« PreviousContinue »
BY VIRGINIA F. TOWNSEND.
DEACON PALMER'S FAMILY.
Canada to hunt for bear-skins. If you can get as
far as the house I know aunt Nabby 'll let you A TALE OF THE REVOLUTION.
It was with difficulty the soldier could rise, (CONCLUDED.)
even with the little girl's assistance, but he DEAR, I wonder what that was!" and the leaned his left arm on her shoulder, for his right
child lifted her wooden bucket out of the one hung powerless at his side, and with slow, little brook, whose waters were broken and tan feeble steps they made their way to the little onegled into white skeins by the large stones, and story red house just on the edge of the panstared all around her. It was a wild picture of shaped hollow. hill, and forest, and uncultivated lands over “Wall, Amy, I did n't know what had taken which her eyes wandered. The grass had faded, you. Here it is nigh on to sundown, and I want and the leaves burned under the sharp frosts, you should card this fleece as soon as you get and these latter were like the color of the little the water on bilin'.". English girl's cheeks, whose life had bloomed She was an old, old woman, with her snowy bravely for the last two years in the land of her hairs folded over her wrinkled forehead, and she father's adoption.
wore a white linen short gown and blue linseyThere was a stirring in the underbrush, for woolsey skirt, as was the fashion for young and the little stream purled its waters just on the old at that period. skirt of the thick woods, and then a young The old woman was “hatcheling" flax, and
came out of the forest and approached the silvery heaps lay at her feet, and as she the girl.
spoke she caught up the last handful in her withHe walked slow and wearily, leaning upon a ered fingers and drew it over the spikes of the stout oak staff; his face was so ghastly white it board she held in her lap. seemed he must fall with every painful step, “Aunt Nabby, do n't you see here 's a man and he wore the blue uniform of the “conti- that's sick and been wounded in the wars, and nentals.",
I've brought him home for you to cure him?" “My child,” he gasped, “will you give me a “Mercy sakes!" the old woman put down her drink of water?" and then he sank down at the hatchel and looked with her dim eyes on the little girl's feet, and his head fell upon the earth stranger. in a sudden faintness.
* You won't turn me away from your door," She must have been a tender-hearted little he said appealingly as he sank into a low, rushcreature, for the tears sprang to her eyes as she bottomed chair, “because I'm a sick and almost murmured, “Dear me, now, he's a rebel, I jest dying man, even if you do call me a rebel, and know by his dress, but I can't help feelin' sorry because I've got a mother nigh upon two bunfor him, though I do n't know what father 'd dred miles from here, whose heart will be broken say," and she dipped her little brown hands in if her eyes never look upon her boy again!" the brook and bathed the soldier's temples, and The old woman rose up and peered into the in a few minutes he opened his eyes and smiled young man's face, and the tears lay still on her the faint "thank you” in her face which his withered cheeks. white lips could not speak.
“I had a boy once," she murmured, “and he And the little girl plucked a mullein leaf from was jest about your hight and age, too, I reckon, a stalk near by and curled it into a cup, and when they brought me word he was drowned filling it with water, held it to the young man's at sea, and I can never see a young man in sicklips, and the draught refreshed him.
ness or trouble without pityin' him, be he friend “Where do you come from ?" she inquired. or foe, for the sake of the mother at home, whose
"From the wars; I have a terrible wound in heart 's nigh to burstin' with care and anxiety my right shoulder, and they left me a week ago
over him." on the battle-field for dead. I have walked and crawled ten miles since day before yesterday.” "I do n't want you to go if you are a rebel;
"If aunt Nabby could see you she'd do some- I do n't want you to go one single bit," and the thing for your shoulder.”
rosy-cheeked little English girl put up her round "Where do you live?''
brown arms around the stranger's neck as he sat "In that little red house jest behind the hol- before the fire made up of slender birch twigs low. But you're a rebel, you see.”
one morning in the little red house of the Eng“And aunt Nabby is a tory,” faintly smiled lishman, Richard Mason. the stranger.
