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she lay down upon the cold, wet beach, too | morning, was standing with a group of gentlemen wretched even to weep-too feeble even to pray. near. She was beside him in a moment, her She lay shivering; for the damp, penetrating cold hand grasping his arm again. was creeping like ice, nearer and nearer to her “The life-boat !- the life-boat !” she cried. heart, seeming to deaden every feeling in her- "Will no one save them? Oh, go to them-go wrapping her in a misty dreaminess-leaving her to them !—will nothing be done? Look! look! only the dull, intuitive consciousness alone that they are sinking! Oh, God forgive you !" and she was utterly desolate and miserable.
she fell on her knees, covering her face. What sound is that which breaks the sea's ." No, no, she's not sinking. Come, cheer up, great roar-low, heavy, booming, deep, slow roll-my girl ; it may all be well yet: whatever's posing over sea and land ? Up, Annie, and look out! sible will be done ; but we can't launch the life
Starting as if by magic from her trance, she boat. In such a sea it would be mere madness springs up from the ground-her cheek on fire- to attempt it.” her arms flung upward in the air, crying aloud, “Then what are they to do?" she cried, desas though her feeble voice's answer could be pairingly; but the only answer was a quick, "Be heard-her eyes far straining seaward—but in vain quiet, now, my good girl," as he shook her hand -in vain !-upon the shrouded water still no off, and turned away. vessel can be seen. Again that sound, deep wail. She was quiet, pressing her hands upon her ing with the wild wind's roar-low-moaning on bosom to still the terrible beating of her heart. the white sea-crests; again and again still, at No word, nor cry, nor sob fell from her; she measured intervals, throughout a long, long hour. stood motionless, entranced, like one turned into
And she stands through it all immovable, in an stone; her lips apart, her wild eyes fastened on agony that words can not speak—a life-suspense the ship, her face livid like death. in which the brain beats almost to bursting. Buffeted wildly to and fro, the boat yet came
But it is broken at last. Suddenly, rolling on, dashed forward on the crest of each swelling back like a white curtain, the mist clears from the wave – onward and onward toward the great sea, and shows her the thing she seeks—a mast- tongue pier that stretched a hundred feet out into less ship, tossing upon the waters helplessly, like the sea. All eyes were watching her: all hearts a toy in a great giant's grasp.
were standing still: many a voice as well as AnShe gives one cry that rends the air ; then back nie's was hushed in this great moment of susalong the shore she rushes with frantic speed, as pense. On, on, still !- another second now! though her efforts were to save the ship-back Not yet-she is driven back—a retreating wave to the harbor where the other boat had sunk. has caught her-her decks are under water; she The quay was alive again with people—with is rising once more—a great sea lifts her up—it pale-faced men and women, some rushing wildly bears her forward-it flings her on the pier-she up and down, calling each one to save their hus- has struck-she has separated-she is sinking! A bands, brothers, fathers; some standing, silent, cry like the cry of one voice breaks from the whole and still; their blanched lips pressed together— assembled crowd—a wild shriek that spreads far their hands clasped tightly, watching as though even over the raging sea-a shriek from wives fascinated, each movement of the doomed ship; who are made widows—from fathers and mothsome weeping loudly; some looking idly on; Iers who are made childless—from hearts which some few calm and self-possessed, taking counsel are made desolate. Who can save them—who together what was to be done.
can save them, struggling in those surging wa* They can't get men enough to man the life- ters? A cry for help is rising there—a cry as boat," some one near Annie said. “Well, it's wild, as full of agony as that which burst upon no wonder— I wouldn't go out in a quieter sea the shore, and has broken now into innumerable than this."
sounds of woe. But what avails it?—who can "No boat could reach her," another answered ; save them? They are going down—the waves “it would be throwing life away to try it." are wrapping them in their strong, cruel arms—
* Ay, I think so. She must shift for herself— their cries are coming up suffocating from amidst ten to one she'll strike upon the pier like the the raging waters. Minerva, this morning," the first man said again. One woman has broken from the crowd and
- But the Valentine's a tighter-built boat than rushed upon the pier. They try to hold her over the Minerva was," the other returned ; back, but, laughing wildly, she bursts from them:
she'll stand a stouter shock than what sent the the wind is madly helping her on-on, on, she Vinerra down."
