Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

world is in my pocket at this moment; peared, and the little square Norman and just before you came up I was lower in the centre of the church did wondering whether I had strength to duty in its stead. There was a very get over to yonder line of sea, and end small congregation, a handful of vilit all there. It's not a bad end that - lagers in their best black bonnets, with soon over; and there must be peace a sprinkling of hobnails and smock somewhere down below those restless, frocks. The schoolmistress played, the ever-tossing waves.”

harmonium ; and the service was conThe tears were dropping on my lap. ducted by a short-sighted young clergy

Oh, Harry, Harry, don't talk like man in spectacles. I was glad, for that !” I cried. “It is never too late Harry's sake, that there was no more to try – to battle back to life. Resolve distinguished gathering. to begin anew — to shake off this dull He had selected a seat in a dark cordespair, and overcome yourself. Hope, ner, nearly hidden from sight by a proand happiness, and honor may yet lic jecting pillar, and I got as near to him before you in the future.”

as possible. Once or twice during the “I can't,” he said, shaking his head simple service I felt him start violently, despairingly. “I haven't the heart nor and half rise from his seat ; but I laid the strength. Even your father will my hand on his kuce, and he instantly tell you the time is too late.”

grew quiet again. After that I kept it " My father has gone where there's there. It gave me great hope and enno such word,” I said simply. “ He couragement to find how strong my asked for your forgiveness, Harry, influence upon him seemed to be. before he died, and sent you his love." The sermon was like the service Harry's face softened.

simple and homely ; but the short" He was

the best man I ever sighted rector had a kind and gentle knew,” he said. “I'm very sorry he's manner, and it comforted me, somegone, Kitty ; only I can't feel things as how. Harry was wonderfully quiet much as I used.'

while it lasted, and the few last words The little cracked bell in the tower were so earnest and trusting that they ceased its melancholy note, and the brought the lately dried tears to my sound of a harmonium stole out upon eyes once more. the evening air. I stood up.

As we stood up for the last hymn I “What, must you go, Kitty ? -must saw the old sexton hobbling forward you leave me soon? Good-bye, to get the offertory plate, and Harry then. I'm glad I saw you once again, feeling in his pockets. I remembered before - before

the ten-pound note, and groped for my " I'm not going to leave you at all, own purse, but found I had come withHarry. Come into church with me out it. Harry seemed to have no small now, and afterwards I am going to take change about him, for after a moment you home with me to the Harcourts." of hesitation, le began trying to detach “ Church ? I couldn't!"

the lucky sixpence from his watchHe shrank back.

chain. His poor trembling fingers 6. What should I do in church ? I could not manage it for a minute, and haven't been inside one since that time in response to my mute gesture he took at Dewsbury."

the chain from its button-hole, and 6. That's all the more reason you held it out for me to do. The old sexshould come now," I said, slipping my ton was approaching so quickly that I hand through his arm to keep him ; was a little flurried, and the moisture and, somewhat to my surprise, lie still in my eyes made them a little yielded.

dim; and it was only as I gave the It was a quaint little building, with a watch-chain back to Harry that I dislow gallery at one end, and rows of covered I had taken off the wrong bit rough heavy black oak benches. The of money in my haste, and dropped the Norman chancel had long ago disap- 'old Dewcaster Roman coin into the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

plate, instead of the last year's six- I paused a minute at the gate to speak pence.

to the old sexton, who seemed terribly I felt very vexed at my carelessness, overcome by the late adventure. for I knew how Harry valued the little “No, Mr. Coates ain't no way the coin, and it had touched me greatly to worse, savin' for pins and needles all see him still cherishing it; and I over his arms and legs, and a headache, watched the clergyman as he bore the and sich. But that there plate's ruined plate towards the altar, wondering if I - clean ruined — just a clear lump. o' should stay after service and ask for it metal — coppers and silver and the bit back, or whether a note the next morn- o gold Mr. Coates put in hisself ing would do as well.

can't tell one o' them from t’other, all I saw the rector reach the altar, and one lump, and so hot still, as you can't bend forward to lay the plate upon it. tetch him with a ten-foot pole. What

