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the other. Indeed we are inclined to think that to a beautiful girl of twenty a friend, especially of the sterner sex, is a more rare acquisition than a lover; and as the rarer things are, the more we commonly prize them, by a very simple logic a friend ought to be considered the more valuable of the two. But this is a sort of knowledge that only comes by experience, and so poor Louise must not be blamed for possessing a young head upon young shoulders. Indeed her character would have been as completely marred by a precocious admixture of hard, dry, bitter knowledge, as her graceful Hebe figure would have been had the classical head and blooming countenance been exchanged for the withered visage of age. Strange it is, but like many strange things most true, that the more a man possesses of that same hard, dry, bitter knowledge, the better does he appreciate, and the more does he long to rest his own tired nature on the confiding love of an artless and unworldly woman; the more does he yearn to have his heart refreshed by her holy influence, and his loftier aspirations re-awakened by the echo her purer feelings arouse, in the perhaps long-closed chambers of his mind. The fervent love of Colonel Berriton had root in such emotions. Almost instinctively had he read the yet undeveloped character of Louise Merrivale, and thankfully did he rejoice that her wise father had put it out of her power (without a sacrifice that few lovers would have exacted) to seal her own fate, as so many do, at a period of life when the law thinks it necessary to protect property, but not the possessors of it. To the brave soldier, and care-worn statesman, she seemed like a half-blown flower, still protected in its bower of foliage from the storms of life; and oh! how ardently had he hoped to shelter it from every ill in the strong arms of affection, and teach it to expand in the sunshine of truth and purity!
Reader, did you ever ponder over the pages of Addison, Steele, or Pope, or any other gifted writer of the early part of the last century, till, indulging in a day-dream, you fancied yourself moving in a motley group of patched and painted ladies and gentlemen, the former protected from too near an approach by the unwieldy hoop-that you journeyed from play-house or ball in the jolting sedan, lighted by the running link-boys, whose torches made visible the darkness of London streets-that you yourself belonged to this old regime, and talked about "Jacobites" and the "Hanoverian succession," as present and fruitful subjects of discourse, or perhaps discussed Sir Robert Walpole's policy about as familiarly as now you do Sir Robert Peel's? Have you ever done this, remembering all the time that human nature is made of much the same stuff in all generations; and knowing that if you can read that book at all, it matters very little in what binding you peruse it? Reader, if you can dream thus, be so kind as to accompany Louise Merrivale to a masquerade of that day.
She had been now engaged three months to Sir Charles Harcourt. One quarter of the long probation had passed, but towards the close of this period some friend had whispered in her ear the
tale of her lover's imprudence, if we must not at present use a harsher term for one of the vices most prevalent in that age. Strange to say, in her distress and perplexity she had, by the advice of her aunt, under whose roof she resided, sought counsel of her rejected suitor, Colonel Berriton ; with whom, somewhat to her own surprise, she had latterly become on the most pleasant terms of friendly intimacy. In following his directions she was about to take a daring step, and her heart beat wildly while she thanked the friendly mask which concealed her changing cheek. For good and sufficient reasons she had assumed a domino of the commonest kind, though the fan which bung from her wrist was peculiar; and when at a certain hour she carelessly unfurled it, an acquaintance who had ever examined the bauble might possibly have recognized its mistress; but it was a recent purchase, and we do not think had been used before. While her trembling hand still swayed the fan, whose service indeed she very much needed, a stranger domino advanced as if to address her. It could not be Harcourt, for he had worn a very different dress when half an hour before he had made an excuse to quit her side, leaving her, it is true, under the especial care of her aunt, the Countess F.”
"Do you dance?" said the stranger, in a voice which was evidently assumed; and then added in the same key, but a softer tone, "there is time."
Louise rose at the moment, and faintly murmuring "It is true," gave her hand to the stranger.
Without exchanging further speech they quickly threaded the crowd, but instead of joining the dancers ascended a staircase, and traversed a long gallery, the stranger evidently acting as guide. Three or four other masks were sauntering about, but he waited for a few minutes till those who were nearest had passed on, then pressing the spring of an invisible door, he entered by it, drawing Louise hastily after him.
