Imágenes de páginas


the sky grew gray in the east, he sat there name was now resident in the city. Next turning the

pages of the dictionary with wet day he went to Cologne, hunted up the eyes and glowing face, and selecting defini- former tenants of the house, and found that tions by the test of the heart. He found they remembered quite distinctly the Werthat some of these letters he had never before ner family, and the death of the father, and taken the pains to read through. In the bit only bread-winner. It had left the mother terness of his indignation, he cursed the and daughter quite without resources, as fool who had thrown away a love so loyal Randall had known must probably have and priceless.

been the case. His informants had heard All this time he had been thinking of Ida that they had gone to Düsseldorf. as if dead, so far off in another world did His search had become a fever. After those days seem. It was with extraordinary waiting seven years, a delay of ten minutes effect that the idea finally flashed upon him was unendurable. The trains seemed to that she was probably alive and now in the creep. And yet, on reaching Cologne, he prime of her beauty. After a period of fever- did not at once go about his search, but said ish and impassioned excitement, he wrote a to himself: letter full of wild regret and beseeching, and “Let me not risk the killing of my last an ineffable tenderness. Then he waited. hope till I have warmed myself with it one After a long time it came back from the more night, for to-morrow there may be no German dead-letter office. There was no more warmth in it.” person of the name at the address. She had He went to a hotel, ordered a room and left Bonn, then. Hastily setting his affairs a bottle of wine, and sat over it all night, in order, he sailed for Germany on the next indulging the belief that he would find her steamer.

the next day. He denied his imagination The incidents of the voyage were a blank nothing, but conjured up before his mind's in his mind. On reaching Bonn, he went eye the lovely vision of her fairest hour, straight from the station to the old house complete even to the turn of the neck, the in — strasse. As he turned into it from ribbon in the hair, and the light in the blue the scarcely less familiar streets leading eyes. So he would turn into the street. thither, and noted each accustomed land- Yes, here was the number. Then he rings mark, he seemed to have just returned to the bell. She comes to the door. She tea from an afternoon lecture at the uni- regards him a moment indifferently. Then versity. In every feature of the street some amazed recognition, love, happiness, transmemory lurked, and as he passed threw out figure her face. “ Ida!” “ Karl !” and he delaying tendrils, clutching at his heart. clasps her sobbing to his bosom, from which Rudely he broke away, hastening on to that she shall never be sundered again. house near the end of the street, in each of The result of his search next day was the whose quaint windows fancy framed the discovery that mother and daughter had longed-for face. She was not there, he been at Düsseldorf until about four years knew, but for a while he stood on the other previous, where the mother had died of side the street, unmindful of the stares and consumption, and the daughter had rejostling of the passers-by, gazing at the moved, leaving no address. The lodgings house-front, and letting himself imagine from occupied by them were of a wretched charmoment to moment that her figure might acter, showing that their circumstances must flit across some window, or issue from the have been very much reduced. door, basket in hand, for the evening mar

- There was now no further clew to guide keting, on which journey he had so often ac- his search. It was destined that the last he companied her. At length, crossing the was to know of her should be that she was street, he inquired for the Werner family. thrown on the tender mercies of the world, The present tenants had never heard the her last friend gone, her last penny expended. name. Perhaps the tenants from whom they She was buried out of his sight, not in the had received the house might be better in- peaceful grave, with its tender associations, formed. Where were they? They had moved but buried alive in the living world; hopeto Cologne. He next went to the Bonn lessly hid in the huge, writhing confusion police office, and from the records kept of humanity. He lingered in the folly there, in which pretty much everything of despair about those sordid lodgings in about every citizen is set down, ascertained Düsseldorf as one might circle vainly about that several years previous Herr Werner had the spot in the ocean where some pearl of died of apoplexy, and that no one of the great price had fallen overboard.


