« ZurückWeiter »
THE WIFE OF TWO HUSBANDS.
THE TRIALS OF MARIAN RAYMOND.
“How high he mounts! Hark, Henry; we hear him still. Sure then I can fancy that bird like Hope, soaring — soaring - soaring up, and up, till he reaches Heaven
“Which he will never do;" responded Henry O'Donnell to his fair cousin. “Do you not see that hawk, tracing its pathway through the clouds, as the greyhound tracks the hare upon the earth ?".
Marian shaded her deep-blue eyes from the rays of the glorious sun. The song of the bird had ceased, as it changed its course, descending towards the meadows for the safety which the skies denied it.
“What a glorious chase !" observed the young sportsman, as he watched the issue.
“ Fire, fire, dear Harry!' exclaimed Marian. “Ah! do now! the monster gains upon the bird ; do fire.”
Nay, Marian, you know not what sport is,” replied the youth, coolly and slowly raising his piece. “What a noble bird he is! 'T is a pity to bring him down till the chase is ended.”
“Fire, Harry, fire,” interrupted Marian," oh, fire! There now, dear, dear Harry. Oh! the poor lark is struck. Fire, fire, if you love me!"
Quick as lightning the mandate of death sent the hawk tumbling through the air ; and, almost at the same moment, the little singing bird, wounded and struggling, fell on the grassy turf at the maiden's feet.
“Had you fired sooner, the lark would have been saved !” she exclaimed, tenderly taking it in her hand. “Now - it will never sing again ! - its nest, too, I know is in the furze. What will become of its poor mate ! Alas! my simile was indeed naught - how unlike Hope is this dying bird !"
Many tears flowed over Marian Raymond's blooming cheek as she watched the last agonies of the woodlark. Harry would have taken it from her, but she retained it to the last, and then raising a portion of the turf, placed it in its rest. The tears of youth are easily excited, and flowwithout long gathering in their shining fountains. Their source, at the time of sorrow, seems inexhaustible;. yet they soon cease. April's sunshine and showers convey but little idea of the rapid succession of smiles and tears on a cheek that has only numbered sixteen summers. Marian, shaking back the raven curls that clustered over her white forehead, looked into her cousin's face, as cheerfully as if she had never known a moment's grief.
“When I go to England, and join my regiment, Marian," said Henry, as they proceeded homeward to Castle Raymond, “ you will not, I hope, forget me,
years must pass ere I return but you will still think of me, and be my little wife -- will you not?”.
Marian held down her beautiful head, and replied not.
“ Not so
"I wish you would promise never to love but me, and then I should go gladly to the wild wars, and return - a general and a hero."
“Return a hero, Harry, and I shall be satisfied.”
so you prefer the greater glory for yourself.”
- but you must never be a poor man's wife! Young as I am, I know enough of human nature to see that you will be courted — admired
- flattered — and all more for your beauty than your fortune; although you are an heiress."
A peculiar expression of scorn, amounting almost to bitterness, curled the maiden's lip, as she repeated - "Heiress!
Oh, yes - I shall doubtless be an heiress; but what, Harry, what shall I inherit! right noble blood — the cold-hearted cannot expel that from my veins ; a spotless namne - no act but mine own can tarnish that. What else ? — Alas! Harry, the mouldering walls of yonder castle, which to my ancestors was indeed a tower of strength, is now but a fitting abode for the wilder inhabitants of earth and air. My father, with that improvidence which you tell me characterizes the Irish nation, has never retrenched a single expenditure, even since the Ballanamoyle estate was irrecoverably mortgaged - and at this moment I know that he is pressed by encumbrances on every side."
“ An English gentleman, if so circumstanced, would sell off a part to clear what remained.”
Marian shook her head. -"Dwelling so much among the English lately, Harry, has made you an alien to our feelings and our customs : here I stand, the last descendant of the house of Raymond; the hills of four counties that were ours are in sight; two bright and fertilizing rivers paid us tribute ; and many hundred men followed us, when needed, in camp and field: — behold to what a handful our property, or, what is nominally our property, is reduced! the birch wood to the left — the ruins of Castle Cloyne, with its almost deserted village, to the right the black bog, stretching in sluggish sloth along yonder hollow -- and my own beloved mouldering castle, with its suffocated moat, its broken windows, its crumbling walls, and its ivy towers :- which, of all the objects I have mentioned, could my father part with ?”
