Page images
PDF
EPUB

favor. 'First pity, then embrace,' said Pope ; and Dryden, his compeer, says: Pity turns the heart to love.'

It was hard, however, to get Bounce higher than the cellar. He looked wistfully toward the dining-room, which opened out upon a piazza, where he would station himself, saying in the only way he could express himself : •What harm in my going a step higher ?' But no, there was the Rubicon ! Pass it not. Such was the general sentiment, and so Bouncer had to submit. Poor little fellow, he would creep stealthily toward the dining-room, the door of which was open in warm weather, and lay his beautiful fore-paws on the threshold, but obedient to the higher law, he would not stir one inch beyond. When the family went out, he would frisk and jump about, and ask with eloquent eye the privilege of accompanying them. But no, the prejudice against dogs had yet to be conquered. The fear was hydrophobia. This terror haunted their imaginations. He might go mad; or he might be bitten by some other dog that had the symptoms. At any rate, they were afraid of him. Meanwhile, he patiently abided his time. He now had grown to his full stature, and was a comely creature even in the eyes of those who would not allow him to come near them.

Now and then Bounce would venture to put his paws a little farther into the dining-room door; and if forbidden, he would say, with a most persuasive look : ‘Do n't repel me.' So, little by little, he gained upon the females of the house, until one of them was propitiated, and at once became his advocate for more enlarged privileges. This was no small gain. Still his friends were in the minority, and yet it needed not the skill of prophecy to predict that such eyes and such affection, and such intelligence, acting on sensitive hearts, would at length win over the whole family. And so it proved. But it was only after a long and hard struggle, especially with two of them, who had a special dislike of dogs, and whose fears were aggravated by what they had heard and read of canine madness. These two repelled every attempt which Bounce made to propitiate them. Innocent and unconscious of the cause, he would treat them as he treated the rest, and try to fawn upon them; and when they repulsed him, he would stand and look as if he could not comprehend such treatment. They could not, of course, explain it; and so the misunderstanding on his part continued. It was not that they disliked him, on the contrary, they were obliged to admit that few dogs had such claims upon their admiration. But they were opposed to all the canine species.

Two parties, then, were in the field: the one urging Bounce's claims to privilege and consideration, and the other as strenuously opposed. But affection had greater power than fear; and so little by little the former triumphed, and fear and prejudice had to give way. After long waiting, Bounce found himself admitted, at particular times, to the dining-room.' He behaved himself with meekness under the privilege, taking no liberties and disturbing no one's feelings. Having got thus far, he began in a coaxing way, to get a look from the mistress of the house, and asked at her hand, with a sort of dog smile, an occasional favor in the form of a bone or bit of meat. When the favor was granted, his beautiful brown eyes and silky ears gave evidence of his gratitude.

The entrenchments had now yielded. He had sapped and mined his way into the citadel. Two of the younger ones still held out against him. But he had his eye upon them; and when he could do nothing more, he would stand and look his mortification, ing in his expressive countenance : “What have I done to merit such persistent repulses ?' But patience, Bounce, the victory is thine. When and how this victory was achieved, I never have been able to learn. But I perceived ere long that he was in favor, and that the opposition had at length ceased. And now, they who had so long repelled him having been won over, were his most devoted admirers and sympathizers, and went farther than any of the rest in their favors and caresses. Is not this a trait of our human nature ? Bounce had now the complete range of the mansion. He was in the dining-room, in the hall, up and down stairs, looking after us wherever he heard our voices, and careering about without let or hindrance. A happier dog never existed. Each evening, as the family gathered with books and needles around the drop-light, he was there in the very midst, passing affectionately from one to the other, endeavoring to win a look, saluting and saluted, a recognized and not unimportant member of the household. He distributed his favors without partiality, lying down at the feet of each one in turn and looking up in their faces with calm delight. He had more household sympathy, and expressed it in more touching ways, than any dog I ever knew. He seemed actually to study our idiosyncrasies; and would adapt himself to the varying dispositions, venturing no farther in his familiarities than he knew would be agreeable. Give him lìberty, and he would venture a little farther, but say, “No, no,' and that was enough. He had a peculiar way of throwing himself at our feet, and by a glance of the eye asking to be scratched by the foot, or patted with the hand; and when thus caressed, he seemed to experience a high sense of enjoyment.

He was rightly named, for a more agile creature could not be found. His delight was to leap fences, to career along the tops of stone-walls, never losing his foothold, however uneven the surface. In the tall grass he would bound like the reindeer, seeming to feel an exhilaration in the utmost outlay of muscle. Give him the privilege of a stroll, and he would repay you at every step by his gambols and his pleasantry.

His disposition was perfect. He was never known to be angry. As to dogdepravity, he seemed to have none. You might take the choicest morsel out of his mouth and he would give no sign of irritation, but wait patiently until it was returned. Children and females were his special delight; and never was he more apparently happy than when surrounded by a group of them.

Have brute animals souls ? I was almost tempted sometimes, in view of the knowing ways and amiable disposition of this our pet, to think they have. Nor do I blame the savage of the wilderness, in the absence of that light which we possess, for imagining that in the isles of the blessed beyond the setting sun,

“His faithful dog shall bear him company.' The day on which our Bounce died so suddenly — and, as we fear, by such foul means — is, on our calendar, one of the dies iræ. How much pleasure daily and constantly administered, reciprocal from him to us and from us to him, has thus been cut off! “No more pets, now,' is the cry. Never do we wish to become so attached to another. This feeling pervades the home circle, in which we could not have hought it possible that dreary a void could have been made by any event short of the demise of a relative. Under the first impressions of this unlooked-for event, I have penned a few lines in memoriam, which they who have experienced a similar loss will not fail to appreciate.

The Lament.
Our household pet, and art thou dead ?