She found herself in a large and brilliantly lighted chamber, nor were she and the stranger the only inmates; nearly thirty persons were there of both sexes, and of nearly all ages, but seated in different groups-they were alike occupied with cards or dice. Oh, what a sad but life-long study for the poet, painter, or philosopher might those countenances have proved, branded as they were for the most part with fiery passions! The company were too much engrossed to notice the new comers, and Louise, guided by the stranger, advanced to a table where two young men were placed somewhat apart from the rest. Their masks had been removed but even beneath that disguise she would instantly have recognized one of the players for Harcourt. With more self-possession than she had thought herself mistress of, but not apparently with more than the stranger had expected from her, she stood beside the chair of her affianced husband, and even supported her trembling form for some seconds on the back of it. "The cards are against you to-night, Sir Charles," observed Harcourt's antagonist.
"I will have my revenge," replied the young baronet, "if I stake my last acre to obtain it." "Be it so," rejoined the other with perfect cool
ness. "I never flinch; especially when, as now, the fickle goddess smiles upon me."
Louise Merrivale leaned now upon the stranger's arm, and listened till the last acre was staked, and lost!
How could the sun stream in so brightly to the chamber where Louise had passed a sleepless night! She was at her toilet, preparing to receive an early visitor, even an earlier one than her lover, It was Colonel Berriton she expected. Louise burst into tears as he took her hand. "I have learned," said he, "from your guide of last night-who is the only man with whom I would have entrusted you in such a scene-the events of the evening, and will not pain you by asking a repetition. Severe diseases often require severe remedies. I advised you to be convinced, as I would have advised a dear sister; can I serve you farther?"
Spring had ripened into summer, when one brilliant afternoon the Mall was even more than usually crowded. A group of fashionable loungers stood chatting of the idle floating gossip of the day. "Can that be Lady F, and with her the beautiful Merrivale ?" exclaimed one of them as a party of ladies approached.
"Yes, said another; "but no wonder you doubted your eyes, since Berriton is not by their side. There is many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip,' and Harcourt had better look to his prize if he means to keep it. But what ails the fair Louise? How pale she is! Really she should condescend to be in the mode and adopt rouge. Has she quarrelled with both her lovers, I wonder? Really, people should respect the feelings of others, and hide their griefs, and not roam about the world reminding their fellow-creatures of a corpse! I cannot endure such disagreeable thoughts. Who would believe that Kneller ever painted her as Hebe!"
It was quite true that Louise Merrivale looked pale; but she chanced that day to be 100 much occupied with her own concerns to consider whether her appearance reminded people of death or any other disagreeable thing. The ladies passed on towards the park, but ere they reached it were accosted by a gentleman, who appeared to have been waiting for them.
"Ladies, I believe you visit the auction today?" said the stranger. "There is yet time." And as Louise murmured faintly "It is true," they were handed into a carriage which stood near. It stopped after a quarter of an hour's drive, but not at the China auction. Only Louise and the
stranger alighted, the former having thrown a dark mantle around her, and enveloped her face with a thick veil. En passant, too, we may remark that the stranger wore spectacles and a moustache; though Louise was so much engrossed by her own feelings, that it is doubtful if she once looked up to observe either. They were admitted to a spacious mansion, and ascended softly to a richly furnished drawing-room, unoccupied, save by themselves. A door which communicated with a smaller apartment, was sufficiently unclosed to admit sound, but Louise was spared from beholding a scene similar to that which on a former occasion had filled her mind with horror. The players, however, were now but two, and she was near enough almost to hear them breathe. The dice rattled.
Lost, by all the powers of evil!" exclaimed Harcourt in a tone of madness. "That makes ten thousand!"
"To be paid within a week of your marriage," was uttered by some other, in a cold, sententious voice: "so stands our bargain, I believe."
"Goad me not with that triumphant calmness, unless, indeed, you be my evil genius," rejoined Harcourt, and added, in a tone of desperation, "let us throw once more: what say you, double or quits?" "Done!"
perform," exclaimed he with a faint smile.
