Francis Hall.

The Century, Volume 11 online

. (page 71 of 163)
Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 71 of 163)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Howe out?"

Nolan spoke with that kind of venera-
tion for Washington's name, which was th^,
perhaps, at its very acme — at the perjpd^
when the whole country was under the •
impress of his recent death. -^

"Guess I did. Seen him great many
times. I was standin' right by him when
he cum into the old tavern at the head^f
King street, jest where the pump is, by the
Town House. Gage boarded there, and
Howe and Clinton had they quarters there,
and so the Gineral come there when our
army -marched in.

" They was a little gal stood there starin'
at him and all the rest, and he took her up, ^
and he kissed her, he did.

"'Ne said to her: *Ss,' says he, 'which
do you like best, the Red-Coats or the
Yankees ?* 'N the child says, says she, she
liked the Red- Coats the best, — gal-like, you
know,— cos they looked so nice. 'N he
laughed right out, 'ne says to her : * WoU,'
says he, * they du have the best clothes, but
it takes the ragged boys to du the fightin.'
O, I seen him lots o' times."

By this time Nolan thought he might
venture to join Inez agam. She was now
talking eageriy with her aunt, and seemed
to have passed the depressed moment, which
the young soldier had respected, and had
left to her own resolution.

The truth was, that a jide through a pine
forest in beginning a journey so adventurous,
with no immediate possibility of a return to
her fether's care, had started the girl on the
train of memories and other thoughts which
stirred her most completely. For her mother
she had a veneration, but it was simply for
an ideal being. For her aunt she had an
idolatrous enthusiasm, which her aunt wholly
deserved; For the French and Spanish
ladies and gentlemen around .her, in their
constant wars and jealousies with each other,
she had even an undue contempt. Her
father's central and profound interest in his
own country and its prosperity came down
to her in the form of a chivalrous passion
for people she had never seen, and institu-
tions and customs which she knew only in
the theory or the idea. It would be hard,
indeed, to tell whether her Aunt Eunice's

Digitized by






more guarded narrative of her early life, or
old Ransom's wild exaggerations of the
glories of New England, had the most to do
with a loyalty for the newly bom nation
which the girl found few ways to express,
and indeed few ears to listen to.

Such a dreamer found herself now, for the
first time, in the weird silence of a pine
forest, which she fancied must be precisely
like the silent pine groves of her father's
iiome. Nor was any one cruel enough to
undeceive her by pointing out the differ-
ences. She could hear the soughing of the
wind, as if it had been throwing up the
waves upon the beach. Her horse's feet fell
noiseless on the brown carpet of leaves
below her. And she was the center, if not
the commander, of a party all loyal to her —
strangers in a strange land, threatened per-
haps, as it seemed, by the minions of this
king she despised, though it was Jier bad
luck to be bom under his banner.

" Surely," she said to herself, " I am escap-
ing from my thraldom, if it be only for a few
days. I am a woman now, and in these
forests, at least, I am an American."

In' this mood Nolan found her.

" You have been talking with my dear old
Ransom, Captain Nolan."

" Yes - 4ie has been telling me of his bat-
tles. Did you know how often the old fellow
has been under fire ?"

"Know it — could I not tell you every
shot he fired in the * Franklin'— don't I know
every word of Mugford's, and every cruise
of Manly's ? I love to make him tell those
old stories. Captain Nolan, why did we not
live in such times ? "

" Perhaps we do."

" Do ? I wish I thought so 1 " cried the
girl. "The only battles I see are the
Madame Superior's battles with his Excel-
lency the Governor, whether the Donna
Louisa shall learn a French verb or not. I
am sick of their Ues and their shilly-shally,
are not you?"

" There is no harm in saying to you that
for two years I have been hoping to lead a
hundred riflemen down this very trail!"

" Thank you, Captam Nolan, for saying
something which sounds so sensible. Take
my hand upon it, and count me for number
one when the time comes to enlist. Have
you been in batde. Captain ? or are you a
Captain like ? " and she paused.

Nolan laughed.

" Like the Govemor*s aids yonder, with
their feathers and their gold lace ? Woe's
me, Miss Inez, the powder I have bumed

has been sometimes under fire from the
Comanches, sometimes when I did not
choose to be scalped by another red-skin,
but nothing that you would call war."

" But you have been in the army ! You
brought Captain Pope to our house, and
Lieutenant Pike."

