[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected, all other inconsistencies are as in the original. The author's spelling has been maintained.
The Table of Content in this file has been created for this project, the original book did not contain any.]
YOUTH OF JEFFERSON
A CHRONICLE OF COLLEGE SCRAPES
At Williamsburg, In Virginia, A.D. 1764
"Dulce est desipere in loco."
REDFIELD 110 AND 112 NASSAU STREET, NEW-YORK 1854
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854, by
J. S. REDFIELD,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New-York.
TUBBS, NESMITH & TEALL, Stereotypers, 29 Beekman st.
TABLE OF CONTENT.
To the reader.
Chapter I. How three persons in this history came by their names.
Chapter II. Jacques shows the advantage of being led captive by a crook.
Chapter III. An heiress who wishes to become a man.
Chapter IV. A poor young man, and a rich young girl.
Chapter V. In which Sir Asinus makes as ignominious retreat.
Chapter VI. How Sir Asinus staked his garters against a pistole, and lost.
Chapter VII. Jacques bestows his paternal advice upon a schoolgirl.
Chapter VIII. How Sir Asinus invented a new order of philosophers, the apicians.
Chapter IX. The luck of Jacques.
Chapter X. Mowbray opens his heart to his new friend.
Chapter XI. How Hoffland found that he had left his key behind.
Chapter XII. How Hoffland caught a tartar in the person of miss lucy's lover.
Chapter XIII. Hoffland makes his will.
Chapter XIV. Hostile correspondence.
Chapter XV. Sentiments of a disappointed lover on the subject of women.
Chapter XVI. Advance of the enemy upon Sir Asinus.
Chapter XVII. Corydon goes a-courting.
Chapter XVIII. Going to Roseland.
Chapter XIX. Hoffland exerts himself to amuse the company.
Chapter XX. At Roseland, in the evening.
Chapter XXI. Disgraceful conduct of Sir Asinus.
Chapter XXII. How Hoffland preferred a glove to a dozen pistoles.
Chapter XXIII. How Sir Asinus fished for swallows, and what he caught.
Chapter XXIV. Hoffland is whisked away in a chariot.
Chapter XXV. Sir Asinus goes to the ball.
Chapter XXVI. Ernest and Philippa.
Chapter XXVII. The last chance of Jacques.
Chapter XXVIII. Sir Asinus intends for Europe.
Chapter XXIX. The May festival.
Chapter XXX. Illustrations.
TO THE READER.
This little tale is scarcely worth a preface, and it is only necessary to say, that it was written as a relaxation after exhausting toil. If its grotesque incidents beguile an otherwise weary hour with innocent laughter, the writer's ambition will have been fully gratified.
THE YOUTH OF JEFFERSON.
HOW THREE PERSONS IN THIS HISTORY CAME BY THEIR NAMES.
On a fine May morning in the year 1764,—that is to say, between the peace at Fontainebleau and the stamp act agitation, which great events have fortunately no connection with the present narrative,—a young man mounted on an elegant horse, and covered from head to foot with lace, velvet, and embroidery, stopped before a small house in the town or city of Williamsburg, the capital of Virginia.
Negligently delivering his bridle into the hands of a diminutive negro, the young man entered the open door, ascended a flight of stairs which led to two or three small rooms above, and turning the knob, attempted to enter the room opening upon the street.
The door opened a few inches, and then was suddenly closed by a heavy body thrown against it.
"Back!" cried a careless and jovial voice, "back! base proctor—this is my castle."
"Open! open!" cried the visitor.
"Never!" replied the voice.
The visitor kicked the door, to the great damage of his Spanish shoes.
"Beware!" cried the hidden voice; "I am armed to the teeth, and rather than be captured I will die in defence of my rights—namely, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness under difficulties."
"Tom! you are mad."
"What! that voice? not the proctor's!"
"No, no," cried the visitor, kicking again; "Jacquelin's."
And with these ejaculations the inmate of the chamber was heard drawing back a table, then the butt of a gun sounded upon the floor, and the door opened.
The young man who had asserted his inalienable natural rights with so much fervor was scarcely twenty—at least he had not reached his majority. He was richly clad, with the exception of an old faded dressing gown, which fell gracefully like a Roman toga around his legs; and his face was full of intelligence and careless, somewhat cynical humor. The features were hard and pointed, the mouth large, the hair sandy with a tinge of red.
"Ah, my dear forlorn lover!" he cried, grasping his visitor's hand, "I thought you were that rascally proctor, and was really preparing for a hand-to-hand conflict, to the death."
"Yes, sir! could I expect anything else, from the way you turned my knob? You puzzled me."
"So I see," said his visitor; "you had your gun, and were evidently afraid."
"Afraid of your shadow!"
"At least I never would have betrayed fear had I seen you!" retorted the occupant of the chamber. "You are so much in love that a fly need not be afraid of you. Poor Jacquelin! poor melancholy Jacques! a feather would knock you down."
The melancholy Jacques sat down sighing.
"The fact is, my dear fellow," he said, "I am the victim of misfortune: but who complains? I don't, especially to you, you great lubber, shut up here in your den, and with no hope or fear on earth, beyond pardon of your sins of commission at the college, and dread of the proctor's grasp! You are living a dead life, while I—ah! don't speak of it. What were you reading?"
"That deplorable Latin song. Salve your ill-humor with it!"
And he handed his visitor, by this time stretched carelessly upon a lounge, the open volume. He read:
"Orientis partibus Adventavit asinus, Pulcher et fortissimus, Sarcinis aptissimus.
"Hez, sire asne, car chantez Belle bouche rechignez, Vous aurez du foin assez, Et de l'avoine a plantez."
"Good," said the visitor satirically; "that suits you—except it should be 'occidentis partibus:' our Sir Asinus comes from the west. And by my faith, I think I will in future dub you Sir Asinus, in revenge for calling me—me, the most cheerful of light-hearted mortals—the 'melancholy Jacques.'"
"Come, come!" said the gentleman threatened with this sobriquet, "that's too bad, Jacques."
"Jacques! You persist in calling me Jacques, just as you persist in calling Belinda, Campana in die—Bell in day. What a deplorable witticism! I could find a better in a moment. Stay," he added, "I have discovered it already."
"What is it, pray, most sapient Jacques?"
"Listen, most long-eared Sir Asinus."
And the young man read once again;
"Hez, sire asne, car chantez, BELLE BOUCHE rechignez; Vous aurez du foin assez, Et de l'avoine a plantez."
"Well," said his friend, "now that you have mangled that French with your wretched pronunciation, please explain how my lovely Belinda—come, don't sigh and scowl because I say 'my,' for you know it's all settled—tell me where in these lines you find her name."
"In the second," sighed Jacques.
"There you are sneering. You make a miserable Latin pun, by which you translate Belinda into Campana in die—Bell in day—and when I improve your idea, making it really good, you sneer."
"Really, now!—well, I don't say!"
"Belle-bouche! Could any thing be finer? 'Pretty-mouth!' And then the play upon Bel, in Belinda, by the word Belle. Positively, I will in future call her nothing else. Belle-bouche—pretty-mouth! Ah!"
And the unfortunate lover stretched languidly upon the lounge, studied the ceiling, and sighed piteously.
His friend burst into a roar of laughter. Jacques—for let us adopt the sobriquets all round—turned negligently and said:
"Pray what are you braying at, Sir Asinus?"
"At your sighs."
"Did I sigh?"
"I think you are mistaken."
"I never sigh."
And the melancholy Jacques uttered a sigh which was enough to shatter all his bulk.
The consequence was that Sir Asinus burst into a second roar of laughter louder than before, and said:
"Come, my dear Jacques, unbosom! You have been to see——"
"Belle-bouche—Belle-bouche: but I am not in love with her."
"Oh no—of course not," said his friend, laughing ironically.
"She don't like me," he said forlornly.
"She's very fond of me though," said his friend. "Only yesterday—but I am mad to be talking about it."
With which words Sir Asinus turned away his head to hide his mischievous and triumphant smile.
Poor Jacques looked more forlorn than ever; which circumstance seemed to afford his friend extreme delight.
"Why not pay your addresses to Philippa, Jacques my boy?" he said satirically; "there's no chance for you with Belle-bouche, as you call her."
"Philippa? No, no!" sighed Jacques; "she's too brilliant."
"Even for me—me, the prince of wits, and coryphaeus of coxcombs: yes, yes!"
And the melancholy Jacques sighed again, and looked around him with the air of a man whose last hope on earth has left him.
His friend chokes down a laugh; and stretching himself in the bright spring sunshine pouring through the window, says with a smile:
"Come, make a clean breast of it, old fellow. You were there to-day?"
"Have a pleasant time?"
"Can't say I did."
"Were there any visitors?"
"A dozen—you understand the description of visitors."
"No; what sort?"
"Fops in embryo, and aspirants after wit-laurels."
"It is well you went—they must have been thrown in the shade. For you, my dear Jacques, are undeniably the most perfect fop, and the greatest wit—in your own opinion—of this pleasant village of Devilsburg."
"No, no," replied his companion with well-affected modesty; "I a fop! I a pretender to wit? No, no, my dear Sir Asinus, you do me injustice: I am the simplest of mortals, and a very child of innocence. But I was speaking of Shadynook and the fairies of that domain. Never have I seen Belinda, or rather Belle-bouche, so lovely, and I here disdainfully repel your ridiculous calumny that she's in love with you, you great lump of presumption and overweening self-conceit! Philippa too was a pastoral queen—in silk and jewels—and around them they had gathered together a troop of shepherds from the adjoining grammar-school, called William and Mary College, of which I am an aspiring bachelor, and you were an ornament before your religious opinions caught from Fauquier drove you away like a truant school-boy. The shepherds were as usual very ridiculous, and I had no opportunity to whisper so much as a single word into my dear Belle-bouche's ear. Ah! how lovely she looked! By heaven, I'll go to-morrow and request her to designate some form of death for me to die—all for her sake!"
