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of Southern France. They found a spot upon the Rhone, within a ride of the old town of Avignon, and within view of its broken bridge, which was all they could desire; they lived there, together, six months; then returned to England. Mrs. Taunton growing old after three years—though not so old as that her bright dark eyes were dimmed—and remembering that her strength had been benefitted by the change, resolved to go back for a year to those parts. So she went with a faithful servant, who had often carried her son in his arms; and she was to be rejoined and escorted home, at the year's end, by Captain Richard Doubledick.
She wrote regularly to her children (as she called them now), and they to her. She went to the neighborhood of Aix; and there, in their own chateau near the farmer's house she rented, she grew into intimacy with a family belonging to that part of France. The intimacy began, in her often meeting among the vineyards a pretty child; a girl with a most compassionate heart, who was never tired of listening to the solitary English lady's stories of her poor son and the cruel wars.
The family were as gentle as the child, and at length she came to know them so well, that she accepted their invitation to pass the last month of her residence abroad, under their roof. All this intelligence she wrote home, piecemeal as it came about, from time to time; and, at last, enclosed a polite note from the head of the chateau, soliciting, on the occasion of his approaching mission to that neighborhood, the honor of the company of cet homme si justement célèbre Monsieur le Capitaine Richard Doubledick.
Captain Doubledick; now a hardy handsome man in the full vigor of life, broader across the chest and shoulders than he had ever been before; dispatched a courteous reply, and followed it in person. Travelling through all that extent of country after three years
of peace he blessed the better days on which the world had fallen. The corn was golden, not drenched in unnatural red; was bound in sheaves for food, not trodden underfoot by men in mortal fight. The smoke rose up from peaceful hearths, not blazing ruins. The carts were laden with the fair fruits of the earth, not with wounds and death. To him who had so often seen the terrible reverse, these things were beautiful indeed, and they brought him in a softened spirit to the old chateau near Aix, upon a deep blue evening.
It was a large chateau of the genuine old ghostly kind, with round towers, and extinguishers and a high leaden roof, and
more windows than Aladdin's Palace. The lattice blinds were all thrown open, after the heat of the day, and there were glimpses of rambling walls and corridors within. Then, there were immense outbuildings fallen into partial decay, masses of dark trees, terrace-gardens, balustrades; tanks of water, too weak to play and too dirty to work; statues, weeds, and thickets of iron railing, that seemed to have overgrown themselves like the shrubberies, and to have branched out in all manner of wild shapes. The entrance doors stood open, as doors often do in that country when the heat of the day is past; and the Captain saw no bell or knocker, and walked in.
He walked into a lofty stone hall, refreshingly cool and gloomy after the glare of a southern day's travel. Extending along the four sides of this hall
, was a gallery, leading to suites of rooms; and it was lighted from the top. Still, no bell was to be seen.
“Faith,” said the Captain, halting, ashamed of the clanking of his boots, “this is a ghostly beginning !"
He started back, and felt his face turn white. In the gallery, looking down at him, stood the French officer; the officer whose picture he had carried in his mind so long and so far. Compared with the wriginal, at last—in every lineament how like it was!
He moved, and disappeared, and Captain Richard Doubledick heard his steps coming quickly down into the hall. He entered through an archway. There was a bright, sudden look
Much such a look as it had worn in that fatal moment.
Monsienr le Capitaine Richard Doubledick? Enchanted to receive him! A thousand apologies! The servants were all out in the air. There was a little fête among them in the garden. In effect, it was the fête day of my daughter, the little cherished and protected of Madame Taunton.
He was so gracious and so frank, that Monsieur le Capitaine Richard Doubledick could not withhold his hand. “It is the hand of a brave Englishman," said the French officer, retaining it while he spoke. “I could respect a brave Englishman, even as my foe; how much more as my friend! I, also, am a soldier."
“He has not remembered me, as I have remembered him; he did not take such note of my face, that day, as I took of his,” thought Captain Richard Doubledick. “How shall I tell him?"
upon his face.
The French officer conducted his guest into a garden, and presented him to his wife; an engaging and beautiful woman, sitting with Mrs. Taunton in a whimsical old-fashioned pavilion. His daughter, her fair young face beaming with joy, came running to embrace him; and there was a boy-baby to tumble down among the orange-trees on the broad steps, in making for his father's legs. A multitude of children-visitors were dancing to sprightly music; and all the servants and peasants about the chateau were dancing too. It was a scene of innocent happiness that might have been invented for the climax of the scenes of peace which had soothed the Captain's journey,
He looked on, greatly troubled in his mind, until a resounding bell rang, and the French officer begged to show him his rooms. They went up stairs into the gallery from which the officer had looked down; and Monsieur le Čapitaine Richard Doubledick was cordially welcomed to a grand outer chamber, and a smaller one within, all clocks and draperies, and hearths, and brazen dogs, and tiles, and cool devices, and elegance, and vastness. “You were at Waterloo," said the French officer.
,” said Captain Richard Doubledick. “ And at Badajos.”
Left alone with the sound of his own stern voice in his ears, he sat down to consider. What shall I do, and how shall I tell him? At that time, unhappily, many deplorable duels had been fought between English and French officers, arising out of the recent war; and these duels, and how to avoid this officer's hospitality were the uppermost thought in Captain Richard Doubledick's mind.
He was thinking and letting the time run out in which he should have dressed for dinner, when Mrs. Taunton spoke to him outside the door, asking if he could give her the letter he had brought from Mary. "His mother, above all," the Captain thought, “ How shall I tell her ?”
“ You will form a friendship with your host, I hope," said Mrs. Taunton, whom he hurriedly admitted, “ that will last for life. He is so true-hearted and so generous, Richard, that you can hardly fail to esteem one another. If he had been spared," she kissed (not without tears) the locket in which she wore his hair," he would have appreciated him with his own magnanimity, and would have been truly happy that the evil days were past, which made such a man his
enemy.” She left the room; and the Captain walked first to one window, whence he could see the dancing in the garden, then to another window, whence he could see the smiling prospect and the peaceful vineyards.
"Spirit of my departed friend,” said he, " is it through thee, these better thoughts are rising in my mind ! Is it thou who hast shown me, all the way I have been drawn to meet this man, the blessings of the altered time! Is it thou who hast sent thy stricken mother to me, to stay my angry hand! Is it from thee the whisper comes, that this man did his duty as thou didst—and as I did, through thy guidance, which has wholly saved me, here on earth—and that he did no more !"
He sat down, with his head buried in his hands, and, when he rose up, made the second strong resolution of his life: That neither to the French officer, nor to the mother of his departed friend, nor to any soul while either of the two was living, would he breathe what only he knew. And when he touched that French officer's glass with his own, that day at dinner, he secretly forgave him in the name of the Divine Forgiver of injuries.
TO A SKYLARK.-PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY.
Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
Pourest thy full heart
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
The blue deep thou wingest,
In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
Thou dost float and run;
The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight;
In the broad daylight
Keen as are the arrows
Of that silver sphere,
In the white dawn clear,
All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud,
From one lonely cloud
What thou art we know not ;
What is most like thee?
Drops so bright to see,
Like a poet hidden
In the light of thought,
Till the world is wrought
Like a high-born maiden
In a palace tower,
Soul in secret hour
Like a glow-worm golden
In a dell of dew,
Its aerial hue
Like a rose embower'd
In its own green leaves,
Till the scent it gives
Sound of verral showers
On the twinkling grass,
All that ever was
Teach us, sprite or bird,
What sweet thoughts are thine;
Praise of love or wine