Page images
PDF
EPUB

roughly known to each other, Perrin proposed to Lucetta to ask her father's consent to their marriage : she blushed, and did not refase her approbation.

2. As she had an errand to town the next day, the opportunity of her absence was chosen, for making the proposal. You wish to marry my daughter,' said the old man: Have you a house to cover her, or money to maintain her ? Lucetta's fortune is not enough for both." It will not do, Perrin ; it will not do. • But,' replied Perrin, “ I have hands to work; I have laid up twenty crowns of my wages, which will defray the expense of the wedding : I will work harder, and lay up more. . Well,' said the old man, “ you are young, and may wait a lit. tle : get rich, and my daughter is at your service.'

3. Perrin waited for Lucetta's return in the evening. Has my father given you a refusal ? cried Lucetta. “Ah Lucetta,' replied Perrin, how unhappy am I for being poor! But I have not lost all my hopes : my circumstances may change for the better.' As they were never tired of conversing together, the night approached, and it became dark. Perrin, making a false step, fell on the ground. He found a bag, which was heavy. Drawing towards a light, in the neighbourhood, he discovered that it was filled with gold. • I thank heaven,' cries Per. rin, in a transport of joy, · for being favourable to our wishes. This will satisfy your father, and make us bappy.'

4. In their way to her father's house, a thought struck Per. rin. This money is not ours : it belongs to some stranger; and perhaps this moment, he is lamenting the loss of it; let us go to the vicar for advice ; he has always been kind to me.' Perrin put the bag into the vicar's hand, saying, that, at first, he looked on it as a providential present to remove the only obstacle to their marriage ; but that he now doubted, whether he could lawfully retain it.' The vicar eyed the young cou. ple with attention ; he admired their honesty which appeared even to surpass their affection, Perrin,' said he, cherish these sentiments : heaven will bless you. We will endeavour to find out the owner; he will reward your honesty. I will add what I can spare. You shall have Lucetta.'

5. The bag was advertised in the newspapers, and cried in the neighbouring parishes. Some time having elapsed, and the money not having been demanded, the vicar carried it to Perrin. These twelve thousand livres bear at present po profit: you may reap the interest at least. Lay them out in such a manner, as to ensure the sum itself to the owner, if he should ever appear,' A farm was purchased, and the consent

151108.

of Lucetta's father to the marriage was obtained. Perrin was 'n employed in husbandry, and Lucetta in family affairs. They lived in perfect cordiality ; and two children endeared them still more to each other.

6. Perrin, one evening, returning homeward, from his work, saw a chaise overturned, with two gentlemen in it. He ran to their assistance, and offered them every accommodation his small house could afford. “This spot,' cried one of the gentleman, 'is very fatal to me. Ten years ago I lost 'here twelve thousand livres.' Perrin listened with attention. What search made you for them ? said he. It was not in my power,' re. plied the stranger,' to make any search. I was hurrying to Port l'Orient to embark for the Indies, as the vessel was ready to sail.'

7. Next morning Perrin showed to his guests, his house, his garden, his cattle, and mentioned the produce of his fields.

All these are your property,' said he, addressing the gentleman who had lost the bag : “the money fell into my hands ; I purchased this farm with it; the farm is yours. The vicar has an instrument which secures your property, though I had died without seeing you.'

8. The stranger read the instrument with emotion : he looked on Perrin, Lucetta, and the children. "Where am I,' cried he, • and what do I hear? What virtue in people of so low a condition ! Have you any other land but this farm ? No,' replied Perrin ; • but you will have occasion for a tenant, and I hope you will allow me to remain here. "Your honesty de. serves a better recompense,' answered the stranger; • My success in trade has been great, and I have forgotten my loss. You are well entitled to this little fortune : keep it as your own. What man in the world could have acted nobler than you have done ? Perrin and Lucetta shed tears of affection and joy. • My dear children, said Perrin, kiss the hand of your benefactor. Lucetta, this farm now belongs to us, and we can enjoy it without anxiety or reinorse.' Thus was honesty rewarded. Let those who desire the reward, practise the virtue.

General Putnam and the Wolf. 1. When General Putnam first moved to Pomfret, in Connecticut, in the year 1739, the country was new and much infested with wolves. Great havoc was made among the sheep by a she wolf, which, with her annual whelps, had for several years continued in that vicinity. The young ones were commonly de

stroyed by the vigilance of the hunters ; but the old one was too sagacious to be ensnared by them.

2. This wolf, at length, became such an intolerable nuisance, that Mr. Putnam entered into a combination with five of his neighbours to hunt alternately, until they could destroy her. Two, by rotation, were to be constantly in pursuit. It was known, that, having lost the toes from one foot, by a steel trap, she made one track shorter than the other.

3. By this vestige, the pursuers recognized, in a light snow, the rout of this pernicious animal. Having followed her to Connecticut River, and found she had turned back in a direct course towards Pomfret, they immediately returned, and by ten o'clock the next morning, the blood-hounds had driven her into a den, about three miles distant from the house of Mr. Putnam.

4. The people soon collected, with dogs, guns, straw, fire, and sulphur, to attack the common enemy. With this apparatus, several unsuccessful efforts were made to force her from the den. The hounds came back badly wounded, and refused to return. The smoke of blazing straw had no effect. Nor did the fumes of burnt brimstone, with which the cavern was filled, compel her to quit her retirement.

