Imágenes de página

the next day for Martinico, and in about nineteen or twenty years of successful application to business, with some unlooked for bequests from distant 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 traveller but to a sentimental one, that I should be at Rennes at the very time of this solemn requisition ; I call it solemn--it was so to me.

The Marquis entered the court with his whole family ; he supported his lady--his eldest son supported his sister, and his youngest was at the other extreme of the line next his mother--he put his handkerchief to his face twice-

There was a dead silence.--When the Marquis had approached within six paces of the tri. bunal, 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 contracted near the point, he brought it near his eye, and bending his fiead. down over it--I think I saw a tear fall upon the place : I could not be deceived by what followed.

« I shall find some other way to get it off. »

When the Marquis bad said this , he returned his sword into its scabbard, made a bow fo the guardian of it--and, with his wife and daughter, and his two sons following hini, walked out. O how I envied him his feelings !" STERNE.'


C H A P2, x I.


First part:

[ocr errors]


HEY were the sweetest notes I ever heard; and I instantly let down the foreglass 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 sitting 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 so perfectly in tune to a feeling heart, that I instantly made a vow, I would give him a four-and-twenty sous piece,

when I got to Moulins-

And who is poor Maria ? said I.

The love and pity of all the villages around us , said the postillion.--It is but three years ago, that the sun did not shine

upon so fair, so 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 again--they were the same notes ; yet were ten times sweeter : it is the evening service to the Virgin, said the young man--but who has taught her to play it--or bow she came by her pipe, no one knows: we think that Heaven has assisted her in both; for ever since she has been unsettled in her mind,

it seems her only consolation--she has never once had the pipe out of her hand, but plays that service almost night and day.

The postillion delivered this with so much discretion-and natural eloquence, that I could not help decyphering something in his face above his condition, and should have sifted out his history, had not poor Maria taken such full possession of me.

We had got up by this time almost to the bank where Maria was sitting : she was in a thin white jacket, with her hair, all but two tresses, drawn up in a silk 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-ach, it was the moment I saw her-

God help her, poor damsel ! above an hundred masses, said the postillion , have been said in the several parish-churches and convents around for her--but without effect; 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.

As the postillion spoke this, Maria made a cadence so melancholy, so tender and querulous, that I sprung out of the chaise to help her, and found myself sitting betwixt her and her goat, before I relapsed from my enthusiasm.

Maria looked wistfully for some time at me, and then at her goat--and then at me--and then at her goat again, and so on alternately-

-Well, Maria, said I softly--What resemblance do you find ?

I do entreat the candid reader to believe me,

that it was from the humblest conviction of what a beast man is--that I asked the question ; and that I would not have let fall an unseasonable pleasantry in the venerable presence of Misery to be entitled to all the wit that ever Rabelais scattered.

Adieu, Maria ! adieu , poor hapless damsel!-some time, but not now, I


hear thy sorrows from thy own lips--but I was deceived : for that moment she took her pipe, and told me such a tale of woe with it, that I rose up, and, with broken and irregular steps, walked softly to my chaise.

Second Part.

When we had got within half a league of Moulins, at a little opening in the road leading to a thicket , I discovered poor Maria sitting under a poplar--she was sitting with her elbow in her lap, and her head leaning on one side within her hand--a small brook run at the foot of the tree.

I bade the postillion go on with the chaise to Moulins--and la Fleur to bespeak my supper --and that I would walk after him.

She was dressed in white, and much as my friend described her, except that her hair hung loose, which before was twisted within a silk net. She had superadded likewise to her jacket a pale green ribband, which fell across her shoulder to the waist ; at the end of which hung her pipe. Her goat had been as faithless as her lover; and she had got a little dog in lieu of him, which she had kept tied by a string to her girdle. As I looked at her dog, she drew him towards her with the string-- « Thou shalt not leave me,

» Sylvio!» said she. I looked in Maria's eyes, and saw she was thinking more of her father tban of her lover or her little goat; for as she uttered them, the tears trickled down her cheeks.

I sat down close by her , and Maria let me wipe them away as they fell with my hankerchief. I then steeped it in my own--and then in her's--and then in mine--and then I wiped her's again--and as I did it, I felt such undescribable emotions within me, as I am sure could not be accounted for from any combinations of matter and motion.

I am positive I have a soul ; nor can all the books with which materialists have pestered the world, ever convince ne of the contrary.

When Maria had come a little to herself, I asked her if she remembered a pale thin person of a man who had sat down betwixt her and her goat about two years before ? she said, she was unsettled much at that time, but remembered it upon two accounts--that, ill as she was, she saw the person pitied her; and next, that her goat had stolen his handkerchief, and she had beat him for the theft--she had washed it, she said, in the brook, and kept it ever since in her pocket, to restore it to him in case she should ever see him again, which , she added , he had half promised her. As she told me this, she took the handkerchief out of her pocket to let me see it: she had folded it up neatly in a couple of vine leaves , tied round with a tendril--on opening it, I saw an S marked in one of the corners.

She had since that, she told me, strayed as far as Rome, and walked round St. Peter's once --and returned back--that she found her way alone across the Appenines--had travelled over all Lombardy without money--and through the

« AnteriorContinuar »