« ZurückWeiter »
you go ?”
preserving. When he was through, Cain, from the table. Howard soon after folwho had looked on gravely, said :
lowed. “Whilst you have been conferring a
Astiville took up a newspaper, but in service upon me this morning, I trust a
vain endeavored to fix his mind on its collesson has been impressed on your own
umns. Lifting his eyes, at length, he perheart. Let that broken gun remind you ceived that he had no companion in the that there are elements within your bosom, drawing-room except his son. which, if let loose, will scatter havoc
“ You went gunning this morning, I around, and bring ruin on yourself. Youth believe, Howard »
Ye is ever a period of danger, and your case is
es, attended with an additional and peculiar
“Did you find anything in your walk. peril. You inherit a stormy temperament worthy of note?” which it will require your utmost might to
“No, sir ; nothing to speak of,” replied control. The admonition now given, you Howard, embarrassed by the recollection will not hastily reject, for it comes from of Cain's injunction of secrecy. one who has felt passion, and suffered from Astiville inquired no further. He dared it. Watch unceasingly; the dread trial not speak, lest some of his troubled thoughts will meet you at a time when you expect it which agitated his mind should betray not. Think that a single instant may suf- themselves. fice to entail unending sorrow.
After a few minutes of profound silence,
Howard rose and remarked that he would “Forewarned is forearmed,” answered
ride over to Everstone. Howard, affecting cheerfulness.
"To Everstone!" echoed Astiville, Cain shook his head, and rejoined, “I suddenly and sharply; “which way will trust it may prove so, but I cannot read the lines of your countenance without a “ Along the wagon road, of course, sir, feeling of apprehension. Farewell, and by the stone bridge.” may you be assisted by a power mightier “I asked," returned the father, trying than your own." Howard had hardly climbed the fence, business with Nathan Brewer, and did not
to recover himself, “ because I have a little before Cain followed and overtook him.
know but you might perform it for me, if “Stop, I wish to give you a charge. you took the upper route.” Tell no one what has occurred this morn- “ Brewer's house is not at all in my way ing; be silent even to your father. Another to Everstone,” said Howard in some surthing: come not here again—I am best prise; “ but what is the business, sir? I alone. Now go; but once more let me can postpone my visit to the Everlyn's to urge you to watch the demon, Tem- another day.”
“No matter,” said Astiville.
On After uttering these words, the recluse second thought, I would rather see Brewer turned his back abruptly, and retired myself. He is probably getting out timber within his hut. Howard walked home, in the woods near my line, which made me and on the way had much to occupy his think you might possibly pass not a great thoughts. He entered the house as the way from him. But you would not be apt family were sitting at the dinner table, to find the man, so you may as well keep and took_his seat among them without the road you first intended.” remark. During the meal, the father more Mr. Astiville went to look for Brewer, than once glanced uneasily towards the son, by taking the most direct course to Cain's but asked no question respecting his morn
cabin. That riches are oftentimes a curse, ing's employment. Astiville was some- is a trite saying, and not for twenty times thing of an epicure, yet none of the viands John Astiville's great possessions would any which his wife offered him that day could wise man have been willing to undergo tempt his appetite. When the cloth was what was undergone by him in the brief removed, he pushed away the wine-glass interval between his morning's and his placed before him by the servant, and rose afternoon's ride.
HOWARD, who had a far lighter heart to fortunate mean in the material creation. carry, was quickly at Everstone.
After a The stone and the clod do not suffer ; but, pleasant talk, terminated by the entrance | inert, senseless, lifeless, they exist without of tea and other evening refreshments, he enjoying existence. The lamb that gamheard the blast of horns, almost drowned bols over the field, now plucking a tender in the loud shouts of negro voices. Sidney spire of grass, then skipping to receive a sprang up and looked through the window. caress from the bleating ewe, I verily be
“ You must know,” said Everlyn to lieve is favored with an actual, positive, Howard, “ that this young lady takes a pleasure. But this creature's happiness is remarkable interest in farming matters- not unalloyed. No dog can pass by, that witness the animation with which she hails the sight does not cause its whole tender the corn-shucking."
frame to quiver with apprehension. Does “ You will not be surprised at me, a sportsman fire his gun near the flock ? Mr. Astiville, when you learn that it is The weapon is not pointed at the lamb, ten years since I last saw a shucking. How yet the poor creature runs hither and briskly the colored folks are flocking to thither, and, in short, undergoes a thousand gether from all sides, and how merrily they deaths before it meets the butcher's knife.
