페이지 이미지

and of a difficult temper. She spared none of her party except her kind mother, to whom Ethel always was kind, and her father, whom, since his illnesses, she tended with much benevolence and care. But she did battle with Lady Kew repeatedly, coming to her aunt Julia's rescue, on whom her mother as usual exercised her powers of torturing. She made Bames quail before her by the shafts of contempt which she flashed at him; and she did not spare Lord Kew, whose good-nature was no shield against her scorn. The old queen mother was fairly afraid of her; she even left off beating Lady Julia when Ethel came in, of course taking her revenge in the young girl's absence, but trying in her presence to soothe and please her. Against Lord Kew the young girl's anger was most unjust, and the more cruel, because the kindly young nobleman never spoke a hard word of any one mortal soul, and carrying no arms, should have been assaulted by none. But his very good-nature seemed to make his young opponent only the more wrathful; she shot because his honest breast was bare; it bled at the wounds which she inflicted. Her relatives looked at her, surprised at her cruelty, and the young man himself was shocked in his dignity and best feelings by his cousin's wanton ill-humor.

Lady Kew fancied she understood the cause of this peevishness, and remonstrated with Miss Ethel, "Shall we write a letter to Luceme, and order Dick Tinto back again V said her ladyship. "Are you such a fool, Ethel, as to be hankering after that young scapegrace, and his yellow beard! His drawings are very pretty. Why, I think he might earn a couple of hundred a year as a teacher, and nothing would be easier than to break your engagement with Kew, and whistle the drawingmuter back again."

Ethel took up the whole heap of Clive's drawings, lighted a taper, carried the drawings to the fire-place, and set them in a blaze. "A very pretty piece of work," says Lady Kew, "and which proves satisfactorily that you don't care for the young Clive at all. Have we arranged a correspondence? We are cousins, you know; we may write pretty cousinly letters to one another." A month before the old lady would have attacked her with other arms than sarcasm, but she was scared now, and dared to use no coarser weapons. "O!" cried Ethel in a transport, "what a life ours is, and how you buy and sell, and haggle over your children! It is not Clive I care about, poor boy. Our ways of life arc separate. I can not break from my own family, and I know very well how you would receive him in it. Had he money, it would be different. Y ou would receive him, and weleome him, and hold out your hands to him; but he is only a poor painter, and we forsooth are bankers in the city; and he comes among us on sufferance, like those concert-singers whom mamma treats with so much politeness, and who go down and have supper by themselves. Why should they not be as good as we are?"

"M. de C , my dear, is of a noble family,"

interposed Lady Kew; "when he has given up singing and made his fortune, no doubt he can go back into the world again."

"Made his fortune, yes," Ethel continued, "that is the cry. There never were, since the world began, people so unblushingly sordid! We own it, and are proud of it. We barter rank against money, and money against rank, day after day. Why did you marry my father to my mother? Was it for his wit? You know he might have been an angel and you would have scorned him. Your daughter was bought with papa's money as surely as ever Neweome was. Will there be no day when this mammon worship will cease among us?"

"Not in my time or yours, Ethel," the elder said, not unkindly; perhaps she thought of a day long ago before she was old herself.

"We are sold," the young girl went on, "we are as much sold as Turkish women; the only difference being that our masters may have but one Circassian at a time. No, there is no freedom for us. I wear my green ticket, and wait till my master comes. But every day, as I think of our slavery, I revolt against it more. That poor wretch, that poor girl whom my brother is to marry, why did she not revolt and fly? I would, if I loved a man sufficiently, loved him better than the world, than wealth, than rank, than fine houses and titles—and I feel I love these best—I would give up all to follow him. But what can I be with my name and my parents? I belong to the world, like all the rest of my family. It is you who have bred us up; you who are answorable for us. Why are there no convents to which we can fly? You make a fine marriage for me; you provide me with a good husband, a kind soul, not very wise, but very kind; you make me what you call happy, and I would rather be at the plow like the women here."

"No, you wouldn't, Ethel," replies the grandmother, dryly. "These arc the fine speeches of school girls. The showers of rain would spoil your complexion—you would be perfectly tired in an hour, and come back to luncheon—you belong to your belongings, my dear, and are not better than the rest of the world: very good looking, as you know perfectly well, and not very good tempered. It is lucky that Kew is. Calm your temper, at least before marriage; such a prize does not fall to a pretty girl's lot every day. Why. you sent him away quite scared by your cruelty; and if he is not playing at roulette, or at billiards, I dare say he is thinking what a little termagant you are, and that he had best pause while it is yet time. Before I was married, yourpoor grandfather never knew I had a temper; of after-days I say nothing; but trials are good for all of us, and he bore his like an angel."

