Page images

words were, " My father,—my brothers, Montano, can ye tell me aught of them V

"They are safe,—safe and well, in all save their ignorance of you, dear Violette," replied Montano; "and by this time are they arrived in my happy country."

"Thank God !—and my dear old grandmother V

"Nay, ask no farther to-night."

"Better it is, my good friend," said Valentine, " to satisfy her inquiry now, while her cup is full and sparkling with joy; —you can bear, my child, patiently a single bitter drop V

"She was murdered, then?"

"She is at rest, my child,—you may weep,—we should weep for the good and kind."

Before the little party separated for the night, Violette explained, that in consequence of having been seen at the window on the day of Montagu's execution, she had been sought out by the managers of the mystery, and compelled, in the King's name, to obey their behests.

"And to-morrow," said Valentine, " ye shall obey mine. I, too, will be the manager of a mystery, and real espousals shall be enacted by Montano and Violette; then, ho! for my happy country."



"Then said she, "I am very dreary,
He will not come," she said.
She wept.—" I am aweary, aweary,
Oh God, that I were dead 1"

Invention need not be taxed for incidents fitted to touch the heart, nor need they be heightened with the dyes of romance. The daily life of our own cities abounds in events over which, if there be tears in heaven, surely the angels weep. It is not to draw tears, which flow too easily from susceptible young readers, that the following circumstances are related, but to set forth dangers to which many are exposed, and vices which steep the life God has given as a blessing, in dishonour, misery, and remorse.

A few years since, there lived on the east side of our city, where cheap and wretched residences abound, one Sara Hyat. Sara was a widow, not young, nor pretty, nor delicate, with none of the elements of romantic interest; but old, tall, angular, and coarse, with a face roughened by hardship, sharpened by time, and channeled by sorrow. Her voice was harsh, and her manner ungracious. There was one, and but one sign, and that a faint one. that she might once have partaken the weaknesses of her sex. She wore that hideous supplement to the hair which women call "a foretop," and not being very exact in the adjustment of her cap, the juxtaposition of the foxy auburn exotic and the indigenous silver hairs set off this little lingering of vanity rather strikingly.

But as all is not gold that glitters, and beauty is but skin deep, and under a rough shell is often found excellent meat; so under Mrs. Hyat's rough exterior, there were strong common sense, a spirit of rectitude, a good conscience, and affections that the rough usage of the world had not abated. These had attached her with devotion and self-sacrifice to one object after another, as the relations of life had changed, first binding her in loving duty to her parents and sisters, then to her husband and children, and finally, when, one after another, they had dropped into the grave, settling on the only one in whose veins a drop of her blood ran, a little orphan grandniece.

"A sweeter thing they could not light upon." Go with us up a crazy staircase, at the extremity of Houston Street. If you chance to look in at the door of the rooms you pass, you will see,—it being Sunday,—an entire Irish family, father, mother, half-a-dozen children, more or less, with a due allowance of cousins, all plump, rosy, and thriving (in the teeth of the physical laws) on plenty of heterogeneous food, and superfluity of dirt. On entering Mrs. Hyatt's rooms, you are in another country; the tenants are obviously Americans: it is so orderly, quiet, and cleanly, and rather anti-social. There are only an old woman and a little girl; the bud of springtime, and the seared leaf of autumn. The only dirt in the room (you almost wonder the old woman tolerates it there) is in two flower-pots in the window, whence a white jessamine, and a tea-rose diffuse their sweet odours.

A table is decently spread for the mongrel meal that our people call supper, which blends the substantial food of dinner, with the aromatic tea, and its sweet accompaniments of pastry, cake, or preserves. The tea-kettle is hissing on the stove, and a pie is warming there. The old woman sits in her rockingchair, weaving backwards and forwards, reading a time-discoloured letter, while a little girl (the only thing in harmony with the rose and jessamine in the window), laying aside a tract she is reading, says, " Aunt Sara, don't you know every word in that letter by heart? I do."

"Why, do you Fanny? Say it then."

"my Dear Aunt,

"I am clean discouraged. It seems as if Providence crowded on me. There is black disappointment, turn which way I will. I have had an offer to go to Orleans, and part pay beforehand, which same I send you herewith.

"Selina's time draws near, and it is the only way I have to provide; so dear Aunt Sara, I think it my duty to go. I can't summon courage to bid you good-bye. I can't speak a word to her. I should not be a man again in a month if I tried. You have been a mother to me, Aunt Sara, and if God spares my life, I'll be a dutiful son to you in the place of them that's gone. If any thing happens to my poor wife, you will see to my child, I know,

"Your dutiful nephew,

"James Mcdermot. "New-York, 25 September, 1827."

"I declare Fanny, you have said it right, date and all, and what a date it was to me, that 25th of September:—rthat day your father sailed—that very day you were born—and that very day, when the tide went out, your mother died ;— life coming—life going—and the dear life of my last boy launched on the wide sea. My boy I always called your father; he was like my own sons to me. He lived just one week after he got to Orleans, and the news came Evacuation Day. We have always been, that is, the Rankin side, a dreadful family for dying young—all but me. I've lived to follow all my folks to the grave. My three boys I have seen laid in the ground; full grown, six feet men, and here I am, my strength failing, my eyes dim, working, shivering, trembling on."

Poor little Fanny shivered too, and putting some more wood into the stove, she asked her aunt if it were not time for supper; but Mrs. Hyat, without hearing her, went on, rather talking to herself, than the child. "There has always been something notable about times and seasons, with our folks. I was born the day the revolutionary war was declared —my oldest was born the day Washington died; my youngest sister, your grandmother, Fanny, died the day of the Total Eclipse; my husband died the day that last pesky little war was declared; your father saw your mother the first time 'lumination night, and as I said, it was Evacuation Day, we got the news of his death; poor Jemmy! what a dutiful boy he was to me! half my life went with his! How that letter is printed on your memory, Fanny! But you have better learning than ever I had, and that makes the difference! Learning is not all though, Fanny; you must have prudence. Did I not hear you talking on the stairs yesterday with some of them Irish cattle V

"Yes, aunt, I was thanking Mrs. O'Rourke for bringing up my pail of water for me."

"That was pot it, 'twas a racket with the children I

« PreviousContinue »