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I feel almost inclined to agree with a poor þunter, who lived here some fifteen or sixteen years ago, when the west was what one less experienced might have considered wild, or at least wildish. He was a tall, gauntleathern-faced man: always habited in fur-cap, blanket-coat, rabbit
, skin waist-coat, and deer-hide pantaloons, or leggins, and moccasins. He was in truth a very good representative of the leather-stocking. He lived all alone, in a small log-house, by the bank of the river: yet he was not quite solitary, for he had the companionship of a large woolly dog, a very attached and faithful animal. But in a year or two the man began to look discontented, and spoke of selling his farm. On being asked why he wished to dispose of it, he answered sorrowfully: 'Oh! it's growin' so crowded with folks a comin' into the country, I can't go two miles, some ways from the cabin, without comin' on a clearin' or a house; and cart-tracks is so plenty, I can't stand it. I must go to loway, to get rid o the folks. I heern that country a’n't ruined yit.'
Well, well: the wisest man the world e'er saw' said there was a time for every thing;' so we must be content in the belief that there was a time for the west to be wild and blooming, and a time for it to be civil lized and done up,' as they say of rejuvenated ladies, of a certain age. It is satisfactory to think there is a time for every thing: so there was a time for writing ‘Sketches of Western Life,' and now the time is past: and I make my bow, wishing both critics and admirers a polite adieu.
OH! hast thou never watched the smile
That plays on Youth's full, rosy face,
The smile to a grimace?
That now adorns the rounded cheek;
Shall seem all wan and bleak?
I've seen the maiden, young and pure,
Move gaily on, to cheer and bless
Those hearts a wilderness!
Whose little beart beat joyously,
E'en in his very glee!
In one short moment swept away;
Have passed into decay.
Whom then we pledged, with Friendship’s Tow,
Alas! where are they now?
All the day long upon the rolling river
We sail beneath the burning summer-sun; Weary we watch the noiseless wavelets quiver,
And doze and dream, while floating idly on.
No breath of breeze the leaden sail uplifting;
No stir or motion on the water wide: But on its brazen bosom slowly drifting,
We scarcely feel the gently-flowing tide.
The agile airs that in the morning started
To blow the vapors from the sun's broad face, And chase them up the hill-side, have departed,
With drooping wings, all wearied with the race.
Our little vessel cleaves the waves no longer,
Dashing the water bravely from her bow,
For nothing stirs her but the tide-wave now.
In his love's arms lies listlessly at rest, So she, her feats of sailing soon forgot,
Droops fainting on the water's burning breast. The rude lips of the ruffian sun are drinking
Hot kisses from the wavelets as they glide: Like timid maids, from his embraces shrinking,
They long to find a home wherein to hide.
They cannot know that God, in his own fashion,
Doing, as always, all things for the best, Makes them the purer for this fiery passion,
Before the sun has sunk within the west.
Our souls — at least when passion has passed through us,
And left us prey to bitter fears and pains Become the better for the love that drew us,
Softened and soothed by gentle evening rains. The slender sword-fish, whirling as if crazy,
Darts on the sleeping surface to and fro;
Quiet and cosy, lies the perch below.
Silent as ghosts, we hold our toilsome way,
See forms beneath, that beckon us to stay.
In the dank weeds we image flowing tresses,
And in the buds beneath, unearthly eyes; And arms are twining there in soft caresses
Fair love-knots, which our cruel keel unties.
TRANSLATED FOR THE KNICKERBOCKER FROM HENRY MUROER'S SCENES
It was the nineteenth of March, 184. Should Rodolphe reach the age of Methusaleh, he will never forget the date; för it was on that day, at three in the afternoon, that our friend issued from a banker's office where he had just received five hundred francs in current and sounding specie.
The first use Rodolphe made of this slice of Peru which had fallen into his pocket was not to pay his debts, inasmuch as he had sworn to himself to practise economy and go to no extra expense. He had a fixed idea on this subject, and declared that before thinking of superfluities, one ought to provide for necessaries. Therefore it was that he paid none of his creditors, and bought a Turkish pipe which he had long coveted.
Armed with this purchase, he directed his steps toward the lodging of his friend Marcel, who had for some time given him shelter. As he entered Marcel's atelier, Rodolphe's pockets rang like a village-steeple on a grand holiday. On hearing this unusual sound, Marcel supposed it was one of his neighbors, a great speculator, counting his profits on 'Change, and muttered: There's that impertinent fellow next door beginning his music again! If this is to go on, I shall give notice to the landlord. It's impossible to work with such a noise. It tempts one to quit one's condition of poor artist ånd turn robber, forty times over.' So, never suspecting that it was his friend Rodolphe changed into a Cresus, Marcel reäpplied himself to his Passage of the Red Sea, which had been on his easel nearly three years.
Rodolphe, who had not yet spoken, meditating an experiment which he was about to make on his friend, said to himself: We shall laugh in a minute. Won't it be fun?' and he let fall a piece of five francs on the floor.