Suddenly the whole church was lit with that gret crack in the tower wall, up with a vivid flash of light, which and the hole in the chancel tiles, there'll slowed lurid and clear against wall, be a pretty penny to settle ; and the and pillar, and oaken pew, — and a lightnin' rod, as Mr. Coates says must clap of thunder so violent that it be put up immediate — 'lockin' the rocked the church to its foundations, stable door after the horse,' says I ; as and seemed to fill earth and air and sky. we never needed no lightnin' rods be

One instant of half-unrealizing ter- fore, and I here, man and boy, goin' on ror, and all was still again, - only a cry for seventy year. Well, well, tinies is from the frightened schoolchildren in changed - what with the earthquake the gallery, and the rector raising him- last spring at Biddeswell, and this here self from the chancel floor where the lightnin' stroke to-day ; for never beviolence of the shock had hurled him, fore in all my days did I see a bolt fall — and the silver offertory plate and its from a sky wi'out a cloud in’t.” contents mere molten mass of I looked up, surprised. Sure enough, shapeless metal — lying in the further the wide sunset light glowed upon an corner of the sacred enclosure.

unbroken sea of blue, wherein one or “I am not hurt, my friends," said two faint, tender stars were just beginthe rector, the first to recover his self- ning to shine. possession, “ only somewhat shaken by turned mechanically towards the the force of the electric current. Let little wooden bench under the churchus offer our thanksgivings for this mer- yard wall. ciful preservation of us all.”

“No, not there,” said Harry, speakWhen we rose again, after the few ing clear and low; there was such a words of closing benediction, Harry was touch of his old masterfulness in his still kneeling, his head leaning upon voice, that my heart leaped up to meet the book-rest of the pew, and his face it. “I'll walk home with you darling. hidden. He knelt there so long that II want to talk,” and he passed his hand felt a little anxious, my nerves being a under my arm as we turned. good deal unstrung by the events of the

“Darling!"

it was twelve long evening ; but just as the last clatter of weary months since I had heard that village shoes ceased to echo back from sweet name from his lips, and the the stone porch outside, he stood up, sound blotted out all the suffering that and strode out of the little narrow pew. had ever gone before. His step was so firm and so steady that “Something has happened to me I glanced up at him in wonder, and was I can't tell what. I feel a new man struck by the sudden change in his since I've met you to-night. That expression. He was deathly pale, but awful pain has gone from my head all his eyes were shining with a new light, at once — and the weight and the horand there was in all his bearing a calm ror. Something seemed to give way confidence, a resolute serenity which when that thunder-clap

I filled me with a trembling joy.

thought it was death, and was glad to

a

[ocr errors]

came

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

die beside you, till I found it was only | less year before. He was color-sergeant life coming back.

It's so strange before the battle of El Teb, and was that thunder-storm on the moor was promoted on the battle-field to lieuthe beginning of it all — and this has tenant for his gallantry in saving his ended it. Never mind, it cloesn't mat-colonel's life, at the risk of his own ter how or why it's happened ; it's and he got the V. C. too, so that even enough that I am rid of that agony, mamma's opposition went down before and my own man once more. Darling ! such brilliant success; and when Harry I've been thinking of what you said exchanged into the 2nd Wiltshire, now just now — you're right, I feel ; it's in India, and wrote that he didn't think never too late to begin again. I've he possibly could wait till he had a made up my mind what I'll do. They chance of getting leave, there was no want troops for this Soudan business. very special outcry at my instant decI saw it posted up in Colchester last laration that I meant to start in the week. I'm going to enlist to-morrow next P. and O. steamer. for the East. What ? No, darling ; Colonel and Mrs. Maylands came no, Kits — no sitting down at ease for down to Bombay to meet me — it was me while the past is unretrieved. I so wonderfully kind, but it seemed as must win back name, and honor, and if they didn't kuow how to be good fortune. I must live down all that's enough to Harry after all that had gone gone before. And then, Kitty — then, by. And when we got to Jubblepore, darling, may I put back the little ruby and I put my head out of the carriage ring into its place once more ?" window, and saw Harry's brown face

“Put it back now, Harry," I whis- in the station, all joy and eagerness to pered, laying my cheek against the welcome me - it did seem as if all the band that held mine, in oh, how firm a dreadful past were but a vanished clasp ! I've never been anything but dream. yours, and I never could be ; so, though It seems more dreamlike even this I'll wait for you while you fight your evening, as I write in the broad veranbattle, were it twenty years, I might as dah, with its shaded swinging lanterns, well wear the sign on my finger that I and the full, calm moon outside. It is belong to you alone.”