With which words the forlorn Jacques gazed languidly through the window.
At the same moment a bell was heard ringing in the direction of the College; and yawning first luxuriously, the young man rose.
"Lecture, by Jove!" he said.
"And you, unfortunate victim, must attend," said his companion.
"Yes. You remain here?"
"To the end."
"To the death!"
"Very well," said Jacques, putting on his cocked hat, which was ornamented with a magnificent feather. "I half envy you; but duty calls—I must go."
"If you see Ned Carter, or Tom Randolph of Tuckahoe, tell them to come round."
"To comfort you? Poor unfortunate prisoner!"
"No, most sapient Jacques: fortunately I do not need comfort as you do."
"I want comfort?"
"Yes; there you are sighing: that 'heigho!' was dreadful."
"No; I am your rival."
"Very well; I warn you that I intend to push the siege; take care of your interests."
"I'm not afraid."
"I am going to see Belle-bouche again to-morrow.
"Faith, I'll be there, then."
"Good; war is opened then—the glove thrown?"
"War to the death! Good-by, publican!"
And with these words the melancholy Jacques departed.
JACQUES SHOWS THE ADVANTAGE OF BEING LED CAPTIVE BY A CROOK.
It was a delicious day, such a day as the month of flowers alone can bring into the world, and all nature seemed to be rejoicing. The peach and cherry blossoms shone like snow upon the budding trees, the oriole shot from elm to elm, a ball of fire against a background of blue and emerald, and from every side came the murmuring flow of streamlets, dancing in the sun and filling the whole landscape with their joyous music.
May reigned supreme—a tender blue-eyed maiden, treading upon a carpet of young grass with flowers in their natural colors; and nowhere were her smiles softer or more bright than there at Shadynook, which looks still on the noble river flowing to the sea, and on the distant town of Williamsburg, from which light clouds of smoke curl upward and are lost in the far-reaching azure.
Shadynook was one of those old hip-roofed houses which the traveller of to-day meets with so frequently, scattered throughout Virginia, crowning every knoll and giving character to every landscape. Before the house stretched a green lawn bounded by a low fence; and in the rear a garden full of flowers and blossoming fruit trees made the surrounding air faint with the odorous breath of Spring.
Over the old house, whose dormer windows were wreathed with the mosses of age, stretched the wide arms of two noble elms; and the whole homestead had about it an air of home comfort, and a quiet, happy repose, which made many a wayfarer from far countries sigh, as he gazed on it, embowered in its verdurous grove.
In the garden is an arbor, over which flowering vines of every description hover and bloom, full of the wine of spring. Around the arbor extend flower plats carefully tended and fragrant with violets, crocuses, and early primroses. Foliage of the light tender tint of May clothes the background, and looking from the arbor you clearly discern the distant barn rising above the trees.
In this arbor sits or rather reclines a young girl—for she has stretched herself upon the trellised seat, with a languid and careless ease, which betrays total abandon—an abandon engendered probably by the warm languid air of May, and those million flowers burdening the air with perfume.
This is Miss Belle-bouche, whom we have heard the melancholy Jacques discourse of with such forlorn eloquence to his friend Tom, or Sir Asinus, as the reader pleases.
Belle-bouche, Pretty-mouth, Belinda, or Rebecca—for this last was the name given her by her sponsors—is a young girl of about seventeen, and of a beauty so fresh and rare that the enthusiasm of Jacques was scarcely strange. The girl has about her the freshness and innocence of childhood, the grace and elegance of the inhabitants of that realm of fairies which we read of in the olden poets—all the warmth, and reality, and beauty of those lovelier fairies of our earth. Around her delicate brow and rosy cheeks fall myriads of golden "drop curls," which veil the deep-blue eyes, half closed and fixed upon the open volume in her hand. Belle-bouche is very richly clad, in a velvet gown, a satin underskirt from which the gown is looped back, wide cuffs and profuse lace at wrists and neck; and on her diminutive feet, which peep from the skirt, are red morocco shoes tied with bows of ribbon, and adorned with heels not more than three inches in height. Her hair is powdered and woven with pearls—she wears a pearl necklace; she looks like a child dressed by its mother for a ball, and spoiled long ago by "petting."
Belle-bouche reads the "Althea" of Lovelace, and smiles approvingly at the gallant poet's assertion, that the birds of the air know no such liberty as he does, fettered by her eyes and hair. It is the fashion for Lovelaces to make such declarations, and with a coquettish little movement she puts back the drop curls, and raises her blue eyes to the sky from which they have stolen their hue.
She remains for some moments is this reverie, and is not aware of the approach of a gallant Lovelace, who, hat in hand, the feather of the said hat trailing on the ground, draws near.
Who is this gallant but our friend of one day's standing, the handsome, the smiling, the forlorn, the melancholy—and, being melancholy, the interesting—Jacques.
He approaches smiling, modest, humble—a consummate strategist; his ambrosial curls and powdered queue tied with its orange ribbon, shining in the sun. He wears a suit of cut velvet with gold buttons; a flowered satin waistcoat reaching to his knees; scarlet silk stockings, and high-heeled worsted shoes. His cuffs would enter a barrel with difficulty, and his chin reposes upon a frill of irreproachable Mechlin lace.
Jacques finds the eyes suddenly turned upon him, and bows low. Then he approaches, falls upon one knee, and presses his lips gallantly to the hand of the little beauty, who smiling carelessly rises in a measure from her recumbent position.
"Do I find the fair Belinda reading?" says the gallant; "what blessed book is made happy by the light of her eyes?"
Which remarkable words, we must beg the reader to remember, were after the fashion of the time and scarcely more than commonplace. The fairer portion of humanity had even then perfected that sovereignty over the males which in our own day is so very observable. So, instead of replying in a tone indicating surprise, the little beauty answers quite simply:
Jacques heaves a sigh; for the music of the voice has touched his heart—nay, overwhelmed it with a new flood of love.
He dangles his bonnet and plume, and carefully arranges a drop curl. He, the prince of wits, the ornament of ball rooms, the star of the minuet and reel, is suddenly quite dumb, and seems to seek for a subject to discourse upon in surrounding objects.
A happy idea strikes him; a thought occurs to him; he grasps at it with the desperation of a drowning man. He says:
"'Tis a charming day, fairest Belle-bouche—Belinda, I mean. Ah, pardon my awkwardness!"
And the unhappy Corydon betrays by his confusion how much this slip of the tongue has embarrassed him—at least, that he wishes her to think so.
The little beauty smiles faintly, and bending a fatal languishing glance upon her admirer, says:
"You called me—what was it?"
"Ah, pardon me."
"Oh certainly!—but please say what you called me."
"How can I?"
"By telling me," says the beauty philosophically.
"Must I?" says Jacques, reflecting that after all his offence was not so dreadful.
"If you please."
"I said Belle-bouche."
"Ah! that is——?"
"Pretty-mouth," says Lovelace, with the air of a man who is caught feloniously appropriating sheep; but unable to refrain from bending wistful looks upon the topic of his discourse.
Belle-bouche laughs with a delicious good humor, and Jacques takes heart again.
"Is that all?" she says; "but what a pretty name!"
"Do you like it, really?" asks the forlorn lover.
"Indeed I do."
"And may I call you Belle-bouche?"
"If you please."
Jacques feels his heart oppressed with its weight of love. He sighs. This manoeuvre is greeted with a little laugh.
"Oh, that was a dreadful heigho!" she says; "you must be in love."
"I am," he says, "desperately."
A slight color comes to her bright cheek, for it is impossible to misunderstand his eloquent glance.
"Are you?" she says; "but that is wrong. Fie on't! Was ever Corydon really in love with his Chloe—or are his affections always confined to the fluttering ribbons, and the crook, wreathed with flowers, which make her a pleasant object only, like a picture?"
"I am not a Corydon," he says, "much less have I a Chloe—at least, who treats me as Chloes should treat their faithful shepherds. My Chloe runs away when I approach, and her crook turns into a shadow which I grasp in vain at. The shepherdess has escaped!"
"It is well she don't beat you," says the lovely girl, smiling.
"With her crook."
"Ah! I ask nothing better than to excite some emotion in her tender heart more lively than indifference. Perhaps were she to hate me a little, and consequently beat me, as you have said, she might end by drawing me towards her with her flowery crook."
The young girl laughs.
"Would you follow?"
"Ah, yes—for who knows——?"
He pauses, smiling wistfully.
"Ah, finish—finish! I know 'tis something pretty by the manner in which you smile," she says, laughing.
"Who knows, I would say, but in following her, fairest Belle-bouche—may I call you Belle-bouche?"
"Oh yes, if you please—if you think it suits me."
And she pours the full light of her eyes and smiles upon him, until he looks down, blinded.
"Pity, pity," he murmurs, "pity, dearest Miss Belle-bouche——"
She pretends not to hear, but, turning away with a blush at that word "dearest," says, with an attempt at a laugh:
"You have not told me why you would wish your Chloe to draw you after her with her crook."
"Because we should pass through the groves——"
"And I should wrap her in my cloak, to protect her from the boughs and thorns."
"Ah, yes! And then we should cross the beautiful meadows and the flowery knolls——"
"Very well, sir."
"And I should gather flowers for her, and kneeling to present them, would approach near enough to kiss her hand——"
"And finally, fairest Belle-bouche, we should cross the bright streams on the pretty sylvan bridges——"
"And most probably she would grow giddy; and I should take her in my arms, and holding her on my faithful bosom——"
Jacques opens his arms as though he would really clasp the fair shepherdess, who, half risen, with her golden curls mingled with the flowers, her cheeks the color of her red fluttering ribbons, seeks to escape the declaration which her lover is about to make.
