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such a contingency as had happened to me, to deprive his victims of the advantage, if they should find the means, of light, and delude them further away from hope, to cheat them more certainly to their destruction. I saw the deception, and I felt all the effects of my error, when, after hours of search, I failed to discover the arrows, by means of which I might retrace my steps to the place where I was first deserted. It was vain, vain, all vain; I only plunged deeper into the stony wilderness of my prison-house. But, was I to pause in despair? My candles were burning, one by one, away; and when they were all consumed—ay, then would come the time to pause—and die. I toiled on with the activity of desperation, penetrating I knew not whither, and passing among scenes of the most extraordinary grandeur and novelty; but they had no interest for a dying man. I only remember being attracted by its distant thunder to a roaring waterfall—not a pitiful stream, dripping down by bucketfuls, like the usual cascades of a cave—but a subterranean Niagara, a mighty cataract that came billowing down a vast cliff, and pitched into a gulf that the eye could not fathom. I caught water from it in my hands, to slake my thirst, and then fled away to seek a path of escape. And so long as my candles lasted, I continued the search, without pausing a moment. Time was precious, my hours of light were numbered, and I walked, and where I could, Iran, without tiring —how could I yield to fatigue, or even be conscious of it, in my dreadful situation; and it seemed to me I continued thus to walk and run for at least thirty-six hours; for so long I judged—or rather my feelings told me, for I judged nothing, —that my candles lasted. I had a watch, but I did not look at it; I had let it run down, and I did not care. How could I care about time? It was light, only light, that I thought of. And how I thought of it, when I lighted my last candle, and marked it burning gradually away! At length, it was consumed; it flickered and gave out its last flash. I fixed my eyes upon the fragment of burning wick; and when that ceased to sparkle, I fell down on the rocks in a swoon. Shall I go on with my story? Shall I tell you how I awoke a second time, and crept darkly from rock to rock, now struggling for life, now lying down to die; how days and nights came and passed, though all there was one fixed, everlasting midnight? But days and nights did come and pass; a death-bell in my spirit marked the lapse of hours; and there was something within me that told me I had past ten days in that awful condition. You may judge that bodily anguish was added to that of spirit. Truly, I endured all the horrors of hunger and thirst till the eleventh day, when I sank for the last time into a swoon, thinking it was death. I awoke again, a strong light glaring in my face; and a man was stooping over me, rubbing my hands and sprinkling my face with water. It was
the wretch, Darling; and at the sight of his detested visage, I forgot the friendly office he was performing; or, rather, I conceived it some new act of cruelty. I could have torn his heart out, but a child could not be more truly powerless and helpless than I. Voice only was left me, and it was with the feeblest whispers I begged him to “be a merciful villain, and put me out of my misery.” “That's just what I am trying to do, for I reckon you have had enough of it,” said the rogue. “And now, if you'll just get up * * “Get up, villain!” I exclaimed. “After ten days of starvation—” But the villain interrupted me with a loud horselaugh, crying, “And so you think you're murdered, do you? and that you have been suffering here for ten days? Ten days! That beats me hollow! But you know something about it now! Ten days, indeed! May I never see daylight if it has been ten minutes!” “How, caitiff!” I exclaimed, “did you not leave me here to die? and have I not been wandering about here in darkness, starved, for ten days?” “Not ten minutes by the watch, I assure you,” quoth Darling; “you have never stirred out of that spot; I never heard of a man starving between dinner and supper; and as for me, may I die if I haven't been sitting alongside of you all the time.” And he burst into the most awful peals of laughter. I started up. I did not feel as if I were dying, after all, although somewhat sickish, and greatly disturbed and confused in spirit. “I burnt up all my candles?" No! the whole bundle was hanging to my girdle. “I have been among pits and cataracts?”—I looked around me; it was the precise scene of Darling's captivity and my experiment, for I could recollect every rock. I took out my watch; I had looked at it when I gave up my matches; it was then ten minutes past five o'clock, and now it was exactly twenty! “Heavens and earth!” I cried, “you are not a murderer then! and I have been out of my senses!” “Ay,” said Darling, humorously,– “you can feel now what it is to be cave-lost! Ah, sir,” he cried, “it would have been nothing, had you thought I was to come back to you. I saw you had a misgiving, and I knew you must have heard some of Sim Jacks' (the grim farmer's) 'big lies' of me; and so I thought you should try the thing fairly, as I did, quite sure you were lost in reality, and no friend to come and help you. And so I played rascal (but I shall give Sim Jacks a second trouncing for belying me!) blew out the light, sat down on a rock, threw stones to make you believe I was stealing off; and all the while I was sitting still, not ten feet from you. And then you fell to begging and praying, and swearing and howling, and all that: all folks cave-lost do so; and then you seemed to take it too hard,-thought it was a little too hard; and I heard you fall over in a swoon. And so I struck a light, and ended the 156
business in ten minutes; for, I reckon, half an hour would have killed you. And, now that we have played the play out, suppose we take up our sticks and go out to supper!”
