« ПретходнаНастави »
For those in Peril,” 435.
History, past and present, 198, 271,
Martyrdom of S. Polycarp, 70.
Years of our Life, 46.
Jackson's History of Confirmation,
Sunday Scholar's Companion, 156.
Uncle Philip, 75.
BY AUSTIN CLARE, AUTHOR OF “THE CARVED CARTOON."
A NEW HOME.
"A land where the ivy green doth creep,
The twilight of an August evening was falling on one of those wildly beautiful landscapes of which “canny Cumberland" can boast so many. A green glen-green with that peculiarly vivid tint which characterizes the newly-sprung grass, after the hay harvest has been carried, wound among the hills, the view at its head closed by a grey wall of craggy scaurs; while, far away at its lower end, stretched a long line of blue hills, scarcely discernible in the deepening twilight. The northern boundary of the glen was formed by a chain of rugged mountains, which towered in dark masses against the clear evening sky; the higher ones clothed with the regal purple of the blooming heather ; the lower, covered with closely-cropped herbage, and bee-haunted beds of wild thyme. To the south, the hills were much lower, and were clothed to their summits by a forest of pine-trees, whose gloomy gran
deur was relieved by groups of sycamores, “warlike beeches,” and horsechestnuts, still in the full glory of their summer foliage; from amongst which peeped the grey turrets of an old fortified castle. A narrow, but tolerably good road wound through the glen, forming the village street of the pretty hamlet of Carrockcleugh, so called from the burn or cleugh of that name, which, rising far up in the northern mountains, dashed foaming and brattling through the valley. Nestling among a group of magnificent mountain-ashes, close under the fells on the northern side of the glen, and at about a quarter of a mile's distance from the village of Carrockcleugh, was a picturesque cottage, having quaint, peaked gables covered with narrow-leafed ivy, not growing in that rampant luxuriance which characterizes the hardy plant when left to its own devices, but closely-clipped and carefully-trained, and kept in the most perfect order, as everything always was about that cottage. Not a weed was allowed to show its head among the white pebbles which covered the path leading from the wicket-gate up to the door; not a leaf, nor a blade of grass was permitted to intrude on the wellkept flower-beds which gemmed the velvet of the closely-shaven lawn; and as for the white door-steps—the snow which capped the mountain tops in winter, was not more spotless. These steps led to a low stone porch, overgrown with pink monthly roses, whose delicate perfume filled the evening air. Passing through this, one entered a long, low hall, (or house, as it is generally called in old Cumberland dwellings,) the ceiling of which was supported by immense beams of oak, black with age,
and the floor, composed of the same dark wood, was polished to such a state of looking-glass lustre, that no one could possibly have crossed the room in safety, had it not been for the narrow pathways of red carpet, which radiated from the centre towards all points of the compass; two taking the direction of the dining-room and library, which opened from the hall on the right hand side, one leading to the drawing-room on the left, and a fourth running in a straight line towards a red swing-door, on the other side of which, one staircase led up to the bedrooms, and another very short one conducted those who chose to follow, down to the kitchen regions.
In the library, whose windows looked upon the garden, a bright fire was burning, and the ruddy light made even the low, dark wainscoted room look cheerful. Three sides were almost entirely lined with shelves, covered with old volumes, some very handsomely bound, others looking as though a touch would suffice to scatter their pages far and wide.
Over the wide, open fireplace, which was placed directly opposite the door, hung a large oil painting, the massive and richly-gilt frame of which enclosed the portrait of a strikingly handsome boy, in the uniform of the royal navy. His head, which was slightly thrown back, was covered with close rings of chestnut hair; his eyes were full of restless fire, half mischievous, half defiant; and a small, firmly closed mouth, aquiline nose, and massive chin, gave an air of proud determi. nation to the whole face. One hand rested on the head of a noble deerhound, which was leaping upon its young master. .
Seated in a large, high-backed chair, her eyes fixed on this portrait, was an old lady of some eighty years, whose features bore a strong resemblance to those so skilfully designed on the canvas before her. In her face, however, the slight look of haughtiness visible on that of the boy, was much more strongly marked. Her cold, dark eyes, aquiline nose, and thin lips, told the tale of such pride as fortunately few are cursed with. Her black hair, thickly mingled with the silver threads of age, was covered by a cap of exquisitely fine Valenciennes lace, and a deep collar of the same costly fabric, fell over the tightly-fitting black velvet dress, which clothed her tall stately figure. Presently she rose, walked slowly to the window, and gazed down the road for a moment; then, uttering a slight exclamation of impatience, she opened a large, heavy cabinet which stood near the window; took out a packet of letters, yellow with age, and began reading them by the firelight.
While she was thus engaged, a sharp rap was heard at the door of the room, and without waiting for an answer, it was thrown open by an old woman, in a dark stuff gown, and smart dress-cap with the strings pinned behind, from under which peeped bands of visibly false hair, shading a wrinkled face, the skin of which was of the colour and texture of ancient parchment. A hooked nose, not innocent of snuff, small eyes, a large mouth, and a chin ornamented by an attempt at a beard, completed the portrait of Mrs. M.Nab, cook and housekeeper at Burnstones Cottage.
“ Missis !” exclaimed this important personage, in by no means a musical voice,—“Missis, think ye them bairns 'll be a-comin' the nicht ? it's getting sae late that I'm afeared the chops 'll be a' burnt, and I hae na a mortal bit mair meat i' the hoose to gie them to their suppers, forbye the chops."
The lady looked up impatiently at this interruption, and answered coldly, " It is only just time now for the carriage to be here, Mrs. M.Nab, you need not have troubled yourself to come up stairs to ask that, I believe you have a clock in the kitchen ; and as for the chops, there was no necessity to do them so soon.”
Mrs. M‘Nab shut the door somewhat hastily, and retreated to the kitchen, muttering, “Eh whow! canna a body ask ae question ? Missis is no i' the best o'humours the day. Hech, sirs ! what do we want here wi' bairns ? If they were no Maister Wilfred's, I wadna hae fashed mysel' to get them supper, that wadna I.”
Before she was half way down stairs however, the sound of carriage wheels caught her ear. Up she rushed again; and unceremoniously throwing open the library door, exclaimed aloud, “Missis ! I say, missis ! they're a-comin'enow! Eh whow! I had clean forgettin' them chops, mercy on us ! they'll a' be brunt to cinders. Eh whow, sich a life!”
And away she bustled again, leaving Mrs. Carrock pale and trembling. She had risen to her feet, at the cook's entrance, and stood for a moment with her hand to her heart, in violent agitation ; but speedily recovering herself and regaining her former cold, calm manner, she advanced a step into the hall to welcome the new arrivals, who were being helped from the carriage by Jessie, the bonnie, cherry-cheeked housemaid.
A tall, well-grown girl of fifteen, was the first to advance into the lighted hall, closely followed by a boy some twelve months younger; both were dressed in deep mourning.
Jessie, take Master and Miss Carrock’s trunks up to their rooms, and tell Mrs. M'Nab to send up supper to the library immediately,' said the old lady.
Then, followed by the two children, she returned to the room which she had just quitted, and drawing the boy towards the light, she gazed earnestly in his face, and appeared to be comparing it, feature by feature with the portrait I have before alluded to.
“ Yes," she murmured softly," he is like, very like,” then aloud, “ boy, you have your father's face, only learn to be obedient, and you will do. What is your name, my lad ?”
Ronald," answered the boy at once.
Ronald,” repeated the old lady, dwelling on the name with a pleased accent; he has called you after his father, has he ? And what is your name, my child ?” she asked, turning to the girl, and preparing to scrutinize her face, as she had done that of the boy.