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Souzka would bring him a loaded pis- became restive; she grew frightened, gave ol-bang! and the Ay would be crushed the reins to me, and returned home on gainst the wall.
foot. I rode on before. In the court“Wonderful!” said the Count. “And yard I saw a travelling carriage, and I vhat was his name?”
was told that in my study sat waiting for “Silvio, Your Excellency."
me a man, who would not give his name, “Silvio!” exclaimed the Count, start- but who merely said that he had business ng up. “Did you know Silvio ?”
I entered the room and saw “How could I help knowing him, in the darkness a man, covered with dust Your Excellency: we were intimate and wearing a beard of several days' friends; he was received in our regiment growth. He was standing there, near the like a brother officer, but it is now five fireplace. I approached him, trying to years since I had any tidings of him. remember his features. Then Your Excellency also knew him?" “You do not recognize me, Count?'
“Oh, yes, I knew him very well. Did said he, in a quivering voice. he ever tell you of one very strange in- ‘Silvio!' I cried, and I confess that cident in his life?"
I felt as if my hair had suddenly stood “Does Your Excellency refer to the slap in the face that he received from " 'Exactly,' continued he. "There is a some blackguard at a ball ?”
shot due to me, and I have come to dis“Did he tell you the name of this charge my pistol. Are you ready?' blackguard?"
"His pistol protruded from a side "No, Your Excellency, he never men- pocket. I measured twelve paces and tioned his name. .. Ah! Your took my stand there in that corner, begExcellency!" I continued, guessing the ging him to fire quickly, before my wife truth: "pardon me
I did not arrived. He hesitated, and asked for a know . could it really have light. Candles were brought in. I been you?"
closed the doors, gave orders that nobody "Yes, I myself,” replied the Count, was to enter, and again begged him to with a look of extraordinary agitation; fire. He drew out his pistol and took and that bullet-pierced picture is a me- aim.
I counted the seconds. mento of our last meeting.”
I thought of her. . . A "Ah, my dear,” said the Countess, "for terrible minute passed! Silvio lowered Heaven's sake, do not speak about that; his hand. it would be too terrible for me to listen “ 'I regret,' said he, 'that the pistol is to.”
not loaded with cherry-stones "No," replied the Count: "I will relate the bullet is heavy. It seems to me that everything. He knows how I insulted this is not a duel, but a murder. I am his friend, and it is only right that he not accustomed to taking aim at unarmed should know how Silvio revenged him
Let us begin all over again; we self.”
will cast lots as to who shall fire first.' The Count pushed a chair towards me, “My head went round . I and with the liveliest interest I listened think I raised some objection. to the following story:
At last we loaded another pistol, and “Five years ago I got married. The rolled up two pieces of paper. He placed first month—the honeymoon-I spent these latter in his cap-the same through here, in this village. To this house I am which I had once sent a bullet-and indebted for the happiest moments of my again I drew the first number. life, as well as for one of its most pain- “'You are devilish lucky, Count,' said ful recollections.
he, with a smile that I shall never forget. "One evening we went out together “I don't know what was the matter for a ride on horseback. My wife's horse with me, or how it was that he managed
to make me do it
but I fired to take aim at me-right before her! and hit that picture.
Masha threw herself at his feet. The Count pointed with his finger to “ 'Rise, Masha; are you not ashamed! the perforated picture; his face glowed I cried in a rage: 'and you, sir, will you like fire; the Countess was whiter than cease to make fun of a poor woman? her own handkerchief; and I could not Will you fire or not?' restrain an exclamation.
" 'I will not,' replied Silvio: 'I am sat'I fired," continued the Count, "and, isfied. I have seen your confusion, your thank Heaven, missed my aim. Then alarm. I forced you to fire at me. That Silvio . at that moment he was is sufficient. You will remember me. I really terrible
. . Silvio raised his leave you to your conscience.' hand to take aim at me. Suddenly the "Then he turned to go, but pausing in door opens, Masha rushes into the room, the doorway, and looking at the picture and with a loud shriek throws herself that my shot had passed through, he fired upon my neck. Her presence restored to at it almost without taking aim, and disme all my courage.
appeared. My wife had fainted away; “ 'My dear,' said I to her, don't you the servants did not venture to stop him, see that we are joking? How frightened the mere look of him filled them with you are! Go and drink a glass of water terror. He went out upon the steps, and then come back to us; I will intro- called his coachman, and drove off before duce you to an old friend and comrade.' I could recover myself.” "Masha still doubted.
The Count was silent. In this way I “'Tell me, is my husband speaking the learned the end of the story, whose begintruth?' said she, turning to the terrible ning had once made such a deep impresSilvio: 'is it true that you are only jok- sion upon me.
