swept the which defied temptation and the decay silent strings; "as thou hast not de- of time—and that home beneath the serted me, my life upon my faith !" wave of eternal happiness and light.
He sprang from the spot, and with a “A minstrel, worn with travelling," hasty step traversed the gardens, lin- he said to the man, who watched by
the gate, “implores admission, and he but there was no responsive smile upon will requite the hospitality of thy purse the lips to share, or give it welcome. with his humble skill upon the harp.” The lamps gleamed above her with
** Enter,” said the man; "and the the brilliancy of day, but where was peace of our walls be upon thee!" the blush which might have reposed
The next moment Morni stood upon that cheek, like a rose expanding among the revellers, joyless and un in the warmth of sunlight? The giddy smiling amid the gaiety which sur- dance wove its labyrinth uround her; rounded him, like one risen from the yet like a statue did she regard the dead to paralyze the hearts and voices moving crowd, cold, joyless and silent. of mirth with the chill of his dark and It was Ethnea ; but, alas ! how changed fearful home. Still pealed the harps of from her he had claimed as his bridethe minstrels, and still whirled on the from her whose beauty had been his giddy dance; still whispered the man- dream amid the loveliness of paradise. ly lip its compliment and the tributes The hollow of her cheek, her sadness, of gallantry, while the ear of beauty her silence—all bespake a truth, which hung entranced on sounds, which filled defied even the separation of death, it like softest music. Frenzied and and sought the tomb of her lover, to desperate wandered the eyes of Morni watch and weep there. among the sparkling group; he felt Though his oath were broken; his glance imbued with more than a though the threatened penalty of the mortal firé; his cheek becamo cold, as Najad and the utter extinction of spirit though the hour had arrived for the followed; though death approached, dissolution of his nature; while thick and whispered in his ear the curse of and burning drops streamed from his dust; yet one word must be exchanged brow, like fire distilled from the land of with the princess, even though it were the spirit. To escape detection, he but " Farewell !" mingled with the minstrels, and his The dance had ceased, and the harps harp swelled the strains of festivity sunk to silence. He descended amid from his unconscious and trembling the crowd—there was one expedient bands.
still left him to inform her of his preBut while he, thoughtless.y, struck sence. He called to mind the air he the strings, his eyes wandered rest- had often sung in her bower, and sang lessly through the pageant-throng to her the last time they met there. around him. Ethpea was not there. Ethnea loved it, perhaps, as much for Was she dead? The harrowing thought the minstrel, as the melancholy sweetfell on him with remorse for the rash ness which marked it. He swept the charge he had announced against her. strings, and sang the following linesHad she died for him? The question
When we parteil last, the smile which played was followed by a miogled sensation of On thy lip; I thought could never die sadness and joy, which confounded
But alas! oir smiles as often fade,
As the moonlight to the lover's eye. both, and wrought on its victim like madness. Ethnea gone! then earth It was the star-light of my path ; had no farther claims upon his heart;
The spell wlich vlid my steps beguilo;
And though the tempest lower'd in wrath, and the affections, which led him back,
One ray still pierced it'twas that smile! he felt were already breaking and withering.
Too happy! is the love we felt
In those bright hours, could last for ever; While thus he stood in melancholy If the God, before whose shrine we knelt, and despair, desiring the moment Our hearts had fated ne'er to sever, which should restore his spiritual na
But rent the tie-and gone the truth ture, in a remote part of the hall his
Which blessed our hearts in that sweet hour; eyes rested on a form, seen in happier Too late we've learned the doom of youthhours, and worshipped through all the
That passion fadeth like a flowervicissitudes of death and change, with And what is left, save the broken heart, the devotion of an idolater. It was And the tear, which dims the once bright eye? Ethnea. Anger clouded his brow, as
Oh! would that ere the hour to part,
A sterner fate had come-To die! the truth of the charge rushed to his mind; but a moment dispelled it, as the But vain to murmur!-Vain to weep sunshine brushes the ripple from the
Over a doom as dark as ours !
