תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

in the shadow of the great smoke-stack. The very disagreeable slant to my berth. The captain had reached the rail.

next day, early in the afternoon, our signal “Is every one in the boats?” he shouted, of distress was seen by a tramp steamer in French and in English. “Is every one in on her way to New York, and we were the boats? I am going to leave the vessel.” taken off.

I made a start as if to rush toward him, We cruised about for many hours in the but Crowder held me by the arm.

direction the boats had probably taken, and “Don't you do it,” he whispered very the day after we picked up two of them earnestly. “I have the greatest possible in a sorry condition, the occupants having

[graphic][merged small]

desire to save you. Stay where you are, suffered many hardships and privations. and you will be all right. That overloaded We never had news of the captain's boat, boat may capsize in half an hour."

but the others were rescued by a sailingI could not help it; I believed him. My vessel going eastward. own judgment seemed suddenly to rise up Before we reached New York, Mr. Crowand ask me why I should leave the solid deck der had made me promise that I would spend of the steamer for that perilous little boat. a few days with him at his home in that city.

I need say but little more in regard to His family was small, he told me, –a wife, this shipwreck. When the fog lifted about and a daughter about six, -and he wanted ten o'clock in the morning we could see no me to know them. Naturally we had become signs of any of the boats. A mile or so away great friends. Very likely the man had saved lay the dull black line of the derelict, as if my life, and he had done it without any act she were some savage beast who had bitten of heroism or daring, but simply by impressand torn us, and was now sullenly waiting to ing me with the fact that his judgment was see us die of the wound. We hoisted a flag, better than mine. I am apt to object to union down, and then we went below to get people of superior judgment, but Mr. Crowsome breakfast. Mr. Crowder knew all about der was an exception to the ordinary supethe ship, and where to find everything. He rior person. From the way he talked it was told me that he had made so many voyages plain that he had had much experience of that he felt almost as much at home on sea various sorts, and that he had greatly adas on land. We made ourselves comfortable vantaged thereby; but he gave himself no all day, and at night we went to our rooms, airs on this account, and there was nothing and I slept fairly well, although there was a patronizing about him. If I were able to tell

him anything he did not know,-and I fre My relatives were few, and they lived in quently was,- he was very glad to hear it. the West, and I never had had a friend

Moreover, Mr. Crowder was a very good whose company was so agreeable to me as man to look at. He was certainly over fifty, that of Mr. Crowder.

[graphic][merged small]

and his closely trimmed hair was white, but Mr. Crowder's residence was a handsome he had a fresh and florid complexion. He house in the upper part of the city. His wife was tall and well made, fashionably dressed, was a slender lady, scarcely half his age, with and had an erect and somewhat military car- a sweet and interesting face, and was atriage. He was fond of talking, and seemed tired plainly but tastefully. In general apfond of me, and these points in his disposi- pearance she seemed to be the opposite of tion attracted me very much.

her husband in every way. She had suffered

a week of anxiety, and was so rejoiced at science trouble thee. I have not come to say having her husband again that when I met anything about gentlemen being too long over her, some hours after Crowder had reached their smoking. I only want to say that Mrs. the house, her glorified face seemed like that Norris and two other ladies have just called, of an angel. But there was nothing demon- and I am going down to see them. They are strative about her. Even in her great joy a committee, and will not care for the society she was as quiet as a dove, and I was not sur- of gentlemen. I am sorry to lose any of your prised when her

company, Mr. Randolph, husband after

especially as you insist ward told me

that this is to be your that she was a

last evening with us; but Quaker.

I do not think you would I was enter

care anything about our tained very

ward organizations." handsomely by

“Now, is n't that a the Crowders.

wife to have!” exclaimed I spent some

my host, as we resumed days with them,

our cigars. “She thinks and although

of everybody's happiness, they were so

and even wishes us to happy to see

feel free to take another each other, they

cigar if we desire it, almade it very

though in her heart she plain that they

disapproves of smoking.” were also happy

We settled to have me with

ourselves again them, he be

to talk, and cause he liked

as there really me, she because

could be no he liked me.

