Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

You are

me.

philosophy resumes the philo- ardour of my satisfaction in sophy of the land : “ Aisy, now, seeing them all again, and of aisy. Sure an' 'twill be all the appearing in their midst as a trasame in a hundred years.” velled personage, was damped.

With patience and good- “How odd you all talk,” I humour on your side, and much remember remarking at tea, voluble sympathy and informa- and being promptly crushed : tion on that of your driver, you “It's you with your horrid are sure to arrive somewhere, English accent that talks odd.” even from such remote latitudes Still, in spite of this slight as that of the North Wall and skirmish, they were glad enough the Pigeon - house.

to see

The quaint little jerked over two lock - bridges, booby of Kildare, whom they and you thank your stars with had bullied to their liking, had reason that the discoloured and grown into a lean, delicate, and malodorous waters of the Liffey resolute fiend, prepared to meet have not closed over you and every blow by a buffet, every your luggage. The catastrophe injustice by passionate revolt. would find your driver phleg- I no longer needed Mrs Clement's matic and philosophic, with a submissive protection. I had twinkle in his eye above the tasted the glory of independent infamous depths of mire that fight, and henceforth my torsuffocated you, assuring you mentors were entitled to some that when a man is ass enough meed of pity, though justice bids to travel he must take the con- me, in recording my iniquities, sequences of his folly. For Erin to remember that their misforand Iberia, moist shamrock and tunes were merited and earned flaunting carnation, meet in with exceeding rigour. their conviction that the sage The first thrill of home-comsits at home and smokes hising, that inexplicable vibration pipe or twangs his guitar in of memory's chord, which so leisure, while the fool alone early marks the development of courts the perils of foreign high- the creature, and signifies the ways.

sharp division of past and preas the hall - door sent, ran like a flame through opened, and I stood with my all my body when the noise foot upon the first step of the of Mrs Clement's big bunch familiar stairs, chorus of of keys, rattling below stairs, young voices shouted my name reached me through the open in glee. “An--gel-a!" drawing-room door.

How flat and strange and in- 6 Mrs Clement is downharmonious sounded that first stairs !” I shouted joyously, and greeting of my name in ears instantly the band of blondattuned to accents shriller and headed scamps carried me off more thin! The English Angela in triumph. was quick and clear; but the Into whose hands has that long-drawn Dublin Angela set sombre town-house of my paall my teeth on an edge, and rents passed? Heaven grant the such was the shock that the children that play there

As soon

a

are

I was

happier than ever I was; but were over—I always found some if the old store-room, with the strange connection between the big linen-presses, and the long abortive, sickly cowslips and china-press with upper doors of primroses Mrs Clement cultiwire-screen, the long table and vated on her terrace in wooden square mahogany and leather boxes and those magic linesarm-chairs and sofa, gives to

“ From you have I been absent in the the occupants to-day half the

spring, pleasure it always gave me, When proud-pied April, dressed in all they are not to be pitied what

his trim,

Hath put a spirit of youth in everyever their fate.

thing." The wide window looked out upon a hideous little street, but What can it be that poetry in front there was a stone ter- says to children, since they can race, with two huge eagles, neither understand the rhythm, where Mrs Clement kept pots nor metre, nor beauty, nor sentiof plants and flowers that, alas ! ment of it? And the child who never bloomed, watered she them (as I was then) is susceptible to never so sedulously; and above the charm of poetry that sweeps the terraces, if you ignored the through the infinite, weeps with sordid street, the sunset traced delicious emotion without the all its fairest and rarest effects ghost of an idea why. upon the broad arch of heaven but a child of nine, when my that spanned the street opening sister in response to my prayer, Those Irish skies ! you must with my cheek still stinging go to Italy and Greece to find from that blow along the Warhues as heavenly. How many wick road, opened the fairyland a sorrow unsuspected, that filled of Shakespeare to me. With a me with such intensity of de- rapture I would I now could spair as only childhood can feel, feel, I thrilled to the glamour has been smoothed by that mys- of the moonlight scene of the terious slip of sky between two “Merchant." We never went

of houses, against to bed without rehearsing it, which in the liquid summer of each in turn being Jessica or blue dusk the eagles, with all Lorenzo. I only remember one the lovely significance of a ro- other sensation as passionate mantic image, were sketched in and vivid and absorbing, my sculptured stone. I dried my first hearing of the Moonlight eyes to dream of lands where Sonata, also at an age when it eagles flew as common as spar- was perfectly impossible that I

I cannot now tell why should understand more than a but I remember well that I mouse or a linnet a particle of grew to associate that distant its beauty or meaning. Yet glimpse of heaven from the old there they stand out in extrastore-room with the isle of Pros- ordinary relief from a confusion pero and Miranda. And when of childish impressions, two disI learnt the Sonnets—which I tinct moments of inexplicable knew by heart, as well as “The ecstasy, the reveries of Lorenzo Tempest ” and “The Merchant and Jessica and the impassioned of Venice” before the holidays utterance of the master's soul in

dull rows

rows.

the divinest of sound played, noise? Go to sleep instantly, possibly not well, by my eldest or I'll come in and whip you all sister's governess in a soft sum- round." mer twilight so long ago.

A sudden scamper of whiteMeanwhile I have left Mrs robed limbs, and in a twinkling Clement, excited and pathetic, four heads are hidden under the holding my thin little visage in sheets. Silence down the corthe cup of her folded palms. ridors, silence throughout the She was just as faded and fair high old house; only the breathand melancholy as ever, and the ing of night, and four little same young man's head showed heads are again bobbing over in the brooch frame on the un- the pillows. changed black silk gown. She “Oh, I say, Angela, we didn't kissed me several times, and tell you, there's a new baby upstroked my hair, and expressed stairs. Susanna! Did you ever amazement at the change in me. hear of such a name ? EveryAnd while she, dear kindly soul, body has pretty names but us. was only thinking of me, there Birdie was so jealous when it was I, volatile little rascal, look- came, because nurse said her ing around me, delighted to see nose would be out of joint, that again the beautiful big red-and- she tried to smash its head with white cups, and smell the spices a poker one day.

