Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

THE PHANTOM SKIRMISH. First, how Jem, the gardener, had seen (For the Parterre.)

a blue light dancing in the chancel

window of the old church on the very “ Fierce spirits of those stormy times

night that farmer R

-'s eldest son got When civil strife disturbed the land, so drunk at market, that, on his road Why at the clash of midnight chimes, home, he fell from his horse and broke Appears in arms your spectral band ?

his neck, to the great grief of his father, “ Your armour in the moonlight gleams, but to the inexpressible joy of the whole

Your white plomes in the night breeze wave, village. Secondly, how the devil, in
Why thus disturb the silent night;
Does hate extend beyond the grave?

the time of his grandfather (?), was wont

to dance every night round a huge “Why in the pale moon's gentle light thistle in the paddock; and, lastly, how

Do ye in arms again appear; Is not for ever hushed the strife

the shepherd's son Dick had been almost Of Puritan and Cavalier ?” MS.

terrified to death by the appearance of a

strange animal, which, after changing My uncle was a warm-hearted and hos- itself successively into a calf, a hog, and pitable man, with a leaning towards a goat, finished the hellish pantomime superstition. A ghost story was his by vanishing in a flame of fire! During delight, and he would listen to a narra- these recitals there were plenty of ohs! tive of goblins and fairies with intense and ahs! you may be sure; but one of interest. Many a cunning fellow took the company, whose organ of credulity advantage of this, and often invented was not so fully developed, took the tales of people “coming again” (the liberty of expressing his total unbelief re-appearance of persons after death is in such “ stuff,” as he termed it, and thus termed in Berkshire) for his edifi- rashly ventured to assert that these tales cation. One fine evening in the spring were invented by old women, who reof the year 17–, my revered relative, peated them so often that they at length and four friends, were sitting within the believed them to be true, and persuaded little bow-window of his house at C-, others to do the same. The unbeliever chatting on various subjects, when my was a young man, named George N-, uncle entered upon his favourite theme, who had arrived the preceding day from and treated his guests with two or three Oxford, where he had been pursuing his narratives of undoubted authenticity. studies. He was of a romantic turn,

ܕܙ

and wrote poetry for the magazines; but, ness to make the trial, some of the comthough he could have relished a bit of pany might be upon the watch to play true German diablerie, these village him a trick; but he inwardly determintales only excited his laughter.

ed to be near the spot at the particular My uncle took several rapid whiffs at hour; not that he anticipated any such his pipe, and then attacked the scoffer in a sight as a combat of spectres, but right earnest. He shewed that to be- merely that he might have a good laugh lieve in ghosts was a part of the christian against his host at breakfast the next creed; that from time immemorial these morning. The church clock had struck supernatural visitants were permitted to eleven before the party broke up, and warn the good and terrify the wicked, George N- was conducted to his chamand that, in fact, to be sceptical on such ber. a subject argued a leaning towards Soci- “Good night, George,” said his host, nianism, and other heresies. The stu- smiling, “you will find your bed and a dent saw that it was of no use to attempt sound sleep, better than sitting on a to controvert the opinion which his host stile watching the manæuvres of spectre had maintained in such orthodox style, visitants-good night.” and, before long, was himself an atten- George smiled, and closing his chamtive listener to the numerous ghost stories ber door, threw himself on the bed withrelated by the company.

out taking off his clothes, for he found “ Ay, ay,” said mine uncle, as one that the ale he had drank had made his of the guests concluded a narrative re- head somewhat lighter than his heels. plete with hobgoblinry—“that's nothing He discovered also, as is the case with to what we have in this village, on the some persons, that it had not improved anniversary of this very night. You his spirits, and he began, as he afterwards must know, gentlemen, that in the time confessed, to feel very old womanish. of the civil wars there was a sharp skir. He lay for a considerable time ruminamish one night between a party of ting on the strange stories he had heard, Royalists and the Parliamentarians, in and had already planned “an Essay on which the former were great sufferers. Superstition,” to be comprised in a small It was a severe conflict, though of short octavo volume, when the candle which duration, and many noble fellows were had burnt down into the socket, flashed slain on both sides. The next day a brightly for a moment and then suddenly large pit was dug in the church-yard, went out, leaving the chamber but dimly and about forty Englishmen were tum- lighted by the full moon. bled into this rude grave in the land of Our student, in spite of himself, waxed their fathers without the burial service, each moment more nervous : he arose, for the clergyman had fled from the vil- and throwing up the window, looked lage. The Royalists, wearing their shirts into the garden below. It was a lovely over their clothes, advanced upon the night ! the dew drops sparkled in the village in the hope of surprising their mild rays of the moon, and all nature enemies, but their approach was disco- seemed to slumber. George N- felt vered; yet so fiercely was the charge his nervousness departing as he looked made, that the Roundheads were driven on the tranquil scene, and he determined out, but not until the attacking party to have a stroll in the moonlight.

