« ZurückWeiter »
spirit to every word he uttered, and to every movement he made. At length the curtain was let down for the preparation of the final act of Incubus, and then it was, and then only, that Wilmot remembered the difficulties which had existed about the procuring some one who could enact the demon nightmare. It was a scene in which he had nothing to do, and which seemed to him of such trilling consequence that any device, however clumsy, might be made to answer the purpose. He did however condescend to inquire of Fanny, who was, as usual, standing very near him, in the space left at the end of the back drawing-room, behind the stage, what they had done about the Incubus.
We have managed it very well—such a glorious pair of horns !”
At this moment the door of the back drawing-room, which was skilfully left without the side wing, opened, and a slight figure enveloped in a black and flame-coloured mantle, with a hideous head surrounded by a pair of monstrous horns, was led in by Mrs. Belmont. The whole of the dramatic troop, with the exception of Richard, who had already taken his station on the couch, which had been placed on the stage, were assembled in this little green-room, and from one and all burst a shout of suppressed laughter as this ludicrous figure appeared. Though a pair of blazing red eyes glared from the mask, a space had been left through which those of the wearer might look out, and by means of this contrivance Mary Bell was enabled to see Charles Wilmot's ecstasy of mirth at her appearance, and also that Fanny, overcome by the vehemence of the merry convulsion that had seized on her, had found support on Wilmot's shoulder, on which she rested her arm and her head, apparently unconscious of what she was about, in the irresistible fun of the moment.
The slight figure of Mary Bell trembled, and Mrs. Belmont, who was watching her with all the keenness of a manager's anxiety, instantly seized her arm, and led her on the stage, immediately concealing herself behind the wing, and at the same moment making a signal for the curtain to be drawn up.
Behind all stages constructed as carefully as that of Mrs. Belinont's, ways and means are contrived by which the performers who are not on the stage may, if they choose, watch the proceedings of those who are. By these means nearly every one of the troop were able to watch the proceedings of the Incubus. It made one step forward and paused.
“Go to him at once !” said the alarmed Mrs. Belmont, in a shrill whisper from behind. But Mary Bell heard her not; she heard only the burst of laughter from the audience, which greeted her entrance. She saw too the multitude of eyes that were fixed upon her, but yet saw, more plainly still, the head of Fanny on the shoulder of Wilmot. No idea that Wilmot knew her not ever crossed her brain. She had heard him join in the mocking shout that had greeted her, and the united laughter of the whole audience only seemed to her as the echo of his. That one step forward was her last effort of obedience to her aunt ; she uttered one long piercing shriek, and fell senseless on the stage. What was there in that awful cry that could recall the gentle accents of Mary Bell ? Yet the moment it reached his ears, Wilmot felt certain that it was she who had uttered it. In an instant he was bending over her on the stage, and in the next he had clasped her in his arms, and was bearing her from it. Mrs. Belmont ordered the curtain to drop, and the puzzled audience were left to make out the charade as they might. Doubts, guesses, conjectures of all sorts occupied the company before the curtain ; rage, disappointment, and dismay were in full action behind it. When the envelopments of the hapless Mary Bell were removed, she was found to be perfectly senseless, and from her ghastly aspect, might have been accounted dead, had not the voice of the distracted and repentant Wilmot, who held her in his arms, with a hand pressed upon her still Auttering heart, exclaimed, “She livessend for assistance !" Yet even then, while the sweet faded flower lay thus low before them, the idea of their entertainment, and of the splendid party assembled to witness it, was predominant in the thoughts of the whole Belmont race.
“What an absurd excess of shyness and self-love !" was Mrs. Belmont's first exclamation on seeing her niece brought back insensible. “Throw a glass of water in her face !" was the second ; and then, without paying any further attention to her, she entered in an agony of agitation and alarm into a discussion with her sons and daughters, as to the best mode of passing over this most provoking hitch in the performance. The readiness with which this was done, might have added to their theatrical laurels, had not all their remedial measures been rendered abortive by the disappearance of Wilmot. While the whole of the Belmont family were engaged, body and soul, in endeavouring to patch the broken scene, Wilmot had borne Mary Bell out of the room, and with the assistance of one of the servants, had laid her on her little attic bed. A bribe, liberally administered, despatched another servant to summon a neighbouring apothecary, and in a few moments the miserable young man saw the eyes open, upon whose soft glances he had been living in secret with such luxury of love and hope.
