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“As soon as the frosty curtains are removed from my windows, I have a view of the mountains of my native State, the dear old Adirondacks, and a glorious sight it is! There they tower, peak after peak, till their summits reach the clouds, and every hour in the day they seem to assume a different aspect. Sometimes they are of the deepest blue, while their tops are capped with snow, and look like the foam-crested waves of the mighty ocean! In other lights, they are all pure white, and then again, as the sunlight lingers lovingly upon them, they seem to blush beneath his ardent gaze; for so delicate is the tint they assume, that I can compare it to naught save the hue of a rose-leaf, or the eloquent flush of a maiden's cheek. Again they gather a golden tint, and look like waving fields of ripened corn, as they stand revealed against the clear, blue sky. Between us and them lies Lake Champlain, now bound in icy chains, and telling no tale' of the mighty pickerel that lie beneath its frozen surface; but I know that they are there, that is, if I did n't fish them all out last summer! On the other side of us rise the Green Mountains, each tree and shrub covered with hoar-frost, standing white and cold, and looking like the ghost of its summer self. So they are any thing but green mountains now, or if they are, it's an invisible green!
* With such beautiful sights to tempt one, you will not wonder that I am out of doors every day, in spite of the cold weather. One of my favorite walks is to the falls of the Otter Creek, and for me they possess more fascination, as they rush impetuously over the ice-bound cliffs, than when surrounded by the profusion of verdure with which midsummer decks them. The rocks on all sides are covered with ice-beads and frozen spray, which reflect back the sun-light, and glitter like diamonds: in some places it looks as soft and white as swan's-down, and in others, it hangs like bunches of ostrich-plumes, as full and rich as any that ever graced the head of a court lady; and then again it is drawn out into long transparent threads, that form a sparkling net-work over the rocks. On a bright day, the spray-drops dance and glisten in the sun-shine, forming the most beautiful little fairy rainbow that ever a mortal's eye beheld, while the glowing colors reflected on the glittering ice with dazzling brilliancy, make it indeed a scene of enchantment! When it reaches the depths below, the little stream winds on its way, quietly and submissively, without even a murmur ; but I fancy that it must exult when it thinks of spring freshets, and how it will burst the bonds with which the tyrannical frostking has bound it, and leap laughingly away, rejoicing in its new-found liberty, and carrying off a few mill-dams, saw-mills, and bridges, by way of a frolic!
Our little village has been in the greatest state of confusion for the last few days. Such a concourse of people! Lawyers and lawyers' clerks, judges, jurymen, and witnesses, they poured upon our devoted town like a swarm of locusts! Why, I haven't been able to draw a quiet breath since their arrival; the whole town is full of them. One can't cross the street without encountering half-a-dozen, and on every corner may be seen a knot of black-coated individuals, shaking their heads and trying to look wise. Then such a cause as they have got, and how much they know about it; I verily believe half of them are not sure whether they are engaged for the plaintiff or defendant. I for one shall rejoice when they take their depar. ture, and allow our little town to return to its habitual quiet state.
'Do you know that I have serious reasons to apprehend that I am quite out of the good graces of my old Quaker beau, from whom I coaxed the compliment? The other evening, I was his partner in a game of whist, and thinking of something else instead of paying attention to the game, I made a very stupid play, when he started forward, pushed the card toward me, and exclaimed: “What in Cain did you play that for?'
A universal burst of laughter followed this explosion, and the cards got into some confusion, and I was accused of having intentionally occasioned it, to get rid of a very poor hand. The old gentleman looked at me very disdainfully, and then in his most staid accents drawled out: 'Well, if this is n't one of the curiousest fix-ups ever I did see!' After that, he took up his cards and played in perfect silence the rest of the evening, and he has not even smiled on me since! An amusing little affair occurred here the other day, which I can't resist the temptation of telling you, even at the risk of being called a village gossip. It seems that one of the young men of this place had written offensive letters to several individuals, and signed the initials of another young man, who, having discovered the offender, took an opportunity to horse-whip him publicly, and to the prayers of the victim and the entreaties of the by-standers, his only reply was, as he continued to lay on the lashes: "I'll teach him to write synonymous notes, and sign another man's name to them!'
