Imágenes de página


No," said Madcap very low; "only-when you stayed away so long-sometimes they would knock hard at my ears to be let in; and when Lady Betty screamed out, 'He's got another sweetheart; he'll never come back-he'll never come back!' I began to say to myself that I was to be punished just as I had punished Frank."

"No," said Mr. Eyre; "others may suffer, but you never shall. It was our first parting; would to God," he added, with sudden bitterness, "that I might never have left you for an hour since the moment that we first met."

"And yet you stayed away all yesterday and last night," said Madcap as they left the high-road for a part of Mr. Eyre's estate that he rarely visited.

"O! a mere matter of business; it won't detain me again,” he said carelessly as through an open gateway they

Rode under groves that looked a paradise

Of blossom, over sheets of hyacinth

That seemed the heavens upbreaking through the earth; .

for high above them closed vast apple-boughs, now all coral and white with blossom, while at their feet the hyacinth of her million bells had woven a carpet of azure, above which now and again a bird swept low, as thinking that in seeking earth he had chanced to light upon heaven.

From overhead the busy coil of winged life struck out a faint aromatic scent, penetrating as the wild far-off sweetness of the blackcap's note. To an exquisite rhythm of sight, sound, and scent Madcap seemed to move as she passed down that long arcade, silent, yet no more dumb under her delight than is a flower whose language is her breath, or a stormy sunset who speaks living words to us by its hues.

Mr. Eyre was no longer by her side, but he was close at hand; and there lies the soul of a woman's rest or unrest, whether the man she loves be within her reach or beyond it—and Madcap did not miss him as she went, counting her treasures up as poor mortals will, when all unknown to themselves the first quivering shaft of disaster threatens them.

"This apple blossom looks well for the crops," said Mr. Eyre to the farmer who had joined him.


'Well, sir, there's the late frosts yet; and Providence don't usually take much 'count of farmers."

“I suppose Providence is not responsible for all your gates being open," said Mr. Eyre, who had enjoyed the ride through

half a mile or so of uninterrupted orchard, but blamed the carelessness that had made it practicable.

"It's just that old Busby," said the farmer, scratching his head, "he must ride through here instead of by the high-road; he's scouring the country about the 'morial for the poor soul up at th' gaol, and every unborn babe in the parish must sign it, or he'll know the reason why."

"Have you signed?" said Mr. Eyre, looking at the man keenly.

"No," said the man sturdily; "the woman drowned the child, and an ounce of fact is worth a pound of talk. Whether th' feyther was up at th' Tower or elsewhere-I beg your pardon, sir,” he added, stumbling in his speech; “and to be sure, you were married to the young mistress then; but somebody she come to look for in this village, that's certain, and who else could it be but the young lord?"

"Pshaw!" said Mr. Eyre, with a gesture of disgust; "it's impossible."

"Young men will be young men," said the farmer, shaking his head; "they don't allus keep in mind Feyther Williams' advice, who

Thought of the future whatever he did,

That he never might grieve for the past.

But lor! sir, what a sight of pleasant things that old chap must have missed!"

Mr. Eyre joined for a moment in the farmer's hilarity, then rode forward to rejoin his wife.

He had scarcely done so when he heard behind him the almost noiseless sound of horses' hoofs coming over the turf; he guessed that they were in pursuit of him, and, turning to her, cried—

"One' gallop, Madcap!" and at a touch the blood-horses stretched fleetly out almost to racing speed, and like winged creatures breasted the long low hill before them, while far behind, like dull, leaden echoes came the pursuing feet.

Had some of Madcap's own wild spirit leaped into Mr. Eyre's veins that day as they rode neck and neck, horses and riders alike exulting in that masterful rush through the soft spring air? Of their own will the horses seemed to stop at the prisongates of Marmiton, but before she could even cast a glance at the building, Mr. Eyre had seized her bridle, and turned her face and his own homewards.

"So ends a happy day," he said, as at the end of the straggling town his keen eye detected a mounted messenger

approaching, who bore in his hand one of those yellow envelopes that in rural lives not infrequently cause a revolution.

"No!" cried Madcap, still breathless, and all her young blood kindled in her by the dare-devil ride; "it is only just begun!"

Prince Charlie, who knew his mistress's every mood, and had carried her bare-backed many a time in glorious spurt over hill and dale, tried to nestle his velvet nose in her hand, at which she threw her arms round his neck.

"O! Charlie," she whispered in one of his big, quivering ears, "don't you feel young to-day-just as we used to long ago?"

Mr. Eyre read his message through twice; then telling the man that there was no reply, asked Madcap if she were too tired to ride farther.

"For it is your birthday, Madcap; and we will spend it together;-but to-morrow-to-morrow

[ocr errors]

Baby Mine.

BABY mine, with the grave, grave face,
Where did you get that royal calm,
Too staid for joy, too still for grace?
I bend as I kiss your pink, soft palm;
Are you the first of a nobler race,

Baby mine?

You come from the region of long ago,
And gazing awhile where the seraphs dwell
Has given your face a glory and glow—

Of that brighter land have you aught to tell?
I seem to have known it-I more would know,

Baby mine.

Your calm, blue eyes have a far-off reach,
Look at me now with those wond'rous eyes.

Why are we doomed to the gift of speech

While you are silent, and sweet, and wise?

You have much to learn-you have more to teach,

Baby mine.

F. L.

Irish Story and Song.

AMONGST Irish grievances, which are neither of a political nor a social character, may fairly be mentioned the Saxon neglect of the native poetry of Erin. The sister isle has never received her due in this respect, and yet the untrodden field is a wide and a rich one. The varying passions of the Celtic blood, and the lights and shadows which so strongly mark the history of Ireland, readily lend themselves to the improvisations of the bard, and the songs of the poet. Unfortunately for the unhappy country which is divided from us by such a narrow belt of sea, there have been many causes to operate against the growth in her midst of a steady native literature. In the time of the early minstrels she had singers whose strains roused the martial soul to patriotic effort, and whose flame-tipped words kept the old baronial halls alive with that energy which is at once the best safeguard of a nation from foreign perils and its guerdon of glory. But the time came when the race was swept away, and in later centuries not only was the use of the ancient tongue prohibited, but the cultivation of the new was declared a felony by law, unless the ancient faith were renounced with the acceptance of the new language. These causes had much to do with the silence of the poetic voice of Ireland; but there is one other, and that a most potent one, which must also be mentioned. No nation which is in a chronic state of disruption or civil war can possibly make progress in the peaceful arts or in literature. Peoples, like individuals, require periods of calm for the development of their powers, whether of art, song, or science; and the history of Ireland records but too sadly and pathetically the absence of such periods. The sword has had more centuries of play in Ireland than in almost any other country, and it is but natural, therefore, that the pen should have rusted, and song have slumbered. At one time, as Dr. Johnson observed, "Ireland was the school of the west: the quiet habitation of sanctity and literature." That was centuries ago, and it was not until a few generations back that the ancient genius of her people began to revive again in the breasts of men who were no unworthy descendants of the bards and minstrels of old.

Of the two branches of the Celtic stock inhabiting these islands, the Gaels of Ireland had the more ancient literature. Historians have

« AnteriorContinuar »