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Percy, what are you about ? Mr. Farmer, that blow was not deserved. I, sir,” said he, drawing himself up proudly, “ ducked to the first shot. Many a fine fellow that has bobbed to the first has stood out gallantly to the last. What could you expect, Mr. Farmer, from such a mere boy? And to strike him. Fie upon it! That blow, if the lad had weak nerves, though his spirit were as brave as Nelson's, and as noble as your namesake's, that foul blow might have cowed him for ever."
They are getting ready to fire again,” was now reported from the foreyard.
“Here, Percy," continued the captain,“ take my glass, seat yourself up on the hammock cloths, and tell me if you can make out what they are about."
Two flashes, smoke, and then the rushing of the shot, followed by the loud and ringing report of the brass guns, and of the reverberation of metal were heard immediately beneath me. One of the shot had struck the fluke of the anchor in the forechains.
“ There, Mr. Farmer," said the captain exultingly, “ did you mark that? I knew it-I knew it, sir. He neither moved nor finchedeven the long tube that he held to his eye never quivered for an instant. Oh! Mr. Farmer, if you have the generous heart I gave you credit for, never, never again strike a younker for bobbing at the first, or even the fifth shot.”
“I was wrong, sir," was the humble reply, “ I am sorry that I should have given you occasion to make this public reprimand.”
“ No, Farmer," said the little creole very kindly. “ I did not mean to reprimand, only to remonstrate. The severest reprimand was given you by Mr. Percy himself.”
I could, at that moment, have hugged the little yellow-skinned captain, wicked as I knew him to be, and stood unmoved the fire of the grape of a twenty-gun battery.
But was I not really frightened at the whistling of the shot?
(To be continued.)
“ MY COUSIN.”
Oh! why won’t papa let me marry,
When my cousin has asked me so sweetly;
I could die, to convince him completely.
And more rich to choose from, if I chose ;
Or half such a love of a nose!
There's Sir Jacob, so old, and so yellow,
Would prefer a full purse for a wife, to me; While Harry, dear spirited fellow !
Never mentioned his purse in his life to me. Mr. Parker's so learned, and stupid,
So fond of displaying his poetry; Harry wrote a sweet thing about Cupid,
But I hardly could get him to show it me. Papa says, we must starve if we marry,
And then live, as we must, by our " wits." Some reflection, no doubt, upon Harry :
For pa laugh'd, as he does at his "hits.” I have talked of a cottage ornée,
With green fields for our cattle to browse in, Where Harry and I, every day,
Might wander, and milk our own cows in. Papa said, if the “ piebald breed went,”
We should " always have plenty of duns.'" I am sure I don't know what he meant,
But papa makes such horrible puns! Half yesterday, I and my cousin,
Found the beech-walk delightfully sunny ; And laid future plans by the dozen,
If papa would but give us some money. As to parting-eloping was better,
And after our marriage, repent. I mean send a penitent letter,
To announce it-and ask pa's consent. Harry told me, this morning at three,
(Was ever scheme sweeter, or madder?) To look out of my window, and see
Himself, and a chaise, and a ladder! The danger! I thought not upon it,
But I said, “ Very well-don't forget,”And then went home to trim my straw bonnet
With white-O it looks such a pet ! -
At three we were both at our stand,
For Harry held tight my left hand.
When the hall-door was opened, and, oh! dear, There stood my papa in his dressing-gown.
“ What shall we do, Harry?” “Don't know, dear!" His night-cap, in courteous saluting,
Pa lifted" I can't be refused,
You have just con-descendingly used.”
Harry let go my hand with a sigh, And I mounted, as slow as I durst, And feeliug as if I should die!
1. THE WITCH
Towards the south, and on the coast, is the valley of The inhabitants were always simple and credulous, for there was not a hamlet but had its appropriate witch, who dispensed good or evil, as her vassals might think fit to propitiate her: woe to him who would dispute or disbelieve her power! Few ever yet dreamed of so doing, save only the outlaws of the forest, who, when the king's venison was no longer palatable, made inroads upon the plains; or the wild marauders from the coast, who, in their turn, too, at variance with his Majesty's high prerogative, carried on their illegal traffic, risking life and property on the joyous cast of a smuggler's throw. Such, indeed, owned not the sybil's spells. They were as master spirits to the simple inhabitants. The calm of life had no charm for them; and they dared nothing except when the storm raged, and were as faithful to its presence, as the thunder-clap is to the lightning. It was then that the cavalcade would start from the coast, for it was only then that the vessels would near the shore.
When none else dared stir from the fire-corner, nor even gaze through the lattice, the bold venturer would ride his boat upon the beach, on a huge breaker, and stranded there would haul in his illicit cargo.
The landsmen knew their time, and watched their signals. The wagons were loaded, and the pioneer on the fore-horse of the team, fearlessly defiled through the forest, crossed the morass, or dashed over the fords—as reckless of life, as if eternity were only the morrow of a joyous existence. By the inhabitants they were feared and favoured ; and if aught was ever required of them, their assistance was punctually lent, and as punctually requited. The wildness of such scenes had stirred up some to the same pursuits, which for the listless many bad no charms. The hour, and the time of their appearance—the many that went, and the few that returned, and the warning of their witches, had scared many a brave man from this dangerous course of life; while the very daring of those who did venture upon it, would appal the less courageous, until they deemed themselves, in the comparison, meek, tame, and abject. The very unconsciousness of their power, or their energies, was a source of contentment to them, and the mysteries of a fraternity in one common secret, inclined them to give credence to what was neither natural nor reasonable, till an old withered hag, in a mud cottage, and with the paraphernalia of a brindled cat and a red cloak, would creep into their creeds, and take up so firm a position there, that it would require more than a parish exorcist to cast her out.