After a while, he roused again, and began gambler which had succeeded hope in his putting advertisements for Ida in the prin- mind, succeeded in turn by utter despair! cipal newspapers of Germany, and making His sole occupation now was revisiting random visits to towns all about to consult the spots which he had frequented with directories and police records. A singular her in that happy year. As one who has sort of misanthropy possessed him. He lost a princely fortune sits down at length cursed the multitude of towns and villages to enumerate the little items of property that reduced the chances in his favor to so that happens to be attached to his person, small a thing. He cursed the teeming disregarded before but now his all, so Ranthrongs of men, women and children, in dall counted up like a miser the little store whose mass she was lost, as a jewel in a of memories that were thenceforth to be his mountain of rubbish. Had he possessed all. Wonderfully the smallest details of those the power, he would in those days, without | days came back to him. The very seats an instant's hesitation, have swept the be- they sat in at public places, the shops they wildering, obstructing millions of Germany entered together, their promenades and the out of existence, as the miner washes away pausing-places on them, revived in memory the earth to bring to light the grain of gold under a concentrated inward gaze like inin his pan. He must have scanned a mill-visible paintings brought over heat. ion women's faces in that weary search, and One afternoon, after wandering about the the bitterness of that million-fold disappoint- city for some hours, he turned into a park ment left its trace in a feeling of aversion to rest. As he approached his usual bench, for the feminine countenance and figure sacred to him because Ida and he in the old that he was long in overcoming.

days had often sat there, he was annoyed to Knowing that only by some desperate see it already occupied by a pleasant-faced, chance he could hope to meet her in his matronly looking German woman, who was random wanderings, it seemed to him that complacently listening to the chatter of a he was more likely to be successful by couple of small children. Ra lall threw resigning as far as possible all volition, and himself upon the unoccupied end of the leaving the guidance of the search to chance; bench, rather hoping that his gloomy and as if fortune were best disposed toward those preoccupied air might cause them to depart who most entirely abdicated intelligence and and leave him to his melancholy revery. trusted themselves to her. He sacredly fol- And, indeed, it was not long before the lowed every impulse, never making up his children stopped their play and gathered mind an hour before at what station he timidly about their mother, and soon after should leave the cars, and turning to the the bench tilted slightly as she relieved it of right or left in his wanderings through the her substantial charms, saying in a cheery, streets of cities, as much as possible with pleasant voice: out intellectual choice. Sometimes, waking Come, little ones, the father will be at suddenly in the middle of the night, he home before us." would rise, dress with eager haste, and sally It was a secluded part of the garden, and out to wander through the dark streets, the plentiful color left her cheeks as the odd thinking he might be led of Providence to gentleman at the other end of the bench meet her. And once out, nothing but utter turned with a great start at the sound of her exhaustion could drive him back; for, how voice, and transfixed her with a questioning could he tell but in the moment after he look. But in a moment he said : had gone, she might pass. He had recourse “Pardon me, madame, a thousand times. to every superstition of sortilege, clairvoy- The sound of your voice so reminded me ance, presentiment, and dreams. And all the of a friend I have lost, that I looked up time his desperation was singularly akin to involuntarily." hope. He dared revile no seeming failure, The woman responded with good-natured not knowing but just that was the necessary assurances that he had not at all alarmed link in the chain of accidents destined to her. Meanwhile, Randall had an opporbring him face to face with her. The dark- tunity to notice that in spite of the thickest hour might usher in the sunburst. The waisted and generally matronly figure, there possibility that this was at last the blessed were, now he came to look closely, several chance lit up his eyes ten thousand times rather marked resemblances to Ida. The as they fell on some new face.

eyes were of the same blue tint, though But at last he found himself back in about half as large, the cheeks being twice Bonn, with the feverish infatuation of the as full. In spite of the ugly style of dress

[ocr errors]

ing it, he saw also that the hair was like woman with the liveliest surprise and interest. Ida's, and as for the nose, that feature which “ Karl! Is it possible. Yes, now I recogchanges least, it might have been taken out nize you. Surely ! surely ! ” of Ida's own face. As may be supposed, She clapped one hand to her bosom, and he was thoroughly disgusted to be reminded dropped on the bench to recover herself. of that sweet girlish vision by this broadly Fleshy people, overcome by agitation, are molded, comfortable-looking matron. His rather disagreeable objects. Randall stood romantic mood was scattered for that even looking at her with a singular expression of ing at least, and he knew he shouldn't get aversion on his listless face. But, after pantthe prosaic suggestions of the unfortunate ing a few times, the woman recovered her resemblance out of his mind for a week at vivacity and began to ply him vigorously least. It would torment him as a humorous with exclamations and questions, beaming association spoils a sacred hymn.