" Oh, yes ! If being with army men will
help you, count me one. A good many of
the older officers were in the war, you know.
General Wilkinson was, and Colonel Free-
man was. There is no end to their talk
of war days. But I — I did nothing but
train, as we called it, with the volunteers at
Frankfort, when we thought the Indians
would bum us out of house and home."

" Did you never— did you never — Captain
Nolan, don't think it a foolish question —
did you never see Washington ? "

"Oh, no!" he said, with a tone that
showed her that he would not laugh at her
eagemess. " But these men have; Wilkin-
son has ; Freeman has. They will talk by
the hour to you about what he said and did.
I wish they had all loved him as well then as
they say they did now. But, really. Miss Inez,
I do believe that in the trying times that are
just now coming, youn^ America is going
to be tme to old America. These twenty
years have not been for nothing."

" Say it again," said the girl, with more
feeling than can be described.

"Why, what goes there?" cried Nolan.

He dashed forward. But this time old
Ransom rose before him, and was the per-
son to receive the challenge of a Spanish

The man was in the leathern garments of
the wildemess, but he had a sash roimd his
waist, a cockade in his hat, and a short car-
bine swinging at his saddle, distinct enough
evidences that he belonged to the Spanish
army. In a moment more, the whole group
of cavaliers approached him, so that the
conversation, if such it may be called, which
he began with Ransom, was continued by
others of the party.

The Spanish horseman volubly bade them
stop in the King's name, and show who they
were. He had order to arrest all travelers
and turn them back.

" What did you tell him. Ransom ?" said
Eunice, as soon as she came up.

" Told him to go and be hanged. Told
him he hadn't got no orders to arrest us,
'cos the Gov'ner had sent us. Told him he
didn't know nothin' about it, ' Ye brother
hed made it all right with the Gov'ner, and
had gone to see the King about it. Wen

Digitized by




I told him about the King, he seemed
frightened and said he would see."

The appearance of the Spanish sergeant
was indeed a surprise to all parties. Nolan
had told Eunice that they should meet no
one before they came to the Sabine River,
and that he would keep himself out of the
way when that time came. And now they
had stumbled on just such another party as
he met the week before, sent out, as it would
seem, simply to look after him. Eunice,
however, was quite ready for the emergency.

She saluted the Spanish sergeant most
courteously, apologized in a few well-chosen
words of very good Castilian for her serv-
ant's " impetuosity," and gave to the sergeant
a little traveling bag which had swung at
her saddle, telling him that if he would open
it, he would find the pass which the Mar-
quis of Casa Calvo had provided for them,
and his recommendation to any troops of
General Cordero.

" I cannot be grateful enough," she said,
" to the good Providence whidi has so soon
given to us the valorous protection of the
chivabrous soldiers of the King of Spain."

The sergeant bowed, a good deal sur-

prised, did not say he could not read, as he
might have said with truth; but, touching
his hat with courtesy, turned to an officer
approaching him, whose dress had rather
more of cloth, and rather less of leather, than
his own, and indicated that he would show
the passport to him.

The Captain Morales opened and scru-
tinized both papers; returned them silently
to the leather satchel, and, with a low bow,
gave it back to Eunice.

" This is a sufficient pass for yourself, my
lady, and for the senorita who accompanies
you, and for your party. How many of
these gentlemen and servants are of your
party? My officer here ^ill fill out the ver-
bal catalogue, which the Secretary of the
Marquis has omitted."

" Let me present the Senorita Perry, my
niece. Here is my major-domo; these
three are servants with their duties in her
household; the old negro yonder is our

The lieutenant entered on his tablet this
answer, and the Captain Morales said :

"And who is the hidalgo behind you
— the gentleman who says nothing ?" .

(To be continued.)


Once I read a strange, sweet story,

Of a sacred snowy wine.
Made by peasants on Lake Garda,

Brewed beneath the cross's sign;
Vino Santo called forever,

Sealed with seal of things divine —

Vino Santo, Holy Wine I

On the first days of October,

Only in a shming sun —
Only m the dew of morning,

Clusters lifted one by one;
Thus begins the solemn vintage.

Vintage with the cross for sign —

Vino Santo, Holy Wine!

Pales the autumn, falls the winter.
Lie the grapes imtouched and still;

No man hastes and no man hinders
While their subde juices fill.

Till the sacred day of Christmas,
Day of da)rs, of joy divine.
Then is brewed the Holy Wine.

