Зображення сторінки

ty are with you synonymes," I said, point of quitting my native land.with gravity, "count yourself, Miss “And now, Margaret," I said, Cameron, at the very acmé of in- “ farewell—you will scarce find in tellectual greatness, since you can life a more devoted friend--a more take leave of one of your earliest ardent desirer of your happiness, friends with such easy indifference." than him you have driven from your

—“ Pooh! pooh! I know you are side.” I stretched out my hand to not really going. This voyage to Margaret for a friendly farewell India is one of your favorite threats clasp. But she held not out hers in your dignified moments. I in return; she spoke not a word of think, if I mistake not, this is about adieu. I turned an indignant counthe twentieth time it has been made. tenance towards her, and, to my unAnd for early friends, and so forth, utterable surprise, beheld my youthyou have contrived to live within a ful young friend in a swoon. Now few hundred feet of them, without this to the cold reader sounds the coming in their sight for the last very common-place of sickly romonth, so they cannot be so very mance, but it threw me into a condear.” This was said in a slight fusion and agitation inexpressible. tone of pique.—"Listen to me, And was this the being I had acMargaret,” said I, with a grave, cused of want of feeling! At that and, as I think, manly dignity of moment I felt that the world held bearing ; " I offered you the honest nothing so dear to me as Margaretand ardent, though worthless gift of a I felt, better still, that I was dear heart, whose best affections (despite to her. I will not go over the tenyour not unmarked defects of cha- thousand-times-trodden ground of racter) you entirely possessed. I lovers' explanations, and self-ream not coxcomb enough to suppose proaches, and betrothals—we left that I can at pleasure storm the af- the garden solemnly plighted to each fections of any woman ; but I am other. But I must pass briefly over man enough to expect that they this portion of my history. I was conshould be denied me with some re- demned, by the will of Captain Caference to the delicate respect due meron, and by the necessity of obto mine. But you are, of course, at taining some professional promotion, full liberty to choose your own mode to spend a few years in India beof rejecting your suitors ; only, as fore I could receive the hand of one who still views you as a friend, Margaret. I would that that manner showed I reached my Asiatic destination more of good womanly feeling, and -long and anxiously looked for less of conscious female power. I European letters took up one day am aware, Margaret, that this is by accident an English paper, and not the general language of lovers ; there read—“Died, at the house of perhaps if it were, woman might Captain Cameron, in the village of hold her power more gracefully, A-, Miss Margaret Came on, and even Margaret Cameron's aged eighteen." I will not here heart would have more of greatness dwell on my feelings. I wrote a and generosity than it now possess- letter of despair to Captain Came

While I spoke, Margaret ron, informing him of the paragraph turned away her lovely face, and I I had read, imploring him, for the saw that her very neck was suffused. love of mercy, if possible, to conI began to think I had been harsh tradict it, and declaring that my fuwith her, to remember that she was ture path in life now lay stretched young, and that we were about to before me like one wild waste. The part perhaps forever. I took her Countess of Falcondale answered hand, assured her that the journey my epistle by a deep-black-marginI had announced was no lover's ed letter, with a sable seal as large ruse, and that I was really on the as a saucer. My sole parent was no


more ;-for Captain Cameron-he quently demoniacal, agency. She had been seized by a paralytic af- had sailed through fleets undiscofection in consequence of the shock vered ; she had escaped from the his feelings had sustained. His fastest pursuers ; she had overtacircumstances were in irreparable ken the swiftest fugitives ; she had disorder, and the Countess was re- appeared where she was not exsiding with him in order, at his pected, and disappeared where her earnest request, to manage all his very latitude and longitude seemed affairs. I remitted handsomely but calculable. One time, when she delicately to my old friend. was deemed the scourge of the Le