can not return : forward through the spray of the * Not she, man; why, she's more than half a breaking waves-forward to the wreck of the wreck already," was the half-careless, half-con- Valentine. Wildly she rushes on-one name temptuous answer. “If she takes the pier, she'll alone, repeated like a cry, upon her lips-one be at the bottom in five minutes' time afterward name, rising ringing on the wind, echoing amidst -trust my word for that.”
the waves' deep thunder, calling for an answer, Standing by their side, Annie heard the words. with wrung hands—with pale, despairing eyes No one to man the life-boat! no one to make one piercing the troubled sea. effort to save the crew !--no one, among all who Hark! Not in vain—oh, Annie, not in vainstood there! She gazed wildly round her; the thy prayer is heard-listen -look down! same officer who had spoken kindly to her in the Faint, like an echo of her cry-feeble, like a failing breath, the answer comes; from the worn | village of one of the southern provinces, a stonebattler's dying lips, with passionate death tender-and-mud cottage, less dirty and uninviting than ness, her name has broken, and upward-stretch-| those by which it was surrounded. There was ing arms are calling to her. She sees—ah, hears: no dirt-heap under the solitary window, no puddle a shout of maniac laughter, wildly joyous—then before the door; which, unlike every other house a low soba moaning, trembling cry, and then a in the village, possessed the luxury of an unfracspring, and she is with him. Together they go tured door-step. No tidy cottage-gardens gave down-together, locked in one another's arms cheerful evidence of the leisure or taste of the they sink, and the water closes over them: the inmates ; for in those days the laboring populadark water wraps them in its arms for evermore. lation of France were too thoroughly beaten
The leaden storm-clouds break in the far west | down by arbitrary exactions to have spare hours -one single cleft, through which a flood of crim- to devote to their own pursuits ; but round the son light shoots forth across the sea. The white window of this particular cottage a nasturtium foam sparkles up like silver, the tumultuous waves had been trained by strings; and, through its are glittering like hills of gold: there, where the yellow and orange flowers one could, now and lovers sank, the heaving sea appears to be on then, catch a glimpse of a pair of lustrous eyes. fire. Deep, intense, beautiful, the radiance falls The superior cleanliness of this little dwelling, around, playing like golden lightning on the wa- the flowers, the decency of the family, were the ter. They lie below, cold and dead, locked in work of one pair of hands belonging to a young that long, last, passionate embrace; but, as that girl named Alix Laroux, whose industry was the crimson glory fades away, perhaps upon its wing support of a younger brother and sister, and of a it bears their spirits to enter with it through the blear-eyed grandmother. golden gates.
Now, Alix was a pretty, as well as a hardLow watcher in the cottage on the hill, thou working girl, yet it was neither to her beauty nor too didst see that sudden flood of light, and as it to her industry that she was indebted for becomfell across thy bed, did no voice come to tell thee ing the heroine of our tale, although her success that it marked the moment of thy daughter's in finding work, when others could find none, death? Watch no more; the night is coming had made envious tongues gossip about her. on, she never can return. Beneath the wild Village scandal is very like town scandal; as like waves now she sleeps with him she loved ; yet as a silken masquerade costume is to its linseythink not of her lying there; think rather, when woolsey original; the form is the same, the texthe golden sunlight streams upon thee, that she ture alone is different; and at the well of Beauis looking down on thee through it.
regard, from which water was fetched and where
the salad for supper was washed, it was whisTHE GREEN RING AND THE GOLD
pered that Alix was a coquette, and that the reRING.
