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a curious crotchet," he said to himself, "for such a learned old fellow." Returning, he strolled through the fernery, and suddenly stopped before a scene prettier than any mere magic garden could afford.
An isolated mass of tree-ferns occupied the center of the greenhouse. Around them spread a broad seat of stone, inclosing a tiny water tank, holding a few pond-lilies and fringed. with feather-moss. On this stone parapet sat a tall young girl, lithe and erect as any of the tree-ferns above her, but essentially Norse in every fiber of her strength, every tint of her coloring. She had a head so delicately formed that it seemed poised like a lily on its stem, and a child four or five years old and of much darker coloring was busily putting down great braids of soft brown hair from the other's neck and wreathing it with fern-cuttings that lay around. The elder girl was patiently reading; she had on a plain, tight-fitting black dress of some coarse material, that would have given her almost a peasant look but for the great sweetness and refinement of her face. Suddenly the little one sprung up impulsively and threw her arms about her companion, dragging her to look at herself in the calm mirror of the lily tank. "See, see!" she exclaimed; "you look just like one of grandpapa's water-nixies." From the doorway the young man could see a double image of the group, and accepted the child's interpretation. This done, there was a pause, and presently the eager little voice exclaimed, "What shall I do now? What are you reading?
"I am reading Wordsworth's Poems," said the elder girl.
"What does it say?" asked the child. "It tells about little Barbara Lewthwaite, a child of beauty rare," answered the other.
“Oh, I know about her," said the little one, half impatiently. "But who was Wordsworth? Where did he live? Did he know that little girl? Was he a kind man?" Then she began again upon the fern-cuttings, then, throwing them away, exclaimed, "O Sanna! you don't do a single thing to amuse me. You call me your sweet little sister, and then you don't do anything for me. If Wordsworth was here, he would do something to amuse me."
"You might eat your apple," suggested the sister, smiling.
"Oh, I forgot all about that," the child said eagerly, and tugging from her pocket a large red one she suddenly stopped, and, looking at her sister, cried out, "O you sweet, sweet, sweet! I must just kiss you-yes, I will, I will"; and rushing at her with a stormy embrace she upset Wordsworth, fern-leaves, and apple, so that the ruddy fruit went rolling into the watertank and disappeared beneath the lily-pads.
With instantaneous reaction she set up a wailing cry. “O Sanna! O you very unkind person! You threw it away, you know you did. O my beautiful, lovely apple!" And pushing her sister vigorously, she burst into passionate tears. Walter came quickly forward, pulled the treasure from the water, and presented it, still dripping, to the small owner.
In a moment the child stopped crying and stiffened herself within that armor of delicious shyness which drops so instantly, like a nun's or Quaker's vestments, over these young creatures; and stood, speechless, tightly grasping the elder girl's dress.
"Say "Thank you,'" said the girl addressed as Sanna.
“No-you,” murmured the little one; but she sent a sudden smile with the thanks and then buried her face in the scant dress.
"Aha!" said a voice from behind, "is it that I have found you at last? Oh, yes, this is my granddaughter, a good girl, but she do not read the authors; she will be a woman. Go, Sanna, and take the little Katrina; the greenhouse is too warm." In a moment he had forgotten their existence, and was again discoursing upon his hobby.
"It is not reason to think," he said, "that Egypt supplied all its own magic plants; there shall be no reason why we shall not raise them here. Here we have the woods, the Veratrum, and Juniperus, powerful for routing the demons; these grow wild, but others we must raise in gardens."
"Are these both your granddaughters?" asked Walter, irrelevantly.
"Yes," said Nils; "Sanna, she do tend little Katrina. Then there is the asphodel, irresistible against gloomy deities."
"I should think little Katrina would be quite irresistible," said Walter.
"Hein?" asked Nils, puzzled. "Then there is laurel, which will grow in your own woods, good to bring on madness, ravings, and sleep; and strychnon and mandragora, which do make love-potions; and even your common autumnal dandelion, the leontodon, can rouse from death itself."
"I think," said Walter, looking at his watch, "that I must go to dinner."
Meantime there was never a poor girl so plied with questions as Sanna. "Who was he?" asked the child incessantly. "Why did he come there? What was his name? Why did she not know his name? Was he kind?" and so on indefinitely. "But I love him very much," added she.
"You do not know him," said Sanna.
"I have known him a long time," said the child indignantly "as much as ten minutes; that is almost half an hour. I love him better
"Is Miss Sanna well to-day?" asked Walter at this point.
than anybody that there is; that is, I love you the sun is in the sign Virgo and the moon
As we sat in Tenniman's window one evening about that time, content to have all our botany brought within the limits of one narcotic weed, there came up a question about Walter Vose, why he kept away from us. "He studies at the Botanic Garden mostly now," said Tenniman. "He got hold of a passage about magic in Pliny one day, and has never been able to get it out of his head."
