Imágenes de página

tions appeared snddenly to strike both the young men. In spite of their passion, both paused irresolute.

Gerald reflected that were he involved in a quarrel he would necessarily be prevented in any case, whether victorious over his adversary and then consigned to prison, or himself disabled, from forwarding his father's escape. His rival appeared actuated also by prndential motives, perhaps by the conscientious scruples of the party to which he belonged, perhaps by the thought of Mildred.

"This is truly ruffling and bawling like tavern haunters and drunkards," stammered Gerald, as if seeking an excuse for withdrawing from the fray. "But the time will come, Mark Maywood, when you shall not escape me."

"So be it, comrade," replied the other, again sheathing his half-drawn rapier. "I know you not; and can but barely divine your cause of enmity. But I will not fail you at the night-time. Till then let this suffice. The midnight watch is mine—mine by the first assent of yonder soldier to my proposal of exchange."

"No! mine," again urged Gerald, "mine by his retractation of his prior consent, if such he gave."

"Come hither, comrade," cried

Maywood to Gideon, who was snddenly absorbed once more in his devotions.

"Hear ye, Master Godlamb," said the other. But Go-to-bed Godlamb stirred not. He shrank from the appeal to himself.

"It is to me your post has been consigned, is it not so?" enquired the one.

"It is I who take it off your hands —speak," cried Gerald. "Remember, Gideon," he added with upraised finger.

"Speak, who is it?" said both at once. Gideon shuffled with his feet, and looked heavier and more embarrassed than ever; but as he caught sight of the warning finger, he absolutely shut his eyes in utter despair, and pointing at Gerald, with the words, "Verily, and of a truth, thou art the man," he hastened away as fast as his indolent nature would permit, "before he should fall into the toils of the angry Philistines," as he expressed it.

Gerald could not suppress a look of triumph. Whatever were Mark Maywood's feelings, he only expressed them by a dark scowl of disappointment, and then turned away without another word.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

The night had closed in—that night of so vital an importance to his father's destiny—and Gerald sat alone in a small lower room, his heart beating high with hope, that he should contribute to his father's rescue.

He was lost in thought, when a firm hand laid on his shoulder roused him from his abstracted state. He turned his head, and saw, to his sur

?rise, Mark Maywood by his side, 'he young man wore a calmer, clearer brow, although his usual cold, stern, almost determined expression still pervaded it.

"Comrade," said Maywood with much appearance of frankness in his

manner, " I have spoken you roughly without cause ; I crave your pardon."

Gerald heard this unexpected address with great astonishment; and, before he answered, paused in much embarrassment.

"Let us be frank," continued Mark. "Had wo been so before, much ill will and evil blood might have been spared. I have only divined your feelings from my own. You have not seen the pretty daughter of our colonel without admiration. Nor have I."

Gerald started with again rising wrath, but his rival interrupted him.

"Bear with me for a while," he continued, "and hear me out. You have been here long. I am but a new-comer. You have the prior claim. Perhaps she returns your love. Had I known of this before— and as it is I have but guessed it, on witnessing your anxiety to hold this watch in the court, beneath her window—I had withdrawn, as is my duty. And now, comrade, I return to offer you the sacrifice of my. newborn admiration, and at the same time my friendship." other through his brain—at first of an undefinable and fantastic nature— then they assumed a more definite shape. He dreamed of his father— that old, greyheaded cavalier, with his long white beard—and before him stood Lazarus Seaman,. who accused him of absurd and imaginary crimes. And now they brought him into that open court—a file of soldiers were drawn up—their muskets were levelled at that old man's heart—Gerald struggled, and sought to spring between those deadly instruments and his doomed father, but his feet clove to the ground—he struggled in vain— the muskets were discharged, and his father fell weltering in his blood. With the last struggle of a convulsive nightmare, he started up, uttering a lond scream. It was but a frightful dream. And yet the noise of those fearful muskets—that discharge of artillery—still rang in his ears. As he opened his eyes, all was dark around him—the darkness of deep night. It was long before he could sufficiently recover his senses to remember what had passed; and when slowly the events of the day forced themselves upon his mind, his intellects seemed still confused and troubled. How strangely real now appeared the impression of that dream! It was with difficulty he could persuade himself that the firing had been imaginary; and even now there seemed a strange confusion of noise and voices around him; but that, surely, was the ringing in his head from the unusual draught he had taken.