"Oh, no! no!" she says.
He draws back despairingly, and at the same moment hears a merry voice come singing down the blossom-fretted walk, upon which millions of the snowy leaves have fallen.
"One more chance gone!" the melancholy Jacques murmurs; and turning, he bows to the new comer—the fair Philippa.
AN HEIRESS WHO WISHES TO BECOME A MAN.
Philippa is a lady of nineteen or twenty, with the air of a duchess and the walk of an antelope. Her brilliant eyes, as black as night, and as clear as a sunny stream, are full of life, vivacity and mischief; she seems to be laughing at life, and love, and gallantry, and all the complimentary nothings of society, from the height of her superior intellect, and with undazzled eyes. She is clad even more richly than Belle-bouche, for Philippa is an heiress—the mistress of untold farms—or plantations as they then said;—miles of James River "low grounds" and uncounted Africans. Like the Duke of Burgundy's, her sovereignty is acknowledged in three languages—the English, the African or Moorish, and the Indian: for the Indian settlement on the south side calls her mistress, and sends to her for blankets in the winter. In the summer it is not necessary to ask for the produce of her estate, such as they desire—they appropriate it.
Philippa is a cousin of Belle-bouche; and Belle-bouche is the niece of Aunt Wimple, who is mistress of the Shadynook domain. Philippa has guardians, but it cannot be said they direct her movements. They have given up that task in despair, some years since, and only hope that from the numerous cormorants always hovering around her, she may select one not wholly insatiable—with some craw of mercy.
"There, you are talking about flowers, I lay a wager," she says, returning the bow of Jacques, and laughing.
"I was speaking neither of yourself nor the fair Belinda," replies Jacques, with melancholy gallantry.
"There! please have done with compliments—I detest them."
"You detest every thing insincere, I know, charming Philippa—pardon me, but your beautiful name betrays me constantly. Is it not—like your voice—stolen from poetry or music?"
"Ah, sir, you are insufferable."
"Pardon, pardon—but in this beautiful and fair season, so full of flowers——"
"You think it necessary to employ flowers of speech: that is what you were going to say, but for heaven's sake have done."
"I have just discarded the twentieth, Bel," she adds, laughing; "he got on his knees."
And Philippa laughs heartily.
Jacques is used to his companion's manner of talking, and says:
"Who was it, pray, madam—Mowbray?"
A flush passes over Philippa's face, and she looks away, murmuring "No!"
"I won't go over the list of your admirers," continues Jacques, sadly, "they are too numerous; for who can wonder at such a fairy face as yours attracting crowds of lovers?"
"My fairy face? Yes, and my unhappy wealth, sir. I wish I was poor! I can never know when I am loved truly. Oh, to know that!"
And a shadow passes over the face, obliterating the satire, and veiling the brilliant eyes. Then with an effort Philippa drives away her preoccupation, and says:
"I wish Heaven had made me a man!"
"A man?" says Jacques.
"Pray why? Is there any young lady you would like to marry? Ah," he murmurs, "you need not go far if that is the case."
And he glances tenderly at Belle-bouche, who smiles and blushes.
"I wish to be a man, that my movements may not be restricted. There is my guardian, who murmurs at my travelling about from county to county with only Jugurtha to drive me—as if Jugurtha couldn't protect me if there were any highwaymen or robbers."
"But there are disadvantages connected with manhood," he says. "You are ignorant of them, and so think them slight."
"The prominent ones, if you please."
"You would have to make love—the active instead of passive, as at present."
"I would enjoy it."
"How would you commence, pray?"
"Oh, easily—see now. I would say,'My dear Bel! I am at your service! If you love me, I'll love you!' And then with a low bow I would kiss her hand, and her lips too, if she would permit me."
"Do you think that would succeed, however?" he says.
"I don't know, and I don't care—I'd try."
Jacques sighs again, and looks wistfully at Belle-bouche, who smiles.
"I'm afraid such a cavalier address—at the pistol's mouth as it were—at forty paces—like those highwaymen you spoke of but now—would only insure failure."
"You are mistaken."
"I doubt the propriety of such a 'making love.'"
"If I were a man, you would see my success. I'd have any woman for the asking."
"Well, fancy yourself a man."
"And who will be my lady-love?"
"Fancy my sex changed also—make love to me, my charming Madam Philippa."
"Forsooth! But I could win your heart easily."
"How, pray," says Jacques, sighing, "granting first that 'tis in my possession?"
"By two simple things."
"I would talk to you of flowers and shepherdesses, and crooks and garlands——"
"And I would adopt, if I had not naturally, that frank, languid, graceful, fatal air which—which—shall I finish?"
"Which Bel has! What a beautiful blush!"
And Philippa claps her hands.
Jacques tries very hard not to color, thus forfeiting all his pretensions to the character of a self-possessed man of the world and elegant coxcomb; but this is equally forlorn with his attempt not to observe the mischievous glance and satirical lip of the fair Philippa.
He seeks in vain for a word—a jest—a reply.
Fortune favors him. A maid from the house approaches Philippa, and says:
"Mr. Mowbray, ma'am."
A blush, deeper than that upon the face of Jacques, mantles Philippa's cheeks as she replies:
"Say I am coming."
"Before you go," says Jacques with odious triumph, "permit me to say, Madam Philippa, that I begin to see some of the advantages you might enjoy were you a man."
"What are they, pray—more than I have mentioned?" she says coolly.
"You might have more liberty."
"I said as much."
"You might go and see your friends."
"You repeat my words, sir."
"Yes—you might even go and see us at college; listen to my philosophical discussions after lecture; and take part in Mowbray's merry jests—an excellent friend of yours, I think."
Philippa looks at him for a moment, hesitating whether she shall stay and take her revenge. She decides to go in, however; and Jacques and Belle-bouche follow. We are bound to say that the proposition did not come from Jacques.
A POOR YOUNG MAN, AND A RICH YOUNG GIRL.
In the drawing-room sat a gentleman turning over the leaves of a book.
The apartment was decorated after the usual fashion of the olden time. On the floor was a rich carpet from Antwerp, in the corner a japanned cabinet; everywhere crooked-legged tables and carved chairs obstructed the floor, and on the threshold a lap-dog snapped at the flies in his dreams. Besides, there were portraits of powdered dames, and hideous china ornaments on the tall narrow mantlepiece; and an embroidered screen in the recess next the fireplace described with silent eloquence the life of Arcady.
Mowbray was a young man of twenty-five or six, with a high pale forehead, dark eyes full of thoughtful intelligence; and his dress was rather that of a student than a man of the world. It was plain and simple, and all the colors were subdued. He was a man for a woman to listen to, rather than laugh with. His manner was calm, perfectly self-possessed, and his mind seemed to be dwelling upon one dominant idea.
"Good morning, sir," said Philippa, inclining her head indifferently; "we have a very pleasant day."
Mowbray rose and bowed calmly.
"Yes, madam," he said; "my ride was quite agreeable."
"Any news, sir?"
"None, except a confirmation of those designs of the ministry which are now causing so much discussion."
A faint smile passed over Mowbray's calm face.
"Are you quite sure that politics will amuse you?" he said.
"Amuse? no, sir. But you seem to have fallen into the fashionable error, that ladies only require amusement."
He shook his head.
"You do me injustice," he said; "no man has so high an opinion of your sex, madam, as I have."
"I doubt it—you deceive yourself."
"Excuse me, but I do not."
"You are one of the lords of creation," said Philippa satirically.
"A very poor lord," he replied calmly.
"Are you poor?" asked Philippa as coolly.
"But you design being rich some day?"
"Yes, madam, if my brain serves me."
"You aspire perhaps to his Majesty's council?"
"No, madam," he replied, with perfect coolness; "were I in public life, I should most probably be in the opposition."
"A better opening."
"No; but better for one who holds my opinions—better for the conscience."
"And for the purse?"
"I know not. If you mean that public life holds out pecuniary rewards, I think you are mistaken."
"Then you will not become rich by politics?"
"I think, madam, that there is little chance of that."
"Still you would wish to be wealthy?"
"You are fond of luxury?"
"Horses, wines, carriages?"
"The luxury of seeing my orphan sister surrounded with every comfort."
A flush passed over Philippa's face, and she turned away; but she was not satisfied.
"There is a very plain and easy way to arrive at wealth, sir," she said; "law is so slow."
"Please indicate it."
"Marry an heiress."
There was a silence after these words; and Philippa could scarcely sustain the clear fixed look which he bent upon her face.
"Is that your advice, madam?" he said coldly. "I thank you for it."
His tone piqued her.
"Then follow it," she said.
"Excuse me again."
"Is it not friendly?"
"Possibly, but not to my taste."
"First, because the course you suggest is not very honorable; secondly, and in another aspect, it is very disgraceful; again, it is too expensive, if I may be permitted to utter what seems to be, but is not, a very rude and cynical speech."
"Not honorable—disgraceful—too expensive! Indeed! Why, sir, you at once exclude heiresses from matrimony."
"Not so, madam."
"I think it is not honorable to acquire wealth, for the best purpose in the world, by giving the hand and not the heart."
"The hand and the heart!—who speaks of heart in these days? But you say it is even disgraceful to marry an heiress."
"Not at all; but if a man does not love a woman, is it not disgraceful in the full sense of that word, madam, to unite himself to her, or rather to her money bags, only that he may procure the means of living in luxury, and gratifying his expensive tastes and vices?"