5. Wearied with such fruitless attempts, (which had brought the time to 10 o'clock at night,) Mr. Putnam tried once more to make his dog enter, but in vain; he proposed to his negro man to go down into the cavern, and shoot the wolf. The nego declined the hazardous service.

6. Then it was, that their master, angry at the disappointment, and declaring that he was ashamed of having a coward in his family, resolved himself to destroy the ferocious beast, lest she should escape through some unknown fissure of the rock. His neighbours strongly remonstrated against the perilous enterprize ; but he knowing that wild animals were intimidated by fire, and having provided several strips of birch bark, the only combustible material that he could obtain, which would afford light in this deep and darksome cave, prepared for his descent.

7. Having accordingly divested himself of his coat and waistcoat, and having a long rope fastened round his legs, by which he might be pulled back at a concerted signal, be entered, head foremast, with the blazing torch in his hand. Having groped his passage till he came to a horizontal part of the den, the most terrifying darkness appeared in front of the dim circle of light afforded by his torch. It was silent as the house of death. None but monsters of the desert had ever before explored this solitary mansion of borrour.

8. He, cautiously, proceeding onward, came to an ascent, which he slowly mounted, on his hands and knees, until he discovered the glaring eyeballs of the wolf, who was sitting at the extremity of the cavern. Startled at the sight of fire, she gnashed her teeth, and gave a sullen growl. As soon as he had made the necessary discovery, he kicked the rope as a signal for pulling him out. The people, at the mouth of the den, who had listened with painful anxiety, hearing the growling of the wolf, and supposing their friend to be in the most imminent danger, drew him forth with such celerity, that he was stripped of his clothes, and severely bruised.

9. After he had adjusted his clothes, and loaded his gun with nine buck shot, holding a torch in one hand, and the musket in the other, he descended a second time. When he drew nearer than before, the wolf assuming a still more fierce and terrible appearance, howling, rolling her eyes, snapping her teeth, and dropping her head between her legs, was evidently in the attitude, and on the point of springing at him.

10. At this critical instant, he levelled and fired at her head. Stunned with the shock, and suffocated with the smoke, he immediately found himself drawn out of the cave. But hav. ing refreshed himself, and permitted the smoke to dissipate, he went down a third time. Once more he came within sight of the wolf, who appearing very passive, he applied the torch to her nose : and perceiving her dead, he took hold of her ears, and then kicking the rope (still tied round his legs) the people above with no small exultation, dragged them both out together.

Matilda and her Son. 1. The amiable and beautiful Matilda was married very young, to a Neapolitan nobleman of the first rank and fortune, and found herself a widow and a mother at the age of fifteen. As, she stood one day caressing her infant son in the open window of an apartment which hung over the river Volturna, the child, with a sudden spring, leaped from her arms, and fell into the river below, and disappeared in a moment. The mother, beng struck with instant surprise, in order to save her child, plunged in after him, but, far from being able to save the infant, the, with great difficulty, escaped by swimming to the opposite shore, just at the time when some French soldiers were plundering the country on that side, who immediately made her their prisoner.

2. The child, floating down the river, was taken up by a per. sop of her own nation, by whom he was nourished, educated, and prepared to enter the army, at an early age, and being possessed of a superiour genius, he was soon promoted to be commander-in-chief of the Italian army.

3. As the war was then carrying on between the French and Italians, with the utmost inhumanity, they were going at once to perpetrate those two extremes, suggested by appetite and cruel. ty. This base resolution, however, was opposed by a young officer, who, though their retreat required the utmost expedition, became her protector, and conducted her with safety to his native city. Her beauty at first caught his eye, her merit, soon after, his heart. They were married ; he rose to the highest posts of honour; they lived long together, and were happy.

4. But the felicity of a soldier can never be called permanent. After an interval of several years, the troops which he commanded having met with a repulse, he was obliged to take shelter in the city where he had lived with his wife. Here they suffered a siege, and the city at length was taken. Few histories can produce more various instances of cruelty, than those which the French and Italians at that time exercised upon each other.. It was resolved by the victors, upon this occasion, to put ah the French prisoners to death, but particularly the French ge.. neral, who was the busband of Matilda, as he was principally instrumental in protracting the seige.

5. These determinations were, in general, executed almost as soon as resolved upon. The captive general was led forth, and the executioner, with his sword drawn, stood ready; while the spectators, in gloomy silence, awaited the fatal blow, which was only suspended till the Italian general, who presided as judge, should give the signal. It was in this interval of anguish and expectation, that Matilda came to take her last farewell of her husband and deliverer, deploring her wretched situation, and the cruelty of fate that had saved her from perishing, by a premature death, in the river Volturna, when endeavouring to save the life of her infant son, to be the spectator of still greater calamities. · 6. The Italian general, who was a young man, was struck with surprise at her beauty, and with pity at her distress, but with still stronger emotions, when he heard her relate her former misfortunes; for he had been told that his mother had endangered her own life to save his. He was her son, the very infant for whom she had encountered so much danger. He acknowledged her at once as his mother, and fell at her feet, and that moment set the captive free. They ever after lived in a

« PreviousContinue »