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these mountain-tops, with the earth below us hidden in mist, and only the highest peaks looming through the sea of vapour like islands in the ocean; and we plunging wildly about in the fog, like Death on the pale horse riding the waves, and at the momentarily-recurring risk of riding over some hidden precipice of a thousand feet perpendicular. If this be your glorious mountain-scenery, to the demon with it! for I had as lief be on the open sea with the Ancient Mariner !'"
To this half-petulant, half-laughing philippic, Captain Clifton, while his glance still roved over the shrouded hemisphere, replied, with an indulgent smile
"You cannot see the face of the country for the morning veil she chooses to wear. But wait till high noon, when the sun, her royal lover, in the meridian of his glory, shall raise that gauzy covering, and she, like a right royal bride, shall smile and blush in light and glory."
"By my soul, I could fancy the lady earth wore this veil to conceal fast-gathering tears, rather than smiles or blushes! Anglice, I think we shall have rain soon-though blistered be my tongue for saying it!-not about the rain, but about the veil! For, look you! fret as I may at this journey through the mist, yet this fine scenery, under a cloud as it literally is, gives me a feeling of breadth, grandeur ! I expand, spread out over the vast area of its shrouded solitudes! Oh, it is only on the boundless sea or on the mountaintop, with a hemisphere below me, that I feel as if I had room enough to live in! And you give me a feeling of suffocation by drawing in this awful shrouded world to the simile of a lady's veiled face! But it is not to be wondered at. No, by the shade of Marc Antony, and all other great men who held the whole world light in the balance with a woman's evanescent smile or tear! everything is apropos des femmes with you now. Could the music of the spheres suddenly burst upon your astonished ears, as soon as you had recovered your senses, your highest note of admiration would be to compare that universal diapason of divine harmony to Lady Carolyn's silver laugh!"
"I do not recollect ever to have heard Lady Carolyn laugh."
Ten thousand pardons! laughs. But tell me, captain, mean, in the clouds-are we?
A Clifton of Clifton never whereabouts in the world-I And when shall we see this
pure pearl of beauty and the rich casket that enshrines her; this stately lily of the mountains and the parterre where she blooms? When shall we behold Paradise and the PeriClifton and Lady Carolyn ?"
Without replying to this mock-poetic strain, Captain Clifton remianed with his eyes still wandering from east to west, and back again over the rolling vapour. And Fairfax con
"I suspect, now, by your abstracted air and wandering eye, that you have lost your way in the clouds-not the first time such a thing has happened to a lover; nor would it be strange in a place like this, where the only landmarks are mountain-tops sticking out of the fog, with a day's journey between each!"
At this instant, a distant group of peaks broke suddenly through the mist like new isles thrown up by the sea, and glittered whitely in the sunlight against the deep blue horizon.
"See!" exclaimed Clifton, roused from his apathy by the sudden apparition. "Look, Fairfax! I will show you White Cliffs! Look straight before you to the western horizonlittle north of west. You see a crescent of seven peaks rising through the mist against the sky. That is White Cliffs."
"Looking white enough at this distance-quite like snowcapped mountains, in fact."
"Yes. They are of white quartz, and their peaks rising from the girdle of dark evergreens around their base and sides have quite a cooling effect in hot weather."
Now, how far off are those same blessed
"Ah! just so. refrigerators ?"
"About twenty-five miles in a bee-line. But the mountain-road is very circuitous, and makes the distance nearly forty. However, if we ride well, we shall be able to reach Clifton in time to surprise Mrs. Clifton at tea."
"Heaven be praised for that possibility!" ejaculated Fairfax, as they prepared to descend the mountain-side.
As they rode down, Captain Clifton, warming slightly from his cool reserve, said—
I think, Fairfax, that you, poet and artist as you claim to be, will rather like Clifton. Tourists, who have visited our part of the country, think the scenery there very fine. It impresses me merely as being unique. There is something
formal-but, to myself, not therefore unpleasing-in that crescent of seven peaks; the tallest being in the centre and gradually declining thence to the lowest, which may be called the horns of the crescent, and point southward. These peaks rise from a forest of-first elms and oaks around their base; then pines farther up their sides; and last of cedars, above which rise the pinnacle of white quartz. This crescent of mountains surrounds and shelters from the north winds the family mansion, which is situated in the woods at its foot. North of the peaks the country is wild and rugged, but partly covered with thick forest, and affording the best hunting-grounds in the world. There you may course the hare; track the deer; or, if your tastes aspire to a fiercer conflict, hunt the wolf, the wild-cat, or the bear!"
"Or the rattlesnake, copper-head, or mocassin! Thank you, I have no inclination for crusade against those mountaineers," laughed Fairfax.