Marcel raised his eyes and looked at Rodolphe, who was as grave as an article in the Revue des deux Mondes.'* Then he picked up the piece of money with a well-satisfied air, and made a courteous salute to it; for, vagabond artist as he was, he understood the usages of society, and was very civil to strangers. Knowing, moreover, that Rodolphe had gone out to look for money, Marcel, seeing that his friend had succeeded in his operations, contented himself with admiring the result, without inquiring by what means it had been obtained. Accordingly, he went to work again without speaking, and finished drowning an Egyptian in the waves of the Red Sea. As he was terminating this homicide, Rodolphe let fall another piece, laughing in his sleeve at the face the painter was going to make.
At the sonorous sound of the metal, Marcel bounded up as if he had received an electric shock, and cried : What! Number two!!!
A third piece rolled on the floor; then another; then one more; finally a whole quadrille of five-franc pieces were dancing in the room.
Marcel began to show evident signs of mental alienation; and Rodolphe laughed like the pit of a Parisian theatre at the first representation of a very tragical tragedy. Suddenly, and without any warning, he plunged both hands into his pockets, and the money rushed out in a supernatural steeple-chase. It was an inundation of Pactolus ; it was Jupiter entering Danaë's chamber.
Marcel remained silent, motionless, with a fixed stare; his astonishment was gradually operating upon him a transformation similar to that which the untimely curiosity of Mrs. Lot brought upon her: by the time that Rodolphe had thrown his last hundred francs on the floor, the painter was petrified all down one side of his body.
Rodolphe laughed and laughed. Compared with his stormy mirth, the thunder of an orchestra of sax-horns would have been no more than the crying of a child at the breast.
Stunned, strangled, stupefied by his emotions, Marcel thought himself in a dream. To drive away the night-mare, he bit his finger till he brought blood, and almost made hfanself scream with pain. He then perceived that, though trampling upon money, he was perfectly awake. Like a personage in a tragedy, he ejaculated : Can I believe my eyes ?' and then seizing Rodolphe's hand, he added :
Explain me this mystery.' * Did I explain it, 't would be one no more.' Come now!!
“This gold is the fruit of the sweat of my brow,' said Rodolphe, picking up the money and arranging it on the table. He then went a few steps and looked respectfully at the five hundred francs ranged in heaps, thinking to himself: «Now, then, my dreams will be realized !'
“There cannot be much less than six thousand francs there,' thought
Answering to our North-American.
Marcel to himself, as he regarded the silver which trembled on the table. “I've an idea! I shall ask Rodolphe to buy my Passage of the Red Sea.
All at once Rodolphe put himself into a theatrical attitude, and, with great solemnity of voice and gesture, addressed the artist :
Listen to me, Marcel : the fortune which has dazzled your eyes is not the product of vile manoeuvres ; I have not sold my pen; I am rich, but honest. This gold, bestowed by a generous hand, I have sworn to use in laboriously acquiring a serious position - such as a virtuous man should have. Labor is the most sacred of duties'
‘And the horse, the noblest of animals,' interrupted Marcel. "Bah! where did you get that sermon ? Been through a course of good sense, no doubt.'
* Interrupt me not,' replied Rodolphe, and truce to your railleries. They will be blunted against the buckler of invulnerable resolution in which I am from this moment clad.'
“That will do for prologue. Now the conclusion.'
*This is my design. No longer embarrassed about the material wants of life, I am going seriously to work. First of all, I renounce my vagabond existence; I shall dress like other people, set up a black coat, and go to evening-parties. If you are willing to follow in my foot-steps, we will continue to live together; but you must adopt my programme. The strictest economy will preside over our life. By proper management we have before us three months' work without any preoccupation. But we must be economical.'
My dear fellow,' said Marcel, economy is a science only practicable for rich people; you and I, therefore, are ignorant of its first elements. However, by making an outlay of six francs we can have the works of Mr. Say, a very distinguished economist, who will perhaps teach us how to practise the art. Hallo! you have a Turkish pipe there!'
Yes; I bought it for twenty-five francs.'
'How is that! You talk of economy, and give twenty-five francs for a pipe!'
And this is an economy. I used to break a two-sous pipe every day, and at the end of the year that came to a great deal more.
* True; I should never have thought of that.' They heard a neighboring clock strike six.
'Let us have dinner at once,' said Rodolphe. 'I mean to begin from to-night. Talking of dinner, it occurs to me that we lose much valuable time every day in cooking ours; now time is money, so we must economize it. From this day we will dine out.'
“Yes,' said Marcel, there is a capital eating-house twenty steps off. It's rather dear, but not far to go, so we shall gain in time what we lose
• We will go there to-day,' said Rodolphe, “but to-morrow or next day we will adopt a still more economical plan. Instead of going to the eatinghouse, we will hire a cook.'
"No, no,' put in Marcel, we will hire a servant to be cook and every thing. Just see the immense advantages which will result from it. First of all
, our rooms will be always in order; he will clean our boots, go of