The two weeks during which he had been an “Yes, and so is papa, but he's gone off into | inmate of his dwelling had greatly improved the VOL. XX.-22
sick man's health and appearance. His wounded said, as he slipped the cord around Amy's neck. arm rested in a white linen sling, the deadly "I put it in there with hers last night. You pallor had left his face, and, though it was still will keep it always for my sake, Amy." worn and wasted, you felt that beneath it throb Always." bed the springs of returning health. The old Come, be a brave little girl now and wish me woman had been a faithful and judicious nurse, a quick journey." He stood in the door of the strengthening the young man with decoctions little red-brown house and looked out on the whose preparations she had learned in the dear white landscape, for there had been a heavy frost old mother country, and healing his wound with the night before, and the earth was folded away a balsam which had been given her by a grateful in it. Indian to whom she had rendered some slight “Well, I'll try. Good-by.” She gave him service, and in a little while the old woman and her hand, and brushed away with the other the the little girl had quite forgotten the fact that tears which stained her cheeks. their guest was a rebel, who, according to Rich “You must manage to get under shelter, ard Mason's views, “deserved nothin' better than young man, if there should be a squall. Them hangin' or scalpin'."
heaps o' white clouds look rather threatenin' in “You 'll have to foot it for at least thirty the west; but they seem for all the world like the miles afore you come to a turnpike,” said old hawthorn hedges which the winds used to strike Mrs. Green as she busied herself in placing a up into great white billows every May in the cold chicken, a pewter cup of "blackberry jam," dear old mother country," and the old woman and a card of gingerbread in a small willow wiped her eyes with the corner of her striped basket. “I can't stand the thought o' your goin' apron. “It an't likely I shall ever look into off to-day, only I'm a little afeard Richard may your face again; but may the Lord bring you be home to-night or to-morrow, and, though there safely to the mother whose heart's sore for you never was a better man walked, he's sot on his from sunrise to sunset!" notions as the hills, and it would n't pertickerler " Amen!" said the young man solemnly shakplease him to find a rebel in his house."
ing the old woman's hand. He turned to Amy, “Yes, aunty, it's high time I was startin', for but the words died in his throat; he kissed her news travels fast by stages, and if they've got forehead two or three times and hurried away. word at home that I'm shot I won't answer for consequences.” He looked very serious a moment, He opened the back gate softly and gazed all and then he took the child who was hanging on about him-at the wood pile in one corner of the his chair arm and set her down on his knee and great yard near the sunflower stalks, and the run up the fingers of his left hand through her small quince-trees which grew on one side of the short brown hair.
old brown homestead of Deacon Palmer. “Amy, my little girl, I shall miss you very Suddenly the kitchen door opened, and Rebecca much; I shall think of you a great many times Palmer came out of the door with a tin basin in every day, and want to see you."
her hand, and the man's heart leaped as he She nestled up her soft cheek to his. “And heard her say, in her quick way, there won't be any body to comb your hair when "Never mind sprinklin' them clothes, mother, your head aches."
I'll attend to it as soon as I've hunted up a few “No, my child, not till I get home to sister o' them winter pears to stew for supper," and he Becky. O, but won't her eyes sparkle when she saw the light, rapid figure hasten round the sees me!" He sat still, his own hazel ones corner of the house to the old pear-tree just in growing dark with sweet thoughts and anticipa- the edge of the pasture, which he remembered tions of returning to his family.
climbing so many times in his boyhood, and At last he took up the child's face from his amid whose branches he had gathered the faded shoulder and looked at it earnestly—at the bird's nests every fall. He followed the quick laughing mouth, the rosy cheeks, the bright figure stealthily, and stood still a moment just eyes.
outside the bars, and she did not see him, for her “It will be a handsome face one of these days, back was turned, and she had dropped down on Amy," he said, and she blushed for pleased the yellow grass and was searching amid it for shame. She was just twelve years old.
the fruit which the wind had shaken off. Then the young soldier took a small gold "Becky, Becky, I say!" locket from his pocket hung with a black cord. She turned quickly, and as her eyes fell upon Inside were a couple of locks of hair, one bright his face a ghastly pallor crept over hers. She gold, the other dark brown.
covered it with a shriek, not loud, for it secined “They are my sister's hair and mine," he to lie for very terror in her throat.