She was of the cupboard. Has tea, have caught in time." bread - and - milk, ever tasted And so there was. Another again as these modest luxuries lamentable little girl born into tasted in those beautiful cups? this improvident dolorous vale of The very remembrance of them Irish misery. Elsewhere boys brings the water of envy to the are born in plenty. In Ireland, mouth of age.

I forget the the very wretchedest land on miseries of childhood only to earth for woman, the one spot recall the pleasure I took in of the globe where no provision that warm and rich pottery, is made for her, and where and the brilliant effect of bowls parents consider themselves as and plates and cups upon the exempt of all duty, of tendermorning and evening damask. ness, of justice in her regard,

And that first night at home, where her lot as daughter, wife, four little girls sleeping together and old maid bears no resemin two large beds, three night- blance to the ideal of civilisadressed forms perched on a single tion, - a dozen girls are born bed, while I, the stranger re

for one boy. The parents moan, turned from abroad, mimicked and being fatalists as well as Mr Parker for their shrieking Catholics, reflect that it is the delight, and held my night will of God, as if they were not dress high up on either side in the least responsible ; and to perform the famous curtsey while they assure you that they of Queen Anne. And then have not wherewith to fill an

furious shout outside extra mouth, which is inevitably the landing, and my mother's true, they continue to produce voice

their twelve, fifteen, or twenty “What's the meaning of that infants with alarming and in

a

on

Artillery College when he died

in 1890.

My brother Charles gave two sons to the army. Both, after serving in line regiments, entered the Indian Staff Corps. The elder, Charles, died of typhoid fever, contracted in the Bolan Pass in 1885. The younger, Lionel, was killed at Manipur in 1891.

Such, my dear Blackwood, is the record for which you have asked me. I have wandered away from the Salamanca letter; but perhaps this brief record of a family that has done its share of service for the State may not be without interest. In the three generations sprung from my grandfather, who was himself a soldier, we have given twelve officers to the army, including two generals; three to the navy, including an admiral; and four to the consular service. We have, among us, taken part in the following campaigns: the Peninsular war (nine general actions), the Sikh war, the

Crimean war, the suppression of the Indian Mutiny, the Ashanti war, the Zulu campaign, the Egyptian campaign of 1882, the Nile expedition of 1884-85, and various campaigns on the Indian frontier. Two have been killed in action, two have died of disease incidental to active service, one was invalided from wounds. And the pity of it is that in the next generation there is no representative of the family in either service. Nor, thanks to early marriages, large families, and service almost exclusively in professions which, however honourable, are not lucrative, is there an acre of land left to us. Let us hope

that those families to whom the lands have passed may give as many loyal servants to the Crown as did that which has lost them. In that case there will be less to regret in this decay of an old family.-Believe me, my dear Blackwood, yours most sincerely,

HENRY BRACKENBURY.

THE SWORD OF CORPORAL LACOSTE.

""Tis many a wise Man's hap, while he is providing against one Danger, to fall into another: And for his very Providence to turn his Destruction."

CORPORAL LACOSTE cuirassier in the following of Murat, the Rupert of an Imperial army

-had had a long dream, chiefly of a roaring thunder of surf bursting upon jagged rocks. And, as the storm of water thrashed the very pinnacles that toppled into mist, he had seen the ribs of cliff laid bare and bleeding—as it were the laceration of a living land that he looked on. Then, "Corne et tonnerre! he had seemed to "the cry to himself, very world is torn by some inhuman power, and flows to the sea in rivers of purple!" and he heard the bells of the ocean, receding innumerably, choke at their moorings, muffled and congested with the floating scum of carnage that no wind might ruffle and only God's fire cleanse.

Now, in a moment, he saw that what he had taken for land was in truth a great cliff built up of human bodies-a vast reserve of human force accumulated by, and for the use of, a single dominant will. And this cliff was washed by the waves of an ocean of blood, to which its life contributed in a thousand spouting rivulets. And it was compact of limitless pain; and the cry of torture never ceased within it. And suddenly the dreamer-as in the way of dreams-felt himself to be a constituent agony of that he gazed upon-a pulp of suffering self-contained, yet

partaking of the wretchedness of all.

Suddenly there was a faint stir and pushing here and there into the mound, a quiet soft heaving such as a mole makes; and whenever this ceased a moment, a shriek, thin as a needle, pierced the very nerve of the mass. And, with horror indescribable, the dreamer felt the approach of the thing, testing and feeling at one point or another, until it reached and entered his breast. "Hideous and unnameable!" he would have screamed, but clinched his teeth upon the cry; for, lo! it was but a little familiar hand, plump and white, that groped within his ribs, seeking to find and snap the tendons that held his heart in place.

""

Then he found voice, and whispered in his extremity, Spare me, my Emperor ! but the hand neither shook nor hurried, severing his chords of being one by one, until it could lift the heart from its socket and fling it to the waves that leapt like wolves beneath. And, at the instant of the lifting, it was as if a tooth of flame were thrust into him and withdrawn; and thereafter he fell coldcolder, waxing blithe and painless, until he was moved to laugh to himself with a secret ecstasy of applause.

"A good soldier has no heart. Of a truth le p'tit caporal must now as always have his way.

66

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »