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The streets exhibited a grotesque appearance of bustle and confusion: the old and the young — the high born noble and the busy merchant— the slave and the master — the rich in purple robes of Syrian dye — and the poor with their coarse but cleanly garments — the citizen and artist all were thronging onward to one general scene of amusement and festivity.
It was a noble dome in which they assembled. The gilded roof was supported by a vast colonnade of pillars of the purest marble from the isle of Paros; the walls were decorated with paintings, executed by the most esteemed masters; and the whole scene was one of indescribable splendor. The lower tier of seats was occupied by the officers of the city — the magistrates, the senators, and the more wealthy citizens—while those behind were appropriated to the poorer and meaner classes. They were filled to overflowing.
Among the last of those who sought the place of exhibition was the merchant, Euphranor.
'Look well upon him!' he muttered in the ear of his slave; 'mark each change of countenance.' Glasiano made no reply, save by a grim smile. They sought their seats.
There was a dead, unbroken silence in the hall. Parrhasius stood in the midst of a thousand breathing forms, and a throng of hopes, fears, and recollections crowded thick upon his mind. He had just parted from Ianthe; he had felt her form thrill with agitation upon his breast, as she bade him adieu; and her tremulous voice, praying for his success, was still in his ear. Was he to return to her the victor, or the vanquished 1 To them, it was life or death!
The heralds now called upon the agonistes to present their paintings. One by one they advanced. Parrhasius saw each form as it moved on, and heard the low buzz of approbation, as each successive picture was exposed to view. It was a moment of dreadful suspense. Hope, life, reputation — all were concentered in this one chance. He was the last summoned. As his name was pronounced, he moved onward. A thousand eyes were riveted upon him, yet he heeded them not. He presented his painting to the judges. They paused for a moment; the picture was slowly unrolled, and an expression of wonder and amazement gradually gathered upon their features. It was turned to the spectators; not a voice uttered an approval. Parrhasius felt his heart stand still, and his brain reel. He grasped the pillar against which he leaned for support, and gasped for breath. At that instant, a burst of savage laughter came upon his ear. He knew the voice; and the tones of its bitter mockery re-strung his nerves. He sprang forward, as the judges dropped the picture on the ground: he seized it, tore open the folds, and discovered the huge blots on its surface. The truth flashed instantaneously upon his mind. He turned calmly to the judges, and pointed to the 'black and grained-spots' upon the picture. 'It is the work of an enemy,' said he; 'grant me permission, noble judges, to supply its place with another.' They hesitated, consulted for a moment together, and granted his request.
Again Parrhasius stood and beheld his picture slowly exposed to view; and again he felt the blood rush coldly to his heart, with the intensity
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of his emotions. Before his breath should be twice drawn, a sentence was to go forth of unutterable joy or misery.
The painting which was now unrolled was the one which Parrhasius had wrought for Euphranor, the merchant. Once more he turned his anxious gaze upon the judges. A gleam of satisfaction and high approbation was visible in the countenance of each. It was held up to the multitude. A reiterated, rapturous shout rang through the hall. A solemn silence for a moment ensued, and Parrhasius heard himself proclaimed victor!
In all the vast assemblage now collected to witness the contest, two persons only had not followed with eager interest the fortunes of the young artist. These two were Euphranor and his slave. Both had, with boisterous and ill-suppressed joy, beheld the prostration of his hopes, in the failure of his first attempt, and now, by a revulsion of feeling, proportionably depreciated his triumph. The merchant, when he heard the prize adjudged to Parrhasius, and saw him succeed by the very means he had planned for his destruction, in a tumult of passion made his way hastily through the opposing crowd, and passed to his home.
'Fool!' he shouted in the ear of his slave, 'through you he has escaped me!' and he gnashed his teeth in impotent rage: 'but you — you,' he continued, in a voice of thunder, 'shall be the victim!'
He made a signal, and several attendants rushed into the apartment. He pointed to the cowering form of Glasiano, and bade them seize him, and making a sign for them to follow, strode from the hall, into a spacious garden contiguous to the mansion. The path which he took conducted to avast reservoir, surrounded bya high marble wall. They gained the ascent by a winding stair-case cut out of the solid stone. Far down lay the deep water, on whose surface was extended a monster of the ocean, which had been transported thither, as a rarity suited to the great wealth of the merchant. Euphranor gazed with a savage smile upon the terror-stricken countenance of the slave, and then upon the dread serpent that lay coiled below. Glasiano shrieked for mercy. The merchant heard him with a hollow laugh. He made a sign to his slaves. Glasiano knew a horrid fate awaited him, and with this certainty came a deep longing for vengeance. He struggled no longer: they raised him slowly to his feet, when with a sudden effort he released himself from their grasp, and rushed upon Euphranor. He seized him around the body, and dragging him to the brink, master and slave fell together into the abyss below, and the foaming waters closed over them. At length the two forms arose — the slave still clinging to his master with a grasp of undying hatred. Desperately did the merchant struggle! Once — but once — his face turned to view, each lineament graven with terror. The glossy neck and quivering tongue of the serpent — the gloating and wan eye, like an expiring flame— and the circle of blood which rested upon the water, told the awful fate of the victims.