The hero of it I never ing?
saw again. It is said that Silvio com" 'He is always joking, Countess,' re- manded detachment of Hetairists plied Silvio: ‘once he gave me a slap in during the revolt under Alexander Ipsithe face in a joke; on another occasion he lanti, and that he was killed in the battle sent a bullet through my cap in a joke; of Skoulana. and just now, when he fired at me and missed me, it was all in a joke. And
A society of Russians sympathizing with now I feel inclined for a joke.'
the Greek revolutionists. Under Prince Aler
ander Ipsilanti they were instrumental in "With these words he raised his pistol freeing the Greeks from Turkish rule.
THE AMBITIOUS GUEST
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1868) was one of the earliest of the American short story writers. Although living in the New England of the nineteenth century, he wrote in the spirit of the seventeent hcentury Puritan. There is an air of conscious reserve about his work; of nystery and fancy. He dealt largely with the moral and particularly the psychological aspects of his themes. At heart he was a preacher, and much of his work reflects the constant struggle going on between the twin desires: to expound and to relate. The fondness for the supernatural and for the mysteries of soul and conscience is compatible with the traces of morbidity which are evidenced in his writing. He was a conscious artist with a passion for beauty, and ais style is classically smooth and leisurely. “The Ambitious Guest” appeared in 1837.
One September night a family had again when they perceived that the latch gathered round their hearth, and piled was lifted by some traveler, whose footit high with the driftwood of mountain steps had been unheard amid the dreary streams, the dry cones of the pine, and blast which heralded his approach, and the splintered ruins of great trees that had wailed as he was entering, and went come crashing down the precipice. Up moaning away from the door. the chimney roared the fire, and bright- Though they dwelt in such a solitude, ened the room with its broad blaze. The these people held daily converse with the faces of the father and mother had a world. The romantic pass of the Notch sober gladness; the children laughed; the is a great artery, through which the lifeeldest daughter was the image of Happi- blood of internal commerce is continually ness at seventeen; and the aged grand-throbbing between Maine, on one side, mother, who sat knitting in the warmest and the Green Mountains and the shores place, was the image of Happiness grown of the St. Lawrence, on the other. The old. They had found the "herb, heart's- stage-coach always drew up before the ease,” in the bleakest spot of all New door of the cottage. The wayfarer, with England. This family were situated in no companion but his staff, paused here the Notch of the White Hills, where the
to exchange a word, that the sense of wind was sharp throughout the year, and loneliness might not utterly overcome him pitilessly cold in the winter,-giving their ere he could pass through the cleft of the cottage all its fresh inclemency before it mountain, or reach the first house in the descended on the valley of the Saco.valley. And here the teamster, on his They dwelt in a cold spot and a danger- way to Portland market, would put up ous one; for a mountain towered above for the night; and, if a bachelor, might their heads, so steep that the stones would sit an hour beyond the usual bedtime, and often rumble down its sides and startle steal a kiss from the mountain maid at them at midnight.
parting. It was one of those primitive The daughter had just uttered some taverns where the traveler pays only for simple jest that filled them all with mirth, and lodging, but meets with a when the wind came through the Notch homely kindness beyond all price. When and seemed to pause before their cottage the footsteps were heard, therefore, be-rattling the door, with a sound of wail- tween the outer door and the inner one, ing and lamentation, before it passed into the whole family rose up, grandmother, the valley. For a moment it saddened children, and all, as if about to welcome them, though there was nothing unusual some on who belonged to them, and in the tones. But the family were glad whose fate was linked with theirs.
The door was opened by a young man. From Twice-Told Tales by Nathaniel
His face at first wore the melancholy exHawthorne. Reprinted by permission of, and by special arrangement with, Houghton Mif
pression, almost despondency, of one who Alin Company, the authorized publishers. travels a wild and bleak road, at nightfall and alone, but soon brightened up and, by his natural felicity of manner, to when he saw the kindly warmth of his have placed himself on a footing of kindreception. He felt his heart spring for- ness with the whole family, so that they ward to meet them all, from the old talked as freely together as if he belonged woman, who wiped a chair with her to their mountain brood. He was of a apron, to the little child that held out proud, yet gentle spirit-haughty and reits arms to him. One glance and smile served among the rich and great; but placed the stranger on
a footing of ever ready to stoop his head to the lowly innocent familiarity with the eldest cottage door, and be like a brother or a daughter.
son at the poor man's fireside. In the "Ah, this fire is the right thing!" cried household of the Notch he found warmth he; “especially when there is such a pleas- and simplicity of feeling, the pervading ant circle round it. I am quite be- intelligence of New England, and a numbed; for the Notch is just like the poetry of native growth, which they had pipe of a great pair of bellows; it has gathered when they little thought of it blown a terrible blast in my face all the from the mountain peaks and chasms, and way from Bartlett.”
at the very threshold of their romantic "Then you are going toward Ver- and dangerous abode. He had traveled mont?" said the master of the house, as far and alone; his whole life, indeed, had he helped to take a light knapsack off the been a solitary path; for, with the lofty young man's shoulders.