mote cause of her prosperity was the influence THE story I have to tell, occurred less than which her bright eyes had obtained over the strong I eighty years ago, in the days of powder and heart of the Bailiff of Beauregard. Every one pomade ; of high heads and high heels; when wished that good might come of it, but beaux in pea-green coats lined with rose-color, But, in the mean while, good did come of it ; attended on belles who steadied their dainty steps for, thanks to the large black eyes that looked so with jewel-headed canes ; and when lettres-de-frankly into his, and to the merry smile of the cachet lay like sachets-à-gants on toilet-tables village beauty, Monsieur Reboul had come to the among patches and rouge. Less than eighty knowledge of Alix's cheerful steady activity ; years ago, when the fair Queen of France and and a feeling of respect had mingled with his her ladies of honor wielded these same lettres-de- early admiration when he discovered that, while cachet with much of the ease with which they no one was more particular in the payment of fiuttered their fans. Less than eighty years ago, lawful dues than the hard-working girl, no ore when the iron old Marquis de Mirabeau was resisted more strenuously any illegal exactions. writing to his brother the Commandeur de Malte At length the stricken bailiff-who, by-the-by, those fearful letters, wherein the reader of the was double Alix's age-testified the sincerity of present day may trace, as in a map, the despotic bis feelings toward her by taking her brother powers then exercised by the seigneurs of France Jean into the household at the castle, and even over their sons and daughters, as well as over offered to have Alix herself admitted among the their tenants and vassals. Hard, short-sighted, personal attendants of one of the young ladies Marquis de Mirabeau ! Little did he reckon of Beauregard, whose marriage had lately been when he wrote those letters, or when he con- celebrated with great magnificence in Paris. signed his son, in the flush of youth, and hope, But Alix shook her pretty head, and said, and love, to a prison-cell and to exile, that the “No, she thanked him all the same," with a family name was to be indebted to the fame of smile that showed her pearly teeth ; and what that vituperated son for its salvation from obscuri- man in love—though a bailiff—could resent a ty, or that the arbitrary powers he used so vilely denial so sweetly accompanied ? Monsieur Rewere soon to be swept away forever.
boul was, indeed, for a moment, cast down, but Less than eighty years ago, then, before the his spirits were soon revived by some of those Revolution was dreamed of in that part of France, wonderful explanations which men in his prethere stood, in a long, straggling, picturesque dicament generally have at their command ; so he
It was a little glade, in form almost an amphi- . then, the twenty-third of June had been always theatre, carpeted with turf as soft and elastic as more or less fatal to the females of her house; velvet ; its bright green enameled with flowers; and as Alix remembered this, she was content to and on each petal, each tiny blade of grass, dew- be only Alix Leroux, who, though possessed neidrops were sparkling like tears of happiness, in ther of chateaux nor forests, and forced to work welcome to the sun's returning rays. Around hard and attend weekly markets, had no ancesthis little circle, mighty old trees, gnarled and tral doom hanging over her, but could look forrugged, the fathers of the forest, were so regular-ward to a bright future, as the beloved mistress ly arranged as to seem the work of art rather of a certain stone-cutter's comfortable home; of than of nature, and this impression was strength- which stone-cutter's existence Monsieur Reboul ened by the avenue-like alley that spread from it was quite unconscious. toward the north. Immediately opposite to this Her thoughts of François, her young warmopening, on the southern side of the amphithe-hearted lover, and of the two strong arms ready atre, rose a rampart of gray rocks, marbled with at a word from her to do unheard-of miracles, golden veins, from whose hoary sides sprang dimpled her cheeks with smiles, and entirely forth the rock-rose or pink cystus, and under banished the uncomfortable cogitations which whose moist shade the blue aster, one of the fair- had preceded them ; taking up her basket, she est of earth's stars, flourished luxuriantly. As arose, and, looking around her, began to considAlix's eye fell on the trees, and grass, and flower which path she ought to follow, to find the ers, she set her basket down carefully at the foot most direct road to Maillot. of a fine old oak, and, forgetting fatigue, heat, She was still undecided, when a whole herd of and superstitious terrors, busied herself in gath- deer dashed down the north alley toward her, ering the dew-gemmed flowers, until her apron and broke forcibly through the thick covert bowas quite full.