Parrhasius sought his home. He had just escaped from the congratulations and importunities of the multitude, who were now as ready and solicitous to employ his skill as they were a few hours before to discourage and slight him. He hurried onward: a high and sure fortune awaited him. And Ianthe! — she was to share his success. Oh! the unalloyed, the rapturous joy of that thought! His pace grew quicker: he had already passed the wicket which led to his low habitation —and now he reaches the door. Strange that she meets him not there! On he rushed, shouting his glad tidings. No voice responded to his own. He gained her chamber; her form reposed by an opposite window. Again he spake, and again his voice came in an echo from the low and empty walls. He stood by her side. The hands were lightly closed, the head partly raised, while a calm smile rested on the motionless features. Was it slumber? He listened for her breathings. There was no sound! Ianthe slept the sleep that could know no waking save at the summons of the last trump. What to him now were honor — ambition — fame — life!
Years passed. It was Spring. A number of Athenians had collected around the door of an elegant but unostentatious dwelling-house. By their gestures, and the frequent glances which they directed toward it, they appeared deeply interested in the fate of its inmate. They conversed among themselves for a time, until a young man, richly dressed, broke'from the circle, and pressed toward the door of the habitation. He was met by an old and gray-headed menial.
'How fares Parrhasius?' whispered the young Athenian.
The slave, with a melancholy shake of the head, pointed to a door which led to the room beyond. The stranger passed with a noiseless step across the corridor, and entered the apartment. It was the studio of the artist, and was hung around with many of the choicest gems of art. A form was reclining upon a low stool in the centre of the room; the head rested upon one hand, and the eye appeared riveted upon a picture that was extended before it. The young Athenian gazed upon the countenance. Parrhasius was before him! The eyes were half closed; the lips compressed — the whole face pale and soulless: the wanness and torpor of death had dimmed each feature. One hand still grasped that painting — the picture of the merchant and his child. The last fond gaze of the dying artist had rested upon that one loved form, until his spirit, released by a welcome messenger, rejoined the loved and lost, in a world that knows neither change nor sorrow. B.
Hz who has travelled through some weary day,
And reached at summer eye a green hill-side,
The dreary path through which he lately hied,
Sheds its sweet beam on every way-side flower,
And in his heart enjoys the quiet hour:
While Memory's pleasant twilight shades the past,
And each new scene seem brighter than the last;
Life's lengthening shadows ever cast behind.
A DOMESTIC SCENE.
The day was well nigh o'er,
Athwart the yard were thrown.
Before our humble door,
Upon the soft, cool grass.
Which now and then did pass,
I lay alone —
Eve came on gently: and her step was seen
Presently on my ear,
Joyous, and musical, and clear,
It ceased, that thrilling tone:
Earthly, and weak, and lone.
Once more— once more, it rang upon my ear —
And musical as it:
Full, free, and wild —
And then a fit
Again — again —
Bonnets were in the air,
And closer by them stood,
'My child!— my child!'
SKETCHES OF TRAVEL.
BY THE AUTHOR OF 'THE PROSPECTS AMD DUTIES OF THE AGE.*
Abbotsford takes its name from a ford over the Tweed, near at hand, which formerly belonged to the abbots — of some neighboring monastery, I suppose. It is well worth visiting, independently of the associations which make it what it is — what no other place can be. The structure too — the apartments — the furniture — are altogether in keeping with those associations. Every thing is just what you would have it, to commemorate Walter Scott. The building is a beautiful Gothic structure. You will not expect a description from me of what has been already so minutely and so well described. You remember the hall of entrance, with its stained windows, and its walls hung round with ancient armor, coats of mail, shields, swords, helmets — all of them, as an inscription imports, of the 'auld time;' the dining and the drawing rooms; the library and the study; the curiosities of the place — choice paintings, curious old chairs of carved work — the rare cabinet of relics, Rob Roy's musket, pistols from the dread holsters of Claverhouse and Bonaparte — and all surrounded and adorned with oaken