The appearance of my name, vant, she would fall on some secure about five years afterwards, among and happy trading captain, whose the “ Marriages in the Calcutta careless gaze fell on the rock of Gazette, was followed by succes- Gibraltar ; at another, when Spanish sive announcements among the cruizers were confidently preparing “ Births and Deaths,” in the for her capture off their own shores, same compendious record of life's her crew were glutting their avachanges. My wife perished of a rice and gratifying their cruelty by malignant fever, and two infant chil- seizing the goods and sinking the dren speedily followed her. I set vessels of the Smyrna traders. In out, to return over-land to my na- short, it seemed as if ubiquity tive country, a sober, steady, and were an attribute of the Demon partially grey-haired colonel of Ship. Her fearful title had been thirty-six. My military career had first given by those who dreaded to been as brilliant as my domestic become her victims ; but she seempath had been clouded. The ha- ed not ill pleased by the appalling bitual complexion of my mind, epithet ; and shortly, as if in audahowever, was gravity-a gravity cious adoption of the name she had which extended itself to my counte- acquired, showed the word DEnance, and there assumed even a MON in flaming letters on her shade of melancholy. Yet I was stern. Some mariners went so far a disappointed, not discontented, as to say that a smell of brimstone, man; and my character had, I and a track of phosphoric light, trust, undergone some changes for marked for miles the pathway of the better. I arrived at a port of her keel in the waves. Others dethe Levant, and thence took ship clared that she had the power, for Malta, where I landed in safety. through her evil agents, of raising

At this period the Mediterranean such a strange, dense, and portentraders were kept in a state of per- tous mist in the atmosphere, as prepetual alarm by the celebrated vented her victims from descrying * Demon Ship.” Though distin- her approach until they fell, as it guished by the same attractive title, were, into her very jaws. To capshe in nowise resembled the phan- ture her seemed impossible ; she tom terror of the African Cape. ever mastered her equals, and eludShe was described as a powerful ed her superiors. Innumerable vessel, manned by a desperate flesh- were the vessels that had left difand-blood crew, whose rapacity tri- ferent ports in the Mediterranean umphed over all fear of danger, to disappear forever. It seemed and whose cruelty forbade all hope the cruel practice of the Demon to of mercy. Yet, though she was sink her victims in their own vesneither “ built ” of air, nor

man- sels. ned” by demons, her feats had been The Demon Ship was talked of so wonderful, that there was at from the ports of the Levant to Giblength no other rational mode of raltar ; and no vessel held herself accounting for them than by tracing in secure waters until she had pass them to supernatural, and conse- ed the Straits. Of course such a

pest to these seas was not to be qui- countesses," said I, irreverentlyetly suffered ; so after having al- “what is the name of your passenlowed her her full career for a some- ger?” “ Passenger!" –" Well what unaccountable time, several countess—what is the title of governments began to think of pre- your countess ? "_" The Countess paring to put her down. To the of Falcondale.? _“What,” thought surprise, however, of all, she seem. I, “cannot I even come as near to ed suddenly to disappear from the my former home as Malta without Mediterranean. Some said that her again finding myself under her increw, having sold themselves to the fluence ? My dear fellow, give me father of all evil for a certain length back my passage-money, or accept of time, and the period having pro- it as a present at my hands, for I babły expired, the desperadoes were sail not with you," said I. But a now gone to their own place, and man at thirty-six will hardly sacrifice the seas would consequently be his personal convenience to the clear again. Others deemed that whimsies of twenty-five ; so I stood the Demon Ship had only retired to my bargain, determined to keep for some deep 'purpose, and would myself as much as possible from shortly reappear with more fearful the knowledge of my old tormentor, power.

