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would willingly execute my work in all the force of light, shade, colour and expressionof Rembrandt, if I had the skill, but I feel that I can only sketch.
Three figures were sitting in a small apartment, ten feet by ten, or thereabout, the furniture of which, though decent and clean, showed that it not only served for “ parlour, kitchen and hall,” but for bed-chamber. A table, small and of plain whitewood, occupied the centre of the room. A tin lamp stood on this table, and threw its light in just gradation, on the nearer, or more distant objects of which my sketch is composed. Opposite to the door and near the fire-place, where some bright culinary utensils reflected the rays of the lamp, stood the bed; on which, in a reclining posture, appeared a female in the decline of life, much emaciated by the effects of a wasting chronic disease. Her dark complexion rather than her features, showed that she was allied to the African-race. She was what is called in the West Indies a quadroon. Disease had blanched her face, and the hectic red on her cheek, death's seal, marked her approaching dissolution. Her black eyes shone with that brightness which, to those who know its cause, is so touching, or so alarming.
Having given the dimensions of the room, I need not say that although the table was in the centre, it was very near the bed, and not far from the fire-place. On the mantel were several china cups, some glasses and phials, apples and oranges. Above these hung an india-ink drawing, a copy from a print; it was enclosed in a black frame and covered by a cracked glass. Between the table and the door sat a man of sturdy frame, but time-worn; his age appeared to be sixty. He was darker than the woman, and his features more African. His crisped iron-grey hair thickly covered his head and shaded his temples. His forehead was prominent; with many deep wrinkles crossing it; while furrows as deep marked his cheek. His dress was that of a labourer. It was neat, but here and there patched with cloth that denoted the colour originally belonging to the whole garment. He held his spectacles in his left hand and his snuff box in his right. His eyes, full of respectful attention, were fixed on the figure nearest to the table and lamp ; as were also, but with a more earnest gaze, those of the reclining invalid.
The figure on which the light of my picture is concentrated, and on whom the rays from the lamp fell, was a perfect contrast in form and colour to her companions. She was seated by the table, gracefully bending over, and reading in, a bible
that occupied its centre. The light of the lamp illuminated strongly the book of the reader. This made her, as she ought to be, the principal figure, as well as the central one, of my
As she bowed her head over the pages, the reflected light from the paper imparted a soft radiance to the lower part of her countenance, while the direct rays illumed the alabaster forehead. She was a figure of light. The glowing beams from the lamp glittered and were lost among the clustering tresses that surrounded and crowned with golden tints this portrait of a virgin saint.
Emma Portland ceased reading and said, “Do I fatigue you, Mrs. Kent?”
“No, Miss Emma,” was the reply; “ but I fear you will fatigue yourself—you read as if you felt every word."
" I hope I do feel what I read ; and I hope you have felt
" Miss Emmy,” said Kent, “I hope it's no offence to say so, but you
read better than any body I ever heard, if I may not except Mr. Cooke."
“A good reader, an excellent scholar, took great pains to teach me.” And Emma, as she spoke, thought of her lost brother.
“ When I have heard Mr. Cooke read over his part in his dressing-room, it was just the same as talking,” said the man.
"So all good reading must be. It is only varied in dignity or familiarity, as the subject requires. The good reader must understand and feel the subject. It is this understanding and feeling, added to Mr. Cooke's powers of voice, eye, and action, which place him so high in his profession."
“When you make your appearance,” the sick woman said, - if I live I must see and hear you.”
“ If you are not too much frightened, Miss Emmy,” said Kent, 6
will do-- I will not say what. But I remember Mrs. Darley, when she was Miss E. Westray, and played in Lover's Vows,' and False Shame,' just about your age; her lovely figure and innocent face—and you—"
My friend,” said Emma, interrupting him," you speak as if you thought me devoted to the stage. Be undeceived. It is the thing farthest from my thoughts.”
“I am glad of it,” said the invalid.
“ I can say I certainly never will be a player. I should prefer a very humble station in private life, to the most splendid rewards which follow on the applauses of a theatre.
My duty has carried me to the house to serve my cousin and aunt. I have been gratified to hear the applauses which my cousin receives, when she gives additional force, by her genius, to the lessons of the tragic muse ; but I never wished to be a teacher in that school. I would rather open the way to knowledge by instructing the poor little neglected ones that we find in holes and corners, and bring to our sunday-school. There I feel that I am doing some good ; and I do not seek applause. In a short time, I hope to be excused from entering the walls of the theatre, unless to see and hear some dramatic piece of my choice; for there are many that I have seen with delight, and many that I wish to see. “ But you don't intend to go on the stage as an actress ?"
Certainly not.” s. Thank God,” said the sick woman. “ Thank God," echoed her husband.
