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door to my husband's
dressing-room and the port fibre which covered it; but I gave that up, I felt as
if I could not reach it without screaming or fainting. So I sank down softly,
and crept under the table, hidden, as I hoped, by the great deep table-cover,
with its heavy fringe. I had not recovered my swooning senses fully, and was
trying to reassure myself as to my being in a place of comparative safety, for,
above all things, I dreaded the betrayal of fainting, and struggled hard for
such courage as I might attain by deadening my-self to the danger I was in by
inflicting intense pain on myself. You have often asked me the reason of that
mark on my hand ; it was where, in my agony, I bit out a piece of flesh with my
relentless teeth, thankful for the pain, which helped to numb my terror. I say I
was but just concealed when I heard the window lifted, and one after another
stepped over the sill, and stood by me so close that I could have touched their
feet. Then they laughed and whispered; my brain swam so that I could not tell
the meaning of their words ; but I heard my husband's laughter among the rest
—low, hissing, and scornful—as he kicked some-thing heavy that they had dragged
in over the floor, and which lay near me ; so near that my husband's kick, in
touching it, touched me too. I don't know why—I can't tell how—but some feeling,
and not curiosity, prompted me to put out my hand, ever so softly, ever so
little, and fed in the da' kness for what lay spurned beside me- I stole my
groping palm upon the clenched and chilly hand of a corpse !
[TO BE CONTINUED IN OUR NEXT
THE CITY OF CHARLESTON.
THE reader will find on the
preceding page a General
the City of Charleston, South Carolina, showing the City, the
Bay, the Forts, etc. The wide street which occupies the centre of the picture is
Broad Street. The Mercury office stands on the left-hand side of this street as
you walk down toward the Custom-house—the building at its extremity. Many
merchants have their offices here; it is, in fact, the
Broadway of Charleston.
Charleston is one of the oldest,
and was once one of the greatest, cities on this continent. It was founded by
British noblemen under a special grant from the Crown, and was intended to be
the chief town of the most aristocratic province in America. Before the
Revolution it was one of the wealthiest cities on the sea-board ; it is
recorded, that fine ladies in New York and Philadelphia sent to Charleston for
the silks and laces which they could not get at home. During the Revolution it
was for many years in possession of the British, and the city abounds with
memorials of the struggle they had to take it, and of the straits to which the
patriots of that day were put. Not the least interesting of these famous spots
is the arsenal, where the citizens were ordered to deposit their arms on the
surrender of the city. They did so, but threw them down loaded as they were, so
that the work was scarcely done when a terrific explosion almost uprooted the
town itself. Some 20,000 pounds of powder were ignited, and the lunatic asylum,
poor-house, guard-house, barracks, etc., were all destroyed. Many lifeless
carcasses were dashed against the walls of the old church of the Unitarians,
which were splashed with blood and brains.
The population of Charleston is
about 40,000 souls; the city covers a corporate domain nearly three miles long
by something less than two miles at the widest.
SHE was working a slipper; but
she didn't like that; She sang a little melody, that wouldn't do;
She tried to read a little, then
she played with the cat, And then commenced a note—"Dearest, why didn't you-- ?"
And then she tore it up. and then
tried to keep still And watch the spent sun till he dropped behind the hill.
He was reading a novel, but he
didn't like that,
So he took down his fishing-rod,
that wouldn't do; rhea he whistled to his dog, then he put on his hat, And then
commenced a note— "Dearest, why didn't
And then he tore it up, and then
tried to keep still And watch the spent sun till he dropped behind the hill.
the sun dropped out of sight, and
she walked up the lane;
He too, quite by chance, of
course, came along;
So they met, and they stopped:
not a look would either deign :
'hen he said—nothing, and naught
had she to say. At last he look'd up at her, and she look'd up too—'Why didn't
you—Dearest?"—" Dearest, why didn't
A DAY'S RIDE :
A LIFE'S ROMANCE.
BY CHARLES LEVER.
AUTHOR "HARRY LORREQUER,"
MY poor companions had but a
sorry time of it on that morning. I was in a fearful temper, and made no effort
to control it. The little romance of my meeting with these creatures was
beginning to scale off, and there beneath lay the vulgar metal of the natures
exposed to view. As for old Vaterchen shuffling along in his tattered shoes,
half-stupid with wine and shame together, I couldn't bear to look at him ; while
Tintenfleck, although at the outset abashed by my rebukeful tone and cold
manner, had now
rallied, and seemed well disposed
to assert her own against all comers. Yes, there was a palpable air of defiance
about her, even to the way that site sang as she went along; every thrill and
cadence seemed to say, "I'm doing this to amuse myself; never imagine that I
care whether you are pleased or not." Indeed, she left me no means of avoiding
this conclusion, since at every time that I turned on her a look of anger or
displeasure her reply was to sing the louder.
