Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

been sultry, but the evening was mild and lovely. Mrs. O'Hara was seated at an open window; her husband sketching with his pencil from a collection of American scenery; the door of the apartment unclosed, and Captain Edwards of the 38th Regiment, a distant relative and favourite companion of O'Hara, entered. Edwards was in the bloom of life ; his manners most insinuating, his conversation lively, his honour unsullied. He had one foible,-call it rather a crime,-he was always in love, and always changing his mistress. So strong had this habit increased, (for it was one,) that although betrothed to a lovely girl, of high family and splendid fortune, in England, and to whom, on his return, he was to be united, yet he could not meet a female with disengaged affections, without endeavouring to win them. Too frequently he succeeded, and if he failed, it was to him a matter of profound indifference. Such was the defect of otherwise a first-rate character. In friendship faithful as in love inconstant; the soldier of chivalry, nothing was too desperate for his daring courage to attempt, and the humanity and

kindness of his disposition had made him the idol of his regiment. He had been two years in America, and, in an encounter with a party of hostile Indians, had most eminently distinguished himself: in this affair he was severely wounded, but recovered to receive the thanks of his commanding officer, and the light company of the 38th Regiment.

Edwards was extremely attached to O'Hara, and from the mutual pleasure each felt in the other's society, a large portion of their time was generally passed together : one circumstance in his friend's conduct appeared unaccountable to O'Hara. Since his return to Boston, his brother-officers had remarked that Edwards had been at times much depressed, but the cause was studiously concealed, and no entreaty could induce him to divulge it, even to those who had hitherto possessed his unbounded confidence. 56 I know not,” said he, as he seated himself, “ how to account for the unusual dulness of my spirits to-day. I have been writing to England to—,” he smiled, and paused," and, although I have always felt that writing or receiving letters exhilarated my sober spirits, yet in this case it has lost its effect. To my taste the wine was sour, though all the others praised it; and the laugh which echoed from the table was loud and unharmonious to me alone. I have come,” continued he, smiling, “ where I shall be relieved ; for you, Mrs. O'Hara, and that lighthearted Irishman, are always cheerful: Ha ! the wine has recovered its flavour."

“ That wine will improve in the next bottle wonderfully,"replied O'Hara;“ but, see, for a wonder, a living creature enters that dismal burying-place." The object of his attention was carefully securing the little gate which had admitted him. He was provided with a spade and shovel, and advanced to the upper end of the green: his appearance was grave and melancholy, and indicated that he had nearly reached the longest span of human existence, He was, probably, eighty years old, and yet, from the temperance of his youth, his step was firm and manly. Stopping beneath the window where O'Hara stood, he viewed the spot for a few moments, took off his plain, brown coat, folded and placed it on the adjacent hillock, and then steadily commenced his labour.

“ It is late in the evening to begin to work,'' said O'Hara.

“ Even so," replied the old man. “ For whom are you making that grave ?"

“ For a maiden who is gathered to her fathers.”

“ Was the woman who is dead young ?” said Edwards.

“ The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth; she was seventeen years

born." So young,” exclaimed Edwards, “ it is a pity that one in the spring of life should be so prematurely hurried to the tomb.”

6. That is the end of all men, and the living should lay it to heart,” said the grave-digger, as he looked steadily at Edwards.

“ Pray,” said Mrs. O'Hara, “ what did the

young woman die of ?“ Grief,” replied the old man.

66 Good heavens !” said Edwards, " what caused it?"

The senior again raised his eyes from the ground, and resting a look of strong expres

sion on the countenance of the inquirer, replied with great emotion, “ One habited as thou art caused her death."

Edwards coloured, and retired from the window.

The interest of the listeners was now powerfully awakened, and O'Hara, not perceiving the embarrassment of his friend, pursued his inquiries with eagerness.' The old man slowly replied to his numerous interrogatories, until the melancholy story was told.

It appeared, that the young woman's family resided in the back lands, three hundred miles from Boston, and possessed a rich and extensive plantation. She was the only daughter of her parents, who had, however, several sons. A small British post established in the vicinity of the farm, had been surprised during a dark and stormy night by a hostile band of Indians. They made a desperate assault on the little garrison, but, by the gallantry of the young officer who commanded, were eventually beaten off: he was, however, dangerously wounded.

O'Hara was startled by a low groan, and,

« ForrigeFortsæt »