"If he does not love her, you say. Love! that is a very pretty word, and rhymes, I believe, to dove! Well, sir, you have endeavored to establish your point by the aid of two delightful phrases, 'the hand and not the heart'—'the man who does not love a woman'—beautiful words, only I don't believe in them. Now be good enough to explain your third point:—how is it too 'expensive' to marry a wealthy woman? I know you gentlemen at the college are inveterate logicians, and find little difficulty in proving that twice two's five, and that black is irreproachable white—that fire is cold—ice, hot—smoke, heavy—and lead light as thistle-down. Still I imagine you will find it difficult to show that 'tis expensive to marry, let us say, fifty thousand pounds a year!"
Mowbray looked at her face a moment, and sighed; a great hope seemed to be leaving him; when he spoke, it was with manifest repugnance.
"Let us dismiss this singular subject, madam," he said calmly; "I spoke too thoughtlessly. See that lovely humming-bird around the honeysuckle, searching in vain for honey."
"As I do for your reasons, sir," said Philippa curtly.
"You refuse to explain——"
"Well, well—I see you will compel me to speak. Well, madam, my meaning is very simple. When I say that it is too 'expensive' to unite oneself to a woman solely because that woman has for her portion a great fortune, a large income, every luxury and elegance to endow her husband with—I mean simply that if this woman be uncongenial, if her husband care nothing for her, only her fortune, then that he will necessarily be unhappy, and that unhappiness is cheaply bought with millions. Money only goes a certain way—tell me when it bought a heart! Mine, madam, it will never buy at least—if you will permit me to utter a sentence in such bad taste. And now let us abandon this discussion, which leads us into such serious moods."
She turned away, and looked through the window.
Two birds were playfully contending in the air, and filling the groves with their joyous carolling.
"How free they are!" she murmured.
"The birds? Yes, madam, they live in delightful liberty, as we of America will, I trust, some day."
"I wonder if they're married," said Philippa laughing, and refusing to enter upon the wrongs of England toward the colonies; "they are fighting, I believe, and thus I presume they are united in marriage—by some parson Crow!"
Mowbray only smiled slightly, and looked at his watch.
"What! not going!" cried Philippa.
"Pardon," he said; "I just rode out for an hour. We have a lecture in half an hour."
"And you prefer the excellent Dr. Small or some other reverend gentleman to myself—the collegiate to the sylvan, the male to the female lecturer?"
He smiled wearily.
"Our duties are becoming more exacting," he said; "the examination is approaching."
"I should suppose so—you have not been to see me for a whole week."
A flush passed over Mowbray's brow; then it became as pale as before.
"Our acquaintance has not been an extended one," he said; "I could not intrude upon your society."
And abandoning completely her laughing cynical manner, Philippa gave him a look which made him tremble. Why was that excitement? Because he thought he had fathomed her; because he had convinced himself that she was a coquette, amusing herself at his expense; because he saw all his dreams, his illusions, his hopes pass away with the fleeting minutes. He replied simply:
"Yes, madam—even now I fear I am trespassing upon your time; you probably await my departure to betake yourself to your morning's amusement. I was foolish enough to imagine that I had not completely lost my powers of conversation, buried as I have been in books. I was mistaken—I no longer jest—I am a poor companion. Then," he added, "we are so uncongenial—at least this morning. I will come some day when I am gay, and you sad—then we shall probably approximate in mood, and until then farewell."
She would have detained him; "Don't go!" was on her lips; but at the moment when Mowbray bowed low, a shout of laughter was heard in the passage, and three persons entered—Jacques, Belle-bouche, and Sir Asinus.
IN WHICH SIR ASINUS MAKES AS IGNOMINIOUS RETREAT.
Sir Asinus was apparently in high spirits, and smoothed the nap of his cocked hat with his sleeve—the said sleeve being of Mecklenburg silk—in a way which indicated the summit of felicity.
He seemed to inhale the May morning joyously after his late imprisonment; and he betook himself immediately to paying assiduous court to Miss Belle-bouche, who, the sooth to say, did not seem ill-disposed to get rid of Jacques.
Poor Jacques, therefore, made an unsuccessful attempt to engage Philippa in conversation. This failing—for Philippa was watching Mowbray disappearing toward Williamsburg—the melancholy Jacques made friends with the lap-dog, who at first was propitious, but ended by snapping at his fingers.
"A delightful day, my dear madam," he said to Philippa, once more endeavoring to open an account current of conversation.
Philippa, with bent brows, made no reply.
"The birds are having a charming time, it seems."
Poor Jacques! Philippa is buried in thought, and with her eyes fixed on the receding horseman, does not hear him.
"You seem preoccupied, madam," he said.
"Yes, a charming day, sir," she said, rising; "did you say it was pleasant? I agree with you. If I dared!" she added to herself, "if I only dared! But what do I not dare!"
And she abruptly left the room, to the profound astonishment of Jacques, who sat gazing after her with wide-extended eyes.
"I told you he was in love with her, my dear Miss Belle-bouche, since you say that will in future be your name—it is either with you or Madam Philippa."
These words were uttered in a confidential whisper to Belle-bouche by Sir Asinus, who was leaning forward gracefully in a tall carven-backed chair toward his companion, who reposed luxuriously upon an ottoman covered with damask, and ornamented quoad the legs with satyr heads.
Belle-bouche suffered her glance to follow that of her companion. Jacques was indeed, as we have said, gazing after the lady who had just departed, and for this purpose had opened his eyes to their greatest possible width. He resembled a china mandarin in the costume of Louis Quatorze.
"Am I mistaken?" said Sir Asinus.
"A plain case: he is even now saying to himself, my dear Miss Belle-bouche,
'Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus Jam cari capitis——'
which means, 'How can I make up my mind to see you go up stairs?'"
Belle-bouche cast a tender glance at Jacques. Sir Asinus continued:
"Yes, yes, I see you pity him. But you should pity me."
"Your watch-paper—you remember; the one which you cut for me?"
"Well, last night I placed my watch on my window—before retiring, you know; and in the night," continued Sir Asinus, "it commenced raining——"
"That was last night?"
"Yes, Madam Belle-bouche. Well, the roof leaked, and presto! when I rose I found my watch swimming in water—your watch-paper all soaked and torn—that is to say, my fingers tore it; and a dozen minuets I had bought for you shared the same fate, not to mention my jemmy-worked garters! My ill luck was complete—me miserum!"
"Was it at college?"
"Oh no," said Sir Asinus; "you know I am temporarily absent from the Alma Mater."
"Yes. I have taken up my residence in town—in Gloucester street, where I am always happy to see my friends. Just imagine a man persecuted by the professors of the great University of William and Mary for the reason I was."
"What was it?"
"Because I uttered some heresies. I said the Established Church was a farce, and that women, contrary to the philosophy of antiquity, really had souls. The great Doctor could pardon my fling at the church; but being an old woman himself, could not pardon my even seeming to revive the discussion of the heresy in relation to your sex. What was the consequence? I had to flee—the enemy went about to destroy me; behold me now the denizen of a second floor in old Mother Bobbery's house, Gloucester street, city of Williamsburg."
"Rusticating you call it, I think," says Belle-bouche, smiling languidly, and raising her brow to catch the faint May breeze which moves her curls.
"Yes; rusticating is the very word—derived from rus, a Latin word signifying main street, and tike, a Greek word meaning to live in bachelor freedom. It applies to me exactly, you see. I live in bachelor freedom on Gloucester street, and I only want a wife to make my happiness complete."
"You are then dissatisfied?" she says.
"Yes," sighs Sir Asinus; "yes, in spite of my pipes and books and pictures, and all appliances and means to boot for happiness, I am lonely. Now suppose I had a charming little wife—a paragon of a wife, with blue eyes and golden curls, and a sweet languishing air, to chat with in the long days and gloomy evenings!"
Belle-bouche recognises her portrait, and smiles.
Sir Asinus continues:
"Not only would I be happier, but more at my ease. To tell you the humiliating truth, my dear Miss Belle-bouche, I am in hourly fear of being arrested."
"Would a wife prevent that?"
"Certainly. What base proctor would dare lay hands upon a married man? But this all disappears like a vision—it is a dream: fuit Ilium, ingens gloria Teucrorumque; which means, 'Mrs. Tom is still in a state of single blessedness,' that being the literal translation of the Hebrew."
And Sir Asinus smiles; and seeing Jacques approach, looks at him triumphantly.
Jacques has just been bitten by the lap dog; and this, added to his melancholy and jealousy, causes him to feel desolate.
"Pardon my interrupting your pleasant conversation," he says.
"Oh, no interruption!" says Sir Asinus triumphantly.
"But I thought I'd mention——
"Speak out, speak out!" says Sir Asinus, shaking with laughter, and assuming a generous and noble air.
"I observed through the window a visitor, fairest Belinda."
"Ah! I was so closely engaged," says Sir Asinus, "like a knight of the middle ages, I thought only of my 'ladye faire.' Nothing can move me from her side!"
"Indeed?" says Jacques.
"Well, well, at least I have not counselled such desertion on your part. The visitor at the gate there is Doctor Small from college. I only thought I'd mention it!"
Like an electric shock dart the words of Jacques through the frame of the chivalric Sir Asinus. He starts to his feet—gazes around him despairingly, seeking a place of refuge.
The step of worthy Doctor Small is heard upon the portico; Sir Asinus quakes.
"Are you unwell, my dear friend?" asks Jacques with melancholy interest.
"I am—really—come, Jacques!" stammers Sir Asinus.
"Are you indisposed?"
"To meet the Doctor? I rather think I am. Mercy! mercy! dear Campana in die," cries the knight; "hide me! hide me!—up stairs, down stairs—any where!"
The footstep sounded in the passage.
Belle-bouche laughed with that musical contagious merriment which characterized her.
"But what shall we say?" she asks; "I can't tell the Doctor you are not here."
"Then I must go. Can I escape? Oh heavens! there is his shadow on the floor! Jacques, my boy, protect my memory—I must retire!"
