Слике страница

went away breathing a theatrical sigh. He was tall and slight and handsome, with glossy hair, long silky moustaches, a very pale face and mournful dark eyes, a black and white party: you have seen them, I'm sure. Why do city folk always have glossy hair?

The lame girl and I sat in our corner, like little Jack Horner, without being molested in any way, and we saw the first quadrille formed, and danced in most wonderful style to the terrified thumpings of a poor female Rivermouthian, who, when she got through, nearly fell off the piano-stool with fright and exhaustion. I fancied that I again saw meaning glances pass between the obnoxious ones, they were vis-a-vis, and the widow danced with Cousin George, whose blunders in the figures were perfectly awful. The next dance was an eight, and who asked me to be his partner but Cousin George? I consented, not that I thought that I would enjoy it, but my mind was in that restless state that cannot bear inaction; and besides, in our style I was thought a good dancer, and I wished to convince the town people that I could dance if I pleased to do so. We went through the eight very well; the pianist was not so terrified, and kept better time. George and I skipped away greatly to our own satisfaction, and when it was over we left the close parlor, and passing through the hall to the outer air, we strolled up and down the field that lay before the house. The rest of the company strolled likewise in groups or in couples, and some walked thoughtfully alone, the latter being injured individuals, whose beaux had slighted them, and who refused consolation at the hands of anybody else. George spoke scarcely a word to me, for he had seen me refuse the introduction to his inamorata, and he was vexed with me, but too bashful and preoccupied to ask an explanation. We had not walked far when he palmed me off on some one else, and left with a hurried step to look for Mrs. Williams, I knew well. I was not surprised, for I fully expected it. With a sigh for the fickleness of the sex in general, and George in particular, I continued my ramble with Harry Thompkins, the party to whom I had been consigned, as it were. Harry thought it his duty to entertain me, which he did by reciting all his family troubles, how Sally was down with the fever, and Polly, who lived a hundred miles away, had broken her arm and had to come home, that he would have to start that very night to fetch her, and that the young mare was lame with a nail in her foot, and mighty frisky to drive at night besides. I listened to the story of all his


woes with wonderful patience, and then, as we had been absent some time, I proposed that we should return to the house.

The day had been warm and sultry, and after the sun had set, wreaths of white fog wrapped the hill-tops around, and came floating down, settling in banks, and blown in clouds over the fields and meadows around. We heeded it not at first, and chatted away, too young to dread rheumatism or neuralgia; but as it grew thicker and thicker, I dreaded its influence on my white Swiss, so I turned Harry Thompkins' steps in a homeward direction. 'Twas on this account that I had proposed the return trip, and not to see Cousin George, as I daresay many of you think. We could not see to any distance, but as we neared the house, above the subdued chirp, chirp, of the crickets, we heard voices talking together, and they were the voices of the "obnoxious two." I could dimly discern their figures, and their voices I knew by the town twang, and although I did not wish it, I became a listener to their conversation: "What a fool that girl Barnaby made of herself in that country dance! What skipping and hopping! She'd prove a treasure to some third class theatre," softly lisped the widow. "Now, you are jealous," laughed the other, "because she danced with her cousin, Mr. Morse. Talking of skipping, the male cousin outshone the girl by far; the fellow leapt about like a moose:" and then they both laughed uproariously. "They're talking about you, Belle," said Harry Thompkins, "Go and stop them." "Hush!" I said, "Let us hear it all." Of course, these remarks were in a whisper, and spoken while the city folk were deafened with their own laughter. "It will be the death of me," merrily sighed the lady. "I could never have believed that such animals existed. It was certainly lucky that we travelled in this direction. Ah! as a class, or a community, or a collection, or ""a menagerie," said the gentleman; and again they laughed. "They are rich," continued she, "especially this last new attempt of a fool, this Barnaby girl." I could stand no more. I had heard enough; and you agree with me, I think. I left the agitated Thompkins, and hastily strode towards the widow, my hands clenched to keep down some of my wrath. They saw the white dress and moved away, but I soon overtook them, unclenched my hands, and caught the lady by the arm. I could scarcely think or speak for a moment, so overwhelmed was I with a sense of her treachery and my own wrongs. The grasp on her arm must have grown painful, for she

gave a slight scream, and cried "Hands off, you savage!" But I still held her. "Mrs. Williams," I said, "You and this other witty person have amused yourselves in abusing the people whose hospitality you are enjoying. We are strange animals; and I am a fool, that would do well in a third class theatre. You have had your say, and I will now have mine. That we are simple, I grant you; but there is only one person in Rivermouth that is playing the fool, and that is yourself; and I'll do you the credit to say, that I believe you could act it in a first class theatre. A newlymade widow you are, with the crocodile tears for the dear departed scarce dried in your wicked, faithless eyes, you amuse us as much as we amuse you. My Cousin George," I cried, turning savagely to the lavender kids, "was a manly, honest-hearted young man till he met with her; and now, his only fault is liking her too well. As for you, if we are fit to be put in a menagerie, you are not: nobody puts puppies in a menagerie, sir, especially mongrel curs.”