" And it was only yesterday,"
thought I, " and I dreamed that I could be in love with this creature—dreamed
that I could replace Kate Herbert's image in my heart with that coarse travesty
of woman's gentleness. Why, I might as well hope to make a gentleman of old
Vaterchen, and present him to the world as a man of station and eminence."
What an insane hope was this ! As
well might I shiver a fragment from a stone on the roadside, and think to give
it value by having it set as a ring. The caprice of keeping them company for a
day might be pardonable. It was the whim of one who is, above all, a student of
mankind. But why continue the companionship? A little more of such intimacy, and
who is to say what I may not imbibe of their habits and their natures; and
Potts, the man of sentiment, the child of impulse, romance, and poetry, become a
slave of the Play—a saltimbanque ! Now, though I could implicitly rely upon the
rigidity of my joints to prevent the possibility of my ever displaying any feats
of agility, I could yet picture myself in a long-tailed blue coat and jack-boots
walking round and round in the saw-dust circle, with four or five other
creatures of the same sort, and who have no consciousness of any function till
they are made the butt of some extempore drollery by the clown.
The creative temperament has this
great disadvantage, that one can not always build castles, but must occasionally
construct hovels, and sometimes even dungeons and jails ; and here was I now,
with a large contract order for this species of edifice, and certainly I set to
work with a will. The impatience of my mind communicated itself to my gait, and
I walked along at a tremendous rate.
"I can scarcely keep up with you
at this pace," said 'Tintenfleck; " and see, we have left poor Vaterchen a long
I made some rude answer—I know
not what —and told her to come on.
"I will not leave him," said she,
coming to a halt, and standing with a composed and firm attitude before me.
"Then I will !" said I, angrily.
"Farewell !" And waving my hand in a careless adieu, I walked briskly onward,
not even turning a look on her as I went. I think I'm almost certain I heard a
heavy sob close behind me, but 1 would not look round for worlds. I was in one
of those moods—all weak men know them well—when a harsh or an ungracious act
appears something very daring and courageous. The very pain my conduct gave
myself persuaded me that it must be heroic, just as a devotee is satisfied after
a severe self-castigation.
"Yes, Potts," said I, "you are
doing the right thing here. A little more of such association as this, and you
would be little better than themselves. Besides, and above all, you ought to be
'real.' Now these are not real any more than the tinsel gems and tin-foil
splendors they wear on their tunics." It broke on me too, like a sudden light,
that to be the fictitious Potts, the many-sided, many-tinted—what a German would
call "der metallartig farben bedeckte Potts"—I ought to be immensely rich, all
my changes of character requiring great resources and unlimited " properties,"
as stage folk call them; whereas, " der echte wahrhaftige mann Potts" might be
as poor as Lazarus. Indeed, the poorer the more real, since more natural.
"How inconsistent we are,"
thought I, "in our search after riches ! . Not taking account of the fact that
the very identity of which we are each of us so tenacious and so vain is ever
merged in wealth. Rich men must, of necessity, be very much alike, their
surroundings being so similar. They will naturally conform to the same sort of
pressure, and thus present a strong family resemblance, whereas poverty has
manifold aspects : it makes this man moody, that other man reckless ; some are
rendered abject, slavish, and degraded ; some become morose, stern, and defiant.
I wonder what precise effect it will have upon me."
While I thus speculated, I caught
sight of a man scaling one of the precipitous paths by which the winding road
was shortened for foot travelers ; a second glance showed me that this was
Harpar, who, with a heavy knapsack, was toiling along. I made a great effort to
come up with him, but when I reached the high road he was still a long distance
iii front of me. I could not, if there had been any one to question me, say why
I wished to overtake him. It was a sort of chase suggested simply by the object
in front; rare type, if we but knew it, of one-half the pursuits we follow
As I mounted the last of these
by-paths which led to the crest of the mountain; I felt certain that with a
lighter equipment I should come up with him; but scarcely had I gained the top
than I saw him striding away vigorously on the road fully a mile away beneath
me. " He shall not beat me," said I ; and I increased my speed. It was all in
vain. I could not do it ; and when I drew nigh Lindau at last, very weary and
foot-sore, the sun was just sinking on the western horizon of the lake.
" Which is the best inn here ?"
asked I of a shopkeeper who was lounging carelessly at his door.
"Yonder," said he, " where you
see that post-carriage turning into."
"To-night," said I, "I will be
guilty of an extravagance. I will treat myself to a good supper, and an honest
glass of wine." And on these hospitable thoughts intent I unslung my knapsack,
and, throwing as much of distinction as I could into my manner, strolled into
the public room.