And how did they greet him now? Did he meet that look which had so often told his heart he was beloved, even though his lips had resolutely abstained from asking the avowal? Alas! He met only the unmeaning stare of an idiot!
“She is ils, sir,—she is very ill!” he exclaimed, addressing the apothecary. “ Animation is restored, but she is not in her senses."
“We must have patience, sir," was the reply.
For months, and months, and months, poor Wilmot struggled to have patience—and the wretched father, too, returned to claim his one only treasure, he strove to wait with patience also : but it was all in vain. The spark divine was quenched for ever ; and though Mary Bell lived many years, the mild, gentle light of her angelic spirit never beamed from those downcast eyes again.
BY JAMES KENNEY, ESQ.
Old Time, the churl each mortal dreads,
From wings that never fold,
Alas! I'm growing old.
My smile betrays the toothless gap,
Its toil must be consoled ;
Most optically old.
How wags the world I little care ;
And half I now am told
Forgive me-I grow old.
Millions of faces have I seen,
Before my sight unrollid,
Sad hint that I grow old.
With ruby glass, and joyous host,
And prudence bids me hold.
And with a grace grow old."
My early friends have dropp'd around,
Their funeral knell has tollid;
Proclaiming I grow old.
I've seen the show, I've had my hour,
Pay dearer price than gold.
Contented to grow old.
that are my own I pray,
Nor shame the Faith we hold,
EXTRACTS FROM MY INDIAN DIARY.
BY THE OLD FOREST RANGER.
Unexpected order to take the field-Man-shooting versus Tiger-hunting-Favour
able exchange of horses-Departure from Dharwar-Public bungalows-Sewars, or native troopers-A Mahomedan dandy-A tropical squall-Speed of the antelope-Curious instance of sagacity in the wolf—The Toongabudra-A group of water-nymphs-Hurryhur-Indian hospitality-Mohadeen dismissed- A tedious march- The use of holsters-Miseries of marching in India without attendants-A charitable pagan-Roughing it in a choultry-Native horsemen -Quilted armour-Its advantages and disadvantages—A country scourged by war-A picturesque valley-A deserted village—The grove of death-Manhunting-A rescue-Character of the Mysore horsemen-An Irishman's opinion of them.
Dharwar, May 24th.--VERILY the affairs of this life are full of uncertainty.
I had made arrangements for accompanying my brother and E-, during their annual official tour through a part of the district abounding with large game of all kinds.* We were to have started three days hence. Information had just reached us of two notorious maneating tigers haunting villages on our proposed line of march. And we were yesterday evening assembled round E-'s hospitable board, discussing the good news with all the eagerness of youthful sportsmen, and drinking success to our expedition in a magnum of our host's best claret, when my bright visions of shikar were put to flight, by having a long-backed, official despatch thrust under my nose. An official letter is at all times an unpleasing sight to a military man on leave; and in the present instance, I considered the appearance of one as peculiarly ill-timed. On opening the letter, my ill-will at the long-backed document, was considerably diminished by finding that it contained an order to join my company (the light company), which, with the grenadiers, and a brigade of twelve-pounders, have been ordered up to reinforce Colonel E's division, now in the field against the insurgents in the Mysore country; but, I confess, it would have been infinitely more welcome had it arrived a fortnight later.
My commanding officer, in a private note, is good enough to say I need not join, unless I wish it, before the expiration of my leave. But, much as I admire tiger-hunting, I have been long enough in harness to know, that lieutenants in general, and lieutenants of Hank companies in particular-it being presumed that they possess an inordinate appetite for fire-eating-are expected to prefer man-hunting to all other fieldsports. And, although the game at which we are now to be slipped
curs of low degree,” in taking whose scalps little glory can be gained, I consider it my duty, as a subaltern of a fire-eating company, to declare in favour of the latter amusement-I have accordingly an
During this excursion my brother and E- in the course of three weeks, bagged thirteen royal tigers, besides panthers, bears, wild hog, and deer!
March.-VOL. LXX. NO. CCLXXIX.