The negro, however, more highly favored Howard also went to the window. The by Providence, frolics as gaily as the lamb, sun had just gone down amidst the haze of and, unlike the lamb, has nothing to dread. the Indian summer, while the moon, rising He labors, indeed, but not with his mind; over the eastern tree-tops, compensated and bodily exercise is the most grateful of well for his departure. The air, dry and animal pleasures.” balmy, was of that happy temperature
“ You commence at the bottom of creawhich does not chill the blood though it tion,” answered Sidney, “ and as you astempts the limbs to exercise. Sidney cend discern at each stage, an increase of donned her bonnet, and, accompanied by happiness; if you went higher, would you the visitor, went to gratify curiosity by a not find the same law still to prevail ? nearer view of the shuckers. The corn Surely, you yourself would not change was collected at the stack yard, distant in situations with the merriest fellow that exa direct line something less than half a hibits his white teeth in the moonlight mile. There was a path which wound above us. around the hill and led to the spot after a “No," returned Howard; “nor would graceful circuit. This path the young Croesus have exchanged places with the couple followed.
peasant whom the oracle declared the hapI do believe," said Howard, as the piest man in Lydia. Education has made swelling chorus of the corn-song was re- me aware of faculties of which the blackey verberated from hill to hill, “ that the ne- is unconscious. His ignorance is literally gro is the happiest being on earth.” his bliss, for an increase of knowledge
“ That they enjoy life, is certain," re- always causes an increase of desire. For plied Sidney, “but to constitute perfect instance, how can I read about men who happiness, should not the intellectual part have distinguished themselves in science, of our nature be expanded and gratified?” in literature, or in affairs of state, without
“Ah, what can gratify the yearnings of longing to equal and surpass them? In the soul when once awakened Better the the dreamy enthusiasm of boyhood, I torpor of ignorance than a restlessness that doubted not to become some day á Newton allows no repose.
lives on from or a Cicero, just as in an earlier period I day to day with no thought nor care for hoped to attain to the physical prowess of the morrow; all the wants he is capable a Cour de Leon. Since then, as I become of feeling are satisfied; he is free from daily more and more capable of appreciapain, he is free from desire, and conse- ting the characters of the men whose quently is happy. He seems to occupy the names are emblazoned in history, I am
compelled to despair more and more of his ancestral tree, had discovered that Sidever rivalling their excellence. I am sub- ney's grandmother was the half-sister of his jected to the torment of Tantalus, and own great uncle; whence his claim to use there is no escape from it; the eyes of the the affectionate style of relationship.) mind once opened can never be closed. It not palliate my fault.
If I am young is very easy to learn, but what more im- enough to deserve pardon for not having possible than to forget? I am thrust in- yet accomplished some memorable action, voluntarily into a contest which I cannot I ought at least to be earnestly busy in now avoid. Winner in it I can scarcely fitting myself to act. But here is the sad hope to be, yet defeat is shame."
difficulty. I am no Admirable Crichton to "To judge from your words,” said embrace the whole circle of the sciences, Sidney, smiling, “one would be ready to nor do I feel the impulse of an instinct suppose you the most miserable of beings." directing me to any career congenial to my
"Do not draw that inference,” replied disposition, and not above my strength." the young man,
I have no right to any “What think you of the Law” inprivilege of woe. I am now in a state of quired Sidney. suspense which I dare say will not last : “I heartily despise it, and besides, the probably I shall soon find my level :- qualities which are its essential requisites, whether my part be to float on the flat sur- are precisely those in which I am most face of mediocrity, or, as I still would fain deficient-cunning, duplicity, and coldhope, to attain the rank of the flying-fish blooded indifference. No-I'd as soon be that sometimes soars in air, though at other a soldier of fortune, and cut throats for the times it is forced to hide amidst the peb- highest bidder !!! bles of the bottom. Yet I wish there was Before the young lady was able to think some seer to declare the result beforehand, of another suggestion, they had turned the so that I might learn the station appointed corner of the fodder-house and come in full for me, by some process less mortifying view of the dusky assembly. On both than the failure to maintain a higher one.” sides of a long pile of unshucked ears of
Sidney remarked that it had been stated corn they stood, or rather capered, for that a man may make himself what he their feet moved quite as nimbly as their pleases.