"What you say seems fair and straightforward, Master Maywood," said Gerald, overcome by the frank manner of the young soldier, "and I thank you for this generosity and truth. My suspicions, then, did not deceive me? You love her, and yon sought to see her to-night?"

"I did," said Maywood.

"And she, did she return your love? Did she herself accede to this meeting?"

Mark shook his head with a faint, doubtful smile, but gave no answer. Gerald's brow again grew gloomy, and he sank his head between his hands.

"Come! come! no more of this," pursued the other young soldier, with a cordiality of manner which Gerald had never before witnessed in his dark, stern aspect. "Let all be forgiven and forgotten. Come, pledge me in this one cup. These drinkings of toasts, as it is called, these pledgings over liquor arc considered unseemly, and even ungodly by many; I know it well, but you cannot refuse to drink one cup with me, as earnest of our kindly feeling for the future."

For.the first time Gerald now observed that Maywood bore under his arm a flagon of ale, and held in his left hand two cups of horn.

"I reject not your kindly feeling," answered Gerald; "but I am not wont to drink,"—and he repelled the cup which Maywood now filled for him.

"Nay! nay!" said Mark, sitting down by the table on which Gerald leant. "You wrong me by refusing this first offer of reconciliation. Come, comrade, this one."

Gerald took the cup of ale unwillingly, and only raised it to his lips. But Maywood shook his head at him

—and Gerald, in compliance with his newly made friend's request, at last swallowed the contents.

"I am not used to these strong drinks," said Gerald, setting down the horn with evident distaste.' "I like them not; but I have done this to show my willingness to meet you on friendly ground."

Maywood raised, in turn, his cup, but at the same moment calling to a dog that had followed him into the room, he said, "Down, Roger, down," and stooped to repulse it; immediately afterwards ho raised the horn, and seemed to drain the ale to the last drop.

"One more, and then I will not urge you again," said Mark to Gerald, eyeing him with a sharp, enquiring look.

"No, no, not one," replied the yonng man with disgust. "Already this unusual drink has confused my head. I am accustomed to water only—such was my uncle's mode of educating me. It is strange how my brain turns with this fermented liquor. I have done wrong to drink it," and Gerald rubbed his heavy forehead, and strained his eyes. His powers of vision became more and more confused, and it was with difficulty that he could now see before him the face of Maywood, which to his intellect, disordered by the liquor, seemed to wear a strange expression of cunning, and trinmphant contempt. He made an effort, however, to shake off this feeling and raise his sinking head, but in vain. A sensation of overpowering drowsiness crept over him more and more. The thought of his watch, however, was still uppermost in his mind, and he had yet power sufficient to reflect that there was still some time to midnight, and that a little slumber might restore him; and giving way to the oppressive sleep which came over him, he laid his head on the table, and was immediately lost to all sense of what was passing around him.

At first Gerald's sleep was heavy and complete. How long it remained so, he had no power to tell. At length, however, it became lighter, and grew more troubled and confused. Wild dreams began

[ocr errors]

Slowly his whole memory returned to him, and he recalled to himself that it was necessary for him to be ready to answer for Godlamb Gideon when that worthy's name was to be called over for the midnight watch. He staggered up unto his feet, and with difficulty found his way into the open air. As he gazed, with somewhat troubled brain, on the bright starlit sky, two or three soldiers hurried past them.

"Hark ye, comrade," he said to one, "how long is it yet to midnight?"

"Midnight! where have you been hiding yourself, comrade?" answered the man. "Midnight is long since past."

"Long since past!" screamed Gerald with frantic violence. "No! no! it is impossible—my post was at midnight in the tower court."