all so silent and so peaceful, like our Well, well; there isn't so very much own restful hearts, - one could not be. left to tell, after all. Harry took the lieve all we had borne and suffered, if queen's shilling the next day, and when they only saw us now. And “ Kitten, I parted from him on my way home to says a sleepy voice from Harry's haminamma, he was in the uniform of a mock,“ darling, let me shove your private soldier. I wouldn't let him put chair a little bit further this way. The that shilling on his watch-chain, in the shadow hides you when you sit there – place of the Roman coin, as he wanted and you know I'm wretched when I to do, so he had it made into a brooch can't see your face.” for me, and I wear it as my proudest And of all the shadows we have ornament to this day.

passed through, and the darkness that I fear my poor fellow had a hard time is left behind, there is no trace left this of it, rather — it's always rather a rough evening but the deep, grave look under road through the ranks for a gentle- the laughing lightness in my dear man ; but he got on splendidly, and his Harry's eyes, and the rent fissure in a constant letters were always brave and little seacoast church tower in Essex, cheerful. It was a dreadful trial when where they still point to it in all the he went off to Egypt — he was just country round, and tell in awed voices corporal then, and I felt it a terrible of the thunderbolt that fell there, out hardship that his kit wouldn't allow of of the cloudless summer sky, and melted bis taking a bair-brush ! — but all that the plate and the offertory in it, as they time of hopeful waiting was as nothing lay together upon the altar. when compared with that awful hope

[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

From The Fortnightly Review. time ago on the part of Barnave, the 1793-1893.

two Lameths, and even Mirabeau ; THE 17th January, a hundred years almost the only spruce coat to be seen ago. The shades of night were gather- in that gathering was Marat's ; the rest ing fast in the narrow Rue St. Honoré, seemed to have given up the “ vanity at the western end of which, between of vesture ;” Armonville wore a Phrythe present Place des Pyramides and gian cap, Granet's nether limbs were the Rue St. Roch, the crowd was very encased in a kind of brown holland, dense, for there was the entrance to the while one member looked as if he had riding school, an annexe of the grand just come out of bed, which, in fact, he stables of the Tuileries, built by Cath- had. It was Duchastel who, in spite of erine de Medici when she erected the his illness, had come to vote against latter pile. For the last three years and the death sentence. Brave Duchastel as many months, the building where had his reward, for loud laughter rang Louis XIII. took his first lessons in upon the air, so loud as to make the horsemanship had been given up to the colors newly conquered from the PrusParliament of France, known succes- sians and Austrians, and hanging oversively as the Constituent Assembly and head, flutter to and fro. But he could the Legislative Assembly, but which not turn the scale.

" As well try to had recently adopted the title of the tickle a tiger into submission with a Convention.” The life of a fellow- feather,” says an eye-witness. creature was trembling in the balance, Meanwhile there was feasting both that of Louis Capet, otherwise Louis in the upper and lower galleries. In XVI., “accused of having conspired the former, tenanted by the rabble and against the liberty of the nation and of presided over by the market women, an attempt against the public safety.” who wore their trinkets, for they alone And though life was already cheap had not been despoiled of them by the enough in those days, the crowd were patriots, there was a vast consumption eagerly waiting for the result of the of wine and brandy; they chinked voting, for curious as it may seem, glasses as each curt sentence - la mort there was little or no personal hatred - fell upon their ears ; they reserved of the king; the enmity was against the empty bottles to fling at the utterer the queen, but, as yet, there was no of a dissentient vote, but in the end question of judging her. The shades they found that they had some bottles of night were gathering fast and the to spare, which, allowing for the abdarkness inside the building was but sence of about a score of deputies, one degree less than that outside. It brought that consumption to three luuwas not a sumptuous frame ork, that dred and forty bottles. in which the legislators of France were In the lower galleries, occupied by a moving; the long, narrow parallelo- more select audience, the refreshments gram with its raised tiers of benches were equally of a more select character upholstered in green, with its side gal- sweets and

oranges. leries and the larger one at the end of sions of approval or disapproval were