objections On the day

my listening to before my in

Crowder's contended depar

fidences, I made ture, Mr. Crow

none. der and I were

“What I have smoking, after

to tell you," he dinner, in his study. He had

said presently, been speaking of people and

“concerns my things that he had seen in

life, present, various parts of the world,

past, and fubut after a time he became

ture. Pretty a little abstracted, and allowed me to do comprehensive, is n't it? I have long been most of the talking.

looking for some one to whom I should be “You must excuse me,” he said suddenly, so drawn by bonds of sympathy that I when I had repeated a question; "you must should wish to tell him my story. Now, I not think me willingly inattentive, but I was feel that I am so drawn to you. The reaconsidering something important-very im- son for this, in some degree at least, is portant. Ever since you have been here, because you believe in me. You are not almost ever since I have known you, I might weak, and it is my opinion that on imporsay,—the desire has been growing upon me tant occasions you are very apt to judge to tell you something known to no living for yourself, and not to care very much being but myself.”

for the opinions of other people; and yet, This offer did not altogether please me; I on a most important occasion, you allowed had grown very fond of Crowder, but the me to judge for you. You are not only able confidences of friends are often very em- to rely on yourself, but you know when it barrassing. At this moment the study door is right to rely on others. I believe you was gently opened, and Mrs. Crowder camein. to be possessed of a fine and healthy sense

"No," said she, addressing her husband of appreciation." with a smile; “ thee need not let thee con I laughed, and begged him not to bestow

[graphic]

to

AN ENCOUNTER WITH CHARLES LAMB.

too many compliments upon me, for I was “No; it is not,” he interrupted, and speaknot used to them.

ing in perfect good humor. “I beg you will “I am not thinking of complimenting sit down and listen to me. What I have to you,” he said. “I am simply telling you say to you is not nearly so wonderful as the what I think of you in order that you will nature and power of electricity.” understand why I tell you my story. I must I obeyed; he had touched me on a tender first assure you, however, that I do not wish spot, for I am an electrician, and can appreto place any embarrassing responsibility upon ciate the wonderful. you by taking you into my confidence. All “There has been a great deal of discusthat I say to you, you may say to others sion,” he continued,“ in regard to the peculiar when the time comes; but first I must tell title given to Alexander, but the appellation the tale to you."

'two-horned' has

freHe sat up straight in his chair, and

quently been used in anput down his cigar. “I will begin," he

cient times. You know said, “by stating that I am the Vizier

Michelangelo gave two of the Two-horned Alexander.”

horns to Moses; but he I sat up even straighter than my

misunderstood the tradicompanion, and gazed

tion he had heard, and fursteadfastly at him.

nished the prophet with "No," said he; “I

real horns. Alexander am not crazy. I ex

wore his hair arranged pected you to think

over his forehead in the that, and am entirely

shape of two protruding prepared for your

horns. This was simply look of amazement

a symbol of high auand incipient horror.

thority; as the bull is I will ask you, how

monarch of the herd, ever, to set aside for

so was he monarch a time the dictates of

among men. He was your own sense, and

the first to use this hear what I have to

symbol, although it was say. Then you can

imitated afterward by take the whole mat

various Eastern potenter into considera

tates. tion, and draw your

"As I have said, Alexown conclusions." He

ander was a man of ennow leaned back in

terprise, and it had come his chair, and went

to his knowledge that on with his story:

there existed somewhere " It would be more

a certain spring the correct, perhaps, for ““] CUT THAT PICTURE FROM ITS FRAME.'” waters of which would me to say that I was

confer immortality upon the Vizier of the Two-horned Alexander, for any descendant of Shem who should drink that great personage died long ago. Now, of them, and he started out to find this I don't believe you ever heard anything spring. I traveled with him for more than about the Two-horned Alexander."

a year. It was on this journey that he I had recovered sufficiently from my sur- visited Abraham when the latter was buildprise to assure him that he was right. ing the great edifice which the Mohamme

My host nodded. “I thought so," said he; dans claim as their holy temple, the Kaaba. “very few people do know anything about It was more than a month after we had that powerful potentate. He lived in the time parted from Abraham that I, being in adof Abraham. He was a man of considerable vance of the rest of the company, noticed a culture, even of travel, and of an adventur- little pool in the shade of a rock, and being ous disposition. I entered into the service of very warm and thirsty, I got down on my his court when I was a very young man, and hands and knees, and putting my face to the gradually I rose in position until I became water, drank of it. I drank heartily, and his chief officer, or vizier."