Perhaps you like angling? There is a trout-stream at the foot of the wooded lawn, in front of the house. I must tell you about that, for it is the head waters of a fine river. From the western cliff there springs a torrent that, with many a leap, a fall, and rebound, tumbles tumultuously down the side of the mountain, and, falling into a channel at the foot of the lawn, flows calmly on until it meets a second fall, from whence it goes hurrying on, through forests, fields, and rocks, taking tribute from many a mountain-torrent, and many a meadow-stream, and widening as it goes, until it becomes a mighty river, rushing on to pour its floods into the majestic James. After which, they both go on, breaking through range after range of mountains, and so conquer their passage to the sea-even as in the feudal days of the olden country, some mountain chieftain, gathering his vassals together, came rushing down from his Highland home, and, laying all the country under tribute in his course, hurried on to throw all his treasures at the feet of his sovereign, and go with him to the wars."
"Clifton!" said Fairfax more seriously than he had yet spoken, "all your illustrations, all your metaphors, all your thoughts, fancies, and imaginings, are, not of the earth, earthy,' but worse, far worse-of the world, worldly !—of the world, its castes, customs, and conventions-its pomps, vanities, and falsities! You speak of the grandest, the most
imposing-oh! let me call it at once the most magnificentarea of mountain-scenery in the hemisphere, with all the earth, below and around, covered with a sea of vapour that rises and falls, rolling from horizon to horizon like the waves of the ocean, and you compare it to a veiled royal bride! You describe a mighty mountain-river, rending its passage through the everlasting rocks, overleaping, uprooting, bearing down and bearing on all obstacles to its resistless rush towards the sea, and you liken it to a chieftain going to pay tribute to a king! Ah, Clifton of Clifton! the beauty, the glory, and the majesty of the earth please you; but the 'pomp, pride, and circumstance' of the world inspire you! But when was it otherwise with a Clifton of Clifton? The spirit of intense worldliness has ever been their bane and curse their sin and its punishment !'" he concluded, relapsing into his mock-tragic air.
"Ah! so you are familiar with the popular legend that you have just quoted," said Captain Clifton. "But," he added, with a sarcastic smile, were Georgia here, I think she could refute the charge, and prove one Clifton, at least, has been guided by any spirit rather than that of intense worldliness."
"I beg her pardon! Mrs. Clifton of Clifton."
Oh, your aunt! but by my soul, captain, that was a very irreverent way of introducing the old lady! Do young men in your patriarchal part of the country call old gentlewomen by their Christian names ?"
"Old gentlewomen!" repeated Clifton slowly, with a musing smile, adding, Georgia is about seventeen years of age, and the most beautiful woman in the world!"
Whe-e-e-ew! I'm amazed! I'm confounded! I'm stunned! Then the present Mrs. Clifton is the second wife ?"
"No, sir. Georgia is my uncle's fourth wife."
"Overwhelmed! annihilated!" exclaimed the young man. "The-the-old Blue Beard! the old Henry VIII.! Four wives! Are they all living ?-if not, where does he bury his dead ?"
Fairfax !" exclaimed Captain Clifton in a tone and with a look that speedily recalled the young man to himself; then he added rather haughtily, "My Uncle Clifton is a
simple, gentle-hearted old man, excessively fond of women; but mark you, sir! it is the affection of the patriarch, not of the pacha."
Hang me if ever I saw any difference between Solomon the king, and Solimaun the caliph-Abraham the patriarch, and Aroun the pacha-in that respect," laughed the young man, until, stealing a furtive glance at the cold and haughty face of Clifton, he held out his hand, and suddenly exclaimed, "Pardon me, Clifton! or call me out! I can't help a jest, to save my soul! but I'll fight, or apologise, or render any other sort of satisfaction afterwards!"
Captain Clifton remembered that Francis Fairfax was his guest, going to spend a long midsummer furlough at his mother's house; and so he cleared his brow and answered, "Nonsense!"
Now, tell me about Henry VIII.'s fourth queen. How long has she been married-I mean, the present Mrs. Clifton?"
"About two years. My uncle wedded her when she was fifteen-she is now seventeen, and, as I said, the most beautiful creature that you, or I, or anyone else ever did, or ever shall see, anywhere."
"Allons-stop there! False knight and recreant! whose colours do you wear while you uphold the peerless beauty of Georgia? What would Miss Clifton of Clifton say to your
"Ridiculous, sir! Miss but not the most beautiful. distinctions, I am proud to
Clifton is herself very beautiful, Miss Clifton has other and rarer !" say
"Oh, I understand her family name! Nevertheless, be hanged if I don't believe you have been in love with Georgia !"
"Impossible, sir! The perfect beauty of the young girl struck me forcibly, as it strikes all others-nay, more, impressed my imagination deeply, perhaps. I confess to a penchant for female beauty; and, observe, it is the artist's taste, sir, not the sultan's. But in love with Georgia ! Impossible, sir! She was a girl of humble parentage!"
"Ah! then you think it quite impossible that a gentleman born should be in love with a girl of humble parent?” age
Preposterous, sir! utterly preposterous! Pray, let us hear no more about it !"