Conscious of my altered personal Most of the trading vessels then appearance, I resolved to travel about to quit the port of Valetta, charmingly incog., and carelessly had requested, and obtained, con- assumed the name and title of Capvoy from a British frigate and slooptain Lyon, which had been familiar of war, bound to Gibraltar and to me in my childhood, as belongthence to England. So eager were ing, I believe, to a friend of Captain all passengers to sail under such Cameron. protection, that I had some difficial It was the month of June, and ty in obtaining a berth in any of the the weather, though clear, was opholes and corners of the various pressively hot. There was so littie fine fast-sailing copper-bottomed wind stirring after we set sail, that brigs, whose cards offered such for several days we made scarcely “excellent accommodations for pas- any way, under all the sail we sengers. At length I went on could carry. I had no mind the board the “ Elizabeth Downs,” a first night to encoffin myself in my large three-masted British vessel, berth. I therefore, comfortably whose size made the surrounding enough, stretched my limbs on a brigs dwindle into insignificance, long seat which joined the steps of and whose fresh-painted sides seem- the quarter-deck. I was now, then, ed to foreshow the cleanliness and really on my way to my native comfort that would be found within. shores, and should not step from the One little hen-pen of a cabin on vessel in which I sailed until I trod deck alone remained at the captain's the land of my fathers ! Naturally disposal. However, I was fond of enough, my thoughts turned to fora cabin on deck, and paid half my mer days and old faces. From passage-money to the civil little time to time these thoughts half captain, who testified much regret sunk into dreams, from which I rethat he could not offer me the peatedly awoke, and as often dozed “ freedom of the quarter-deck ” again. At length my memory, and (such was his expression), as the consequently my dreams, took the whole stern end of the vessel had shape of Margaret Cameron. The been taken by an English lady of joyous laugh of youth seemed to quality who wished for privacy. ring in my ears; and when I closed He added, with a becomingly awe- my eyes, her lovely bright countestruck manner, that she was a dow- nance instantly rose before them. ager countess. “I hate dowager Yet I had the inconsistent convic

yard of A

tion of a dreamer that she was dead, ear, in the words of a ballad I had and as my slumber deepened, I once loved to sing with herseemed busied in a pilgrimage to

“The green sod is no grave of mine, her early grave. I saw the church

The earth is not my pillow, with the yellow sun The grave I lie in shall be thine, light streaming on many a green

Our winding-sheet-the billow.” hillock; and there was one solitary I awoke,-yet for a moment appeargrass grave that, as if by a strange ed still dreaming ; for there, hoverspell

, drew my steps, and on an hum- ing over the foot of my couch, I ble head-stone I read the name of seemed still to behold the form of

" Margaret Cameron, aged 18." Margaret Cameron. She was lean3 Old feelings, that had been deaden- ing on the rail of the quarter-deck,

ed by collision with the busy, heart- and overlooking my couch. I sat less world, revived within me, and up, and gazed on the objects around I seemed to hang in a suffocating me, in order to recover my appagrief, that even astonished myself, rently deluded senses. The full over the untimely tomb of my first moon was in her zenith. A light -ay, my last—love. To my un- haze, the effect of the heat of the speakable emotion I heard, beneath preceding day, was rising from the the sods, a sound of sweet and waters. The heat was intense, the soothing, but melancholy music. calm profound. There lay the difWhile I listened with an attention ferent vessels of our little squadron, that apparently deprived my senses nought seen save their white sails of their power, the church-yard and in the moonlight, and nought heard grave disappeared, and I seemed, save their powerless flapping, and by one of those transitions to which the restless plashing of the becalmthe dreamer is so subject, to be ed waves, only agitated by the effort sailing on a lone and dismal sea, of our vessel to cleave them. Still whose leaden and melancholy waves the moonlight fell on the white form reflected no sail save that of the and pale countenance of Margaret. vessel which bore me. The heat I started up. « This is some delubecame stilling, and my bosom op- sion,” said I, or because one of pressed, yet the music still sounded, the countess's women resembles my low, sweet, and foreboding in my early idol, must I turn believer in ear. A soft and whitish mist seem- ghost-stories, and adopt at thirty-six ed to brood over the stern of the what I scouted at sixteen ? " My ship. According to the apparent- gestures, and the suddenness of my ly-established laws of spiritual mat- rising, seemed to scare my fair ter (the solecism is not so great as phantom ; and, in the hastiness of it may appear), the mist condensed, her retreat, she gave ample proof then gradually assumed form, and I of mortal fallibility by stumbling gazed, with outstretched arms, on over some coils of cable that hapthe figure of Margaret Cameron. pened to lie in her way. The shock But her countenance looked, in brought her to her knees. I was up that uncertain light, cold and pale the steps in one instant ; seized an as her light and unearthly drapery arm, and then a hand, soft, delicate, that waved not, though a mournful and indubitably of flesh and blood, wind was sighing through the and restored the lady to her feet. shrouds of our vessel. She seemed She thanked me in gentle tones that in