'I went the other afternoon to visit an old lady nearly ninety years old. She is grandmother to one-half the town, and auntie to the other half, but notwithstanding her advanced age, she retains her eye-sight and hearing perfectly, and her conversation is a droll mixture of the shrewdness of experience and the simplicity of childhood. When I entered, I found her seated in her rocking-chair, with her feet upon a little foot-stool, with an open book upon her knee, looking the very picture of comfort and content. She gave me an affectionate greeting, and seating myself near her, I opened my budget of village news; for the old lady takes the keenest interest in all that goes on in the neighborhood. I told her what young man had escorted certain young ladies to singing-school, and what remarks had been made about it, and which young ladies attracted the most attention at the last tea-party, who the handsome colonel was most devoted to, who the pretty widow smiled most sweetly on, and what was said of the stylish Mrs.
• The old lady listened attentively, and then quietly remarked: 'Well, things are just the same as they used to be when I was a girl. If a woman be pretty, witty, and talented, she is pretty sure of the admiration of the men, and the hatred and envy of the majority of her own sex; for it is only superior minds that can bear superiority in others.'
'She then went on to speak of other matters, and finally referring to the book upon her knee, she said that she had been much interested by its perusal, and that as she knew me to be very fond of reading, she would be glad to lend it to me. I took up the little pamphlet and found it to be The Illustrated Family Almanac.' With the most serious face in the world, I thanked the dear old lady for her kindness, and in a few moments took my leave; but just as I reached the door, she cried out: 'Come back, dear child, and get your book; you came very near leaving it, did n't you?'
'I took the book from her hand and brought it home in safety, so I shall no longer be obliged to scribble letters to you, by way of amusement; for when I get dull, and time hangs heavy on my hands, I can read the Almanac. Adieu.-Yours truly,
J, K, Li' How do you suppose that I have spent the last half-hour, Mr. KNICKERBOCKER ? Well, I sha n't stop for you to reply; for with all your masculine vanity, you would never be able to guess. I have been looking at your likeness! Now do n't shrug your shoulders and try to look so supremely indifferent; you feel flattered; I know you do; and well you may, for there's many a man between this and the ocean would give every thing else but his cherished moustache to have me gaze at his * pictured sell' for half-an-hour.
"And now, lest I should kindle an extra spark of vanity in your breast, I will just explain to you how it happened that I wasted so much valuable time in such a useless manner. You must know that I had read last month's Magazine through and through, from cover to cover, and being rather in want of reading matter, I was about commencing a second time, when, as I tell you, I found on the outside * food for thought,' which prevented my going any further. I like that picture much. How cozy and comfortable you do look there in your high-backed chair, and how I should like to rumage in that old chest! I see now where you get all the good things from that you put in your Magazine, (all except those I write for it!) how I should like to overhaul them for you! And then that pile of books on the floor does look so deliciously careless and literary! I'll be bound that it worries your wife's life half out, and that BETTY the chamber-maid is dying to dust them, and set them to rights a bit,' but I admire the firmness of character which has enabled you to keep them in just such confusion for the last ten years, in spite of wife and chamber-maid: it shows the good old Dutch blood, Mr. KNICKERBOCKER, and I honor Dutch blood, as in duty bound; seeing that it flows in these veins, pure and undefiled. That pipe too is decidedly Dutch, and my 'heart warms to it.' My dear old grandfather used to smoke just such a pipe, only not quite so long, and he left me an extra share in his will on account of my partiality to tobacco-smoke. Some people's eyes always fill with tears when exposed to tobaccosmoke; I wonder if they are thinking of their dear grandfathers ?