And Sir Asinus rushed through the open door leading into the adjoining room, just as Doctor Small entered with his benevolent smile and courteous inclination.
He had been informed in town, he said, that his young friend Thomas, withdrawn now some days from college, was at Shadynook; and taking advantage of his acquaintance with Mrs. Wimple, and he was happy to add with Miss Rebecca, he had come to find and have some friendly conversation with Thomas. Had he been at Shadynook, or was he misinformed?
The reply was easy. Sir Asinus had disappeared through a door leading into the garden some moments before, and Belle-bouche could reply most truthfully—as she did—that the truant had visited her that morning, but was gone.
The worthy Doctor smiled, and said no more.
He exchanged a few words on the pleasant weather—smiled benevolently on the young girl—and with a sly glance asked Jacques if he designed attending lecture that morning.
The melancholy Jacques hesitated: a look from Belle-bouche would have caused him to reply that he regretted exceedingly his inability to honor his Alma Mater on that particular occasion; but unfortunately the young girl said nothing. Was she afraid of a second private interview, wherein the subject should be crooks and shepherdesses, and the hopes of Corydons? At all events, Belle-bouche played with her lace cuff, and her countenance wore nothing more than its habitual faint smile.
Jacques heaved a sigh, and said he believed he ought to go.
The Doctor rose, and pressing Belle-bouche's hand, kindly took his leave—followed by Jacques, who cast a last longing, lingering look behind.
As for Sir Asinus, we regret to speak of him. Where were now all his chivalric thoughts—his noble resolutions—his courage and devotion to his lady fair? Alas! humanity is weak: we are compelled to say that the heroic knight, the ardent lover, the iron-hearted rebel, suddenly changed his device, and took for his crest a lion no longer, only a hare.
From the back room he emerged into the garden, quaking at every sound; once in the garden, he stole ignominiously along the hedge; then he sallied forth into the road; then he mounted his horse, and fled like the wind.
HOW SIR ASINUS STAKED HIS GARTERS AGAINST A PISTOLE, AND LOST.
Sir Asinus fled like the wild huntsman, although there was this slight difference between the feelings of the two characters:—the German myth was himself the pursuer, whereas Sir Asinus imagined himself pursued.
He looked around anxiously from time to time, under the impression that his worthy friend and pedagogue was on his heels; and whenever a traveller made his appearance, he was complimented with a scrutiny from the flying knight which seemed to indicate apprehension—the apprehension of being made a prisoner.
Just as Sir Asinus reached the outskirts of the town, he observed a chariot drawn by six milk-white horses approaching from a county road which debouched, like the highway, into Gloucester street; and when this chariot arrived opposite, a head was thrust through the window, and a good-humored voice uttered the words:
"Give you good day, my dear Tom!"
Sir Asinus bowed, with a laugh which seemed to indicate familiarity with the occupant of the carriage, and said:
"Good morning, your Excellency—a delightful day."
"Yes," returned the voice, "especially for a race! What were you scampering from? Come into the chariot and tell me all about it. I am dying of weariness."
The movement was soon accomplished. His Excellency's footman mounted the horse, and Sir Asinus entered the chariot and found himself opposite an elderly gentleman, very richly clad, and with a smiling and rubicund face which seemed to indicate a love of the best living. This gentleman was Francis Fauquier, Governor of his Majesty's loyal colony of Virginia; and he seemed to be no stranger to the young man.
"Now, what was it all about?" asked the Governor, laughing.
And when our friend related the mode of his escape from the worthy Doctor, his Excellency shook the whole carriage in the excess of his mirth.
They came thus to the "Raleigh Tavern," before the door of which the Governor stopped a moment to say a word to the landlord, who, cap in hand, listened. The Governor's conversation related to a great ball which was to be held in the "Apollo room" at the Raleigh very soon; and the chariot was delayed fully half an hour.
At last it drove on, and at the same moment his Excellency inclined his head courteously to a gentleman mounted on horseback who was passing.
"Ah, worthy Doctor Small!" he said, "a delightful day for a ride!"
Sir Asinus shrunk back into the extremest corner, and cast an imploring look upon the Governor, who shook with laughter.
"Yes, yes, your Excellency," said the Doctor; "I have been inhaling this delightful May morning with quite a youthful gusto."
"Riding for exercise, Doctor? An excellent idea."
"No, sir; I went a little way into the country to see a pupil."
"You saw him?"
"No, your Excellency."
"Why, that was very hard—a great reprobate, I fear."
"No; a wild young man who has lately deserted his Alma Mater."
"A heinous offence! I advise you to proceed against him for holding out in contumaciam."
"Ah!" said the Doctor, "we must follow the old receipt for cooking a hare in the present instance. We must first catch the offender."
And the good Doctor smiled.
"Well, Doctor, much success to you. Will you not permit me to convey you to the college?"
The hair upon Sir Asinus's head stood up; then at the Doctor's reply he breathed freely again. That reply was:
"No, I thank you; your Excellency is very good, but it is only a step."
And the Doctor rode on with a bow.
Behind him rode Jacques, who had recognised his friend's horse, caught a glimpse of him through the window, and now regarded him with languid interest.
The chariot drew up at the gate of the palace. A liveried servant offered his arm to the Governor; and passing along the walk beneath the Scotch lindens which lined it, they entered the mansion.
The Governor led the way to his study, passing through two large apartments ornamented with globe lamps and portraits of the King and Queen.
Once in his favorite leather chair, his Excellency ordered wine to be brought, emptied two or three glasses, and then receiving a pipe from a servant, lit it by means of a coal respectfully held in readiness, and commenced smoking.
Sir Asinus declined the pipe proffered to him, but applied himself to the old sherry with great gusto—much to his Excellency's satisfaction.
"You were near being discovered," said Fauquier, smiling; "then you would have been made an example."
"Ex gracia exempli," said Sir Asinus, emptying his glass, and translating into the original respectfully.
"Ah, you wild college boys! Now I wager ten to one that you were not only playing truant at Shadynook, but making love."
"That is perfectly correct, your Excellency."
"See, I was right. You are a wild scamp, Tom. Who's your Dulcinea?"
"I decline answering that question, your Excellency. But my rival—that is different."
"Well, your rival?"
"The dandified Adonis with the Doctor."
"Your friend, is he not?"
"Bosom friend; but what is the use of having friends, if we can't take liberties with them?"
"As, courting their sweethearts!" said his Excellency, who seemed to enjoy this sentiment very much.
"Yes, sir. I always put my friends under contribution. They are not fit for any thing else. My rule is always to play off my wit on friends; it coruscates more brilliantly when we know a man's foibles."
"Good—very profound!" said the Governor, laughing; "and I suppose the present difficulty arises from the fact, that some of these coruscations, as you call them, played around the person or character of the worthy Doctor Small?"
"No, no, your Excellency. I left my country for my country's good—I mean the college. My ideas were in advance of the age."
"I suggested, in the Literary Society, the propriety of throwing off the rule of Great Britain; I drew up a constitutional argument against the Established Church in favor of religions toleration; and I asserted in open lecture that all men were and of right should be equally free."
The Governor shook with laughter.
"Did you?" he said.
"Yes," said Sir Asinus, assuming a grand tone.
"Well, I see now why you left your college for its good; this is treason, heresy, and barbarism," said the Governor, merrily. "Where has your Traitorship taken up your residence?"
"In Gloucester street," said Sir Asinus; "a salubrious and pleasant lodging."
"Gloucester street! Why, your constitutional civil and religious emancipation is not complete!"
"No, my dear sir—no."
"Come and live here with me in the palace; I'll protect you in your rights with my guards and cannon."
"No, your Excellency," said Sir Asinus, laughing. "You are the representative of that great system which I oppose. I am afraid of the Greeks and their gifts."
"Zounds! let me vindicate myself. I an opponent of your ideas!" cried the Governor, laughing.
"You are the representative of royalty."
"No, I am a good Virginian."
"You are an admirer of the Established Church."
The Governor whistled.
"That's it!" he said.
"You are the front of the aristocracy."
"My dear friend," said his Excellency, "ever since a blackguard in Paris defeated me in a fair spadille combat—breast to breast, card to card, by pure genius—I have been a republican. That fellow was a canaille, but he won fifteen thousand pounds from me: he was my superior. But let us try a game of cards, my dear boy. How are your pockets?"
"Low," said Sir Asinus, ruefully.
"Never mind," said his Excellency, whose whole countenance had lighted up at the thought of play; "I admire your garters—a pistole against them."
"Done!" said Sir Asinus with great readiness; and they sat down to play.
In two hours Sir Asinus was sitting at spadille in the exceedingly undress costume of shirt, pantaloons, and silk stockings.
His coat was thrown on a chair; his worsted shoes were in one corner of the room; and his cocked hat lay upon his waistcoat at the Governor's feet.
The Governor took extreme delight in these practical jokes. He had won these articles of Sir Asinus's clothing one after another; and now he was about to commence with the remainder.
"Look! spadille, the ace!" he cried; "I have your neckcloth."
And his Excellency burst into a roar of laughter.
Sir Asinus slowly and sadly drew off his neckcloth, and deposited it on the pile.
"Good!" cried his Excellency; "now for your short clothes!"
"No, no!" Sir Asinus remonstrated; "now, your Excellency!—mercy, your Excellency! How would I look going through the town of Williamsburg breechless?"
"You might go after night," suggested his Excellency, generously.
"Well, well, I'll be liberal—my servant shall bring you a suit of clothes from your apartment; of course these are mine."
A sudden thought struck Sir Asinus.
"I'll play your Excellency this ring against ten pistoles," he said; "I lost sight of it."
"Done!" said his Excellency.
Sir Asinus won the game; and Fauquier, with the exemplary honesty of the confirmed gambler, took ten pistoles from his purse and handed them across the table.
