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God bless the snow! Isn't it cheerful ! | hearth and roof of your very obedient "the The smooth, white, virgin sheet, as it lies first person singular," as our schoolmaster upon the earth, undulating and sparkling in had it in my day. Her name was—but the moonlight like a diamond prairie, re- that is none of your business; so, for the lieved only here and there in its glittering sake of a name, we will suppose it to have monotong by a skeleton tree, a half-covered | been “Mercy" — that will do — Mercy stone wall, or the leeward side of a bluffy Daven — never mind the surname, it is promontory! And all so still, too—the vel so long since she bore it, that we have vet surface reflecting no sound, emitting no all nearly forgotten it ever belonged to voice, and the surrounding atmosphere so her. passive and quiet, that the echo of even a I had been nigh about two years doing well-meant kiss startles the air with a crispy my prettiest to get Mercy to say Yes to my vibration, and makes the heart of the coy most “honorable proposition,” and all to no maiden leap into her throat! God bless the purpose. She wa’n’t cold-hearted nor offish snow! I love it.
towards me, and always seemed glad to see And I have good reason, too, as you shall me, and sorry to have me go away; and I learn, if you will have a little patience; for know she never would consent to ride out, . as I am a married man, and a happy fellow or walk out, or sit up with any other of the for a countryman, I am compelled by the forty-nine beaux that beset her blessed home; force of facts to associate all my joyous do- and yet, to save my picture, I couldn't get mestic reflections, and garnish all my retro- her to listen to such a thing as love or spective congratulations, with the ante-me- matrimony. I could talk to her by the morial of a Connecticut snow-scene. hour on all other subjects, and her dear
Ten years ago I was rayther a youth, yet voice would respond to mine in tones like as ardent and uncompromising in self-conceit | the notes of a sweet-toned instrument, and as any thrice-crowned veteran; but the over- her eye would brighten with discourse, and ruling genius of my destiny-the star of all her soul become absorbed as our theme went my ambition—the food of my most glowing on; but when I spoke of love, it always seemed aspirations—the magic wand that could, on as though a dash of cold water had been a motion, quell my pride, and cause my | thrown upon a cheerful fire, quenching at vanity to shrink back into the insignificance once both light and warmth. To press her of just nothing, was a fair damsel of a neigh- hand even at the hour of the last goodboring village, five miles from the paternal night was a feat requiring no little nerye VOL. III.
and to have offered a kiss would have been leaping a chasm, which the eccentric winds fatal presumption.
had created by piling across the road a seWe had just had a regular old-fashioned | ries of consecutive snow-drifts. It was glonorth-east snow-storm: remember, it is ten rious ! years ago I am writing about. The snow “Hello!” This word, uttered in an elonfell for about two days and two nights, gated stentoria, was the first sound, save the covering every thing, as it seemed, but the jangle of the bells and the sharp whistle of chimney-tops, through which the blue smoke the iron sleigh-shoes, as they cut their way curled up as naturally and quietly as though through the unbroken snow, that I had heard nothing unusual had happened; and with thus far in my brisk ride. So I reined up, this exception, very little of animation was
and, casting a glance in the direction of the apparent any where. The cattle and pigs
sound, I saw, in the combined effulgence of were safely housed; man had little to do the moon and the white earth-covering, a out o' doors in the country at such a season, something answerable in shape to a human and even the farm dogs couldn't get outside head. of the kitchens to disturb the pervading “Hello yourself!" I answered: “what silence of nature with their useless barking. | are you meant for, any way?"
