Old Ashford. There will be no time for that, I'm sure. Mignionette. How graceful both the attitudes are! The stringing, and then the drawing!


Mrs Croker. Jemima, do you see Miss Beckford? Well, I can't say I think a dress that displays the figure so much very becoming. am sure 'tis not at all proper or correct; and I am surprised Mrs. Beckford should allow her daughter to wear such a one.

Mary Anne. There she is! the light of all eyes, the joy of all hearts, Marian Beckford !

Mignionette. And how beautiful! I must go and tell L. to look at her. Is she not lovely?

Mrs Croker. I confess she is a little too wild to please me.


You never can teach
Either oak or beech

To be aught but a greenwood tree.'

Mary Anne. Come, come, that is not fair. You have no right to quote.

Mignionette. We must fine him. He must speak the next ten lines in verse, and we will give him Marian Beckford for the subject.


Poet. Queen of the silver'

Mary Anne. Hush! you are going to commit a second offence; we shall double the penalty.

Mignionette. Wait-look-she is going to shoot. There's an attitude -there's a subject for you.

Young Ashford. The best shot yet.

Mignionette. How she loves the sport! Her heart seems to leap through her eyes after the arrow!

Mary Anne. Come; you have had plenty of time, and can pay your debt before Marian's turn comes.

Poet. A wonder! lo, behold, a mortal stands

Far more than goddess graced! A miracle!
Hebe and Dian moulded into one.

With dazzling brow and wind-enamour'd hair,
With glowing cheek, and brightly-beaming eye,
That might be one of triumph, save that love
Hath chosen it from out the world to be

A little kingdom where to reign alone.
How beautiful! A spectacle whereon.
The whole assembled earth might come and gaze!
They ne'er will see thee; for the sister arts
Do hold a warm and never-ending strife—
The right to give such graces to the world!

Young Ashford. Here she is again! Not so good a shot as the last ; but she has another chance.

Mrs. Croker. How the recoil of the string must hurt the arm. It seems to me a dangerous amusement.

L. She looks at it, as they say Paganini looks at his violin, as if it were a living creature who could understand and love her.

Mignionette. She cannot be said to be looking at the violin now!

L. She is giving it an affectionate injunction before she draws it for the last time; as if to say, 'Now, darling, fail me not.' A blessing upon the arrow that flies from it.

Young Ashford. Now, then. There-
Crowd. Huzza! huzza! huzza!

Young Ashford. She has won.

Mrs. Croker. I would not have Jemima so conspicuous for the world.

Mary Anne. Set your heart at rest, my dear Mrs. Croker; there is no danger.

Mignionette. (Aside.) How can you call such a creature 'dear?'

L. See-they have placed the prize in her hand-and now they crown her with the oaken garland :-beautiful!

Mignionette. And listen! they are going to sing.


Of all the trees that catch the breeze
The trusty yew for me!

All hail! our queen of the garland green,
Who has bent it gloriously.

It ne'er was a coward, who can say;

For it stands alone, be it night or day,
In the drear churchyard-but tho' gloomy there,
It lives a frolicksome life elsewhere.


The lusty yew, the trusty yew,
The springing yew for me,

All hail our queen of the garland green,
Who has bent it gloriously.

In the merry greenwood, when days are long,
We'll string it, and draw it tight and strong;
And thro' the valleys and depths so green

We'll follow our lovely forest queen.


The lusty yew, the trusty yew,

The springing yew for me!

All hail our queen of the garland green,
Who has bent it gloriously!

Mrs. Croker. It is very disrespectful to royalty, to bestow the title of queen' upon a mere child!

Young Ashford. We are going, Mrs. Croker; good morning! Mrs. Croker. Going, are you? I think I and Jemima will go too, for I am heartily tired of it all.

L. One more look at the trees and the green, and the gay group, and, above all, their lovely queen.

Mignionette. There she stands: how like her! she has laid down her silver prize, and is leaning on her old trusty yew' favourite.



Afternoon. Marl Cliff.

Old Ashford. Do you see the boat?

Mary Anne. Yes! there it is, tied to that alder-tree..

No. 98.


Old Ashford. And the boy with it?

Young Ashford. No; there is no boy.

Mary Anne. I thought they always tied boats to buoys!

Old Ashford. You had better give a halloo.

Young Ashford. The banks give answer, as some other banks do, 'No effects.'

Mary Anne. Try again.

Poet. Call up the earthquake and arouse the thunder!
Shake the huge forests, rend the rocks asunder!
Awaken. Echo with her myriad tongues!

Mary Anne. But pray take care you do not hurt your lungs. Mignionette. You have awaked the boy instead. There he comes, rubbing his eyes; he has been, like 'little boy blue,' fast asleep, only under a honeysuckle hedge instead of a 'haycock.'

Mary Anne. What makes you so fond of children's stories?

