« PreviousContinue »
I would kneel down where I stand, and say – Behold me! I am
worthy Of thy loving, for I love thee! I am worthy as a king.”
But at last there came a pause. I stood all vibrating with thunder Which
my soul had used. The silence drew her face up like a call. Could you guess what word she uttered ? She looked up as in
wonder, With tears beaded on her lashes, and said “ Bertram !” it was all.
Soh! how still the lady standeth! 'tis a dream !-a dream of
mercies! 'Twixt the purple lattice-curtains, how she standeth still and pale ! 'Tis a vision, sure, of mercies, sent to soften his self-cursesSent to sweep a patient quiet o'er the tossing of his wail.
Said he— Wake me by no gesture,—sound of breath, or stir of
vesture; Let the blessed apparition melt not yet to its divine ! No approaching-hush! no breathing! or my heart must swoon to
death in That too utter life thou bringest—0 thou dream of Geraldine !"
Ever, evermore the while in slow silence she kept smiling,
Ever, evermore the while in slow silence she kept smiling,
Softened, quickened to adore her, on his knee he fell before her -
THE DEATH OF ARBACES.
Advancing, as men grope for escape in a dungeon, Ione and her lover continued their uncertain way. At the moments when the volcanic lightning lingered over the streets, they were enabled, by that awful light, to steer and guide their progress. In parts, where the ashes lay dry, and uncommixed with the boiling torrents, the surface of the earth presented a leprous and ghastly white. In other places cinder and rock lay matted in heaps, from beneath which emerged the half-hidden limbs of some crushed and mangled fugitive. The groans of the dying were broken by the wild shrieks of women's terror, which, when heard in the utter darkness, were rendered doubly appalling by the crusl.ing sense of helplessness and the uncertainty of the perils around. And, clear and distinct, through all, were the mighty and various noises from the fatal mountain-its rushing winds, its whirling torrents, and, from time to time, the burst and roar of some more fiery and fierce explosion.
As if to aid and reanimate the lovers, the winds and showers came to a sudden pause; the atmosphere was profoundly still; the mountain seemed at rest, gathering, perhaps, fresh fury for its next burst. The torch-bearers moved quickly on. Redly and steadily the torches flashed full upon the eyes of Glaucus and Ione, who lay trembling and exhausted upon his bosom. Several slaves were bearing, by the light, panniers and coffers heavily laden ;-in front of them, a drawn sword in his hand, towered the lofty form of Arbaces !
“By my fathers !” cried the Egyptian, “ fate smiles upon me even through these horrors, and amid the dreadest aspects of woe and death bodes me happiness and love! Away, Greek,-I claim my ward, Ione!”
“ Traitor and murderer!” cried Glaucus, glaring upon his foe. “Nemesis has guided thee to my revenge! Approach-touch but the hand of Ione—and thy weapon shall be as a reed ;-I will tear thee limb from limb !”
Suddenly, as he spoke, the place became lighted with an intense and lurid glow. Bright and gigantic through the darkness, which closed around it like the walls of hell, the mountain shone-a pile of fire ! Its summit seemed riven in two, or, rather, above its surface there
seemed to rise two monster shapes, each confronting each, like demons contending for a world. These were of one deep blood-red hue of fire, which lighted up the atmosphere far and wide; but below, the nether part of the mountain was still dark and shrouded, save in three places, adown which flowed, serpentine and irregular, rivers of the molten lava. Darkly red through the profound gloom of their banks, they flowed slowly on, as toward the devoted city. Over the broadest there seemed to rise a cragged and stupendous arch, from which, as from the jaws of hell, gushed the sources of the sudden Phlegethon!
The slaves shrieked aloud, and, cowering, hid their faces. The Egyptian himself stood transfixed to the spot, the glow lighting up his commanding features and jewelled robes. High behind him rose a tall column which supported the bronze statue of Augustus, and the imperial image seemed changed to a shape of fire !
With his left hand circled around the form of Ione, with his right arm raised in menace, and grasping the stilus which was to have been his weapon in the arena,—with brow knit, his lips apart, the wrath and menace of human passions arrested, as by a charm, upon his features, Glaucus confronted the Egyptian.
Arbaces turned his eyes from the mountain; they rested on the form of Glaucus. He paused a moment. “Why,” he muttered, s should I hesitate ? Did not the stars foretell the only crisis of imminent peril to which I was subjected ? Is not that peril past ? "
“ The soul,” he cried aloud, “can brave the wreck of worlds and the wrath of imaginary gods! By that soul will I conquer to the last! Advance, slaves! Athenian, resist me, and thy blood be on thine own head! Thus, then, I regain Ione!”
He advanced one step--it was his last on earth! The ground shook beneath him with a convulsion that cast down all around upon its surface. A simultaneous crash resounded through the city, as down toppled roof and pillar! The lightning, as if caught by the metal, lingered an instant on the imperial statue--then shivered bronze and column! The prophecy of the stars was fulfilled !
The sound—the shock-stunned the Athenian for several moments. When he recovered, the light still illumined the scene, the ground still slid and trembled beneath. Ione lay senseless on the ground, but he saw her not yet: his eyes were fixed upon a ghastly face, that seemed to emerge, without limbs or trunk, from the huge
fragments of the shattered column -a face of unutterable pain, agony, and despair. The eyes shut and opened rapidly, as if sense were not yet fled; the lips quivered and grinned; then sudden stillness and darkness came over the features, yet retaining that aspect of horror never to be forgotten !
So perished the wise magician—the Great Arbaces—the Hermes of the Burning Belt—the last of the Royalty of Egypt !
THE DUTY OF DELIGHT.
[ARRANGED BY SARAH NEAL HARRIS.]
In these June mornings, when the earth is a promise and the heavens are a benediction, one is filled with a vital gladness by a perception of the glory and beauty of nature, and of those inner emotions that shape all ways to good.
There is also a settled enthusiasm in all one's doings and sufferings, let him but know his choice is noble and his work true, and so reaps his harvest not in the far off issue, but in the doing of it
Those who sink under persecution, or are impatient under sad accident, lose those glories that stand behind the silver cloud. Every accident is intended to minister to virtue, and every virtue is the mother of joy.
There is, indeed, a certain joy that underlies all faithfulness of thought and life. It might well be called the smile of God reflected in the depths of the human spirit. There can be no duty more imperative than to win this. Without it compassion loses its tenderness, charity its power to encourage, and the lack of it darkens the homely paths of occupation and discipline which all must tread.
The “duty of delight” sounds like the prevailing commonplace of a selfish philosophy, that happiness is our being's end and aim; but this is not so, the delight we are describing is not sought because it is pleasant, but because it is the state becoming the heirs of such opportunities as ours, heirs of immortality.
Cheerfulness is the gold that gives all possessions their value.
All the hoards of a lifetime of toil are but rubbish, if care and cunning have spoiled the capacity to enjoy. There is nothing in character so magnetic as cheerfulness. There are some whose very presence is a blessing, whom to look upon is to feel new courage, to take up toils, deprivations, cares, to think hopefully of man, to believe all noble achievements possible, and victory sure to those who deserve; to see a more glorious sun, and feel breezes from the eternal hills.
In all the works of art there is one unmistakable sign and stamp, that of the perfect delight the artist found in doing them. And you will find the same stamp on every good work of the hands, the head, or the heart. From this come clearness of sight and every form of power. This delight is in all the fine arts, or in the finer art of life.
It it the transfiguration of the character by the mastery of itself and its lot, and the consequent inflowing of the light of God.
THE RAJAH'S CLOCK.
Rajah Balpoora, Prince of Jullinder,
Reigned in the land where the five rivers ran;
His wildest pleasure or maddest plan.
His meat was dainties of every zone;
His whimsical fancy left unknown.
His realm was gardens on every hand,
Came and went at his least command.
Among his treasures eclipsed them all ;