« PreviousContinue »
(Continued from page 248.)
1. “Though I might not have been able to CHAPTER XII.
subdue Bucephalus, I think I can manage your
horses, sir. But I will not venture if the ladies SLEIGHING.
are afraid to trust me. What say you, Miss The sleigh-bells are ringing, and deep in the snow, O'er its soft-polished surface, we merrily go:
Laura ? What if Boreas hail us with voice rough and bleak, " I think there can be no danger,” replied We will welcome his kiss as it glows on our cheek; the fair girl, glancing timidly at the prancing And laugh at his frown, though the cloud-mantled sky, With Jack Frost peeping forth, to alarm us may try.
steeds, and then wrapping the buffalo robe
around her feet. Come welcome gay Winter with music and song, Let us cheer our fleet coursers while bounding along ;
“And you, Miss Laurence ?" See pleasure and happiness beam in each eye,
“Oh, we are perfectly safe, I have no doubt,” And the rocks and the woods to our chorus reply;
answered Inez, whose bright eyes were dancing As like a swift bark o'er the wave's liquid flow, But swifter and surer, we merrily go.
merrily beneath one of those saucy-looking
hoods, which pretend to cover the face, while Now down in the valley, now over the hill, We pass the dark forest and ice-fettered rill; (white, they reveal it to greater advantage. Though the woods, late so green, are now shrouded in “ Yes; you always feel safe, pet," said the What can equal the ice-drops that sparkle so bright?
Colonel, patting her blooming cheek. “I am Then weleome gay Winter and welcome the snow, As o'er its smooth surface we merrily go.
afraid your wild spirits will run away with
you, if the horses do not.” On, on! and what care we if evening draw nigh? To light our lone path-way, the moon shines on high ;
“Oh, the cold, bracing air, will freeze them The stars twinkle bright in the clear frosty air,
into quiet, I have no doubt,” replied the laughAway with all fear, and away with dull care;
ing girl ; " or if you think it desirable to our Speed, speed on our course! seize the moments that flow,
safety, I will not utter a syllable during our Ere to Sol's burning rays we surrender the snow.
ride. Laura and myself will sit gravely wrap“Are you sure that these horses are not too
ped in our cloaks, and count the icicles along restive this morning ?” asked Colonel Stan- | the road; while Mr. Howard can watch the brook, as, after placing Laura and Inez in the horses, and compose his next speech for the sleigh, he handed the reins to Frederick How- I court: or he can imagine Silence and Beauty ard. “ Although so certain of your skill in his audience, and rehearse it aloud, while driving, my young friend, I am half afraid to Laura and myself will be judges. No! Laura trust my treasures to you. Had you not shall be the judge, and I the criminal; for we better take Joseph ? He understands the dis- must have some one to try, you know." positions of these fiery steeds better than " Then let her condemn you to be left in & yourself."
snow-bank, by the way-side, if convicted of VOL. II.
any misdemeanor," said the Colonel, laughing, you are a coward, and afraid of hurting your in spite of his anxiety, at her lively sallies. | horses. By George! I'll give them a cut my
“But I protest against this silence on the self, for the fun of the thing." part of Miss Laurence,” said Howard, endea-' “Stop! stop! for Heaven's sake!" screamed voring to catch a glimpse of the face she was Cornelia, grasping his arm. “My uncle's muffling up, for the purpose of fulfilling her horses have never felt the whip; it will make threat.
them mad. Oh, mercy! save them! I have “Good-by, dear uncle !" cried the sweet | spoken too late.” voice of Laura. .
It was, indeed, too late. The two sleighs “Good-by!" cried Inez, obliged to with were now abreast; for, although Beaumont's, draw the muffler a moment, for her parting at first, was left far behind, it had been, through salutation; "you will probably see us again | Howard's sudden check, enabled to overtake before morning, covered with icicles, or him. Beaumont's whip described a circle in drenched by a snow-bank. Ah, there go the the air, and fell upon the backs of the highBeaumonts and Cornelia! Don't let them spirited animals. As if stung by a serpent, pass us, Mr. Howard; our horses are better they reared, for a moment, upon their haunches, than theirs !” Rash girl; she did not foresee and threatened to fall backwards upon the the consequences of this request.
party in the sleigh; then, with eyes dilated, Merrily jingled the bells ; bright glanced and nostrils expanded, they plunged forward the sunbeams along the frozen ground; and through the yielding snow, with a force that brighter beamed the smiles of many a beauty, scattered it in every direction, almost blinding from amid feathers and furs, as their sleigh those with whom it came in contact. Taking dashed along, outstripping all others, and de the bits between their teeth, the infuriated fying competition.
animals rushed wildly along the road, at light“ Bravely done, Fred!" shouted Beaumont, ning speed. Cornelia shrieked with terror, as he stood up and cracked his whip; “it's a and even Beaumont, heartless as he was, for an race for Burnham's; and let him laugh who instant, stood aghast at the effects of his prewins. Come, Hercules, show your strength, meditated sport. and Jupiter, your power! John, give me the “Drive on! drive on as fast as you can, reins. Now for victory!"