The storm was over, and the sombre "Well, my father meant me for Ike canopy of clouds that had hung for three Jenkins, and I s'pose mother didn't object," days over the earth had been swept away answered the head. by a bracing north-wester; evening was “What, Ike, is that you? What on earth coming on; and as the sun went down with are you doin' here, up to your chin in a & chilly, sparkling look, away off in the dis- snow-bank ?" tant south-west, as though in search of a “I'm all right,” says he ; " the snow-bank warmer climate, the moon, just at the full, is one side o' the fence, and I'm on t'other. lifted the upper edge of her huge circle where you goin'?" above the eastern horizon. Wearied with Sure enough, there he stood on the lee the siege which the storm had inflicted upon side of the fence, and looking a little beyond, all things mortal during its fieree stay, I | I saw the outline of his father's old farmlonged to go out into the fresh, pure atmo- house, looming up like a huge snow-bank, sphere, and, with the promise of a glorious in the moonlight. Not caring to reveal my night before me, it was impossible to resist true mission, I answered his question evathe inclination; so, although it was not my sively. regular night of visitation, I determined to "Oh," said I, “I'm bound out to break harness young bay, put him before the the road; nothing particular in hand. Why " pung,” and make an evening of it with do you ask ?” Mercy.
“What say you for a drive with the gals ? No sooner said than done. In ten min- We can get up a party in half an hour that'll utés I was on the road, going at a swift rate startle the old people and make the snow over the drifts, to the merry music of a quiver.” double string of sleigh-bells. Whew! how “ I'm agreeable. Who'll you get ?" said I. we went! My pony, just released from the | “You go on and get Mercy, and on the tedious stall, was as happy in the opportu-way step in to the Wardle's, and tell Bet nity of stretching his legs, as I in the con- I'm a-coming ; get her brother Joe out with templation of an evening's courtship. On his cutter, and send him after his flame; you we went, like a locomotive, through banks, know who, or, if you don't, he does. I'll over bare places, and across bridges and drive over to Smith's and Platt's; and at brooks; now upon the frozen ground, now eight o'clock we'll all meet at Goodwin's up to the flanks in a snow-heap, and anon Corner.”
My friend's programme was like a well- turned in the same direction, where we dismade pie crust, short and well mixed, and, covered, by the light of a fire blazing upon to my mind, there was nothing in it that the hearth—there was no other light in the required alteration. So the arrangement room—that it was already half-past seven was ratified with the making, and, giving o'clock. She again looked from the window; “bay” the reins, he was off again like an the prospect was indeed formidable, but then arrow. T
the glorious moonlight made it inviting ; she Half an hour found me side by side with wanted to go, but felt a little timid, and my own heart's joy and torment, and all my finally half declined. But I told her I had road-side errands successfully accomplished. made a promise in her name, and she must I told Mercy of our brief-planned sleighing- not be the one to make me break it, besides party, and that I had promised to "plant" robbing the party of its brightest attraction; her at “Goodwin's Corner” at eight o'clock so she at last consented to go, and tripped precisely, at which time and place the ren- up stairs to get the furs together, while I dezvous was to take place. Mercy looked sat before the blazing hickory, as it went on first into my eyes to assure herself that I was burning and crackling, and sending out serious, next out of the window, as if con- warmth from the hearth of that little parlor. templating the hazard of the undertaking, This was before our farmers had introand then at the gaunt, old-fashioned clock, duced into their houses the modern innovawhich had stood ticking in the south-west tion on good old country customs—the ancorner of that little sitting-room for at least thracite coal-grate. I love a hickory fire, half a century.
especially in the country, it seems more Oh, how well I remember the heavy, mea natural and appropriate than the little peck sured click of that old clock ! How many measure of scorching, imprisoned coals, an hour has its monotonous sound been min-whose very breath seems to shoot through gled on my senses with her sweet voice, the bars, burning, not warming, the atmoseeming, the while, like the stern beating of sphere. Coal-grates will do for the city, the pulse of Time over the strings of a harp! where every thing is done by the small There it stood, the brass pendulum swinging measure ; but, for the country, give me a incessantly to and fro within the old mahog- frank, well-seasoned pile of good hickory and any case, now black with age; the face, once a clean bearth. In that, there's something tastily gilt, now scarred with time; the long that speaks of freedom and cheerfulness; the iron fingers moving ever, ever forward, never generous blaze shoots up and athwart the pausing, never returning, but still austerely chimney, as though, like every thing else, it pointing to the moment latest past, and with likes to have its own way and plenty of room a short clucking whisper announcing audibly to move in ; a pleasant illumination pervades the death of each as it went by into eternity. the apartment, ventilation goes on and from There it stood, the old clock, and there it the bank of solid, glowing coals which lie had stood for fifty years gone, and there it beneath the flame comes forth a genial, stands yet, looking gravely down on that healthy warmth, instead of the close, hot cheerful little parlor ; and still, like a soldier atmosphere begat of an anthracite coalat his practice, marking time. si sile grate. “We take no note of time but by its logs"
the It was by such a fire that I whistled mysest
to self into a brown study ten years ago in that and here am I wasting time on an episode little parlor; and I thought that if Mercy about an old clock, when I should be writ- would only be mine, or if I could only be ing of the sleighing-party. c h ers, and we could live together in that same
Mercy looked up into the old familiar face "little room, with the same old clock for a of the time-piece, and my eyes instinctively companion, and just such a fire on the hearth
of a cold winter's night, the winds might another, just, as it seemed, to tantalize the whistle and the storms blow to their heart's beaux, and make their mouths water. This content.
