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the proposition and execution of a deed of moment and contingent apprehension !
THE FATAL CONSEQUENCES.
THE hour of meeting approached. The chaste Diana, lest she might be deemed a particeps criminis in the stolen interview, appeared in the heavens with her radiant countenance veiled in a fleecy cloud, as white and clear as a piece of book-muslin. The gentle zephyrs sighed in sympathy. With a light step and a palpitating heart the trembling Thisbe repaired to the appointed spot, veiled to the toes.
The sacred tomb of Ninus, which stood without the walls of Babylon, reposed in the shadow of the spreading mulberry-trees planted around it. Scarcely had Thisbe arrived, and looked around with an anxious and inquiring gaze for her lover, when a loud roar, that thrilled through her heart like a war-trumpet, transfixed her to the spot with terror.
"O! Pyramus, my love, my treasure! why art thou not here ?" exclaimed the maiden, at the same moment the cracking and crackling of the boughs in a distant underwood caused the roses of her cheek to blanch.
By the imperfect light of the thinly-clouded moon, the affrighted Thisbe beheld a lioness bounding towards her. Swift as a dove from a hawk, the virgin turned and fled, dropping her veil in her path. For
tunately, the feminine fancy of the lioness was attracted by the veil, and arrested in her murderous career. Pouncing upon the fallen ornament, she entangled her talons in the meshes, and, tumbling about as if in sport, tore it into a thousand shreds.
Having satisfied herself with this novel amusement, she retreated to the woods, summoned by the voice of her royal consort, her head still entangled in a portion of the veil; and no doubt the lion and cubs were heartily amused at her appearance, being the first lioness on record that had taken the veil.
Pyramus, thinking of nothing but his love, soon afterwards appeared upon the scene, with his stick and bundle, containing all his personal property.
With that furtive glance which a man always wears when about to do what he ought not to do, he reconnoitred the place; presently his eyes fell upon the lacerated lawn, and, recognising in a twinkling the well-known veil of his beloved, he dropped his stick and a tear, and uttered a shriek that was as long and sharp as a six weeks' frost!
"O Thisbe! apple of my eye! some furious beast hath nibbled thee! Cruel fate! that has permitted my gentle dove to become the victim of such a swallow !" He cast his bundle on the ground; and clasped his burning brow in his clammy palms.
"Farewell, world! for remorseless Mors has popped his extinguisher on the light of my life, and left me in utter darkness ! Even now, perhaps, her shade is wandering on the borders of the Styx! In life we were united, and in death we will row in the same boat.
Tarry awhile, dear Thisbe! thy lover's stick 's soon cut, and he will follow thee! Come forth, my steel, and steal away my life." And, drawing a poniard from his girdle, he buried it in his woe-fraught bosom, and rolled over his bundle.
Love, overcoming all feelings of fear, prompted Thisbe to return, and the heart of her lover had scarcely ceased to beat when she stood beside him. What pen can paint her pangs! Grasping the fatal and too-ready dagger, the despairing maiden, uttering the name of her beloved, at one blow put a period to her existence. Like two green palms levelled by a hurricane, they lay extended side by side!
The next day the bodies were discovered, and, to the astonishment of the assembled crowd, they observed a sort of miracle had been worked, for the fruit of the adjacent mulberry-trees, which was formerly white, was changed to a sanguinary red, and has ever since that lamented occasion preserved that colour.
Who can hereafter masticate a pottle of mulberries without mentally pondering upon the melancholy catastrophe of the Babylonian lovers, or fail to exclaim, "Such are the fruits of filial disobedience !"
AT six o'clock precisely, my old crony, David Owen, called at the office in consequence of a promise which I had made a fortnight before to accompany
him to his club. He had frequently spoken of the pleasure he enjoyed, and expressed so urgent a desire that I should participate in the amusement the society afforded, that I, at last, consented to be introduced as his friend a special favour, as I afterwards understood; for, although there were in all twenty members, but one invitation was permitted by the rules, and this privilege only allowed in rotation, so that it amounted almost to exclusiveness.
The members were chiefly clerks in the East India House, or Bank of England, and most of them dwelling in "merry Islington," or its immediate neighbourhood.
Islington in those days was not a continuation of London. It was surrounded on every quarter by pleasant fields, and wore the appearance of a rural village.
The club was held at the Queen's Head in the Lower Road,—an antique structure of the times of good Queen Bess. A room on the first floor was appropriated to its meetings. An old oak table stood in the centre of the sanded floor, garnished with leathern-bottomed chairs, black from age and long service; while a high-backed elbow-chair, standing on a sort of dais at the upper end of the festive board, served as a throne for the president.
Highly-coloured and varnished maps of Cheshire, Wiltshire, and other cheese-manufacturing counties, were displayed upon the dingy walls, which, my friend informed me, were presented by Mr. Amos Brown, the facetious chairman of "The Bread-and-Cheese