« PreviousContinue »
As the poftillion fpoke this, Maria made a cadence fo melancholy, so tender and querulous, that I fprung out of the chaife to help her, and found myself fitting betwixt her and her goat before I relapsed from my enthusiasm.
MARIA looked wiftfully for fome time at me, and then at her goat-and then at me-and then at her goat again, and fo on alternately
WELL, MARIA, faid I foftly-What refemblance do you find?
I Do entreat the candid reader to believe me, that it was from the humbleit conviction of what a beast man is,—that I asked the queftion; and that I would not have let fallen an unfeasonable pleasantry in the venerable prefence of Mifery, to be entitled to all the wit that ever Rabelais scattered.
ADIEU, Maria!-adieu, poor hapless damfel!-fome time, but not now, I may hear thy forrows from thy own lips but I was deceived: for that moment she took her pipe, and told me fuch a tale of wo with it, that I rose up, and with broken and irregular steps walked foftly to my chaife.
HEN we had got within half a league of Moulines, at a little opening in the road leading to a thicket, I discovered poor Maria fitting under a poplar-she was fitting with her elbow in her lap, and her head leaning on one fide within her hand-a fmall brook run at the foot of the tree.
I BADE the poftillion go on with the chaife to Moulines -and La Fleur to befpeak my fupper-and that I would walk after him.
SHE was dreffed in white, and much as my friend described her, except that her hair hung loofe, which before was twisted within a filk net. She had, fuperadded likewife to her jacket, a pale green riband which fell across her shoulder to the waift; at the end of which hung her pipe. Her goat had been as faithlefs as her lover; and she had got a little dog in lieu of him, which she had kept tied by a ftring to her girdle; as I looked at her dog, fhe drew him towards her with the ftring-" Thou shalt not leave me, Sylvio," faid fhe. I looked in Maria's eyes, and faw fhe was think ing more of her father than of her lover or her little goat; for as fhe uttered them, the tears trickled down her cheeks.
I SAT down close by her; and Maria let me wipe them away as they fell, with my handkerchief. I then steeped it in my own and then in her's—and then in mine-and then I wiped her's again-and as I did it, I felt fuch undefcribable emotions within me, as I am fure could not be accounted for from any combinations of matter and motion.
I AM pofitive I have a foul; nor can all the books with which materialists have pestered the world ever convince me of the contrary.
WHEN Maria had come a little to herself, I asked her if fhe remembered a pale thin person of a man who had fat down betwixt her and her goat about two years before? She faid, fhe was unfettled much at that time, but remembered it upon two accounts-that ill as fhe was, she saw the perfon pitied her; and next, that her goat had stolen his handkerchief, and she had beat him for the theft-she had washed it, she said, in the brook, and kept it ever fince in her pocket, to restore it to him in case she should ever see him again, which, fhe added, he had half promised her. As fhe told me this, fhe took the handkerchief out of her pocket to let
me fee it: fhe had folded it up neatly in a couple of vine leaves, tied round with a tendril-on opening it, I faw an S marked in one of the corners.
SHE had fince that, fhe told me, ftrayed as far as Rome, and walked round St. Peter's once-and returned back-that fhe found her way alone across the Apennines-had travelled over all Lombardy without money-and through the flinty roads of Savoy without shoes: how she had borne it, and how she had got fupported, she could not tell-but God tempers the wind, faid Maria, to the fhorn lamb.
SHORN indeed! and to the quick, faid I; and waft thou in my own land, where I have a cottage, I would take thee to it and shelter thee; thou shouldft eat of my own bread, and drink of my own cup-I would be kind to thy Sylvioin all thy weakneffes and wanderings I would feek after thee, and bring thee back-when the fun went down I would fay my prayers, and when I had done, thou shouldft play thy evening fong upon thy pipe; nor would the incenfe of my facrifice be worfe accepted, for entering heaven along with that of a broken heart.
NATURE melted within me, as I uttered this; and Maria obferving, as I took out my handkerchief, that it was steeped too much already to be of ufe, would needs go wash it in the ftream. And where will you dry it, Maria? faid I— I will dry it in my bofom, faid fhe-it will do me good. AND is your heart ftill fo warm, Maria? faid I.
I TOUCHED upon the ftring on which hung all her forrows-she looked with wiftful disorder for fome time in my face; and then, without faying any thing, took her pipe, and played her fervice to the Virgin-The string I had touched ceased to vibrate-in a moment or two Maria returned to herself-let her pipe fall-and rose up.
AND where are you going, Maria? faid I.-She faid, to Moulines. Let us go, faid I, together.-Maria put her arm within mine, and lengthening the ftring, to let the dog follow-in that order we entered Moulines.
THOUGH I hate falutations and greetings in the marketplace, yet when we got into the middle of this, I ftopped to take my laft look and laft farewel of Maria.
MARIA, though not tall, was nevertheless of the firft order of fine forms-affliction had touched her looks with something that was scarce earthly-ftill fhe was feminine;-and fo much was there about her of all that the heart wishes, or the eye looks for in woman, that could the traces be ever worn out of her brain, and those of Eliza's out of mine, she should not only eat of my bread and drink of my own cup, but Maria should lie in my bosom, and be unto me as a daughter.
ADIEU, poor lucklefs maiden !-imbibe the oil and wine which the compassion of a stranger, as he journieth on his way, now pours into thy wounds-the Being who has twice bruised thee can only bind them up for ever.
.CHA P. XII.
FT it has been my lot to mark
To guard their master 'gainst a post:
Returning from his finish'd tour,
I've feen-and fure I ought to know"-
Two travellers of fuch a caft, As o'er Arabia's wilds they paft, And on their way in friendly chat Now talk'd of this, and then of that, Difcours'd awhile 'mongst other matter, Of the Camelion's form and nature. "A ftranger animal, cries one, "Sure never liv'd beneath the fun: "A lizard's body lean and long, "A fifh's head, a ferpent's tongue,
Its tooth with triple claw disjoin'd; "And what a length of tail behind! "How flow its pace! and then its hue"Who ever faw fo fine a blue ?"
"Hold there, the other quick replies, " 'Tis green-I saw it with these eyes, "As late with open mouth it lay, " And warm'd it in the funny ray; "Stretch'd at its ease the beaft I view'd, "And faw it eat the air for food."
"I've seen it, Sir, as well as you, "And muft again affirm it blue; "At leisure I the beast survey'd "Extended in the cooling fhade."