"But I thank you, nevertheless, and shall ask another favour at your hands. Tell Sir Charles that the birds of the air have whispered to me the wrong of yesterday; but tell him that I forgive it, exacting only his solemn promise to play no more. Until I am of age I cannot command a tithe of the sum he has promised; but to you I entrust these diamonds-they were my mother's. I would wish to redeem them at some
future time; but for his present need they may suffice." As she spoke, one large, bead-like tear
such as are distilled from the heart's agonyfell upon the casket, and Berriton would have given that casket's value, had he dared to kiss away the pearly drop from her eyelid's dark fringe, where a moment it had hung. "He does not know the wild struggle that is here," she continued, pressing her hands upon her heart-" I who have so loved him!”
Summer had mellowed into autumn, but it seemed that refreshing breezes could not recall the roses to the checks of Louise Merivale. It must be confessed she was less Hebe-like than ever. Did she mourn her absent friend, or weary of her present lover? Sir Charles Harcourt had become latterly more attentive than ever; but there are people who do not improve on a very close acquaintance. Comparisons, too, are dangerous, especially for a lover, when his mistress chances to compare him as the less worthy with some other. Still the world spoke not of any decided rupture between the young baronet and his fiancée, and the on dit of the world, as it usually does, must pass
It was a chilly October evening: Sir Charles was to have accompanied Louise and her aunt to the theatre, but had just sent an apology, on the plea of important business: they had consequently determined on remaining at home, and were alone, when a note was delivered to the younger lady: it was in the hand-writing of Colonel Berriton, and
"In a few hours I hope to meet you; but think not that though absent I have ceased to watch over your interests. The promise has been broken. I ask you but once more to accompany your mysterious guide, and probably to witness a scene whose very memory must be harrowing to your gentle nature. It is to my house you will be conducted—the house you are perhaps aware that I have lent during my absence to Sir Charles Harcourt."
Following some further unimportant directions, Lady F and her niece accompanied, in speechless anxiety, the nameless stranger. Silently were they admitted to the mansion of Colonel Berriton, and it certainly did occur to Louise that the stranger, to whom all places seemed alike accessible, must possess, some strange and powerful influence. Vaguely perhaps, but still with sufficient clearness to be understood, she expressed these sentiments, and her companion paused a moment ere he replied.
"Men say that I am the favourite of a king, and to such persons great difficulties melt away like snow in the sunshine."
Lady Fremained in an ante-room, but Louise passed on with the unknown-who seemed familiar with every apartment—until, opening a door, they found a thick curtain of arras before them. A finger on the lip was a sufficient sign to be silent, aad a chink in the drapery was soon discovered, through which they could see without being seen. Instinctively Louise felt that the last act of a tragedy was approaching. Only Harcourt and another were in the room, which was but feebly lighted, and the fire had sunk low, for the gamblers heeded nothing but their one mad pursuit. The flush of success which half-an-hour before would have been seen on the countenance
of Harcourt, had given place to a deathly palor, expressive of the hopeless misery of the ruined gamester. He had usually a full mastery over his countenance, and it was--until her eyes were opened to the truth-by assuming much he never felt, that he had made the first impression on the heart of Louise Merrivale. But at this moment he had no motive for concealment ;-his antagonist knew him already to be ruined. The game fluctuated for a little while, but what the stakes were the lookers-on could not clearly discover. At last, after some desperate loss, frantic with rage, the miserable Harcourt started up, stamping wildly on the floor, and actually pulling out his hair by the roots. But, just as he would have done in similar circumstances, the winner looked coldly on. "Is there nothing more you will venture," said the latter, "with the chance of winning back a few thousands? Nay, no expectations, if you please Sir Charles; for since they hang on the caprice of a girl, they are not for my market."
"I have neither money nor friends-what think you of a secret, that might be more valuable than either?"
"Define it less vaguely."
"What think you of a man, basking in his sovereign's favour, carrying his head proudly as an honourable man, betraying that sovereign's confidence, and keeping up correspondence with
that arch-traitor St. John ?"
"I should think his name and the proofs fairly staked against the last twenty thousand pounds you owe me."