Past the winter, past the spring-time.

Into summer far and late;
For the joy of Vino Santo

They who long must long and wait;
Only glowing heat can ripen —

Glowing heat and cross's sign.

Vino Santo, Holy Wine!

Dear, to-day, the strange, sweet story.

Sudden seemeth thine and mine;
Thine and mine and all true lovers,

Sealed by seal and signed by sign;
Silence, patience, fit)m Love's Vintage

Drink at last, in joy divine,

Vino Santo, Holy Wine!

Digitized by




In sooth 1 have forgotten, for it is long ago,
And winters twelve have hid it beneath their shrouds of snow ;
And 'tisn't well, the parson says, o'er bygone things to brood,
But, sure, it was the strangest tale, this tale of Hilda's hood.

For Hilda was a merry maid, and wild as wild could be,
Among the parish maidens was none so fair as she;
Her eyes they shone with willful mirth, and like a golden flood
Her sunny hair rolled downward from her little scarlet hood.

And once I was out a-fishing, and, though sturdy at the oar,
My arms were growing weaker, and I was far from shore;
And angry squalls swept thickly from out the lurid skies,
And every landmark that I knew was hidden from mine eyes.

The gull's shrill shriek above me, the sea's strong bass beneath,

The numbness grew upon me with its chilling touch of death, —

And blackness gathered round me; then through the night's dark shroud

A clear young voice came swiftly as an arrow cleaves the cloud.

It was a voice so mellow, so bright and warm and round,
As if a patch of sunshine had been melted into sound ;
It fell upon my frozen nerves and thawed the springs of life ;
I grasped the oar and strove afresh; it was a bitter strife.
Vol. XI.— 27.

Digitized by



The breakers roared about me, but the song took bolder flight,
And rose above the darkness like a beacon in the night;
And I steered swift and safely, struck shore, and by God's rood,
Through gloom and spray I caught the gleam of Hilda's scarlet hood.

The moon athwart the darkness broke a broad and misty way.
The dawn grew red beyond the sea and sent abroad the day;
And loud I prayed to God above to help me, if He could,
For deep into my soul had pierced that gleam from Hilda's hood.

I sought her in the forest, I sought her on the strand,

The pine-trees spread their dusky roof, bleak lay the glittering sand.

Until one Sabbath morning at the parish churcn I stood.

And saw, amid a throng of maids, the little scarlet hood.

Then straight my heart ran riot, and wild my pulses flew;

I strove in vain my flutter and my blushes to subdue;

"Why, Eric!" laughed a roguish maid, "your cheeks are red as blood;*

Another cried, "'Tis but the shine from Hilda's scarlet hood."

I answered not, for 'tis not safe to banter with a girl;

The trees, the church, the belfiy danced about me in a whirl;

I was as dizzy as a moth that flutters round the flame;

I turned about, and twirled my cap, but could not speak for shame.

But that same Sabbath evening, as I sauntered o'er the beach
And cursed that foolish heart of mine for choking up my speech,
I spied, half wrapped in shadow at the margin of the wood,
The wavy mass of sunshine that broke from Hilda's hood.

With quickened breath on tiptoe across the sand I stepped;
Her face was hidden in her lap, as though she mused or slept;
The hood had glided backward o'er the hair that downward rolled.
Like some large petal of a flower upon a stream of gold.

" Fair Hilda," so I whispered, as I bended to her ear ;
She started up and smiled at me without surprise or fear.
" I love you, Hilda," said I ; then in whispers more subdued :
" Love me again, or wear no more that little scarlet hood."

"Why, Eric," cried she, laughing, "how can you talk so wild?
I was confirmed last Easter, half maid and half a child,
But since you are so stubborn — no, no; I never could —
Unless you guess what's written in my little scarlet hood."

"But I cannot, fairest Hilda," quoth I with mournful mien,
VV^hile with my hand I gently, and by the maid unseen,
Snatched from the clustering wavelets the brightly flaming thing,
And saw naught there but stitches small, crosswise meandering.

"There is nothing in your hood, love," I cried with heedless mirth.
"Well," laughed she, "out of nothing God made both heaven and earth;
But since the earth to you and me as heritage was given,
rU only try to make for you a little bit of heaven."

