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they did not wish to trouble him to proceed so far in his avocation, they would like to usurp his position, and use the car of black. The old sexton, a shrewd old chap, always intent upon making a good bargain, hesitated for a long time, until, by the offer of a sufficient inducement, he 'had held out as far as his conscience, i. e. his pocket, demanded. Getting out the sable hearse from its dingy stable, he proceeded to attach the bare-boned, time-serving animal to its accustomed harness, ever and anon launching out in prosy sermons of advice, as to how fast to drive, &c., delicate words of praise upon his revolutionary horse, which had passed through the brunt of so many burials—all which, with a due sense of regard for the reader's patience, I will forth with omit. Suffice it to say, the hearse was obtained, its box mounted by one of our party, and all then returned back to the repository of Monsieur C.
Notwithstanding the many warnings of the worthy old sexton, his favorite Bucephalus was urged to his full powers, and put to his fastest pace. But withal, this was not sufficiently rapid to keep up with the high-spirited animals which bore the remainder of the company. Whip and lash were applied most unsparingly, and these proving insufficient, a thick leathern goad, torn from the sides of the sombre vehicle, was laid on with all the power to be mustered. But all would not do. Lash, whip, cut, beat just as much as you chose, not one jot faster or slower would this mulish beast stir from his favorite gait, but jog, jog, jog, in the same steady movement, with which, for a quarter century, he had borne bis silent burdens to their resting bourne. At last, however, our indefatigable driver reached the house, just in time to find his companions, who had arrived before him, issuing thereout with every symptom of consternation and surprise.
It appears that immediately upon their arrival, they advanced to the dining room, connected with a sleeping apartment, now for Monsieur C., expecting of course to find him in the self-same posture and place that he was when they left. But imagine their wonder and astonishment, when an empty apartment greeted their vision, no trace of Monsieur C. anywhere to be found. The fragments of a bottle of champagne, visible on the ceiling, evinced that his trance had been broken-though to what extent could not be ascertained. The last bottle of claret was missing, and expectation was on the qui vive to find out where he had secreted himself. Up stairs they went, through all the rooms, in all the closets, under the beds ; down still, through the parlors, in the pantries, under the sofas ; down still, through the cellar, in the store room, amid the barrels ; farther, into the wine room, through the alcoves, among the baskets—but in vain ; no sign or token displayed any traces of our unfortunate friend.
The whole house had been searched, and nought evinced his presence there. They began to feel alarmed. He could not have returned to the town, for there was but one road, and that the one that they had taken, and, had he returned therefore, they would have met him, as he must have walked. Fright therefore began to succeed mirthful surprise, and they began to feel anxious, lest the hearse might in reality be needed. Through the garden and grounds they searched, though the cold air pinched them well, and made them pay for their frolic. Under hedges, by the ditches, through the bushes, did they look full well, amid shouts and cries for “ Monsieur C., Monsieur C.” But all in vain, and they were returning in despair, to search the house, when a loud cry and boisterous laugh from one, betokened that he was at last found ; our host had stumbled over him as he was about to retire in despair. He was leaping a fence, through the gate of which he had before past, and who should he light upon on the other side but poor Monsieur C.? Yes, poor fellow, there he was nicely bundled up in a heap, sprawling beneath the hedge, sporing away as manfully and comfortably as if he were in the warmest apartment. His gumelastic, indian rubber legs perched at right angles above him, his head, in a patch of potatoes, embedded in the sand, in his mouth (a hole for which had been forcibly made through his garment, which had slipped up too far) the identical missing bottle of claret, his hands affectionately clasping the aforesaid bottle, and apparently endeavoring to squeeze out more from its emptied interior, his nose performing its appropriate and musical function—it was a sight more ludicrous than words or pen can express.
As our crowd assembled around him, and the shouts of laughter pealed merrily through the air, they took him up bodily and strove coaxingly to make him stand erect. But to no purpose. Carry him they must, or else leave him there. The latter they were not disposed to do, and so like a mass of stone they bore his rotund form to the house. There they laid him on the table, the scene of his former martyrdom, and proceeded to repatch the various points which were torn in his peregrination. The dress was mended in all its parts, and washed with a sprinkling of camphene and turpentine. Meanwhile various were the surmises as to how and where he got out of the house-what was his object, &c. &c.—all which I wish the reader to decide for himself, as I am able to arrive at no more correct conclusion than they did.