There is but one thing in the picture I object to — one thing that I fear and hate. Now do n't be frightened, for it is n't you. O dear! no; I'm not afraid of a man! and it's neither pen, ink, nor paper; for as you know to your sorrow, I am only too fond of those, but it is that animal, that cat! How can you have her there! Upon my word, I never will set my foot in your sanctum till you drive her out. Why, it makes my flesh creep and my blood run cold just to write about her, and I would not enter a room with one of those creatures in it for the wealth of the Indies. I spend all my pocket-money in paying small boys to rid the place of them. I believe they are necessary appendages of an old maid. Upon my word, I'd rather have a husband; so drive her out, Mr. KNICKERBOCKER, if you hope to retain my friendship. And now, having spent half-an-hour looking at your picture, and another half-hour telling you about it, I may as well devote the next to you also, and let you know how I am getting on in my mountain-home. We had a glorious snow-storm yesterday - one of those real old-fashioned kind we used to have when I was a child. The large, white, feathery flakes came down thick and fast, and lodged on the house-tops and hedges, and gradually caused the fences to disappear, and covered the meadows and mountains with a pure white mantle.
"I did nothing all day but watch the falling snow, and my spirits seemed to rise higher and higher as the pretty white flakes danced merrily in the air. What can be pleasanter than such a storm when we may sit quietly at home and enjoy it in the company of those who are nearest and dearest — to turn from the beating storm without to the warm hearts and happy faces within ? This little village ought to sit for its picture: it would make a most beautiful .snow-scene' to-day.
"Oh! I had such a sleigh-ride last night, by moon-light, with the thermometer below zero! Now do n't roll up your eyes and shudder, Mr. KNICKERBOCKER, and say that I have forfeited all claims to be called a sensible woman. You know
nothing at all about it; but just listen to me while I give you my experience, and see if you do n't acknowledge that you would like to follow my example. It was just after tea, last evening, that my mother sat in her easy-chair, knitting a little stocking for the little foot of one of her innumerable little grand-children. Sister sat by the table with her work-box before her, and her pretty little fingers busily employed upon some delicate piece of feminine industry, while I was lolling on the sofa, with my attention divided between a spider that was crawling on the lamp-shade and my industrious sister, and I was wondering what fun she could possibly find in striking that little piece of steel through and through that piece of cambric, and heartily wishing that sewing had never been invented, but that we were all like birds, and furnished by nature with suitable covering; for then I should have no gloves to mend, and stockings to darn, and be called lazy, because I always postponed it till the last possible moment. Just then my reverie was interrupted by the entrance of my brother-in-law, who remarked that it was a splendid night. I rose and went to the window: it was indeed a glorious night, and I exclaimed almost involuntarily, 'Oh! what a night for a sleigh-ride!' 'Well,' replied he, let us go. Mamma looked up from her knitting, and sister from her stitching, and simultaneously they exclaimed: 'Surely you 're not in earnest! Why, you 'll freeze to death, child!' But my brother-in-law, who has always been an aider and abettor in all my schemes of fun and frolic, since my earliest recollections, interposed in my behalf, and overruled all their objections; so I ran off to muffle myself up, and returned to the parlor, prepared, as I thought, to encounter a Lapland winter, but mother insisted upon an extra pair of moccasins over my Polish boots, thus making my feet even more than usually elephantine in their proportions; and sister went in search of her fur-cap, though I had on one of my own already. It occurred to me, as I surveyed myself in the mirror, that thus attired, no one would perceive the fall of my shoulders, or call my figure 'sylph-like,' or fall in love with my graceful walk; for I fairly rolled under the weight of clothing. In a few moments my brother-in-law entered, and really the figure he presented was almost as ludicrous as my own; so we both enjoyed a hearty laugh at each other's expense, till the sound of the bells announced that the sleigh was at the door. I jumped in, and was safely packed away amid innumerable sleigh-robes, (rather a cold night to ride out in our bear-skins, was n't it?) My brother seated himself by my side, and off we started at a charming rate — the horses seeming to feel in as high spirits as we did. The river was soon reached, and we followed its windings for miles, sometimes between high cliffs, and then again through low level plains — the naked branches of the trees casting their skeleton shadows on the snow beneath, and every now and then a tall evergreen stood like a giant sentinel along our road. Thus we went for miles and miles, not meeting a single living thing, and with nothing to break the solemn stillness of the night save the musical ring of our own sleigh-bells; and such a night! — with that glorious moon sailing high in heaven, and the stars, those tireless watchers, looking so smilingly down upon us, and filling our hearts with thoughts of loved and absent ones, and of some who have left us to return no more; and we fancied that even then their spirits were looking down upon us from those bright orbs above. We arrived safely home about nine o'clock, as warm and comfortable as though we had never quitted the parlor-fire, but mother suggested the propriety of our drinking a hot whiskey-punch, to prevent the possibility of taking cold, and of course, as dutiful children, we followed her advice, and, unlike most doctors, we found that she was very willing herself to take the remedy she prescribed for others!