Digitized by






Americans cannot biit be interested in all
that relates to Norway and the Norwegians.
The old Norsemen who visited our shores
some five centuries before Columbus dis-
covered the New World, have transmitted
to their descendants many of the sterling
qualities that made them once pre-eminent
in Northern Europe, and the curious stu-
dent who pores over the scanty records of
their voyages to North America, should visit
the land of their descendants, who are still a
hardy race, and who have to a surprising
degree adhered to their language and habits,
their dress and architecture, naval as well as
ecclesiastical. Moreover, Norway, if we are
correctly informed, sends annually ten thou-
sand of her sons and daughters to our shores,
and they form, with the Swedes, the most
valuable class of immigrants, learning our lan-
guage with remarkable facility, and conform-
ing to our ways and customs the more read-
ily since they are closely allied to us by their
mental traits.

The poorer class of Norwegians, with
their blood relatives and neighbors, the
Swedes, on the whole form the finest class
of peasantry in Europe. Indeed, we were
constantly reminded of New Englanders and
the inhabitants of our northernmost States,
in noticing the faces and idiosyncrasies of
Norwegians. The common people rule ab-
solutely in Norway as in America. They

have never, strictly speaking, been under
feudal laws, and have none of the servility
and obsequiousness of the peasantry of Eng-
land, Ireland, and Germany. Still inde-
pendent, bold, and careful of their political
rights, which each man holds as if a sacred
trust handed down fix)m his Viking ances-
tors, they excel in beauty of person, stature,
and a certain freedom and nobility of car-
riage, those of a similar station in life else-
where in Euroi>e, not even perhaps except-
ing the Swiss. In these respects, they con-
stantly remind the American traveler of the
poorer class of farmers in New England and
the North-western States. Add to this their
strict economy, their proneness to strong
drinks, in which during the fishing seasons
they indulge far more than the people of
Southern Europe, a taste undoubtedly fos-
tered by the rigors and sudden changes of
a cold climate ; their devotion to chewing
tobacco, almost a national trait; their native
wit and mixture of simplicity and a certain
quality of shrewdness, and one detects many


points of agreement between life in Norway

and in colder portions of the United States.

We had traveled fix)m Copenhagen to

Stockholm through a country so wonder-

igitized by LjOOQIC



fully like the flatter portions of New Eng-
land, that we experienced a delicious home
feeling. Here were groves of the ever-mur-
muring pine, with scattered clumps of the
familiar birch, though exceeding ours in the
beauty of its tracery of drooping branches
and leafy sprays; with lakes blossoming
with pond lilies identical with ours, and em-
bosomed among swelling hills and rolling
prairie-like fields, repeating exactly the
scenic features of New England. The illu-
sion was carried out by the faces of the peo-
ple, portraits of those we had left at home ;
many a face might here have found its
counterpart in any Eastern city or country
town of America. Nature is constantly re-
peating herself over the world, but she
evinces a rare economy in the Northern
hemisphere, where representative species,
races even, among plants and animals, stock
countries of opposing continents, which are
themselves organic equivalents, their geo-
logical history being parallel chapters in the
history of the world.

In going fix)m Stockholm across the coun-
try and entering South-eastern Norway, with
its rugged hills and trough-like valleys, its
tarns and lakes, and tumbling streams, bub-
bling brooks and roaring torrents, with smil-
ing farms surrcunding the familiar red farm-
house, and here
and there a sandy
barren waste, the
more hilly parts of
N e w York and New
England seemed
reproduced. On
the other hand,
along the southern
coast, especially in
the Christiania
fjord, the multitude
of islands, the rocks
and skerries, either
crowned with birch-
es and firs, or bare
and naked, recalled
vividly the deep
bays indenting the
shores of Maine;
though, in justice
to the latter, we^^
must say that no '
scene about Chris-
tiania, lovely as it
is, approaches the wondrous beauty of Casco
Bay, perhaps the finest indentation on the
eastern coast of North America. The vege-
tation is much more scanty and far less varied



than in Maine, while the beautiful coves
and shaded harbors of the Maine fjords, or
bays, have a fascinating beauty peculiar to
themselves. The similarity of the northern
coast of Norway to
that of Labrador is
also most striking,
though here, on the
other hand, the dif-
ference is much in
favor of the Nor-
wegian scenery, the
fjords being much
deeper and longer,
and the mountains
casting their reflec-
|l tions into the waters
from a far greater
I height; while the
coast of Labrador
I is in a degree mo-
I notonous. Thefeel-
;' ings of interest and
awe inspired by the
^ scenery at the head
J of the Sogne fjord
^ equaled those awak-
ened by the finest
Alpine scenery. Then again, the summer
months witness the arrival on the northern
coast of Norway of fleets of fishermen, as in
Labrador. Moreover, their winters, long
and dark, with deep snows, severe cold, and
the long spring-time, are very similar to those
of our Northern coast.

