« AnteriorContinuar »
THE JACOBIN OF PARIS.
Ho, St. Antoine ! ho, St. Antoine ! thou quarter of the poor,
Canaille !' ay, we remember it, that word of dainty scorn
It was a July evening, and the summer moon shone fair,
A little year, we met once more — yea, 'canaille' met that day,
Ho, CONDE, wert thou coming with thy truant chevaliers,
VI. Come, then, with every hireling, Sclave, Croat, and Cossack: We dare your war, beware of ours; we fling your freedom back. What, Tyrants, did you menace us? Now tremble for your own! You have heard the glorious tidings of Valney and Argonne !
How like the Greek of olden time, who in the self-same hour
VIII. Oh! but it was a glorious hour, that ne'er again may be ; It was a night of fierce delight we never more shall see. That blood-stained floor, that foes' red gore, the rich and ruddy wine, And the strong sense all felt within our work it was divine!
They knew that men were brothers, but in their lust they trod
Oh! but it was a glorious hour, that vengeance that we wreaked,
He used to laugh at justice, that gay aristocrat,
Ho, St. Antoine, arouse thee now! Ho, brave Septembrists all !
What, we who burst the bondage our fathers bore so long
What, we who broke that mighty yoke, shall we quail before Brissot?
No; if we must have leaders, they like ourselves shall be,
No; we will have such leaders as the Roman Tribunes were:
And glory to the thousand proofs that day by day they give
VII. NEARLY a year from the time of Willis Percy's going passed, ere he returned to Wells. On the sudden death of his mother, letters were forwarded to him, but they were months in finding their way to him; and when they were at last received, his departure for home was not delayed one day.
And gladly was he welcomed on his return, he came so full of life and health and vigor, by Florence and the little Rose. For his part, nothing could so much have rejoiced the heart of the mourning son, as did the finding his child-sister under the guardianship of the woman of his love; nothing, at least, but the recital Florence made of his mother's last triumphs, and of the blessing wherewith she, dying, had blessed ber. And when he saw how tender and entire an affection existed between Florence and Rose, and thought of his mother's words, he fancied that all difficulty was now removed in the way to the fruition of his best hope: he looked, but did not speak the expectation, for even as he looked it, she said, 'I cannot tell you how happy I was, even at such a moment, though Rose was sol bing so bitterly, for I could only think, “A mother has blessed me!' If God shall bless us in the way we most hope before we die, Willis, think of it! I have had a mother's blessing too. Oh, how thankful I should be! I am thankful.
It would have been no less vain than unmanly to struggle for conquest with Florence in a matter which had become so essentially one of conscience; and as he now prepared to apply himself with fresh ardor to study, he was greatly enabled to do so; and the conviction became an abiding one, that in no other way could he so well grow in grace and strength, as by trusting patiently to God, to time, and to her, for the future's brightness.
He did not often visit at the cottage school-house after his return. It was not necessary that he should, in order that the mutual confidence between himself and Florence should be kept alive; and both felt that frequent intercourse during the continuance of their present relations would distract their thoughts too much, when they needed to be kept in calmness for the successful pursuit of daily labors. But Willis had taken for his motto, · Hope on,' and its actings were revealed in his cheerfulness and true piety; and so, whenever he and Florence were together, by reason of their resolves, and the discipline to which they subjected themselves, each felt as they parted again that it had been good for them to be together: their hearts had grown stronger meanwhile, their souls had caught another note of the jubilant hymn of Cheerfulness.
But there was a day that came at last when they met in sorrow, and conferred in sorrow, and parted with heavy grief. Since the time when he heard of the relations existing between Clara and Giles Gerard, of
Clara's illness and its shocking effects, there had been a fear and a doubt in Percy's mind to which he longed, yet hesitated, to give utterance. For days he struggled between a sense of urgent duty, and a fear of misconstruction, and a gentle dread, which those who have suffered most know the most of, the dread of giving pain. He longed to say that which might be utterly misunderstood, or altogether disbelieved; that which doubt might turn, a double-edged weapon, against himself. But at last he determined to speak with Florence, come what might, of what she herself had determined to ask him; and it so happened that at the very time when he was laboring to find words for his communication, she took occasion to say:
"Am I wrong in supposing that you have some particular and pressing thought which you wish to make known to me, and do n't know how?'