Lady Kew, too, on this occasion at least, was admirably good-humored. She also, when it was necessary, could put a restraint on her temper, and having this match very much at heart, chose to coax and to soothe her granddaughter rather than to endeavor to scold and frighten her.

"Why do you desire this marriage so much, grandmamma!" the girl asked. "My cousin is not very much in love—at least I should fancy not," she added, blushing. "I am bound to own Lord Kew is not in the least eager, and I think if you were to tell him to wait for five years, he would be quite willing. Why should you be so very anxious?"

"Why, my dear? Because I think young ladies who want to go and work in the fields, should make hay while the sun shines; because I think it is high time that Kew should ranger himself; because I am sure he will make the best husband, Vol. IX.—No. 52.—K K

and Ethel the prettiest Countess in England." And the old lady, seldom exhibiting any signs of affection, looked at her granddaughter very fondly. From her Ethel looked up into the glass, which very likely repeated on its shining face the truth her elder had just uttered. Shall we quarrel with the girl for that dazzling reflection; for owning that charming truth, and submitting to that conscious triumph? Give her her part of vanity, of youth, of desire to rule and be admired. Meanwhile Mr. Clive's drawings have been crackling in the fire-place at her feet, and the last spark of that combustion is twinkling out unheeded.


SOME hundred and thirty years ago, the " Emperor of all the Russias" was not Nicholas I. but Peter the Great; and Peter, with all his faults, was a generous-hearted man, and loved an adventure dearly. It was a cold bleak day in November when our story commences, and the fishermen on the Gulf of Finland could easily foretell a coming storm from the clouds which were gathering on the horizon from the southeast. As the clouds grew darker, the wind blew in louder gusts, and the waves rose with whiter and taller crests, and lashed the shores with an ever increasing vehemence. Along the beach on the north side of the Gulf of Finland are some twenty or thirty fishermen's huts, which form part of the straggling town of Lachta. Hard by is the spot where a ferry-boat starts—or rather started a century ago—for the opposite side of the gulf some twice or three times a week. As the door of one of these cottages opened, a young sailor came out, followed by his mother, who saw that he was bent upon crossing the lake for the purpose of transacting some business at the little village of Liborg, and was vainly endeavoring to stay him by pointing out the signs of the growing storm.

"Only see, my dear son," she cried, "how rough and angry the lake is now; see what madness it is to venture out in an open boat upon its waves on such a day. If the ferry-boat must go, let it start without you, and do you stay at home, my Steenie, for your poor mother's sake."

"Oh! mother," replied the young man, "you are over anxious; my business with Carl Wald compels me to go across, whether I like it or not. and I can not disappoint him if the ferry-boat starts at all, and start it will directly, from the quay, for I see the passengers gathering together at the top of the steps. Only look now, there is Alec and Nicholas going across, and I can not stay behind. Then, good-by, mother, I am off to the Katharine." So saying he stepped briskly forward.

"Well, Paul, my man, here's rather a rough passage across for us; I suppose you will go all the same, though you don't seem to like the looks of the weather a bit better than I do? But I don't see any other boats out this afternoon for certain."

"Oh, Paul! oh, Steenie! it is just tempting Providence to think of crossing over with sueh a sea rising, and with the wind almost dead against you," cried the distracted widow.

"As to that, there's always danger afloat," answered Paul, "be it fair or foul; and Providence takes care of us afloat as well as ever he does on land. Good-by, mother. Here, Alee, let go that rope. Now, then, to your oars. She's off, boys! Helm aport now."

"Port it is," growled the steersman, who evidently had no fancy for the voyage, and had all this time been crying out against the unpropitious aspect of the weather.

The boatmen who were on the steps and along the beach, assured the widow that there was no real danger; and so having bid her son an affectionate farewell, and uttering many a devout prayer for his speedy return next week, she went back into her cottage, low and depressed in her spirits, and sat watching the boat from her window as it did battle with each crested surge and rode proudly on its course. Need we say that she watched it with a mother's eye, until a projecting cliff shut it wholly out of sight. The storm, however, continued as before, and the mother had but one resource left, to commit her beloved son and the frail boat in which he crossed the waters of the lake to the merciful goodness of that Providence, who is "the God of the fatherless and the widow."