"Nine pieces for my coat and the rest," said Sir Asinus persuasively; "it is really impolite to be playing with your Excellency in such deshabille as this."
"Willingly," said Fauquier, shaking with merriment.
And he pocketed the nine pistoles while Sir Asinus was making his toilet at a Venetian mirror.
They then commenced playing again—Sir Asinus staking his pistole. He won, and continued to win until night; when candles were brought, and they commenced again.
By ten o'clock Sir Asinus had won fifteen thousand pistoles from the Governor.
By midnight Fauquier, playing with the nerve of a great gambler, had won them all back—laughing, careless, but not more careless than when he lost.
At fifteen minutes past twelve he had won a bond for two hundred pistoles from Sir Asinus; at sixteen minutes past twelve his Excellency rose, and taking the cards up with both hands, threw them out of the window.
Then rolling up the bond which Sir Asinus had executed a moment before, he gracefully lit with it a pipe which he had just filled; and, first telling a servant "to carry lights to the chamber next to his own," said to Sir Asinus:
"My dear boy, I have done wrong to-night; but this is my master passion. Cards have ruined me three distinct times; and if you play you will inevitably follow my example and destroy your prospects. Take my advice, and never touch them. If you have no genius for chance, twelve months will suffice to ruin you. If you turn out a great player, one half the genius you expend upon it will conquer a kingdom or found an empire. If you prefer oxygen to air—gamble! If you think aquafortis healthier than water—gamble! If you consider fever and fire the proper components of your blood—gamble! Take my advice, and never touch a card again—your bond is ashes. Come, Tom, to bed!"
And his Excellency, laughing as good-humoredly as ever, led the way up the broad staircase, preceded by a servant carrying a flambeau.
Sir Asinus found a magnificent apartment prepared for him—a velvet fauteuil, silk-curtained bed, wax candles in silver candelabra; and seeing that his guest was comfortably fixed, Governor Fauquier bade him good night.
As for Sir Asinus, he retired without delay, and dreamed that he ruined his Excellency at cards; won successively all his real and personal estate; and lastly, having staked a thousand pistoles against his commission as Governor, won that also. Then, in his dream, he rose in his dignity, lit his pipe with the parchment, and made his Excellency a low and generous bow.
As he did so, the day dawned.
JACQUES BESTOWS HIS PATERNAL ADVICE UPON A SCHOOLGIRL.
Just a week after the practical lesson given by his Excellency Governer Fauquier to Sir Asinus, and on a bright fine morning, the melancholy Jacques issued from the walls of his Alma Mater, and took his way along Gloucester street toward the residence of his friend and rival.
Jacques was dressed with unusual splendor. His coat was heavy with embroidery—his waistcoat a blooming flower-plat, upon whose emerald background roses, marigolds, and lilies flaunted in their satin bravery—and his scarlet silk stockings were held up by gold-colored garters. His narrow-edged cocked hat drooped with its feather over his handsome features, and in his delicately gloved hand he held a slight cane, which, from time to time he rested on the point of his high-heeled shoes, bending the lithe twig with irreproachable elegance.
Not far from the residence of the rebel he encountered and saluted with melancholy courtesy a very lovely young girl of about fifteen, who was tripping along to school, a satchel full of books upon her arm, and, covering her bright locks, a sun-bonnet such as school-girls wore at that time, and indeed in our own day.
"Good morning, my dear Miss Merryheart," said Jacques, removing his glove and holding out his jewelled hand.
The girl laughed artlessly, and gave him her hand, saying:
"Good morning, sir; but you have mistaken my name."
"Mistaken your name?"
"Yes, sir; it is Martha."
"And not Merryheart; but you are not responsible. Merryheart is your real name—not Martha, who was 'cumbered,' you know."
"But I am 'cumbered,'" replied the girl with a laugh.
"How, my dear madam?" asked the courteous Jacques.
"By my satchel."
"Ah! let me carry it for you."
"I won't trouble you."
"No trouble in the world—I shall leave you in a street or two. Come!"
And he took the satchel, and passing his cane through the handles, gracefully deposited it behind his shoulders, as a beggar does his bundle.
The girl laughed heartily; and this seemed to afford the melancholy lover much satisfaction.
"Do they teach laughing at the Reverend Mrs. White's?" he asked.
"Yes; I thought you had been taking lessons."
"Come! no fine-lady airs. I never compliment—we are too intimate."
And Jacques shifted his packet to the other shoulder.
"Just go to the ball and laugh in that way," he said, "and you'll slay all the hearts in a circle of ten feet."
The girl repeated the fatal ceremony with more energy than ever. The street echoed with it.
"I'm going to the ball, sir," she said; "Bathurst—you know Bathurst—he says he will go with me."
"I was reflecting, my dear little friend," said the melancholy Jacques, "upon the superiority of your sex before they reach the age of womanhood."
"Why, thus. Suppose I had addressed that question to a fine lady—'Are you going to the ball, madam?'—what would her reply have been?"
"I don't know," laughed the girl, pushing back a stray lock from her forehead.
"I'll tell you," continued Jacques. "With a negligent and careless air she would have said, 'Really, sir—I do not know—I have scarcely made up my mind—if I decide to go—I shall not go, however, I think—if I go, it will be with Mr. Blank—I have half promised him;' and so forth. How wearisome! You, on the contrary, my little friend, clap your hands and cry, 'Oh! I am going! Bathurst says he'll go with me!' Bathurst is a good boy; isn't he your sweetheart?"
The girl blushed and laughed.
"No, indeed, sir!" she said.
"That is well; choose some elderly admirer, my dear child—like myself."
The laughter was louder than ever.
"It wouldn't do for you to have two," she said with a merry glance.
"Every body knows it!" he murmured ruefully.
"They do so," replied the merry girl, who caught these half-uttered words; "but she's a very sweet lady."
"Are you not tired, sir?" asked the girl.
"No, no! my dear child; but I believe I must return your little bulrush receptacle, for yonder is my journey's end. Look, Sir Asinus beholds us—see! there at the window!"
In fact, Sir Asinus was at his open window, inhaling the bright May morning joyously.
"Sir Asinus? Who is he?" asked the girl, with a puzzled look.
"The great rebel, who tried to assassinate Doctor Small and the Governer. Have you not heard of it?"
"Oh no, indeed, sir! Did he?"
"Well, principles are men, they say; and that makes what I said quite true. Look at him: don't he resemble a murderer?"
"I don't know, sir; I hardly know what one looks like."
"Look at his red hair."
"It is red."
"And his sharp features."
"He has a real assassin's look, my dear little friend; but he is a great thinker. That is the sort of beau I recommend you to get instead of Bathurst."
The girl laughed.
"But Bathurst is a great deal handsomer," she said; "then he promised to take me to the ball——"
"While Sir Asinus has not promised."
"Oh, he wouldn't think of me. I am very much obliged to you for carrying my satchel, sir," added the young girl, swinging it again on her arm.
"Not at all. See how Sir Asinus is staring at you—a very ill-bred fellow!"
The young girl raised her head, for they were now under the window at which sat Sir Asinus; and she found the eyes of that gentleman fixed upon her in truth with great pleasure and admiration.
She laughed and blushed, looking down again.
"Good-by, my dear young lady," said the melancholy Jacques with a paternal air; "continue on your way, and present my most respectful regards to Mrs. White and every body. Learn your lessons, jump the rope, and never conjugate the verb amo, amas; get a poodle dog, and hideous china, and prepare yourself for the noble state of elderly maidenhood: so shall you pass serenely through this vale of tears, and be for ever great, glorious, and happy."
With which friendly counsel the melancholy Jacques sighed again—possibly from the thought that had he followed the last piece of advice, his mind had not been troubled—and so bade his young friend farewell, and mounted the staircase leading to the chamber of his friend.
As for the young girl, she followed him for a moment with her eyes, and then laughing merrily continued her way, swinging her satchel and humming an old ditty. We shall meet with her again.
HOW SIR ASINUS INVENTED A NEW ORDER OF PHILOSOPHERS, THE APICIANS.
Sir Asinus was clad as usual in a rich suit of silk, over which fell in graceful folds his old faded dressing gown. His red hair was unpowdered—his garters were unbuckled, and one of them had fallen to the floor—his feet were lazily thrust into ample slippers run down deplorably at the heel.
He had been meditating strictly the unwilling muse; for on the table lay a number of sheets of paper covered with unfortunate verses, which obstinately refused to rhyme. He seemed to have finally abandoned this occupation in despair—flying for refuge to his window, from which he had seen his friend coming down Gloucester street.
When Jacques entered, he retained his seat with an appearance of great carelessness, and extending two fingers negligently, drawled out:
"Good day, my boy. You perceive I have banished those ignoble fears of proctors. I no longer shiver when I hear a footstep on the staircase."
Jacques smiled languidly.
"Only when you hear it on the portico—at Shadynook or elsewhere," he said.
"No more of that, Hal, an thou lovest me," said Sir Asinus cheerfully. "The greatest men are subject to these sudden panics, and I am no exception. Ah! what news?"
Jacques sat down sighing.
"None," he said, "except that we have a new student at college—Hoffland is his name, I believe—a friend of Mowbray's apparently. Let's see your bad verses."
"No, no!" cried Sir Asinus, rolling them up. "Minerva was invited, as our friend Page used to say, but did not attend."
"That reminds me of the ball."
"At the 'Raleigh?'"
"Yes," sighed Jacques.
"This week, eh?"
"Yes; and every body is discussing it. It will be held in the Apollo——"
"A capital room."
"For a ball—yes."
"For any thing—a meeting of conspirators, or patriots, which might amount to the same thing," said Sir Asinus.
"Well, will your knightship attend the ball?"
"Pray, with whom!"
Jacques smiled with melancholy triumph.
"I think you are mistaken," he said, sadly.