So busied was the household in
attending to the travelers who arrived "extra post," that none condescended to
notice me, till at last, as the tumult subsided, a venerable old waiter
approached me, and said, in a half-friendly, halfrebukeful tone, " It is at the
Swan you ought to be, my friend; the next turning but two to the left hand, and
you'll see the blue lantern over the gateway."
"I mean to remain where I am,"
said I, imperiously, "and to remember your impertinence when I am about to pay
my bill. Bring me the 'carte.' "
I was overjoyed to see the
confusion and shame of the old fellow. Ile saw at once the grievous error he had
committed, and was so overwhelmed that he could not reply. Mean-while, with all
the painstaking accuracy of a practiced gourmand, I was making a careful note of
what I wished for supper.
" Are you not ashamed," said I,
rebukefully, " to have ortolans here, when you know in your heart they are
He was so abject that he could
only give a melancholy smile, as though to say, "Be merciful, and spare US !"
" Bohemian pheasant, too—come,
come, this is too bad ! Be frank and confess ; how often has that one speckled
tail done duty on a capon of your own raising?"
"Gracious Herr!" muttered he, "do
not crush us altogether."
I don't think that he said this
in actual words, but his terrified eyes and his shaking checks declared it.
"Never mind," said I,
encouragingly, "it will not hurt us to make a sparing meal occasionally ; with
the venison steak, the fried salmon, the duck with olives, and the apricot tart,
we will satisfy appetite, and persuade ourselves, if we can, that we have fared
"And the wine, Sir?" asked he.
'' Ah, there we are difficult. No
little Baden vintage, no small wine of the Bergstrasse, can impose upon us!
Liebfrauen mild], or, if you can guarantee it, Marcobrunner will do; but, mind,
He laid his hand over his heart
and bowed low; and, as he moved away, I said to myself, " What a mesmerism there
must be in real money, since, even with the mockery of it, I have made that
creature a bond slave." Brief as was the interval in preparing my meal, it was
enough to allow me a very considerable share of reflection, and I found that, do
what I would, a certain voice within would whisper, " Where are your fine
resolutions now, Potts? Is this the life of reality that you had promised
yourself? Are you not at the old work again? Are you not masquerading it once
more? Don't you know well enough that all this pre-tension of yours is bad
money, and that at the first ring of it on the counter you will be found out ?"
"This you may rely on, gracious
Sir," said the waiter, as he laid a bottle on the table be-side me with a
careful hand. " It is the orange seal ;" and he then added, in a whisper, "
taken from the Margrave's cellar in the revolution of '93, and every flask of 't
worth a province."
"We shall see—we shall see," said
I, haughtily ; " serve the soup!"
If I had been Belshazzar, I
believe I should have eaten very heartily, and drunk my wine with a great
relish, notwithstanding that drawn sword. I don't know how it is, but if I can
only see the smallest bit of terra firma between myself and the edge of a
precipice, I feel as though I had a whole vast prairie to range over. For the
life of me I can not realize any thing that may, or may not, befall me remotely.
"Blue are the ships far off," says the adage; and on the converse of the maxim
do I aver, that faint are all dangers that are distant. A sudden peril
overwhelms me ; but I could look forward to a shipwreck this day fortnight with
a fortitude truly heroic.
After this confession, valued
reader, marvel no more that I luxuriated in my present beatitude, and sipped my
Rhenish with a racy enjoyment.
"This is a nice old
half-forgotten sort of place," thought I ; "a kind of vulgar Venice,
water-washed, and muddy, and dreary, and do-nothing. I'll stay here for a week
or so; I'll give myself up to the drowsy ' genius loci ;' 1'11 Germanize to the
top of my bent; who is to say what metaphysical melancholy, dashed with a
strange diabolic humor, may not come of constantly feeding on this heavy
cookery, and eternally listening to their gurgling gutturals? I may come out a
Wieland or a Herder, with a sprinkling of Henri Heine! Yes," said I, " this is
the true way to approach life ; first of all, develop your own faculties, and
then mark how in their exercise you influence your fellow-men. Above all,
however, cultivate your individuality, respect this the greatest of all the
Ja, guadeger Herr," said the old
waiter, as he tried to step away from my grasp, for, with-out knowing it, I had
laid hold of him by the wrist while I addressed to him this speech. Desirous to
re-establish my character for sanity, somewhat compromised by this incident, I
"Have you a money-changer in
these parts? If so, let me have some silver for this English gold." I put my
hand in my pocket for my purse ; not finding it, I tried another and an-other. I
ransacked them all over again, patted myself, shook my coat, looked into my hat,
then, with a sudden flash of
memory, I bethought me that I had left it with Catinka, and was actually without
one sou in the world! I sat down, pale and almost fainting, and my arms fell
powerless at my sides.
