Puslapio vaizdai
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

November 2.-Our baby, our darling, is dead. At last I have courage to write it. Perhaps I shall feel better now; perhaps the writing that will bring the reality of this life back to me. I must shake off this selfish lethargy; I must leave you, my sweet one, and come back to my many duties, and, yes, to those still so dear left to me.

I was sitting to-day, with my work in my lap, looking, looking, but seeing nothing but the great, great trouble; sitting as I know I have sat so often lately, when my youngest boy came softly, and, laying his head on my knee, sobbed as though his little heart were breaking.

"What is it, my boy?" I said.

But he only struggled with his sobs. I took him in my arms, and kissed him, and entreated him to tell me. At last,

"O, baby, baby!" he cried; " O, I wish it had been me, and then you would not mind so much."

I looked up at Herbert. He was trying to appear deep in his drawing, but every moment large splashes of tears came down on the paper. O, what a selfish wretch I have been! nursing my own grief, and never seeing or remembering that others felt almost as much as I; almost, O, not quite; they could not; and I have been adding to their grief the misery of doubting if I loved them! I have tortured them so, I! O God, forgive me! I took my boy to my heart, and prayed his forgiveness, and entreated him always to believe I loved him now as much as when he was a baby, like our sweet darling; whatever I might seem, to trust me, and O, to drive away, as a deadly enemy to all happiness, any jealous thoughts. Poor child! he sobbed himself to sleep in my arms; and I shed tears, refreshing tears, over him; the first, except in dreams, since baby left us.

November 18.-It rained and blew last night. I could not sleep. My tender little one! that I did not let a rough wind blow upon, who nestled so warm against my bosom all night, who, when the rain fell at nights, I drew closer to me, and thought pitifully of those poor mothers who are without shelter or warm covering

[ocr errors]

for their dear ones, my soft, warm little darling! how could I bear to think of her; so cold, so cold; the rain coming down, down; pitiless cold rain! unloving, damp earth!

O, how I envied the houseless mother! for she clasps her baby warm in her arms. And I-I wandered from the window; I could scarce keep my hands from taking down my cloak and bonnet, and going to my darling.

I know that God will guard her better, O! far better, than I should. I know that it was right and best that she should leave us, or it had not been. I know, I am sure of all this; in time I shall feel it ; I cannot yet; and He who sees into the mother's heart, and is so much more merciful than any earthly judge, will pardon me. "What is the matter, Gertrude ?" Robert said, roused by my restless moving about the room.

[ocr errors]

Only the windows want fastening, the window is so high," I answered, in as cheerful a voice as I could.

"You should have asked me, dear. Mind you don't take cold ;" and he was fast asleep again.

O, when shall I be truthful about my own feelings! I, who would have given so much for his sympathy, will not let him know that I need it.

I took his hand, heavy with sleep, in mine, and kneeling down with it pressed to my bosom, prayed God to put away from us this dreadful cold wall of partition that has grown up in our hearts; for now my baby has left me, who used to comfort me with her sweet love, I feel it more and more.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

December.-I have been selfish, blind, wicked. I will write it down. I have owned it; I have said it; and a great load is taken from my heart.

It is not the sins of others that weigh the spirit down; we can forget, we can forgive them. It is when we see others' sins through our own that they become crushing. The other day, how long ago it seems! my husband came to me, with radiant face, yet tears standing in his eyes, and clasping me to his arms, thanked God that the trial was past. I was frightened. I feared I know not what, and fainted in his arms.

When I came to myself he was leaning over me, pale and anxious.

"It is only good news, my little wife," he said. "Be thankful it is so. I have dreaded each day to have a very different tale to tell."

And then he told me how he had feared a terrible loss of money. O, what a joyful bound my heart gave when he said that; only of money. But I must not even write here how it was; he has trusted me. This loss would have made us poor; "beggars," he said; but he did not mean that; he had even planned what we were to do. But a great deal he said I heard as if in a dream.

"O, why did you not tell me?" I cried. "You so anxious, and to tell me nothing!" And then he said that "At first, I was so happy." Think of it, so happy! And soon after, when our baby left us, he did

[blocks in formation]

And together, with tearful eyes, we prayed him to pity and forgive us. Afterward we talked, as I have said. I showed Robert all I had written here, that he might know my whole heart. Henceforth I shall write no diary.

My little babe! my sweet, pure, angelchild! I dreamed last night that she lay in my arms. With her tiny hand she took mine, and placed it in my husband's. When I awoke in tears, his hand clasped mine, and I was at peace.

not like to add to my grief; and so waited THE DARK HOUR ERE THE DAWNING.

till it was decided one way or the other.