"Like the poet in 'Festus,'" said one of the young men, "who fell into himself and was missing ever after."
"There is a studious old party at that garden," said another, "who knows all about magic."
"There's a pretty girl there," replied the first," who practices it. She's the daughter or granddaughter of old Nils. This young innocent of mine "-indicating a blushing younger brother "got a glimpse of her the other day, and he has never been himself since. Somehow she belongs in that garden: she's a regular white lily-in-the-flesh, if ever there was one; I'll say that for the girl."
But this led to a rather eager discussion of the comparative charms of several different college belles, and we got no further. It is perfectly true, though, that from that time forth Walter discovered that to study botany from books only was useless work, and that the real place for it must be a botanic garden. He was certainly quite exemplary in his attendance there. He tried to learn about magic plants; he really learned about Sanna and little Katrina. Their mother, it seemed, was an American and well taught she was the daughter of a country pastor, and had fallen in love with the young Norwegian gardener; but both had died, and Sanna was left to care for the grandfather and the little sister. Their sex excluded them, the old man thought, from all knowledge of his authors and his magic plants; and, as he said, they never entered the quaint garden. But he would keep Walter there for hours, discoursing, explaining, experimentalizing.
"You shall remember," he said, "that the heavenly bodies also shall be regarded for the plucking of plants at fixed times. Thus the stems of Hypericum must be dug up on the feast of St. John-hence you do call it St. John's wort; also the twigs of the wild cherry at St. Martin's, for divining rods; and the ash-wood must be split at noon, when
"She shall be well enough," said Nils, carelessly. "But Kircherus, he shall maintain that at the time of the solstice the leaves of the willow, white poplar, elm, lime, and olive do turn their under side to the sky. That shall prove that we cannot omit all notice of the heavenly bodies; indeed, Gesnerus shall have it that plants do be affected in shape by the sun and moon. So with the plant nectanebus, which is a love-potion."
"Do you really believe in love-potions?" said Walter.
"So!" said Nils, doggedly, looking at him; "there shall be love-potions. It is easy by magic to produce love. Orpheus and Archelaus do say that arrows drawn out of a wounded body, if they have not yet touched the ground, may be placed beneath persons as they sleep, and produce love; but the Egyptians, they did produce it by love-potions. That was better."
"I have seen the thing done without either," said Walter; but Nils heeded not.
FROM this time Nils began to confide to Walter that he had himself tested many of his favorite plants, but with little effect; and he evidently would have liked very much to see what result they would produce on a fresher constitution. Walter willingly nibbled a leaf here and there, not so much for a knowledge of magic plants, which had already grown a little wearisome to him, as for the sake of a still older and surer magic which had begun its operation. Sanna spent more and more time in the greenhouses with him, and the innocent sweetness of an unspoiled nature became more fascinating day by day. For her sake he would have heard about Paracelsus and Kircherus for hours at a time. Meanwhile into Nils's mind, which had the practical as well as the ideal bent of his nation, came a vision by no means sentimental in behalf of these two young people. If the youth did at times show a little levity, he was by far the best listener the old man had ever met; and there was Sanna to be provided for! What was the use of all his magic lore, if he could not bring something to pass that should secure the future comfort of his granddaughters? So he pored over his well-thumbed Pliny and Dioscorides, and muddled his brain with potions and mixtures dire, little knowing that a more powerful force was all the while doing his work for him.
Had he looked into the fern-house at dusk one summer evening he would have seen
Walter and Sanna sitting absorbed in a rather it was, the little creature curled itself up and low-voiced talk, with occasional inexplicable dropped upon the floor. pauses, while little Katrina hunted for glowworms in the grass-plot beyond the lifted sash. The great Virgilia tree waved its lingering white clusters within sight, dim and ghostly in the evening; the blue-green Colorado spruce rustled gravely in the light breeze; the frogs croaked in the pond. After a long pause Sanna was just speaking.
"What an outrageous thing to say now!" cried Walter, with a successful effort at indignation. "Your grandfather is the most learned man I ever knew. How can it be that at the University of Christiania they train such men?" "I know it," said the girl, proudly. "But does his learning convince you?" she asked, looking shyly at him.
"Of what?" said Walter.
"That there is such a thing as magic?" she answered.
"Upon my word," said he, looking at her significantly, "I have more than half believed that for this long while."
"But in plants," she said, hastily; "in plants?"
"Do you believe it yourself?" he evasively answered.
"How should I know?" she replied. "You yourself say he is very learned, and he believes in it. At least he thinks he does; nobody can doubt that."