Meanwhile the little vessel was battling with the angry waves in a place where there was a narrow passage, some fifty yards brood, between two dangerous shelving sand-banks, well known to the master of the Katharine and his crew. The sand-banks themselves, as it happened, Uy partly under the lee of one of the little islands which stud the coast near Lachta; and the current was bearing strong upon the bank upon the leeward. At this moment the Katharine shipped a largo quantity of water; as ill luck would have it, the tiller broke, and before the boat's head could be righted, she had drifted upon the edge of the bar of sand, and there she stuck fast. The little bark would have been overwhelmed by the breakers but for the shelter afforded by the corner of the island and the shifting of the wind a point or two round to the north; indeed, she was fast filling with water, in spite of the efforts of the passengers to keep her afloat by bailing. To add to the general confusion aboard, it now turned out that several of the passengers who had been drinking at the village inn before starting from Lachta were fairly intoxicated, and the rest were sinking down bewildered into the apathy of despair; so that only Stephen and two of the boatmen had their wits about them. But though they strove with all their might, they were unable to move the boat off from the sandbank. At this moment, when the waves were breaking over the little Katharine, and had already swept off into deep water one or two hapless passengers, who had lost all heart and courage, a sail was seen approaching.

It was a rather large vessel, with a gallant crew of some twenty men, who had been inspect

ing a portion of the coast. They had seen the perilous position of old Paul and his boat, and had borne down to their assistance, for in spite of the terrible raging of the winds and waves, the captain would not see the poor fellows swept away and drowned without making an effort at least to save them.

The vessel neared the sand-bank; but how may she approach close enough to rescue the unhappy fellows? A boat is lowered from the vessel, and four as gallant Russian tars as ever plowed the fresh waters of Ladoga or the Baltic have rowed up to the spot; but the strength of two of the crew, added to the exertions of Stephen and the boatmen of the Katharine, arc not sufficient to move the vessel from the firm grasp with which the sand held her keel. They were, therefore, beginning to relax their efforts, when a second boat, with a crew of six stout-hearted fellows, neared the bank, and by vigorous efforts reached the spot in time to reinforce their comrades. Without the loss of a moment, one of tire crew, a fine tall muscular Russian, some six feet five inches high, stripped off his outer garments, leaped into the sea, and after swimming a few sharp strokes, gained a footing on the sand. This was heavy work indeed, as the sand was not hard and firm, but mixed with mud and slime; but the giant strength of the new arrival turned the scale, and after a few short and sharp heaves the Katharine moved once more. In a second she was afloat again and taken in tow by the other boat.

And where all this time was Stephen? Wom out with fatigue and cold, for he had been immersed some two hours in the chilly waves, and standing in deep water and nearly exhausted by their violence—he had lost his footing on the slippery bank, and having got in a moment beyond his depth, was vainly attempting to keep his head above water by swimming in his drenched and dripping clotties, the weight of which in a few seconds more would have carried him down.

"Oh! Steenie, Steenie," cried the old boatman, Paul, with a loud voice of agony, which would • make itself heard even above the roaring of the angry winds and waves, "can none of you save my poor Stephen, the bravest lad that ever trod a deck? He's gone now, and but for his help this day my boat would have been lost."

"He's not lost yet!" cried the tall seaman; and, plunging into the waves, he caught him by the hair of his head, just as he was sinking a third time; the next wave would have carried him fairly down, and his life would have been gone past recall.

It was not the work of a moment for the strong, tall stranger to swim with the lad toward the boat, which was hovering near; and, in another second, the gallant crew had lifted him in over the gunwale, and laid him at the bottom of the boat. As soon as he showed signs of life, and began to open his eyes, a flask of brandy was applied to his mouth, and he soon revived. The tall man, too, got in, and leaving two of his crew to help old Paul to tow the Katharine ashore, he gave the signal to his men, and they pulled off with all their might in the direction of Lachta. Though the waves were still running high, yet, fortunately, the wind was astern; so the sharp, quick strokes of the crew soon brought the boat to the landing-place from which, a few hours before, poor Stephen had departed in such high spirits, and with such confidence in Paul's seamanship, and the ability of the Katharine to make the passage.