"I have lost my purse!" gasped I
out, at length.
" Indeed !" said the old man, but
with a tone of such palpable scorn that it actually sickened me.
"Yes," said I, with all that
force which is the peculiar prerogative of truth ; " and in it all the money I
"I have no doubt of it," rejoined
he, in the same dry tone as before.
"You have no doubt of what, old
man? Or what do you mean by the supercilious quietness with which you assent to
my misfortune ? Send the landlord to me."
"I will do more; I will send the
police," said he, as he shuffled out of the room.
I have met scores of men on my
way through life who would not have felt the slightest embarrassment in such a
situation as mine ; fellows so accustomed to shipwreck that the cry of "
Breakers ahead !" or " Man the boats !" would have occasioned neither excitement
nor trepidation. What stuff they are made of instead of nerves, muscles, and
arteries, I can not imagine, since, when the question is self-preservation, how
can it possibly be more imminent than when not alone your animal existence is
jeopardized, but the dearer and more precious life of fame and character is in
For a moment I thought that
though this besotted old fool of a waiter might suspect my probity, the more
clear-sighted intelligence of the landlord would at once recognize my honest
nature, and with the confidence of a noble conviction say, " Don't tell me that
the man yonder is a knave. I read him very differently. Tell me your story,
Sir." And then I would tell it. It is not improbable that my speculation might
have been verified had it not been that it was a landlady and not a landlord who
swayed the destinies of the inn. Oh, what a wise invention of our ancestors was
the salic law! How justly they appreciated the unbridled rashness of the female
nature in command ! How well they understood the one-Mead impetuosity with which
they rush to wrong conclusions!
Until I listened to the Fran von
Wintner, I imagined the German language somewhat weak in the matter of epithets.
She undeceived me on this head, showing resources of abusive import that would
have done credit to a Homeric hero. Having given me full ten minutes of a strong
vocabulary, she then turned on the waiter, scornfully asking him if, at his time
of life, he ought to have let himself be imposed upon by so palpable and
undeniable a swindler as myself. She clearly showed that there was no
extenuation of his fault, that rogue and vagabond had been written on my face,
and in-scribed in my manner; not to mention that I had followed the well-beaten
track of all my fraternity in fraud, and ordered every thing 'the most costly
the house could command. In fact, so strenuously did she urge this point, and so
eager did she seem about enforcing a belief in her statement, that I almost
began to suspect she might suggest an anatomical examination of me to sustain
her case. Had she been even less eloquent, the audience would still have been
with her, for it is a curious but unquestionable fact that in all little visited
localities the stranger is ungraciously regarded and ill-looked on.
Whenever I attempted to interpose
a word in my defense I was overborne at once. Indeed, public opinion was so
decidedly against me that I felt very happy in thinking Lynch law was not a
Teutonic institution. The room was now filled with retainers of the inn,
strangers, townfolk, and police, and, to judge by the violence of their gestures
and the loud tones of their voices, one would have pronounced me a criminal of
the worst sort.
"But what is it that he has done?
What's his offense ?" I heard a voice say from the crowd, and I fancied his
accent was that of a stranger. A perfect inundation of vituperative accusation,
however, now poured in, and I could gather no more. The turmoil and uproar rose
and fell, and fell and rose again, till at last, my patience utterly exhausted,
I burst out into a very violent attack on the uncivilized habits of a people who
could thus conduct themselves to a man totally unconvicted of any offense.
"Well, well, don't give way to
passion; don't let temper get the better of you," said a fat, citizen-like man
beside me. "The stranger there has just paid for what you have had, and all is
I thought I should have fainted
as I heard these words. Indeed, until that instant I had never brought home to
my own mind the utter destitution of my state; but now there I stood, realizing
to myself the condition of one of those we read of in our newspapers as having
received five shillings from the poor-box, while I). 490 is deputed to make
inquiries after him at his lodging, and learn particulars of his life and
habits. I could have borne being sent to prison. I could have endured any amount
of severity, so long as I revolted against its injustice; but the sense of being
an object of actual charity crushed me utterly, and I could nearly have cried
By degrees the crowd thinned off,
and I found myself standing alone beside the table where I had dined, with the
hateful old waiter, as though standing a sentinel over me.
"Who is this person," asked I,
haughtily, "who, with an indelicate generosity, has presumed to interfere with
the concerns of a stranger?"
"The gracious nobleman who has
paid for your dinner is now eating his own, at No. 8," said the old monster,
with a grin.