Imágenes de páginas

piece of the most lofty walking after those six men that I ever did in my life, before or since —

"Speaking of mosquitoes,' interrupted the Doctor, quietly wiping his gold spectacles, without looking up.

The 'Squire smiled, and smothered a cough in his handkerchief, and the Parson actually tittered; but the Lieutenant went on.

• We had gone some two hundred, or two hundred and fifty yards, when I heard a heavy breathing behind me, and as I cocked my short double rifle, and wheeled around, who should I find, within ten yards of me, on the full run, but one of the men we had left writhing in the hammock. He carried his musket in his right hand, while the other arm dangled from his side like a wet rope, the blood fairly spirting down the sleeve-wrist. He fell just before he reached us, exhausted with fatigue and pain and loss of blood.

"I can see that man now man in the most masculine and heroic sense — his dark cheek pale, his lips bloodless and compressed, and his heavy brow pressing down on his closed eyes. No groan escaped him.

. Only the measured and almost convulsive heaving of his full chest betokened life. I felt a new thrill. Dead or alive, that noble fellow should be carried into camp, or I would sacrifice my own life, and the lives of my men! Such is the caprice of human feeling. Twenty minutes before, I had left him and his companions without a thought, except of saving the lives of the unwounded : and now for one, nearer dead than ever, all care for safety was drowned, and I felt nothing but compassion and the spirit of deadly revenge.

• Scattering my little force, to skulk behind the trees and be ready for the red rascals in their own style, I dragged the poor

fellow behind a wild orange, to staunch his wounds; and ripping up his coat and shirtsleeve with my dirk, was surprised to find that his arm was not broken. A rifle-ball had passed through the muscles just above the elbow, and severed a large vein. A twist or two of my

handkerchief stopped the blood there, and I set about finding what the matter was elsewhere; for that wound could not have swelled his arm so frightfully, and made him grate his teeth as he did from the moment I touched it. I gave him a swallow of brandy, not daring to let him drink freely, for those green solitudes were like an oven that day — absolutely stifling. Ripping down his coat and shirt together, I laid his shoulder bare, and just behind the collar-bone found a wad of silk protruding, which he had stuffed into a bullet-hole. The blood was effectually staunched, but the whole shoulder was swelled and livid.

". This is not the first time you have been shot in the neck ?' said I.

“No, Sir,' said he ; but do just dig that “strawberry' out of my back, for it burns like a live coal.'

"Out of your back,' said I;'why that bullet is safe in your lungs, long ago.

I feel it in my back, Lieutenant, and if your 'tooth-pick’ is sharp, I want the d-d thing out.'

• At it I went. The direction which the stopple indicated tallied with the

poor fellow's notion, and in a few seconds I came to the conclusion that the ball, if not in his lungs, must be lodged under the shoulder


[ocr errors]

blade. That part was more horribly discolored than the rest; and knowing that any thing was preferable to the agony he then suffered, I made a lunge, and happily struck the ball, on the under edge of the bone, and pulled it out with my fore-finger. I waited till the blood assumed the true color, and ramming the wound tight with lint, bathed the whole shoulder some time with brandy, fastened his coat and shirt over it, as best I could, and told him to sit up. And he did sit up,

and thanked me into the bargain.

Now that you are able,' said I, “just tell me how you got off safe from the red-skins, for I thought you had all got your death-warrants signed, sealed and delivered ??

"I thought I was dead!' said he, 'when you marched off, and the other men, and no mistake. I felt you turn me over, and heard you say: 'Dead as the devil!' but I could n't stir, and

gave myself up for a dead man. In about a minute, and while I could still hear the hollow tramping of your feet in the distance, my eyes came open of themselves, and I began to think I was not quite dead after all. So I tried to halloo, but my tongue would n't go off; and then I tried to get up, but I was on my left side, and had to roll over, and then, after a little coaxing, managed to gain my legs. Picking up my piece, and cocking it with my foot, I stirred the bodies of my comrades, and finding them wholly dead,'puť after you as fast as my two legs could go, and had got off some fifty or sixty rods, when I heard a whoop,' and felt a bullet strike my left arm. Half way here I stumbled and fell, and then began to pray, for I imagined my scalp would be at the belt of some young • brave' in less than no time. But while I was praying, I kind o'thought that God would n't help me if I did n't help myself; so I stopped, tore off a strip of my handkerchief with my teeth, and stuffed it into my shoulder. I grew faint, and the blood kept spouting up over my collar; so I out with my ramrod, and with the small end rammed away at the piece of silk till I rammed it home, and then started again full chisel.' Here I am, safe and sound, after a fashion; and when I get rested, I am going to pray again.'

Praying won't save you, I am afraid,' said I. 'A man can't stand it long here in this hot swamp, with his shoulder half mortified, begin with ; and we've got a good mile yet to get into camp.' 61

can stand a good deal yet,' said he. “Very well,' said I. Ordering the men from their skulk, they broke a litter of boughs, and we were soon on our march; the litter, borne by four stout shoulders, in the van, the other two men in the centre, and the Lieutenant bringing up



fellow fainted once, after a hard jolt, and I gave him a little more brandy. "I'm afraid


will die,' said I. Die ? said he, through his teeth ; die? I'll be d- d if I do!' "No doubt of that,' said I; .but had n't you better 'get rested' pretty soon, and

pray, as you


would ? Beg your pardon, Lieutenant; I am a hard case, that 's a fact; but I'll

bet a month's pay, and liquor rations to boot, that I shall be just as well off in kingdom come' as if I had all my life served God through my nose!"





He kept his word, and did n't die. Ten days after, he was on his feet, doing duty. The surgeon found a rifle-bullet — mashed strawberry,' the gallant fellow termed it—flattened on the top of his skull! The Indians fired from the trees on us, which I did not know at the time; but thereby hangs a tale.' I have been prosy enough; but the Doctor and the Parson deserve the infliction.'

• That fellow had good nerves,' said the Doctor.
* Ah, yes, but he was a scoffer !' said the Parson.

* And profane person !' coughed the 'Squire, who thereupon painfully rose from his easy-chair, and going to the walnut secretary, brought back a packet tied with red tape, which he opened, and from it carefully poked a sealed paper into the red coals of the glowing grate.

The 'Squire, while folding his flannel gown more closely around him and sitting down, glanced with a fidgetty look at a few scrawled and irregular characters on the inside of the envelope, which he retained in his hand. It drew our attention; and we perceived stealing over his pale and sunken cheek 'the ghost of a blush,' as • Peter Von Geist' would say, the which as rapidly departed.

• What have you there?' said we all.

• Nothing; that is, nothing worth keeping,' said he ; •and yet I hate to burn it. The truth is, I sometimes indulge in rhymes; and although they are generally flung in the fire as soon as written, yet, once in a long while, I have laid one by to smile at in a lazy hour. If the Parson will look at this trifle, and judge whether it becomes a man so near his end to dwell even for a moment on so light a thing, he may read it to you, if he will.'

While the Parson was laboriously deciphering the manuscript, now turning it one way and now another, the 'Squire succeeded in stifling a coughing-fit, sipped a little wine, and re-lighted his Trabuno.

• I like it well enough, as a merely innocent worldly thing,' said the Parson; but I do think a devotional hymn would have come better from you. I am not an ascetic, nor an enthusiast of any stamp; yet it were meet that even with his pen a dying man should point toward the heavenly shores. God claims our thoughts at all times, but especially while we are robing for the tomb.'

• I see, I see,' replied the 'Squire; 'but perhaps there is no great difference between us. A devotional hymn I could not have written at the time I wrote that; but I look upon all true poetry as holy. If the poet's soul is pure, he cannot write any thing to offend the great Being who gave the gift of poetry.



indeed that He does not prefer the free and happy warble of the thoughtless bird a thousandfold to the dull verse of half your hymn-grinders, and the nasal roar with which he is regaled in half your Sabbath-worship? I know you do. I know you are not an ascetic, nor an enthusiast; and I therefore know how you look on these things when you give them thought. I do not claim the title of poetry for the little thing you hold, but I do claim that the frame of mind which gave birth to it was just as holy, and just as acceptable to the DiviNE Father, as the best hymn you ever saw; more so than fifty in a hundred that grace most collections.' I will wager a hamper of true. Johannisburg," if the truth can be got at, that Watts wrote most of his famous hymns under the inspiration of a severe belly-ache. • Those careless lines of mine were penned last fall on the

reception of a 'curt notelet from DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER THE YOUNGER, dated at · Dobb, his Ferry,' and indited in the red juice of the scoke, or poke-berry, the phytolacca decandra of science. He had squeezed this

extemporaneous ink' with his own hand, plucked the berries with his own hand, on the shores of Tappaän Zee; and thoughts kindred to those he felt swelled in my own bosom. Diedrich's heart was beating anew in the breast of boyhood, I ween. He drew in large and bracing draughts of the October air; the broad bay was now become a sweet, small lake, wherein were painted in warm reflection the clear autumn sky, the round western sun, the forest boughs, blazing with gold and crimson, the spire of a church, seen dimly afar down in the limpid wave, wild-fowl along the shores, or speeding across the sky, while to his ear came the tinkle of sheep-bells, the far-off lowing of kine, the chirp of the squirrel darting here and there among the treetops, the dropping of nuts on the rustling floor of the woods, the crack of the sportsman's rifle echoed from the hills, and on his shoulder leaned one, loved better than himself (now, alas ! serenely sleeping under the violets), dreaming with boyhood's rapture the dreams that made him Poet in after years; glad, pure, kind-hearted, generous, genial • OLLAPOD!' These, or like them, were Diedrich's sad, sweet, electric, amber-colored fancies, while he dipped his pen and wrote; and when his scarlet missive reached the 'Squire, it wrapped him also in visions sweet; erased cold, intervening years; led him to Green Brook's grassy brim, to Pine Hill's glorious summits; spread before his swimming eye the village green, the church, the old red school-house, with its ink-bespattered walls within, now desecrated, alas! with modern paper-hangings; the merry ball-play up on Furnace Hill; faces that shone with youth's health and truthfulness, now scattered, some east and west and south and o'er the wide, wide sea, and some that long ago paled and grew to marble and fled beneath the yew! But not too sad was that swift vision; nay, if there were an evening tinge that flecked it, it was that of a glowing sunset, soft, mellow and entrancing. Such, Mr. Parson, was the holy trance of feeling that brimmed my heart and overflowed in rhyme.'

The Parson made no reply, but read to us

[blocks in formation]

And a voice is whispering, sweet and low, And hie me, at last, so late to school,
Something that sets my heart a-glow;

That the master' ferules me a fool, The echo of something I whispered low: With the box-wood and not the golden rule: • Scoke-berry! Scoke-berry!

"Scoke-berry! Scoke-berry!

Ah, that old school-house, painted red! Down by the brook I wander now,

The afternoon' at length has sped, And bend for a swing the beechen bough:

As if borne by the steeds of DIOMED, “Scoke-berry! Scoke-berry!

And the truant.fool' is up at the head !

“Scoke-berry! Scoke-berry! Listing the partridge's autumn drum, And the wild-bee's consecrated hum:

And home we go, a shouting crew,
“Scoke-berry! Scoke-berry! The knots in the fences stoning through,

And scaring the stage with our hullaballoo :' Or watch the thistle-down up in the sky,

Scoke-berry! Scoke-berry! And the screaming hawk swift sailing by,

Gather the clouds in the gorgeous West,
And little of care or pain have !!
“Scoke-berry! Scoke-berry!

Sinks the broad sun to his evening rest" (drest :
Down the woods which the harlequin Frost has

"Scoke-berry! Scoke-berry! Then I use for a mirror the dancing brook, And paint my face till I think I look

And when Sleep's starry curtain falls, Like the grim old Indian in the book:

And I walk her grand, unearthly halls, “Scoke-berry! Scoke-berry! Still in my ear the little bird calls

“Scoke-berry! Scoke-berry!' • To the Old KNICK.' with it!' said the Doctor.

• It is hardly a godly rhyme, so it may be well to destroy it,' said the Parson. • P'shaw !' said the Lieutenant; do n't you

smoke?": The Parson looked confused.

Hereupon the clock struck the half-hour; the 'Squire's hand was squeezed Good-night ;' and the Lieutenant, loitering a second or two by the table, leaned over the back of the easy chair and whispered in his ear: 'What was it, Jack, you threw in the fire ?'

My will!' answered he.
• Then you are not going to die yet a-while, I see !'

• Die? - I'll be dd if I do!' said the 'Squire, energetically, and aloud.

· Whew! whistled the Doctor in the entry-way:

• Have n't any doubt of that !' soliloquised the Parson, while drawing on his red Canadas.'

Speaking of mosquitoes!' said the Lieutenant quietly to them both, as they shut the front-door and went out into the snow.


[ocr errors]

Α Ν Α C R Ε ο Ν Τ Ιο

S T A N Z A g,

Συ μεν φίλη χελιδών.


In the spring the swallow cometh,

Makes her nest and dwells awhile;
Autumn darkens, and she roameth

Off to Memphis and the Nile:
Ah! unlike the friendly swallow

Is the love within my breast;
Building, brooding, and abiding,

It will never give me rest.

I am vainly waiting, watching

For the troubler to depart:
Ah! I feel the young loves hatching;

How they flutter at my heart!
She is flown, the friendly swallow,

But the love within my breast,
Ever brooding, spring and winter,

Never will forsake the nest.

« AnteriorContinuar »