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· The moon at ten and the dawn at four!'
For this I offered praise; Though I knew the wood on the hither side,
Knew each of its tortuous ways.
The moon rose redder than any sun,
Through the straight pines it rose; But glittered on keener eyes than mine,
On the eyes of deadliest foes !
To sudden peril my heart awoke
And yet it did not quail;
And the fiends were upon my trail!
Three stealthy Snakes were upon my track,
Supple and dusk and dread;
Only in flight, in weariest flight,
Could I my safety find;
They followed me close behind.
The night wore out and the moon went down,
The sun rose in the sky;
Who had made it my doom to die.
With two to follow and one to sleep,
They tracked me through the night; But one could follow and two could sleep
In the day's increasing light.
So all day under the burning sky,
All night beneath the stars; And on, when the moon through ranging pines
Gleamed white as through prison-bars.
With some to follow and some to halt,
Their course they well might keep; But 1-0 God, for a little rest,
For a moment of blessèd sleep!
Lost in the heart of the hideous wood,
My desperate way I kept;
And murder me if I slept.
But brain will yield and body will drop;
And next when sunset came, I shrieked delirious at the light,
For I fancied the wood on flame!
I shrieked, I reeled; then venomous eyes
And dusky shapes were there;
And a hand in my twisted hair.
A cry, a struggle, and down I sank;
But sank not down alone, -
And his body bore down my own!
Yet an Indian gun that shot had fired
Most timely, Heaven knows!
Who were watching my stealthy foes.
And they who fired had kindliest hearts:
They gave me nursing care;
Lo, my Alice, my own, was there!
Dear Alice! But 0, the straining woods,
Straining back from the sea;
They have never an end for me.
The ceaseless line of the red, red pine
My brain to madness sears;
BOB KENNEDY'S WIDOW-HUNT
BY T. H. S. ESCOTT, AUTHOR OF 'BOB KENNEDY'S CANVASS,' ETC.
“FRANK, I'm somewhat of a stranger in a strange land. Be my guide, philosopher, and friend—my drawing-room directory—my social who's-who. In plain words, tell me who and what manner of people are here; and if, as you say you must, you have to be off by the ten train to-night, be sharp about it; for it wants only ten minutes of the half-hour, and it's well to avoid creating an impression of unpunctuality at first."
The speaker was Mr. Robert—better, perhaps, known to the readers of this periodical as Bob-Kennedy; the scene his dressing-room at Kingscourt, Major Jones Gervase's country place, whither he had just come to spend a week or two of the first month of autumn, and to deal death and destruction to the Kingscourt partridges. The gentleman addressed was Captain Frank Colville, an intimate acquaintance of Bob's, at present the victim of a serious disappointment, or, as he terms it himself, “the very deuce of a sell;" for Captain Colville had just exchanged into the 72d, mainly because his own regiment was ordered on foreign service, and it suited this warrior's convenience better to remain in England. Alas for human calculations! An official letter, which had been following Captain Colville from place to place for about a week, had just arrived, containing peremptory instructions to the effect that Captain Colville should proceed with his regiment on the 5th to Ireland, where he was to serve his country by keeping a vigilant look-out for any symptoms of Hibernian disaffection that might make themselves visible. “Potting Fenians," was the Captain's pithy comment on this mandate, “may be very good fun; but for
‘ my part, I prefer partridges just now.” “Nothing particular," was Captain Colville's reply; "the usual
, business in these places just now. Don't fancy you will know any of the men down here. They are somewhat bucolical in their breeding; short, straight enough, but provincial in character, very. One or two neatish girls though, and a great thing in grass widows. Pretty? Well, so-so. Opulent and substantial ? Decidedly. Open to an engagement ? Very much so, I should think. Could you make the running with her ? My boy, look at yourself in the
“Confound it !” interposed Mr. Kennedy, “my second failure in the way of ties ! and that fool Henry has forgotten them."
Captain Colville was a friend in need; he would go round to
his room and provide Bob with the necessary article ; which pre-
shall take down the widow,'' whispered Captain Colville to Bob almost immediately he entered the room.
“ Name?” whispered Bob in return; but the Captain was gone.