J, K. L
THERE was one thing which we knew, when we first read the following reminiscence in manuscript, and that was, that it was written from the life. Do n't you see, now, how easy it is to make a graphic picture, if you write as you think, without over-laying every thing you have to say with words? We have hundreds of communications in our 'Baälam-box,' in prose and verse, in which the thoughts, good enough often-times in themselves, and sometimes exceedingly felicitous, are literally covered up with word-rubbish :
Yes; those blessed, bright, and happy days! Who cannot look back upon them with a thrill of joy, as he sees himself trudging on with a heart-full of fun and hope, and a dinner-basket as full of pie and nut-cakes?
He is as free from corroding care as the bird which flits and twitters across his pathway; and like it, he mounts in spirit, and soars above the ills and fears which have now gathered so thickly around us, and attach themselves like so many leeches upon our hearts, drawing out our very life-blood. The hoop, the kite, or the ball which is crowded into his pants-pocket, has far more attractions for him than the books the school-ma'am' is so anxious he should keep nis eyes upon.
'But how shall I write about balls and hoops when it was never my misfortune to wear a hat or a round-about? No, indeed; but my calico sun-bonnet, with its deep cape and ruffled front, hung for many a week upon the same peg in the spar cious old hall of the red school-house.
'How anxiously we hurried around in the morning to have our dinners put up, and to be off, that we might have time to play; and a right happy time we had of it too, laying a wall of stone on either side of the path which led to the stump where our play-house was made.
Then there were our dishes — some real China ones, with pink edges — put upon tiny shelves of shingles, and arranged with curious taste, that every piece might show its beauties.
* When all was ready, and our dolls dressed and quieted, we played 'go and see,' rapping at the portals of each other's stumps with as much mock-dignity and po. liteness as you now see in the parlors of the rich. And with full as much heartinterest we inquired after the healths of each other's rag-babies as ladies now feel in regard to 'real live babies,' wrapped in embroidered flannel and sleeping in costly cribs. And often we expressed our surprise, as we looked upon the coal-traced features of our rag progeny, at the striking resemblance it had to its father.
‘But in the midst of our highest enjoyment, as we all believed, rap! rap! rap! in quick and spiteful succession, would go the 'ruler' upon the window-sash; and then such a scampering and running to put things to rights,' and hide our babies where the boys, those pests of all pests, those girl-tormentors, should not find them.
'All things speedily arranged, we crowd the hall, each eager to get ahead, when, perhaps, just as the door is opened, some heedless girl is sent headlong in upon allfours. Then a general titter is heard, but at the peals of the old ruler upon the table, with, Order!' from the school-ma'am,' how we straightened down our faces and suppressed the laugh that was distending our cheeks by holding one hand tight over our mouths for fear it might involuntarily escape.
Well do I remember the first day of that winter's school, when Mr. Noal, with his portly form and bloated face, walked in and took the chair. We were all early