Emma looked at them with an air of surprise. There was an earnest expression in the tone of voice, and the faces of the old folks, that suggested to her the idea of relief from an anticipated evil. There was a pause. At length she said, "Why are you so earnest in your expression of satisfaction that I have taken such a resolution ?"
Perhaps I ought not to say so,” said Kent ; " but I think I think you are better as you are.”
“ That may be,” she replied, smiling. “I might be the worse if I failed in my attempt, or I might be intoxicated by applause if I succeeded. But although I do not wish to tread the stage, and exhibit myself before the mixed multitudes I have seen in the play-house, yet, there are many who have passed unhurt through the trials which must await those who challenge public opinion in this manner, and, I hope, many who have been of service to others."
“ After another pause, Kent said "Miss Emmy, I hope so too."
" Mr. Kent, you must have known many excellent persons, of both sexes, who have been, and are on the stage."
Certainly. But I believe they would have been full as good if they had never been there. "Miss Emmy, I have known the play-house and the actors, ever since there was a play in the country, almost and to tell the truth"
“ Go on, Mr. Kent."
“ That you may depend upon, miss ; but the truth is not to be spoken at all times.”
" At all times? Perhaps not. But we should not hesitate to speak the truth, and the whole truth, if, by so doing, we can prevent evil, or do good.”
" I should be very sorry to tell all I know, for all that.”
* There may be no necessity. But if we knew that all our misdeeds would be seen and reported, perhaps we should act better than we do. The actions of persons who make the stage their profession, are more scrutinized than those of men and women in private life ; otherwise, perhaps, they would not be found more obnoxious to censure."
John,” said the sick woman; “if the knowledge of what she may be exposed to, can prevent any young person from putting themselves in the way, surely the truth ought to be told.”
“But Miss Emmy has said that she has no such intention, and that's enough, and I'm glad of it.”
• How came you to be brought so intimately in contact with theatres, and theatrical people, Mr. Kent ?”
"I'll tell you, miss. My master wished to give me a trade, and as I always had a notion of drawing, he put me apprentice to a house and sign-painter that lived in John-street, near the play-house; and it was by waiting upon my bos' that I got my first knowledge of actors; for as there was no scene-painters then in the country, and he having some little skill, (little enough to be sure,) of that kind of work, he was employed for want of a better; and I ground the paints, and mixed them, as he taught me. So, by and by, as I could draw rather better than bos, I became a favourite with the actors.”
"That drawing over the fire-place, I understand, is one of yours.”
“ Yes, miss ; but I can't see the end of a camels-hair pen
“ How long is it since you practised scene-painting ?"
“ This was in the year seventeen hundred and seventy four, at which time Mr. Hallam went to England. Mr. Henry was the great man of the theatre then, and a fine man he was. When I left New-York, to go to Canada, there were four sisters in the old American Company, the oldest was Mrs. Henry; and when I came back, after the war, the youngest was Mrs. Henry, and the other two had been Mrs. Henrys in the meanwhile, and were still living. This was a long time ago. Things have mended."
“ I hope so."
Soon after Emma prepared to leave the sick woman. Kent, who generally, on such occasions, attended her with a lantern, had been called away, as there was a rehearsal in progress on the stage. This did not prevent her going, as she had done before, through the southern part of the alley, towards Mrs. Epsom's. There is a halo which surrounds the virtuous. It
be seen at night or at noon-day. It must be acknowledged that there are those so blind as not to see it at any time. Even Emma Portland, had, on one occasion, been beset by two creatures, dressed like gentlemen, who followed her until a watchman placed himself between them and the object of their persecution. They then slunk away like things of darkness, shunning the sturdy watchman as a ghost does cock-crowing.
The conduct of the watchman attracted Emma's notice ; not because of this act, evidently a part of his duty, but for the respectful, and somewhat peculiar manner in which it was performed. The nightly guardians of our city are respectable tradesmen, who add to the comfort of their families by this occupation; but they are not of the most polished manners. The individual who thus came to the rescue of persecuted beauty, had an air of, she knew not what—a something that raised images, and caused thoughts, indefinite and evanescent, yet giving her confidence while in his presence; although, previously, she had felt rather shy when she met persons of his description, probably owing to impressions derived from English books. On this occasion, the watchman followed at a respectful dis. tance, until he saw her stop at her aunt's house ; he then stood, as if determined to be convinced of her safety, nor moved until she had entered and closed the door. She had not seen his face, or heard his voice.
From this time, she felt more than her usual security in passing from the sick woman's chamber to her home. If she thought, (which she seldom did, of danger, she thought of the friendly watchman at the same time; and once or twice she almost imagined that she saw him, indistinctly, at a distance; he never appeared to see her. If it was the same person, it was strange ; but she had no fear of danger from him. We are great advocates of the doctrine of sympathies and antipathies ; and we think they operate full as much on individuals of opposite sexes, as they do on those of the same. Philosophers will hereafter settle this point..
The same evening on which the conversation occurred by