"Thank you for the information," said the gentleman. "She's mad!" cried the lady. "For pity's sake, Ralph, make her let go my arm." "He need not," I answered, taking away my hand. "Good-bye, gay widow, you will not be troubled by the last attempt of a fool any more, be your sojourn among the animals long or short," and I bowed mockingly and walked off to the house. Harry Thompkins, thinking there was going to be a great row, had, with true heroism, fled the scene long since, after pulling off my sash ends, in a feeble attempt to take me with him. The lady never made me an answer. She could not have been half so ready-witted as I thought her, or she could easily have replied to my angry, incoherent speech. I think, however, she did feel slightly ashamed of being overheard talking of us all in this way, after every one in the place had been so kind to her. I ran into the spare room to get my hat and shawl, and I could not help dropping the ivory brushes behind the bed and setting the box of airy caps afloat on the basin of water. Having accomplished these feats I left, and was passing through the hall on my way out, when I met Amoret, with a plate of cake in her hand. "Oh, Belle, where are you going? We are just getting supper, and afterwards Mrs. Williams is going to sing." "Let her sing," I said, stolidly. "Oh, do stay," pleaded Amoret. I looked earnestly in her face"Amoret, she is a treacherous woman, and if I stay I'll thrash her." The girl stared in round-eyed wonder. "Thrash her! Why, whom

do you mean?" "The widow," I replied, and fled, leaving my friend lost in amazement. As I hurried away from the place, a burst of melody came through the open windows,-a sound so sweet, so thrilling, that I stayed one moment in my flight to listen, fascinated in spite of myself by the syren's voice: then I cried wildly “Witch's spells! witch's spells!" and putting my fingers in my ears, fled on again over the fields through the clover, and over the turnip field, often falling and stumbling, picking myself up again, and going on and on like a crazy thing, till I arrived breathless and spent, at home. Not a stir, not a sound in the house: Aunty and Father and the cat all asleep, and a paraffine lamp, with bleary eye, screwed down and smelling horribly of the oil within. I crept up to bed, like a kicked dog, but that night I did not sleep much I made plans, however, and the very next day I put some of them into execution.

(To be concluded in our next.)


"OCEAN to Ocean," a Diary written during the Sandford

Fleming Expedition, from Halifax, on the Atlantic, to Vancouver's Island, on the Pacific, by the Rev. G. M. Grant, Secretary to the Expedition, is a most fascinating and instructive volume. As a book of travel alone, though we had no special interest in the country, it is enchanting. The eye of the Antient Mariner is upon those who commence to read, and they must hear the tale to the end. We have heard of one of the greatest of metaphysicians commencing a biography, lengthy and elaborate, and being so fascinated that he went through the whole at a sitting; and, lest any one might suppose that none but a metaphysician could be guilty of such a folly, it is important to know that his man-servant had been previously entrapped by the book, and carried to the land of dreams, so that his master failed to arouse him to a sense of life and duty by repeated ringing of the bell. Such is the book before us. That the interest is kept up through the hundred days during which the Expedition was on its way, is a proof of the capacity and versatility of the writer. But it is more than a mere book of travel.

The subject matter gives an interest to the work—were the details never so dry and formal-written neither with genius nor fervour, many of us would read it. For is the country about which the book is written not our own? Is it not a part of our own Dominion? In a word, Does the route gone over not traverse every Province that goes to make up one Confederated Canada ? No, Prince Edward Island is not once touched; we had almost overlooked that. But the Island had not accepted the situation then; and besides, the Pacific Railway can hardly be made to connect directly with the Island, there being no plan invented yet whereby nine miles of sea may be bridged over. Who will say, however, that none of us will live to see such a project as that accomplished? On either of the grounds referred to, the book would be one of great interest, but when both are combined, when the form as well as the matter is what we have indicated it to be, it may be inferred what a feast is provided. We present one or two extracts that our readers may judge for themselves, that is, if they have not already perused the interesting volume.

The following extract will show how energetic men can get along in the Province of Manitoba

"Some of us dined at Grant's, and the rest with one of his neighbours-McKenzie. Both these men seem to be model settlers. They had done well in Ontario, but the spirit of enterprise had brought them to the new Province. One had come three years ago, and the other only last year; and now one had a hundred and twenty acres under wheat, barley and potatoes, and the other fifty. In five years both will have probably three or four hundred acres under the plough. There is no limit to the amount they may break up except the limit imposed by the lack of capital or their own moderation. This prairie land is the place for steam ploughs, reaping, mowing, and threshing machines. With such machinery one family can do the work of a dozen men. It is no wonder that these settlers speak enthusiastically of the country. The great difficulties a farmer encounters elsewhere are non-existent here. To begin with, he does not need to buy land, for a hundred and sixty acres are given away gratuitously by the Government to every bona fide settler; and one third of the quantity is a farm large enough for any one who would devote himself to a specialty, such as the raising of beets, potatoes, or wheat. He does not need to use manure, for, so worthless is it considered, that the Legislature has had to pass a law prohibiting people from throwing it into the rivers. He has not to buy guano, nor to make compost heaps. The land, if it has any fault, is naturally too rich. Hay is so

« ПретходнаНастави »