صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

The night was stormy, the dry crisp sleet | departure by the main door. She almost rehissed on the window, and the wind sighed frained from winking in order to secure a scruin heavy gusts down the spacious chimney; tiny of her motions; but it was all in vain; whilst the rattling of the shutters, and the she could not remember to have taken off her occasional clash of a door in some distant part glance for a moment, but still the visitant was of the house, came with a dim and hollow gone. It seemed as if she had only changed echo along the dreary silent passages. She her thoughts for an instant and not her eyes, did not feel so comfortable as the night before; but that change was enough; when she again the whistling of the wind through the trees reverted to the object of her anxiety, the mysmade her flesh creep involuntarily; and some- terious lady had departed. times the thundering clap of a distant door As on the foregoing night, her patient now made her start and drop her book, with a became composed, and enjoyed an unintersudden prayer for the protection of Heaven. rupted slumber till the light of morning, now

She was thinking within herself of giving reflected from heaps of dazzling snow, brought up the engagement, and was half resolved to with it the female who was to relieve guard at do so on the morrow, when all at once her ear the bed of misery. was struck with the heavy throes and agonized The following morning Nurse went to the breathing of her charge, and, on raising her house of the physician who had engaged her, head, she saw the same lady in the green gown with the determination of giving up the task seated in the same position as the night before. in which she was employed. She felt uneasy Well, thought she, this is unusually strange; at the thoughts of retaining it, as she had but it immediately struck her that it must be never been similarly situated before ; she always some inmate of the house, for what human had some companion to speak to, or was at being could venture out in such a dreary night, least employed in an inhabited house; but and at such an hour?--but then her dress: besides she was not by any means comfortable it was neither such as one could wear in the in the visits of the nightly stranger. She was streets on a wintry night, nor yet such as they disappointed, however, by not finding him at would be likely to have on in the house at that home, and was directed to return at a certain hour; it was, in fact, the fashionable summer hour; but as she lay down to rest in the meancostume of the time.

time, she did not awake till that hour was She rose and made her a curtsey, and spoke | long past. Nothing then remained but to to her politely, but got no reply save the wav. return for another night, and give warning of ing of her hand, by which she had been silenced her intention on the morrow; and with a heavy before. At length the agitation of the invalid discontented heart she repaired to the gloomy was so increased that she could not reconcile apartment. it to her duty to sit still whilst a stranger was The physician was already there when she attending him. She accordingly drew nearer arrived, and received her notice with regret ; to the bed in spite of the repeated beckonings but was rather surprised when she informed of the lady, who, as she advanced, drew her him of the attentions of the strange lady, and veil closer across her face, and retired to the the manner in which she had been prevented table at the window. Nurse approached the from performing her duty: he, however, treated bed, but was terrified on beholding the coun- it as a common-place occurrence, and sugtenance of the patient: the big drops of cold gested that it was some affectionate relative sweat were rolling down his pale brow; his or friend of the patient, of whose connections livid lips were quivering with agony; and, as he knew nothing. At last he took his leave, he motioned her aside, his glaring eyes followed and Nurse arranged her chair and seated herthe retreating figure in the green gown. She self to watch, not merely the departure but soon saw that it was in vain to attempt assist the arrival of her fair friend. As she had not, ing him; he impatiently repulsed every proffer however, appeared on the former occasions till of attention, and she again resumed her seat, the night was far advanced, she did not expect whilst the silent visitor returned to her place her sooner, and endeavoured to occupy her by his bedside.

attention till that time by some other means. Rather piqued at being thus baffled in her But it was all in vain, she could only think intentions of kindness, but still putting from of the one mysterious circumstance, fix her her the idea of a supernatural being, the old dim gaze on the blackened trellis-work of the woman again determined to watch with at- ceiling, and start at every trifling sound, tention the retreat of the lady, and observe which was now doubly audible, as all without whether she resided in the house or took her was hushed by the noiseless snow in which the streets were imbedded. Again, however, her interred in the old Calton burying-ground, and vigilance was eluded, and as, wearied with I remember, before the new road was made thought, she raised her head with a long through it, to have often seen his grave; but drawn sigh and a yawn of fatigue, she en- I never could learn his name, what connection countered the green garments of her unsolicited the spirit had with his story, or how he came companion. Angry with herself, and at the to be in that melancholy deserted situation in same time unwilling to accuse herself of re- Edinburgh. I have mentioned at the commissness, she determined once again that she mencement of this narration that I will vouch should not escape unnoticed. There hung a for its truth as far as regards mysell, and that feeling of awe around her whenever she ap- is, merely, that I heard the poor old woman proached this singular being, and when, as herself tell all the extraordinary circumstances before, the lady retired to another quarter of, as I have recited them, a very few weeks before the room as she approached the bed, she had her death, with a fearful accuracy. Be it as not courage to follow her. Again the same it may, they cost her her life, as she never distressing scene of suffering in her unfortu- recovered from the effects of the terror, and nate charge ensued; he gasped and heaved till pined and wasted away to the hour of her death, the noise of his agony made her heart sicken , which followed in about two months after the within her; when she drew near his bed his fearful occurrence. For my part I firmly be corpse-like features were convulsed with a feel lieve all she told us; and though my father, ing which seemed to twist their relaxed nerves who came home the spring following, used to into the most fearful expression, while his say it was all a dream or the effects of imagighastly eyes were straining from their sunken nation, I always saw too many concurrent sockets. She spoke, but he answered not; she circumstances attending it to perunit me to touched him, but he was cold with terror, and think so. unconscious of any object save the one mys

