« PreviousContinue »
sion on the score of grammatical accuracy, she was by no means inclined to call the fact in question; nor did she suppose that Mr. Barney had walked the distance to her house for the purpose solely of promulgating this as the result of his observations; and so she waited with composure for her philosophic visitor to make that special application of this indisputable truth, which he was morally certain to reach some time during the afternoon.
Widder Hilgar, people has eyes, I say,' repeated Mr. Barney, slowly drawing down his extended arm, and inserting both thumbs beneath the arm-holes of his waistcoat, as if thus to preclude the possibility of any body disputing his position without at least one of the longest and toughest arguments on record.
Consequently I must read my bundles, and that's how I know your intentions. Yes, mem, your deliberatory and calculated intentions, and I shudders now to think and see how near I might ha' come to bein' dreadfully betrayed ; yes, mem, betrayed and and ruined.'
Mr. Barney did not betray any outward indication of shuddering, but he took out a handkerchief to wipe off what cool perspiration might have gathered on his forehead, shaking out into full view from its folds the print of the monkey holding his tail in tantalizing proximity to the chained bull-dog, with that most self-complacent of interrogations: 'Don't you wish you may get it?' It seemed as though Mr. Barney had arranged this as one of the great hits' in his programme.
Why, what do you mean, Sir ? Don't be absurd,' said the widow a little excitedly, not being over-positive that her caller was n't out of his wits.
* Ah! mem,' rejoined the sagacious Barney, with a prodigious wink, to keep up the original style of approach, and perhaps with a view of recalling a past occurrence of this nature, 'ah! mem, I'm not a wall-eyed hoss, nor. I do n't wear blinders ; and though I have heard it said, that the little critter that sets folks on to liking one another, and getting into double harness, an't got any eyes, I would observe, mem, that gentlmen of our profession has 'em large; and more 'n all, mem, to come to just what I was drivin' at — though mebbe I might kind o' like to shine round arter your Jane here, who, as a gal, I may say to you, I do think a considerable on; and though I never had 'ny illfeelin' agin' you, but allers spoke well o' you, to your pretty face, and behind your back too — I do n't intend to make proposals to you to-day, nor to-morrow, nor never any time, and that's flat.' And Mr. Barney heaved a short sigh, gave a very short whistle, and beat time on his breast in very short netre - and felt relieved. “Now, do n't you go feelin' bad, and cryin', arter I told you all out plain, will you?'
Mrs. Hilgar did n't look like it; in fact she did n't look like doing much of any thing, an index of such varied emotions was her face- -a quaint, half-serious expression of wonder, a vague feeling of conscious demerit, which faded out before a smile that irradiated at last over her whole countenance, as at something marvellously comical.
"Well, if ever in all my born days did I see the like of this. The idea, Mr. Barney! Who would have ever thought of a steady, sober, well-behaved man
like you coming into folks' houses of a Sunday, and talking on in this way? Why
Do ’nt say no more now, widder; I forgive you. I won't say another word about it. No; nor I won't mention that winking at me, the other day ; yes, you need n't look so dreadfully astonished at that, now - when I handed you that parcel, which told you about my going to propose, and so forth. No, mem, I'll forget it.'
Up to this moment, Mrs. Hilgar had n't the faintest glimmer of an idea, as to what this somewhat extraordinary téte-a-téte was all about, but the truth flashed upon her now. She remembered that she had, in the exuberance of her spirits, winked in a joking sort of way at the too sensitive victim before her, as if to rally him on the subject of Miss Jane Atkins, (with Mr. Barney's opinion of whom, 'as a gal,” Mrs. Hilgar was very well acquainted,) while that lady stood in the background. That Mr. Barney should have misconstrued its significance was not surprising, but.why should he have coupled it in this singular manner with the address on the bundle ?
