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A Frenchman's Adventure,
It was autumn, and one of those balmy, Indian-Sum- | boughs, burying its golden ripeness among cool, green mer days that, if the eyes were closed, would remind leaves and buds of fragrant snow. Still, save in the one of Andalusia, when the orange trees put forth blos- delicious atmosphere, that autumnal sunset should not soms with the matured fruit still clinging to their have reminded you of any land but our own; for what
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1886, by Mrs. Ann S. STEPHENG, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the U.S., for the Southern District of Now York.
other climate ever gave to the white wings of the frost stacks of quaint chimneys and heavy oaken doors bespoke the power to scatter that rich combination of red, a foundation far antecedent to the revolution. green, gold and dusky purple upon a thousand forests But in addition to these proofs of antiquity, were balin a single night? What other land ever saw the sun go conies of carved stone, curving over modern bay windown upon a world of green foliage, and rise to find the dows, which broke up the stiff uniformity of the origisame foliage bathed in a sea of brilliant tints, till the nal design; and along one tall gable that fronted on east was paled by its gorgeousness?
the river, French windows, glittering with plate glass, Indeed, there was nothing in this calm, Indian-summer opened to a veranda of stone-work, surmounted with a twilight to remind you of any other land, save its still- graceful design in iron; and if these windows were not ness and the balm of dying flowers giving up their lives one blaze of gold at sunset, you might be certain that a to the frost. But the links of association are rapid and storm was lowering over the Palisades, and that the mysterious, and the scenes that awaken & reminis- next day would be a cloudy one. cence are sometimes entirely opposite to the memory Another gable facing the south was lighted by a awakened.
broad arched window crowded full of diamond-shaped Be this as it may,
there was something in the land- glass, tinted through and through by the bloom and scape suddenly clad in its gorgeous fall tints—in the glow of a conservatory within. In short the mansion river so coldly transparent twelve hours before, now was a picturesque incongruity utterly indescribable, and rolling on through the glowing shadows as if the sands yet one of the most interesting old houses in the and pebbles in its bed had been turned to jewels, which world. renuinded at least one inmate of that old mansion house, Whatever might be said of its architecture, it cerof scenes long ago experienced in the south of tainly had a most aristocratic appearance, and bore Spain.
proofs in every line and curve of its stone traceries, The old mansion house which we speak of, stood both of fine taste and great wealth, inherited from genesome miles above that gorge in the Harlem River which ration to generation. Time itself would have failed to is now spanned by the High Bridge. This region of sweep these traces of family pride from the old house, Manhattan Island is even yet more than half buried in for every generation had carved it deeper and deeper its primeval forest trees. Hills as abrupt, and moss as into the massive stone, and it was as much a portion greenly fleecy as if found on the crags of the Rocky of the scenery, as the stately old forest trees that shelMountains, still exist among the wild nooks and wilder tered it. peaks which strike the eye more picturesquely from But we have alluded to one who sat in a room of this their vicinity to the great metropolis.
old mansion, looking thoughtfully out upon the change At the particular spot we wish to describe, the hills that a single night had left upon the landscape. Her fall back from the Hudson, north and south, far enough seat, a crimson easy-chair, stood near one of the broad to leave a charming little valley of some two or three bay windows we have mentioned. The sashes were hundred acres cradled in their wildness and opening folded back, and she looked dreamily out upon the river greenly to the river, which is sure to catch a sheaf of and the opposite shore. The whole view was bathed in sunbeams in its bosom when the day fires its last golden a subdued glow of crimson and golden purple; for the salute from behind the Palisades. Sheltered by hills, sun was sinking behind the Palisades, and shot sheaf some broken into cliffs, some rolling smoothly back, after sheaf of flashing arrows across the river, that clothed in variously tinted undergrowth and fine old melted into a soft glowing haze before they reached thu trees, the valley itself received a double charm from the apartment which she occupied. contrast of cultivation. It was entirely cleared of trees The room behind was full of shadows, and nothing and undergrowth, save where a clump of cool hemlocks, but the light of a hickory-wood fire revealed the objects a grove of sugar maples, or a drooping elm gave it it contained. She was looking forth upon the sunset, those eatures we so much admire in the country homes and yet thinking of other cot ies and scenes long of old England.
gone by. Her mind had seized upon the salient points In the centre of the valley was a swell of land slop- of a history full of experience, and she was swept away ing down to the river in full, grassy waves, which ended into the past. at the brink in a tiny cove overhung by a clump of No, she was not young, nor beautiful even. The flush golden willows.
of youth was gone for ever. Her features were thoughtCrowning the swell of this elevation stood the old ful, almost severe, her form stately and mature. mansion commanding a fine view of the river, with a No, she was not beautiful. At her age that were glimpse of the opposite shore, where the Weehawken impossible, and yet she was a woman to fix the athills begin to consolidate into the Palisades. A score tention at a glance, and keep herself in the memory of picturesque and pleasant little nooks were visible for ever—a grand, noble woman, with honor and strength, from the numerous windows, for it was an irregular old and beautiful depths of character, apparent even in her place, varying as much as an American house can vary thoughtful repose. in its style of architecture. The original idea had But this woman shakes off the reverie that has held undoubtedly sprang from our Knickerbocker ancestors, her so long in thrall, and looks up at the sound of a for the gables were not only pointed, but notched down voice within the room, blushing guiltily like a young the steep edges after a semi-battlemented fashion, while I girl aroused from her first love thoughts. She casts aside the remembrance of black fruited olive groves | there, should have seized upon them both at the same and orange trees sheeted with snowy fragrance, and time? knows of a truth that she is at home surrounded by the She arose again, pale and with a tremor of the limbs. gorgeous woods of America, in the clear chill air inhaled The balmy air grew sickening to her—his presence an will the first breath of her life.
oppression. For the first time she began to doubt if “Did you speak, James ?"
she were not an object of dislike to her husband's son. She turned quietly and looked within the room. He saw her pass from the room without turning a Near her, sitting with his elbows on a small table and glance that way, and followed her with a look of selfhis brvad forehead buried in the palms of his hands, reproach. He felt pained and humiliated. After a sat a man of an age and presence that might have silence of so many years, why had he dared to utter befitted the liusband of a woman, at once so gentle and words to that woman-his step-mother—which could so proud as the cne who spoke to him; for even in the never be explained ? Had all manhood forsaken him ? liglit produced by the gleams of a dull fire and the dusky Had he sunk to be a common-place carper in the sunset, as they floated together around his easy-chair, household which she had invested with so much beauyou could see that he was a man of thought and tiful happiness ? Stung with these thoughits he arose power.
and sought the open air also. The man looked up and, dropping his hands to the An old man sat in a room above the one just deserted table with a sort of weariness, answered, as if to some by its inmates. He was watching the sunset also, with person away off
unusal interest, not because it brought back loving or “No, I did not speak-I never did speak !"
sad memories, but with an admiration of the sense It was a strange answer, and the lady's face grew alone. With tastes cultivated to their extremest capacity, anxious as she looked upon him. Certainly be bad and a philosophy of bappiness essentially material, this uttered some sound, or she would not have asked the old man permitted no hour to pass by without gleaning question. She arose and moving across the room, some sensual enjoyment from it, that a less egotistileaned her elbow upon his chair, looking thoughtfully cal person might never have discovered. An epicure down in his face.
in all things, he had attained to a sort of self-worship, He started, as if but that moment conscious of her which would have been sublime if applied to the First presence, and arose probably to avoid the grave ques-Cause of all that is beautiful. His splendid person was tioning of her look.
held in reverence, not because it was made in the “Of what were you thinking, James ?” she said image of his God, but for the powers of enjoyment it almost abruptly, for a superstitious thought forced the possessed for the symmetry it displayed, and the question to her lips almost against her will.
defiance which it had so long given to the inroads of “I was thinking,” said the man, resting his head
age. against the oak carvings of his chair, “I was thinking of As a whole and in detail, this old man was a selfa time when we were all in the south of Spain." worshipper. Like all idolaters he was blind to the
“Of your mother's death ?” inquired the lady in a defects of his earthly god, and if defects would force low voice. “It was a mournful event to remember. themselves, upon his notice the conviction only rendered What is there in this soft twilight to remind us both of him more urgent to extort homage from others. the same thing, for I was thinking of that time The room in which this old man sat, was a library also !"
fitted up expressly for himself. It was one of his “Of my mother's death ?” inquired the gentleman, peculiarities that his sources of enjoyment must be lifting his eyes to her face suddenly, almost sternly. exclusive, in order to be valuable. He would not wil“ I was not thinking of that, but of my father's mar- lingly have shared a single tint of that beautiful sunset riage.”
with another, unless satisfied that the admiration thus The lady did not speak, but her face grew pale, and excited would give zest to his own pleasurable sensaover it swept a smile so vivid with surprise, so eloquent tions. of mournfulness, that she seemed transfigured. Her Thus, with the selfishness of an epicure and the tastes hand dropped away from the chair, and walking back of a savant, he surrounded himself with the most to the window she sat down, uttering a faint sigh, as if luxurious elegance. The book-cases of carved ebony some slumbering pain had been sharpened into anguish that run along two sides of the apartment, were filled by the few words that had been spoken. Twenty years with rare books, accumulated during his travels, some had she lived in the house with James Harrington, and of them worth their weight in gold. Doors of plate never before had the subject of her marriage with his glass protected their antique and often gorgeous bindfather been mentioned between them, save as it arose ings, and medallions of rare bronzes were inlaid in the in the discussion of household events.
