« PoprzedniaDalej »
He has, I suppose, on his plantations, up Mrs. Barbara and Mr. Farren sitting towards of three hundred slaves, who are gether, the old lady regaling her favored most kindly and most admirably man guest with some racy old anecdotes, which aged. He will be sent to Congress, sir ; she always reserved for great occasions. he must be sent to Congress, sir; we After a highly interesting introduction of want working men in our Legislative bod all parties, Miss Blanton selected an isoies, sir; he is the kind of man we need lated seat, and by an adroit maneuvre, in our high places, sir,” said papa, regard- forced Mr. Farren to attach himself to less of etiquette, ladies, and Farren's posi her. This interesting couple sat at arm's tion as a suitor of our sister's, and all Rob- length, Miss Willy "laying herself out" ert's interruptions.
to secure Mr. Farren by every art she pos“I should like to see him," said Therese, sessed, and Mr. Farren literally shocked “he is quite a catch, is he not, Louise ?” at the bare idea of her attempting such a
"I do not know, indeed,” replied Lou thing. Grandma's keen eyes, lifted above ise, blushing; "he is very handsome, and her spectacles, were circling around the very fascinating.”
room. She noticed the widow's bare "Fascinating ?" inquired Robert and shoulders, and exceedingly low corsage, Dashwood in a breath.
which was only partially concealed by her “Yes, I should say so," said Louise, “he cloud-like vapory scarf. She noticed the is somewhat reserved, but I understand scarcely perceptible sleeve, and perfect he is uncommonly fascinating, and can dimpled arm, and asked me, in whisper, please any body when he chooses." if she was going to a party ? “In my
“When he chooses. Oh, perhaps som days,” said grandma earnestly to me, “a he never chose to fascinate me, Miss Lou girl would disgrace her family by dressing ise,” said Dashwood, in an under tone, to out in that way!" my fair sister.
“ Indeed!” "Nor me, I declare, but,”
“Yes; and that yellow thing, talking "I wonder if he will choose to fascinato to Thomas Farren, would be confined to a me?" asked Therese, pouting beautifully. mad-house.” "I wish somebody would take the trouble “What fine days those were !" to fascinate me, really."
“People had to behave themselves, and This provoking little speech being taken dress properly in those days, I tell you. by Robert altogether to himself, he began And pray, what is that?" abruptly into be very mysterious indeed, and to ask quired Mrs. Barbara, as Alphonse enMrs. Blanton if she had ever seen a snake tered. charming a bird. If so, she must have “Master Alphonse,” I answered. observed how still, and drooping, and pow “Upon my word, that's a figure to erless the poor bird was under the snake's bring into a gentleman's drawing-room! a all-charming eye. And she could easily varstly fine figure. I should say, that unimagine how delighted the poor bird would ruly lad had broken away from his nurse be, had he only the power to charm his only harf drest. I should be constrained charmer back again. Whereupon, Mr. to surmise, in all charity, that his jacket Blanton dropped his fork, and savagely re had yet to be put on. Bless my soul, marked that he had yet to learn how his what are widows and the rest of mankind sister-in-law could possibly resemble a coming to !" snake in any particular.
The gentlemen now entered, and poor "Brother, you have not tasted your Farren brightened up at the prospect of a wine !" returned Therese, laughing very release from Miss Blanton. But Mr. much, and trying her best to reach her Thomas Farren was evidently sold to the brother's foot, under the table. Thinking lady with the emerald-eyed serpents. In she had succeeded, this dear little woman vain he looked around upon those he had bore down upon my unoffending toes with deemed his friends, nobody came to the great strength. At the proper moment,
They sat apart, cruelly partimamma obeyed a look from Robert, and tioned off from every living creature, and rose to leave the table. Mr. Rushton, conversation was getting low. Mr. Farjunior, pressed the widow's hand, and saw ren began to learn to his dismay, that he her to the door.
was "touching bottom.” He had discussed the last new novel, the watering places, and the spring hats. He had admired
the baubles on her chatelaine, and done CHAPTER III.
every thing that mortal man, of iron nerve, could do under the circumstances, and
Miss Willianna still hung on. We returned to the drawing-room, and, “ Poor Tom Farren!" said Dashwood to of course, were agreeably surprised to find Louise.