Augustus !" cried Mrs. Beaumont. “They Loud rang the merry laugh from either are making towards the railroad. Oh, if the sleigh; sharp cracked the whip of Beaumont, cars should be coming down!” Cornelia shudas his horses dashed on in the vain endeavor dered at the thought. to take the lead. For a time, Colonel Stan- ' “ If we can only reach them before they arbrook's horses went on in a quiet, even, but rive at the foot of Murray Hill,” said Beauexceedingly swift pace, snuffing the air, and mont, “I think we can stop the horses. The old apparently enjoying their release from the barn there may possibly attract them. Do you confinement of a stable. But there was a cer- see anything of them now, John?" tain pricking up of the cars, and a wildness of “Yes sir; but they are at the top, not at the the eyes, that betrayed greater mettle than foot of the hill. Mr. Howard still has the they had heretofore exhibited. Howard was reins, but the horses are as wild as ever. I a good driver, but he felt the responsibility of do not see the ladies, sir. They must have been his situation, with the lives of two young and thrown out.” beautiful girls intrusted to his care; conse- But to return to Frederick Howard and his quently, when he heard the loud shout of fair companions. At the first plunge of the Beaumont, and his challenge, instead of using startled horses, and their sudden and furious the whip, and quickening the pace of his start forward, Inez turned very pale, but did already flying steeds, he drew in the reins, and not lose her self-possession. Laura screamed, endeavored to restrain their impetursity. On and fell insensible against the back of the dashed his opponent, shouting and laughing, sleigh. accusing Howard of cowardice in not giving “Speak to the horses in a soothing tone, his horses the bit, and declaring that they Mr. Howard,” said Inez. “ It is the only way wanted a cut of the whip to stir up their | to curb them.” * spirit.
He did so, but they were unused to his voice, "Give them a stinger, boy! Show them the and it had no effect. He tightened the reins, silk, Fred, or we shall outstrip you yet. Why, but they were too much for his feeble strength.
They tore the reins from his grasp as if they ever, for a moment, intercepted the view, and had been cotton thread, and spurning restraint, on came the engine with unabated velocity. and snorting defiance, dashed still more reck- Inez relinquished the effort as of no avail; but lessly onward, plowing up the deep snow at that very moment, the engineer, perceiving with their hoofs, which, instead of retarding the situation of affairs, cut off the steam, and their progress, but maddened them the more. endeavored to stop the farther progress of the Arrived at the top of the hill, with only a few cars ; but it was now too late. The undaunted feet intervening between them and the gorge Inez sprang from the sleigh, and seizing the cut for the rail-road track, the peril of being reins, strove to lead the horses forward, but thrown over the precipice by the slightest they were immovable. Shivering both with sheering of the horses, was imminent, and the cold and terror, she cast a despairing look upon excited feelings of Howard became so intense, the motionless form of Howard, and then upon that his eyes seemed as if they were about to poor Laura, who had not yet recovered from leap from their sockets, and large drops of per- insensibility, and whose fate appeared inevitspired blood stood upon his forehead. To add able. Inez clasped her hands, and kneeling on still more to the horror of the scene, the sharp the cold ground, appealed to Heaven for the reshrill whistle of an approaching locomotive lief it was not in her power to render. As if announced a new and more terrible danger, in answer to her prayer, a man on horseback and another second brought it to view, wheeze appeared from around the hill. “Mr. Clarking and whizzing around the point immedi- son!” she screamed, “ save her! save poor ately beyond the Asylum for the Dumb. Even Laura! I can do no more." the courage of Inez now gave way. She sank With the rapidity of lightning Donald Clark-down, shuddering and powerless, and with son—for it was he-leaped from his horse, closed eyes awaited the sure and horrible and making to the sleigh, first seized the inanifate which now seemed destined to overtake mate form of Laura, which he placed in the them.
arms of her weeping friend; and then grasp. " Inez! dear Inez !" cried Howard, in a voice | ing the bridles, succeeded, by a powerful effort of agony,“ do not despair ; their strength in forcing the horses from the track, at the will soon be exhausted;" and, nerved to des- very moment that the cars approached with perate energy,--determined to make one last such rapidity, that, but for this timely succor, effort for safety, in an endeavor to change their no earthly power could have prevented the course, so as to bring them up against a fence certain death of one, perhaps both. On swept to the right,-he made a spring to reach the the terrible engine, grazing the sleigh as reins draggling at the horses' heels. The ef
it passed, and causing a deep shudder in fort threw him from the sleigh with great vio- the hearts of those rescued from the destruction lence, and his head coming in contact with a lit threatened. rock, he lay stunned and bleeding upon the | Howard bad not revived, and Inez threw herground. On a sudden, the fiery beasts, as if self by his side, exclaiming in heart-piercing, by one impulse, came to a dead pause, trem- frantic tones, that he was dead, and that she bling with exhaustion in every limb. In any l had killed him. other place it would have been well. But they " It was all my fault!" she cried. “I urged. stopped directly across the track, while, at a him to the trial of speed! I have killed him, and short distance, Inez could see the cars approach- perhaps dear Laura, too. Oh! Mr. Clarkson, ing with lightning's speed. Inez would have what will become of me??? and again she dashsprung from the sleigh, and secured her owned herself by the side of the inanimate form of safety, but there lay poor Laura, her friend, him whom she this moment felt was dearer the companion of her youth, quite lifeless, and to her than all the world. Perhaps it was the generous girl would have died a thou
" the warmth of those young lips sand deaths rather than desert her at such a
Pressed on his eyes, which chased their short eclipse," moment.