"She has engaged to go with me."
"Base stratagem—unfaithful friend! I challenge you on the spot."
"Good! I accept."
"Take your foil!" cried Sir Asinus, starting up.
"Pardon me, most worthy knight—hand it to me. I can easily prick you without rising."
Sir Asinus relented.
"Well, let us defer the combat," he said; "but when were you at Shadynook—which, by the by, should be called Sunnybower?"
"And maligned me?"
"Very well—war to the death in future. What news there?"
"Philippa is gone."
"Yes; she suddenly announced her intention some days ago, and with a nod to me, drove off in her chariot."
"A fine girl."
"Why don't you court her, if you admire her so much?"
"My friend," said Sir Asinus, "you seem not to understand that I am 'tangled by the hair and fettered by the eye' of Belle-bouche the fairy."
"Then I flatter myself she likes me," said Sir Asinus, caressing his red whiskers in embryo. "I am in fact pledged exclusively to her. I can't espouse both."
"Vanity!" said Jacques languidly; "but you could build a feudal castle—a very palace—in the mountains with Philippa's money."
"There you are, with your temptations—try to seduce me, a republican, into courtly extravagance—me, a martyr to religious toleration, republican ideas, and the rights of woman!"
"Very well, Sir Asinus, I won't tempt you further; but I think it would be cheap for you to marry on any terms—if only to extricate yourself from your present difficulties. Once married, you would of course leave college."
"Yes; but I wish to remain."
"What! in this attic?"
"Who said I was a hermit? I am surrounded with friends! Ned Carter comes and smokes with me until my room is one impervious fog, all the while protesting undying friendship, and asking me to write love verses for him. Tom Randolph is a faithful friend and companion. Stay, look at that beautiful suit of Mecklenburg silk which Belle-bouche admired so much—I saw she did. Tom gave me that—in return for my new suit of embroidered cloth. Who says human nature is not disinterested?"
"Yes, I would be, were I not a Stoic."
"You are neither—you are an Epicurean."
"Granted: I am even an Apician."
"What's that? Who was Apicius?"
"There, now, you are shockingly ignorant; you really don't know what apis means in Sanscrit—bah!"
"In Sanscrit? True; but in Latin it is—"
"Bee: I'll help you out."
"Very well, you are an Apician, you say: expound."
"Why! do I not admire Belle-bouche?"
"I believe so."
"Pretty mouth—that is the translation?"
"A mouth like Suckling's lady-love's—stay, was it Suckling? Yes: Sir John. 'Some bee had stung it newly,' you know. Well, Belle-bouche has honey lips—a beautiful idea—and bees love honey, and I love Belle-bouche: there's the syllogism, as you tiresome logicians say. Q. E. D., I am an Apician!"
Jacques stands astounded at this gigantic philological joke, to the great satisfaction of his friend, who caresses his sandy whiskers with still greater self-appreciation.
"Now call me Sir Asinus any longer, if you dare!" he says; and he begins chanting from the open book:
"Saltu vincit hinnulos, Damas et capreolos, Super dromedarios, Velox Madianeos! Dum trahit vehicula Multa cum sarcinula, Illius mandibula Dura terit pabula!"
"Translate now!" cries Sir Asinus, "and bear testimony to my worth."
Jacques takes the book and reads over the Latin; then he extemporizes:
"In running he excels Doctor Smalls and antelopes; Swift beyond the camels. Or Midianitish proctors. While he drags his dulness In verse along his pages, His asinarian jaw-bones Make havoc with the rhymes!"
Having modestly made this translation, Jacques closes the book and rises.
Sir Asinus tears his hair, and declares that his friend's ignorance of Latin is shocking.
"The ordinary plea when the rendering of disputed passages is not to our taste," says Jacques. "But I must go. By the by, the worthy Doctor came near seeing you in the Governor's chariot."
"It was more than he dared to recognise me," said Sir Asinus grandly.
"Certainly; if he had bowed to me, I should have cut his acquaintance. I would have refused to return his salute. I carefully avoided even looking at him, to spare his feelings."
"I appreciate your delicacy," said his friend; "you commenced your system even at Shadynook. Did you win any thing from Fauquier?"
"How did you know we played?"
"Why, returning past midnight, I saw lights."
"Very well—that proved nothing. We did play, however, friend Jacques, and I lost; which gave his Excellency an opportunity to perform a very graceful act. But enough. Before you go, tell me whom you were conversing with just now."
"A maiden," said Jacques.
"No! a perfect fairy."
"See the effect of seclusion! You are getting into such a state of disgust with your books, that you'll end by espousing Mother Bobbery, you unfortunate victim of political ideas."
"I disgusted—I tired of my books—I tired, when I have this glorious song to sing!"
And at the top of his voice Sir Asinus chanted:
"Aurum de Arabia, Thus et myrrhum de Saba, Tulit in ecclesia Virtus asinaria!"
"Excellent dog Latin," said Jacques; "and literally translated it signifies:
'Gold from the Governor, Tobacco from the South Side, Asinarian strategy Has brought into his chambers.'
That is to say, asinarian strategy has made the attempt."
But Sir Asinus, disregarding these strictures, began to sing the chorus:
"Hez, Sire Asne, car chantez, Belle bouche rechignez; Vous aurez du foin assez, Et de l'avoine a plantez."
"Good," said Jacques; "that signifies:
Strike up, Sir Asinus, With your braying mouth; Never fear for hay, The crop of oats is ample.'
But on reflection the translation is bad—'belle bouche is not 'braying mouth;' which reminds me that I must take my departure."
"Where are you going, unhappy profaner of ecclesiastical psalmody?"
"To see Belle-bouche," sighed Jacques.
Sir Asinus tore his hair.
"Then I'll go too," he cried.
"I've the last horse at the Raleigh," observed Jacques with melancholy pleasure. "Good morning, my dear friend. Take care of yourself."
And leaving Sir Asinus with a polite bow, Jacques went down the staircase. As for Sir Asinus, in the excess of his rage he sat down and composed a whole canto of an epic—which luckily has not descended to our day. The rats preserved humanity.
THE LUCK OF JACQUES.
Belle-bouche was busily at work upon a piece of embroidery when Jacques entered; and this embroidery was designed for a fire-screen. It represented a parroquet intensely crimson, on a background uniformly emerald; and the eyes of the melancholy lover dwelt wistfully upon the snowy hands selecting the different colors from a tortoise-shell work-box filled with spools of silk.
Belle-bouche greeted the entrance of her admirer with a frank smile, and held out her hand, which poor Jacques pressed to his lips with melancholy pleasure.
"I find Miss Belle-bouche always engaged in some graceful occupation," he said mournfully; "she is either reading the poets, or writing poetry herself in all the colors of the rainbow."
The beauty treated this well-timed compliment with a smile.
"Oh, no," she said; "I am only working a screen."
"It is very pretty."
"Do you think so?"
And then Jacques paused; his conversation as usual dried up like a fountain at midsummer. He made a desperate effort.
"I thought I heard you singing as I entered," he said.
"Yes, I believe I was," smiled Belle-bouche.
"What music was so happy?" Jacques sighed.
"A child's song," she said.
"'Lady bird, lady bird, fly away home.'"
"A most exquisite air," sighed Jacques; "please commence again."
"But I have finished."
"Then something else, my dearest Miss Belle-bouche; see how unfortunate I am—pray pardon me."
"Willingly," said Belle-bouche, smiling with a roseate blush.
"I always fancy myself in Arcady when I am near you," he said tenderly.
"Why? because you find me very idle?"
"Oh, no; but Arcady, you know, was the abode of sylvan queens—dryads and oreads and naiads," said the classic Jacques; "and you are like them."
"Like a dryad?"
"They were very beautiful."
Belle-bouche blushed again; and to conceal her blushes bent over the screen. Jacques sighed.
"Chloes are dead, however," he murmured, "and the reed of Pan is still. The fanes of Arcady are desolate."
And having uttered this beautiful sentiment, the melancholy Jacques was silent.
"Do you like 'My Arcady?'" asked Belle-bouche; "I think it very pretty."
"It is the gem of music. Ah! to hear you sing it," sighed poor Corydon.
Belle-bouche quite simply rose, and going to the spinet, sat down and played the prelude.
Jacques listened with closed eyes and heaving bosom.
"Please hand me the music," said Belle-bouche; "there in the scarlet binding."
Jacques started and obeyed. As she received it, the young girl's hand touched his own, and he uttered a sigh which might have melted rocks. The reason was, that Jacques was in love: we state the fact, though it has probably appeared before.
Belle-bouche's voice was like liquid moonlight and melodious flowers. Its melting involutions and expiring cadences unwound themselves and floated from her lips like satin ribbon gradually drawn out.
As for Jacques, he was in a dream; one might have supposed that his nerves were steeped in the liquid melody—or at times, when he started, that the music came over him like a shower bath of perfume.
His sighs would have conciliated tigers; and when she turned and smiled on him, he almost staggered.
"Now," said Belle-bouche smiling softly, "suppose I sing something a little merrier. You know the minuet always gives place to the reel."
Jacques uttered an expiring assent, and Belle-bouche commenced singing with her laughing voice the then popular ditty, "Pretty Betty Martin, tip-toe fine."
If her voice sighed before, it laughed out loudly now. The joyous and exhilarating music sparkled, glittered, fell in rosy showers—rattled like liquid diamonds and dry rain. It flashed, and glanced, and ran—and stumbling over itself, fell upwards, showering back again in shattered cadences and fiery foam.
When she ended, Jacques remained silent, and was only waked, so to speak, by hearing his name pronounced.
"Yes," he said at random.
"You agree with me, then, that my voice is wretchedly out of tune?" she said mischievously.
Poor Jacques only sighed and blushed.