rich carvings of the cornices. ller marriage with his father, that was the subject of Over the mantle-piece of Egyptian marble, carved to his gloomy thoughits. Had she then failed to render a miracle of art, hung an original by Guido, one of him content in his home? Had she in anything fallen those ethereal pictures in which the figures seem to float short of those gentle duties he had received so grate- through the glowing atmosphere, borne onward only by fully from the mother that was gone? Why was it a gushing sense of their own happiness. that thoughts of Spain and of events that had transpired The French windows opposite were filled, like the
THE HILL SIDE ADVENTURE,
book-cases, with plate-glass pure and limpid as water, crimson drapery flowing in loose folds from its gilded and two bronze Bacchantes, thrown into attitudes of rods, and gave the whole room a tent-like seclusion. In riotous enjoyment, held back voluminous folds of crim- the rich twilight thus produced, the old man walked son brocade that enriched the light which fell through to and fro angrily and thoughtful. At last he took his them. A variety of chairs stood about, carved like hat and left the house. the book-cases, cushioned with crimson leather and einbossed with gold. The ebony desk upon which the
CHAPTER II. old man's elbow rested, as he looked forth upon the river, was scattered over with books and surmounted by a writing apparatus of malachite, whose mate could hardly have been found out of the imperial salons
RALPH HARRINGTON and Lina French had been out of Russia.
upon the river, since the shadow began to fall eastward Everything was in keeping, the luxurious room and upon its waters. The day had been so calm, and everythe old man whose presence completed it. If the two thing their eyes fell upon was so luxuriantly lovely, that persons we have just described seemed imposing in they could not force themselves to come in doors, till their moral grandeur, while they sat thoughtfully the twilight overtook them. watching the sunset, this man with his keen, black
Old Ben-or rather our Ben, for he was not so very eyes, his beard flowing downward in white waves from old, after all—who considered himself master of the litthe chin and upper lip, which was curved exactly in tle craft which he was mooring in the cove, had aided the form of a bow, took from the material alone and abetted this truant disposition in the young people, an interest almost as impressive.
after a fashion that Mr. Harrington might not have The old man saw his wife pass down in front of the approved; and all that day there was a queer sort house and descend toward the river. The black dress of sinile upon his features, that meant more than a host and scarlet shawl which she wore, rendered her a pic of words would have conveyed in another person. turesque object in the landscape, and as such the old Never, in his whole life, had Ben been so obliging man was admiring her. Directly after, his son fol- in his management of the boat. If Lina took a fancy to lowed, and another stately figure was added to the
a branch of golden rod, or a cluster of fringed gentian view; but his walk verged toward the hills, and he upon the shore, Ben would put in at the nearest convewas soon lost among the trees.
nient point, and sit half an hour together in the boat, The old man was vexed at this derangement in his with his arms folded over his oars, and his head bowed, picture; but directly there came in sight a little boat, as if fast asleep. Yet Ben Benson, according to my best plonghing through the golden ripples cast downward by knowledge and belief, was never more thoroughly the sun, and half veiled in the glowing mists of the awake than on that particular day. river. He watched the boat while it came dancing
They were gliding dreamily along at the foot of toward the shore, and smiled when his wife paused a the Weehawken hills, with their boat half full of fall moment on the bank, as if awaiting its approach.
flowers and branches, when Lina saw a tree so bril“She is right. A figure upon the shore completes liantly red, that she insisted on climbing to the rock the whole thing. One seldom sees a picture so perfect! where it was rooted, in search of the leaves that were Claude Lorraine !-why, his sunsets are leaden com- dropped sleepily from its boughs. pared to this! Oh, she turns off and spoils the effect
Ben shot into a little inlet formed by two jutting by throwing the willows between us! Why will women rocks, and Ralph sprang ashore, holding out his hand be so restless? Now a female caprice-nothing more for Lina, who scarcely touched it as she took her place has destroyed the most lovely effect I ever saw ; just as by his side. I was drinking it in, too. But the boat is pretty-yes, “Now for a scramble !" exclaimed the youth, graspyes, that enlivens the foreground-bravo! Capital
, ing Lina's hand tightly in his own; and away, like Ben, capital !—that stoop is just the thing; and the
a pair of wild birds, the two young creatures darted up youngsters, how beautifully they group themselves ! the hill. Hallo! upon my honor, if that young scamp is not
The rock, behind which the tree stood, was scattered making love to Lina! I don't pretend to know what over with leaves of a deep crimson, brightening to scarthe atiitude of love-making is !”.
let on the edges, and veined with a green so deep, that The old man fell back in his chair, and drew a hand it seemed like black. Among the endless variety of over his eyes with a restless motion, muttering uneasily, leaves they had discovered, these were the most singu
“ Ralph and Lina? upon my word, I have been blind lar, and Lina gathered them up in handfuls only to as a bat. How far has the thing gone? Has Mabel scatter them abroad again when a more tempting waif encouraged it? Does she know?
What hand can caught her eye. James have had in bringing this state of things about?
“Wait a moment-wait, Ralph; ob, here is a whole These two children—why, the thing is preposterous !" drift of them; see how bright they look, quivering over
The old man left his easy-chair, as these unpleasant the fleeces of moss that slope down the rocks. If conjectures forced themselves upon him, and, as if I could but take the whole home, just as it is, for sickened by the landscape he had just been admiring, mamma!” shut it out by a jerk of the hand, which bronght the Lina was stooping eagerly as she spoke. A quick,