« AnteriorContinuar »
dle-looked wiftfully at the little arrangement he had made -and then gave a figh.
The fimplicity of his grief drew numbers about him, and La Fleur among the rest, whilst the horses were getting ready; as I continued fitting in the poft-chaise, I could see and hear over their heads.
He said he had come last from Spain, where he had been from the furthest borders of Franconia; and had got so far on his return home, when his ass died. Every one seemed desirous to know what business could ave taken fo old and poor a man so far a journey from his own home.
It had pleased heaven, he said, to bless him with three fons, the finest lads in all Germany; but having in one week loft two of them by the small-pox, and the youngest falling ill of the same distemper, he was afraid of being bereft of them all, and made a vow, if Heaven would not take him from him also, he would go in gratitude to St. Iago in Spain.
When the mourner got thus far in his story, he stopp'd to pay nature her tribute--and wept bitterly.
He said Heaven had accepted the conditions ; and that he had set out from his cottage with this poor creature, who had been a patient partner of his journey-that it had eat the same bread with him all the way, and was unto him as a friend.
Every body who stood about, heard the poor fellow with concern-La Fleur offered him inoney—The mourner said he did not want it it was not the value of the afs- but the loss of him-The ass, he said, he was assured, loved him-and upon this told them a long story of a mischance upon their passage over the Pyrenean mountains, which had separated them from each other three days; during which
time the afs had fought him as much as he had fought the ass, and that he had neither scarce eat or drank till they met.
Thou hast one comfort, friend, said I, at least, in the loss of thy poor beast ; I am sure thou hast been a merciful master to him-Alas! said the mourner, I thought so, when he was alive--but now he is dead I think otherwise I fear the weight of myself and my afflictions together have been too much for him—they have hortened the poor creature's days, and I fear I have them to answer for.-Shame on the world ! said I to myself-Did we love each other, as this poor soul but lov'd his ass-t'would be something:
HEN states and empires have their periods of de
clension, and feel in their turns what distress and poverty is--I stop not to tell the causes which gradually brought the house d’E**** in Britany into decay. The Marquis d'E**** had fought up against his condition with great firmness; wishing to preserve and still thew to the world fome little fragments of what his ancestors had been -their indiscretion had put it out of his power.
There was enough left for the little exigencies of obfcurity-But he had two boys who looked up to him for light-he thought they deserved it. He had tried his sword-it could not open the way--the mounting was too expensive - and simple economy was not a match for it-there was no resource but commerce. In any other province in France, fave Britany, this was smiting the root for ever of the little tree his pride and affection wished to see re-blossom-But in Britany, there being a provision for this, he availed himself of it; and taking an occasion when the states were assembled at Rennes, the Marquis, attended with his two sons, entered the court; and having pleaded the right of an ancient law of the duchy, which, though seldom claimed, he said, was no less in force; he took his sword from his fide-Here-said he -take it; and be trusty guardians of it, till better times put me in condition to reclaim it.
The president accepted the Marquis's sword-he staid a few minutes to see it deposited in the archives of his house -and departed.
The Marquis and his whole family embarked the next day for Martinico, and in about nineteen or twenty years of successful application to business, with some unlooked for bequest from diftant branches of his house-returned home to reclaim his nobility and to support it.
It was an incident of good fortune which will never happen to any travelfer, but a sentimental one, that I should be at Rennes at the very time of this folemn requi. sition : I call it folemn-it was so to me.
The Marquis entered the court with his whole family; he supported his lady_his eldest son supported his fifter, and his youngest was at the other extreme of the linç next' his mother-he put
his handkerchief to his face twice There was a dead filence. When the Marquis had approached within fix paces of the tribunal, he gave the Marchioness to his youngest son, and advancing three steps before his family-he reclaimed his sword. His sword was given him, and the moment he got it into his hand he drew it almost out of the scabbard it was the shining face of a
friend he had once given up. He looked attentively a long time at it, beginning at the hilt, as if to see whether it was the same--when observing a little rust which it had contract. ed near the point, he brought it near his eye, and bending his head down over it-I think I saw a tear fall upon the place: I could not be deceived by what followed.
“ I SHALL find, said he, some other way to get it off."
When the Marquis had said this, he returned his sword into its scabbard, made a bow to the guardian of it-and, with his wife and daughter and his two sons following him, walked out. O How I envied him his feelings !
-THEY were the sweeteft notes I ever heard ; and I
instantly let down the fore glass to hear them more distinctly- 'Tis Maria ; said the postillion, observing I was listening-Poor Maria, continued he, (leaning his body on one side to let me see her, for he was in a line between us) is fitting upon a bank playing her vespers upon her pipe, with her little goat beside her. THE young
fellow uttered this with an accent and a look fo perfectly in tune to a feeling heart, that I instantly made a vow, I would give him a four and twenty fous piece, when I got to Moulines
-AND who is poor Maria ? said I. The love and pity of all the villages around us; said the poftillion-it is but three years ago, that the fun did not
shine upon fo fair, fo quick-witted, and amiable a maid ; and better fate did Maria deserve, than to have her banns forbid, by the intrigues of the curate of the parish who published them
He was going on, when Maria, who had made a short pause, put the pipe to her mouth and began the air againthey were the same notes ;-yet were ten times sweeter: It is the evening service to the Virgin, said the young manbut who has taught her to play it-or how she came by her pipe, no one knows; we think that Heaven has aflisted her in both; for ever since she has been unsettled in her mind, it seems her only consolation - he has never once had the pipe out of her hand, but plays that service upon it almoft night and day.
The postillion delivered this with so much discretion and natural eloquence, that I could not help decyphering fomething in his face above his condition, and should have fifted out his hiftory, had not poor Maria taken such full posterfion of me.
We had got up by this time almost to the bank where Maria was sitting : fhe was in a thin white jacket, with her hair, all but' two tresses, drawn up in a filk net, with a few olive leaves twisted a little fantastically on one side she was beautiful; and if ever I felt the full force of an honest heart-ache, it was the moment I saw her
God help her! poor damsel! above a hundred masses, said the poftillion, have been said in the several parish churches and convents around for her, but without ef. fect; we have still hopes, as she is sensible for short intervals, that the Virgin at last will restore her to herself; but her parents, who know her best, are hopeless upon that score, and think her senses are lost for ever.