Images de page
PDF
ePub

“You embarrass me, Madam,” I said in my most chilling tone. Pray, relieve me from this unpleasant position.'

Wait! I cannot bear that you should think ill of me. You are good and kind, and I desire to possess your esteem. You little know how I love my father.'

I could not restrain a bitter smile.

• You do not believe that? Well, I will convince you. I have had a hard struggle all last night with myself, but am now resolved. This life of deceit must continue no longer. Will you hear my vindication ?'

I nodded my head. The wonderful melody of her voice, and the purity of her features were charming me once more. I half believed in her innocence already.

My father has told you a portion of his history. But he did not tell you that his continued failures in his search after the secret of metallic transmutation nearly killed him. Two years ago, he was on the verge of the grave, working every day at his mad pursuit, and every day growing weaker and more emaciated. I saw that if his mind was not relieved in some way, he would die. The thought was madness to me, for I loved him - I love him still as a daughter never loved a father before. During all these years of poverty I had supported the house with my needle; it was hard work, but I did it — I do it still!»

What? ' I cried startled, 'does not

Patience. Hear me out. My father was dying of disappointment. I must save him. By incredible exertions, sitting up all night, and working with enormous rapidity, I saved about thirtytive dollars in notes. These I exchanged for gold, and one day when my father was not looking, I cast them into the crucible in which he was making one of his vain attempts at transmutation. GOD, I am sure, will pardon me the deception. I never anticipated the misery it would lead to.

I never beheld any thing like the joy of my poor father, when, after emptying his crucible, he found a deposit of pure gold at the bottom. He wept, and danced, and sang, and built such castles in the air, that my brain turned to hear him. He gave me the ingot to keep, and went to work at his alchemy with renewed vigor. The same thing occurred. He always found the same quantity of gold in his crucible. I alone knew the secret. He was happy, poor man, for nearly two years, in the belief that he was amassing a fortune. I all the while plied my needle for our daily bread. When he asked me for his savings, the first stroke fell upon me. Then it was that I recognized the folly of my conduct. I could give him no money. I never had any — while he believed that I had fourteen thousand dollars. My heart was nearly broken when I found that he had conceived the most injurious suspicions against

Yet I could not blame him. I could give no account of the treasure, I had permitted him to believe was in my possession. I must suffer the penalty of my fault, for to undeceive him would be, I felt, to kill him. I remained silent then and suffered.

me.

"You know the rest. You now know why it was that I was reluctant to give you that ingot — why it was that I degraded myself so far as to ask it back. It was the only means I had of continuing a deception on which I believed my father's life depended. But that delusion has been dispelled. I can live this life of hypocrisy no longer. I cannot exist, and hear my father, whom I love so, wither me daily with his curses. I will undeceive him this very day — will you come with me, for I fear the effect on his enfeebled frame?'

Willingly,' I answered, taking her by the hand, and I think that no absolute danger need be apprehended. Now, Marian,' I added, “let me ask forgiveness for my having even for a moment wounded so noble a heart. You are truly as great a martyr, as any of those whose sufferings the Church perpetuates in altar-pieces.'

* I knew you would do me justice when you knew all,' she sobbed pressing my hand, but come. I am on fire. Let us hasten to my father's, and break this terror to him.'

WHEN we reached the old alchemist's room, we found him busiily engaged over a crucible which was placed on a small furnace, and in which some indiscribable mixture was boiling. He looked up as we entered.

No fear of me, Doctor," he said with a ghastly smile, 'no fear. I must not allow a little physical pain to interrupt my great work, you know. By the way, you are just in time. In a few moments the marriage of the Red King and White Queen will be accomplished, as George Ripley calls the great act, in his book entitled, "The Troelve Gates.' Yes, Doctor, in less than ten minutes you will see me make pure, red, shining gold!' And the poor old man smiled triumphantly, and stirred his foolish mixture with a long rod, which he held with difficulty in his bandaged hands. It was a grievous sight for a man of any feeling to witness.

Father," said Marian in a low, broken voice, advancing a little toward the poor old dupe, 'I want your forgiveness.'

“Ah, Hypocrite! for what? Are you going to give me back my gold ?:

No, father, but for the deception that I have been practising on you for two years

“I knew it - I knew it,' shouted the old man with a radiant countenance. “She has concealed my fourteen thousand dollars all this time, and now comes to restore them. I will forgive her. Where are they, Marian ?'

* Father — it must come out. You never made any gold. It was I who saved up thirty-five dollars, and I used to slip them into your crucible when your back was turned — and I did it only because I saw that you were dying of disappointment. It was wrong, I know - but, father, I meant well. You 'll forgive me, won't you?'

