« PreviousContinue »
came nearer, her form melted into air, and when he myself, while walking through the very valley you reached the spot where she had stood, he was drove into yesterday. It was a warm sunny day, alone !"
and I was strolling along, looking at everything in My companion's voice had sunk to a whisper, my path, and enjoying to the full, the dolce far and his eye rolled, as if in terror at his own narra. niente. I passed by a cottage, the door of which tive. Again he spoke. “She lingers here still,”
Of course I could not resist the he said. • In the twilight, when the full crescent templation of looking in. It seemed to be a of the moon is seen in yonder sky, her spirit hovers decent little place-clean and tidy. There was over this spot--the last sbe visited on earth. nothing particular in its aspect-nothing to induce Look! (and he pointed to the ruin] listen! it is a lengthened investigation, I thought; so I was herself ! [and his eyes gleamed,] she is singing just moving away, when, at the end of the room, the requiem of her departed soul !"
within a kind of cupboard or pantry, I thought I He seized me by the arm, and dragged me to the saw something move, restlessly and quickly, from edge of the precipice. A thin, blue vapour was side to side, dashing itself apparently against the curling upwards, and the southern wind moaned wall in its uneasiness. I remained, still watching over the distant waters. A horrid suspicion seized it; and soon the restless motion d, and it stood me ! Who, what, was he who stood beside me ? | before me. Wbat was my horror on perceiving that His wild eyes scared me, while the tightening it was a human being! A thick rope was passed grasp of my arm pained me. I struggled to escape round the waist, and fastened to a ring in the from him ; but, with a laugh, he dragged me nearer wall, thus restricting its motions and gambols to to the yawning precipice. One more effort—it about the space of three feet square. When the was for life ; and I broke from bim, and fled towards creature perceived me, its wild eyes glared: it the place where I had left my carriage. Once I made a sort of gibbering noise, and, I beliere, looked round, for I thought he was pursuing me. would bave sprung at me, had not the rope deHe stood where I had left him, his arms stretched tained it. I could not bear the sight, and walked forward to the curling smoke. I did not turn A peasant was a short way before me; I again. The carriage was waiting where I had left joined her, determining to gain some information it. I jumped in, and was driven home. That about the dreadful object I had just seen.” night I could not sleep; I lay awake thinking of “Do you know who lives in that cottage ?' I the old grandfather and his elfin grandchild. asked. The following morning I mentioned what had “Yes,' she replied, “four sisters.
One is a occurred to a friend.
mad girl; they tie her up because she bites.' “You bad a narrow escape," he said.
The woman wished me good morning, and turned met with José Le Clerc, a maniac, who lives near into a public house. I could never gain any Gros Nez; however, I wonder at it, for he is never more information; and, although I frequently allowed to go out without his keeper. He must passed that way afterwards, I never again saw the have escaped. He was attached to the beautiful lunatic of St. Peter's Valley.”” Marie Langelier, but she fell into a long, lingering “There seems to be a great deal of insanity in illness, which defied all medical skill. What the Jersey," I said. nature of her disease was, none could tell; she "There is," he replied. “ The inhabitants of pined away gradually, both mind and body decayed, Jersey have, from time immemorial, married and until one night she ceased to breathe. Her death intermarried among themselves ; this, as we know, occurred on the very spot where you met José. is productive of many diseases-insanity among She had, as he described, walked there in one of the number. They are, however, as a budy, a her wild fits. He was not with her at the time, thristy, hard-working class, with strong and clearly but they told him the sad news. He did not defined principles. Economy is the chief object speak, or manifest the slightest emotion, but her of their lives—they are frugal to an extreme in death was the commencement of his madness. At their living. As a friend once said to me-'A first they thought him odd, then they became alarmed Jersey woman will boil two herrings for the family about him, had medical advice, did all they could dinner, and keep the boiling to make soup for the for him, but in vain; he became a hopeless maniac. next day's meal.'" Everything in life with him is now connected with I laughed ; it was a novel idea certainly. Marie Langelier ; and he has coined the story he “Are they so very poor, then ?" I asked. has told you from the wild fancies of his own "On the contrary," he replied ; "many of them brain, interweaving a strange mixture of truth and (the labouring classes, I mean,) are extremely fiction. Poor fellow! One seldom meets with well off. They have large farms, a number of such constancy iu man!"
cows, sheep, horses, land, -and land in Jersey is "You said he was a madman," I replied, “ does very valuable, fetching six or eight pounds per not that fact account for his constancy?”.
acre; it is also extremely productive, and, under My companion smiled.
