Abbildungen der Seite


ment so lifted his head that the rays fell full on the face, and the eyes were convulsively opened, as if to catch them. Shaded by her situation from the light, the sick lady had for a moment a full view of the face of the unfortunate creature, thus borne into her hovel by her son. It was but momentary; for the bodies of Spiffard and the watchman, who bore the inferior extremities of the corpse-like object, intervened, and cast a shadow over the features.

Emma was advancing towards her sick friend, after closing the door against the storm, and was hastening to explain appearances so extraordinary ; but was shocked to see the expression of her countenance. Her eyes, following in wild gaze the group, as they approached the fire-place, and put their burthen down), seemed almost starting from their sockets. A flash of light again fell on the old man's head ; and before Emma could speak, the sick woman exclaimed, “ God! my

God !" and fell back, covering her face with the bedclothes. She had fainted.

This might have been occasioned, in her weak state, by the agitation which the incident produced; for to see a man borne into her chamber after midnight, in a state of insensibility, from whatever cause, was sufficient to overpower a stronger frame than Mrs. Johnson's. But Emma's quick eye saw-or her quick imagination suggested-something more; she knew not what. She flew to her assistance. The men, occupied with Cooke, did not notice either the looks or exclamations of the invalid. They proceeded to rekindle the expiring fire ; and after placing the wretched man in a chair, they by degrees restored him to a consciousness of existence, although still under the influence of the fatal cause of his degradation.

The efforts of Emma Portland were successful. Mrs. Johnson revived; and seeing herself in the arms of her young friend, her first exclamation was, as she gazed in her beautiful face, exposed fully to view by throwing off the drenched snowcovered hood. Thank God! it was but a dream. I did not


Before she had finished the sentence, the hoarse discordant voice of the object of her terror gave assurance that he was still in her presence. She heard him calling for brandy; and uttering curses and imprecations on those who were endeavouring to save him.

The sick lady hastily drew the curtains of her bed between her and the group at the fire, and then throwing herself with her face on the pillow, murmured wildly, “ Save me! save me !" For a moment Emma's astonishment rendered her immovable. She then heard the sobs of her friend ; and hoping tears would relieve what she supposed was an hysterical affection, produced by fright, endeavoured to quiet her agitation; but for some minutes no attention was paid to her soothing and encouraging words. Such conduct in one usually calm and resigned under every suffering, created a confusion of ideas, and a tumultuous thronging of half-formed conjectures, in the mind of Miss Portland, that bade defiance to every effort she could make, for the recovery of her self-command.

At length Mrs. Johnson, becoming more calm, inquired in whispers the meaning of Emma's appearance, under such circumstances, and at such a time. She was briefly told, that detained late by her attendance on the sick, she had, in going home, found Mr. Cooke in a state of insensibility, and, as she thought, perishing; that Henry had saved him and brought him to her hearth. But, again, to Emma's astonishment, the agitation of her aged friend increased, and she murmured

You--brought Henry—to rescue him! He saved himfrom death! Henry-bore him—in his arms--to my fireside --O, heavenly Father!"

And again she hid her face, and sobbed aloud. Emma looked with bewildered feelings at emotion so strong as to be unaccountable ; for although the incidents were strange, they were apparently inadequate to produce such effects upon such a person, so mild, and piously resigned.

The scene became more calm. Mrs. Johnson appeared quiet. Emma sat by her in silence. The voice of the turbulent George Frederick sunk to mutterings; and finally, as the warmth of the room and fire produced their effect, was lost in a lethargic sleep. The watchman declared that he must return to the hall and watch-house ; undertaking, at Henry's suggestion, to represent to the Captain the necessity for his remaining with Cooke. Spiffard, assuring Mrs. Johnson that at an early hour he would come with a sleigh and remove his friend, obtained permission of Henry, that he might remain under his protection until morning ; and then representing to Emma the propriety of their hastening home, where her long absence must occasion great alarm, she prepared again, with Henry's assistance and Spiffard's protection, to encounter the storm-Henry lamenting the necessity for his remaining with his mother and her unexpected inmate.


An unexpected family-meeting.

Tis our own wisdom moulds our state :
Our faults and virtues make our fate.”—Cowley.
“The power that ministers to God's decrees,

And executes on earth what he foresees :

Called providence, or chance, or fatal sway--"-Dryden. " The heavens have bless'd you with a goodly son,

To be your comforter."- - Shakspeare.
"For what we learn in youth, to that alone,

In age we are, by second nature prone."--Dryder.
"I look as if all hell were in my heart!

And I in hell! nay surely 'tis so with me."-Otway.

" Are these things then necessities?

Then let us meet them with necessities."

