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THE LIMERICK BELLS.
BY ANNA M. HEFFERNAN.
ITALY, thy very name breathes enchant- 1 ment of bright skies, music, and song. It conjures up the recollection of the beautiful and the chivalrous, the tender and absorbing
-united to passions fierce and ungovernable as ever throbbed in the bosom of man. Even thy broken columns and prostrated grandeur will furnish future themes for history and song.
The traveller who has journeyed along by the mountains of the Abruzzi, will remember a beautiful little village situated at their base, whose vine-clad cottages and picturesque dress of its inhabitants, afford a quiet and lovely contrast to the lofty mountains which rear their wooded heights in towering grandeur above the fearful scene that seems sleeping beneath.
The sun had nearly set, but its last rays seemed to linger as if loth to leave that tranquil valley to darkness, now bright and glorious, as though an angel's wing rested above it.
The twilight was deepening around the cottage of Pietro Garceoli, but so intent was he at his work, that the coming night was unheeded. At length, he starts from his seat, and with an exclamation of joy,-“ Finished ! finished !-my labor is ended."
Happy Pietro ! the weary toil of years will now be repaid with wealth, and the possession of her you love; and prostrating himself before a shrine of the Virgin, he devoutly thanked her for his good fortune. His devotions were interrupted by a light step approaching-on looking around his betrothed stood beside
And passing his arm around the blushing girl, he led her out beneath the vine-wreathed porch, there to converse of their future happiness.
Clear and unclouded shone the sky on Pietro's wedding morn, and his heart beat high with rapture as he surveyed his beautiful home, shady gardens, fragrant vineyards, and felt that he was master of them all. On the air arose the sound of merry voices, while a train of white-robed maidens approached, and in their midst, fairer than them all, the bright-eyed Teresa, her dark hair wreathed with the sweet orange blossom, blushing and smiling at the gay sallies of her fair companions. As they moved on towards the chapel, the “bells" rang forth a peel of gladness—their melody rising and swelling in soft cadence, until the echo was lost far away among the distant hills.
Years passed on the springtime and the busy vintage came and went ;-still Pietro was happy. Time had but added new joys to his life, and left hope's blossoms unfaded.
But war, the canker of a fallen land that internally consumes it, at length ravished and desolated the sunny land of Italy. The fierce soldiers entered the quiet village where Pietro dwelt, and after destroying all around them, they razed to the ground the convent in which the “ bells,” the chef d'euvre of his skill, were hung.
It was night, but no sound, save the distant revels of the soldiers, awoke the stillness, when Pietro stole unobserved from his home and hastened to the smoking ruins to discover if his “bells" had escaped the general destruction. Heaps of stones and rubbish obstructed him at every step, but pushing his way through all obstacles, he at length reached the interior of the chapel. A ray of moonlight streamed through a crevice in the broken wall, and revealed to him his treasure. Bathed in tears of joy, he knelt beside them, and thanked the Virgin for their safety. How to secure
“What has happened, dear Pietro ?” cried the astonished girl, as she beheld the agitation he was in. “Ah! I see, you have toiled too much of late ; you are ill and need rest. Why will you, mio caro? We are both young, and lo, Santa Madonna will answer our prayers.”
“She has, my Teresa, and I was but thanking her when you came in. I have finished my bells, and this morning Father Ambrose purchased them for a sum that will enable us to accomplish all we desire."
them from the gaze of the lawless soldiers was, spot where he had concealed his bells. In vain his next thought, for at dawn they would re his search ; they were gone, and with them turn and carry off whatever would be found of | faded the last hope from his soul. any value.
Years passed on. Alone and friendless he After some labor he succeeded in concealing roamed from land to land, seeking for rest but them until he could remove them to a more finding it not. His eye grew dim and lustre. secure place. Consigning them to the care of less, his step weak and faltering, his heart their patron saint, he hurriedly retraced his became withered and broken; but home and steps homeward.
friends he never found again. Alas! what mean the clouds of smoke that Through some unaccountable impulse he hover above his loved dwelling? Why those formed a resolution of visiting the place cries of distress that pierce the midnight air ? where he understood his bells had been finally Onward he speeds, to save his loved ones. Fran borne. He sailed for Ireland, and when the tic with despair, he would have rushed into the vessel anchored near Limerick, he hired a small flames, but the bayonets of the soldiers drove boat for the purpose of proceeding to the shore. him back. When wounded and exhausted, he The city was stretched out before him in all would have been trampled to death, had not a its tranquil loveliness—in its midst the old faithful servant borne him from the place unno cathedral of St. Mary's proudly raising its ticed, beyond the reach of danger.