ceremony was hardly over before another This five minutes' fantasia of mine was cutter drove up, and then another, making broken by the return of my sweetheart, the party complete; and, after another shakarmed cap-a-pie for a contest with the keen | ing of hands and another volley of effeminate north wind; and I thought she never looked | kisses, the male members of the party took prettier than at that moment. She wore a a glass of cider-and-ginger round, and the neat, well-fitting, and well-padded riding- girls were treated each to a sip of “perfect hat of black velvet, ornamented with a single love," the approved cordial of the time. black ostrich feather, à la Kossuth, as we Every thing being now ready for the drive, should say in these days; a “boa” of lynx a question arose as to who should lead off. fur, and of comfortable-looking proportions, I proposed that this post of honor should be was thrown about her neck, above the cloak, given to the oldest couple of the party; but, and her little feet were fortified with a pair as we were just casting about to find out the of neat, fur-bound, weather-defying rubber patriarchial two, my near neighbor, Isaac over-shoes. Her mother followed, bringing Jenkins, Esq., suggested that, as I had come the indispensable and capacious muff; and, out expressly to “break the road," it wouldn't thus accoutred, we jumped into the sleigh, be courteous to baffle my intention, and wrapped the buffalo about our shoulders, therefore I must be permitted to play the received a parting injunction from the good | | part of pioneer. This suggestion was reold dame, charging us to be “very careful,” sponded to with a most unanimous and to which we, of course, answered, “ Yes, | hearty approval by all present, except myma'am," and set forth.
self; and remonstrance proving vain, Mercy The air was clear, crispy, and keen, with and I took the lead. All I can say is, that just wind enough to make it racy, but not if there were any slow horses behind us, unpleasant. My pony seemed glad of the they had to work up to time that night. chance to use his limbs again, so I gave him | My companion and myself were always pretty much his own way, while I chatted agreed on one point, we were both fond of with Mercy. There we sat, side by side, riding after fast horses. She was vivacious, wrapped in a single envelope, like a parcel of light-hearted, and gentle, but liked any thing dry goods, just purchased, and neatly done better than sentimentality; the slow-coach up; her rosy cheek was within a hand's system never agreed with her temperament; breadth of my own, and those ruby lips, so in her younger days, she was always seektempting and so near! and yet, for the worth ing for either the sublime, the impetuous, of my life, I dared not touch them, nor even or the impulsive; and I often thought that, utter a word of that which I most longed to if I could catch her in a moment of extreme say. So there we sat, gliding swiftly through peril, and romantically bear her in safety out the glorious moonlight, talking gossip, and of danger, this would be the way to win her. laughing at our own nonsense.
And she was worth the winning, too; for, Ten minutes brought us to the rendezvous, with all her girlish spirit, she had a soul of two miles from home. There we found the angelic intelligence and sweetness, and a mind projector of the expedition, with his cher as pure as the snow over which we were aimé, Betty Wardle, and her brother Joe, gliding. She is my wife now. You shall with his inamorata, already in waiting ; two | know how it came about. more couples were yet wanting to complete | I can't tell how many times I had asked the party of ten, so we all went into the her to become my wife, but it was a great tavern, shook hands heartily all round, and many. She never said no to my entreaties, the girls threw away fictitious kisses on one but invariably turned my suit aside with a