By these means the king lost many liege subjects, without perhaps ever missing them. By these means, too, the valley prospered as the harvest of the seas was carried through it. If the pursuit was hot, there were vaults and cellars in the contiguous woods, and woe to the gauger who attempted to penetrate them! The hound that was kept in leash for the deer, might be slipped upon him, or a leaden pill administered from some neighbouring pharmacy, and few doubted its taking effect !!
Credulity was natural to the country, indigenous to the soil. They believed, that what escaped with impunity might pass for lawful, and that an enemy to the trade was one also to the country. The neighbouring magistrate, too, was cautious enough not to interfere with either their creed or their code; and, perhaps, found his advantage in this line of conduct; but in his administration of justice, he made up a due measure of severity in other matters, to atone for
little laxity he might be guilty of in this.
This magistrate, and he now lives in the recollection of many, was an anomaly in nature. To a simple-minded, confiding people, it needed nothing more than the prim look, the proud gait, and the wary circumspection of 'Squire to impose the belief of wealth as boundless as the sea, only infinitely more available, as it well might be. To such, indeed, every palpable proof of insolvency was only an additional motive for confidence. He was never known to give either in alms or in hospitality, because he had nothing to give--and it was a proof of his economy. As a banker, he would lend no money to his neighbours, and it was construed into an evidence of his
prosperity. When neighbouring bankers were tottering, he broke into his own bank, and stole his own money, that it might be told in testimony of his credit, that even this shock did not stagger him : and when he sent his confidential clerk to prison to take his trial for his life, for an act he had himself committed, it was almost tortured into a proof of his clemency, that he had strongly recommended him for mercy! and, lastly, when his neighbours passed his wheat-stacks, that had stood for many a season, and were now all devoured within by vermin, when a hundredth part of them had cheered the whole valley, they did not curse his parsimony, but congratulated themselves, that if the Bank of England should fail, which they thought by no means improbable, 'Squire
would become a Henry Hase, and the village of
the metropolis of the world. Such was this man! A farmer to sow their wheat! a brewer to poison their drink! a banker to appropriate to himself their monies! and, in the commission of the peace, to hold the scales of justice for them !!!
One alone of the whole country withstood the current of general opinion, as to the wondrous wealth of the 'squire. This one, was “old Nell,” “ Nell of the hut.” The precise date of her establishing herself in the country was not remembered. It was believed that she had remained as a sediment on the soil, after the overflowing from the spring-tide of a fair, and was left to grow there, as a weed that no one would be at the trouble of tearing up. She had fixed herself under the coverture of a little turf on a common, and kennelled herself in this hutch, with no other entrance to it than that of a moveable portal, which she shifted at will as the blast might blow. It gave her but little trouble to creep into it, for nature had so doubled her, that her stature was not more than that of a puny child. Squalid and haggard, she had been hunted over the land ; a figure, that even dogs might bark at, and that men, more pitiless than dogs,
Sept. 1835.-VOL. XIV.—NO. LIII.
had yelled after. Her jargon was that of all countries: having never made any place her residence, she had gleaned something from them all; whilst fear, alarm, and persecution, had given a quickness to her thoughts, and words, that, having in them a glimmering of sense, appeared to the ignorant or superstitious more than natural. did not fail to improve upon this idea, and having so well known the effect of fear, sought, in her turn, to inspire it, for no other purpose than to ward off the jeers of the world, and rest her jaded limbs in the unenviable habitation she had chosen. It was strange to behold sturdy labouring lads, and smiling lasses, quietly and fearfully creeping up to hear what old Nell could tell them of “ good hap;" whilst she, not to be won till she was wooed, enacting the coy, would affect a little irritation at the intrusion, that her good favour might only be the more acceptable to them. It required little more than an old nail to be a warranty against ill-luck to those whose even course of life was their best security against misfortune; and nothing but a simple plant to effect a cure that nature had amply provided for. Thus she gradually grew into repute. All of good that came was attributed to old Nell; and if an evil chance befel, why if old Nell had been properly propitiated it would never have befallen.
Happy in their belief, and in their natures too simple to doubt, they reposed their fullest trust, and had the witch never scared their faith by impugning a received opinion, her security had never been disturbed. From the low, the less lowly began to consult her : and not only a farmer's son, but even a townsman of the 'squire's, had been known to approach her. Not that they believed in her-still their pace was as stealthy, and their looks as apprehensive, as those of more humble individuals, when they first came in sight of the hut; but they could not, and therefore did not, believe in her. Nell soon began to assume great importance, and from only announcing what was certain and invariable, entered upon the wider field of futurity. From never going farther into that province than predicting a marriage, that the glances of eyes had already announced, or a good harvest when the seasons had been propitious, she ventured on speculations of what she termed “ hap or mishap;" and here, too, she might not have betrayed herself, had not a predisposition against the 'squire taken such root in her mind, that she assumed a different air, and a wilder tone, whenever he became the subject of the inquiries. He was a lone being—had no child—and his heart had never yearned towards any of his kind. Where then was his wealth to go? was the question of many an evening discussion. Who better could tell this than Nell? Nell had told many truths, and Nell might tell this one too; and if the riddle was worth the solving, it was worth the asking. But who should put the question? It implied a confidence in her power of answering it; and who dared avow such a confidence ? No one could do it so well as Alice. Alice was greeted more, and welcomed sooner, than any one else; and her presence seemed always as a gleam of sunshine to her.
Poor Alice, she was indeed beautiful: the pride of all who knew her ; for she was good and kind, and so lovely to look upon, that most, who in the world are deemed fair, would fade in the comparison. I