turretted head, and glittering in the rays of the Days elapsed ere poor Pietro awoke to con setting sun. Fondly his eye rested upon it, as sciousness, when a recollection of the dreadful the evening, so calm and serene, recalled the events that had transpired flashed madly through recollection of his own loved land, in her sweet his brain. Unheeding the entreaties of those springtime--so like the beautiful scene on who had sheltered him to remain longer con which he gazed. The silver Shannon glided cealed, he wandered forth. All around was along by deep banks, noble mansions, and timebright and beautiful; the heavens were clear worn towers, like a broad mirror reflecting on and calm, as if in mockery of the desolation of its bosom countless images of beauty and his soul, that felt no sympathy with the glad grandeur; part of its waters rushing over a ness of nature, and almost looked outwardly
huge mass of rocks, called the Dunass. Furfor an identity of his own wild feelings. Be
ther on the frowning battlements of King fore him stretched out his native valley, bloom John's Castle, the scene of many a wild and ing and fertile, as though no unwelcome foot daring deed. In the background the mounhad passed it.
tains of Clare and Tipperary, rising in bold Now, he was near his own vineyard, and the and striking outline, their huge shadows falling fragrance of its lemon and orange blossoms
on the tranquil waters, beneath which the Shanrevived the weary man. It was the hour for non, through many a devious winding, resumes the matin bell, but it rang not forth its accus at Killaloe the appearance of an ordinary river. tomed peal.
Alas! each moment his heart grew weaker, “River of chieftains, whose baronial halls, and his step more slow, and when at length he
Like veteran warders, watch each wave-worn steep;
Portmunna's towers, Bunratty's regal walls, stood before the blackened ruins that covered
Carrick's stern rock, the Geraldine's gray keep." the bones of his wife and children, he bowed himself before their funeral pyre, in an agony Suddenly the bells from the cathedral chimed of grief that found no utterance. Hours forth the vesper hymn, and broke the hushed passed on; the daylight faded away, and night, stillness breathed around. The men rested on as if in sympathy with his sorrow, threw her their oars, yielding to the soft influence of the gemmed mantle on the earth, and veiled the moment; the boat gently glided on, impelled by sad scene he gazed upon.
the impetus it had gained. Pietro crossed his He pursued his way on to the convent walls arms on his breast and bent eagerly forward. that held his last treasure. The moon had not Who can tell the emotions that thronged his yet risen, and through the darkness, like gigan heart? tic spectres, frowned the dark mountains of the Home, family, friends, arose before him, Abruzzi-gloomy as the shadow that rested on and lingered around that well-known sound ; his soul.
and ere the last echoes floated above the green He entered the ruins and proceeded to the woods and died away in the distance, soft as
an angel's whisper, they beheld the old man, | days. He answered not when they spoke to his face still turned towards the sunset scene, him. A sinile rested on his lips. His weary his head bent as if to catch the last sound that spirit had found the rest it sighed for. had awakened the sweet memories of earlier !
THE LOST CHILD.
The incident here narrated occurred in the and had learned to laugh at the wolves as they State of Michigan, in March, 1845. Being ab barked around their cabin by night. sent during the day on which the event trans They had known sorrow before, but never pired, on arriving at home my wife immediate until now had they experienced such agonizing ly asked me if I had seen or heard anything of suspense as now awaited them. I had living Mr. McDonald's little John as I passed through with me at this time a man by the name of the forest, saying the father had just been in Shannon, also an Irishman, and as faithful and quiring for his child, who was lost in the warm-hearted as ever came from Erin's isle. woods, and who had then been absent several McDonald and I had frequent occasions to inhours.
terchange kindly offices with each other, and Johnny was a favorite with us, having spent this day Shannon was assisting him in hauling many a gleesome day under the oaks that raised hay from a stack standing on a marsh some their proud trunks and swayed their heads over two miles distant. My residence was a mile our log cabin. McDonald and his wife, Mary, from his, and upon a swell of land half a mile were emigrants from Ireland, and had with from the lake. much taste selected a location on the margin After eating a hasty meal, I immediately of a beautiful sheet of water known in this re went over to ascertain if there were any tidings gion as Fish Lake. It was one of our own from the lost boy, and if none, to aid in the American lakes in miniature. With pebbly search. shores and sloping banks, it lay quietly sleeping It was one of those deceptive days we freainong the gentle swells with which the west quently experience in March. The ground ern solitudes abound. On its surface the fish was bare of snow, and the sun was shining erman's boat was frequently seen, for its crys pleasantly at noon when they left home for the tal waters were the home of the pickerel and purpose of removing the hay. Johnny was but the bass. The wild deer, as he grazed quietly four years old, and dressed in thin cotton clothes, by its bank or approached to slake his thirst, having been kept within doors most of the time was occasionally startled by pleasure parties during the winter, getting out on the sunny from the surrounding settlements, assembled side of the cabin only in pleasant weather; but here to sail upon its placid bosom. The wild to-day he thought he would follow his father to goose, duck, and loon dwelt securely and con the marsh. A sad tramp was that for Johnny, tentedly upon its waters and in its coves. The | and long will be remembered the many weary latter makes a loud and doleful noise, and if miles that were trod on that day by the agodisturbed by the fisherman or passing hunter | nized father and that noble-hearted Irishman. upon the shore, it immediately dives, is absent But Mary McDonald, the wife and mother!several minutes, and then appears away in the those only who have passed through similar distance, secure from harm from the intruder. scenes can conceive the wild agony that swayed Its perception of danger and its disappearance the breast of that mother, who knew her child are so quick, and the great distance it is able to was suffering and perishing with cold; and swim under water, render him comparatively perhaps before she could have the cold comfort secure from the rifle's aim, and wary indeed of even beholding his stiffened corpse, he would must the hunter be who carries him home as a become the food of hungry wolves. trophy of his skill. Here, too, was heard by It was three o'clock. The day that had night the bark of the wolf disturbing the quiet opened so beautifully, and at midday was so of these woodland retreats.