EOMANCE AND NONSENSE, WHICH, IN OLD VIRGINIA,
“Why poor Tom Farren ?" asked Lou A splendid scheme now entered my ise, shrugging her white shoulders.
head. I determined to rescue these suf“Because he is getting to be so despe ferers, Blanton and Farren! I determined rate. His glances this way are soul-har to play a waltz, and thereby change every rowing. I declare Bob ought to go to his body's position, and make every body haprelief, and allow unhappy Blanton a word py. I felt that it devolved upon me to with his sister-in-law. I would take Miss play the part of the good fairy, and thus Willianna myself, but---I am so fastidious to thwart the diabolical arrangements of in these matters you know.”
fate. I accordingly struck up an animatI know."
ed and heel-inspiring waltz, which no “So painfully fastidious, that an hour's lover of waltzing could ever hope, even conversation with that interesting creature under the most fortuitous circumstances, in pink, would unfit me for the remainder to resist. My beloved reader, I had the of my visit, nay, perhaps for life, for any supreme satisfaction of seeing Robert take rational pleasure under the sun."
Therese in his arms and wheel away with Fate had grouped the company in one her. Then, Dashwood, with his consumdrawing-room. She had given Farren over mate grace flung his arm about Louise, to Willianna, and Dashwood to Louise. and off they went ; leaving Mr. Blanton She had perched me, diabolically, vis-à-vis stark and stiff, sitting bolt upright in the to speechless Mr. Blanton, across a table middle of the room, like a shipwrecked of bijouterie---and she had ensconced the man for life. I need not say that this favored Robert snugly in an alcove with unhappy man served also as a target for Therese. It was painfully evident to me grandma's wonder, amazement, and inthat my vis-à-vis had only eyes and ears tense scrutiny. Really, I had amused for his brother's fascinating relict. I had Messrs. Blanton and Farren capitally! seen her trying to mollify him, by hanging From their countenances, I should say it about him in her half childish affectionate was a highly hilarious amusement, to see way; calling him brother-ever brother, a couple of faultlessly moustached, magniand looking up to him, starch-necked and ficently-limbed youngsters, flying about stern as he was, as her brother, her only with their adorables in their arms. brother. She had a way of trying to sof “Do you waltz ?" poor Farren asked ten him by taking his hand familiarly into of his pink tormentor. her little velvet palm; and stretching his "Yes, sir; with those I— with parlong fingers one by one, over the length ticular friends." and breadth of her little hand, and " Do let us take a turn." then laying her other hand gently over it, She yielded, and he took her respectas she talked away earnestly to him, fully by the tips of her elbows, and whirlwhich lapped the monster brother-in-law ed off with her. The desperate Farren in Elysium. He adored her, he had adored and the chary Willianna were dangerous her for years, and she was kind, and at navigators. They seemed to steer at rantentive, and soothing to him, because of dom. They soon brought Robert and his years of suffering and untiring love. Therese to a dead halt, and made DashMrs. Blanton had a gentle woman's heart, wood and Louise wheel away for dear life. returning ever love for love. Nobody They bore down upon that rock-bound could be kind to her without gaining her and stranded man, Blanton, and to the whole heart. Nobody could be in trouble lookers-on he was in imminent danger. without this little woman's crying as Finally, they cleared the circle, and caused though her very heart would break. She grandma to open her eyes, and gather up was not brilliant, or witty, but so tho her skirts. When they had distinguished roughly good. She was coquettish, fond themselves sufficiently by their performof dress, volatile, and childish ; but this ance, Mr. Farren released his pink partwas only from an excess of kindness, a ner, and took occasion to deposit her in thorough woman's nature, and a happy a more thickly-settled part of the room, light heart. She could not bid her brother which I regarded as the most sensible cease to love her, and frown upon him and part of the performance. turn away, and leave him in his trouble. There was a whisper going the round She thought rather to turn the current of of the saloons, that Miss Blanton loved his love, and by all gentleness, and sin Tom Farren, and that he could get her cere affection, to make him look upon her for the asking, which, I dare say, was as a sister. She knew, that while she highly probable. Her open display of listened to Robert's pleasant talk, he was preference, her silly smirking way, made looking intently upon her charming shoul Tom Farren perfectly miserable. He adder, and dimpled elbow, which were the mired shy, retiring, modest ladies, and deonly points visible from the recess, and she monstrations unbalanced him. He was a would have comforted him if she could. young man of sound judgment, much
modesty and discretion, and was really “ I, madam! I am thunderstruck; upon hurt by Miss Blanton's attentions. Her my word I am thunderstruck at your regreat riches, and distinguished relations, quest,” cried Dashwood, running his fincould not tempt him. She should have gers through his hair, and putting on a bestowed them upon that handsome su favorite porcupine look of his; “ but I percilious fellow, Dashwood, who, of all will confidently assert, and stoutly mainthings, wanted money enough to take him tain, that if I am ever to write if to Europe.
