Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

his mouth is so obstinately closed that he might as well, for our pur. poses, be deaf, dumb, blind and an idiot.”

" Then,” said the doctor impetuously, “ I put it to you again, whether you think it reasonable that this promise to the girl should be considered binding; a promise made with the best and kindest intentions, but really-"

“Do not discuss the point, my dear young lady, pray," said Mr. Brownlow interrupting Rose as she was about to speak. “ The promise shall be kept. I don't think it will in the slightest degree interfere with our proceedings. But before we can resolve upon any precise course of action, it will be necessary to see the girl, to ascertain from her whether she will point out this Monks on the understanding that she is to be dealt with by us, and not by the law; or if she will not or can. not do that, to procure from her such an account of his haunts and de. scription of his person as will enable us to identify him. She cannot be seen until next Sunday night; this is Tuesday. I would suggest that, in the mean time, we remain perfectly quiet, and keep these matters se. cret even from Oliver himself.”

Although Mr. Losberne received with many wry faces a proposal involving a delay of five whole days, he was fain to admit that no better course occurred to him just then; and as both Rose and Mrs. May. lie sided very strongly with Mr. Brownlow, that gentleman's proposition was carried unanimously.

" I should like,” he said, “ to call in the aid of my friend Grimwig. He is a strange çreature, but a shrewd one, and might prove of mate. rial assistance to us; I should say that he was bred a lawyer, and quited the bar in disgust because he had only one brief and a motion of course in ten years, though whether that is a recommendation or not you must determine for yourselves.”

“ I have no objection to your calling in your friend if I may call in mine," said the doctor.

“We must put it to the vote," replied Mr. Brownlow, “ who may he be ?"

“ That lady's son, and this young lady's—very old friend," said the doctor, motioning towards Mrs. Maylie, and concluding with an expressive glance at her niece.

Rose blushed deeply but she did not make any audible objection to this motion, possibly she felt in a hopeless minority, and Harry Maylie and Mr. Grimwig were accordingly added to the committee.

"We stay in town of course,” said Mrs. Maylie, “while there remains the slightest prospect of prosecuting this inquiry with a chance of success.

I will
spare

neither trouble nor expense in behalf of the object in whom we are all so deeply interested, and I am content to remain here, if it be for twelve months, so long as you assure me that any hope remains."

“Good,” rejoined Mr. Brownlow, "and as I see on the faces about me a disposition to inquire how it happened that I was not in the way to corroborate Oliver's tale, and had so suddenly left the kingdom, let me stipulate that I shall be asked no questions until such time as I may deem it expedient to forestall them by telling them my story. Believe me that I make this request with good reason, for I might otherwise excite hopes destined never to be re. alized, and only increase difficulties and disappointments already quite numerous enough. Come; supper has been announced, and young Oliver, who is all alone in the next room, will have begun to think, by this time, that we have wearied of his company, and entered into some dark conspiracy to thrust him forth upon the world.”

With these words the old gentleman gave his hand to Mrs. Maylie, and escorted her into the supper room.

Mr. Losberne followed, leading Rose, and the council was for the present effectually broken up.

THE PORTRAIT.

WOULD'st thou have a passing trace
Of a matchless form and face,
Mind of pure, unstained feeling,
Looks, the inmost thoughts revealing ?-.
Here thou mayest a transcript see

Of the nymph whose chains I wear,
Worthy man's idolatry,-

My lady fair!

Tell me not of eyes of light!
Her's are like the harebell, dight
In Heaven's celestial proper hue,'
And gemmed with morning's brightest dow :
Oh! ever fondly turned on me

Twin-stars of Love and Beauty rare !
Thine eyes of maiden witchery,

My lady fair!
Hair, where sunlight seems to stray,
And kiss each tress in frolic play;
Lips that vainly would express
Her heart's o'erflowing tenderness,
That young, fresh heart, within its shrine

Of loveliness,-say, may I dare
To call the priceless jewel mine,

My lady fair ?

L. N.

[blocks in formation]

330

THE MISSIONARY BRIDE.

