« PreviousContinue »
With respect to the characters I feel that I have not done justice to my own conceptions. In the Pirate I aimed to show a man whose vices were all of an open description, and originated in one single passion, and that a comparatively rare one—the love of rule. He is temperate, dignified, firm, but not cruel ; brave, courteous, and always suffering a secret struggle between his principles and the enthralling power of his master passion. His son, Clinton, was drawn from the life, and therefore should have been more skilfully portrayed. The goddess to which he sacrifices himself and others is pleasure. Of a poetical temperament, of a delicate organisation answering to the faintest play of fancy and feeling, without any fixed principles to guard these dangerous gifts, he plunges, upon the first disappointment he meets in life, into dissipation, and, as an almost natural consequence, into fraud, to support that dissipation. His culpable conduct to the artless Lucy, is a picture of what too frequently takes place in real life. The proud lords of creation can descend to very petty vanity, and in order to gratify it will peril the peace of the young and inexperienced female without
In suddenly removing Clinton from fortune and happiness to a grave beside her, I have performed an act of poetical justice. Of the other persons who figure in this story 1 shall here say nothing more than that Lucy is perhaps the female character most likely to interest the readers' affections—Jane, their esteem Lady Hester, their imagination.
I have only now to request that those persons who have honoured the present work during its progress through the press with their very liberal patronage, will accept from me many heartfelt thanks, and some apologies. I say some, because I wish it to be distinctly understood that only once, and that at the commencement of my task, have I been the cause of those vexatious delays that have occurred in the publication. This grievous fanlt, and others more depending on my own efforts, will, I trust, be found remedied in the Historical Romance I have recently undertaken, to which, in conclusion, I beg to solicit the kind attention of my well wishers.
CAN ADI A N GIRL;
PIRATE OF THE LAKES.
She wandered on from morn to night;
Toward the close of a warm and bright day, a young girl was walking alone in one of the sublime wildernesses of Upper Canada. She might be fourteen or sixteen years of age. Her head and feet were uncovered ; and the tattered English frock which she wore, with tight sleeves, barely hiding her shoulders, left her arms also exposed. As she walked slowly, she leaned on a strong branch of a tree that she had picked up, but it was evident, that even with the assistance of this, she could scarcely move onw rds, so much was she fatigued. In truth, her solitary journeying had continued nearly
all the day; during which time she had not seen one human habitation. Boundless woods surrounded her; and, with the lake whose margin she pursued, were silent to awfulness. Scarce a bird among
the trees or on the water was seen or heard ; sometimes a fawn darted from the thicket on her right to slake its thirst in the clear broad stream, and at the sight of the girl, scoured off to join its companions at a distance ; but the noise the animal made tended rather to heighten, than disturb, the deep repose of the scene. The brief Canadian summer had opened here all its finest beauties, which the moisture exhaled from the lake, prevented from becoming scorched and withered. The soil, always fertile, had now cast up its rarest productions, which no hand of man had sown or planted. Long grass, of a brilliant green, covered all the wild undulations of the ground, as far as the windings of the lake and the woods permitted them to be seen.
Herbage, in luxuriant variety, mingled with the grass,
and exhibited the utmost fresh.ess, its tints comprising all shades of green, with sometimes a bright brown or red. Occasionally, openings in the tangled underwood, revealed spots of fairy-like beauty, sheltered under the long overhanging branches of enormous trees, and in such spots the few coy flowers which graced the solitude, were principally gathered.
There were six majestic trees standing apart from the thicket to which they belonged, like a family growing in close union, side by side: their far-extending roots fouched the water, and their combine.l foliage formed a dark shade upon the grass for a considerable distance round about them. They were Canadian oaks, of ancient growth, and of more than the usual size of that species. As the girl advanced toward these oaks, she perceived that the knotty fibres of their roots made the ground, on the lake side, very hard and unequal for her blistered feet, therefore she turned aside to the thicket, and followed its course instead of that of the stream.
She had not gone many yards forward before she heard the click of a rifle behind, and turning her head quickly be held two Indian hunters in the shade of the detached group of oaks ; one was on his knee taking aim at some object on the top of a tall cotton-wood tree, just beyond the spot where she stood, and the other stood in an easy attitude by his companion's side, ready to watch the result of the shot. The next moment the frightful scream of a young eagle rang through the air at the same time with the startling report of the rifle. The noble bird fell to the earth beating its wide wings with a loud noise, in the agony of death.
“ We have her-we have her!” shouted both the hunters, in the Indian tongue, springing forward to seize their prize.
“ 'Tis the calumet eagle, brother," said the taller hunter, “ that carried off the red deer so gallantly, last sunset; she's as brave a white-head as ever wore plume. I know her own screech-it is the loudest and the fiercest I ever heard."
“ She has screeched her last, poor bird !" said the other, who was a twin brother of the hunter who had just spoken. “ We are in luck to day! this has been the best shot aimed for these twelve moons past! Come, help me to sling it upon my back.”
The tallest hunter, however, stood witn his keen black eyes fixed with awe upon the thicket, and allowed his brother to buckle the leathern strap aljund the body of