New Monthly Magazine. terious being whom his glance followed with awful intensity.

I have often heard my mother say that Nurse was naturally a woman

MISERIES OF HUMAN LIFE. 1 of very strong feelings, but here she was totally beside herself with anxiety. She thought that the young gentleman was just expiring, and

While you are laughing, or talking wildly was preparing to leave the room in search of to yourself in walking, suddenly seeing a per farther assistance when she saw the lady again

son steal close by you, who, you are sure, move towards the bed of the dying man; she

must have heard it all, then, in an agony of bent above him for a moment, whilst his writh- shame, making a wretched attempt to sing, in ings were indescribable; she then moved to

a voice as like your talk as possible, in hopes wards the door. Now was the moment!

of making your hearer think that you had Nurse advanced at the same time, laid her been only singing all the while. one hand on the latch, whilst with the other

Seeing the boy who is next above you flogged she attempted to raise the veil of the stranger,

for a repetition which you know you cannot and in the next instant fell lifeless on the floor.

say even half so well as he did. As she glanced on the face of the lady, she

Entering into the figure of a country-dance saw that a lifeless head filled the bonnet; its with so much spirit as to force your leg and vacant sockets and ghastly teeth were all that foot through the muslin drapery of your fair could be seen beneath the folds of the veil. partner. Daylight was breaking the following morn

After walking in a great hurry to a place, ing when the other attendant arrived, and

on very urgent business, by what you think a found the poor old woman cold and benumbed shorter cut, and supposing that you are just stretched upon the floor beside the passage ; arriving at the door you want—"NO THORand when she looked upon the bed of the

OUGHFARE!" invalid he lay stiffened and lifeless, as if many

Stopping in the street to address a perso

him hours had elapsed since his spirit had shaken whom you know rather too well to pass off its mortal coil. One hand was thrown without speaking, and yet not quite well across his eyes, as if to shade them from some

enough to have a word to say to him, he feelobject on which he feared to look; and the ing himself in the same dilemma ; so that, other grasped the coverlet with convulsive firm

1 From The Miseries of Human lifi: or the Ground The remains of the mysterious student were by the Rev. James Deresford, M.A.

of Timothy Testy and Samuel Sensitire, as Overheir!

In two vol."



after each has asked and answered the ques- Being accelerated in your' walk by the lively tion, How do you do, sir?" you stand silently application of a chairman's pole a posteriori, face to face, apropos to nothing, during a his “by your leave" not coming till after he minute, and then part in a transport of awk. has taken it. wardness.

During the endless time that you are kept As you are hastening down the Strand on a waiting at a door in a carriage while the ladies matter of life and death, encountering, at an are shopping, having your impatience soothed arch-way, the head of the first of twelve or by the setting of a saw close at your ear. fourteen horses, who, you know, must succes. Sitting on the last row, and close to the parsively strain up with an over-loaded coal-waggon tition of an upper box, at a pantomime, and before you can hope to stir an inch, unless you hearing all the house laughing around you, prefer bedevilling your white stockings and while you strain your wrists, neck, and back clean shoes by scampering and crawling, among with stretching forward—in vain. , and under, coaches, scavengers' carts, &c. &c., At the play, the sickening scraps of naval in the middle of the street.

loyalty which are crammed down your threat Walking half over London, side by side with faster than you can gulp them in such aftera cart containing a million of iron bars, which pieces as are called “England's Glory,” “The you must out-bray, if you can, in order to make British Tars," &c., with the additional nausea your companion hear a word you have further of hearing them boisterously applauded. to say upon the subject you were earnestly dis- On packing up your own clothes for a jourcussing before you were joined by this infernal ney, because your servant is a fool—the burnarticle of commerce.

ing fever into which you are thrown, when, Walking briskly forwards, while you are after all your standing, stamping, lying, kneellooking backwards, and so advancing towards ing, tugging, and kicking at the lid of your another passenger (a scavenger) who is doing trunk, it still peremptorily refuses to approach the same; then meeting with the shock of two nearer than half a yard to the lock. battering-rams, which drives your whole stock A chaise window.glass, that will not be put of breath out of your body, with the groan of a down when it is up, nor up when it is down. pavior:

Tearing your throat to rags in abortive

efforts to call back a person who has just left Dant sonitu ingentem, perfractaque

you, and with whom you have forgotten to Pectora pectoribus rumpunt." 1

touch on one of the most important subjects At length, during a mutual burst of execra

which you met to discuss. tions, you each move for several minutes from

After having left a company in which you side to side, with the same motion, in vainly have been galled by the raillery of some wag endeavouring to pass on. On your entrance at a formal dinner-party, repartee, which, if discharged at the proper

by profession, thinking, at your leisure, of a in reaching up your hat to a high peg in the moment, would have blown him to atoms. hall, bursting your coat from the arm-hole to

After relating, at much length, a scarce and the pocket.

curious anecdote, with considerable marks of At night, after having long lain awake, self-complacency at having it to tell, being nervous, restless, and unwell, with an ardent quietly reminded by the person you have been desire to know the hour and the state of the

so kindly instructing that you had it from weather, being at last delighted by hearing himself! the watchman begin his cry, from which, how- In conversation inadvertently touching the ever, he allows you to extract no more informa- string which you know will call forth the longest tion than “past

clock ... morn

story of the flattest proser that ever droned. ing!" then, after impatiently lingering through another hour for the sound of your own clock and silent company, to repeat some very washy

Being compelled by a deaf person, in a large (which had before been roared down by the remark three or four times over, at the highest watchman), being roused to listen by its pre- pitch of your voice. paratory click and purr, followed by one stroke-which you are to make the most of- reduced to make a paper-knife of your finger.

In reading a new and interesting book being the rest being cut short by a violent fit of

On arriving at that part of the last volume coughing with which you are seized at the of an enchanting novel in wbich the interest is instant.

wrought up to the highest pitch, suddenly find** Breast against breast with ruinous assault

ing the remaining leaves, catastrophe and all, And deaf ning shock, they come

torn out.





[ocr errors]

Writing on the creases of paper that has the glimmering medium of those wills-o-the

1 been sharply doubled.

wisp, the reviewers; or out of the circulating The moment in which you discover that you library, where nothing circulates — but the have taken in a mouthful of fat by mistake for catalogue ! turnip.

Catching a glimpse, at a corner of a street, At a formal dinner, the awful resting-time of your oldest and dearest friends, Punch and which occasionally intervenes between the his party, all in full squeak and scuffle: from

whom, however, the cruel decorums of age and In the depth of winter trying in vain to character oblige you, after “snatching a fearful effect a union between unsoftened butter and joy,” to tear yourself away. the crumb of a very stale loaf, or a quite new Wandering from one shop to another in.

search of a book, and finding twenty copies of Cracking a hard nut with your teeth, and it, of a date immediately before and after that filling the gap left by the grinder you have of the only edition which will be of any use to knocked out with black, bitter dust.

you, and which you, consequently, never find. At the instant of drawing the cork, starting The state of writhing torture into which you back from the eagerly expected burst of froth, are occasionally thrown by the sudden and un.. but without the least occasion either for your expected questions or remarks of a child before hopes or fears, the liquor all remaining in the a large company; a little wretch of your own, bottle as quiet as a lamb.

for instance, that will run up to an unmarried Dropping something, when you are either | lady (one who would rather be thought a youthtoo lame or too lazy to get up for it; and fulsinner than an elderly saint), and then harrow almost breaking your ribs, and quite throwing you by crying out, before you have time to gag yourself down, by stretching down to it over it, “Now, do, miss, let me count the creases the arm of your chair, without reaching it at in your face—there's one, there's two, there's last.

three," &c. ; or, accosting another lady in the Suddenly recollecting, as you lie at a very same explicit strain, electrifies you by breaking late hour of a Lapland night, that you have out with, “Why do you come here so often? neglected to see, as usual, that the fires are all for, do you know, my aunt always says she can't safe below; then, after an agonizing intervall abide you-don't you, aunt?" &c. &c. of hesitation, crawling out, like a culprit, and Taking a step more or a step less than you quivering down-stairs.

want in going up or down stairs. At a long table, after dinner, the eyes of the The task of inventing new dinner erery whole company drawn upon you by a loud ob- morning devolving on you in the long absence servation that you are strikingly like Mrs. or of your wife. Miss -, particularly when you smile. On shaking off a long reverie, the sudden

The mental famine created among poor consciousness that, during the whole of your students by the modern luxury of the press— absent fit, your eyes have been intently fixed hot-pressed paper-Bulmer's types-vignettes on a letter which a stranger is writing or readin every page, &c., obliging every reader with ing close at your elbow. less than £5000 per annum to seek for all his

JAMES BERES FORD. knowledge of new books by hearsay; or through 1

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]



« السابقةمتابعة »