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swam a small tin cup. But I forget the more striking part of the picture, the sons and daughters of the house. The former flaming in green stocks and scarlet watchguards, while the cut of their long dangling coats showed that whoever they might once have fitted, they were now exceedingly out of place; the latter decked in tawdry, dirty finery, and wearing any look but that of the modest country maiden, who, “in choosing her garments, counts no bravery in the world like decency.”
The eldest girl, Amelia, who had lived with me at one time, had been lately at a hotel in a large village at some distance, and had returned but a short time before, not improved either in manners or reputation. Her tall commanding person was arrayed in far better taste than her sisters’, and by contrast with the place and circumstances, she wore really a splendid air. Her dress was of rich silk, made in the extreme mode, and set off by elegant jewelry. Her black locks were drest with scarlet berries; most elaborate pendants of wrought gold hung almost to her shoulders; and above her glittering basilisk eyes, was a gold chain with a handsome clasp of cut coral. The large hands were covered with elegant gloves, and an embroidered handkerchief was carefully arranged in her lap.
I have attempted to give some idea of the appearance of things in this wretched log-hut, but I cannot pretend to paint the confusion into which our ill-timed visit threw the family, who had always appeared before us in such different characters. The mother asked us to sit down, however, and Mr. Newland muttered some
thing, from which I gathered, that “the girls thought they must have a kind of a house-warmin’ like.” We made our visit very short, of course; but before we could make our escape, an old fellow came in with a violin, and an ox-sled approached the door, loaded with young people of both sexes, who were all “spilt.” into the deep snow, by a “mistake on purpose” of the driver. In the scramble which ensued, we took leave; wondering no longer at the destitution of the Newlands, or of the other families of the same class, whose young people we had recognized in the mêlée. The Newland family did not visit us as usual after this. There was a certain consciousness in their appearance when we met, and the old man more than once alluded to our accidental discovery with evident uneasiness. He was a person not devoid of shrewdness, and he was aware that the utter discrepancy be. tween his complaints, and the appearances we had witnessed, had given us but slight opinion of his veracity; and for some time we were almost strangers to each other. How was I surprised some two months after at being called out of bed by a most urgent message from Mrs. Newland, that Amelia, her eldest daughter, was dy. ing ! The messenger could give no account of her condition, but that she was now in convulsions, and her mother despairing of her life. I lost not a moment, but the way was long, and ere I entered the house, the shrieks of the mother and her children, told me I had come too late. Struck with horror I almost hesitated whether to proceed, but the door was opened, and I went in. Two or three neigh
bours with terrified countenances stood near the bed, and on it lay the remains of the poor girl, swollen and discoloured, and already so changed in appearance that I should not have recognized it elsewhere. I asked for particulars, but the person whom I addressed, shook her head and declined answering ; and there was altogether an air of horror and mystery which I was entirely unable to understand. Mrs. Newland, in her lamentations, alluded to the suddenness of the blow, and when I saw her a little calmed, I begged to know how long Amelia had been ill, expressing my surprise that I had heard nothing of it. She turned upon me as if I had stung her. “What, you’ve heard their lies too, have ye!” she exclaimed fiercely, and she cursed in no measured terms those who meddled with what did not concern them. I felt much shocked: and disclaiming all intention of wounding her feelings, I offered the needful aid, and when all was finished, returned home uninformed as to the manner of Amelia Newland's death. Yet I could not avoid noticing that all was not right.
Oft have I seen a timely-parted ghost
but the whole appearance of this sad wreck was quite different from that of any corpse I had ever viewed be. fore. Nothing was done, but much said or hinted on all sides. Rumour was busy as usual; and I have been assured by those who ought to have warrant for their assertions, that this was but one fatal instance out of the many cases, wherein life was perilled in the desperate effort to elude the “slow unmoving finger” of public scorn.
That the class of settlers to which the Newlands belong, a class but too numerous in Michigan, is a vicious and degraded one, I cannot doubt: but whether the charge to which I have but alluded, is in any degree just, I am unable to determine. I can only repeat, “I say the tale as 't was said to me,” and I may add that more than one instance of a similar kind, though with results less evidently fatal, has since come under my knowledge.
The Newlands have since left this part of the country, driving off with their own, as many of their neighbours' cattle and hogs as they could persuade to accompany them; and not forgetting one of the train of fierce dogs which have not only shown ample sagacity in getting their own living, but, “gin a tales be true,” assisted in supporting the family by their habits of nightly prowling.
I passed by their deserted dwelling. They had car. ried off the door and window, and some boys were busy pulling the shingles from the roof to make quailtraps. I trust we have few such neighbours left. Texas and the Canada war have done much for us in this way; and the wide west is rapidly drafting off those whom we shall regret as little as the Newlands.
Something that mellows and that glorifies,
Swift and high
As I have never made any remarkable progress in the heights and depths of meteorology, I am unable to speak with confidence as to the concatenation of causes which may withhold from this fertile peninsula the treasures of the clouds, in the early spring-time, when our land elsewhere, is saturated even to repletion with the “milky nutriment.” In plain terms, I cannot tell any thing about the reason why we have such dry Springs in Michigan, I can only advert to the fact as occasioning scenes rather striking to the new comer.
In April, instead of the “misty-moisty morning,” which proverbially heralds the “uncertain glory” of the day in that much belied month, the sun, day after day, and week after week, shows his jolly red face, at the proper hour, little by little above the horizon, cast. ing a scarlet glory on the leafless trees, and investing the well-piled brush-heaps with a burning splendour before their time. Now and then a brisk shower oc