ordinary circumstances, pays the landowners well. " Your remark," he said, “is a bitter sarcasm Have you heard any of the abominable patois they on the fidelity of my sex. But I was going to tell speak here ?" you of a circumstance which once occurred to “Do they not speak French p"
“You had better hear it, and judge for your- “ What should we do?” I answered. “Why,
but I must warn you, that it will be high we should be just as idle and useless as you, all of Datch to you—you will not understand a word of you, are. But now I am ready; so, begin." it. In some parts of the island good French is I had settled myself comfortably on the sofa, not understood at all; and I have heard of one
and anticipated a treat, (sor I knew my companion's instance, where an Englishman spoke to a Jersey capability for story telling); when the great woman in Parisian French, and received for his
dinner bell sounded; it was the hour for the table answer—Me no spik Inglis.' This sentence she
d'bôte. delivered with an oracular shake of the head, and
“That does bore me,” I said; and I looked so an air of extreme complacency; she evidently considered that she had said something very grand disappointed that my companion laughed.
. The strange peculiarity their dialect is, that it
"I cannot respond to your words," he ancannot be written. Were it reduced to letters and
swered ; " for I am very hungry ; but let me have words, they could not read it ; while they can read the pleasure of giving you my arm to the dining
room.” correct French with perfect facility, reducing it to their own dialect by giving to it their own pro
“On one condition; that I do not lose the nunciation. But I am prosing away to you here,
story.” instead of asking you how much you have seen of
“ You shall have it the next time we meet." the island."
“Very well; that is a bargain. What is the “ Very little," I replied; " you forget that I name? I shall ask for it." only arrived two days since."
“ It has no name,” he replied ; "for, as I told "Ah! very true,” he observed ; "I certainly you before, it occurred to the cousin of a servant did forget that. I am, however, rejuiced at the
of my own; but we will give it a title. It shall fact, because it will give me an opportunity of be called, The Daisy of Grouville."" lionising' you over the island. Mount Orgueil Castle must be one of the first places you visit ; my seat at the dinner table ; “O recollect, the
"A very pretty title," I remarked, as I took it is singularly beautiful and picturesque. I re
next time I meet you, I shall expect to be very member a tale connected with it, which I think much delighted and amused by the story of the will interest you. The heroine, if you
Daisy of Grouville.”' of the term for a person in humble life" "The sarcasm is your's now,” I said, interrupt- I am afraid you will not be amused; for the story
"I hope you will be delighted,'” he said, “but ing bim.
is a melancholy one. However, now you had “ Was the cousin of a servant of mine. Shall
better attend to the unsentimental, but very neces. I tell you her history-or would it bore you ?”
Which soup will you " It would not bore' me," I replied ; " so let sary, occupation of dinner.
take ?" me get my work." A lady's unfailing resource," he said, with a
Of course I looked unutterably disgusted ; but, smile. " What would your sex do without those nevertheless, I took his advice, and, from the wonderful pieces of muslin which you are for ever regions of romance, plunged into the reality of cutting to pieces and sewing together again P"
BROKEN MEMORI E S.
Broken memories of many a heart
back room on the ground floor of a Bloomsbury Oh ! blessed nature, “O rus! O rus!”
lodging-bouse. Who cannot sigh for the country thus, Absorbed in a worldly torpor
Perhaps I have been a lonely dreamer in a Who does not yearn for its meadow-sweet breath, lonely house too long ; perhaps, after all, it is Untainted by core, and crime, and death, And to stand sometimes upon grass or heath
better that I should, for a wbile at least, lay aside That soul, spite of gold, is a pauper!-Hood.