“Good fellow that,” thought Bob, as he saw his friend immediately afterwards talking to Mrs. Jones Gervase, and then nodding his head in the direction of himself.
“Mr. Kennedy,” said his host, just as dinner was announced, “ let me introduce you to a very charming lady, whom perhaps you will escort downstairs.-Mrs. Merton, Mr. Kennedy."
And in a moment more this gentleman found himself duly installed as cavalier of a lady who fully answered to the Major's description, and completely responded to the Captain's; for Mrs. Merton was more than passably pretty, she was absolutely handsome, conspicuously well-bred; and the sombre hue of her black dress served, Bob thought, as an admirable relief to the alabaster white of a pair of faultless shoulders and the snowy glimpses of a perfect bust. Bob was only removed two or three places from Mrs. Jones Gervase; and just as they were sitting down, this lady was obliging enough to present him to his fair companion on his left side-Mrs. Merton sat on his right-Mrs. Lester. But Bob had quite enough to do with Mrs. Merton. Indeed, this lady struck our friend as a conclusive testimony to the fact, that the vidua matrona is preferable to the virgo nubilis. She had abundance to say, and she said it well. They had a whole stock of common acquaintances, and she certainly carried her calamity lightly. Indeed, it occurred to Bob, when she supplemented the information that Captain Colville knew her husband well in New Zealand with the subdued ejaculation, just accompanied with the faintest suspicion of a sigh, “Poor dear fellow !” that Mrs. Merton was very far from inconsolable, however sincerely she might mourn her loss. The scenery about Kingscourt, Bob was informed, was exquisite. There were some remarkably fine stalactite caves; and Mrs. Merton, as she vouchsafed her companion this piece of intelligence, contrived to say something about her wish to see them; and then
the next moment about her present solitary position; and then generally about the inconveniences of being alone in the world, with no lord and master to utilise or to abuse landlords for you,—which struck our friend as conceived, if not in the spirit of levity, still in that of suggestiveness.
Now lack of self-satisfaction was not at any time one of Mr. Kennedy's most conspicuous failings. There were some of his friends, or enemies, severe enough to say, that he monopolised so much of the good opinion of himself, as to leave scarcely any share for others. To-day he was decidedly disposed to take a more than usually cheerful view of matters. The world was smiling upon him -Mrs. Merton in particular. The champagne was excellent. He was fresh from town, well posted-up in all the latest items of gossip, and in most of those of scandal. The former he imparted to Major Jones Gervase's guests at large, the latter he reserved for Mrs. Merton: a widow, it was one of the main articles in Bob's creed, likes this sort of thing; in fact, to use his own expression, he was in great form that evening. The ladies withdrew, and Bob rattled on. “By Jove !" said Captain Colville, when talking of this gentleman's fluency of discourse some two or three hours later, on his arrival in London, at the Deipnosophist, “Kennedy had so much to say, that no one else could get their oar in.” There was the clergyman of the parish. Bob was great in ecclesiastical matters. Major Gervase was the squire. Bob shifted the theme to affairs of a more mundane description ; and then, to combine both characteristics and to please both gentlemen, Mr. Kennedy elaborated a little theory of his own, that parochial administration was but the miniature and reflex of the scheme of the national government ; that the two secular and religious elements in our country's rule were symbolised here in this hamlet of Kingscourt as much as they were existent in the metropolis ; that the squire was the emblem and representative of the state, just as the parson was the embodiment of the church. This great truth comfortably elucidated and succinctly expressed, Bob was induced to try the Burgundy again, and launched forth into a genial discussion of the game-laws.
The butler entered with a fresh bottle of that very excellent Chambertin, to which a portion possibly of Mr. Kennedy's eloquence was attributable, and also with an intimation that the dog-cart was waiting to convey Captain Colville to the neighbouring station, that he might catch the night express to town.
Good-bye, Bob,” was the parting speech of this gentleman, pitched in a very judiciously low key. "You'll enjoy yourself here, I can see ; but don't forget the widow. She's a capital of more than 40,0001. ; a splendid woman of business, knows more about railway shares than you and I put together.”
Little fear, thought Bob, of forgetting; and the retrospect which