when I raised my head I saw, to my amazeI sprang from my chair. “Time of Abra- ment, that there was not a drop of water ham!” I exclaimed. “This is simply—" left in the spring. Now it so happened that

VOL. LVII.-8.

when Alexander came to this spot, he tions. Thou hast put an end to my ambistopped, and having regarded the little tions. I had believed that I should rule the hollow under the rock, together with its sur- world, and rule it forever!' His face grew roundings, he dismounted and stood by it. black; his voice was terrible. "Retire!' he He called me, and said:' According to all the said. “I will attend to thy future.' descriptions I have read, this might have "I retired, but my furious sovereign never been the spring of immortality for which I saw me again. I was fifty-three years old have been searching; but it cannot be such when I drank the water in the little pool now, for there is no water in it.' Then he under the rock, and I was well aware that stooped down and looked carefully at the at the time of my sovereign's return I felt hollow. “There has been water here,' said no older and looked no older. But still i he, 'and that not long ago, for the ground hoped that this was merely the result of my is wet.'

general good health, and that when Alexan“A horrible suspicion now seized upon der came back he would inform me that me. Could I have drained the contents of the he had discovered the veritable spring of spring of inestimable value? Could I, with- immortality; so I retained my high office, out knowing it, have deprived my king of the and waited. But I had made my plans for great prize for which he had searched so escape in case my hope should not be reallong, with such labor and pains? Of course ized. In two minutes from the time I left I was certain of nothing, but I bowed be- his presence I had begun my flight, and fore Alexander, and told him that I had there were no horses in all his dominions found an insignificant little puddle at the which could equal the speed of mine. place, that I had tasted it and found it was "Now began a long, long period of danger nothing but common water, and in quantity and terror, of concealment and deprivation. so small that it scarcely sufficed to quench I fled into other lands, and these were conmy thirst. If he would consent to camp in quered in order that I might be found. But the shade, and wait a few hours, water at last Alexander died, and his son died, and would trickle again into the little basin, and the sons of his son died, and the whole story fill it, and he could see for himself that this was forgotten or disbelieved, and I was no could not be the spring of which he was in longer in danger of living forever as an search.

example of the ingenious cruelty of an ex“We waited at that place for the rest of asperated monarch. the day and the whole of the night, and the “I do not intend to recount my life and next morning the little basin was empty and adventures since that time; in fact, I shall entirely dry. Alexander did not reproach scarcely touch upon them. You can see for me; he was accustomed to rule all men, even yourself that that would be impossible. One himself, and he forbade himself to think that might as well attempt to read a history of I had interfered with the great object of his the world in a single evening. I merely want search. But he sent me home to his capital to say enough to make you understand the city, and continued his journey without me. situation. ‘Such a thirsty man must not travel with "A hundred years after I had fled from me,' he said. "If we should really come to Alexander I was still fifty-three years old, the immortal spring, he would be sure to and knew that that would be my age forever. drink it all.'

I stayed so long in the place where I first "Nine years afterward Alexander returned established myself that people began to look to his palace, and when I presented myself upon me with suspicion. Seeing me grow no before him he regarded me steadfastly. I older, they thought I was a wizard, and I was knew why he was looking at me, and I obliged to seek a new habitation. Ever since, trembled. At length he spoke: “Thou art my fate has been the necessity of moving not one day older than when I dismissed thee from place to place. I would go somewhere from my company. It was indeed the foun- as a man beginning to show signs of age, and tain of immortality which thou didst discover, I would remain as long as a man could and of which thou didst drink every drop. I reasonably be supposed to live without behave searched over the whole habitable world, coming truly old and decrepit. Sometimes I and there is no other. Thou, too, art an aristo- remained in a place far longer than my prucrat; thou, too, art of the family of Shem. dence should have permitted, and many were It was for this reason that I placed thee near the perils I escaped on account of this rashme, that I gave thee great power; and now ness; but I have gradually learned wisdom.” thou hast destroyed all my hopes, my aspira The man spoke so quietly and calmly, and

« הקודםהמשך »