"Happy!" I said; "I have not been happy for so long, so long. O, if we had only been trusting and confiding to each other!" And then I told him all.

"Do not blame yourself too much," he said. "I feel as though my love must be little what it ought to be, not to have known your thoughts better, or considered your feelings more. I was thoughtless, and perhaps," he said, smiling, "made more so by the flattery and attention of a pretty girl; and lately," he said, "I have been lost in keeping, as I thought, sorrow from you, forgetting on what true happiness depends. Full of my own anxieties, yours have often seemed small and trivial; and then, dear wife, I thought you so engrossed by your children, that what I did, or was, would not affect you."

"Ah, Robert! then you were distrustful too."

"Let us, then," he answered," be more thoughtful, and more trusting, in future. Let us try to understand and feel for each other's anxieties and frailties; for only so can there be any lasting happiness in married life. I have always seen the importance of these things in others; and felt too sure that we should not fail. We shall be more humble in future."

Much more he said, which I shall never forget, but not even this just as I have put it down. For my husband sat silent long after I had ended my confession, his head in his hands, so that I could not see his face. I waited and waited, and almost repented having told him; knelt down be

SHE rocks her baby to and fro,

Crying aloud in anguish wild: "I cannot bear that deadlier woe,

So, God of mercy, take my child." Poor soul! her act belies the prayer She breathes into the midnight airIt is before the dawning.

For while she speaks, her arms enfold
The babe with a still tighter clasp;
As fearing Death, so stern and cold,

Should hear, and rend it from her grasp.
She knows not-were that dark hour past-
Of hers, 'tis doom'd to be the last,
The one before the dawning.

You had not wonder'd at the prayer,

If you had seen that hovel poor, And known what she had suffer'd there, Since first the grim "wolf" forced the door: But the prayer sped; the widow's pride, Of sickness-not of hunger-died,

An hour before the dawning.

Half thankful, half remorseful, now
This only treasure, hers no more-
Tears raining on its marble brow,

She lays upon her pallet poor,
Then whispers: "Would I too might die,
And so together we should fly

To seek a brighter dawning." The dawning came, and with it brought Tidings of friends, and wealth restored; They fell, scarce heeded, as she sought

The little corpse, and o'er it pour'd Her wild lament, her ceaseless moan That such had found her all aloneNo child to share the dawning.

A hungry bee will strive to sip

Sweets even from a faded rose: Thus hangs she on the pallid lip

So long, one almost might suppose That she is striving with her breath To thaw away the frosts of death,

Which yield not to the dawning.

And now she murmurs day by day:

"O God, that I had learn'd to wait; "Tis so much harder than to pray,

As I have found, alas! too late.

I might have deem'd the worst was past,
And that dark hour must be the last,
To one before the dawning."



in the transition from the French to the English style, as Quebec or some town in Lower Canada. All that is old is French; all that is new is English. Home-brewed beer," and "neat wines," are displacing the Magazin des vins: vente en gros et en detail. Modern English architecture is represented in a Crystal Palace kind of casino, just erected on the beach facing the

sea; English money-changers abound; and we surprised the garçon in the café with an English vocabulary, trying to spell

WE write, not for the traveled few, but the untraveled many, to tell them what, after reaching London, can be done in a month, and to induce them to do like-Rosbif, and to mispronounce Villiams, as the French persist in calling my friend. wise. Let them choose the month of May if possible, when the days are long and the His real name is William Smith; but for great heats not set in, and, above all, when motives of delicacy they drop the patrothe stream of rich tourists has set home-nymic, and style him Villiams, as Cicero is Tully, and Horace Flaccus, in the lanward, and we can promise them as true a month's enjoyment as a light purse and a guage of some. light heart together can bring. A small hand-bag, a purse with a sovereign to spend for every day you are out, and a foreign office passport, are the chief and only requisites. Provided with these, my friend and I made our way, on Thursday morning, the 30th of last April, to the London Bridge station, and took a ticket for Paris, via Newhaven and Dieppe.

The wind was fair and fresh, so the steamer flew to the French coast like a sea-bird, dipping her beak every minute or

two in the crest of a wave, and then saucily flinging it back on the passengers aft. We nestled away as well as we could under our sea-bird's wings, for such the paddle-boxes of these small channel boats more resemble than anything else in nature.

But swift ships will heave as well as slow. The nauseating sea, says the poet, spares neither the noble trireme nor the hired galley.