fingers, though less profitably to the master “If those that tell us that,” said How- of the land. Mr. Everlyn's servants formed ard, “be themselves men of little note, of course a small proportion of the party; their declaration is entitled to small res- there were boys and men at work who had pect; and as for the really great, they can come, without hope of fee except a particispeak for themselves but not for others." pation in the frolic, and a share of the
“Yet strenuous effort,” rejoined Sid- substantial supper at the close_distances ney, “though it should fail to reach the varying from two miles to ten. All were highest aim, is better than a listless waiting shouting with full play of lung, and at the on Time."
highest pitch of voice. Yet was there re“I admit it. This cowardly sloth in gularity in the discord. The same words which I am now sunk, I am myself ashamed were for the most part used by every inof. It is a reproach to the Creator to shun dividual, and at intervals the familiar the laborious probation which is the com- chorus burst forth to which each voice conmon allotment of all mankind. Yes, it is tributed its utmost power, and which rose indeed time that I was up and doing.” and swelled on the air, till it startled the
“Excuse me,” said Sidney. "I am owls in the depths of the forest. But who very far from intending any application of shall attempt to describe the indescribable my remark to yourself. Certainly you are corn-song ? Pindar, in his wildest flights, hardly so advanced in years as to be ob- never imagined lyrical achievements apnoxious to any serious blame for not having proaching the daring extravagance of these yet performed as much as it usually re- efforts of the Africo-American Muse. Troquires a life-time to accomplish.”
chees, lambi and Anapests appear in a ka“You are a lenient censor, Cousin Sid- ieidoscopical variety of collocation ; while ney,”—(It must be noted, by the way, that Diamters and Alexandrines are thrown in Howard in the course of a diligent study of startling contrast. Sometimes we are greeted by the severe majesty of blank- The other division of the assembly sang verse ; anon, the song condescends to put on with taste" the pathetic strain the trammels of rhyme. We hear not only brief and fervid odes, but long epics whose
“ An' thar I spied an old grey goose,
A-smilin' at the gander.” recitation wears out the night; and we are fortunate in being able to state a fact in re
Had it been broad day, Sidney would gard to the origin of these latter prodigious have been able to perceive that her comcompositions, which is capable of casting panion's face was flushed with anger. Too much light upon a critical question of no little much absorbed, however, in observing the importance.' Close your mouths hencefor-novel and picturesque scene before her, to ward, ye clamorous opposers of Hedelin and divide her attention with aught else, she Heyne! The Iliad, that noblest compound looked not at Howard nor addressed to him of rhapsodies, never could have sprung any remark for a space of some minutes. from one unaided author, for no single Curiosity being at length amply gratified, Homer is found adequate to compose so the lady and gentleman left the yard. Sidmuch as a corn-song. Verse after verse is ney then thought to inquire of Howard added by the inspiration of innumerable whether he could account for the sudden successive poets. In some future day, a change of the song at their approach. Pisistratus will doubtless arise to combine
" And do
not know ?" said Young and arrange the precious fragments in one Astiville, turning towards her. grand, symmetrical, immortal, whole. “Really," she answered, “I cannot im
As Sidney and Howard stopped to listen, agine the reason. If they intended to comthe melodious choir were singing lines pliment us, I think they displayed little something like the following :
judgment, for the first song certainly apOld Bob Hateful he was a devil,
peared to have much more character than Sartain and sure, sartain and sure!
any that succeeded it." “ Water! Water !"---hear him bellow,
at the “ Just from the spring so fresh and cold ;"
fourth corner » But none did he git, for all he cried “hello !” FIRE's what's for him---that rarscal old !
“Yes, something, I remember that Mr. And where the fire is the hottest,
Somers”_here she hesitated. There may he choke---choke---choke!
“You refer to that evening when he utFor old Bob Hateful, he was a devil
tered such audacious insolence in your parSartain and sure, sartain and sure ! When the last dying note of the chorus he said, for neither father nor mother will
lor. Let me know precisely what it was had floated
tell me." a dead silence around the corn-pile. In fact, before the two or three previous lines unwilling to supply it with fuel
. “It is not
Sidney noticed his kindling ire and was were sung, the white visitors had been dis- well,” she answered to recur to an incident covered by a portion of the assemblage, who immediately dropped their voices.
so unpleasant, and which, I have no doubt, «« Wheew!" said an old fellow whose
has since been regretted by all parties who curly grey locks glistened in the moon
were engaged in it.”
“ If I had been present that evening," beam,“ Hush boys—bush boys!" “Who's that?” asked one of those a little have escaped so easily. Let him never
said Howard,“ Richard Somers should not further off.
Priam—for the first speaker was no other repeat the infamous slanders he spoke then, than Mr. Newlove's lately engaged servant shall learn the foundation upon which bis
or dearly shall he rue the hour. But you -answered in a low impressive tone, frantic malice built I know 'not what “Don't you see ? It's Master Howard As- impudent accusation. Robert Astiville, as tiville. Let's strike up something else
you have probably heard, was the first of quick boys ;—it makes no odds what.”.
our family that settled in this State. He On the instant the negroes at one side of
took the corn-heap dashed into that spasmodic which had been patented some score of
up a body of land adjoining one melody which accompanies the words
years previous by Roland Compton. It “ Pickin' up de cotton ; pickin' up de cotton ! Heigho---Heigho!
chanced, as he was engaged with a chain Picken' up de cotton, &c.
and compass in running out his lines, that
he found himself oppressed with thirst near Branch, being the division line between the the fourth corner-stone of Compton, which patents.” was to constitute his own corner also. Sit- “Yet you have not told me why the ting down to rest himself there, he dispatch- blacks interrupted their singing upon our ed a black man named Giles, his own slave, arrival just now." with a vessel to bring water from some “What?" said Howard. “ Did you not spring, for, it being mid-summer, the Hard- hear them speak of a certain Bob Hatewater Run at whose edge he had arrived, ful—" was too warm and nauseous to be drank “And was that your—" of. The negro, after an interval of time “My great grandfather's father you which doubtless appeared very long to the
mean? Yes, such is the epithet with parched and weary company at the Cor- which the negro vocabulary has honored ner, returned. He brought the bucket, him. The poet who, about a century ago, so tradition says—upon his head. In lift- composed that elegant elegiac, made the ing it down, the unfortunate man, whether line run, 'Old Bob Astiville,' but the liaccidentally or through design, slipped his ving Astiville's having, very naturally, no hold, the bucket fell, and the water was desire that their name should be handed spilled upon
the ground. My ancestor, un- down to posterity in such a fashion, remonder the influence of the sudden irritation, strated, and so energetically, that the sable raised the iron measuring chain which lay songsters expunged it and substituted coiled at his feet, and struck the slave vio- another. They have also sense enough to lently on the head. The blow was mortal.” know that the song, albeit thus modified,
An exclamation escaped Sidney's lips. cannot be particularly agreeable to any “My ancestor," continued Howard, member of the Astiville family. Hence was a man of strong passions—in this re
their disorder this evening upon discoverspect, I fear, too much like his descendants ing whom they had for a listener.” - he was excited by a disappointment
"I do not wonder,” said Sidney, "that greater than any one can conceive who has your family should prefer having so painnot endured the agony of thirst; and more
ful an incident in their history forgotten.” than all in striking Giles he meant nothing
“ And forgotten it would have been long further than a moderate chastisement for ago," rejoined Howard,“ but for the perhis carelessness or perhaps wilful and sulky
verse memory of the negroes. Nor are disobedience. Then let us not judge Robert they content with the tragedy as it really Astiville too harshly. Deeply must he
occurred. Each generation seems to conhave repented the homicide into which an sider it a duty to embellish the tradition ungovernable temper had betrayed him.” with added circumstances of horror. Ac“ And was Giles buried by the corner
cording to the belief now current, Robert
Astiville was not merely a man of impetuous stone ?" “Yes, so it is said ; and the negroes hard-hearted cruelty to A pollyon himself.”
temper, but a perfect demon—a rival in (who are strongly affected by such circumstances) have invested the spot with many
“Did Giles leave any descendants ?” superstitious and ghostly fancies. To this inquired Sidney.
ti Yes. There is one old woman in parcause is in a great measure to be attributed
ticular who I know is descended from him. the difficulty of at this day discovering the
Her name is Naomi. Though now free, exact locality.” “ Then,” observed Sidney, musing, from her mouth that I first heard the tale of
she once belonged to my father, and it was "you think that the corner which we thought
her ancestor's death. I was not more than was found near the sulphur spring, must be
ten or twelve years old, and as you may given up.”
suppose, the account delivered by her with “I fear it must, indeed," replied How- bitter emphasis, made a profound impresard, yet it ought to be remembered sion upon my mind. I remember that the that this story of the grave is a mere tra- old woman, to account for the sudden fit of dition and has no positive evidence to support passion of which Giles was the victim, asit. At any rate, however, there is nothing sured me that there was an evil spirit who to shake our confidence in the Lower l haunted our race, occasionally taking full