صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

4. No other voice nor sound was there,

No drum, nor sentry's pace;
The mist-like banners clasped the air,

As clouds with clouds embrace.

5. But when the old cathedral bell

Proclaimed the morning prayer, The white pavilions rose and fell

On the alarmed air.

6. Down the broad valley, fast and far

The troubled army fled ;
Up rose the glorious morning star, —

The ghastly host was dead.

7. I have read in the marvelous heart of man

That strange and mystic scrollThat an army of phantoms, vast and wan,

Beleaguered the human soul.

8. Encamped beside Life's rushing stream,

In Fancy's misty light,
Gigantic shapes and shadows gleam

Portentous through the night.

9. Upon its midnight battle-ground

The spectral camp is seen,
And with a sorrowful, deep sound

Flows the River of Life between.

10. And when the solemn and deep church-bell

Entreats the soul to pray,
The midnight phantoms feel the spell,

The shadows sweep away.
11. Down the broad Vale of Tears afar

The spectral camp is fled;
Faith shineth as a morning star, –

Our ghastly fears are dead.

1. Marvelous, beleaguered, spectral, pavilions, mystic, phantoms, portentous, cathedral, proclaimed, scroll.

2. Where is Prague? Why is it supposed that specters come in the night only? What phantoms “beleaguer the soul ?" What drives them away? Does light drive away both phantoms ?

III. A TALE OF TERROR, 1. We were once traveling in Calabria, –a land of wicked people, who, I believe, hate every one, and particularly the French. In the Calabrian mountains the roads are precipices; our horses got on with much difficulty. My companion went first, and à path, which appeared to him shortest and most practicable, led us astray.

2. It was my fault. Ought I to have trusted to a head only twenty years old? Whilst daylight lasted we tried to find our way through the wood, but the more we tried the more bewildered we be

came, and it was pitch-dark when we arrived at a very black-looking house.

3. We entered, not without fear; but what could we do? We found a whole family of colliers at table; they immediately invited us to join them, and my young man did not wait to be pressed. There we were eating and drinking,—he, at least, for I was examining the place and the appearance of our hosts.

4. Our hosts had quite the look of colliers, but the house you would have taken for an arsenal. There were guns, pistols, swords, knives, and cutlasses on every side. Everything displeased me, and I saw very well that I displeased them. My companion, on the contrary, was quite one of the family; he laughed and talked with them; and, with an imprudence that I ought to have foreseen, he told at once where we came from, where we were going, and that we were Frenchmen.

5. Just imagine! amongst our most mortal enemies, alone, out of our road, far from all human succor! And then, as if to omit nothing that might ruin us, he played the rich man, promising to give these people and our guide the next morning whatever they might wish, as a remuneration. Then he spoke of his portmanteau, begging them to take care of it, and to put it at the head of his bed. He did not wish, he said, for any

other pillow.

6. O youth! you are to be pitied. Cousin, one would have thought we carried the crown diamonds. Supper over, they left us. Our hosts slept below; we were to pass the night in the upper room where we had supped.

7. A loft raised some seven or eight feet, which was reached by a ladder, was the resting-place that awaited us,—a sort of nest, into which we were to introduce ourselves by creeping under joists loaded with provisions for the year. My companion climbed up alone, and, already nearly asleep, laid himself down with his head upon the precious portmanteau. Having determined to sit up, I made a good fire, and seated myself beside it.

8. The night, which had been undisturbed, was nearly over, and I was beginning to reassure myself, when, about the time that I thought daybreak could not be very far off, I heard our host and his wife talking and disputing below; and, putting my ear to the chimney, which communicated with the one in the lower room, I perfectly distinguished these words spoken by the husband:

9. “Well, let us see; must they both be killed ?” To this the wife replied, “Yes." I heard no more. How shall I go on? I stood scarcely breathing, my body cold as marble. To have seen me, you would hardly have known whether I was alive or dead.

10. It fills me with horror when I think of it now, —we two, almost without weapons, against twelve or fifteen who had so many! and my companion dead with sleep and fatigue! To call him, or to make a noise, I dared not: to escape alone was impossible. The window was not high, but in the yard below were two great dogs, howling like wolves. 11. In what an agony I was, imagine if

you can. At the end of a long quarter of an hour I heard some one on the stairs, and through the crack of the door I saw the father, a lamp in one hand and in the other one of his large knives. He came up, his wife following him.

12. I was behind the door; he opened it, but before he came in he put down the lamp, which his wife took. He then entered, barefoot, and from the outside the woman said to him, in a low voiceshading the light of the lamp with her handSoftly; go softly.”

13. When he got to the ladder, he mounted it, his knife between his teeth, and, getting up as high as the bed—the poor young man lying there with his throat bare—with one hand he took his knife, and with the other—0 cousin! he seized a ham, which hung from the ceiling, cut a slice from it, and retired just as he had come.

14. The door was closed again, the lamp disap

« السابقةمتابعة »