Mignionette. They make my heart leap up,' as Wordsworth saysSo was it when I was a child,'


So will it ever be.

Mary Anne. If your heart leaps up my body sinks down-Oh, pleasant grassy bank, how I thank thee!-And now, however unsentimental it may be, I am hungry.

Mignionette. How pleasant it would be if one could live on love and flowers, like the butterfly; to have a butterfly's form and yet a human's intelligence.

Mary Anne. Especially with a boy like that to hunt you! Think of settling comfortably to your dinner, with a rose-leaf for a table-cloth, and another crimped up into a tureen to hold nectar; and just as you were taking the first sip, to have a great black shadow come between you and the sunshine, and the next moment to feel a pinch at the heart which

L. Hush! hush!

Mary Anne. Ay, but so it is-and your butterfly collectors do that, time after time, for the pleasure of seeing a glass-case full of pretty colours in a corner of their cabinet.

L. Every little life is a life of bliss-how can they destroy it! I should like to hear an appeal from one against such selfish tyranny.


Poet. Oh, harm me not! Oh, set me free!
Oh, listen while I pray!

What is it that you want with me?
Oh, bear me not away!
What is it you would do-sure not

To stop this beating heart?
Oh, think it is a life of love

That you would bid depart.

My wings they tremble so! do see
What fragile things they are!
And yet they bear me light and free
Up thro' the fragrant air.

[blocks in formation]

Mignionette. Did they let her go?

Mary Anne. Mignionette, what a child you are!

Old Ashford. Well, girls, are we all ready to start?

Mary Anne. Yes, and you will give us credit for having made good expedition.

Young Ashford. We shall be home before sunset.

Mignionette. Good bye! dear Marl Cliff; and good bye! happy Bidford. There is the church, and see there are the trees at the back of the archery ground!

L. We cannot see that lovely Marian Beckford. She is already a part of the past.

Mignionette. We have never once thought of the far-famed Bidford crab-tree,' under which Shakspeare slept!

Old Ashford. I grievously suspect the cause, from the epithet he applies to it.

L. What were his dreams, I wonder!
Mignionette. Of Lance's dog Crab, I should think! *
Poet. No, it was on a warm Midsummer Night;'

And if the poet's shelterer yet remained,

We there, perchance, might track the grassy ring,
Where circled round him, in bewildering dance,
Titania and her fairy revellers.

L. His immortality has exchanged the grassy ring beneath for a halo of golden light above.

Mignionette. It should be prismatic, to suit his varied genius.

Mary Anne. Talking of prismatic colours, what a beautiful combination there was on the ground to-day!

Mignionette. At a little distance it seemed as if the flowers had arisen from the earth, and were undergoing a transformation.

Young Ashford. And talking of prismatic colours, what a dove that Marian Beckford is! and she will bring the olive-branch, too, wherever she comes, with her sweet smile and sweeter voice.

Mary Anne. What have prismatic colours to do with a dove?
Young Ashford. Cannot you guess?

Mary Anne. What a creature that Mrs. Croker is! It is well they did not have her in the ark; she would have shisshed' the dove away from the window.

[ocr errors]

Young Ashford. Her selfishness would have saved it.

L. There is nothing of hope or promise about her.

Mary Anne. I heard her ask Mignionette if she sang. I longed to say, Yes, one song, and that very much at her service.

Mignionette. What was that?


Mary Anne. Allez Croker !'

L. What a beautiful witness that was to the first promise made to the new world!

Mignionette. It should teach us to bear well both prosperity and adversity-one the sunshine, the other the cloud-for we find there is beauty created by the help of both.

Young Ashford. We shall have a little more of adversity, alias cloud, before we reach home.

Old Ashford. The sunshine looks very watery.

L. And there is that very deep blue which they say always comes before rain.

Young Ashford. That is a fallacy; it is the contrast to the clouds that makes it appear as it does.

Mignionette. What a beautiful pageant the heavens are getting up! Mary Anne. I see all sorts of shapes; there is an old witch riding upon a broomstick.

L. There's a figure like Milton's Peace. Look, there are the turtle wings,' and there is the arm waving the myrtle wand.'


Mignionette. And further on to the right are two more figures of the same kind. I declare it is 'the Morning Star' leading forth the flowery May. Look at those tiny clouds beneath; they are the flowers she has thrown from her lap.

Young Ashford. Look there, what a capital horse's head!

Old Ashford. You may be seeing all sorts of wonderful sights; I see nothing but the chance of rain.

Young Ashford. It will only be a slight shower.
Mignionette. It will give us a prettier sight than any cloud.

Old Ashford. Well, you will not tempt me out a holiday-making again in a hurry.

Mary Anne. Oh, papa, do not say that; you know we are going to another archery meeting at Malvern to-morrow.

Old Ashford. No, no, nothing shall persuade me. Here it comes!

« VorigeDoorgaan »