« ПретходнаНастави »
caresses, and rush from the room. To all inquiries, Sir Maurice was silent, or returned evasive answers.
We shall pass over the infancy of young Walter, and resume the narrative at the period in which he entered into his twentieth year. His mother was now dead, and had left two other children, both girls, who, however, shared little of their father's love, which was almost exclusively fixed on Walter, and appeared to encrease in strength as the fatal time grew near.
It is not to be supposed that he took no precaution against the predicted event. Sometimes hope suggested that a mistake might have been made in the horoscope, or that the astrologer might have overlooked some sign which made the circumstance conditional; and in unison with the latter idea he determined to erect a strong building, where, during the year in which his doom was to be consumated, Walter might remain in solitude. He accordingly gave directions for raising a single tower, peculiarly formed to prevent ingress, except by permission of its inhabitants. The purpose of this strange building, however, he kept secret; and his neighbours, after numerous vain conjectures, gave it the name of “ Cooke's Folly.”
Walter, himself, was kept entirely ignorant of the subject, and all his inquiries were answered with tears. At length the tower was completed, and furnished with all things necessary for comfort and convenience; and on the eve of Walter's completing his twentieth year, Sir Maurice shewed him the gipsey's scroll, and begged him to make use of the retreat prepared for him till the year expired. Walter at first treated the matter lightly, laughed at the prophecy, and declared he would not lose a year's liberty if all the astrologers in the world were to croak their ridiculous prophecies against him. Seeing, however, his father so earnestly bent on the matter, his resolution began to give way, and at length he consented to the arrangement. Ať six the following morning, therefore, Walter entered the tower, which he fastened within as strongly as iron bars would admit, and which was secured outside in a manner equally firm. He took possession of his voluntary prison with melancholy feelings, rather occasioned by the loss of present pleasure, than the fear of future pain. He sighed as he looked upon the wide domain before him, and thought how sad would it be to hear the joyous horn summoning his companions to the chase, and find himself prevented from attending it—to hear the winter wind howling round his tower, and rushing between the rocks beneath him, and miss the cheerful song and merry jest, which were wont to make even the blast a pleasant sound. Certainly his time passed as pleasantly as circumstances permitted. He drew up in a basket, at his meal hours, every luxury which the season produced. His father and sisters daily conversed with him from below, for a considerable time; and the morris-dancers often raised his laughter by their grotesque movements.
hopes grew more lively, but the anxiety of Sir Maurice increased. The day drew near which was to restore his son to his arms in confident security, or to fulfil the prediction which left him without an heir to his name and honours.
On the preceding afternoon Walter continually endeavoured to cheer his parent, by speaking of what he would do on the morrow; desired his sisters to send round to all their friends, that he might stretch his limbs once more in the merry dance; and continued to talk of the future with much confidence, that even Sir Maurice caught a spark of hope from the fiery spirits of the youth.
As the night drew on, and his sisters were about to leave him, promising to wake him at six by a song, in answer to their usual inquiry if he wanted any thing more that night, Nothing,” said he, " and yet the night feels chilly, and I have little fuel left---send me one more faggot.” This was sent him, and as he drew it up, This,” said he, " is the last time I shall have to dip for my wants, like an old woman for water : thank God! for it is wearisome work to the arm.”
Sir Maurice still lingered under the window in conversation with his son, who at length complained of being cold and drowsy. “ Mark," said he, as he closed the window, “ mark father, Mars, the star of my fate, looks smilingly to-night, all will be well.” Sir Maurice looked up-a dark cloud spot suddenly crossed the planet, and he shuddered at the
The anxious father could not leave the spot. Sleep he knew it was vain to court, and he therefore
determined to remain where he was. The reflexions that occupied his mind continually varied : at one time he painted to himself the proud career of his high spirited boy, known and admired among the mighty of his time; a moment after he saw the prediction verified, and the child of his love lying in the tomb. Who can conceive his feelings as hour dragged after hour, while he walked to and fro, watching the blaze of the fire in the tower, as it brightened and sunk again--now pacing the court with hasty steps, and now praying fervently for the preservation of his son ? The hour came. thedral bell struck heavy on the father's heart, which was not to be lightened by the cheerful voices of his daughters, who came running full of hope to the foot of the tower. They looked up, but Walter was not there ;-they called his name, he answered not. “ Nay,” said the youngest, “ this is only a jest ; he thinks to frighten us, but I know he is safe. A servant had brought a ladder, which he ascended, and he looked in at the window. Sir Maurice stood immoveable and silent.--He looked up, and the man answered the anxious expression of his eyes. is asleep,” said he. “ He is dead !" murmured the father.
The servant broke a pane of glass in the window, and opening the casement, entered the room. The father, changing his gloomy stedfastness for frenzied anxiety, rushed
up the ladder. The servant had thrown aside the curtains and the clothes, and displayed to the eyes of Sir Maurice, his son lying dead, a serpent twined round his arm, and his throat co
vered with blood. The reptile had crept up the faggot last sent him, and fulfilled the prophecy.
To this happy effort of the imagination in favour of prying into futurity, may be added, with the same intention,
TRE FATED PARRICIDE ;
AN ORIENTAL TALE OF THE
Ibrahim was universally celebrated for his riches and magnificence. His armies were formidable, his victories splendid, and his treasury inexhaustible. He enjoyed, moreover, what was ten thousand times more solid and more valuable than riches—the love and veneration of his subjects ; and he had a beautiful young wife, in whose endearing tenderness alone he could find happiness—if happiness could be found on earth. All these advantages entitled Ibrahim to the appellation of the Solomon of his age; and yet Ibrahim was not happy. A son was wanting to crown his felicity. In vain did a heart formed for all the charities of the wedded state, endeavour to supply the refusal of nature, by the adoption of a son ; in vain did gratitude endeavour to deceive his heart, by cares
any other would have thought to be the natural effusions of filial sensibility, of filial piety and affection ; that heart incessantly perceived a solitude within itself. Even the consolatory visions of hope began to grow less frequent, when heaven at last heard his prayers. Alas! in the very instant that Fortune gratifies our fondest wishes, she often betrays us ; and her smiles are a thousand times more fatal than her