yond, as if driven forward by intense fear. She Then, seating herself under the oak, she began was startled by the sudden apparition, for a mowith pretty fastidiousness to choose the most ment's consideration convinced her that what had perfect of her treasures to arrange into a bouquet terrified them might terrify her also, and that the for her bosom, and one for her hair. While thus part of the forest from which they had been driven engaged she half-chanted, half-recited her Salve was that which she must cross to reach Maillot. Regina :
Timid as a deer herself, at this thought she
strained her eyes in the direction whence they Hail to the Queen who reigns above, ." Mother of Clemency and Love!
had come, but could see nothing. She listened; We, from this wretched world of tears,
all was still again, not a leaf stirred-and yet, Send sighs and groans unto thine ears.
was it fancy, or was it her sense of hearing exOh, thou sweet advocate, bestow
cited by fear to a painful degree of acuteness, One pitying look on us below!
that made her imagine that she heard, at an imThe hymn and toilet were concluded together; mense distance, a muffled sound of wheels and and then, but not till then, Alix remembered that of the tramp of horses' feet? She wrung her there was a market at Maillot, at which she must hands in terror; for, satisfied that no earthly be present, instead of spending the day in such carriage could force its way through the tangled joyous idleness. She sighed and wished she forest paths, she could only suppose that somewere a lady—the young lady of Beauregard, of thing supernatural and terrible was about to blast whose marriage Monsieur Reboul had told her her sight; still, as if fascinated, she gazed in the such fine things and, as she thought thus, as- direction of the gradually increasing sounds. sociation of ideas awoke the recollection that this Not a wink of her eyes distracted her sight as day was the twenty-third of June, the vigil of she peered through the intervening branches. - St. John; a season said to be very fatal to the Presently, a huge body, preceded by something females of the house of Beauregard. She shud- which caught and reflected the straggling rays dered as the terrors of that tradition recurred to of sunshine that penetrated between the trees, her memory, and wished she were not alone in was seen crushing through the brushwood. the haunted forest on so unlucky a day. Many Nearer and nearer it came with a curiously .and strange were the superstitions she had heard undulating movement, and accompanied by the regarding St. John's Eve, and many the observ- same strange, dull, inexplicable sound, until, as ances of which she had been the terrified wit-it paused at a few hundred paces from her place ness; but that which had always affected her of concealment, she perceived, to her intense imagination the most was the ancient belief that relief, that the object of her terror was nothing any one who has courage to hold a lonely vigil in more than an earthly vehicle of wood and iron, a church on St. John's Eve, beholds passing in in the form of one of the unwieldy coaches of the procession all those who are fated to die within day, drawn by a team of strong Flanders horses; the year. It was with this superstition that the and that the strange muffled sound which had legend of Beauregard was associated; for it was accompanied it, arose solely from the elasticity said that in old times a certain lady of the family of the turf over which it rolled having deadened had, for reasons of her own— bad reasons of the noise of the wheels and the horses' hoofs. course-held such a vigil, had seen her own The relief from supernatural terrors, however, spirit among the doomed, and had indeed died rendered Alix only the more exposed to earthly that year. Tradition further averred, that since fears; and, when a second glance at the carriage showed her that the glistening objects which had | The sight of his familiar face dissipated her caught her eye at a distance were the polished gloomy suspicions, and she speedily persuaded barrels of mousquetons, or heavy carbines, car- herself that instead of a grave to hide some dreadried by two men who occupied the driving seat, ful deed, they were digging for some of the conshe slipped from her hiding-place behind the large cealed treasures which every body knew were oak tree, and carefully ensconced herself among buried in the forest. Monsieur Reboul had the thick bushes that overshadowed the rocks. often told her that he had heard of them from
Scarcely had she done this, before one of the his grandmother, so it was natural enough he armed men got down from the box, and walked should be ready to seek them. How she would round the circular glade, scanning it with a curi- | torment him with the secret thus strangely acous and penetrating glance. For a moment, he quired! paused before the old oak, as if attracted by some From her merry speculations she was roused Aowers Alix had dropped ; but, another quick at length by the reappearance of the tall man, searching look seeming to satisfy him, he re- carrying in his arms something wrapped in a turned to the carriage and stood by the door, as horseman's cloak, and followed by another and if in conference with some one inside.