caution of his nature, he had kept him. “Yes; to Burlington, and far enough self apart from those who might otherbeyond," replied he. “I meant to have wise have been his companions. The been at Ethan Crawford's to-night; but family, too, though so kind and hosa pedestrian lingers along such a road as pitable, had that consciousness of unity this. It is no matter; for, when I saw among themselves, and separation from this good fire, and all your cheerful faces, the world at large, which, in every doI felt as if you had kindled it on purpose mestic circle, should still keep a holy for me, and were waiting my arrival. place where no stranger may intrude. But So I shall sit down among you, and make this evening a prophetic sympathy immyself at home.”
pelled the refined and educated youth to The frank-hearted stranger had just pour out his heart before the simple drawn his chair to the fire when some- mountaineers, and constrained them to thing like a heavy footstep was heard answer him with the same free confidence. without, rushing down the steep side of And thus it should have been. Is not the the mountain as with long and rapid kindred of a common fate a closer tie than strides, and taking such a leap in pass- that of birth? ing the cottage as to strike the opposite The secret of the young man's characprecipice. The family held their breath, ter was a high and abstracted ambition. because they knew the sound, and their He could have borne to live an undisguest held his by instinct.
tinguished life, but not to be forgotten "The old mountain has thrown a stone in the grave. Yearning desire had been at us, for fear we should forget him," transformed to hope; and hope, long said the landlord, recovering himself, cherished, had become like certainty that, “He sometimes nods his head and threat- obscurely as he journeyed now, a glory was ens to come down; but we are old neigh- ti beam on all his pathway,—though not, bors, and agree together pretty well upon perhaps, while he was treading it. But the whole. Besides we have a sure place when posterity should gaze back into the of refuge hard by if he should be coming gloom of what was now the present, they in good earnest.'
would trace the brightness of his footLet us now suppose the stranger to steps, brightening as meaner glories faded, have finished his supper of bear's meat; and confess that a gifted one had passed
rom the cradle to his tomb with none to good farm in Bartlett, or Bethlehem, or ecognize him.
Littleton, or some other township round "As yet," cried the stranger-his cheek the White Mountains; but not where lowing and his eye flashing with en- they could tumble on our heads. I should husiasm—"as yet, I have done nothing. want to stand well with my neighbors Vere I to vanish from the earth to- and be called Squire, and sent to Geniorrow, none would know so much of me eral Court for a term or two; for a plain, s you: that a nameless youth came up at honest man may do as much good there ightfall from the valley of the Saco, as a lawyer. And when I should be nd opened his heart to you in the eve- grown quite an old man, and you an old ing, and passed through the Notch by woman, so as not to be long apart, I unrise, and was seen no more.
might die happy enough in my bed, and oul would ask, 'Who was he? Whither leave you all crying around me. A slate id the wanderer go?' But I cannot die gravestone would suit me as well as a ill I have achieved my destiny. Then, marble one with just my name and age, et Death come! I shall have built my and a verse of a hymn, and something to nonument!"
let people know that I lived an honest There was a continual flow of natural man and died a Christian." motion, gushing forth amid abstracted “There now!” exclaimed the stranger; everie, which enabled the family to un- “it is our nature to desire a monument, be lerstand this young man's sentiments, it slate or marble, or a pillar of granite, hough so foreign from their own. With or a glorious memory in the universal juick sensibility of the ludicrous, he heart of man." lushed at the ardor into which he had “We're in a strange way, to-night,” been betrayed. “You laugh at me," said said the wife, with tears in her eyes. re, taking the eldest daughter's hand, and “They say it's a sign of something, when aughing himself. “You think my am- folks' minds go a-wandering so. Hark bition as nonsensical as if I were to freeze to the children!" nyself to death on the top of Mount They listened accordingly. The younger Washington, only that people might spy children had been put to bed in another it me from the country round about. room, but with an open door between, so And, truly, that would be a noble ped- that they could be heard talking busily stal for a man's statue !"
among themselves. One and all seemed "It is better to sit here by this fire,” to have caught the infection from the fireanswered the girl, blushing, "and be com- side circle, and were outvying each other fortable and contented, though nobody in wild wishes, and childish projects of thinks about us."
what they would do when they came to be “I suppose,” said her father, after a fit men and women. At length a little boy, of musing, "there is something natural instead of addressing his brothers and in what the young man says; and if my sisters, called out to his mother. mind had been turned that way, I might "I'll tell you what I wish, mother," have felt just the same. It is strange,
cried he. “I want you and father and wife, how his talk has set my head run- grandma'm, and all of us, and the ning on things that are pretty certain stranger, too, to start right away, and go never to come to pass."
and take a drink out of the basin of the "Perhaps they may," observed the
observed the Flume!" wife. "Is the man thinking what he will Nobody could help laughing at the do when he is a widower ?”
child's notion of leaving a warm bed, and "No, no!” cried he, repelling the idea dragging them from a cheerful fire, to with reproachful kindness. "When I visit the basin of the Flume,-a brook, think of your death, Esther, I think of which tumbles over the precipice, deep mine, too. But I was wishing we had a within the Notch. The boy had hardly