Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

down the stair-way as the toilsome descent continues; and observe in the masses of the hair those pearls, unsought and uncared for, now that lust has brought forth death!

Hurry ! hurry!' whispers the phantom with the light, the day dawns and men will be stirring !'.

How can I hurry,' hisses the grizzly phantom tottering below him, with this cursed body on my shoulders ? Why could n't you let the girl go in peace ?'

'I did n't kill her!' cries the other; "'t was none of my doing!'

"Ha! but she would have killed you but for me; she would have killed you in one minute more!'

Well ! well! Hurry! hurry! for day-light is coming, and men will be stirring !'

"What will you tell them,' cries the phantom with the burden ; 'what will you say when they ask where your ward is ?'

‘Let us bury her first with dispatch, and hide her clothes and her cursed jewels, and then we will consider what we shall say.'

• Murder will out, though-murder will out. Why were n't you satisfied with me, without bringing us to this, through your cursed fancy for a pair of white arms and a round shoulder !!

“'T was the jewels, I tell you, the jewels! Who ever saw before such diamonds, such opals, such pearls! I never intended to kill the girl.'

'No, but she meant to kill you! She'd have done it but for me.'

'I wish she had !' groaned the man; "on my soul, I wish she had! But why do you stop at the foot of the stairs ? We must get her out of sight before the day-light!'

Get her out of sight!' sneered the hag, 'get her out of sight! I tell you she will be found if you sink her a thousand feet!'

With her back to the other, the woman could not see as I could, how dark his brow grew at these words, and what a dangerous light glowed in his eyes as he looked down upon her. Still he only said: “Hurry! hurry! for daylight comes and men will be stirring.'

Then the phantoms raised the body between them, bore it slowly past me, without heeding my presence, and passed with it into the kitchen.

Drawn by an impulse perfectly irresistible, I followed softly.

They bore it toward the door leading to the cellar-stairs, and in doing so passed the fire-place. Here the old man paused and uttered a low ejaculation, which caused the other to drop her end of the burden to the floor. As it fell, the pearls knotted in the hair clashed together, but the twain took no heed of the sound!

The old man pointed with a grim glee to the marble hearth-stone. "There is a hollow beneath that stone,' he said, 'that I provided long ago for the concealment of precious things. We can place it there without fear of detection. Quick-lime will keep our secret for us. Only hurry! But wait till I get the bar.'

Hastily the figure with the light glided through the cellar-door, leaving its companion with darkness and the body. He soon returned, bearing a bar so like the one I knew to be in my study, that only the keenest longing to see the dreadful end restrained me from returning to ascertain if it were still in its place. He inserted one end of the bar between the stone and the flooring, and with an almost supernatural strength turned the slab over. I saw beneath it a dark and empty space, more than sufficient to contain the body.

They lifted it and placed it within. Then the old man made as though he would replace the stone.

• Wait,' cried the woman, 'I must have those pearls !' and she stooped over the vault.

As she did so, he swung upward the bar and brought it down full upon her head, into which it sank with a dull crash!

• Dead men tell no tales !' he whispered, as he turned the stone back to its place. It fell with a loud reverberation, and lay as before, save that it was cracked directly across the centre.

I was broad awake, raising my head from my folded arms. My lamp had burned out, but a cold, clear dawn breaking through the windows showed me the otherwise unchanged aspect of my study. Before me on the table lay a pile of cigar-ashes. At my elbow stood the half-filled bottle. Within easy reach was the bar I had fetched from the cellar. Grasping this, with my nerves strung to the very highest pitch, I hurried to the kitchen. With some labor I pried up the hearth-stone.

In the shallow pit before me lay some bits of rags, two piles of bones, and a mass of night-black hair, from which peeped out, here and there, fair pearls.

I dropped the stone, and threw down the bar, and through the cold, gray dawn I fled the house, nor looked behind me as I fled.

SONNET; TO E. H. V. B.

The many lives are spent in earnest doing,

To earn the present good they think and dare,
The few are satisfied with idle wooing

Of that which may be : cowards these and rare.
This is a working world which we inherit,

No garden dressed, no ultimate, vain show,
And workers feel it — men of active merit;

Who, knowing Right, are acting what they know.
From all the earth goes leaping up to heaven,

The clang and clamor of the busy throng
The highest praises thus to God are given,

In hallelujahs of loud Labor's song.
So we are marching, with a will and might,

Through pleasant Duty to the gates of light.

[ocr errors]

THE PRESIDENT AT THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT.

WHERE the city of his name

Rises, fair as Freedom's dream,
Where that marble shaft of shame

Crowns Potomac's lordly stream ;
Stood the country's loyal chief;

Ruler in her camps and halls,
And with mingled hope and grief,

Gazed on those unfinished walls.
Blended with the rising blocks,

Tier on tier, successive stand,
Carved from the eternal rocks,

Emblems rare from every land.
All the grateful sister-States

Pledge their faith and speak their pride,
From Nevada's golden gates

To the Atlantic's rock-bound tide.
From the land of Shakspeare's strain,

Where Napoleon shook the earth,
Where on Marathon's red plain,

Grecian freedom found new birth;
Where Columbus, for a chain

Gave a world to old Castile,
Where the Cæsar's purple rein

Drove o'er Rome his chariot-wheel ;
From all tribes and tongues and powers,

Where his unapproached name
Strengthens Freedom in her towers,

Belts the round earth with his fame;

Grouped in massive order fair,

Stand those gifts of grace and art;
The whole world is telling there,

How he owns the whole world's heart.
There, too, in enduring stone,

Old Kentucky plights her word ;
* First to join the Union won,

Last to fail it with her sword.'
Patriot words, a patriot's part,

Pledged there in her better day,
Ere she lost her loyal heart,

Lost the trumpet-voice of Clay.