there be a spark of poetry in me, such a " Pray, who is this Mr. Dashwood ?" request would instantly cause spontaneMiss Blanton inquired of me.
ous combustion." * Mr. Dashwood," said I," is one of the At this little Mrs. Blanton was seized most iaiented young men I know. He is with an uncontrollable fit of laughter, for my brother's particular friend, and likely which nobody could reasonably account. to distinguish himself some day.”
“But they tell me you are a poet," "Indeed! I thought him only a dandy, urged the lady, drawing a chair near him. you know.”
Long, long ago," commenced Dash“On the contrary, he is anything else.” wood, with a low intense voice, and a
"Dear me, how odd these geniuses are ! glittering vibratory eye, “ when first my One never can keep the run of them. heart shook off its swaddling clothes, I Sometimes they are exquisites, then again was foolish enough to dream I was a poet." they are slovens. They should adopt a I looked around me upon the heavuniform, for there is no telling them from ens and the earth, and lo! the old familother people. I slighted a lady, who, it iar hills shone with a newer fire, and the seems, was one of them, the other day. sun's track deepened and gleamed, and She was so pert and disagreeable, and put the arrowy beams vibrated intensely, and on airs which I really did not think her there was a fervor and a glow come over appearance justified, and I cut her. We creation ; and still I dreamed-oh, foolish Virginians are so particular, you know; dream!—that I was a poet !" so I quietly gave her to understand my “Did you ?" ejaculated the lady in position, and who do you think she was ? pink. Why, Mrs. Haller, the great authoress, "I dreamed,” continued Dashwood, his who was making a tour for the express face lighting up, “that I saw with no purpose of studying Virginia, and the common eye, and that I felt with a deepVirginians. I shall be down in her next
er and a stronger power I was not all book. I feel that I am doomed to be clay, nor like this one, and that one, whose slaughtered by that woman's pen.
eye had none of the soul-light of mine. * Dreadful !" I exclaimed.
Oh, this blessed, intense, quivering, bliss“Horrible! wasn't it? But pray, how ful' dream! Sweeping o'er the waking is one to know them? I would not will heart-strings, and bringing music from ingly slight them, but how am I to know the vasty deep; and there was music, them ?
gushing, swelling chords, and aerial bound** By consummate effrontery, and un ing notes, floating o'er this blessed, mournbounded assurance,” said Mr. Farren, ful dream! Then budding thought was bitterly.
bursting, and latent powers were awak** Not always," said I, "sometimes they ing, and hidden feelings were revealing ; are diffident; indeed I may say they are and I hugged to my heart, and guarded always diffident, until they are spoilt by from the dull, unsympathizing world, my Hattery, for which other people should great and wondrous gift from God. I have to answer."
tramped on, and on, jostling the soulless, “ One thing I know,” said Miss Blanton, and pushing on, that I might lay my gift "I shall never slight a lady with a gray upon the altar. I felt neither hunger nor shawl, large foot, mashed bonnet, and thirst. The body was a fetter I despised, long nose again. I shall know she is a detaining me from my great end. I longed genius. , you write poetry, Miss ?” to throw it aside as unceremoniously as I she said, turning to me.
would my overcoat upon a summer's day, I quickly said “ No.”