"Read then," said Harcourt, drawing some papers from a recess, "all but the name is here; and I swear to you to reveal that if I lose!"
The two scanned carefully the documents for a few minutes. Louise would have fallen but for the ready arm of her companion, who in a faint but most impressive whisper, conjured her to endure this one more trial. This time dice, not cards, were to decide the stake, and once more the horrid sound fell upon the ear of poor Louise. They were thrown, and Harcourt-lost. For a moment his frame shuddered, and perhaps he felt the villain he had become.
“The name?” exclaimed his antagonist. "Walter Berriton !"
Even the hardened gambler seemed to recoil from Harcourt with horror, as he exclaimed,
"The master of this house!—Is it possible?" The moment after the name of Berriton had been uttered, the stranger supported Louise to an adjoining chamber, where her natural timidity overpowered by her strong emotions, she clung to his arm, and with upturned countenance besought his aid, exclaiming,
"You have said that you are powerful; save, in mercy save Colonel Berriton."
"Dear lady, he is safe, quite safe."
"Yes, now," rejoined Louise; "but he is returning to England immediately; warn him of his danger; and save, ob, save him."
Believe me, there is no just cause for your apprehension; but I will see him-immediately— to-night. And what must I tell him from you?"
Louise," he murmured, in accents of passionate tenderness; "you have much to forgive; but dare I plead in excuse that your good aunt has been my fellow culprit."
That she did forgive him there is pretty good reason to believe; as the day she reached her majority she became the wife of Colonel Berriton, who however was previously raised to the title of Viscount.
As this is a tale of by-gone times, we will be old-fashioned enough to point its moral, perhaps because the whim is on us so to do-perhaps beCause we distrust the force of our own narrative. Gentlemen--Don't, if you are engaged to a beautiful heiress, defy a man who loves her also to win her from you; or, if you should be guilty of this folly, don't aid his endeavours by neglecting the lady. Don't stake your acres (especially your last) on the turn of a card, or the cast of a die; and don't promise your wife's fortune, at all events, until you have got it. Remember, too, how often fortune, fame, and honour, have been ingulfed in the vortex of play. Above all, if in your need a friend lends you his house, don't peep into any drawers he may carelessly have left unlocked. Don't look into letters that don't concern you, for the knowledge so gained is more likely to be dangerous to yourself than to any one else. Don't betray your friend, or be guilty of any other dishonourable action; for, though a woman may forgive your spending her fortune, she will-if she be worth one honest thought-cease to love where
she ceases to esteem.
Ladies-If you are entrapped into an engagement by false appearances with a worthless man, rejoice and be grateful if by any means, however harsh, your eyes are opened to escape-while there is yet time.
O'er Bethelem's fields a lambent light,
Each flinty rock and limpid stream.
Burst sweetly from the radiant sphere.
The first great promise is fulfill'd;
And howl and weep in darkness there! Rejoice, ye heavens! and sing thou earth! Ye blooming vales and deserts wild, Hail to the Saviour, virgin born!
Hail stainless Mother! Holy Child!
The king foretold of David's line,
Whom faithful Abraham saw afarHe who shall give the Gentiles light
Is come-the bright, the Morning Star. Of Him the prophets witness bore,
To spring from virgin undefiled; Worship him angels, saints, and men! HAIL BLESSED MOTHER! HOLY CHILD! Banks of the Yore.
"SMILE ON, NOR VENTURE TO UNMASK MAN'S HEART."
Yet what a book is here! and how unread,
THE TALE OF ZALEUKOS, THE ONEHANDED MERCHANT.
I was born in Constantinople, where my father carried on a lucrative business as dealer in silks, shawls, essences, perfumed oils, &c. He gave me a good education, instructing me carefully himself and procuring for me the advantages of the tuition of a learned priest who resided in our neighbourhood. At first it had been his intention that I should be placed in his warehouse and eventually succeed him; but as I gave early indications of great talent, he acted upon the advice of some friends, and determined to make me a physicianthis being a very lucrative profession in Constantinople, especially to a talented man who could be well introduced.