To had nearly half their number killed or enjoy this without disturbing the family, disabled. Well, gentlemen, this skirmish lie cautiously jumped from the window, on every anniversary of that fatal night, which was but a little distance from the is performed by phantoms, who go ground, into the garden, and alighted on through the scene of strife with the one of the flower beds. Passing through same energy as the originals. I have the garden gate he entered the little heard say, that it is an awful sight, and paddock, in which was a colt and a pet dangerous to the beholder, to whom it is lamb, who, startled at his appearance at also a bad omen."

that hour of the night, scampered to the Here the student smiled incredulously. farther side, and left the Student to gaze My uncle did not fail to observe it. undisturbed upon the scene before him.

“ Well, well,” he continued, “smile At the foot of the small hill on which and doubt: I question, though, whether the village stood, ran a trout stream, you would have nerve enough to witness which, gleaming brightly in the moonthis shadowy spectacle, notwithstanding light, contrasted strongly with the long your incredulity.”

grass of the meadows through which it The student made no reply, because he ran. On its summit were five venerable thought that if he expressed his willing- elms, of the same age perhaps as the rem

sure.

nant of an ancient cross which they rapidity of lightning, and the long pikes shadowed. It had suffered in the civil bristled across the road, while each figure wars of Charles and his parliament, and grasped in his right hand a stout cut-andits steps had been since defaced by the thrust sword.* Then followed, in rapid rustics, who were at one time in the habit succession, of sharpening their knives upon them, a “ Musketeers, blow your matches ! practice which was at length forbidden Open your pans! Give fire !” by my uncle under pain of his displea- Ere the echo had replied to this com

Behind the elms, wrapped in mand, a broad sheet of Aame flashed along deep shadow, stood the small church with the line of musketeers, reaching as far its square ivy covered tower, and Norman as the steel of the pikes, and the volley arched door with its zig-zag ornaments. pealed like a thunderclap. It was anIn front was the road, which turned swered by the two trumpeters of the caabruptly where the cross stood, and de- valiers, who had moved to the road-side, scended with a gentle slope to the stream and now sounded the charge, which just mentioned.

was made with the fury of a whirlwind, George strode along the paddock, and amidst the smoke of the musketry, that leaning against a stile which fronted for a moment half-concealed the comthe church, fell into a reverie. Imagi- batants. The night breeze soon blew nation conjured up the times when the aside this veil, and the student could travel-worn pilgrim knelt before that perceive that the ranks of the parlianow ruined cross ; when the sculptured mentarians had been broken, and that, doorway of the ancient church was fresh although they were fighting desperately from the chisel of the workman, glad- in detached parties, they were falling fast dening the heart and delighting the eye under the heavy swords of the troopers. of the pious founder. He thought, too, Several wounded horses were rolling on the violent scenes of the reformation, in the dust, and the bodies of the fierce and then of the skirmish which in after- partisans were thickly strewed around. times had taken place on that very spot, Our student would have fled, but his and spite of himself, he felt a thrill through legs refused to do their office. On a his frame which recalled the nervous- sudden, several of the parliamentarians, ness he had not long since contrived to who had thrown themselves into a ring dismiss. Our student was preparing to and resisted the troopers for some time, reason himself out of this fit, when lo! made a rush to the stile, as if to escape he beheld two dusky figures on horse- from their enemies. George again atback turn the corner of the road. The tempted to move, as the fugitives adtramp of their horses' feet was lost in the vanced, with wild gestures, their eyes hollow, rushing noise, which sounded in streaming with a supernatural light. He

