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would not lose my recollection of such goodness and beauty, for much that the world could offer. I would close the book of life, were not the portraiture of such excellence so engraven there, that amidst all that is grim and ghastly, it would seem as a purer spirit, intended to infuse a purer nature.
Such a one, indeed, have I seen, and neither Alice nor herself would suffer by the comparison. But, believe me, that he who could appreciate the excellence would pause ere he de. scribed it, lest the apes of the world should insult the original by their mimicking of its attributes.
Such was Alice, the humblest peasant girl; and if all the pride of the land had passed before Nell's hut, they would not have won a glance from her, if it were to have been stolen from Alice. It must have been a bleak day that prevented her from visiting Nell, and the meal must have been less than a scanty one that she did not participate with her. The wrinkled hag would protrude her sinister appearance in expectation of her she tarried. Who then so fitting to woo the witch, and win the secret from her ?
In silence the group approached the hut, crouching under the protection of a simple maiden. Nell ruffled her plumage as she saw them advance. Things were indeed changed with her, when lads and lasses stood quailing before her in their holiday suits, and she strutted towards the portal, which as she could almost fill, was the spot best fitted to add to her importance. “Good be wid ye, Alice-good be wid ye. Ye be alwa' welcome to ould Nell.”
“ Thank ye, thank ye, from my heart," answered the maiden ; “ no tones are kinder to me than yours, Nell, excepting always young Frankland's, when he returns with success; but that is no matter now -we want to know something, Nell!” And as she spoke, the group gathered closer to her, trying to protect themselves, by clinging to the sanctuary of her gown. “We want to know something, Nell ! Walk twice round the kettle, and turn the horse-shoe and the seaweed, and tell us who will have the 'squire's gold when he's gone ; if, indeed, he is to go ?”
“ Who!" answered the hag in a different voice, whilst she mantled with rage, “ who but the crows will have his carrion? As much good shall come from his gear, as comes from the toad-stool in the field, or the shark's jaw when cast ashore.”
“ Out upon the old carle!” screamed all the voices but Alice. “Out upon her for a lying hag !” and all the projectiles that were offered to their hands, drove poor Nell from her prominent position to the furthermost angle of the hutch.
Bold in their disbelief as they had been before timid, they hurled their imprecations after her, and scarcely heard her muttering, “ Foul befa' ye-foul befa' ye! When he has snapp'd the tether to some o’ ye, ye'll think again of old Nell. But all thegither sha' not have so much pity from me, as one tear that must fa' fra poor Alice's eyes.”
The prognostication boded evil, but Alice had not time to heed it; all she thought of was Nell, and nothing but her tears and entreaties could have saved either the hut or its inmate. “ For mercy sake forbear. In the name of
“ Blaspheme not, Alice. What can Heaven have to do wid such a hag? besides, she boded ill o' thee ?" and they would have returneux to their work of destruction.
“Go, then," cried Alice, opening the way she had before obstructed, “ taste of vengeance, and tell me if it be sweet ! Shame on ye all ! she told ye what she thought, and what ye had asked ! wisdom is alwa' witchery to those that understand it not.” The simple truth from her sweet lips carried conviction with it, and as she added, “Come with me all, come with me,” they instinctively followed. Still, as they retired, “Out upon the hag!" was indistinctly heard, as their courage inwardly contended with the mastery they were bowing to; but as their mutterings ceased, they gradually succumbed.
It was indeed a trial ; all else on earth she might have questioned, and preserved her sway; but the 'squire's gold, with the evidence of it they had always before their eyes, was beyond her control. It was instantly whispered abroad that she was guilty of this heresy, and the constable and the beadle received their orders to unsettle her forthwith. Twice they arrived at the hut for this purpose, but the arm of Alice was always stretched out to protect her; and an army of beadles could not have resisted her sweet voice praying them to forbear. With her too young Frankland would join in entreaties—he was beloved, because he was brave and generous, and because, too, he was betrothed to Alice. From week to week she was reprieved-it mattered little whether she went or stayed—no one passed near her, if it was not to fling a scoff or a jeer at her. None, save only Frankland and Alice, who, as the world blew hard upon her, afforded her the protection of all the kindness they could.
It is indeed a goodly sight, when all the fiercer passions and propensities of man are rendered tame and submissive by—the love of woman. Thus was it with Frankland. His spirit was on the winds, and his course in life on the waves, yet the love of Alice so tempered all his thoughts and actions, that though he lived in open defiance of the laws, he fancied that he wronged no one; and if in his next voyage he should be successful, why, with the little hoard he already had, he could manage to give up the traffic, if it was unlawful, and make Alice-God bless her !-as happy as she deserved to be. He must contrive to raise her a little above what she then was, at least in wealth—so the pride of his love prompted him ; a few acres would suffice ; but as her merits rose in his recollection, he increased them in number, till he would have placed her as far above the rest in possessions, as she was in beauty. Many a day dream thus fitted before him. He thought of kindness to her, to Nell, to all indeed who might need it. Could his trade be unlawful, when so many would benefit by it? It was not-no, it could not be.