"Conducto navigio æque,

We are reminded we are in Normandy, if by nothing else, by the steep roofs of the houses, and the towering head-gear of the women. The roofs contain as many as four stories of windows, rising in a

pyramidal shape, and the caps rise in as many conical folds of linen and lace; the head-dresses, in fact, are roofs, and the roofs head-dresses; but as we have never explored either the one or the other, further description would be presumptuous.

The police and douane were soon satisfied with an inspection of our passport and baggage. Not so the army of touters that lay in ambush for us outside. They stood their ground; but we charged and cut through them, amid a volley of cards showered thick around us, and so got safe to the station.

Not so the heavy horse of our expedition. As we afterward heard, an Englishman-we will call him Heavysides-with three helpless females, stood tongue-tied on the quay at Dieppe. Three trunks and like stranded sturgeon waiting the fisherthrice three bonnet-boxes lay round them, man's grab-net. In an instant a polite little Frenchman came forward, all smiles and sympathy. "You are English, monsieur; you desire to part by the next convoy. Ah, malheur, monsieur hears not, but mademoiselle speaks French. If you confide your baggage to me, I will trans

Nauseat ac locuples quem duxit priva triremis;" and so we ducked under every wave, and my friend had qualms-take it in whichever sense you please; so to quiet them, he started the theory that sea-sickness is not a stomachic affection at all, but one purely nervous. I resisted the paradox, partly to keep on deck, but principally because I had proof around me that sea-sick-port them to Paris. You have the choice ness is stomachic, not cerebral; and in the midst of the discussion we neared the French coast.

Dieppe is not a town to describe as either French or English. It is as much

of the roulage at grande vitesse, or petite vitesse."

Now it happened that this heavy-horse Englishman had lost his luggage once already, so the offer could not be resisted.

two most admired men of their day are the man who can make most money out of others, and the man who can spend most on himself.

Our route from Paris to Geneva was by Dijon and Dole, where we arrived about nine P.M. We then mounted the diligence, which slowly works its way to Geneva, over the Jura, in sixteen hours. The journey is tedious, but the views in some parts are magnificent, and the first glimpse of the lake of Geneva and the Alps beyond, from the summit, is unspeakably grand. Mont Blanc did not appear, as, indeed, he seldom does, but most of the surrounding peaks could be distinctly traced; while below, the blue lake spread out a great natural mirror like that in which Eve first caught a sight of her beauty.

Translated into plain English, it meant that for fifty francs he should resign all care of his trunks to the roulage agent. The money was paid, and a paper receipt folded in his waistcoat pocket, and so the Heavysides reached the station, and the train was off for Paris. Figure, if you can, the Heavysides' distress when, perusing the receipt ticket, it broke on them that the roulage à petite vitesse meant only a goods train, and that some days must elapse before the delivery of heavy goods in Paris. The Heavysides, we heard since, existed in Paris two days on a stocking and nightcap-a cap by night, a stocking all the day-and then, cursing their own credulity, went south to Nice. At petite vitesse the trunks and bonnet boxes journeyed south after them, accumulating costs as they went, and a month after date | the Heavysides' luggage was delivered at We descended rapidly from the snow their door at a cost of seventy-five francs level where not a leaf had begun to bud, a-head. to the margin of the lake where the cherrytrees were in full blossom, and the corn stood thick and almost in ear, and reached Geneva about two o'clock in the afternoon, having made the journey from Paris in about thirty hours.

In a few minutes Dieppe was out of sight, we were steaming over the plains of Normandy; the night fell, and darkness and sleep came on together, and when we awoke we were amid the gaslights of Paris. It was past midnight, but one half of Paris was not gone to bed, and before we were well asleep the other half began to awake, and we heard the rumbling of market carts in the streets below.

To make Geneva a halting-place on our way to Rome would have been to defeat our object, so we passed through the town as the arrowy Rhone is said to flow through its lake, in it, but not of it; Romeward we had set our faces, and would not turn aside even to look at Calvin's grave; so unwashed, unkempt, unfed, we rushed to the office to secure seats at once in the diligence to Chambery and Turin.