“And that,” quoth the Tennesseean, “was the whole of my adventure in the Death Cave. In those ten minutes, I lived through ten days of horror. I suppose I was mad; they say people lost in caves do go mad; but, in Darling's phrase, it was “a yelling dream.” I may as well tell you, that, as I learned afterwards, Darling was a practical wag. It is certain, he did not murder nor rob me, though he cruelly laughed at me. But I fell sick, in consequence of my mental agitation, and lay in his house a week; and he, and indeed his whole family, treated me with the greatest kindness.
“And now,” continued the Tennesseean, “you can understand the causes of my late act of violence; perhaps you will call it my hallucination. I was sitting here by myself conning over that ancient adventure; and I blew out my light to see if I could not recall some of the wild feelings it engendered. I could not; and being tired, l fell asleep, and in slumber I was only too successful. I dreamed over the whole adventure; you woke me in the midst of a savage feeling of vindictiveness; and I thought I was shooting the murderer, Darling.
“But I have had enough of cave adventures. And—I don't know how it is—but that dream has caused me a great inclination to get out into the daylight.”
“And the story,” said I, “has given me a good appetite for dinner.”
The ideal—what a glow of poetic feeling rises within the heart, what forms of beauty glide before the imagination, what sounds of harmony sweep over the soul, even while dwelling on the word! All that is lovely in nature, glorious in art, and holy and heavenly in action seem to meet here, and the contemplation fills us with joy because of the wondrous gift by which earth-born man can break the bonds that fetter him to sense, and thus soar into the higher regions of perennial beauty. Happy they whom no rude hand withdraws from these lovely heights—who can dream out their dream without being awakened by the grasp of stern reality. But where are these happy ones? Echo answers—where? The conflict with the real is allotted to us all.