And the poor girl advanced a step towards the alchemist. He grew deathly pale, and staggered as if about to fall. The next in

and we

stant, though, he recovered himself, and burst into a horrible sardonic laugh. Then he said in tones full of the bitterest irony:

“A conspiracy, is it? Well done, Doctor! You think to reconcile me with this wretched girl by trumping up this story, that I have been for two years a dupe of her filial piety. It's clumsy, Doctor, and is a total failure. Try again.

“But I assure you, Mr. Blakelock,' I said as earnestly as I could, 'I believe your daughter's statements to be perfectly true. You will find it to be so, as she has got the ingot in her possession which so often deceived you into the belief that you made gold, and this you will certainly find, that no transmutation has taken place in your crucible.'

'Doctor,' said the old man in tones of the most settled conviction, 'you are a fool. That girl has wheedled you. In less than a minute I will turn you out a piece of gold, purer than any the earth produces. Wiỉ that convince you?'

* That will convince me," I answered. By a gesture I imposed silence on Marian, who was about to speak — as I thought it was better to allow the old man to be his own undeceiver awaited the coming crisis.

The old man, still smiling with anticipated triumph, kept bending eagerly over his crucible, stirring the mixture with his rod, and muttering to himself all the time.

“Now,' I heard him say, 'it changes. There

- there's the scum. And now the green and bronze shades flit across it. Oh! the beautiful green! The precursor of the golden-red hue, that tells of the end attained. Åh! now the golden-red is coming — slowly- slowly! It deepens, it shines, it is dazzling! Ah! I have it!' So saying he caught up his crucible in a chemist's tongs, and bore it slowly toward the table on which stood a brass vessel.

“Now, incredulous doctor!' he cried, 'come, and be convinced,' and immediately commenced carefully pouring the contents of the crucible into the brass vessel. When the crucible was quite empty, he turned it up, and called me again. Come, Doctor, come, and be convinced. See for yourself.

See first if there is any gold in your crucible,' I answered without moving

He laughed, shook his head derisively, and looked into the crucible. In a moment he grew pale as death.

'Nothing !' he cried. 'Oh! a jest ! a jest! There must be gold somewhere. Marian !

The gold is here, father," said Marian, drawing the ingot from her pocket; “it is all we ever had.'

* Ah!' shrieked the poor old man, as he let the empty crucible fall, and staggered toward the ingot which Marian held out to him. He made three steps, and then fell on his face. Marian rushed toward him, and tried to lift him, but could not. I put her aside gently, and placed my hand on his heart.

Marian,' said I, “it is perhaps better as it is. He is dead!'

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

LI T E R A R Y NOTICES.

THE PARA PAPERS. By George Leightox Ditson. Paris : FOWLER, 6 Rue Montpensier. New-York: Mason BROTHERS.

In christening this delightful record of travels, the author gave evidence of excessive and unnecessary modesty; for a pará, as the reader will understand, is one of the smallest of Oriental coins. Such delicacy on the part of the author, however, shall not tempt us into under-valuing his pleasantly written-down experiences in France, Egypt, and Ethiopia. Mr. Ditson passes over ground that has been worn nearly smooth by pilgrim feet; but he gives us fresh and charming pictures of the familiar places. The fact is, it is not of so much im-. portance where a man has been, as what he says about it! An observant man will be new and entertaining any where, whether he is fishing off of ‘Pier Nine, East-River,' or walking around the Pyramids. Mr. Ditson, then, has ma

managed to make a fascinating book out of materials that may be said to have a very ancient and fish-like smell.' He was wise enough to travel with his eyes wide open, and consequently (having a gift of pen) does not put his readers to sleep. We say this much for the present. The volume came to us as we were going to press, or we should have ventured on a criticism more commensurate with its many and peculiar merits.

The History AND ANTIQUITIES OF THE CITY OF St. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA. By GEORGE R. FAIRBANKS. New-York: CHARLES B. NORTON.

The ancient and siempre fiel Ciudad de San Augustin has found a most admirable historian in the Vice-President of the 'Florida Historical Society.' It was a happy suggestion which led the author to turn a brief lecture on the antiquities of the pleasante citie' into a volume like this. The events with which the author deals are among the most romantic passages of our early history. The wild search of Ponce de Leon for the waters of perpetual youth; the discovery of Florida ; the inhuman cruelty of the fanatical Adelantado, and the sad fortunes of RIBAULT, SANDONNIERE, and other noble gentlemen, have an enchanting air of fiction about them. Since PRESCOTT's Conquest of Mexico,' we have read nothing of the kind with such deep interest.

« PrécédentContinuer »