my vision as one who, in quitting sent a thrill through all my veins, earth, had left not only its passions and made me again half deem that but its affections behind her ; and “the voice of the dead was on mine there was something forbidding in ear.” A white veil or shawl had the wan indifference of that eye. fallen from her head and shoulders; Yet was her voice passing sweet, this I respectfully replaced, and had as still its sad cadences fell on my thus an opportunity of proving to

demonstration that it was made nei I was still sufficiently a man of ther of ether, mist, or moonbeams. the world to have my feelings in I now expressed my fears that my some mastery, and returned to the sudden gestures had been the cause side of Margaret with an apology of this little accident. “I fear,” for indisposition, which in truth was she replied, with the same melan- no subterfuge. I verily believe, as choly music of voice, “my reckless the vessel had given a sudden lurch song disturbed your slumbers.” Af- at the moment she discovered herter a few more words had passed self, and my pendant posture over between us, during which I conti- the ship's side might be an attitude nued to gaze on her as if some mi- of rather dubious construction, she racle stood before me, I ventured passed on me the forgiveness of a to ask, in a tone as indifferent as I sea-sick man. Margaret added, could assume, whether she claimed with an easy politeness which conkindred with Captain Hugh Came- trasted curiously with her former ron, of A—? The striking like- girlishness, that she presumed she ness which she bore to his amiable had the pleasure of addressing her and deceased daughter must, I ob- fellow-passenger, Captain Lyon? served, plead my apology. She She had often, she observed, heard looked at me for a moment with un- her father mention his name, though utterable surprise ; then added, with not aware until this moment of his dignity and perfect self-possession, identity with her brother-voyager. “ I have, then, probably, the plea- I was not displeased by this illusion, sure of addressing some old ac- though I thus found myself identiquaintance of Captain Cameron ? fied with a man twenty years my How the mistake arose which in- senior. As I wore one of those duced any one to suppose that his charming rural Livorno hats, whose child was no more, I confess my- deep, green-lined flaps form a kind self at a loss to imagine. The error of umbrella to the face, I became is, however, easily contradicted in convinced that mine, in such a light, my own person. I am the daughter was effectually screened from obof Captain Cameron ; and, after servation. My voice too had, I this self-introduction, may, perhaps, felt, been changed by years and claim the name of my father's for- climate. I therefore remarked, mer acquaintance." You may be with an effort at ease, that I had sure I was in no mood to give it. I certainly once possessed the advanrushed to the side of the vessel, and, tage of Captain Cameron's acquainthanging over it, gasped with an ance, but that a lapse of many years emotion which almost stopped respi- had separated me from him and his ration. It is inexpressible what a family. “ There was, however," revulsion this discovery made in my I remarked, very tremulously, “a feelings. There had been days— Captain, since made Colonel, Franay, weeks-in which one thought of cillon, in India, who had been inMargaret had not disturbed the formed, or rather, happily for her steady man of the world in his busy friends, misinformed, of the death of engagements; and now she return- Miss Cameron." Margaret smiled ed upon his feelings as fresh as if incredulously ; but with a dignified only one day had elapsed since they indifference,which created a strange vowed themselves to each other, feeling within me, seemed willing to and parted. I felt that there had let the subject pass. Margaret's been treachery. I became keenly spirits seemed to have lost the buoysensible that I must have appeared ancy, and her cheek the bloom of a traitor to Margaret, and hurriedly youth. But there was an elegance, resolved not to declare my name to a sort of melancholy dignity in her her until I had in some way cleared manner, and a touching expression my character.

on her countenance, to which both

« НазадПродовжити »