There were few deeper dreamers of this kind than Harry Wyndham. Born the heir to a large fortune, endowed with fine talents, and no small share of personal beauty, he had from early boyhood indulged in visions of romantic happiness, such as it seldom is the lot of mortals to realize, and this bias of his mind had been fostered by a mother as romantic as himself. His father, Col. Wyndham, a rich, hearty, hospitable man, and a gentleman in every sense of the word, was au contraire as matter of fact as possible. Possessing a splendid estate upon the Potomac where he always resided, he prided himself in having all about him in the most perfect keeping. His house was princely both within and without, his horses were the finest in the Old Dominion, his equipages the best appointed, and his table served in the highest style. All his plantations presented a most cheering contrast to those of his less wealthy neighbours, in their perfect neatness and their high state of agricultural improvement. No torn
fences, or out-houses that were ready to fall to pieces with old age; no old smoke-dried dwellings that looked as if they had never known a repair since the age of Elizabeth; no half clad negroes basking in the sun or loitering over their daily tasks. All was fresh, whole, busy and active, and showed that the master's purse was full, and the master's eye everywhere. Harry being the sole survivor of a family of four children, the rest of whom had died in infancy, was the object round which the affections of both parents were entwined, with a devotedness that, had he been other than he was, might have ensured his ruin. The one great aim of their existence, to which all others were made subservient, was the promotion of his happiness. In the improvements Colonel Wyndham was constantly projecting in the different portions of his estate, Harry was the one to be ultimately benefited.—Did he expend large sums in the adornment of his house and grounds, it was as Harry's future residence that this was chiefly desirable. He imported splendid books for Harry's use, fine wines to ripen for his table, and noble animals to occupy his stalls. In short, while these luxuries ministered very materially to the good Colonel's own gratification, it was his pride and pleasure to view them all as held in trust for his beloved son, his second self, and the heir of his name and wealth. As may be supposed, the mother was not less anxious for the happiness of this sole remnant of her little family, but having a different temperament from her husband, she laboured to secure it in a different manner. For the pomps and vanities of life she cared but little, was highly intellectual in her tastes, and romantic in her affections. The sorrows she had experienced in
IDEAL AND THE REAL.
the loss of her children, seemed to have awakened in her soul a more tender sympathy for the woes of others, and to know of suffering was with her the signal for its relief. Love was the element in which she lived, and upon her husband and her son it rested in its holiest earthly form. We need hardly tell that it was devotedly returned. Under her fostering influence, the tender affections of Harry's opening heart were assiduously cultivated and his mind early trained to so exclusive a love of all that was beautiful and ideal, that had it not been for the counteracting influence of his father's manly tastes, the boy might have grown up a mere dreamer, who would have spent his life at his mother's side and cared not to mingle in the world around him. To avoid this danger, to which he saw the imaginative bias of his son's mind particularly exposed him, Colonel Wyndham determined upon sending him to Cambridge for his education, and after much persuasion induced his wife to yield her consent. It was not given, however, until she learned that a widowed friend of her own youth had removed thither for the education of her sons, and would receive Harry into her family. The tutor who had previously had charge of his education was also to accompany him, and at fifteen our hero was removed to this (to him) new world. The vacancy his departure occasioned in the domestic circle, was at the same time filled by Mrs. Wyndham's adoption of the orphan daughter of a distant relative, a sweet attractive child of about nine years of age, on whom she could bestow her maternal cares. The four college years passed quickly away— Harry each year visiting his parents, and they in the mean time journeying to the north to see their son, who at length returned to them, accomplished in all the learning of the schools, and as they hoped to remain permanently where his presence was so dearly prized. But though he loved his home, Harry's early devotion to the beautiful had been so far strengthened by his classical studies that he fain would visit classic ground. Three years were therefore devoted to an extensive European tour, during which he not only bowed at every shrine of art, both in the splendid temples devoted to the preservation of its choicest gems, and in the picturesque ruins of the glorious past, but sought out every resting place of beauty in the lone retreats of untutored nature. The collection of pictures, statues, medals, &c. that he made while absent, showed sufficiently the purity of his natural taste and the high refinement it had attained by cultivation. And now behold Colonel and Mrs. Wyndham supremely happy. Harry is once more with them, more attached than ever to his parents and his home, and has promised never again to leave it. The father rejoices in his son's manly beauty and the frank heartiness of his manner, unspoiled by foreign travel; — the mother in the loving spirit that beams in every glance, in the maturity of his intellect and the purity of his heart. The adopted VOL. xxvii.-14
orphan too, welcomes the stranger with joy, and Mrs. Wyndham has a secret hope that Harry will secure his earthly happiness, by drawing still closer the ties that unite her to this object of her affection. Unconsciously this hope has influenced her in the education she has bestowed upon the youthful Emily; and although she has carefully concealed her wishes from one too pure and single-minded to suspect them, she has unwittingly laid a train which a spark may ignite, either to burn on the hallowed altar of wedded love, or to consume and wither the heart that cherishes it. “Well, my boy,” said the Colonel one day to his son, who was busily engaged with his mother and Emily in deciding upon the most appropriate place for the statue of a dancing nymph—“will you never finish putting up your pictures and your marble women? Mercy on me! how different men are. When I was your age, I was looking at pretty girls that had some warmth and life in them, instead of worshipping cold stocks and stones as you do.” “When I see such an embodyment of beauty and grace as is imaged here I shall follow your example, father,” replied Harry; “till then, I am afraid you must leave me to my stocks and stones.” “And what is beauty and grace without either life or motion?” said the Colonel, with a glance of infinite contempt at the statue. “Come out with me to the course, Harry, and look at Medon training—there is beauty and grace if you please —he lifts his foot as daintily as any belle in the union.” “Presently, father—when we have decided this momentous question — What say you, Emily? shall the nymph stand where the mirror can reflect every fold in her drapery, or here where the light falls so exquisitely upon her features and just touches her graceful arms, while the shadow of the window curtain throws the whole figure into such beautiful relief ?” “Oh, in that corner, by all means,” said Emily —“unless,” she added hesitating, “your mother prefers it elsewhere.” “Please yourselves, my children,” replied Mrs. Wyndham, and while Harry was superintending the arrangement, she called the Colonel's attention to a fine copy of Titian's Flora that had just been hung in the drawing-room. “My dear wife,” he replied, “why will you insist upon my admiring things for which I have no sort of taste. The face is a pretty one, to be sure—but not half so lovely to my eye as that portrait of yourself that hangs above it, and I would give all the heathen goddesses together for one bright smile of my little Emily here"—and as he spoke the Colonel drew the blushing girl towards him and kissed her forehead with paternal fondness. “Has not our Emily grown, Harry?” “Very much,” replied Harry, still intent upon his statue and without a glance at the object to which his attention had been directed.
THE IDEAL AND THE REAL.
Emily did not much relish this comparison with the heathen goddesses, for she was well aware that neither her face nor form presented any of the classical beauty for which Harry expressed such devoted admiration. She was rather under size, very slender, and though her eyes were fine her nose was un peu retrousse, and her mouth, though filled with splendid teeth, was decidedly too large. She had, however, a fair complexion, luxuriant hair and very pretty little hands and feet, and the expression of goodness and intelligence that beamed in her face more than compensated for the want of more regular beauty. Mrs. Wyndham and the Colonel thought her handsome enough for any body, but as month after month passed without Harry's paying any especial homage to her charms, they began to fear that the airy castle they had built for their son's happiness upon the shadowy foundation of their own wishes, must fade away as these unsubstantial fabrics are apt to do. They had, however, one comfort— Harry showed no inclination to bestow this homage elsewhere, and though caressed and consoled by many scheming mammas, he paid their fair daughters as little attention as civility demanded. The whole pleasure of his life seemed to be centered in his home. Here he aided his mother in her schemes of benevolence, his father in his plans of improvement, particularly as they regarded the comfort and happiness of his numerous negro dependents, and Emily in the cultivation of her refined and elevated tastes, which were in many respects the echo of his own. But his happiest hours were evidently those he spent alone— either among his books, where he could dive still deeper among the treasured remnants of ancient genius, and sympathize with those of later days who have imbibed their spirit, or in the realm of his own fantasy, peopled as it was with images of beauty drawn from its purest sources. And did no one form claim precedence here? Was there no presiding nymph in these revels of the imagination to whom the youth yielded the worship he refused to those of earth? Ah yes. A vision of grace and loveliness had swept before him, one on whom the cestus of Venus had been bound, and to whom Minerva had imparted her heavenly wisdom—she whispered to him in softest accents of a life of love known only to the pure and good on earth, and enduring as existence. True, she was but a phantom of the brain, an ideal object, but may not her living presence one day cross his path, and then what happiness were his! He loved the gentle girl, whose sweetness and intelligence shed a charm over his daily life, with all a brother's fondness, but that brighter being was the one his heart yearned to meet, and her image was the companion of his lonely hours.
Mrs. Wyndham had, as we have said, no small tinge of woman in her own disposition; she was a firm believer in the elective affinities, (she and the Colonel had fallen in love with each other at first sight,) and therefore gave up much sooner
son's union with Emily.
than her husband, the long-cherished idea of her “True love,” she said, “seldom grew out of friendship. It was a mysterious sympathy that united those formed for each other in indissoluble bonds—an immediate recognition in the beloved object of all that is wanting to one's own completeness,” and many other arguments of the same nature, totally incomprehensible to her husband, as to most matterof-fact people, but very clear and conclusive, no doubt, to those who use them. “What more does the boy require?” he would answer; “has not Emily the best blood of Virginia flowing in her veins—is she not gentle and affectionate, sprightly and intelligent? Does she not sit a horse like Di Vernon — sing a ballad that brings tears into one's eyes, and dance like a sylph? Has she not drawn Medon's likeness with Dick the groom beside him, so that no one could mistake it—is she not learned in all the tongues? And then so good and religious as she is! Our Emily, God bless her, is an angel upon earth— and this blind boy not to love her after all!” “But he does love her, Colonel, like a fond devoted brother, and Emily repays it with a sister's affection. Neither thinks of the other in any tenderer relation. After all our hopes and wishes Emily will marry some one else, and leave us for a stranger. We can only pray that Harry may choose for himself as wisely as we have chosen for him; but feelings of this nature will not come at another's bidding, and we are perhaps wrong in desiring they should.” This view of the matter did not, however, satisfy the Colonel, who still hoped his son would awake to the full appreciation of Emily's perfections. The residence of Colonel Wyndham was sufficiently near the capital of our Union to allow his family to associate at pleasure with the motley throng that yearly assembles there, and our friend Harry, though no devotee to such enjoyments, would always accompany his mother and Emily when their inclination led them to partake of its gaieties. But season followed season, and the beauty and fashion that courted his notice either there or at his father's hospitable mansion, failed to win from him more than a passing regard. Emily too, refused to smile upon two most unexceptionable suitors, assigning as her only reason, the all-sufficient one, that she could not love them. Harry had been about three years at home, when, at a ball given by a foreign dignitary, he was aroused from a solitary meditation in which he had been indulging in a corner of the crowded saloon, by an entrée which appeared to attract considerable attention. The words “beautiful,” “classical,” “unique,” repeated by different voices around him, led him to make his way toward the spot to which all eyes were directed, where he saw his host receiving the newly arrived guests. A gentleman of distinguished appearance held on one arm a lady of middle age, but still
THE IDEAL AND THE REAL.