"Why, Becky, do look up here! Now, have n't “O, say, father, I want to tell you-someyou got a better welcome than this for your thing 's happened!” brother when he's come back from the dead The old man turned and looked in the eager like?''
face of his daughter, and his son standing a But she cowered closer down in the grass and little way off could see the change which the last moaned and shivered like the leaves in the old two weeks had wrought in his face. pear-tree.
“Well, what is it, my child ?" "See here, now, what on airth ails you? If "You 'll be so glad, father, and yet-I can't you take me for a spirit, jest look up and I'll be tell it. 0, Reuben, do come here!" able to convince you I'm honest flesh and blood And he came out. " Father!” yet."
The vague superstitions which almost all counHe lifted her up by one arm, for she was too try people held at that period of ghosts who weak betwixt fright and wonder to resist; but baunted their old homes, and visits made by the the old, familiar, hearty tones half reassured dead to the living, at once suggested even to the her.
well-balanced mind of the Deacon the possibility She lifted her face from her hands and looked of his son's spirit returning to him. at her brother a moment with a strained, wild He turned white as his child had done, but he glance, then the glad truth broke into her heart, did not speak, and Rebecca cried out, “Do n't for the hazel eyes had their old roguish glance, be afeared, father. It is n't a ghost, but Reuthough they were set in a pale, wasted face. ben's old self, and he was n't dead, as we all
"O, Reuben, Reuben, I thought it was a thought." ghost!" and she fell upon his neck with a wild One long, greedy glance, and the father knew sob of joy.
his child. It was long before he could get her to talk “O, Reuben, my son Reuben, the Lord be rationally. She would throw her arms around praised!" his neck, and, hugging him tightly, murmur such And the father and the son fell upon each tender words over him betwixt sobs and laughter other's necks, like Jacob and Joseph of old, and as Reuben Palmer had not heard since he lay a wept. babe in his mother's crib.
“You precious, darlin' fellow, have you really "We must break it to mother easy, children, come back to us alive? Bless your heart, how or it 'll sartain kill her for joy,” said the old white and changed you are! O, Reuben, darlin', man, vigorously wiping his face with his pocket is it really you, or am I dreamin'!"
handkerchief. And at last the girl grew calmer, and was So it was arranged that Deacon Palmer should able to tell her brother of that terrible night go in and break the joyful tidings to his wife when the awful tidings came home of his death, according to his best judgment. and how they had n't one of them smiled since, The trio went up to the house; Deacon Palmer and how, though his mother tried to "bear up,” | entered the kitchen, and his children stood just every one who looked in her face could see that outside the door, where they could hear every her heart was broken.
word. Mrs. Palmer was slicing some apples And then both the young man and the maiden into a wooden bowl. She did not look up as her sat down on the grass and wept as though they husband entered; all these weeks she had gone were little children.
on with her household duties careful and assiduAt last Rebecca rose up. “O, what will ons as ever, but with a face which grew more mother say! You must come right into the pale and patient every day—more like the faces house, Reuben, only p'raps I'd better break it to over which the grasses grow and the winds her slow like, for she's weakly now, and the sud- walk. den joy might kill her. O, there's father!" Wall, Becky,” she said, “I could n't make
And they saw the old Deacon come slowly into out what had kept you. You've been a heap of the yard and alight from his horse just before time huntin' them pears." the barn door, and remove the heavy bags of All the life had gone out of her voice, it was flour from the animal's back, for the old man as full of grief and patience as her face. had just returned from the mill.
"It's me, mother, not Becky. I've jest got “We'll go and tell him first. You jest keep home from the mill, and I've heered good around the corner of the barn and I'll break news." the news," cried Rebecca.
"What kind o' news, father?”' with scarcely a She came panting up to her father just as he faint stir of interest. was leading the horse into the barn.
“Ahem-wall, this was from the army."