"No; you are right,' he answered resolutely. “I did wish to speak with you, yet did not dare, for fear my words might be misconstrued. From the relations which you know I should be so proud to form with you, it might be suspected — I mean,' he said more solemnly,' any one but you might suspect there were some other than right motives influencing me to say what I must say to you. You will, I feel convinced, understand the purity of my motives. The fact that Mr. Gerard is still betrothed to Clara, and that, as common report goes, they will shortly be married, impels me to tell you the truth, and it cannot be gainsaid. He is not a man with whom your sister can be happy if she loves truth, or cares for virtue, or if she despises loathsome sin !
He arose as he said this, his face pale with emotion, and his eyes filled with tears. Florence also arose, and said hurriedly, “You speak in such a way, that had you said this of another yet nearer than he, I could but believe you. I am as sure that you tell the truth as that I live. You would certainly not come here with a mere report — and such a report. But mere words would fail to convince Clara. They ought not to. Oh! it would be too awful to take this comfort from her, Percy.
'I would certainly not have dared come to you with the story, had I not feared to keep it from you. I declare, as most solemn truth, in all parts of this land, among the great people who consider him an equal, he is well known as a gambler and a dissolute man. I know too that there are many very proud ladies of his acquaintance who would be glad to assume the relations your sister bears toward him. But if I know Clara Swaine and you, I am convinced you would both shrink, as fiom pollution, from a man like him, whatever the world might think of him.'
A momentary silence followed his words. It was broken by Florence, saying: 'I thank you for the courage you have shown in coming with this story to me. I have already persuaded them to defer the marriage for the present. I will prove my perfect faith in you by speaking of this to Clara.
They parted immediately after.
Florence was leaning against the mantel, her head bent in deep thought. She was pondering Percy's words, and she could not hide from herself the fact that the words had only given form to the fears which in many ways had been suggested to her. As she stood thus and thought, a door opposite to that through which her friend had gone out, opened, and Clara entered. She only stood within the door of the room, and when her sister's raised eyes fixed upon her with most earnest sorrow, she returned the glance with an almost fierce indignation, exclaiming:
"Is it possible that you have tamely listened to, and meekly promised to use the mean weapons of slander against him and me? Shame on you, Florence! Could you not defend an absent friend against calumny?
“You have heard it all, Clara ?'
“Yes; I could not avoid listening. It is certain that listeners never hear any good of themselves.'
Oh! do not say so. It seems a comfort to me even that I have not to tell you that. I do not see how I should ever have found strength to.
• Then you believe what Percy says? I never heard any thing so utterly contemptible.
“At least,' said Florence after a moment's pause — and in that moment she had conquered a deal of indignation — at least you are sufficiently sane and wise to see the necessity to wish to wait a little, before irrevocably deciding about such a matter as this. A man like Willis Percy, let me tell you, Clara — oh! my dear, dear Clara ! — would not breathe such things to me, a woman, your sister, if there were not something in the story.
'I tell you he has some secret motive; or if not that,' she added, selfrebuked by her words, he has been astonishingly credulous. O my God! have I not been tried enough already? You should have ordered him from the house, Florence. It was an insult to us, as well as to Mr. Gerard, that he should presume to come here with such slanderous gossip as that!'
"You are talking far more like a child than a sane woman should. I hope — you will not, I fear, for you seem wofully beside yourself — but I hope you will see that it could but be my most fervent prayer that Mr. Percy has been misinformed. I only charge you, dearest Clara, do not in a blind confidence trust too far; do not, in a romantic confidence, make yourself liable to a long future of regret. I hope as devoutly as you can, that I am unjust in this. If I wrong Mr. Gerard, it is unconsciously, and you ought to know it. If you do not know it, we have lived together to little purpose.' • Yes, I do know it!
Then I charge you, be patient. You can learn no lesson so important as that, Clara, in this life.'
The penetrative powers of Mr. Gerard told him that some unhappy influence was working in the mind of Clara, when he again visited her. And the confidence she had in him would have prevented her, in case of his clear questioning, from withholding the truth of the matter; but he did not choose to work thus, and instead, drew the secret from her almost involuntarily, till she found that he had possessed himself of it entirely.
The question he asked then was, 'What has Florence said to this, or does she not know of it?' And it was thus answered, and with as much eagerness as though Clara were defending her sister against some wronging thought: ‘She repeats the advice which you remember she gave at