To guard a withered flower, and keep wave. She was surrounded by mirth; Our sad watch by its faded bowers.
Oh! had we never loved nor met,
fell on them with the mellow lustre of How happier far had been our fate!
sunset. Our star so soon had nerer set, Aud left us dark and desolate.
As Morni entered the bower, the
form he sought was before him. ExFor the gay and heedless throng, the hausted and breathless with terror, she air had no memory, and the words no had sunk upon the floor, her arms ex. meaning. But it fell on the ear of the tended on a couch, to which she clung princess like a voice from the dead, as for support, while the cressets poured fancy knelt by the tomb of her lover, down their warm light upon a face, whose depths returned solemn and tintless, ghost-like, and ashy. He holy answers to the heart whose pas- knelt to her-he pressed his lips to her sion death could not chill. And, strick- cheek-'twas cold ;-he clasped her en, as in the presence of a spirit, who hand in his-it felt pulseless and clay. returned to earth on a mission of warn Jike. ing or revenge ; and bewildered with
• Dead, dead," he murmured, as he the thoughts and memories which bent over her, parted her hair from her crowded on her mind as she listened pale brow, and felt that while he lookto the minstrel, she started from hered on that dead image, he poured out seat. The light of frenzy was in the last tributes of a blasted love, and hereýe--a ghustly pallor settled on her breathed forth the last remaining imbrow and features--she trembled fear- pulse of an expiring pature. fully, as though each moment gave " That voice! that voice !" said the strength to the horrible thought, that a princess, slowly reviving; “it sounds tenant of the tomb stood amid a scene mine ear-the very reality of that of mirth like the present. The super- hideous dream-graves and skeletons !" stition gradually assumed the hideous she added, with a violent shudder; " it aspect of its object; she raised her falls upon my cheek, and curdles its hands to her head, and, uttering a wild very blood--oh! if it be my last hour; and heart-rending shriek, sank back mercy, wercy, heaven!" upon her sent.
My bride! my love! my long-sought The revellers gathered around her- Ethpea!” exclaimed Morni, passion" He is not here,” she said, as she scan. ately. ped the group with a keen and kind Oh, God! art thou man or spirit ?" ling eye-—not here, not here.''
cried the princess, as she sauk at his Who?" broke simultaneously from feet. the astonished and terrified by-standers. -Nay, hear me, Ethnea," said Mor
" llo-the dead," she replied, in a ni, kneeling by her side, and moistening deep tone, which froze the listeners with with his tears the cold hand he pressed horror ; and, darting from their pre- to his lips ;-—" hear me. It is not the sence with the speed of thought, she dead who clasps thee ;-I breathe-I rushed from the hall. He observed her move-I speak. Nay, these are idle departure, and, unnoticed by the rest, fears. Is not this hand as soft as thine ? glided away in pursuit of her.
and presseth not this lip upon thy After following her for some time cheek with all the living, fevered agung through a passage, she fled before him of thine ? Speak, speak, Ethnea? be with such rapidity as made him suspect it but to say, this fearful hour carries the terrible impression which weighed death to both." on her, that she was haunted by the · Art thou indeed Morni—the buried dead. He gently spoke her name. Morni ?" replied the princess, as she She neither answered nor turned, but felt the vital pressure of his lip, and still pursued her flight with such a heard the human tone which breathed fearful speed, as made him shudder for in every word ; :-" He whom I saw buthe safety of her mind.
ried in the wave forever?". A small summer-honse terminated Not forever,” rejoined the prince, the passage, whose flowers, as they checking, as it rose to his lip, the linit climbed the walls, or were trained in of his earthly visit, and the dreadful festoons, so as almost to represent an conditions which, on his return, would artificial ceiling, were interwoven with part them forever ; "I am, as once thou lamps of rich and varied hues, which knew'st me, living, and to love thee."