Miss Blanton, and press on! Herculean "Yes, you do, now-indeed you do. fellows, who hungered, and slept, and Will you write me an acrostic ? do oblige ministered to their bodies like slaves, me, will you ?"
pushed me aside. Ladies of great mental " You must call on Mr. Dashwood," balance and bodily strength looked at my said I.
frantic efforts with a sneer, and passed “Mr. Dashwood, Mr. Dashwood !" proudly on, heralded by Fame. Poets, cried the pink female, trying to be child with eyes glowing with fire, --my own ish, like Therese, “will you write me a fire, I knew it at a glance,- followed in piece of poetry ?"
their wake. Fame was up at auction,
they said, and they crowded on. Still pressive tone, “I should never have been
" What a blessing, young man,” said than Louise's. I had it arranged in the grandma, handing around her snuff-box, morning by a hair-dresser, who thought "that the doctors interfered before you proper to saturate it with
kind of oil, made a ninny of yourself. You may re which, to my horror, I afterwards learned gard it as a special providence, that at was highly combustible. Maddon came tack."
to our house rather early, with tickets, “ Poesy, my dear madam,” said Dash and spoke rapturously of Mrs. Somebody wood, with a profound bow to grandma, -I forget her name,—who, he said, was “is defined by physicians to be a chronic going to electrify all Chatterton by her congestion, or extravasation of the brain, performance that night. We were sitting occurring in persons of highly nervous and in our box, patiently awaiting the rising sanguinous temperament.”
of the curtain, after the second or third "To be relieved by partial beheading" act, when a whiff of smoke came from the said Robert, laughing.
stage, accompanied by a slight, crackling To be allayed by leeching, and anti sound. I thought they were making their phlogistics. Cases of long standing be thunder and lightning you know, and was long to the mad-house, the faculty think," perfectly easy. Not so Maddon. He stood said Dashwood.
up, his eyes flashing, his nostrils dilating, " But you write acrostics occasionally, and his lips compressed. Presently 'fire! do you not ?" asked Miss Blanton. fire !' was heard, and Maddon dashed over
"It was an acrostic to this lady,” said the railing upon the heads of the pit, Dashwood, turning to Louise, which stepped over the orchestra, and into the brought about those terrible results I foot-lights upon the stage, leaving me unhave been telling you of. My physician ceremoniously to take care of myself, advises me to beware of acrostics. He wondering what on the face of the earth considers them the most inflammatory was to pay
I hadn't sense enough to and dangerous species of poetry.”
move hand or foot. The crowd writhed, Poor Robert laughed until he was and swore, and elbowed, and fainted, and ashamed of himself, at Dashwood's ear trampled on each other, while I, absolutely nest countenance and unshrinking gravi- petrified, remained glued to my seat. I ty. Miss Blanton had to give up all could not budge an inch. People mashed hopes of an acrostic, so she turned upon me, and tore me all to pieces, and tall men grandma, and began to question her. stepped over my head, without so much The reader can easily imagine that Miss as by your leave, Miss. Finding that Blanton immediately found herself in clo every body was making for the doors, I ver, as the saying is. She had only to bethought me of looking out for a window. ask the most trivial questions to set Mrs. As soon as I began to move I found myBarbara's tongue in motion. She had self in a current of human beings, while only to suggest an idea, or gently to jog crash after crash, and scream after scream her memory, in order to provoke a perfect was heard. I was pushed on by the avalanche of anecdote. Miss Blanton had crowd, until I stood before a window, and now aroused the right passenger. Mrs. I hung on to my place. I heard somebody Barbara straightened up, and proceeded crying out to me from below. It was to draw from the great storehouse of her Rushton, calling on me to spring from the memory,
treasure after treasure. She re window. He placed a feather-bed upon the verted to one of her favorite topics, the pavement, and, calling franctically to me, burning of the Chatterton Theatre. implored me to jump out. But I was
“If it had n't been for that fire," said paralyzed by fright. People were pushing Mrs. Barbara, in a mysterious and im me away, and jumping out like shot out
of a shovel. In the crowd below I recognized the deserter Maddon, with the actress in his arms, who had fainted in the street. Again Rushton screamed to me, and begged me to spring out upon the bed. I hadn't sense enough to move. Presently a flame licked me upon the back of my heal, which, as I told you, was all saturated with a highly inflammable oil,—and I assure you, Miss Blanton, I sprang out with such superhuman strength, that I cleared the feather bed, passed over Rushton, and descended upon a large lot of household and kitchen furniture, belonging to Pratt & Brothers, next door above. People were astonished at me, and all eyes were turned upon me, as I reclined comfortably upon the household and kitchen furniture. I understand it was the greatest jump made that night. The tight-rope dancers didn't come near me. Suffice it to say," concluded Mrs. Barbara, with great gravity and importance, “that Mr. Rushton's gallantry, as contrasted with Maddon's shameful desertion, and devotion to the actress, caused me to become a Rushton!”