"Then you have escaped by wonderful interposition, friend, from the consequences of your absence; for I was there when the names were called, and 'present' was answered for the sentinel at the tower court."

"Father of mercy!" cried Gerald in despair. "What, then, has happened?"

"Happened!" echoed the soldier; why, the prisoner has tried to escape I But didn't you hear the shots? They brought the old reprobate to the earth, of a surety."

Gerald uttered a lond groan and fell against the wall of the house; but in another moment he recovered himself by a desperate effort from a feeling of sickness and death, and repulsing violently the soldier who had come to his assistance, he rushed round the mansion with whirling brain and clenched teeth towards the tower court. His father had been killed — killed by his own folly. Rage, despair, contrition, self-horror, at having been so weak as to accept Maywood's proposal to drink that fatal drink which caused his deadly sleep, all tortured his heart, and drove him almost to madness. He could not doubt that it was that hated Maywood who had deceived him, drugged his liquour, cheated him into a sleep, in order to be present undisturbed at his rendezvous with Mildred; and now it was by his hand, by the hand of that villain, that his father had fallen.

All was commotion in the fortress. Gerald, as he rushed forward, heard the noise of voices and boats upon the water—the voice of Lazarus Seaman—now the men calling to each other. Horror-stricken, overwhelmed with despair, convulsed with rage, he bounded through the vaulted passage. In the moonlit court stood now but one figure alone—the sentinel, who was bending over the parapet, and seemed to be watching with interest the movement of the boats upon the water. With the rage of a tiger Gerald sprang upon him, and seized him by the collar with frenzied gripe. It was, indeed, Maywood— pale, agitated, and excited.

"Villain! traitor! assassin!" screamed Gerald madly, frantic with passion and despair, "you have betrayed that greyheaded old man; you have murdered him; but I will have revenge! He was my father, and it is you have killed him."

"Fourfather! "exclaimed the young sentinel in a voice choked by emotion. "He was mine, and I have saved him."

Gerald released his hold and staggered back.

For a moment the young men stared at each other in bewildered surprise. Then all at once the truth flashed across them.

"Brother! brother!" burst simultaneously from their lips. "Gerald! Everard!" they exclaimed again; and Everard Clynton, flinging himself into his brother's arms, gave way to his suppressed agitation, and buret into a flood of tears. At this moment a distant sound of a gun came across the water; Everard sprang up and grasped his brother's arm.

"Hush!" he said, "three shots from the sea arc the signal to me that he has escaped in safety to the vessel that awaits him."

Another boomed faintly across the broad. A pause of fearful interest followed, and then another. Once more the brothers fell into each others' arms.

In a few words Everard Clynton explained to his brother, how, after his father's capture, he had enlisted in the troop quartered in the fortress, in order to save him. How he had known from their friends without the means provided to effect his father's escape; how he, too, had sought, with desperation, the midnight watch upon which depended his father's delivery; and, finding himself overcome by his supposed rival, he had administered to him a sleeping draught in order to secure the post; how his pretended admiration for Mistress Mildred had been assumed in order to forward his views and colour his designs, by giving a pretext to his desire to obtain the post of sentry in the court; how Mildred had never given

him any encouragement, Gerald's unreasonable jealousy having supplied the rest.

He had assisted his father to escape, and only long after his flight had given the alarm, and fired upon the water, pretending to call for a sndden pursuit.

Mark Maywood, however, was tried by a court-martial for uegligence upon duty on the night of the prisoner's escape; but the constantly exhibited violence of the Republican principles which he had affected, as well as his zeal and exemplary good conduct since he had joined the troop, saved him in the colonel's eyes. He was acquitted. Shortly afterwards he disappeared altogether from the fortress, after an affectionate farewell to Gerald Clynton, who had the good fortune to receive, in due time, the assurance of his brother's safe escape to join his father in Flanders.

Not long afterwards, the death of Colonel Lazarus Seaman leaving his daughter an orphan, Gerald Clynton married pretty little Mistress Mildred, and, quitting the service, retired to Lyle-Court, the estate bequeathed to him by his uncle.

