ページの画像
PDF
ePub

magazines, and Miss Fidler asked me if I had read the “Young Duke.” Upon my confessing as much, she asked my opinion of the heroine, and then if I had ever heard so sweet a name. “May Dacre—May Dacre,” she repeated, as if to solace her delighted ears. “Only think how such names are murdered in this country,” said I, tossing carelessly before her an account of Mr. Skinner’s which bore, “Edkins Daker” below the receipt. I never saw a change equal to that which seemed to “come o'er the spirit of her dream.” I went on with my citations of murdered names, telling how Rogers was turned into Rudgers, Conway into Coniway, and Montague into Montaig, but poor Miss Fidler was no longer in talking mood ; and, long before the day was out, she complained of a head-ache and returned to her sister's. Mr. Daker found her “not at home” that evening; and when I called next morning, the young lady was in bed, steeping her long ringlets in tears, real tears. To hasten to the catastrophe; it was discovered ere long that Mr. Edkins Daker's handsome face, and really pleasant manners, had fairly vanquished Miss Fidler's romance, and she had responded to his professions of attachment with a truth and sincerity, which while it vexed her family inexpressibly, seemed to me to atone for all her follies. Mr. Daker's prospects were by no means despicable, since a small capital employed in merchandize in Michigan, is very apt to confer upon the industrious and fortunate possesser that crowning charm, without which handsome faces, and even handsome names, are quite worthless in our Western eyes.

Some little disparity of age existed between Miss Fidler and her adorer; but this was conceded by all to be abundantly made up by the superabounding gentility of the lady; and when Mr. Daker returned from New-York with his new stock of goods and his stylish bride, I thought I had seldom seen a happier or better mated couple. And at this present writing, I do not believe Eloise, with all her whims, would exchange her very nice Edkins for the proudest Dacre of the British Peerage.

[ocr errors]

By sports like these are all their cares beguiled,
The sports of children satisfy the child;
Each nobler aim, repress'd by long control,
Now sinks at last, or feebly mans the soul;
While low delights succeeding fast behind,
In happier meanness occupy the mind.
GoLDSMITH.—Traveller.

THERE is in our vicinity one class of settlers whose condition has always been inexplicable to me. They seem to work hard, to dress wretchedly, and to live in the most uncomfortable style in all respects, apparently denying themselves and their families every thing be. yond the absolute necessaries of life. They complain most bitterly of poverty. They perform the severe labour which is shunned by their neighbours; they purchase the coarsest food, and are not too proud to ask for an old coat or a pair of cast boots, though it is always with the peculiar air of dignity and “dont care,” which is characteristic of the country.

Yet instead of increasing their means by these penurious habits, they grow poorer every day. Their dwellings are more and more out of repair. There are more and more shingles in the windows, old hats and red petticoats cannot be spared ; and an increasing dearth of cows, pigs, and chickens. The daughters go to service, and the sons “chore round” for every body and any body; and even the mamma, the centre of dignity, is fain to go out washing by the day. A family of this description had fallen much under our notice. The father and his stout sons had performed a good deal of hard work in our service, and the females of the family had been employed on many occasions when “help * was scarce. Many requests for cast articles, or those of trifling value had been proffered during the course of our acquaintance; and in several attacks of illness, such comforts as our house afforded had been frequently sought, though no visit was ever requested. They had been living through the summer in a shanty, built against a sloping bank, with a fire-place dug in the hill-side, and a hole pierced through the turf by way of chimney. In this den of some twelve feet square, the whole family had burrowed since April; but in October, a log-house of the ordinary size was roofed in, and though it had neither door nor window, nor chimney, nor hearth, they removed, and felt much elated with the change. Something like a door was soon after swinging on its leathern hinges, and the old man said they were now quite comfortable, though he should like to get a window ! The first intelligence we received from them after this, was that Mr. Newland, the father, was dangerously ill with inflammation of the lungs. This was not surprising, for a quilt is but a poor substitute for a window during a Michigan November. A window was supplied, and such alleviations as might be collected, were contributed by several of the neighbours. The old man lingered on, much to my surprise, and

after two or three weeks we heard that he was better, and would be able to “kick round "pretty soon. It was not long after, that we were enjoying the fine sleighing, which is usually so short-lived in this lakey region. The roads were not yet much beaten, and we had small choice in our drives, not desiring the troublesome honour of leading the way. It so happened that we found ourselves in the neighbourhood of Mr. Newland's clearing ; and though the sun was low, we thought we might stop a moment to ask how the old man did. We drove to the door, and so noiseless was our approach, guiltless of bells, that no one seemed aware of our coming. We tapped, and heard the usual reply, “Walk 1" which I used to think must mean “Walk off.” I opened the door very softly, fearing to disturb the sick man; but I found this caution quite mal-apropos. Mrs. Newland was evidently in high holiday trim. The quilts had been removed from their stations round the bed, and the old man, shrunken and miserable-looking enough, sat on a chair in the corner. The whole apartment bore the marks of expected hilarity. The logs over-head were completely shrouded by broad hemlock boughs fastened against them ; and evergreens of various kinds were disposed in all directions, while three tall slender candles, with the usual potato supporters, were placed on the cupboard shelf. On the table, a cloth seemed to cover a variety of refreshments; and in front of this cloth stood a tin pail, nearly full of a liquid whose odour was but too discernible ; and on the whiskey, for such it seemed,

« 前へ次へ »