Grandma's maidenly choice was universally applauded. Every body thought she was right in discarding Maddon, and consenting to adorn, and illuminate, the Rushton family.
But about Robert's eccentric friend Dashwood. This handsome fellow was a perfect riddle to ordinary people. He had a way of flashing out sometimes, in a dazzling electrifying manner, and then subsiding into a man of less than ordinary pretensions. Sometimes people would begin to think him most extraordinary, destined for great things, capable of wonders, and suddenly he would put all such charitable notions to flight, by some unaccountable freak, which would have the happy effect of precipitating public opinion below zero. Robert alone, and perhaps Louise, held the key to his absurd whimsicalities. To Robert he was the most glorious and piquant of men. To Louise,--ah, what was he to Louise ? More than mortal, more than lover, more than beloved. That he was pervaded by a poetic something, nobody could doubt. That he was lifted above his fellows, was beyond a question. That he had rare powers, glorious powers, every lady of any refinement and cultivation, of his acquaintance, was ready to admit. But, in the ordinary business of life—in buying and selling—making money, and the most of one's talents, our brilliant Dashwood was hopelessly inferior. He could assume, at a moment's warning, any character under the sun. Sometimes, for whole weeks, he was the man of business, going about
with a brisk manner, closely buttoned coat, and knit brows. During these business attacks, he would shoot ahead of the old stagers, throw a flood of light upon matters before shrouded in darkness, give quite a new turn to the old way of doing things, and after triumphantly proving himself eminently worthy of the counting-room or the desk, and blazing away to his own satisfaction, a complete reaction would take place.
The next thing you would hear of Dashwood, he would be idling about his lodgings, in gorgeous slippers, trailing robe, and jewelled cap, writing poetry for the magazines.
Again he would assume his profession of the law with an ardor and impetuosity, which could not last, make a crack speech, astonish the court, gain his suit, pocket his fee, and live like a lord, eschewing every thing but love, wine, and cigars. After this, he would take a trip off to a watering-place, or some fashionable place of folly, and smirk, and polk, and create sensations, until he was tired. Of course, after this, he would have a severe attack of dolce far niente, and then the usual return of otium cum dignitate. He did not care a fig for money, because he could generally contrive to make a little when hard pressed. He was not called a dissipated man, or a man of bad habits, but people called him an uncommon man, an astonishing man, a psychological riddle, a jack at all trades and good at none. His varied talents, his brilliancy, his powers, ever obedient, and ready to rise equal to any emergency, his eloquence, his intuitive knowledge of almost everything, his splendid person, and flexibility of manner, gave him a position among men, from which no freak on his part could displace him. To confess the truth, people petted his whims, in order to secure the use of his talents. Generally, if a fellow-citizen had a very unpromising case on hand, which he knew could only be gained by a master spirit, or some legerdemain peculiar to lawyers, or some trick of oratory, he consulted Dashwood, who, if in the want of money at that particular time, or exactly in the vein, would take hold of the matter, turn the whole strength of his soul and body upon it, and make such an effort for his client as few men, even in Virginia, could make.
To love such a man as this, was to tie one's self to a wheel at once. To love Dashwood was perfect folly. But there are some women, doubtless, provided by Providence for such men, who exult in martyrdom; who, of all things, love to make living sacrifices of themselves; whose hearts are moved by wonders, and