Monsieur C. all this time lay stiff and immovable, never changing his position from the seat in which he was placed, and as he breathed, making the return breath echo in a whistling sigh, expressive of his comfort and satisfaction. In his fantastic dress, fitting tightly, and displaying most admirably the obesity of his little frame, while his little hands and feet seemed like wire figures, he put one in mind of a gauky ape, which had lost its only charm, viz. activity. The crowd around, some drinking, some dressing for the grand finale of the spree, were all in the highest state of excited expectation. Our host was dressed in a flowing surplice, with poor Monsieur Ci's dignified wig upon his head, and prayer book in his hand ; another of the company, as the prim old quaker sexton, with broad-brimmed hat, and straightened coat, mouth puckered up and measured pace; another, as chief mourner, in a drapery of crape, to which were pinned innumerable handkerchiefs, soaked with wine, expressive of the dripping quantities of tears shed; another, as mourning wife, with flowing robe, extending two feet behind, and a cap of the Elizabethian age ; and so on throughout the whole company.
When they had all finished their arrangements, they brought forward the coffin which they had obtained along with the hearse, and doubling poor Monsieur C's jolly little figure in the table cloth, just leaving a nice little space around the chubby face, lifted him up and placed him within that narrow receptacle. Then, placing down the top, they screwed it on fast, having previously cut a circular hole over his face, through which to breathe, a strip of paper pasted over it obliquely with the glowing motto, yvūdı dedúTOV. Thus prepared they bore the coffin and its official contents to the hearse, whose appearance had been somewhat changed since its arrival. Instead of the veteran mule, were attached four spirited animals, who chased and champed as they were restrained by the grooms; six flags hung out from its sides, three on each, and on the back was pasted a large white sheet, bearing the following inscription in flaming capitals
Fellow Citizens all — Respond to our call,
This world could not spare such a sinner. Our host, mounted on the box, whip and reins in hand, eleven others on top of the hearse, clinging on as well as they might, commenced the solemn funeral procession, borne swiftly by the fiery animals, goaded anon by the lash, anon by the wild shouts of laughter and revelry, which resounded from the outside passengers-merrily sped they through the grave roads, startling the timid deer as they passed the grand old forest, a joke and a jest for every one they met, the pendant flags waving gracefully to the cool evening breeze, the outstretched poetic banner inviting censure and despising reproof. On, on, they flew, through the outskirts of the town, a nod to the sturdy rustics returning to their evening firesides, a kiss of the hand to the fair faces of the village beauties as they peered through the half-opened sash at the “freaks of the gentlefolks," while the deep-toned bell, which had so often summoned the culprit to the bar of justice, now sent forth its clear, melodious notes at the hands of our missing two, who had ridden forward for this laudable purpose.
On, on, they advanced, the horses borrowing life and spirit anew from their frolicksome drivers, a grim smile to the sexton, as he stood with mouth agape and eyes outstretched as though his senses were deceiving him at this most diabolical insult to his profession—a reverend bow to the parish rector, as with clasped hands and uplifted arms he prayed for mercy on their souls—a wave of the hand to the prim old maids who stood aghast and dismayed in their humble porches looking expectantly for a second rain of fire and ashes wherewith to punish these sinful recreants.
On, on, still they rode through the mud and the slush, through the crowds 'of bystanders and loafers eager to see the end, with a loug cavalcade stretching out far behind them of buggies and carriages striving hard to keep their distance; on, on, past the house of the defunct Mayor, whence was stretched the crane-like neck of the reverend mayoress, with a shout and a laugh and a song and crash, crash goes the hearse as the top gives in and twelve are deposited as cabin passengers, while the sudden effort to check their speed sends the crazy vehicle reeling on its side. Out flies one in the line of a tangent, out rolls another in the curve of an ellipse, out emerge four rolling one on the other, while the coffin is whirled exactly in a perpendicular position, which placing Monsieur C.'s feet upwards and head to the ground, occasions a loud cry of “ murder—prenez garde-murder-el-elple diable—elp.”
Crowds of villagers came pouring in multitudes to see the effect of the catastrophe, the pettifogging lawyers to gain a client for the next term, the meddling physician praying as he jogs along for broken bones, contusions, etc, etc, the street-praying divine beholding visions of souls to be recovered and a rich harvest for him, the gossiping old maids to gain a new story for their next quilting on the morrow-mid all which our crowd quietly and quickly returned.
Of the manner in which monsieur got out of his narrow apartment, of his state when thus restored to life, of the caudling he received from his much-dreaded spouse for a month of nights after, of his impeachment the next day by the indignant townspeople, and his characteristic method of smoothing matters over, of the vain search that was made the next day for the perpetrators of this outrage, I am not prepared to speak. Suffice it that on the 8th of January a party was assembled, not one hundred miles from that place, numbering about fourteen, and as I passed the window, I saw them rise and drink, as the toast was given,
“ To our worthy and much injured Monsieur C.”
MY FAVORITE ELM.
I love to leave the din of life,
To seek this silent glen,
Away from angry men.
From bitter toil and pain-
To breathe a livelier strain.