« PreviousContinue »
“ That I will, with all my heart, for I am thirsty, and a little tired,” said Clinton, dropping into a chair which the miller brought to the table for him.
Jacob, although cooler in his greeting, directly filled for him a large horn goblet, which Clinton rested on his knee.
“ You do not drink,” said the miller; as he spoke the goblet fell from the nerveless hand which had held it, and, on looking at Clinton's face, the two men perceived he had either almost or wholly fainted. His chin sunk on his breast; his eyes were half closed ; and his breathing became inaudible.
“ To my belief,” said the miller, chafing his hands, 6 he has not such shallow feelings as some suppose. I'd be sworn it is the death of Miss Lucy has made him ill. He loved her well enough.”
Jacob also busied himself in recovering Clinton, but said, shaking his head, “ Don't believe it, Thomas; if I have any skill in reading signs, he was more partial to Miss Anderson, and I will tell you why-Miss Anderson cared nothing for him, Miss Lee could scarcely live out of his sight.” “A strange reason,” said the miller ;
66 the woman that loved me I am sure I should love."
“ But Mr. Clinton is another sort of character, I guess ,” said Jacob; "he fancies he knows what the real affection of the heart is, but I can tell you that I don't think he does. All he sought from Miss Lee, all he would seek from twenty other young ladies, to whom he would sing, and recite, and talk soft nonsense, was, and would be, to be loved; but the deuce a grain of true love would he give to any one of them. Yet, Thomas,
women always listen to such as him with more favour than to a plain, honest, man. Only to mention Mr. Lee, why before one lady would attach herself to him, a dozen would die for this gentleman here."
“ No—no ; you are too sharp in your discourse, Jacob,” said the miller.
“ Who is too sharp ?" inquired Clinton, making a vehement effort to recover himself. As he opened his eyes they fell upon a stranger who had just entered the kitchen, the house doors being always left unfastened, as it is the custom in most Upper Canadian farm-houses.
The stranger appeared about fifty years of age, above the middle height, and of majestic proportions; his dress was that of a French-Canadian mariner, and around his waist was tied a crimson silk sash. As he came into the light his weather-beaten face exhibited a truly classic outline ; it was such a face as a Grecian sculptor might have given to Achilles—bold, massive, haughty, and handsome. When he drew off the sable fur cap from his head, his ample brows were seen surrounded and adorned with an abundance of coal-black hair, which added to the stern effect of his countenance. In his eye, slept all the dark and fierce passions of which men are capable, but his mouth was not without softer traits. His voice, like a fine organ, could express every variation of feeling and passion. It was deep, rich, and perfectly at his command.
“ Your servant, friends," said this stranger, inclining his head to each person present. He slightly started as he saw Clinton, over whose countenance, just before pale to delicacy, a deep and angry flush was spreading. The former was invited to sit down, which he did without
hesitation, and when the cider was put toward lim, he took it up, and said
“ Thank you, friends ; I will drink a little with you, if it be agreeable; the weather is hot, and I have walked many miles during the last six hours. Yes, this is capital cider,” said he, after he had drank with the eagerness and relish inspired by thirst—“ very good indeed; and I think, in return, I you
taste some liquor of another kind, which is as good in its own way.” So saying, he drew out from a breast pocket a flat broad flask, and asking for a goblet, which he received, poured out a little of a kind of strong wine, that each who tasted, pronounced delicious—nay, incomparable. This liquor formed a theme for familiar talk, and so answered the stranger's purpose. “ Are you better, Mr. Clinton ?” inquired the miller.
Oh, yes—I am perfectly well, now, I thank you." As he thus replied, Clinton arose, pushed his chair back, and walked up and down the kitchen, frequently casting a singular look at the new-comer, who now seemed quite indifferent to his glances.
“ You have had a death in the house I have heard,” said the mariner to Jacob.
“ Yes, to a sartainty we have,” said Jacob; " and the house is so full of visitors, that I expect you will be obliged to sleep in this kitchen as you can, for all the beds that could be made up in the great kitchen and parlour, I know are engaged. First come, first served, you have heard that saying in your travels, I dare say.”
“I shall sleep as soundly, friend, on the stones of this kitchen, as on the best feather bed in the world,” said
“ I have lodged hard and soft in my
time, I can assure you. I have slept on the top of a rocking mast, on the deck of a vessel drenched with salt water; and, indeed, in all kinds of rough situations."
“ I have often slept myself on the ground under a tree,” said the yankee labourer, “ with no other roof above me but the sky—and a grand roof that was, I guess, 'specially when the stars were shining; I never minded the moon half so much as the stars; I used to love to lie and look at the little twinkling things, all so bright, and yet so solemn like; and the wind would play in the leaves, till I fell asleep. My gracious, talk of music! I never heard any music that went to
heart like that of the wind in the trees at midnight; it sung so wild—now ligh, now low—sometimes loud, sometimes soft; I often likened it to a spirit that had lost its way in the woods, and was grieving to get back to its kindred.”
“ Poetry-poetry !” exclaimed the mariner.
“Never mind-its truth what I say,” said the field-labourer, evincing some tokens of modesty. “I have not the gift of the tongue like Mr. Clinton there ; but I have seen something of natur', and felt something of it too, and the works of the Lord, Mr. Navigator;" he struck his knuckles on the table. 66 The works of the Lord are wonderful, and the works of man are not to be compared to them, wheresoever they are found, and howsoever they are to be praised ;” and having pronounced this truism with fervour, he rose, and obtained a fresh supply of cider. “ But the mast of a ship at sea must have been a queer hammock for you,” he resumed, 5 and a deck soaked in brine, would be little better.
Yet, after all, a contented mind is every thing. Soft is the bed that content makes, wherever it be. And so I drink to you-and success to your next voyage.”
“ Thank you,” said the mariner. Here Deborah entered the kitchen.
“ You have had a hard day of it, Debby,” said the miller in a kind manner. ** Are the folks all asleep in the parlour and great kitchen ?”!'
* All in the fair way of going to sleep," answered she. “ But what'll I do for Mr. Clinton and the sailor? There's no help but they must wait till day break, and then get a bit of slumber in the beds that will be emptied then.”
“ This bold navigator shall have my place on the pillow,” said Jacob. “ The night is not so mighty long now, and its a tarnation queer affair if I cannot stay up a few hours at such a time as this.”
" And Mr. Clinton shall have mine," said the miller ; “ so give yourself no more uneasiness, Debby, about accommodations, but go and take rest yourself--you are tired enough."
“ I'm vexed enough,” said Deborah, aside, but in Clinton's hearing ; then clattering the culinary utensils on the dresser, she muttered something to herself in the Irish language.
“ Deborah,” whispered Clinton in her car, “ depend on it I shall not say who introduced me to the chamber, and Mr. Lee cannot possibly discover if Miss Anderson plays her part well. You must instruct her-you must impart to her a little of your inimitable shrewdness and
“ I think you was clane out of your senses,” said she, “ to get up in the sight of Mr. Arthur without the laast