"True enough," said Walter, thoughtfully. "Talks well about it, too. That was very true what he said the other day about plants and human beings-that they were so nearly related. Now they must seem like that to you, I take it a sort of sisters."
"Of course," she said, simply; "I was brought up among them."
"Queer," mused Walter, "I was brought up so differently."
"I know you were," answered the girl, "and that is the very thing-" But there she stopped. She sat leaning forward a little in the dim light; the fern plants drooped over her; she was dressed in white, which was unusual for her, and she might have been one of the lilymaidens in the German legend of the Mummelsee. Suddenly the little Katrina raced uproariously in, holding up a great glow-worm, which she put on Sanna's lap in a little pile of leaves. The elder girl bent over it in silence, and suddenly there fell upon the insect a large drop, which, had its light been made of earthly flame, would have put it out forever. Even as
"Why, you are crying, Sanna!" exclaimed the excited child. "Walter always makes you cry now, after he goes away, and to-night you are crying before he goes. O you naughty, unkind man!" she went on, turning with her usual precipitation upon him. "Why do you make my Sanna cry?”
"I did not know I did," he answered, honestly.
"But you do, you do," insisted the child. "Why, why, why? Tell her to stop, and she will stop this minute. Besides, when I cried the other day you kissed me to make it well. Kiss Sanna!" And she went at him with one of her boisterous charges, to enforce her prescription.
"O Katrina!" cried Sanna very hastily, "there is the very largest glow-worm you ever saw just outside the window. Run, run, or it will be lost!"
"Kiss her!" persisted the merciless child, now looking towards the doorway, then returning towards him.
Then, as if guided by an irresistible and delicious fate, Walter Vose bent down and kissed the fair head, prevented from withdrawing itself by the interlacing branches of the ferntrees, while the satisfied child bounded away to seek the real or imaginary glow-worm. "Sanna!" he said, wondering equally at himself and her, for it was the first time he had called her by that name. He felt as if he and she were floating away together on a cloud large enough to hold precisely two persons, while the world of men, women, and botany sunk away unregretted beneath their feet. "Sanna," he repeated, "will you be my wife?" At the instant she sprung from him and said impetuously:
"You must never speak to me again." Flinging the leaves from her lap she ran as for life from the fern-house; and grasping little Katrina, swept her from before his sight as with a whirlwind, in the eagerness of her renunciation. The child struggled and screamed as she was borne off; and the last words that came back were: "But I wanted to stay with Walter! O you cruel two persons!"
FOR Some days Walter avoided the greenhouses altogether, as did Sanna also. He could not, however, forsake the garden itself. Little Katrina, with a child's oblivion of what had passed, sometimes ran to him from afar, climbing eagerly upon him; then she also grew shy. Old Nils went pottering about his own domain and muttered to himself, evidently puzzled by the situation. One day he came to Walter with some Norwegian tobacco, as he said; and the young man, unwilling at this juncture to
refuse anything from him, filled his pipe from the proffered pouch.
“But," said Walter, "they certainly do not raise tobacco at those high latitudes."
"They do prepare it," was the answer, " after the manner of our ancestors."
"Queer taste they get into it too," said the youth; "but it is aromatic and pleasant. Magic herbs, eh, Nils?"
"It shall not be for a joke," retorted Nils, severely. "It shall be for a sweet flavor, not?" There was certainly something pleasant about it, with a soothing influence, and Walter took the pouch with him; but he let the pipe go out almost as soon as lighted, being absorbed in vexatious thoughts of Sanna. The next day he reverted to the new supply and smoked furiously.
Meanwhile poor Sanna sought the professor's wife, her kind adviser since childhood, and unfolded her grief.
"But, Sanna," said Mrs. Greene, "why not marry him?"
"Ách!" she answered, "it is all so different in our positions."
"I don't see why," said the older woman, with courageous philosophy, tempted by the love of match-making. He is the son of a country clergyman, and you are the granddaughter of one- on your mother's side, you know. You are poor and so is he, I suppose. It is not likely that there is in his family a sweeter woman than your mother was, or a more learned man than your grandfather- I mean Nils. What then is the trouble? Why should you not marry? Certainly little Katrina is fond enough of him, and he and your grandfather talk by the hour together."
"It is no matter," was the despairing answer. "What am I? A Norwegian peasant girl who happened to be born in America, that is all. I have nobody but Katrina and grandfather; and you know-oh, you know very well, Mrs. Greene-that he thinks grandfather queer and strange. Everybody does, I suppose, but Katrina and I."
"Because of his fancy about magic plants?" said Mrs. Greene, smiling a little.
Yes," said the girl defiantly, straightening up her slender figure. "You know well that most people do not believe in them at all; but there must be something in them, or a great learned man like my grandfather would not give up so much of his time to them."