How sorrowful to see thee thus;
But vain the tears we o'er thee shed,

They cannot bring thee back to us.

Seven hearts are grieving at thy fate,

For thou hadst won them all to thee,
And to the rest would each relate

Thy gambols and thy pleasantry.

How we shall miss thee at the dawn,

Thy bound and bark so full of glee ;
How we shall miss thee on the lawn,

Careering round so joyously.

But at the hearth-stone, most of all,

Shall we thy gentle spirit miss,
Where thou so lovingly wouldst crawl

And ask from foot or hand the kiss.

And ah! thy look, so piercing bright,

So almost startling in its gaze,
As if to scan our thoughts aright

And penetrate our human ways.

Bounding along the road so free,

Thy sense of joy no words can give;
And from thine eye and ear to me

It spoke of pure delight to live.

But thou art gone — vain the regret !

Thy life was joyous to its close;
And though 'mid tears thy sun has set,

’T was brighter far than when it rose.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

PEOPLE said that autumn, that Miss Isham was dying. That was because the violet of her eye deepened to a misty, troubled purple; and her face was so deadly pale. But often when women look so, the vital flame is burning intensely at white heat, and they are living more fiercely than ever. This calm was the cooled lava of those August fires. Mr. Isham's house, which had been closed since his wife died, five years before, was reöpened, and his beautiful daughter installed as mistress. Her father thought sometimes with a sigh that Adrienne was not so affectionate and lovable as she used to be; but then she was getting older, and had so many cares; and if any one said Miss Adrienne looked

very delicate, he immediately reproached himself for having failed to pet her as much as in her school-days, when she would lavish caress for caress. Her waywardness was gone, her sympathizing, capricious temper was gone, her candor too, and many of her former traits ; her pride was left, and that moulded her anew.

'Papa,' she said, tapping at the library-door, ‘may I come in?'
'Yes, love.'
See
me,

how do I look ?' · Like a Juno,' he answered fondly, stroking her hair ; 'you never find time to read with papa any more, do you, dear?'

Oh! there's no need.' 'Why not?' 'A woman's thoughts should n't soar above where the violets grow, papa.'

* That's a mistake, Adrienne. When you used to learn so aptly, I would picture you a sort of modern Hypatia, ruling society by two-fold influences.'

And why rule at all ?'

That's foolish, child! Why rule ? — why live ?' ‘But do n't I rule enough ?'

• Just by your beauty, temporarily. You enslave men; you do not incite or influence them.'

'Is that nobler ?'
*Can you ask such a question ?'

'I mean, what is there noble to incite them to ; and what nobility is there in them to answer to noble promptings ?'

‘Adrienne, who taught you this skepticism ?' "No one.

I thought of it.' * Well, child, when the crust you are on crumbles, you will look deeper, and find the nobility you mistrust. Go now. You look very lovely, dear.'

• But, papa,' she asked lingering, 'can we trust that nobility ?'
What do you mean, Ada ?'
* Nothing, only some one said we could even not trust ourselves.'
* And can you not ?'

6

[ocr errors]

waves.

'I thought so; but when I was tested, I could not be sure.'
And how were you tried ?'
*Oh! it was nothing - only, last August

"Well, dear, do n't fret about such things. I suppose it is time you were off. Good night, now.'

Adrienne Isham went, then, and again and often. The purple mystery of her eyes grew forever more inscrutable. Nothing ever flushed her face, or thrilled her frame. The world taught her its lessons, and she walked in its ways. If she was cold as ice, she was as glittering; if there was a skeleton at the feast, it did not show for the flowers. Time intensified her beauty; the trophies of every season enhanced her dazzle. Among those of the world, she was not of them; stranded apart in an imperial serenity ; isolated by a memory, which had scorched the limits where her sphere would have touched upon a common growth. . And so the years went; and Adrienne sat again watching the moon-rise of early August.

‘Draw the curtains, and light the candles, Mr. Williams,' she said to the servant. "Moonlight never brings me good luck.'

“Yes, miss,' said the man in reply to the order ; ignoring of course, what well-bred servants never hear.

* There, that will do. I will have coffee with papa, when he comes in.' “Yes, miss. Adrienne Isham listened alone that night to the boom and moan of the

She felt reckless and expectant, as they do, and longed to go down to the shore, but the moon-light held her back. It had an evil omen for her; and her shrinking from its spell was the channel through which petty frailties slough off from controlled vigorous organizations. She had almost forgotten, in the lapse of these hardening years, when or where the superstition originated, but to-night, because it interfered with an inclination, and because she was lonely and restless, she set herself to work to analyze it. She paced the floor deliberately; the trail of her garments over the marble, the shiver of the sea-breeze through the curtains, the low monotonous plunge of the waters receding from the shore, made the silence palpable; and the flaring blaze of the tall, ghostly candles, cast flickering, fantastic shadows around the room. There is a Nocturne that tells of the sea. Its strains hiss like the spray in its wrath; and surge, and murmur, and chafe, like rebellious waves on a rocky coast. Then in the minor mood is a change of phase; the lapse and ripple of the summer sea ; the ebb and flow of the translucent tide. Miss Isham sat at a small organ in the room, and played it through with slow emphasis. There was no thrill of human passion in the varying strain ; no love-melody with the rocking tide ; no natural cry for help, heard out of the shriek of the blast; it was an ocean idyl of a pre-Adamitic world; nothing to rouse a sympathy or start a fear. Miss Isham played on. The music abstracted her from herself; cradled her human restlessness by something in it, apart from the tortures of humanity. With a start, she heard a clock strike ten. She wondered that her father did not come; and, leaving the instrument, resumed her impatient walk up and down the floor. She felt retrospective that night, prone to exam

« PreviousContinue »