Pay her the debt you owe her, and unpay the villany you have done with her; the one you may do with sterling money, and the other with current resistance.'—Shakspeare.


The progress of our story brings us to the description of a scene, such as I believe is new to the readers of romance, and could only have been produced by the fatal effects of that vice which it is my object faithfully to portray.

As the little black Hannah had long retired to renewed sleep, by taking refuge up-stairs, the apartment was left to the sole occupancy of Cooke, Mrs. Johnson, and her son.

The object of his late solicitude being now safe from immediate peril

, and asleep by the fire, Henry approached the bed and drew aside the curtains to inquire how far this intrusion had disturbed his mother. Having been assured by her, that although she had been frightened and agitated, still she was glad that he had brought the unhappy man to her house, he said, “I presume, mother, that Emma has told you who it is


that we have prevented from freezing to death, like an outcast from the human race, in the streets of this populous city. Is it not strange, that the celebrated Mr. Cooke, after whom thousands run to enjoy the effects of his skill, and night after night hail him with delight, and crown him with applause, should be abandoned to perish like a dog, unsheltered from such a storm of wind and snow as now howls around us? Is it not strange ?"

Strange! It is all strange." " That we should succour him?"

Yes, Henry, that we should succour him.” “ We, who however much we might wish to share in the pleasure his talents afford—and all say he is unrivalled—that we, who are by poverty prevented the gratification thousands enjoy, in seeing and hearing him during the proud exhibitions of genius—that we should see him thus, and be instruments in saving him from destruction. That while his admirers and his intimates should be unconscious of his peril—that he should owe his safety to us, who have never even seen him !"

66 To us! To us, who-to one- -Henry, my son, did you -did you bear him in your arms to your mother's roof for shelter ?"

“ Yes. After, by the assistance of Mr. Spiffard and George Crosby, he had been raised from the pavement, and brought near the house, I, alone, took him in my arms until we reached the door; and then they assisted in bringing him in.”

“ 0, merciful father! what a picture is this !" “ Mother!” " The son- -Henry, the time has come—you must know" “ Mother!”

“ The son, bearing his degraded and almost lifeless father in his arms to the hearth of the deserted wife—the cherished mother!" “For heaven's sake, mother!" And he turned his

eyes to the man of whom they spoke, with emotions so conflicting, that his countenance assumed the


of one without thought. But when his sight was fixed on the disgusting object occupying the chair which he had prepared for his feeble mother, and muttering incoherent sentences in his troubled sleep, he could not withdraw it, but gazed as if fascinated by an obscene spectre. At length he exclaimed, “ This! this! My father!

“ Yes, Henry. That man, on whom your straining eyes are fixed as though they would start from their sockets

—that man, from whom, for your sake, I would willingly withdraw my eyes forever—that man is my husband, and your father."

Thus were three beings brought together in one small apartment-drawn, as into an enchanter's circle, by a power beyond all sorcery—forced against will to approach each other by a chain of causation forged from all eternity. Ordained to meet for good purposes, and the exercise of charity, by the great and all-beneficent Artificer of that great universe, whose revolving worlds and central suns cherish life and motion, beyond our faculties to comprehend-of that great system in which the man, and the worm, and the mite are parts : all provided for by that infinite wisdom, against whose will they seem to struggle, but struggle in vain.

In this, as in all things, his will shall ultimately prevail. Three of the human family so connected-so disseveredso dissimilar—are here brought together by means unsought and unknown. There stood the son, between the sick and long-suffering mother, and a father whose faults and cherished habits had caused that wife and mother to fly for shelter to a foreign land, that her child might not be sullied by his father's vices. A mother who had withheld all knowledge of his father from her son, until she saw him the pure and high-souled being who would only be more firmly fixed in worth by the knowledge of a father's weakness.

Such were the beings brought thus strangely together. Such is the picture I would place before my reader.

Mrs. Johnson, now in the decline of life, who had by twenty years of penitence, united with well-doing, expiated the follies of youth, and suffered with humility and resignation the inevitable consequences of self-willed rashness. Mr. Cooke, still further declined “into the vale of years,” conscious, when capableof thought, that by the gratification of selfishness and sensual propensities, nourished into habits, he had brought disease and premature decay on himself, and blighted all the good gifts of nature. But the third figure in this incongruous family picture, stood between them, in health, strength, bright intellectual faculties, perfected by ardent study, and crowned by moral and religious habits.

No, mother, no! A father is one who protects, instructs, blesses. This man did neither for me. My father must have loved and cherished my mother. This man did neither. I have but one father! He did all this for you and for me! To this man I owe nothing, for he has done nothing for me; and

« ZurückWeiter »