"If Walter is enchanted, my child," said Mrs. Greene, kissing the fresh cheek, "you are the magic flower."
"Ach! so?" said the blushing girl, falling unconsciously into the old man's vocabulary as well as his arts, and retreating through the greenhouses.
Walter meanwhile had wandered into the now deserted fernery, listlessly plucking a dead leaf or pulling a weed from the flower-pots. "The air is too warm," he thought presently; "my head swims." Suddenly a surge of blood seemed to go upwards from his body to his brain; his head seemed like a bulb expanding to twice its usual size, and he felt himself falling. Instantly a pair of strong young arms were clasped about him and he knew vaguely that he was being dragged from the hot greenhouse and laid upon a bank outside, a green sward, made golden by the early flowers of the yellow autumnal dandelion. He lost all consciousness, and when he awaked his forehead was moist with water that had been profusely showered upon it, and warm, eager lips were pressed against his cheek. He sat up, still dizzy, his head resting against Sanna's shoulder, and looked where old Nils stood, with an air of supreme triumph in his face, and with the little wandering Katrina lurking shyly behind.
"It shall be quite well," he said. "Now you know that plants do have magic. It is well too that you did place him on the dandelions, which do revive a person from death, as saith Kircherus."
The old man had builded better than he knew with the strange herbs, that when mingled in the tobacco had so nearly brought Walter to death's door. Had it not been for this dangerous intermeddling, who knows whether young love would ever have reached its happy end? As Mrs. Greene summed it up, Sanna's magic might after all have proved ineffectual without his. Nor did it ever occur to him to doubt that he did all. At any rate he wrote down in his old copy of Dioscorides, still to be seen in the Botanic Garden library:
NOTE. Take nectanebus and mandragora, they shall be inhaled for a love-potion. (N. B.— This I my self have proved by actual experiment!) Should these herbs have been taken in excess, place the patient on a bed of leontodon, which do have power, as Kircherus hath said, to raise from death itself. (N. B.—This I myself have seen in case of the leontodon autumnale, or autumnal dandelion, in this very garden!)
Thomas Wentworth Higginson.
WOMAN IN EARLY IRELAND.
AN IRISH CHILD OF THE UPPER CLASS.
T has become the fashion to say that a civilization may be measured by the treatment it accords to woman. Hence it may profit to look a little into the position of woman in ancient Ireland so far as one may penetrate the darkness of the past and in such measure as can be given here. The Irish woman of to-day might well inspire a wish to know something of her ancestresses, if it were only to learn whence her qualities are derived; for the women of no country surpass and those of few lands equal her in charm of face and manner, modesty and decorum, brightness and strength of wits. We need not rest our belief concerning the attractiveness of Irish women upon modern statements, nor upon the Lady Blessingtons and Anne Boleyns, nor upon Irish princesses famous in medieval ballads like Kudrun of Ireland in the German poem and Iseult of Ireland in that of France. We have the great romantic literature of Ireland in part still remaining as witness, together with references to many lost poems and prose tales in which queens and noble ladies take the lead.
A long list of Tochmarca, or "courtships," existed of which the bard was expected to VOL. XXXVIII.-57.
know some by heart, and among which a favorite was the courtship of the Lady Eimer by Cuchulinn. Then there were the Aitide, or elopements, among them a very famous one, the tragedy of Deirdré and the sons of Uisneach, first translated in 1808 and told again in English verse by the late Dr. Joyce of Boston. Then there were the Serca, or loves of gallant men and fair dames. Such tragedies and comedies must have been very popular at fairs and in towns, at moated granges of Gaelic farmers and in the triple-fossed strongholds of chiefs; for though stories of battle, voyage by sea, foray and revenges, are far more numerous, the love-tales were sufficient to warrant Giolla na Naem in characterizing the Gaels of Ireland as remarkable among nations for beauty and amorousness.
The verses attributed to him were translated by Eugene O'Curry from the version given by Macfirbis. The composer starts from Asia Minor and names the nations in succession, the Danes and Picts coming last because known to him by their colonies in Ireland and North Britain.
For building the noble Jews are found,
The same difficulty we found in drawing the line between god and hero, between mythical allegorical figure and person of history, follows us when we turn to women. A trait that appears very early is the respect paid to women by tradition, showing itself in the large number of female leaders of swarms that invaded Ireland in primitive times. Not only their names are recorded, but where they were buried. Undoubtedly the Gaelic war-goddesses are reflected in some of the queens who fall on the field of battle; or, like Macha Redhair, seize a throne and hold it against all comers; or, like Queen Meave, marrying Ailill for her second spouse, treat their partner with small respect and show him plainly that the woman