"Well, I declare, if it do n't look like ‘BARNEY!” thought the widow to herself, as she hastily glanced at the direction upon the package, which lay open on a table close at hand. "Robson says,'' she read aloud after taking up the wrapper, “that Mr. Barnes,' that's the lawyer's name on the other side, I suppose, “will make you
"Good LORD! what do you say, mem? ‘Barnes ?' 'Lawyer ?' No! you do n't mean to say that I've been making a cussed fool of myself, all about that ’ar, have I ? And so you did n't fix it all up, and expect that I was going to pop the question, did you? Of course, come to think on it now, I-I-
'Pooh! do n't you go to feeling bad now, my good Mr. Barney,' returned the widow blushing and smiling. 'Of course it was very natural, but, you see, we all knew that I was n't the person you were thinking of doing that for. I said as much by that careless wink of mine, which you seem to have made so much of, you queer, ingenious blunderer!'
'I never did get pulled up quite so all on a sudden afore,' Joe told me afterward; and when I come to think it over right there, and to make up my mind what's best done, you see, I kind o' thought that, as I was right in that business, I'd just step out and see Jane, and talk with her a little, you see. Now, it war n't to spite the widder, you know, 'cause she was so good-natured about my doings, but I kind o' thought it might please her; and so I spoke to Miss Atkins, (I did n't know till then that I had thought so much o' her,) and she kind o' plumply said, “No, Sir, I rather am afeard not;' but somehow that war n't the impression I got afore I went home; I was pretty bold about it, you see; and now it's been goin' on four year that Mrs. Barney and I have lived along together, as comfortable as you please, and no quarrelin'.'
Mrs. Hilgar has not yet come out of her widowhood, and though she misses her faithful housekeeper, she takes pleasure in telling how she helped to set the Barneys up, by the gift of a neat little cottage and garden a part of the property made over to her in the settlement of the suit: 'Hilgar v. Quibbles ; Robson, for plaintiff; Barnes, for defendant.'
BY B. HATHAWAY.
In Life's wondrous garden grow
Vestal lilies, snowy white,
Brow and lip of APHRODITE !
Many a beauty's opening bud; But the charms beyond compare,
Crown thee, beauteous Motherhood ! Let my fevered lip be fanned
By the breath of loveliness; And the tenderest maiden hand
Clasp my own in dear caress; Light a heaven with starry eyes,
Still, my heart, all unsubdued, Bears its purest sacrifice,
Unto queenly Motherhood. Blushing bosom, budding warm,
Though it deepest rapture shed,
Pillowing the baby head!
Rarely their delicious food,
Bounteous breast of Motherhood !
Heavenly look of cherub eyes!
Fair, oh! passing fair to see; Angels, only in disguise,
Though they know it less than we. Who from these may coldly turn,
Nor with loftier love subdued, Feel his quickened being yearn,
To thee, saintly Motherhood ! Thou who bearest in virgin breast
Happy heart, unwed to care, Joyous in its løving quest,
Whom thy mirror says is fair; Maiden, matron-life is thine,
Thine for evil or for good; Most in this thy virtues shine.
Miracle of Motherhood !
THE EXECUTION OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.
In the deep gloom of an afternoon of February — an afternoon heavy with clouds, but not more gloomie than our hearts,' as one of them afterward expressed himself — two noblemen appeared at Fotheringay Castle, bearing the dread warrant for the execution of the ill-fated Queen of Scots. Eighteen long and weary years had passed since first she entered beneath the portal of this castle, a prisoner. These years of privation and of sorrow had. silvered over those locks, once so beautiful that an enamored French poet had declared them
'Streaming curls steeped in golden sunshine.' The agonies and privations of a long confinement had robbed her figure somewhat of its elasticity and litheness, but had utterly failed to touch the majesty of her mien.