National characteristics depend to a cer-
tain extent on the nature of the soil and
climate, and, though naturalists may be too
prone to ascribe national traits to physical
surroundings, and leave comparatively noth-
ing to religious and moral agencies, every one
rightly traces the hardy and adventurous
spirit of northern peoples to their rugged
soil and bracing climate. The Vikings and
their subjects owed much of their bodily
activity and success .in arms to the influ-
ences of their northern climate. They were
indeed a hardy, but also a rude race. With
all their love of song and rude acquirements
in art they were out and out heathen, ^nth
the vices of heathendom, and the dark su-
perstitions of a brutal age. We should re-
member that if they were semi-barbarians,
many lights relieved the shades. We are
told by modem Norwegian historians that
the chapters in the lives of the old North Sea
rangers, notably Harald Haarfager, the Fair-
haired, and others less known to fame,
rough, ruthless freebooters that they were.

Digitized by




yet glow with records of deeds of kindness to
foe as well as friend, and that the virtues of
charity and forgiveness were not unknown
among them. A heathen is a heathen, but
a Gotifi is a man for all that. Though diese
Gothic races, upon whom the Romans
looked down with ill-disguised contempt,
were rude pagans, yet they possessed the
latent qualities that under favoring circum-
stances of soil and climate, and the moral
regime of Christianity, blossomed out into
the finer qualities that mark the present


Scandinavian races. Their history repeats
that of the English and Germans, as they
arose from the common Gothic stock, origi-
nating fix)m an unknown race, which, after
flowing over in waves of migration fi-om
Asia into Eastern and Middle Europe, sent
an advance guard, the ancestors of the Nor- I
wegians, into Scandinavia, by way of Den-
mark. If these people were semi-savage
they yet carried in their souls those latent
germs destined under a favoring Heaven to
bud forth into a higher and richer life, and
a more complete civilization than that same
Roman people who once despised them.

It is interesting to trace certain traits and
customs in vogue among the conservative
Norwegians of this day, back to the old
Norse ways. These bits of Norse manners
are like the fossil shells and leaves and waifs
left by the wreck of ages in past geological
times, with which we repeople the worids
of the past. The manners of the people,
high-bom and peasant, are simple; one
is struck by this after passing through
Southern Europe and Germany. Undoubt-
edly, next to the originally independent

spirit of the people, this simplicity has been
fostered by the abolition of a hereditary
nobility. Since 181 4, all titles have been
abolished. Indeed, Norway is a nation of
farmers and fishermen, with a few men of
comparative wealth and distinction, who
claim to be descendants of the Sea-kings
and chiefs. They reside in the larger towns,
as one sees no country-seats in passing over
the inland roads. The manners even of the
wealthy and cultivated class of Bergen
are peculiarly simple, neariy as much so
in some respects as among the rural
population of the older of the United

While steaming down the Sogne fjord oiu-
vessel would occasionally touch at the fish-
ing hamlets clinging to the mountain-sides,
and sometimes looking as if ready to drop
into the dark deep waters beneath. Boat-
loads of villagers came off and surrounded
our steamer, and almost invariably the girls
and young women, with bright, comely faces,
crowded some of the boats (with one or two
boys to row them), while others would be
filled with boys and young men. On the
shore stood groups of matrons with their
babies in their arms, watching the weekly or
fortnightiy visitor, and rows of maidens
standing hand in hand gazed at our craft,
while the young men and boys stood
apart by themselves. There seemed to be
little of that intimacy between the young
people of both sexes which is so common
with us; while, on the other hand, there
was none of the precocity of superannuated
boyhood, and of coquetry in the girls, that
is too apparent among American youth.
Naturally enough, when the sexes do come
together, the courtship is brief. Love at
first sight, followed by a speedy wedding,
results in happy unions, that remain so
throughout life. Wedded happiness, we
were told on good authority, is the rule and

Online LibraryFrancis HallThe Century, Volume 11 → online text (page 71 of 163)