By the God who led her sires,

By the faith recorded there,
She shall yet renew her fires,

Give again her sword, her prayer.

Noble land, whose mighty breast

Beats to honor, shrinks from shame;
Wake! great Mother of the West,

Lead the way to glorious fame.

THE STREET OF SAINT APOLLONIA.

PERSONS REPRESENTED.
Antonio VIEIRA,
JACINTA, his daughter,
Rita, Jacinta's nurse,
ARTHUR Hamilton, an Englishman.

SCENE — Lisbon. A SMALL terrace paved with brick, overlooking the city, with the Tagus beyond ; the

sun is setting at the mouth of the river, and the vault of the sky is flecked with clouds of ruby color and gold. A door opens on the terrace; within is seen a room poorly furnished, with another door opening on the street of Saint APOLLONIA, which is steep and stony. On the terrace there are many flowers growing in pots of red clay, rows of tomatoes and yellow pumpkins, and strings of herbs and fruits drying. Jacinta sits there on a low chair, fanning herself ; she wears a gown of lilac calico, with a muslin handkerchief pinned closely on her bust; in her black hair, a carnation. Jacinta sings :

· Virgo singularis,
Inter omnes mitis,
Nos culpis solutos,
Mites fac et castos.'

ARTHUR HAMILTON comes through the house upon the terrace.
JACINTA, (starts and rises :) Senhor, in what can I serve you ?

ARTHUR, (in English :) Senhora, excuse this intrusion; it was your voice that drew me here; I could n't help it.

JACINTA: I do n't understand your Excellency.

ARTHUR: Yes, your smile is heaven. I toiled up this break-neck street, wondering where it could lead; it is the strait and narrow way. ... (I am an ass.)

JACINTA : Truly I do n't understand you, Senhor.

ARTHUR: Your eyes are like the sea — changeable, deep and mysterious. Now that you are serious, they are killing me; the ripple of your hair, and the dimple on your chin drive me wild! You are the most beautiful woman in the world, and if I do n't see you again, and talk to you too, I am a fool not fit to live. (He bows and leaves the terrace.]

Jacinta, (after a few moments of silence :) O Rita! O Rita ! did you see that Englishman ? [Rita comes from the house. She is old and corpulent, has very bright,

black eyes, and gray hair, combed à la chinoise, into a knot on the top of her head.] Rita: What Englishman ? What are you saying, child?

JACINTA : He saw the door open, I suppose, and came in; I think he was an Englishman, because I could not understand any thing he said; he talked very strangely, and I was a little frightened, but he had eyes as blue and soft as Our Lady's, and his hair was more dazzling than that sun. :

Rita: I had just stepped to the neighbor's for a minute; but I shall not leave the door open again, I promise you, no matter how warm it may be ; we want no Englishmen here with hair like the sun, nor any thing of the kind.

SCENE SECOND — Three months later. JACINTA is sitting in the room, by the door of the terrace; on a large frame

before her is stretched a breadth of blue satin, on which she is working a wreath of flowers.

ARTHUR, (on a chair at the threshold :) But this is Sunday: I thought if I came here to-day, you would look at me instead of that everlasting embroidery. Moreover, we are commanded not to work on Sunday.

JACINTA: This is not the same work I do in the week ; this is for the poor.
ARTHUR : What do the poor want with embroidered satin ?
JACINTA : I do n't give them this; Rita sells it, and gives them the money.

ARTHUR : But we are commanded not to work at all on Sunday; nothing is said about the poor.

JACINTA : Father Eusebius told me I might; he is a very good man, and knows every thing. Beside, what could I do all day, if I did not do this?

Arthur: Do n't you go to church ?

JACINTA: Rita and I lock up the house, and go to mass at six o'clock every morning; then we come home to breakfast ; after that I am at my embroidery all day long, except on Sunday and feast-days, when I sometimes read the life of St. Theresa, or ‘Meditations on Sin ;' they are books Father Eusebius gave me, but I can't read them all day.

ARTHUR, (dryly :) I should think not.

JACINTA : Perhaps you would like to read them, now that you understand Portuguese so well. But you have never told me, though I asked you the other day, how you have learned it so quickly.

Arthur: I have been obliged to travel about the country for the last three months. I had a servant with me, who could not speak English ; and then I had books which I studied. I was very anxious to learn, on purpose to talk with you. But I speak very badly still ; you must teach me.

Jacinta: I will; yes. What is your name?
ARTHUR: Arthur Hamilton. Arturo, I think, you would call it.

« AnteriorContinuar »