handsome and most richly dressed. On the other leaned a creature in the bloom of youth, and of such surpassing loveliness, that Harry fairly held his breath as he gazed upon her. She was tall and splendidly formed, and her face exhibited the faultless Grecian outline we so seldom see. There was the smooth low forehead, and straight finely chiselled nose—the mouth like Cupid's bow—the full dark eye and well defined brow. Her rich chesnut hair was braided over it and then gathered into a knot at the back of the small head, set so proudly upon a neck of snowy whiteness and perfect symmetry.—There was a severe simplicity in the lady's dress which accorded well with her rare beauty. It was of plain white muslim, with no other ornament than two antique onyx cameos which looped the full hanging sleeves upon her shoulders. A bracelet clasped with another of these precious relics of art surrounded one of her lovely arms, and the only adornment of her head was a chaplet of ivy leaves, which gave her the air of an Iphigenia when ministering in Diana's temple. Harry murmured to himself, “O Dea certe,” &c., and as soon as he had sufficiently recovered his senses from the confusion into which they were thrown by this sudden revelation of beauty, he inquired who she was, and learned that the party which had attracted so much attention consisted of Mr. and Mrs. St. Clair, with their eldest daughter. A northern metropolis had produced this peerless one, where her opening beauty had been jealously guarded from common observation; and when she was sixteen her parents had broken up their establishment, placed their younger children at boarding schools, and spent two years in Europe that this favourite daughter might be perfected in all the graces and accomplishments. They had but recently returned, unveiled the goddess, and presented her with all her finished charms in the society she was formed to embellish. All this information was buzzed about within five minutes of Miss St. Clair's arrival. Five more saw Harry Wyndham at her side, amid a throng of other admirers, whose flattery was received with a proud indifference, which argued, he thought, a decided superiority to the vapid commonplaces with which they endeavoured to win her favour. At first, Miss St. Clair declined dancing: “The room was too crowded,” she said, and one by one the exquisites dropped off to seek partners elsewhere. Not so, however, our friend Harry; he remained a fixture beside her, and soon engaged her in a conversation in which, though all that was worth much was said by himself, he discovered the charms of her mind quite equalled those of her person. Miss St. Clair was sitting in a luxurious arm-chair, (many married ladies were standing near, looking as if they too would be glad to sit down,) and Harry was bending over her, in the most devoted manner, when Emily, who had through the evening been dancing in another room, entered leaning on the arm of a young attaché,
with whom she was chatting gaily in his own language; suddenly she turned pale, and an expression of such agony crossed her face, that the young foreigner was terrified, and, after procuring her a seat, was running for Mrs. Wyndham, when Emily recovering herself, begged him not to summon her, as she was merely overcome by the heat, and that a glass of water was all that she required. After tasting it, she professed herself quite well, and was just going to rejoin the dancers when Harry passed with Miss St. Clair. As soon as he perceived Emily, he introduced her to his companion, and, after the usual civilities had been interchanged, told Emily in a low voice to inform his mother that he wished very much she would make the acquaintance of Mrs. St. Clair and her daughter. Emily bowed her acquiescence, for she could not speak—like one in a dream she moved mechanically through the figures of the cotillion, and then left the room, after requesting her partner to inform Mrs. Wyndham that, being overcome by the heat of the crowded saloon, she would wait up stairs till the party broke up. Alas for Emily! Her own heart had just been laid bare to her, and its inmost secret disclosed to herself. The pang of jealousy that had thrilled through every fibre of her frame, told her that the love she felt for the son of her adopted parents was far other than she had deemed it, and with this knowledge came the conviction that he was lost to her for ever. What would Emily now have given for the seclusion of her own chamber, where she could have wrestled alone with her misery—but the kind-hearted menials who came around her, and bathed her forehead, and fanned her burning temples, forced her still to exercise strong selfcontrol, and to feign that to be weakness of body which was suffering of far greater intensity. Mrs. Wyndham soon joined her, and alarmed at her appearance, sent to tell Harry they must go home immediately. But, though Emily longed for home as the stricken deer for the covert, she insisted on remaining. “Harry was enjoying the party,’” she said, “an unusual thing for him. Has he not often gone with us, dear aunt, when he would far rather have stayed at home; why should I interrupt his pleasure now? I will do very well here. Go down to supper, and when it is over I shall be better able to bear the ride home than I am at present.” “Just like my own sweet Emily,” said Mrs. Wyndham, “always thinking of others rather than herself. If you promise to summon me the moment you are ready I will do as you wish,” and Emily was allowed to remain until supper Was over. During their long drive home, Harry said but little, and when his mother spoke of Miss St. Clair, he only observed “she was very lovely,” and abruptly changed the subject. He was all tenderness to Emily, lamented her indisposition, and regretted he had not been earlier apprised of it, with such sincerity, that she felt somewhat