The old woman sighed. " Then the Lord's Reuben in that kindly, courteous way which given us another victory over our enemy." gentle breeding only his own true, manly heart
“Wall, not that exactly. It's somethin' that had taught him. consarns us more nearly—somethin' that 'll give “I have just seen her, sir. O, do n't you you great joy, mother."
know me?" she cried out suddenly, and reached Poor old man! He was internally congratu- both her hands to him. lating himself on the tact and discretion with Another glance full of wonder and curiosity which he had approached his subject; but he into the blushing face. Then a faint recolleccould not keep a tone of triumphant gladness tion dawned in the young man's soul. Sudout of his voice, and he was not astute enough denly his eyes cleared up into a great brightness for a woman's quick intuitions.
“ Amy Mason!” and he drew the small, half“John,” she said, turning round and looking child figure close to his heart just as he had him full in the face-a look that fairly staggered done on the morning in which they parted. him-“have you heard any thing about Reu
“How in the world did you get here, my ben???
child ?!' "Wall, yes, it did consarn him—" He broke "I was all alone,” she said, with the tears down here. “Reuben, come in and let your settling into her eyes, "for aunt Nabby has gone mother see for herself."
to my father and mother, and father was away "Mother!"
so much in his bear hunts that I could n't stand She gave one long, greedy look as his shadow the silence and loneliness of my home away off fell over the threshold. She comprehended it almost in the wilderness. And when he said he all in that glance, and stretched out her arms as must be gone all winter I coaxed him to let me he rushed forward, but they only clutched at the shut up the house and go to some of the neighair, for before she could gather him to her heart bors.” she had fallen to the floor. Her son that was " And then-” dead was alive again, but the mother's joy was "I was n't happy there, you see, and one night more than her heart could bear.
when I lay awake lookin' at the stars and feelin'
that I had n't a friend in the whole world, I re“Wall, mother, now you may as well take the membered you and all you had told me of your gal and try her. You need somebody to help mother and sister Becky. And I made up my you do up chores, bein' Becky's got married and mind that I'd set out at once and try and find 'em gone to take care of her own home.”
and see if I could n't hire out with 'em for your Deacon Palmer thus delivered his opinion in sake. Father 'd left me jest money enough to an undertone to his wife one August afternoon pay my fare and stop at the taverns on the way, in the pantry, whither he had followed her for a and so here I am at last." private consultation.
"Well, you 're a brave girl to come all this “ The gal looks peart and bright," said Mrs. distance in war times with that pretty face o' Palmer, meditatively passing her forefinger over yourn." the rind of a new cheese, "and somehow I can't A blush crept up and deepened the roses help takin' a sort of interest in her.”
which sat in the cheeks of Amy Mason. Then And while the Deacon and his wife were talk-she said in her own childlike, artless ing his son Reuben entered the kitchen with an did n't expect to find you here, though, for I ox whip in his band; his handsome face was s'posed you 'd gone back to the wars; but I sunbrowned with hard labor, and he wore a thought may be your folks would let me stay for straw hat and a farmer's suit of blue “home your sake.” spun."
"My poor country! She needs every soldier Father, can't you help me come and unload she can muster; but I have n't been tough and the corn?" he exclaimed, and then he started hearty like these three years since I left the back suddenly, and a faint blush burned in army, and father thinks I an't fit for service, his brown cheek, for there in his mother's arm and it would break mother's heart if I should chair by the fireplace sat a young girl with a speak o' goin'. So I've felt it my duty to stay face it would have done you good to look at, so at home and oversee the farm, though it chafes bright, and fair, and rosy was it, though you me sorely sometimes." knew at the first glance that it had not passed “What does all this mean, Reuben ?'' far into its teens. The girl looked at the young It was the simultaneous inquiry of the Deaman very earnestly a moment, and a quick con and his wife as they stood in the pantry change went over her face. She rose up. door and saw Amy Mason at Reuben's side,
"Did you wish to see my mother?” asked while his arm was drawn round her waist.