Out of bed into a cold bath, and out of a coach into a warm bath, is the wise ex

Four days in Paris slipped away as if time and we had a walking match which would tire the other down. From street to street we paced. Churches, domes, temples, and theaters were seen by us, while time told his tale of hours; and on the fourth morning, when we had not another sight to see, or time another min-perience of a traveling bachelor. We ute to spare, we stood at the Lyons terminus and took a ticket for Dole and Geneva. Pleasure-loving Paris! How all its associations are of one kind. If in London we make a pleasure of business, in Paris they make a business of pleasure. They have no city as with us, much less city

[blocks in formation]

found its refreshing effects at Chamberyand so to breakfast. A stroll about this quaint old capital of Savoy would well repay trouble. But we cannot turn aside, so we climbed into the banquette of the diligence, and with our places secured to Turin, were put on the rails of the Victor Emmanuel line, which is to connect Lyons with Turin, and which is already open as far as St. Jean de Maurienne. The line winds through an alpine valley, with the cliffs towering two or three thousand feet high on either side, and with a torrent roaring beside it. In places the valley narrows, so that there is scarcely room for the road and the river. The river god claims the right of way, and so the rail god must

give way, and either play at leap-frog over the river, or bury itself in the mountain, and, like Arethusa, work its way through in darkness. Often the river rises against the rail as an invader of its rights; and in places we saw bridges swept away, and the whole line turned out of its course during repairs. The forests clothe the mountains; and we were told by our conductor, a talkative Frenchman, who undertook to describe the scenery to us, that the bears people the woods on one side of the valley, and the wolves on the other, and that they were never known to change sides, or interfere with each other.

On we flew, winding up the valley as far as Saint Jean de Maurienne, which is as far as the railroad works are carried as yet. Saint Jean contains a relic of its patron saint, which is shown on occasions to convince the unbeliever: Saint John's hand, a dry, leather-like relic, is kept in a glass-case in the church. Seeing is said to be believing, of the truth of which this is an instance; for as those only who believe see, so it results that all who see believe.

From Saint Jean de Maurienne to Lanslebourg, at the foot of Mont Cenis, is a drive of seven hours. At Lanslebourg the ascent begins, and ten stout mules drew our diligence up to the summit in less than three hours. Midnight on the top of Mont Cenis is a pleasure to be remembered, but not repeated without necessity. A cold wind seemed to blow the darkness in on us; at least it brought a mist with it which quite hid the moon. The road could just be traced out by the brown sludge trodden into a deep rut, while the virgin snow lay deep on either side, and rose high over the diligence like a wall of frozen water, as it were, through which a passage was cut. To understand the meaning of darkness visible, let the reader cross Mont Cenis at midnight, and he will descend as we did, cold, tired, sleepy, and with swollen eyeballs-swollen from staring into emptiness. The tunnel under the mountain will change all this. How soon this will be undertaken it is impossible to say. The surveys have been made, and the Sardinian Chamber have agreed to advance half the sum named in the contract. It is said also that some mighty boring machine has been invented by a Piedmontese engineer, which is to dig out the bowels of Mont Cenis, as a

cheese-knife scoops out a ripe Stilton. We arrived at Susa, on the other side, about four in the morning, and after an hour's delay proceeded by early train to Turin.

Turin is a city of straight streets, and lies" four square," with a long Corso-like street leading direct from the railway terminus to the Royal Palace. It has either a church or a café at every corner, and lying midway between Paris and Rome, it seems a double-minded city, undivided whether to choose for pleasure or priestcraft. Until lately, the priestly influence was all powerful; but now it is not so, and the two interests seem very evenly balanced. The cheap press on the one hand, and the priests on the other, are straining every nerve. Rome is pushing out young France, and young France is pushing in on Rome, and the butting match is carried on on the frontiers of Italy. Newspapers for a halfpenny are hawked about on all sides; and, in reply, the priests put up on every door an "Invito Sacro," and offer plenary indulgences for every crime but daring to think.

It would not be easy to lose one's way among the straight streets of Turin. It is laid out like New York, with long avenues running parallel with each other, and intersected with.smaller streets at right angles. One of these avenues conducts directly from the palace to the railway So after viewing the palace and chapel attached to it, in which are some fine pieces of sculpture, chiefly mortuary, we made our way to the railway station, and embarked, as foreigners say, for Genoa in a second-class carriage.


The plain of the Po, over which we skimmed at express speed, is as productive as nature and art together can make it. Everything that is put down grows, and the vegetables grow together like a happy family, not caged up as with us in separate fields or patches, but in open spaces, vines overshadowing vetches, and the vetches, unlike Diogenes, not desiring them to get out of their sunlight. Sunshine, indeed, is here managed on the same economic principles that heat is distributed in our kitchen range. The olives and vines are roasted in the noontide splendor. Wheat and Indian corn simmer out their summer existence as stew-pans placed on hot ovens; while those hardy plants that can grow in the shade are par

« AnkstesnisTęsti »