younger figure, bearing, like himself, all the out" Thank Heaven !” thought Alix, “he sees ward signs belonging to the highest class of the that the carriage can not pass further in this nobility, though on his features was stamped an direction; I shall not, therefore, be kept here expression of cruelty and harshness. long:" and her curiosity as to what was next to “Going to bury a treasure rather than seek be done gaining predominance over her fears, she one," thought Alix..-“Very well, Monsieur Reagain peered eagerly between the branches. A boul, I have you still !" gentleman got out of the carriage, and examined | The tall man, meanwhile, had placed his burthe little glade as carefully as his servant had done. den on the ground. Removing the cloak that
“What a handsome man!” thought Alix. covered it, he now displayed to Alix's astonished “What a grand dress he has; all silk and vel. eyes a young and very lovely lady. For a movet!” She fixed an admiring glance on the tall, ment, the fair creature stood motionless where noble-looking figure that stood for a moment, she was placed, as if dazzled by the sudden light; silent and still, in the centre of the amphitheatre. but it was for a moment only, and then she flung
" It will do, Pierre,” he said at length, as he herself on the ground at the feet of the elder turned on his steps : “begin your work." - man, beseeching him to have mercy upon her, to
Pierre bowed, and, without speaking, pointed remember that she was young, and that life, any to a little plot of ground, of peculiarly bright life, was dear to her! green, with a dark ring round it—a fairy-ring, in The man moved not: a muscle, uttered not a short, so named in all countries—which lay al- word save these — "I have sworn it." most directly opposite to Alix's hiding-place. The girl—for she looked little more than six
“Yes," was the brief answer. “Call Joseph teen-pressed her hands on her bosom, as if to to help; we are at least an hour too late." still the suffocating beating of her heart, and was
The strong rigidity of the speaker's counte- silent. Such silence! Such anguish! Alix nance caused Alix to tremble, although she did trembled as if she herself were under the sennot know why, unless it were in her dread of tence of that cold, cruel man. But now the falling into his hands as a spy of his secret grave was finished ; for grave it seemed to be, actions, whatever they might be; for he was evi- and one, too, destined to inclose that living, dently not a man to be trifled with.
panting, beautiful creature. The old man laid Pierre went back to the carriage, from which his hand upon her arm and drew her forcibly to the other man had already descended, and to the edge of the gaping hole. gether they took, from the hind boot, a couple of With sudden strength she wrenched herself pickaxes and spades, with which they speedily from his grasp; and, with a wild and thrilling began to cut away the turf of the green-ring, for shriek, rushed to the young man, clung to him, a space of some six or eight feet in length, and as kissed his hands, his feet, raised her wild, tearmany in breadth.
less eyes to his, and implored for mercy, with She could distinctly see Pierre's face, and per such an agony of terror in her hoarse, broken ceived that it was not one she had ever seen be- voice, that the young man's powerful frame fore. That of Joseph was concealed from her, as shook as if struck by ague. Involuntarily, unconhe worked with his back toward her; but there sciously he clasped her in his arms. What he was something about his dress and appearance might have said or done, God knows, had the which seemed familiar to her, and which was old man allowed him time ; but already he was very different from that of Pierre. But what upon them, and snatched the girl from his emstrange kind of hole was that they were digging? brace. The young man turned away with a look
“Holy Mother of mercy, it is a grave !" so terrible that Alix never recalled it, never
As this idea occurred to her, her blood ran spoke of it afterward, without an invocation to cold; but the sudden thought underwent as sud-Heaven. den a change, when, the second man turning his “Kill me first !” shrieked the poor girl, as her face toward her, she recognized, to her amaze-executioner dragged her a second time to that ment, the countenance of her admirer, the old living grave. “Not alive, not alive! Oh my bailiff.
father, not alive !"