“ If I can only make the engineer see us, we for they at length unclosed, and his first look. shall be saved;" and at this moment Inez was upon the kneeling form and anxious face jumped up on the seat, and with all her re- of her, who, until this moment, had never, by maining strength, endeavored to wave her look or word, evinced the preference she felt. scarf high in the air, in hopes that it might He attempted to rise, but his right arm was catch his eye. An intervening bridge, how- sprained, and fell lifeless by his side, while his head throbbed violently from the effects of the loved. But I never dreamed that her infatuaconcussion. In a few moments, however, he tion would go as far as this. I will not have was enabled to walk to the sleigh, in which our family disgraced in this manner. Pray, Clarkson had already placed Laura, and was hail them, Augustus, and I will make Laura watching with fond solicitude for the opening come in here. If Miss Laurence chooses to asof those soft blue eyes which had already kin-sociate with such plebeians, let her do so; she dled such fires of passion in the poet's breast. is her own mistress at least she makes herself He who had hardly dared to raise his eyes to so, and my uncle seems fit to indulge her in all that angel face, now held that loved form in her whims. But the Stanbrooks have always his arms, chafed the cold fingers, and even sustained the dignity of their family, and dared to press the blanched cheek with his own it shall not now be sullied by the caprice burning lips. He heeded not the presence of of a silly girl. Pray call to them, BeauInez and Howard-he was too much wrapped mont." in the elysium of his own thoughts-he had ! Beaumont called out in his most stentorian saved her life,--he held her in his arms. The tones, but the party he hailed were too much cold formality of society here interfered not be wrapt in their own deep feelings, to think of tween them. No stern voice bade him remem- aught else but themselves at that moment. ber the distance to be observed between the "Well, I do declare! Clarkson has actually favored, petted child of fortune, and the poor, taken the reins from Fred!—while he leans humble, obscure poet. To see the color return back quite contented, and yields the horses to to those pale cheeks, the cherub lips part, and his guidance! This passes my comprehension," the deep blue eyes bent gratefully upon him- exclaimed Beaumont. this was enough to repay him for all he had “ Clarkson ! Donald Clarkson seen driving hazarded to save her; and when he saw the through Broadway with my sister !" cried the vivid blush that dyed her cheek, as on their mortified Cornelia. “I will not endure this way home Inez informed her to whom she owed insult. Drive on-let us overtake them, and the preservation of her life, visions of love and prevent it if possible.” hope darted through the brain of this neglected “ They have turned round, and are on the son of genius. Yes, visions! For what can way to Burnham's,” replied Beaumont. “ Use the pampered child of wealth have in common the whip, John. We will be there before with the poor but high-souled adventurer, who them.” is plodding his weary way through the tangled Howard's arm was so severely sprained, that wilderness of this world, clasping to his heart he gladly relinquished his office, at the earnest the few flowers scattered in his path, yet, entreaty of Clarkson,--and then the arm to with eye, heart, soul, fixed upon the summit of the care of Inez, who, with trembling fingers, fame, deeming that time, and toil, and perse- bound her handkerchief around it,- her tears vérance may enable him to gain it at last! flowing unchecked as she performed her office.
· There they are there they are! safe and “ We must give Laura her ride,” whispered sound,” shouted Beaumont. “But Fred looks Howard, in spite of danger and delay.' And for rather pale, though, as if he were either fright- you, dear, dear Inez, it is sufficient happiness to ened or hurt. Laura seems quite well. I can- | know that you are near me, that I hold your not see Miss Laurence's face. But who, in hand in mine. Oh! would that it could be the name of wonder, have they picked up on thus forever. Speak, speak, leave me no long the road ?
er in doubt. Shall I ever be blessed with the "Let me look,” said Cornelia, rising, and possession of this treasure ? Nay, turn not leaning on his arm. “ Well! really this is too away. Hide not those deep, dark, beautiful bad! Laura has actually allowed that mad eyes from me. Your hand is already withpoet, Clarkson, to get into the sleigh, and is drawn. Is it in anger? You then despise me. seated beside him, and looking up into his face, And yet, what could I not do for your sake? I smiling upon him as I never saw her smile know that I am not gifted like the minions of upon any one else! The girl is mad! I fashion with ready flatteries, which the lips thought that her romantic notions would at pronounce, but the heart disclaims. I speak as last lead her into some such scrape. She al. I feel, and without disguise. Do not turn from ways said she would be willing to sacrifice me, Inez, the only happy moments I have latewealth and station to prove her devotion to ly enjoyed, have been in the society of yourself the one who could love her as she wished to be and your friend Miss Legare. Your minds are