She was seated at the foot of her humble bed, busy with embroidery-work, while near by stood her physician and her women. When the dreadful mandate was read to her, she seemed not to be in any terror, for aught that appeared by outward gesture and behavior. She listened to it with calm and earnest attention to the very close ; and then making the sign of the cross, and raising her melancholy eyes, lit with a tearful power, toward heaven, thanked her gracious God that the welcome news had at last come, declaring how happy she should be to leave a world where she had suffered so cruelly.' Then, after a most eloquent and touching defence of the tenets of that Church she loved so well, she burst forth in that noble protest, which must have sunk into the heart of Elizabeth, unless it was 'harder than the nether mill-stone,' as the iron at a white heat sinks into the quivering, tortured flesh. “I have been treated with ignominy and injustice ; imprisoned contrary to faith and treaties; kept a captive for eighteen years, and at last condemned to die by a tribunal whose jurisdiction I deny, and for a crime, of which I call high HEAVEN to witness, I am as innocent as a babe. And now, my Lords, all I have to ask is, when is the time fixed for my execution ?' "To-morrow morning, Madam, at eight o' the clock, in the large hall of this castle,' was the quick and stern reply. But her bold spirit blenched not. The blood of Charlemagne was beating full and strong in that brave heart. The soul was hers of that gallant-hearted King her grandfather, who had 'kept royal state and semblance on Flodden's bloody field, with the banner of Scotland for a shroud.'
Upon the departure of the noblemen, Mary summoned her women in a calm voice, and ordered them to prepare supper at once, that she might have time to arrange her affairs. "Cease weeping, Jane Kennedy,' said she to one of her faithful attendants, 'and be busy. Have I not warned you, my child, that it would come to this; and now, blessed be God ! it has come, and I shall soon VOL. LIX.
be freed from all my troubles. Weep not, but rejoice that you now see your poor mistress so near the end of all her troubles. Dry your eyes, and let us pray together.' And there, surrounded by her maidens, her prayer for them, when her last agony was over and they were without a protectress ; for those who had cruelly done her to this shameful death; and for strength in the moment of her last agony, that she might meet it with the composure and calmness of a Christian, was so touching that sobs and groans prevailed for nearly half an hour after she had risen from her knees.
After supper she again summoned her maidens, and asking for a cup of wine, drank to them all, begging them to pledge her, which they did upon their knees, mingling their tears in the cup, and then asking her forgiveness, if in any thing they had offended. At two in the morning she lay down, having made all her arrangements, while her women watched and read at her bed-side. *Read to me,' said she, “from the lives of the saints, the life of the repentant thief, which treats of dying faith and divine compassion.' And after it was read to her, remaining silent for a space, communing with her own heart, she said very touchingly : 'Alas! he was a great sinner, but not so great as I am! May my dear Saviour, in memory of His passion, have mercy upon me, as He had
upon him.' At this moment, remembering that a handkerchief would be required to bind her eyes at her execution, she bid them bring several, and selecting one of the finest, embroidered in gold, laid it carefully aside, then ordered them to resume their reading, which they did, and so passed away the hours of early dawn, until it was within a short space of the fatal time. Then rising, she made her toilet, passed into her oratory, and after remaining there some time in earnest prayer, came out, and awaited in silence and with perfect composure the dread summons.
On the arrival of the sheriff, she ordered him immediately to turn and lead
Her servants, throwing themselves at her feet, clasped their mistress in convulsive grief round the knees, endeavoring to stay her advance; but gently disengaging herself, she reached the door, and at this point the brutal official sternly commanded them to proceed no farther. Mary remonstrated earnestly, but in vain. She them bade them adieu, while they in frantic earnestness clung to her robes, covering her hand with kisses and bathing it with their tears. At last, they were only taken from her by force, and locked up in their apartment. And then alone that undaunted soul, with a majesty of port that awed the high-sheriff, passed down the lofty stair-case to the entrance-door of that hall where she was to die. A dress of rich black satin, matronly in its fashion, but passing rich in its material, was worn that day with more than ordinary grace. A long white veil of crape hung over her face, an Agnus Dei was suspended by a pomander-chain from her neck, while her beads of gold hung at her girdle. Like Montrose,
'As a gay bride from her room
To the scaffold and the doom.' At the door of the great hall she was received by the Earls of Shrewsbury and Kent, who, to use their own words, ‘marveilled at the perfecte tranquilitie