George felt that they were made an effort to speak, and the spell not of this world, and he would have was at once broken; he found that he fallen to the ground from terror, had it had been dreaming! He had fallen into not been for the stile upon which he now a sound sleep immediately after he had leaned. The two horsemen were clad in thrown himself upon the bed, from which cuirasses and barret caps of unpolished he now awoke trembling in every limb. iron, and they held their carabines in The morning had dawned, and opening their hands, resting the butt-end on their his chamber window, George looked out thighs. Another minute, and the troop on the little garden, from which a thouwhich they preceded appeared in sight, their armour and accoutrements hidden * For the information of the uniniby their white shirts, just as had been tiated, we give the Sieur de Lostleneau's described to the terrified mortal who now instructions to the pikemen, when charged beheld them. They halted, as if by con- by cavalry :--Pour mettre la pique en cert, and the student heard the jangle defense contre la cavallerie, il faut apof their accoutrements as each figure puyer le talon (the butt-end) de la pique wriggled himself closer into his saddle. contre le pied droict; avancer le pied He looked in the opposite direction, and gauche un grand pas en avant; prendre saw a body of pikemen and musketeers la pique de la main gauche eviron au suddenly wheel into the road, from under contrepoids; plier fort le genouil de dethe shadow of an old barn. Instantly vant; baiser le fer de la pique a la hauteur the leader of the infantry cried out, with du poitral d'un cheval, et mettre l'espée a a voice like the blast of a trumpet, la main par dessus le bras gauche. C'est “ Pikes against cavalry!”

en ceste posture qu’un peut mieux reThe command was obeyed with the sister a la cavallerie.”

their rear.

FOUNDED ON FACTS.

as

9

sand flowers sent up their grateful per- THE BROKEN MINIATURE. fume. The purple-tinged clouds betokened a warm day; but at this early hour he felt himself refreshed, as the Two young officers belonging to the same cool breeze fanned his pale cheek. regiment aspired to the hand of the same

At breakfast our student was moody young lady. We will conceal their real and thoughtful, which his host observed.

names under those of Albert and Ho“ Why, George,” said he, “ you look race. Two youths more noble never saw as pale and spiritless as if you had seen the untarnished colours of their country the tussle between the cavaliers and

wave over their heads, or took more unroundheads !”

daunted hearts into the field, or purer “I have seen them, sir,” replied forms, or a more polished address, into George, “ though in a dream; the sight the drawing-room. might have gladdened an antiquary; Yet was there a marked difference in there were the musketeers with their their characters, and each wore his virrests and lighted matches, and the pike- tues so becomingly, and one of them at men in their corslets and 6 aprons of least concealed his vices so becomingly maile,' as old Stow calls them, as plainly also, that the maiden, who saw them

both, was puzzled where to give the preHere the piece of gammon of bacon ference ; and stood, as it were, between which my honoured relative had just two flowers of very opposite colours and conveyed to his mouth was well nigh perfumes, and yet each of equal beauty. choaking him, as he burst out into a

Horace, who was the superior officer, laugh that my Lord Chesterfield would

was more commanding in his figure than, have anathemized.

but not so beautiful in his features as, “ I thought as much !" said he, his fat Albert. Horace was the more vivacious, sides shaking in an awful manner; “but but Albert spoke with more eloquence if you look so scared after a dream, what upon all subjects. If Horace made the might we expect if a ghost were really more agreeable companion, Albert made to cross your path? But come, I will the better friend. Horace did not claim tell you a story that was related to a

the praise of being sentimental, nor Alfriend of mine some years since.” bert the fame of being jovial. Horace

My uncle hereupon began another laughed the most with less wit, and Alawful narrative; but this must be re.

bert was the most witty with less laughcorded at some future time. Α. Α. Α.

Horace was the more nobly born,

yet Albert had the better fortune; the TO A WITHERED FLOWER.

mind that could acquire, and the circum

spection that could preserve one. Ses vives couleurs s'effacent, elle languit elle se desséche, et sa belle tête se penche ne pouvant

Whom of the two did Matilda prefer? plus se soutenir.- Fenelon.

Yes, she had a secret, an undefined preLast tenant of the lonely reef,

ference; yet did her inclinations walk so Thy bloom is gone-thy beauty wasted; sisterly hand in hand with her duties, Yet oft upon thy silken leaf

that her spotless mind could not divide Ambrosial dew the bee has tasted. them from each other. She talked the How sweetly rose thy tender stem,

more of Horace, yet thought the more Fanned by the fostering sighs of even;

of Albert. As yet, neither of the asTill blew the breeze, and leaf and gem

pirants had declared themselves.

Sir Lay mould'ring 'neath a wintry heaven. Oliver, Matilda's father, soon put the Yet thou 'lt revive when genial Spring

He had his private and Begems the lawn with rosy finger;

family reasons for wishing Horace to be Again the bee with wearied wing

the favoured lover ; but, as he by no

means wished to lose to himself and to Upon thy honeyed leaf shall linger.

his daughter the valued friendship of a But ah! when shall that Spring arrive,

man of probity and of honour, he took a A deathless bloom around her throw

delicate method of letting Albert undering?

stand that every thing that he possessed, Ah, Laura! when wilt thou revive,

his grounds, his house, and all that beIn renovated beauty glowing? lodged to them, were at his service. He Like that sweet floweret's was thy bloom, excepted only his daughter.