the while with delighted interest. He He bowed with rather an ill grace,

and answered her like a school-boy, too destitute was about to retire, when a certain peculiar of presence of mind to do otherwise than turn of the neck as the lady acknowledged to yield passively to her impulse. But he his salute, caught his eye and turned him to made no inquiries whatever of her, and did stone. Good God! this woman was Ida ! not distantly allude to the reason of his

He stood there in a condition of mental presence in Germany. As he stood there paralysis. The whole fabric of his thinking looking at her, the real facts about that and feeling for months of intense emotional matter struck him as so absurd and incredexperience had instantly been annihilated, ible, that he couldn't believe them himself. and he was left in the midst of a great void Pretty soon he observed that she was in his consciousness out of touching-reach becoming a little conscious in her air, and of anything. There was no sharp pang, giving a slightly sentimental turn to the but just a bewildered numbness. A few conversation.

. It was not for some time filaments only of the romantic feeling for that he saw her drift, so utterly without Ida that filled his mind a moment before connection in his mind were Ida and this still lingered, floating about it, unattached comfortable matron before him, and when to anything, like vague neuralgic feelings in he did, a smile at the exquisite absurdity of an amputated stump, as if to remind him of the thing barely twitched the corners of his what had been there.

mouth, and ended in a sad, puzzled stare All this was as instantaneous as a galvanic that rather put the other out of countenance. shock the moment he had recognized,-let But the children had now for some time us not say Ida, but this evidence that she been whimpering for supper and home, and

It occurred to him that at length Frau Stein rose, and, with an the woman, who stood staring, was in com- urgent request that Randall should call on mon politeness entitled to some explanation. her and see her husband, bade him a cordial He was in just that state of mind when the adieu. He stood there watching her out of only serious interest having suddenly drop- sight with an unconscious smile of the most ped out of the life, the minor convention- refined and subtle cynicism. Then he sat alities loom up as peculiarly important and down and stared vacantly at the closeobligatory.

cropped grass on the opposite side of the "You were Fraulein Ida Werner, and path. By what handle should he lay hold of lived at No.

strasse in 1866, his thoughts? nicht wahr?

That woman could not retroact and touch He spoke in a cold, dead tone, as if mak- the memory of Ida. That dear vision reing a necessary, but distasteful, explanation mained intact. He drew forth his locket to a stranger.

and opening it gazed passionately at the “Yes, truly," replied the woman, curiously; fair girlish face, now so hopelessly passed "but my name is now Frau Stein,” glancing away. By that blessed picture he could at the children, who had been staring open- hold her and defy the woman. Remembermouthed at the queer man.

ing that fat, jolly, comfortable matron, he “Do you remember Karl Randall ? I am should not at least ever again have to rehe."

proach himself with his cruel treatment of The most formal of old acquaintances Ida. And yet why not? What had the could hardly have recalled himself in a more woman to do with her ? She had suffered indifferent manner.

as much as if the woman had not forgotten "Herr Gott im Himmel !" exclaimed the it all. His reckoning was with Ida-was

was no more.

with her. Where should he find her ? In so many souls, why suppose death will spare what limbo could he imagine her? Ah, the last one? that was the wildering cruelty of it.

But he would contend with destiny. was not this woman, nor was she dead in Painters should multiply the face in his any conceivable natural way so that her locket. He would immortalize her in a girlish spirit might have remained eternally poem. He would constantly keep the fixed. She was nothing. She was nowhere. lamp trimmed and burning before her shrine She only existed in this locket and her only in his heart. She should live in spite of soul was in his heart, far more surely than the woman. in this woman who had forgotten her.