BY C. HOFFMAN, AUTHOR OF A “WINTER IN THE FAR WEST.”

“ Young bride,
No keener dreg shall quiver on thy lip
Till the last ice-cup cometh.”

MRS. SIGOURNEY.

The leading circumstances of the following narrative may possibly be known to more than one of my readers; but if now recognised not. withstanding the altered guise in which they are here given, I trust that they are stili so presented to the public as to infringe upon no feeling of domestic privacy.

In the spring of 18–, the Rev. Mr. B-, of - in Connecticut, received a letter from his old friend and college chum, the Rev. ET-, who had been for some time established as a missionary in one of the islands in the Pacific, soliciting the fulfilment on the part of his friend of a most delicate and peculiar office for him. The request of T-, who, having been long isolated from the world, had arrived at the age of forty without marrying, was nothing more nor less than that Bwould choose a wife for him, and prevail upon the lady to come out to her expectant husband by the first opportunity. Strange as it may seem, Mr. B— found but little difficulty in complying with the request of his friend. The subject of Missions at that time filled the minds of the whole religious community; and in some sec. tions of the Union, a wild zeal wrought so powerfully in the breasts of individuals, that they were eager to abandon their homes and their country, and sunder every domestic tie, in order “to do their Master's bidding ” in strange and inhospitable lands. Nor was this a mere burst of enthusiasm that was to pass off with other fashions of the day—for its fruits are still constantly maturing; and now as then, there are not a few instances of young females of respectability and accomplishments educating themselves for the avowed purpose of becoming the wives of missionaries.* With these preliminary remarks I will at once introduce the reader to the subject of the following sketch, with whom I became acquainted in the manner here related.

I had been enjoying a week's shooting at Quogue on Long Island, when wishing to return to New York by steam-boat through the sound, I engaged å seat one morning in the stage-coach for Sag Har. bor, which sometimes stopped for dinner at mine host's, Mr. Þeirson Howell. In the present instance it delayed merely long enough to receive my luggage and myself. The only other passenger was a fe. male, whom notwithstanding the effectual screen of her long cottage bonnet, I knew to be pretty, from the quizzical look my landlord put on as he shook hands with me at parting after I had taken my seat by her side.

The day was warm; and we had not driven far before without apo pearing officious I had an opportunity of obtaining a glimpse of my companion's face, while leaning before her to adjust the curtains on her

* Nor are there a few instances of young females of respectability and accomplisments educated for the avowed purpose of marrying somebody answering mat. rimonial advertisements; witness Mr. Corder and others.-Ep.

side of the coach. It was beautiful-exceedingly beautiful. Not the beauty which arises from regularity of feature, or brilliancy of complexion—though in the latter it was not deficient, but that resistless and thoroughly womanish charm which lies in expression solely. It evinced that feminine softness of disposition which is often the farthest removed from weakness of character, though by the careless observer, it is generally confounded with it ; and which, though sometimes it may mislead one in judging of the temper of the possessor, yet almost invariably like the ore-blossom upon the soil that is rich in mines beneath, bespeaks the priceless treasure of an affectionate and noble heart. The reader, who would realize the attractions of the countenance before me, need only call up their most winning expression in the features he most admires.

I gradually fell into conversation with my companion, and stopping at South Hampton to change horses, her first remark upon our again taking our seats was, that she feared we should not get into Sag Harbour until after dark, when she would be unable to find the ship which was expected to sail in the morning. As I knew that no ships but whalers lay at that time in Sag Harbour, I could not at first possibly conceive what a young and delicate female could have to do aboard of such a vessel ; and then, the idea suggesting itself that she might be the daughter or sister of the captain who came to bid him farewell for his two years' cruise, I asked her if she expected to remain on board the ship till she sailed.

“ Oh yes, sir," was the reply ; “ I go out in her.”

“ What! to the South Sea ?" rejoined I. 6 You have relations on board, though, I suppose !"

No, Sir, I don't know any one in the ship ; but I have a letter for the captain, which I think will procure me a safe voyage to the Islands.” 6 The

Islands! Is it possible you have friends in so remote a place as the Islands? They must be dear friends, too,-pardon me, - to carry you unprotected so far."