"Betty Martin was a foolish girl," said Belle-bouche, laughing to hide her embarrassment.
"How?" murmured Jacques.
Belle-bouche found that she was involved in a delicate explanation; but thinking boldness the best, she replied:
"Because she could not find just the husband she wanted. You know the song says so—'some were too coarse and some too fine.'"
"Yes," murmured Jacques; "and 'tis often the case with us poor fellows. We seldom find the Chloe we want—she flies us ever spite of our attempts to clasp her to our hearts."
"That is not because Chloe is fickle, but because Corydon is so difficult to please," Belle-bouche replied, with a sly little smile.
"Ah! I am not!" he sighed.
"Indeed, you are mistaken; I'm sure you are a very fastidious shepherd."
"No, no. True, I may never find my Chloe; but when I do, then I shall no longer be my own master."
Belle-bouche hesitated, blushed, and said quickly:
"Perhaps you long to meet with an angel."
"Oh, no—only a woman," said Jacques; "and if you will listen, I will describe my ideal in a moment."
"Yes," said Belle-bouche, looking away; for his eyes were fixed upon her with such meaning that she could not return his gaze.
"First," said Corydon, sighing, "she should be young—that is to say, she should unite the grace and innocence of childhood with the splendor and fascination of the fully-developed woman. This is most often found at seventeen—therefore she should be just seventeen."
Belle-bouche was scarcely more than seventeen, as we know. The cunning Jacques went on.
"She should be a blonde, with light golden hair, eyes as azure as the heavens, and, as one great poet said of another, 'with a charming archness' in them."
"Yes," murmured Belle-bouche, whom this description suited perfectly.
"Her voice should not be loud and bold, her manner careless," Jacques went on; "but a delicious gentleness, and even at times a languor, should be diffused through it—diffused through voice and manner, as a perfume is diffused through an apartment, invisible, imperceptible almost, filling us with quiet pleasure."
"Quite a poetical description," said Belle-bouche, trying to laugh.
"She should be soft and tender—full of wondrous thoughts, and ever standing like a gracious angel," sighed the rapturous Jacques, "to bless, console, and comfort me."
"Still prettier," said Belle-bouche, blushing.
"Now let me sum up," said Jacques. "Golden hair, blue eyes, a rosy face full of childlike innocence, at times steeped in dewy languor, and those melting smiles which sway us poor men so powerfully; and lastly, with a heart and soul attuned to all exalted feelings and emotions. There is what I look for—ah, to find her! Better still to dream she could love me."
"Well, can you not find your Chloe?" Belle-bouche murmured, almost inaudibly.
"Never, I fear," said Jacques; "or else," he continued with a sigh, "when we do find her, we always find that some other discoverer claims possession."
"Suppose it is without the consent of the aborigines," she said, attempting to laugh.
Jacques looked at her; then shook his head.
"'Tis the strong hand, not the true heart, which conquers."
"Oh no, it is not!" said Belle-bouche.
"The good, kind heart, faithful and sincere."
Jacques fixed his eyes upon her blushing face, which leaned upon one of her fair hands—the other hand meanwhile being an object of deep interest to her eyes, cast down toward it.
"And should such a heart be wounded?" he said.
"Oh, no!" murmured Belle-bouche, blushing.
"Then do not wound mine!" cried Jacques; "dearest Belle-bouche! light of my heart—that was your portrait! Listen to your faithful——"
Poor, poor Jacques! Fate played with him. For at the very moment when he was about to fall upon his knees—just when his fate was to be decided—just when he saw an Arcadian picture spread before him, in its brilliant hues, all love and sunshine—that excellent old lady Aunt Wimple entered, calmly smiling, and with rustling silk and rattling key basket, dispelled all his fond romantic dreams.
Belle-bouche rose hastily and returned to her embroidery; Aunt Wimple sat down comfortably, and commenced a flood of talk about the weather; and Jacques fell back on an ottoman overcome with despair.
In half an hour he was slowly on his way back to town—his arms hanging down, his head bent to his breast, his dreamy eyes fixed intently upon vacancy.
Jacques saw nothing around him; Belle-bouche alone was in his vision—Belle-bouche, who by another chance was snatched from him.
The odor of the peach blossoms seemed a weary sort of odor, and the lark sang harshly.
As he passed through a meadow, he heard himself saluted by name—by whom he knew not. He bowed without looking at the speaker; he only murmured, "One more chance gone." As he passed the residence of Sir Asinus, he heard that gentleman laughing at him; he only sighed, "Belle-bouche!"
MOWBRAY OPENS HIS HEART TO HIS NEW FRIEND.
Instead of following the melancholy Jacques to his chamber, let us return to the meadow in which he had been saluted by the invisible voice. A brook ran sparkling like a silver thread across the emerald expanse, and along this brook were sauntering two students, one of whom had spoken to the abstracted lover.
He who had addressed Jacques was Mowbray; the other was Hoffland, the young student who had just arrived at Williamsburg.
Hoffland is much younger than his companion—indeed, seems scarcely to have passed beyond boyhood; his stature is low, his figure is slender, his hair flaxen and curling, his face ornamented only with a peach-down mustache. He is clad in a suit of black richly embroidered; wraps a slight cloak around him spite of the warmth of the pleasant May afternoon; and his cocked hat, apparently too large for him, droops over his face, falling low down upon his brow.
They walk on for a moment in silence.
Then Hoffland says, in a musical voice like that of a boy before his tone undergoes the disagreeable change of manhood:
"You have not said how strange you thought this sudden friendship I express, Mr. Mowbray, but I am afraid you think me very strange."
"No, indeed," replies Mowbray; "I know not why, but you have already taken a strong hold upon me. Singular! we are almost strangers, but I feel as though I had known you all my life!"
"That can scarcely be, for I am but seventeen or eighteen," says Hoffland smiling.
"A frank, true age. I regret that I have passed it."
"Ah, can you ask, Mr. Hoffland?"
"Please do not call me Mr. Hoffland. We are friends: say Charles; and then I will call you Ernest. I cannot unless you set me the example."
"Ernest? How did you discover my name?"
"Oh!" said Hoffland, somewhat embarrassed, "does not every body know Ernest Mowbray?"
"Very well—as you are determined to give me compliments instead of reasons, I will not persist. Charles be it then, but you must call me Ernest."
The low musical words went to his heart, and broke down every barrier. They were bosom friends from that moment, and walked on in perfect confidence.
"Why did you regret your youth, Ernest?" said Hoffland. "I thought young men looked forward impatiently to their full manhood—twenty-five or thirty; though I do not," he added with a smile.
"They do; but it is only another proof of the blindness of youth."
"Is youth blind?"
"Blind, because it cannot see that all the delights of ambition, the victories of mind, the triumphs and successes of the brain, are mere dust and ashes compared with what it costs to obtain them—the innocence of the heart, the illusions of its youthful hope."
"Ah! are illusions to be desired?"
"At least they are a sweet suffering, a bitter delight."
"Even when one wakes from them to find every thing untrue—despair alone left?"
"You paint the reverse truly; but still I hold that the happiness of life is in what I have styled illusions. Listen, Charles," he continued, gazing kindly at the boy, who turned away his head. "Life is divided into three portions—three stages, which we must all travel before we can lie down in that silent bed prepared for us at our journey's end. In the first, Youth, every thing is rosy, brilliant, hopeful; life is a dream of happiness which deadens the senses with its delirious rapture—deadens them so perfectly that the thorns Youth treads on are such no longer, they are flowers! stones are as soft as the emerald grass, and if a mountain or a river rise before it, all Youth thinks is, What a beautiful summit, or, How fair a river! and straightway it darts joyously up the ascent, or throws itself laughing into the bright sparkling waters. The mountain and the river are not obstacles—they are delights. Then comes the second portion of life, Manhood, when the obstacles are truly what they seem—hard to ascend, trying to swim over. Then comes Age, when the sobered heart hesitates long before commencing the ascent or essaying the crossing—when duty only prompts. Say that duty is greater than hope, and you are right; but say that duty carries men as easily over obstacles as joy, which loves those obstacles, and you are mistaken. Well, all this prosing is meant to show that the real happiness of life is in illusions. Doubtless you are convinced of it, however: already one learns much by the time he has reached eighteen."
Mowbray drove away his thoughts, and said, smiling sadly:
"Have you ever loved, Charles?"
"Never," murmured the boy.
"That is the master illusion," sighed Mowbray.
"And is it a happy one?"
"A painful happiness."
These short words were uttered with so much sadness, that the boy stole a look of deep interest at his companion's face.
"Do not be angry with me, Ernest," he said, "but may I ask you if you have ever loved?"
His head drooped, and he murmured, "Yes."
"Were you disappointed?"
And there was a long pause. They walked on in silence.
"It is a beautiful afternoon," said Mowbray at length.
"Lovely," murmured the boy.
"This stream is so fresh and pure—no bitterness in it."
"Is there in love?"
Mowbray was silent for a moment. Then he raised his head, and said to his companion:
"Charles, listen! What I am going to tell you, may serve to place you upon your guard against what may cause you great suffering. I know not why, but I take a strange interest in you—coming alone into the great world a mere youth as you are, leaving in the mountains from which you say you come all those friends whose counsel might guide you. Listen to me, then, as to an elder brother—a brother who has grown old early in thought and feeling, who at twenty-five has already lived half the life of man—at least in the brain and heart. Listen. I was always impulsive and sanguine, always proud and self-reliant. My father was wealthy. I was told from my boyhood that I was a genius—that I had only to extend my hand, and the slaves of the lamp, as the Orientals say, would drop into it all the jewels of the universe. Success in politics, poetry, law, or letters—the choice lay with me, but the event was certain whichever I should select. Well, my father died—his property was absorbed by his debts—I was left with an orphan sister to struggle with the world.