Many French merchants were in the habit of visiting at our house, and one of them persuaded my father to permit me to return with him to Paris; holding out as an inducement the facilities afforded by that capital for the acquirement of a medical education. My father, who had in his youth been a great traveller, readily consented, and the Frenchman bade me be prepared to start in three months. I was almost beside myself with joy at the bright anticipations of seeing foreign countries, and could scarcely await the appointed time with any degree of patience. At length however it came, the Frenchman had completed all his business, and was ready to start.
On the evening preceding our departure, my father summoned me to his closet, on entering which I saw clothes, arms, and money laid out on the table. Tenderly embracing me, he said-" Behold, my son, these things have I prepared for the journey. Those weapons I now bestow on you, they are the same which my grandfather gave me when I first quitted the paternal roof; use them, my son, but do not abuse them; and never draw your sword unless you are attacked. That pile of gold pieces is also yours. My property is not large, but I have divided it into three equal parts; the first I give you now, the second is for my own expenses and for the furtherance of my business, and the third I shall keep inviolable for you in case of need, or for the advancement of your future fortunes." Thus spoke my aged parent; tears dimmed his eyes; he folded me again and again to his bosom-perhaps with a secret presentiment that he should never behold me more-and at
length blessing me fervently, suffered me to depart. Our journey was pleasant, and unmarked by adventures, and we arrived in due time in Paris, where my friend hired apartments for me, and instructed me how to invest my money to the greatest advantage. For three years I resided there, and diligently studied every branch of the sciences usually considered as necessary for a physician; but I could not accommodate myself to the manners and customs of the people, nor did I make many friends. My heart was at home, a longing for my native land constantly possessed me, and at length became so invincible
that I resolved to embrace the first opportunity which offered of returning, and this resolution was strengthened by the circumstance of my having received no tidings of my father for many months.
Hearing of an embassy which was about to be dispatched to my own country, I got myself appointed to it as physician, and reached Stambul in safety.
On arriving at my father's house I found it shut up, and was informed by the neighbours that he had been dead two months. The priest, of whom I have before spoken, hearing of my return, came and brought me the key, and melancholy and alone I once more entered the now desolate abode of my childhood. All appeared to be exactly as my father had left it, excepting that I could find no money, or document relative to any. On mentioning this to the priest, he said "Your father, ere he died, bequeathed his money to the church, and his soul is now blessed by that good deed." Remembering, as I did, the last words my revered parent had ever uttered to me, I could not place much credence in this statement; but it was useless for me to say anything, I had no proofs of his having robbed me, and so far from complaining, might consider myself well off that he had left me the merchandise.
The loss of my father was the first sorrow or misfortune I had ever felt; but from that time blow fell on blow fast and thick. As a physician I was unknown, uncalled for; I was too proud and reserved to have recourse to puffs or quackery, and my father was no longer alive to assist me by his connection and interest. Nor did I prosper better as a merchant, for the news of my father's death had gone abroad, and that was but slowly replaced by the intelligence that a son had succeeded to him. Nothing in short appeared to prosper with me, until one day, as I sat meditating on my dreary prospects, I remembered, during my residence abroad, often to have seen merchants from my own country travelling from place to place, and exposing their wares for sale at the different fairs or festivals, and to have heard them say that great profits were thus to be made, as foreign goods invariably find ready purchasers.
My resolution was immediately taken-I disposed of my paternal dwelling, placed one portion of the money arising from this sale in trust in the hands of a wealthy merchant, vested the remainder in the purchase of shawls, brocades, essences, perfumes, &c., hired a vessel and set out for France. No sooner had I turned my back on the towers of Dardanelle than fortune once more smiled on me;
my journey was agreeable and advantageous; I found a ready sale for my merchandize, and soon had to write to my correspondents at Stambul for fresh supplies.
Every day seemed to bring with it an increase of prosperity, and I had soon laid by a sufficiently large sum to admit of my venturing to enlarge my speculations. I must, however, confess that all my gains did not arise from merchandize alone; I practised as a physician whenever I found an opportunity, and on my arrival at each town always announced that a celebrated Grecian physician had come, whose talents and wonderful cures were un