reflection for action, and by some fixed daily AND so I am in London : once more another un- drudgery fit myself for busy life. Be. that as it heeded wave in that great human tide which will may, here I am in London in fine weather, and break bere unceasingly till Time shall be no more. I must make the best of it. Luckily for me, I I have left the old house with its quaint gables, have been through life one of those who can make stone terraces, shady walks, and rookery, for a a home for themselves wherever they are fated to
sojourn; here I have a home of my own seeking, seem to be talking to you as to a bosom friend, an arm-chair, a few books, and the old meer having no one else to whom I can look for symschaun, and out of these meagre materials I can pathy? Bear with me awhile ; you all have, or force myself to shape that dear word “home”- have had, feelings like mine when “cribbed, even though I have it not, save in the letter. cabined, and confined" in London, in these blessed What brought me to this same lodging-house can days of early summer. I may awaken, even by have little interest to a general reader; it may my incoherent babblings, some chords, some purer have been perversity--it may have been misfor- recollections of your own childhood, which have, tune. I fear you will judge both; for there are perchance, slumbered too long amidst " the dust traces of the first in my style, and of the second and drouth of city life;" and so your “ Broken in my sadness, which I cannot quite shake off at Memories," though perchance alloyed by bitterwill. I may have come here but as a sojourner ; ness, may be after all sweet solace to your souls. or I may have lost a home for ever; either way Aye, at times like this, a single breath of summer there is almost always a sadness in every change air, – a scent of green fields and “meadow-sweet," -if we reflect rightly. Think of my change, ere -borne to us on the wings of the wandering winds you rashly set me down as a groundless grumbler. from afar : snatches of old songs sung to us in Think change from a home once bappy, our nurseries at our mother's knees, speedily forwith its thousand and one little comforts, never gotten in the all-absorbing worldliness of active sufficiently realised till lost, to ihat dreary substi- lives, but ever and anon anew remembered when tute for it—the London lodging-house, with the our hearts are failing, and our eyes are growing slipshıod servants, bustling landlady, and hall-door dim, are just so many of Nature's homilies to men always open to a noisy street, with cab-wheels and like me. There, in the window-seat, a few yards organ-grinders perpetually marring what little whence I sit now, are a bunch of wild flowers in quiet is attainable in the heart of London. More- a dels jug, which flowers I plucked a few evenings over it is now May— well-nigh June—and at such ago some miles hence at a brook-side, and brought seasons there is in the heart of every country home through the reeking streets to gladden me bred man an undefinable yearning for green fields. here with their fast-departing fragrance. “InTherefore you cannot marvel if this afternoon my significant little weeds!" says my commonplace reveries are tinged with sadness. I strive for the landlady, who wonders how “the poor gentleman present to think of anything but what and where who always looks so pale and lonesome, can I am: I wish to wander, in imagination at least, trouble himself to walk so far after such rubbish, from hot, dusty London to more congenial when he could buy far finer flowers on the doorshire, where my school days were spent, by the step any day.” banks of Shakspeare's Avon. I strive to persuade - What! flowers from that lying Israelite, who myself that I am anything rather than a poor always has a stock in hand to exchange for cast off “lean annuitant” in London, and in fine weather. small clothes ? There is a profanation in the very It will not do; "facts are,” says the aphorism, idea. But my poor, much-abused, little fowrets, "stubborn things," and the facts of my life are despised by the landlady, and roughly handled by just now of the stubbornest.
her dirty maid of all work, are to me so many Nevertheless, I ought to be thankful that I have living links to bind the present to the past. Who still a garden to recreate myself withal; for we would not be linked to happiness by fragrant have a garden, albeit a narrow strip of ground fetters like these ? And so it is now. some eighty feet long by twenty broad, which is I am no more a dreary-hearted quill-driver, better than nothing, and a rare thing in this part wasting sweet summer days in dusty rooms and of town. Moreover, in this garden are lilacs in grimy printing.ofices. Let us go back into the full blossom, shady trees, birds, albeit sunoky past. It is a long walk-but there are, mingled London sparrows, and a butterfly, as an occasional with its thorns, many flowers by the wayside. visitor, to remind me of the country. I am now sitting at a table placed under those same trees; and the lilacs and the butterfly, who has been here I am a child once more-careless and happy as all the day, are capital whets for reflection and I was ere I left the banks of the river at home to reminiscence. Memory is hovering round those lead a dreamy, dreary, desultory life in many lilacs ; and, when the butterfly bas flown away, places and under many phases of grave and gay. will wander afar with that white-winged guest of But let that pass : I would rather bless the past mine to green fields and field-flowers, till I, the than blame the present. Once more with a lost poor Cockney, striving to make out of a London one, whose memory never leaves me night or day, yard a fanciful Arcadia of my own, am content like that little locket--"only a woman's hair"for one day to sit here and dream away in com- given to me long ago, ere I heard the dull