In the meantime a circumstance occurred that awakened him from such dreams to a dreadful reality. The 'squire died suddenly. The reality of what had tortured all so long, must soon be known. He died, and what Nell had predicted was but too true. The tale was soon told. Ruin stared every one in the face ; all at least who had laid up their hard-gotten earnings, either as provision for themselves or their children. In the bankruptcy of the man was involved that of the whole population. The news reached Frankland on liis arrival on
the coast. All that he possessed was lost; he dared not tell it, lest it should demand as great a sacrifice from Alice, and that she should wed him with nothing. How little did he know her pure nature ! how cleansed it was from all the dross of worldly interest !
His fate was quickly cast-one throw might redeem all. Alice knew that a solemn league bound Frankland to the crew, and that the time of service was unlimited—he had never yet fixed the date. What better opportunity of so doing than the present! It would at least mitigate the pain of parting! “ Alice, sweet Alice, dost thou love me !” She looked up, and breathed loud. “Turn, then, thy dear eyes upon me, and let not thy tears dim them, for it is the last parting we shall know here."
“ How,” she replied—“ how!” and the recollection came to her of what Nell had said, for she entwined herself closer around him. " If all that was told must come true, the tether shall be snapped, and that can never be, while I have strength to cling to thee."
“ You misunderstand me,” he rejoined; “I only mean, that before the next moon our league will be dissolved, and never more renewed ; one more voyage to France, and I leave thee no more. me once, love, and bless the enterprize !"
That was more than she could do ; if her feet did not falter, she could not so far trust her voice, but she loosened her hold, and turning from him, lowly ejaculated, “ It must be so-it must be so !" as if her destiny was directing her.
Thus he left her. Every thing favoured. The crew was on the shore, and the vessel on the sea. The breeze was fair and fresh, and carried them quickly across the channel. The freight was shipped, and why should they tarry? Though the moon was up, the weather was lowering; and if it did but last them across, they should have such “a run as the best man had never seen. Their hearts beat high, and Frankland urged them on. They put out to sea. The weather was dark enough for the devil's worst deeds, and it lasted them through. They drove their boats in upon the shore. They had signalled the wagons from sea—they were there with their best tackle. Not a moment was lost. The cargo was landed and loaded. Frankland took his post on the fore-horse—the post of danger, and of difficulty. With the best mettle of man and horses they mounted the beach. The weather was then beginning to clear. They pursued their course over the bleak and barren heather, when in a moment three lights in succession, from known points, told them that they were observed. They quickened their pace, but the tread of horses reached their ears, and gained upon them; a shot was fired at them; another—and another—and the last took effect, though aimed at random-it was upon Frankland. He did not fall. They had struck into a winding path, at a fearful pace, and for awhile their pursuers missed them, whilst they reached a halting place that was near at hand. Frankland was taken from his horse, bleeding profusely. They had hardly time to staunch the blood, for he was wounded grievously, when the watch announced that the dragoons were again nearing them.
“We must on,” said one of his companions, as he turned to Frankland, adding, “wilt thou go with us? or-you know the rest—the dragoons are on us."
“ Take me with you-take me with you,” said the dying man; “ and here Will, and William, ye were always milder than the rest," and his voice was failing him—" ye do know—where I would be taken-does thee not, Will? Get thee upon Moonshine-he was always sure-footed when there was need—and I mind now how he mounted the beach, as if time pressed;—aye, now, gie him his headhe knows where I would ha' gone, I'se warrant; and Williams, lay me up on the wagon, and ye know when ye may lay me down—that's where I shall be minded ; and see that ye whistle when ye come to the ford; but mind, ye carol not as I did when things went well-ye must not belie the sorrowfu' tale—there's enough to bear without that. Whistle twice-but she'll sure to be there the first time. So, now lay me up—50—and I shall rest. Let me but see her once more-let me bless her,”—and raising his voice to the highest pitch he then could, exclaimed, “Oh, Heaven ! if thee canst not grant me this, do thee bless her for me,”—and so he sank.
The party moved onward—pursuit was hot, but the path they took was intricate. As they descended into the valley they increased their speed, for should they once gain the river, they thought they might baffle them. They might cross, and not show the trace of their passage to their pursuers,
As they approached the ford the whistle was given-once-and twice—they dashed in, and crossed with safety. On the other side, and near the cottage, stood Alice; she knew it was not his whistle-she heard not his voice. They stopped. “Where are ye, Alice ?" No
“ He's worse than ill, I fear.” She seemed to know it. They lowered him down-she was as a statue, save that a huge tear stood in her eye, and seemed as if it could not fall. They felt his heart—it had ceased to beat—some one mercilessly said so, and she fell extended upon his body. The tear gushed forth, and-dare I tell it ?-her reason with it!
Thus it was they left her, as the letter of the warning was com. pleted. How she was severed from him I know not. When it was accomplished, she was seen creeping up to the hut of old Nell; she crawled into it, and never again would be enticed from it—a witless thing, whose words in her turn would have been an oracle in the neighbourhood, if Providence had not so afflicted her that her only utterance was an hysteric laugh!
SCENE-DRYBURGH ABBEY BY MOONLIGHT. The Muse of Scotland leaning over the tomb of Scott, her head crowned
with cypress, and a harp lying at her feet—solemn music is heard in the distance, after which the Muse repeats the following
With one deep dirge of woe from voice and string !
chorus of voices sing the following
He's gone from the halls that resounded with mirth,