House,” its hot-water stoves al- also less outspoken, and at last the most on a level with the floor, its pale, grandes dames de par la révolution grew flickering torches, presented but a woe- weary and ceased pricking the card that fully bare aspect, but the mise-en-scène marked the progress of a game the was quite in keeping with the appear- stake of which was a king's head. ance of the principal actors, most of That head, however, was doomed to whom looked untidy, uuwashed, un- fall, and in vain did its owner claim a kempt, not a few of whom were half longer respite ; not because he had asleep, for they had not left the pre- much faith in either his defenders or in cincts for seventy-two hours. There the clemency of the Convention, but was no longer an attempt at elegance because he had a superstitious belief in of dress as there had been but a short I the occult power for good or evil of the

The expres

the 66

66 To the rescue,

number twenty-one ; a belief so strong | Meanwhile the king's carriage drew as to have prevented him from ever near; in a few moments it would be at playing the well-known game of that the Porte Saint-Denis. All at once, he name, or of allowing it to be played in fancied he saw a few of his friends his presence. Some of the most impor- among the crowd, the number was tant events of bis life took place on indeed small; but two young fellows a 21st.

On the 21st April, 1770, he elbowed their way through the serried was married by proxy in Vienna ; on masses, and placed themselves by his the 21st June of the same year the fes- side. There was not an instant to lose. tivities of his marriage were celebrated The four heroes flung themselves on in Paris ; on the 21st January, 1782, the escort, the crowd absolutely made the public festivities in honor of the way for them.

Frenchbirth of the dauphin took place ; on the men, to the rescue, and let us save our 21st June, 1791, he and his family fled king!” they shouted ; but, alas ! not to Varennes.

a single voice responded to theirs ; Or was it because he had received there was a death-like silence around. private information of a plot to rescue Nevertheless, the crowd stood posihim on his very way to the scaffold and tively petrified at so much courage, and been told at the same time that every instinctively made way for them a secday's nay, every hour's delay — might ond time, when one of the reserve add to his chances of escape ? This is squads, warned by a trooper of the purely a matter of conjecture as far as vanguard, pursued the quartet, only the king's knowledge itself is con- two of whom escaped ; the other two cerned, for neither Cléry nor the most were hacked to pieces. 2 secret memoirs of the time make any To the majority of readers the Conmention of such knowledge ; certain, vention was an assembly of fiends in however, is it that the plot existed, and human shape ; to a small minority it that its heroic projector, the Baron de was a gathering of giants and heroes. Batz, has not met with sufficient recog. Both views are positively erroneous. nition at the hands of posterity.1 Very few of the members of the Con

Immediately after the sentence had vention, even among those belonging been given, the baron, aided by his to the Mountain, were ferocious at secretary, Devaux, had enlisted be- heart, at any rate at the beginning of tween three and four hundred young the Reign of Terror, and though 1793 fellows of Royalist tendencies in an is generally looked upon as the most attempt to save the king. They were sanguinary period of the Revolution, it to meet, armed to the teeth, near the was as nothing to 1794, when as many Porte Saint-Denis, to mingle with the as eighty-five heads fell under the guilcrowd, and to rally at the cry agreed lotine each day, and when Saint-Just, upon between them and their chief. deeming that affairs were not proceedThe troops surrounding the king's car- ing sufficiently quickly, proposed the riage were to be charged without a erection of four Louisettes, which should moment's hesitation ; the surprise and all operate at the same time. He would confusion consequent upon this unex- have carried his measure if some of his pected movement would do the rest. fellow-deputies had not made an end

At the appointed hour, Baron de of him and his amiable friends, RobesBatz, accompanied by his faithful sec- pierre, Lebas, Couthon, etc. retary, was at his post, but look wher- I repeat, the greater part of these ever they would, they failed to perceive Conventionnels were not ferocious at their wished for auxiliaries. The side heart, even when they

condemned streets were deserted, not a single one Louis XVI. to death ; they did so from of the initiated was in sight. De Batz fear, cowardice, or political motives, stood rooted to the spot with despair. though few of them carried their self

i See Un Complot sous la Terreur, by Paul Gou- 2 Memoires Historiques sur Louis XVII., by lot. Paris, Paul Ollendorff, 1889, pp. 30, 31.

Eckard, pp. 125, 126.

« VorigeDoorgaan »