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will find, my dear reader, by consulting John Smith's History of Egypt,' that the Bebi family afterward reigned in that country until the elevation of old Mehemit Ali to the throne.
I hope you will believe my story, for I have had great trouble in making it out from the hieroglyphics of the Obelisk of Luxor in the Place de la Concorde at Paris.
• Plato in Pbaedone testatur cycnos mortis tempore esse maximè canoros. Note to HORACE, lib. iv., ode iii.
THE WAR DE R’S T A L E.
DY EENRY TEXTON,
It is said that the wandering Arab, after emerging from the burning sands and heated air of the desert, into the sheltering groves of some friendly oüsis, will recline for hours beneath their inviting shades, Jistening to the long-spun stories of one of their companions; and I confess that I have seldom contemplated this feature in their vagabond kind of life without a feeling akin to envy. Repose is of itself a luxury when preceded by its necessary antithesis ; but with such an accompaniment it possesses a double charm. Stories, in one shape and another, form the great staple of amusement for the human family. Children, the world over, exhibit a remarkable fondness for them, and men in this as in other things, are but children of a larger growth. Why it is so, it is needless to inquire. A modern philosopher would doubtless dispose of the question by pointing to the organ of marvellousness, and saying that the whole subject lay in a nut-shell ;' meaning, perhaps, the shell of a cocoa-nut, as the human cranium is sometimes disrespectfully termed. And this, perhaps, would be a sufficient solution of the mystery.
Doubtless some of our distinguished novelletists might dislike to be told that there is no vast difference between their vocation and that of those Oriental wonder-mongers to whom allusion has been made. Yet their calling is in some respects the same. Not that I would detract from the dignity of the craft. A path of literature which has been ennobled by the pens of Irving and Dickens, may not be lightly spoken of. For myself I confess to a great fondness for stories, provided they possess a reasonable degree of interest, and are related with a reasonable degree of skill. In the generic name of story,' however, I do not mean to include the higher branches of fiction. Novels, long involved and complicate, are well enough in their line, when the requisite degree of genius is brought to bear upon their construction. But I speak now of the brief and well-conceived tale, which stares at you from the freshlyprinted periodical, promising a half hour's relaxation and amusement, when the mind has long been burthened with weightier thought; one that the eye may roam lazily over, when, amid zephyrs and shades, you seek refuge from the sultry sun of June, or when partitioned off from the howling storms of November, you repose indolently, beside the glowing grate.
But I must not forget what has probably been anticipated, that I have myself a story to relate, and unless I hasten to its commencement, I may find myself in the unenviable plight of a certain verbose author, who wrote so long a preface to his book that he was obliged to publish it in a separate volume.
Let me therefore introduce to the reader a worthy and ancient gen
tleman, who formerly occupied a station which afforded him opportuni. ties of becoming acquainted with many strange and secret pages of human life. Many years ago, Colonel Rushton was the principal keeper of a State Penitentiary. He was moreover, what the incumbent of such a post ought always to be, a man of great probity and humanity. The following tale of events connected with his former occupation, is one of many with which his memory is stored, and which, thanks to the garrulity of age, he now takes pleasure in relating. If it should be thought to possess a romantic character, but little in keeping with the spirit of this working-day world,' or approaching too near the marvellous for easy credence, let it be remembered that the incidents which it records, occurred in those times
when worth was crowned, and faith was kept,
Lest, however, my informant may be considered to have violated any confidence reposed in him; by divulging certain portions of the following narrative, it is proper to state that Time has wrought his usual changes with the principal actors in the scenes about to be described, and whatever reason for secrecy there may once have been, has long since ceased to exist. With this brief explanation, my venerable friend shall be allowed to speak for himself.
THE WARDER'S TALE,
It was drawing-room night, to borrow a trans-Atlantic phrase, at the Governor's house in the city of — , and a crowd of gay and fashionable people, interspersed with many grave, and a few seedy-looking politicians, thronged the spacious halls and corridors of the executive mansion. To the eye of an attentive observer an amusing contrast was afforded by the aspect of the different coteries thus brought into juxtaposition. Here, a fair daughter of Eve, with possibly a spice of Eve's old antagonist in her composition, but radiant with the light of a thousand charms, reigned supreme over a little group of spell-bound admirers, while, removed but a few feet from the magic circle, a knot of intriguing politicians, heedless of the dangerous vicinity, were eagerly discussing the approaching campaign. Others, equally forgetful of the festive occasion which had drawn them together, were openly censuring, with true republican freedom, some recent public act of the chief magistrate, and stigmatizing as a demagogue the man whom but a few moments before they had cordially taken by the hand. Ignorant or heedless of these things, which he well knew how to appreciate, the distinguished functuary alluded to, occupied a prominent part of the principal saloon; the centre of a continually shifting group, who, having paid their first salutations there, retired and mingled with the crowd. Having myself performed this duty, and being nearly a stranger to the buzzing throng around me, I had stationed myself in a favorable position for beholding the actors in this little drama.
There have been many individuals since the days of Shakspeare to whom have been applied the Hamletonian epithet, the observed of all observers. There was certainly one at the Governor's levee. Of unusual elegance of figure, face, and apparel, of graceful and prepossessing manners, this cynosure of a hundred eyes was a stranger, of whom nothing seemed to be known by the crowd with which he was mingling. In vain were the questions of the curious set on foot. Mammas managed and daughters ogled, all in vain. He sought no introduction to the ladies, but remaining near the Governor for a much longer time than etiquette would warrant, availed himself of every opportunity to renew what seemed an almost importunate conversation with that gentleman. Whatever the subject matter of this colloquy may have been, it was evidently urged in that respectful and gentlemanly manner, which forbade the idea of reproof. When finally forced, by the press of other claimants to relinquish his post, it was only to seek the most influential of the state officers, with the same winning manners and earnest air. His remarks to all of these individuals were made in a semi-confidential tone, and seemed to be respectfully received. These circumstances of course, tended to heighten curiosity, and having partaken somewhat largely of that infectious feeling, I soon found myself, unconsciously, drawing nearer to the object of it. When I had approached within a few feet of this notable personage, our eyes inadvertently met. What was my surprise when I saw a sudden color suffuse his face, succeeded by as sudden and remarkable a pallor. He faltered in conversation, and despite his former self-possession, remained silent for several seconds, staring fixedly at me. For one instant I was astonished — appalled. The next, a light flashed upon my mind. Memory held up her mirror, and within it, faint, vague, indistinct was the countenance of the stranger. Gradually the clouds passed away, the picture grew more vivid and the truth became apparent. He had been a convict and an inmate of the prison under my charge. The recognition, which was mutual and complete, had occupied but a few seconds and as we were still gazing at each other, he gave me a deprecating look, and withdrawing his eyes, continued a conversation with one of the secretaries with tolerable composure. Five minutes afterward he drew me aside, and with his former equanimity fully restored, remarked:
I believe from your countenance that my secret is safe for the present. If on the morrow, I cannot give you sufficient reason for COLtinuing to keep it so, you shall have full liberty to divulge it. In the mean time accept this pledge, that to-morrow I will see you again.'
So saying, he placed in my hands a small parcel, and disappeared before I could reply. His sudden exit was the cause of no little sensation, · and finding myself likely to become a lion in his stead, I soon followed his example. During my homeward walk, my mind was fully occupied with reflections upon this extraordinary occurrence. My first impulse had been to publicly expose so insolent a trespasser upon society. But while I hesitated, his words and still more his manner decided me to forbear. Although a smile of seeming composure had accompanied his remarks, I fancied I could perceive that forced resignation of expression, which marks the countenance of one inured to suffering and