As soon as the boat came to the sheltered nook where the steps of the landing-place led up from the sea, Stephen was put ashore, and, partly led partly carried, he reached the cottage of his mother. At the sight of her son, the poor widow burst into a flood of tears, and began to give way to an agony of joy and grief. A warm bath was soon prepared for her son; and, after the application of some gentle restoratives, poor Stephen was able to sit up and to thank his kind preserver, the tall stranger, who, with two of his men behind him, just now lifted up the latch of the cottage-door, and had entered the room.

"Gracious Heaven," cried the grateful mother, "why, sir, you are in wet clothes, too! Sit down, sir, by the fire, and take of my humble fare, while I go and find some of my Stcenie's clothes for you to put on, and I dry those dripping garments."

The tall stranger sat down; and as the widow left the room, gave his two followers a hint not to make known to the boy or his mother who he was. In a few minutes the stranger had retired, and assumed a plain old dress belonging to the young man whose life he had saved, and was engaged in eating some hot bacon, which the widow had just laid upon the tabic before him, with many protestations of her eternal gratitude to the saviour of her son.

"May the King of heaven, who never turns a deaf ear to the widow's prayer, mercifully reward you for saving my Stcenie's life. It is not many a sailor, or merchant cither, that would have done as you have done to-day. Heaven speed you; and may you never forget that the poor widow of Lachta is praying for you night and morning, that the Almighty may increase your store, whenever you are sailing over the stormy sea, or the lakes of Onega and Ladoga."

The tall stranger was about to rise and depart, when suddenly the door opened, and a naval officer entered, with a crowd of attendants. It was the captain and mate of the bark which Stcenie and Paul had seen in the ofling, and which had sent her boats to the rescue of the Katharine.

"My noble master, may it please your majesty," he said, falling on one knee, " the Royal Peter has come safe, and she has towed the Katharine too into the little port of Lachta."

The poor widow fell down upon her knees in astonishment, and faltered forth her apologies for not recognizing his majesty, and for having treated him with such disrespect.

"Nay, nay, my good woman," said the Czar, smiling, "how could you know the Emperor thus disguised in mud and dirt. But you will know him henceforth. I shall keep your son's clothes

in remembrance of this day; and when your boy 'Steenie' wakes up from the sound sleep into which he has fallen, tell him that he will always find a true friend in Peter Alexiowitch."

Our readers, when they learn that the above story is founded upon a plain historic fact—as they will find upon reading for themselves the Life of Peter the Great—will be grieved to hear that the noble conduct of the emperor on this occasion cost him his life. He had for a long time suffered under a chronic internal disease, which none of his court physicians could effectually combat; and in the month of November, 1724, in which our story is raid, he went, contrary to the advice of his physicians, to inspect the works on Lake Lagoda: his exposure to the wet and cold in rescuing the poor ferryman and his crew, on tlus stormy November day, affected him so seriously that ho never recovered afterward. The emperor went home to his palace at St. Petersburg without loss of time, but his malady increased, in spite of all the remedies which the medical skill of Russia could furnish; and gradually he sank under the disease, till death put an end to his sufferings toward the close of the following January.

Such was the end of Peter I. of Russia, deservedly named "the Great;" though he was the strangest compound of contradictions, perhaps, that the world has ever seen. In him the most ludicrous undertakings were mingled with the grandest political schemes. Benevolence and humanity were as conspicuous in his character as a total disregard of human life. He was at once kind-hearted and severe, even to the extent of ferocity. Without education himself, he promoted arts, sciences, and literature. "He gave a polish," says Voltaire, " to his people, and yet he was himself a savage: he taught them the art of war, of which, however, he was ignorant himself: from the sight of a small boat on the river Moskwa he created a powerful fleet, and made himself an expert and active shipwright, sailor, pilot, and commander: he changed the manners, customs, and laws of the Russians, and lives in their memory, not merely as the founder of their empire, but as the father of his country."

Yes; the memory of Peter to this day is dear among all classes of Russians, from the noblest of the Boyards down to the meanest serf. But if among the towns and villages of his vast empire there be one in which his name is cherished with especial honor, it is that little fishing-town of Lachta; and in proof of our assertion we may add, that the cottage in which Stcenie and his mother lived and died, is still familiarly known to every traveler in those parts as Peter's House.


THE storms experienced in mountainous countries have often a terrific grandeur seldom witnessed by the inhabitants of lowland plains. The flash of the lightning is more vivid, and the report of the thunder more tremendous, owing to closer proximity to the centre of disturbance in

« 이전계속 »