sunny, had become suddenly overclouded, and Upon the border of this wild though beauti. the snow was now falling rapidly. The father ful lake, Martin McDonald and Mary, his wife, I and William, as we sometimes called our hired had resided some eight years. They had grown man, had just appeared with a load of hay. familiar with the deer as they gambolled Mary eagerly inquired for Johnny, who she through the beautiful sparse opening wood, I supposed was with his father. You may ima
gine how like lead the answer of her husband, There were now none but McDonald, Willfell upon her heart, as he replied he had not iam, and myself to hunt for the wanderer. My seen his boy. The anxiety that reigned in that cabin was a mile distant, and there was no household can better be conceived than de- other within one and a half miles; and no scribed. The lake was on one side, the forest available force for a thorough search could be on the other, and the marsh beyond. The little obtained short of a village five miles from Mcclearing was soon explored; the child was not | Donald's. That distance must be traversed on there. The shores of the lake were searched foot through the forest, the settlers aroused, and the marsh revisited, but all to no effect. and the distance retraced ; and ere that could The forest was next threaded, and every swell be done, the child, if still living, must inevitaof land they mounted, the wood was made to bly perish with cold. I was resolved to spares echo with “ Johnny! O ho, Johnny !” But no effort to return him to his mother's arms, if Johnny answered not. Were his limbs already alive; and if dead, to rescue him from the jaws stiff in death ? and that little voice forever of the wolves. hushed ? If not dead, he must be wandering I had left the clearing and was just entering in the forest or traversing those lonely marshes. the forest, and was fast speeding my way to
Still the snow kept falling, and every flake the distant village to rally the necessary force seemed like an avalanche to the agonized heart for a general search, when the solitude was of poor Mary. Together with his tender age, made to echo with the joyous shout of McDonthin garments, and the severity of the weather, ald and William. I listened, and the solitude if yet alive, he could not possibly survive the again resounded with their loud - hilloa," and storm much longer. But the mother--where this time was distinctly borne to my ears the was she during this suspense ? She could joyous shout of “ The child is found." I immenot witness this fruitless search and not brave diately returned, and on entering the cabin bethe storm herself, for the same storm was beat held Johnny clasped in his mother's arms, alive, ing upon her lost and unprotected offspring. and no harm having befallen him. Her heart yearning for the wanderer, with an I have seen a man bowed down with grief, infant of only four weeks old, she threaded the and woman with her heartstrings ready to burst forest and searched the marsh and lake shore with sorrow. I have also seen them with their for whole hours together. It was now dusk; hearts bounding with delight on account of nature could endure no more. The infant at some joyous event; but never till now did I wither breast would perish should she continue ness the extremes of sorrow and joy in the same the search ; besides, her own life was in jeop ibosom ; the one so wild, so overwhelming, and ardy, but that she heeded not in her anxiety for so uncontrollable, and the other so subdued the lost one.
and so absorbing. All Mary could say was, The father and William were just emerging
“Oh, Johnny !" and press him to her bosom, from the forest, and the boy was not with them. which she did again and again. These pasAt this stage of affairs I arrived. I attempted sionate embraces were nature's language. to calm the agitated feelings of Mary, and in The father wept, nor were his the only moist spire her with hope that the child might yet be eyes in that little group. Johnny looked first restored to her. But as well might I have at. at one and then at another in silent amazetempted to allay the tempest as to assuage the ment, little divining what the excitement meant. hitherto pent-up feelings of her warm Irish He could not conceive that all these wild emheart. Previously there had been hope ; but braces and tears, and all this anxiety were ocnow the sun had been down some time. Dark casioned by his absence. I now recognized ness was settling over the forest and lake another person in the scene, in a backwoodsdarkness the most terrible that ever brooded man living four miles distant. It was his over their woodland home. As night began to brawny arm that bore the child to its grateful throw its shades deeper and blacker over the parents. surrounding forest, there remained but a slight His wanderings and providential escape are probability of finding him that night. Mary's briefly told. In endeavoring to follow his fareason had well nigh fled, from the intensity of ther and William to the marsh, he came to a her anxiety; and her exhaustion and duties to place where several waggon tracks and paths diher infant precluded any further assistance verged, one of which would have led him to from her in the search.
his father; any of the others would have led