My hu-us-band is there," she answered with some embarrassment, though the glowing twilight prevented me from seeing whether the confusion extended from her voice to her countenance. The peculiarity in the young lady's manner, as she pronounced the word “hus. band,” piqued my curiosity ; but as it would have been impertinent to bush my inquiries further, I did not urge the subject, but merely remarked, that her youth had prevented me from taking her for a married woman.

“ Nor am I married yet,” was the reply. “ And indeed,” she conti. tinued, with a slight tremor in her voice, “ I have never seen the man who is to be my husband.” An expression of unfeigned surprise, of a more lively interest, perhaps,—for I have said “the maid was fair," and we had now been some hours tête-à-tête,-escaped me : I scarcely remember what followed, but before we had reached the inn.door, the ingenuous girl had given me a full account of herself and her fortunes. She was an orphan child, and had been bred up in great seclusion in a clergyman's family in Western New York. She was, in a word, the young enthusiast whom the Rev. Mr. B had chosen as a wife for his Missionary friend, and prevailed upon to encounter a six months' voyage through stormy latitudes, for the purpose of connecting herself for life with a man she had never seen. I did not express a sympathy

that would be useless in her situation, much less did I give vent to the indignation with which her story filled me : her fanatical friends, who permitted a young, a beautiful and delicate female, to take so wild a step, had perhaps after all acted from the best of motives. Indeed, the poor thing herself, though not exactly proud of having been chosen to the station she was about to fill, seemed determined to enter upon it with all the exalted feeling of one who fulfils a high duty, and who is on the certain road to a perferment which most of her sex might envy. It would certainly have been a very equivocal kindness to have interposed another view of the subject, and disturbed the honest convictions of propriety which could alone have sustained her in a situation so trying

I accompanied Alice Vere--for such I learned her name to be-to the vessel ; and after bidding her a kind farewell, I took an opportunity, while passing over the side, to whisper a few words to the captain, which might induce him to believe that she was not so friendless as she appeared to be, and secure her whatever attention it was in his power to offer. In the morning, having a few moments to spare before breakfast, I again strolled down to the pier ; but the whaler had hoisted sail with the dawn, and a brisk wind had already carried her out into the sound : nor was it till years after that I heard the name of Alice Vere, and learned the issue of her voyage ; though the name and the features and voice of her who bore it, did, I confess, long haunt me. It was too pretty a name, I thought, to be changed lightly ; and somehow, when I heard it I could not for the life of me ask that into which it was to be merged for ever. The sequel of her story I learned from a friend, whose vessel being driven from her course in coming from the East Indies, stopped at the--Islands to water, where he casually heard the fate of the Missionary girl.

The tender and imaginative temperament of Alice Vere, though perhaps it impelled her to make the sacrifice for which she was schooled by those who called themselves her friends, but badly fitted her for the cold destiny to which she was condemned. The imagination of any woman, isolated

the

great deep for six long months, with nothing to think of but the stranger husband to whose arms she was consigned, could not but be active, whatever her mental discipline might be. But with a girl of fancy and feeling, who had taken a step so irretrievable when surrounded by approving and encouraging friends, what must have been her emotions in the solitude of her own cabin, when such an influence--such a sustaining atmosphere of opinion-was wholly withdrawn. Doubt and fear would at first creep into her mind; and when those disheartening guests could no longer be controlled by factitious notions of duty, fancy would throw her fairy veil around their forms, and paint some happy termination of a prospect so forbidding. And thus it was with Alice Vere. Anxiety soon yielded to hope ; her fu. ture husband and her future home filled her mind with a thousand dreaming fancies. She was no romance reader, and therefore could not make a hero of the future partner of her bosom ; but a saint he indeed might be, a saint too not less in form than in godliness, for the association of physical and moral beauty is almost inseparable in the minds of the young and the inexperienced. She imagined him too as one who, though not“ looking from Nature up to Nature's God,” for God must be first and all in all with him," would still be one whose mind would look from the Creator to his works, with a soul to appreciate all

upon

« AnteriorContinuar »