“Sir Charles Barnett's agent is instructed to give any sum your father thought fit to demand for Castle Raymond."
" And bas the Sasserach! -- " exclaimed the proud Irish girl, who, not ten minutes before, was weeping, as if her heart would break, over a stricken lark -“has he presumed thus to insult us? If the Englishman were but here, I would look him into dust, and —" Ashes,”
,” interrupted her companion, with a want of tact, or rather feeling, which is pretty much the same in outward seeming, that paid no, respect to her excited imagination. “My dear Marian, when I am a general, you shall come with me to England, where they value warm commodious houses more than old castles — and—but you are not angry with me again, sweet girl ? Surely you know I would not willingly cause you a moment's pain; although I lament - lament most deeply, that your wild enthusiasm and uncalculating habits will lead - to much misery.”
“ Thank you for your prophecy, Henry.”
“Dearest Marian, -- I have named your only fault -- and what a host of virtues do you possess to counterbalance that, which experience will soon eradicate, and leave you all perfection !”
“It is very strange,” replied Marian, after a pause, and with that delightful naïveté, which fades from the heart as the blush from the cheek, with this sad difference, that, when once departed, the blush returns, the feeling
I never ; "it is very strange, that, while you see so many faults in me, think you perfect - you are certainly much wiser -- and I know that, when
you go, I shall want a friend so much! — there's my dear father-he is my friend, of course — yet he talks of nothing but Oliver Cromwell and the Battle of the Boyne — the bane and glory of our ancestors -- and -- I may say it to you, Harry, who know him
so well drinks so much, that he is no heart-friend for a girl like me.”
“ Am I a heart-friend, Marian ?":
“ Be easy, do. — Then my poor nurse ! - she tells such delightful fairy tales but the worst of it is that the half of them are made up."
" I should think they were." “Now, Harry, do n't teaze me I assure you, Nurse Grady's mother
-why, I declare, there goes Busca hot-foot after the gray cat!" “And there goes Marian Raymond after both,” soliloquized Henry O'Donnell; "blessed, blessed girl — tenderness, love, pride, and gayety of soul and spirit, free from every taint of evil, dwell together in that noble breast : would that I could call you all mine own- I wish you had not the reputation of wealth, for then, even now you might be a soldier's bride and, if so wedded, how quickly could I win a way to riches and to honour!”
The youth folded his arms over his gun across his breast, and leaned against a noble oak, which the lightning of by-gone years had despoiled of its topmost branches. It was a fine contrast the tree, magnificent in decay, scorning in its greatness the very power which had levelled its antlers to the green and humble plain; and the youth, whose dark eye drank in the rays of the setting sun, and whose erect and finely-proportioned figure told of prowess of no common order. Youth and age are, either in the natural or the moral world, the most interesting stages of existence; middle age is too worldly-minded - too busied with thought and occupation - too well able to take care of itself - to create the sympathy which is felt for the young and the very old: we look on the former with hope, on the latter with veneration ; we pray for both, and feel equal interest in the sunrise and sunset of life.
Henry O'Donnell was rich in all things but the gifts of fortune; he had been brought up by Marian's father as his own child, and the old gentleman had used his interest to get him educated and provided for in the only profession which, according to his theory, a gentleman could enter. Mr. Raymond was one of the few survivors of a race of Irish country-gentlemen now, I believe, extinct; I may add, of a race, which the much lauded and much talked of “march of intellect,” would have crushed beneath its giganlic strides as a prelude to its utility, if it had not before that supernatural creation made its appearance, faded from the earth, and become a portion of the Emerald turf, that is, or rather was, the idol of every true-born Irish
Mr. Raymond was tall and handsome, though his countenance expressed bravery, generosity, and good temper, rather than intellect or observation ; his forehead was high, but not broad; and his eyes large and lustrous, but deficient in expression; he was, even in advanced life, a great adept in all sports connected with flood and field – kept a flight of hawks, and the best fox-hounds in the country: until literally obliged to part, before he mortgaged his best estate, with his splendid pack, from inability to support them. An English noble would have sent them to Tattersall's for sale; but Raymond scorned sales and salesmen – so he gave them away, and hunted no more: poor Marian used to say, he broke his heart when the plough broke up his dog-kennel ; and I believe she was right -he certainly drank more claret after dinner than when he followed the hounds ;
and when his wine-merchant objected to his having any more pipes of that regal wine, because his bill had not been paid for more than cight years, Mr. Raymond chastised him severely for his insolence; and; to punish him more effectually, vowed a vow, which he religiously kept, never to drink anything in future but whiskey-punch. Of this most wicked
deverage he certainly drank enough; and, as it invariably weakens the intellect, and excites a temporary madness when indulged in,
the old gentleman, kind, considerate, and affectionate, in the morning, became proud, tyrannical, almost brutal, in the evening. No wonder poor Marian should regret her cousin's departure; the little acquaintance she had with books and accomplishments she owed to Henry O'Donnell
. Henry invariably strung her harp, and corrected her drawings. Her companions were few, and unsuited to her taste and feelings; she was refined both by nature and habit — for her father, with all his peculiarities, had a just idea of female propriety. Mr. Raymond's politics were stern and unbending; offensive from their violence, even to his own party, and, of course, calculated to make him bitter enemies among those entertaining opposite opinions. Descended from a line of ancestors who had ever directed their minds to the arrangement of the national affairs, while their own were considered perfectly beneath their notice, the last of the name inherited the prejudices and habits of his progenitors without their wealth; and truly had Marian pointed out to her cousin the narrow boundaries of their once wide estates. Notwithstanding his habits, his eccentricities, and his increasing embarrassments, there were many who venerated and esteemed his good qualities. The Irish peasantry, with all their cunning and many faults, are, in heart and practice, the most generous people on the face of the earth — poverty with them is no sin.
“Shane,” exclaimed a poor woman to her husband, as the master of Castle Raymond, but indifferently mounted, passed up the hill of Cloyne,
run out, agra! - here, put on yer hat, Shane, that ye may have the 'satisfaction of pulling it off to a raal gintleman — and, Shane, take the childer out wid ye – now mind yer bows and yer curtsies, ye pack o gaffers; always pay respect to dacent blood; it's but little of it's going these bad times, and more's the pity. Thank God and the Vargin, we want nothing from his honour-but it's a great satisfaction to one's self to show proper respect to the gintry, especially when they're down in the world.” Mr. Raymond passed on, after exchanging salutations with the peasant, and praising his children. “His honour's not like himself, somehow," continued the loquacious dame; "they say he can't keep on the ould castle, and that the rain comes in through the roof, --- and Nurse Grady tells nothing, barring a word now and then — she's desperate cute - only I think by her that Miss Marian is over fond of her cousin, and her cousin of her; and if
I don't see why they should n't be married at once't if they wait to get rich, they may wait long enough ; and, sure, two can battle the poverty better nor one." This is the Irish maxim, and much of Irish misery can be traced to its influence; the perfect heedlessness with which the poor unite hands and hearts has its origin in this pernicious belief. Our friend's husband perfectly agreed in his wife's opinion, although both were suffering from the effects of the evil principle; and he contented himself with adding, "It's enough to make his honour look quare, to have that English Sir Charles Barnett coming here on a visit to his agent, with his dogs, and his horses, and his sarvents, like the Lord Mayor o Dublin, Nelly, kivered with goold and silver, and his out-riders, and all in the teeth of the counthrey — and he nothing but a bit of a banker - a pen-cutter, after all. Blessed Mary! it here an’t the whole gang of them coming up the hill, as sure as my name's Shane Ryley."
“And sure, yer not going to salute the likes o' him,” exclaimed Nelly; "come in doors, do— here Paddy, Norry, Looney, Katty, Kelly, every child o’ye, whether mine or not — come off the dunghill, every one o’ye, and in wid ye — sorra a bow or a scrape shall ye ever make to them that's beneath ye. There, Katty! if you want to see the fine coach, bad luck to it! pull the lock o'straw out of the ind windey, and ye'll have the sight