That bloom, alas ! how short it lasted! When the two soldiers called, and they Theuntimely cypress wreathes thy tomb; were in the habit of making their visits And hope and joy with thee are blasted. together, Sir Oliver had always some im

HESPER. provement to shew Albert, some dog for

ter.

matter at rest.

him to admire, or some horse for him to her in with their veteran breasts. The try; and even in wet weather, there was returned hero lifted up his red right never wanting a manuscript for him to hand, and the united force of France decipher, so that he was sure to take him rushed with him to battle. out of the room, or out of the house, and The regiment of our rivals was ordered leave Horace alone with his daughter, to Belgium. After many entreaties from uttering some disparaging remark in a her father, Matilda at length consented jocular tone, to the effe that lorace to sit for her miniature to an eminent was fit only to dance attendance upon artist ; but upon the express stipulation, the ladies.

when it should be given to Horace, that Albert understood all this, and sub- they were still to hold themselves free. mitted. He did not strive to violate the The miniature was finished, the resemrites of hospitality, to seduce the affec- blance excellent, and the exultation and tions of the daughter, and outrage the rapture of Horace complete. He looked feelings of the father. He was not one upon the possession of it, notwithstanding of those who would enter the temple of Matilda's stipulation, as an earnest of his beauty, and under pretence of worship- happiness. He had the picture set most ping at the shrine, destroy it. A com- ostentatiously, in the finest jewels, and mon-place lover might have done so, but constantly wore it on his person; and his Albert had no common-place mind. But enemies say, that he shewed it with more did he not suffer? O! that he suffered, freedom than the delicacy of his situaand suffered acutely, his altered looks, tion, with respect to Matilda, should his heroic silence, and at times his forced have warranted. gaiety, too plainly testified.

Albert made no complaint. He acHe kept his fame in the inmost re- knowledged the merit of his rival eagerly, cesses of his heart, like a lamp in a the more eagerly, as the rivalship was sepulchre, and which lighted up the suspected. The scene must now change. ruins of his happiness alone.

The action at Quatre Bras has taken To his daughter Sir Oliver spoke more place. The principal body of the Briexplicitly. Her affections had not been tish troops are at Brussels, and the news engaged; and the slight preference that of the rapid advance of the French is she began to feel stealing into her heart brought to Wellington; and the forces for Albert, had its nature changed at are, before break of day, moving forward.

When she found that he could But where is Horace ? The column of not approach her as a lover, she found to troops to which he belongs is on the line spring up for him in her bosom a regard of march, but Albert, and not he, is at as sisterly, and as ardent, as if the same its head. The enemy are in sight. cradle had rocked them both. She felt, Glory's sunbright face gleams in the and her father knew, that Albert's was a front, whilst dishonour and infamy scowl character that must be loved, if not as a

in the rear.

The orders to charge are husband, as a brother.

given, and at the very moment that the The only point upon which Matilda battle is about to join, the foaming, differed from her father, was, as to the jaded, breathless courser of Horace, degree of encouragement that ought to strains forward as with a last effort, and be given to Horace.

seems to have but enough strength to Let us, my dear father," she would wheel with its rider into his station. A entreatingly say, “ be free, at least for faint huzza from the troop welcomed one year. Let us, for that period, stand their leader. On, ye brave, on! committed by no engagement: we are The edges of the battle join. The both young, myself extremely so. A scream—the shout-the groan, and the peasant maiden would lay a longer pro- volleying thunder of artillery, mingle in bation upon her swain. Do but ask Al- one deafening roar. The smoke clears bert if I am not in the right?”

away—the charge is over-the whirlwind The appeal that she made to Albert, has passed. Horace and Albert are both which ought to have assured her father down, and the blood wells away from of the purity of her sentiments, fright- their wounds, and is drunk up by the ened him into a suspicion of a lurking thirsty soil. affection having crept into her bosom. But a few days after the eventful bat

Affairs were at this crisis when Napo- tle of Waterloo, Matilda and Sir Oliver leon returned from Elba, and burst like were alone in the drawing-room. Sir the demon of war, from a thunder cloud, Oliver had read to his daughter, who was upon the plains of France; and all the sitting in breathless agitation, the details warlike and the valorous arose and walled of the battle, and was now reading down

once.

« ForrigeFortsæt »