, heavy placent idleness the long, warm summer hours. sound of the clods fall in upon the coffin of her But what am I writing ? "How now, my Fancy, who now sleeps calmly in her early grave, I am whither wilt thou go?" Am I writing with any straying as of old, a happy child. Once more are definite purpose, or merely allowing my pen to we two young things playing our sweet fancies at skim over this paper at a strange pace, till I so I will, weaving fairy necklaces of water-lily buds, of
Jaughing out peels of silvery laughter on the cool | But never more can summer come to me as then of old, twilight air, till a voice, long ago silent in the For boyhood's heart the world hath warped with teachings
false and cold. grave, is heard calling us to come in, for the mists are floating over the meadows, and the
There was a time of innocence-a time of trusting truth, white dew is heavy on the grass ·
When I, with Hope to lead me, walked in sin-unsullied Pass before my dim eyes, ye swect phantasies youth, of the past-changing, ever changing, till the On through a region of my own—a land of glorious
dreams, Forldling's heart beats as of old, once more. I
Which shrouded me from wandering grief-how sad Awaking seem to see two shadows of lost Helen and my former sell--the tall, lithe stripling and the fair, gentle girl are walking together in an ancient gar. For IIope is half forgotten now-it seems a weary while den lovingly—their hearts beat in unison—they are
Since o'er the wreck of all I loved Despair could force a all in all to each other. Ah! did either in those days I've lost my all of Truth and Hope—and boyhood's early
sinile : think that a time would ever come when the tall
home: stripling's eyes would be red with weeping over Yet now into the past once more with Memory I come. gentle Helen's grave ? Did she ever dream of a time when Sorrow, weary of loneliness, would Oh! blesséd were my early days--the tameless and the seek vain relief in unworthy revelry and sin ; when
free he she so much loved, the proud, pure-hearted I would to God that thoughts like these would ever dwell boy, would madly mock his better heart to gain To win me from my worldliness, to banish dark despair, the good will of profligates and the coarse To flect across this fevered brain like a breath of summer applause of fools ? Ave, those days did come, I air! own in humble bitterness of spirit: they are, I trust, for ever passed away. But there is that There are other papers too, of all sorts—traces within me this summer afternoon, which seems to of sadness, poor attempts at mirth, moody imasay to me in saddest prophecy, in Shelley's words : ginings,-mostly written for pleasure, few for Thou in the grave shalt rest—yet till the plantoms flee,
profit. Which that house and ancient gardeu made dear to thee
But I find a bundle of papers tied together erewhile,
What are they? A glance tells me.
I reserve Thy remembrance and repentance, and deep musings are that information for another chapter.
not free From the music of two voices, and the light of one sweet
CHAPTER XI. And now the wind comes sweeping under the lilacs, and blowing my papers about the garden. MY COUSIN MASKELYNE : OR, TIE ABBOT'S CURSE. I must secure them at once, or the occupants of
" A secret curse on that old building hung, the lodging-house next door will have a perusal
Some weighty crime that Ileaven could not pardon." I never intended for them. I pick them uppoems- attempted tales-sad chronicles of sadder I know full well that the story I am about to tell failures, involving loss of time and temper- and is open to doubts as to its probability, and that any the first that meets my eye, strangely enough, is tale, with which superstition is in part interwoven, a scrawl of summer thoughts, which I wrote a
is generally cried down as an offshoot of the superThey are so much in accordance with natural, spectral school of Monk Lewis and Mrs. my feelings just now, that I transcribe them :
Radcliffe, and believed accordingly. Neverthe
less, I venture to lay before you a plain narrative, Oh! blesséu are my musings sweet on long departed hours, for the truth of which, (without reference to They fall upon my weary brain like scent of summer
names, dates, and a few incidental facts), I, and flowers; Those days are gone-my heart is lone-and yet ’tis sum.
people worthy of credence in the county where the
scene is laid can vouch. “My cousin Maskelyne," And flowers are waving fragrantly, and the birds sing on (name only excepted), is no mythical personage of the bough.
my own, but was a real flesh and blood cousin of
mine, dear to me as to that part of the county Oh! blesséd are the summer days, where the elm-shade's where he was best known, and is now lamented.
falling cool, Where the swift is gliding sportively athwart the mill-dam
With these rough prefatory remarks I will at once pool,
begin. Where jorous sounds of summer life are tingling through In the year 1853 in the month of September, I
was staying with a shooting party at Beauchamp Yet now I greet them with a smile too pear akin to tears.