But he could now never make amends to Death was a hopeful, cheerful state com- her for the suffering his cruel, neglectful youth pared to that nameless nothingness that was had caused her. He had scarcely realized her portion. For had she been dead he before how much the longing to make good could still have loved her soul; but now that wrong had influenced his quest of her. she had none. The soul that once she had, Tears of remorse for an unatonable crime and if she had then died, might have kept, gathered in his eyes. He might indeed had been forfeited by living on and had enrich this woman, or educate her children, passed to this woman, and would from her or pension her husband; but that would pass on further till finally fixed and vested be no atonement to Ida. in the decrepitude of age by death. So And then as if to intensify that remorse by then it was death and not life that secured showing still more clearly the impossibility the soul, and his sweet Ida had none be- of atonement, it flashed on him that he who cause she had not died in time. Ah! had loved Ida was not the one to atone for an not he heard somewhere that the soul is offense of which he would be incapable, immortal and never dies ? Where then which had been committed by one who dewas Ida's? She had disappeared utterly spised her love. Justice was a meaningless out of the universe. She had been trans- word, and amends were never possible, nor formed, destroyed, swallowed up in this can men ever make atonement; for, ere woman, a living sepulcher, more cruel than the debt is paid, the atonement made, one the grave, for it devoured the soul as well as who is not the sufferer stands to receive the body. Pah! this prating about immor- | it, while, on the other hand, the one who tality was absurd, convicted of meaningless- atones is not the offender, but one who ness before a tragedy like this; for what was comes after him, loathing his offense and an immortality worth that was given to her himself incapable of it. The dead must last decrepit phase of life, after all its beauty bury their dead. And thus pondering from and strength and loveliness had passed soul- personal to general thoughts, the turmoil of less away? To be aught but a mockery his feelings gradually calmed and a restful immortality must be as manifold as the melancholy, vague and tender, filled the manifold phases of life. Since life devours aching void in his heart.


AS ONE who flings large hospitable doors

Wide to a world of masquers whom he has bade

Sweep hurrying onward with their paces mad
And merrily flood his vacant chamber-floors,
Even so with him about whose form in scores

Humanity's eager passions, blithe or sad,

Rush reveling, and however strangely clad,
Are still the old rascals, bigots, fools and bores !
Ah, what a riotous witch-dance they prolong,

Of avarice, hatred, hope, revenge, despair !
How right flies timorous from the clutch of wrong!

How pleasure and ease take hands with toil and care !

While humor, that wild harlequin, here and there,
Dashes in spangled somersaults through the throng!


It is doubtful whether the three species as hard and translucent as porcelain. Thus which naturalists have distinguished among oysters differing enormously in form and the oysters of our Atlantic coast have more character may be not only of the same than a nominal existence. The oyster is so affected by the conditions of its life that the progeny of a single parent may represent at maturity the most widely variant forms of oyster-growth. The nature of the substance on which an oyster is fixed, the consistency of the bed in which it rests, the depth, temperature and saltness of the water it lives in ; every circumstance of its environment, in fact, is reflected in its shape and size, in the character of its shell, and in the flavor of its meat. An oyster which begins its settled existence on a scallop-shell will carry through life the impress of its first resting place; and the general form of the oyster is as subject to the accidents of place and surroundings as are the markings of its shell. Left to crowd one another on an irregular surface, oysters grow crooked and unshapely. Planted on soft mud, into which they sink with increasing weight, they build their shells almost entirely on the forward edge, becoming thin-shelled and narrow; and if left long enough to struggle against impending suffocation, their length will be five or six times their breadth, and their meat a mere ribbon of fringed integument. On a gravelly bottom in a swift current, the species, but offspring of the same parent, same stock grow deep and broad and mass- the duration of the infant oyster's free existive; and, with abundant growing space, ence being sufficient to allow the members develop the oval form, the large and solid of the same brood to be distributed over

every variety of seabottom suitable for oyster life. It is true that the southern oysters are markedly different from those prevailing between New York Bay and Cape Cod, and these from the still more northern variety ; but the variations would seem to be easily accounted for by differences in tempera

ture and other exOPENING OYSTERS.


conditions. meat characteristic of the typical northern Northern oysters transplanted into Virginia oyster. On one ground the shells will be waters speedily assume the form and other soft and heavy, on another thin, fine, and nominally " specific” features of the natives

VOL. XV.-15.



« AnteriorContinuar »