He led her up to them. “It is the little Eng- bly have had something to do in awakening this lish girl to whom I owe my life. Father, mother, new-born interest.* you will take her and be tender of her as your On the ornamentation of the west front of the own child in remembrance of this."
Abbey we must say a word. Besides the statues And amid tears and blessings the answer of of several apostles, St. Peter, St. Paul, and the old people fell into the heart of Amy Mason. others, there are two full-length statues, one
Three years more went by, and the sweet holding a cross, and the other holding what beauty of the English girl blossomed into its seem to be loaves of bread. There is a king eighteenth summer under the roof of Deacon with a radiant crown, with a sword in his right Palmer; and then in the very month that the war hand, of which, however, only the hilt remains, was over and the independence of the United and in his left a globe, and a gowned figure, States acknowledged by the English Govern- holding in its right hand a cross and in its left a ment, when the land was full of rejoicing and book. There is a youthful bishop, pontifically thanksgiving that after the long night it was clad, bearing a crozier in his left hand, while his morning, in that very month Amy Mason gave right is raised as though pronouncing a benedicher blooming youth in marriage to Reuben Pal- tion. Besides various single figures, male and mer, and the prayer of the old white-haired female, there is a defaced figure with its right minister whose trembling voice made them hus- foot on a beast, and by it a whole-length figure band and wife was answered. In the years of of a monk, but headless, girt with a cord and Reuben Palmer's life the woman of his love and standing on a headless beast. Then there are trust, the glad sharer of all his joys, the tender Adam and Eve, with the tree of life and the soother of his sorrows, the mother of his chil- serpent, all finely carved. In another place is a dren, Amy Mason, the English girl, was indeed boat bearing three persons to an island, on which to him "a gift of the Lord.”
is a tree, having a sow and pigs lying near it, supposed to represent the tutelary saint Guthlac
and his two companions arriving at the island NOTES OF A VISIT TO MY FATHER-LAND.
on which the Abbey was subsequently built. BY REV. JOSEPH HOLDICH, D. D.
Near this again are a man and a demon of monstrous shape, symbolizing, as is supposed,
the temptations to which the saint was exposed A
SOMEWHAT interesting incident relating in his retreat. This is but a small part of the
to Crowland Abbey occurred in connection numerous figures that cover this highly-ornawith our visit. The evening before a considera- mented front, all of which had some symbolic ble portion of the upper part of the archway meaning. had fallen down and the debris was lying in Thorney and Crowland, as the reader may the path. Mentioning this to the rector on have observed, both lie in the fens of England. whom we called, he lamented the fact, but This is a curious region and not much known, seemed to regard it as irreparable.
and a brief description may not be without inter“Why irreparable?" asked my friend from est. The fens, sometimes called Bedford Level, York.
are an extensive tract of country in the eastern "It is impossible,” was the reply, " to counter- part of England extending into six counties; act or stay the effects of age.”
namely, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Lin"But why so?" was the rejoinder. “We do colnshire, Northamptonshire, and Huntingtonnot let St. Mary's Abbey in York go to ruin any shire. They are bounded east by the great infurther. If a part of the wall show a tendency let of the German Ocean called the Wash, and to fall immediate measures are taken to preserve round the other portions by ranges of hills or it, and so the appearance of the ruins is pre- high lands. They extend near sixty miles in one served exactly as they are. Your Abbey ought to direction by thirty-three in another, though the be preserved. It is the only attraction to your shape is somewhat irregular, and contain about town, and it is attractive enough to draw crowds 400,000 acres. It is the general belief that the of visitors every year if there were only spirit Romans first formed embankments to shut off enough to preserve it and give it notoriety.”
Whether this conversation had any effect I can not say, but when in Paris I subsequently
* I am glad to see that this is not effervescent. In
the Stanford Mercury for January 13, 1860, I find saw in an English newspaper a call upon the public to aid in repairing the late damage and spelt-Abbey Restoration Fund, with a list of sub
publio notice of a Croyland—so it is sometimes to preserve the sacred edifice, I could not but re
scribers. I hope, therefore, some effectual means member the above conversation. It may possi- | will be taken to preserve these venerable ruins.