There is no doubt that pretty little Mistress Mildred's eyes were given to be coquettish in spite of themselves; but yet, notwithstanding sundry little symptoms of jealousy exhibited by Gerald, there is every reason to believe that he was as absurd and misled iu" his jealousy after as he was before his marriage, and that she made him a most excellent wife.

During the more peaceful times of the Protectorate, Gerald received news from time to time of the welfare of his father and his brother; and, upon the Restoration, he had the happiness of welcoming them to the English shores once more.

Although Lord Clynton always preserved a predilection for his elder son, yet he had somehow found out that Gerald bore an extraordinary resemblance to his deceased mother, and always treated him with the utmost love. He never forgot, also, the deep affection Gerald had displayed in his efforts to save him during that never-to-be-forgotten Midnight Watch.



We should take but a limited view of science if we supposed, that the laws of nature of which it is cognizant have for their object the continuance only and preservation of the several parts of the universe; they provide also for change, improvement, development, progression. By these laws not only are the same phenomena, the same things, perpetually reproduced, but new phenomena, new arrangements, new objects are being successively developed. In short, we are able to perceive, to a certain extent, that not only the world is preserved and renewed, but grows and is created according to great general laws, which are indeed no other than the great ideas of the Divine Mind.

The modern science of geology has more especially led us to extend our view of science'in this direction. The discovery of those mute records of past changes which lay buried in the earth, has induced us to investigate with awakened curiosity those changes which are actually taking place before us in the broad day, and in our own generation; and the result has been a conviction, that in the activity of nature there was a provision made, not only for restoration from decay, and a perpetual renewal of the individuals of each species, but fgr successive transformations in the surface of the globe, fitting it for successive forms of vegetable and animal life. The plant that lives, and sows its seed, and dies, has not only provided for its own progeny ; under many circumstances it prepares the soil for successors of a superior rank of vegetation—" Pioneers of vegetation," as Dr Macculloch calls them, "the lichens, and other analogous plants, seek their place where no others could exist; demanding no water, requiring no soil, careless alike of cold and heat, of the sun and of the storm; rootless, leafless, flowerless; clothing the naked rock, and forming additional soil for their successors." The whole tribe of corals, whose lives are sufficiently brief and sufficiently simple, are yet not permitted to die away from the scene, and leave it, as so many of us

do, just as they found it; they build up such a mausoleum of their bones— (for what used to be considered as the shell of the animal, is now pronounced to be a sort of bony nucleus or skeleton)—that large islands are formed, and a corresponding displacement of the sea is occasioned. The little creatures heave up the ocean on us. The river that to the poet's eye flows on for ever in the same channel, "giving a kiss," and kisses only, to every pebble and every sedge "it overtaketh in its pilgrimage," is detected to be secretly scraping, abrading, cutting out the earth like a knife, and washing it away into the sea. On the other hand, the earthquake and the volcano, which were looked on as paroxysms and agonies of nature, are transformed in our imagination into the constant ministers of beneficent change, and of creative purposes; and the momentary violence they commit, is to be excused on the plea of the great and permanent good they effect. For it is they who build the hills and the mountains, whence flow the streams of abundance upon the earth, and which, instead of being the gigantic, melancholy ruins Bishop Burnet took them to be, are the palaces and storehouses of nature, which it is given in charge to these sons of Vulcan to construct and to repair from the ravages which the soft rains of heaven incessantly commit upon them.

Astronomy, too, notwithstanding the severe discipline she has undergone, has in these later times resumed all the boldness of her youth, and brought her stores of science to the construction of the most splendid cosmogony that ever attracted the faith of the learned. She has girt her long robe around her, and entered the lists with, and far outstripped, whatever is boldest in the speculations of the youngest of the sciences. The nebular hypothesis, though not yet entitled, as we think, to be considered other than an hypothesis, has assumed a shape and consistency which forbids an entire rejection of it, which enforces our respect, and which, at all

« AnteriorContinuar »