Abbey in —shire, the seat of my cousins, the
Maskelynes, whose family have resided there since For summer days are come again with the murmur of the
the days of the Eighth Henry. I bad, till the date bee, The nightingale's rich note of love, and the south-wind's above given, known very little of my cousins-bad minstrelsy;
never been, save as a child, to Beauchamp, and
had now gone there for a month's sojourn with as “ Those trees will, in a few years, be tall pleasant a party as I ever had the luck to meet. and flourishing, while I am sleeping in oar old
But it is not so much of them that I could vault." speak, as of the events of that evening which I "Nonsense
, man,” said his father, almost remember as the occasion of my first introduction angrily. "I really do wish you would, for once to Roland Maskelyne. The squire—bis father, in you life, forget that foolish old story about the John Maskelyne, was a hale old man of some sixty Abbot's curse, which seems to overshadow your years of age, with nothing remarkable about him life.” but his intense love of field-sports of all kinds, “Father,” said the young man,
we are all of hatred of free trade, and rabid Toryism ; in other us in this room relatives. I am sorry if that respects an amiable man enough, a kind father, a foolish observation has cast a gloom over our good squire when tenants were not poachers or snug little party, but it is of little avail to blink Liberals, and one whose boast was that his an- facts; all of us know there is a fate hanging over cestors came over with the Normans, and had us Maskelynes, and that the Abbot's curse has never sullied their fingers by work of any kind. never failed save once, since the day when the Mother, Roland Maskelyne had not; his sister Abbot of Beauchamp left bis lands for ever. Still
, was married and lived in Wales, his younger perhaps, I was foolish to talk of these matters brother was a boy at Eton then, and so the heir too well known already." of Beauchamp had it all his own way at the The conversation dropped, but it had lasted quite Abbey. I cannot better describe him than by long enough to fill my young head with all kinds saying that he was as near a likeness to the of weird fancies, so much so that you can easily Vandyke Charles I. as can well be imagined, with imagine that when I retired to rest that night in the same long, oval face, and expression of proud the “Wbite Room,” with its panelled walls hung sadness. He only needed a ruff and a pointed with stern-looking old Maskelynes, “ bearded like beard to convince a looker.on that some old the pard" and seemingly as fierce, and old swords Vandyke copy had walked out of its frame to be bucklers, and arquebuses, which it would require come Roland Maskelyne. I noticed that during a brave sportsman to load and fire off now, it was dinner he said little, but seemed absent and dis. to think of anything but slumber. From a child spirited. Perhaps he is in ill health, thought I- I had at no time been of a superstitious tur ; still perhaps something has gone wrong ; but his that night, I confess, I felt anything but comfortfather seeing I looked inquiringly at my cousin, able, and, when I heard the clock strike one, and said in a low tone across the table, “ Take no the last step die away on the creaking staircase, I notice of your cousin, he is always as you see him would willingly have given all I then possessed to now."
This naturally enough heightened my be at home, with no Maskelynes to stare me out curiosity to know what could be the cause of so of countenance, no Beauchamp Abbey with hor. settled a sadness. I had indeed beard, before rible traditions to startle me from my propriety, coming to the Abbey, soine strange stories of a and no "White Room” “to murder sleep." I certain Abbot who once ruled in Beauchamp, and tossed and turned, striving in vain to sleep. I who, on being dispossessed of his broad acres and could not; till at last, determined to see if there fine old domain by that rapacious sovereign Henry rere any ghosts in Beauchamp Abbey, I valiantly VIII., for the sole benefit of a certain Hugo poked my nose into every cupboard and cranny in Maskelyne and his male heirs for ever, bad be the room till I was more convinced than ever that stowed a parting curse on the fortunate courtier I was a fool, and still more nervous than I had and his heirs aforesaid, nearly in these words :- been before. * This cannot last long," thought I,
“ Live a merry life, Hugo Maskelyne, and gorge "it will soon be morning-I will light a cigar thyself on the spoil of the Church of God; but thou and smoke till daybreak.” I looked round the shalt not die in thy bed, neither shall any eldest room for a book—there were none. At last I son of thy posterity ever lite to succeed to the bethought me of the cupboard at the end of the broad, fair lands of Beauchamp."
room, there I found Burton's "Anatomie of MeAll this I had heard from an old nursemaid of lancholie," a fit book for such a time, when, mine, who came to us from my cousin's village, and while glancing over its pages, down tumbled, though I, of course, knew of the strange fatality covering me with dust, a pile of books and papers regarding the eldest sons of this family, I believed and a long roll of vellum, which I soon saw was it was an old woman's tale of wonderment, un- the Maskelyne pedigree. I sat down, smoked my worthy of recollection. Nevertheless, my opi- cigar, and read it through patiently, observing at nions on that subject have strangely changed since the same time that against the name of every then.
eldest son, for many generations, was a black live, After dinner, over our wine, the conversation and, “He died before his father," and " his turned upon timber and some trees which the old younger brother succeeded,” &c. And so the legend squire had that day planted in commemoration had some foundation in fact. I could not then of Roland's baving then attained his twenty- reason myself out of a belief in it-I cannot seventh year, when my melancholy-visaged cousin now. said abruptly, as though he just woke up,
Day dawned; I had smoked my cigar down to