« AnteriorContinuar »
had all the earthly graces with a certain admixture of the divine, but who should be nameless till her arrival. So it was determined that Genevieve should go; and the prospect of a visit to Rosalind, and seeing, and it may be participating in the gayeties of 'the Monumental City,' brightened the eye of the invalid, and restored much of the wonted color to her cheek.
Robert Ferrara did not share the joyful feelings of Genevieve and her father at the prospect of leave of absence. She even sought to rally him from the disquietude evinced by his pallor. 'How blue and hateful you look, you naughty boy! You are so cold, that I am glad I am going to leave you, for fear I may be congealed into an icicle. I shan't look back at you either when I go, lest, like Lot's wife, I may be turned into a pillar of salt.'
'Do you mean to compare me to Lot or to Sodom?' said Robert with a roguish twinkle in his
'Have it whichever way you please, Sir.'
'Then I please to have myself compared to Lot, and of course some one else has already signified her willingness to enact the part of Lot's wife.'
'No,' interrupted Genevieve, 'I compared you to the wicked, you know I did, and now I am convinced the comparison is just;' and with the prettiest affectation of anger, away she darted from his presence.
Whenever that fair vision was out of Robert Ferrara's sight, he fully realized the influence which it had on him. He could bear the vicissitudes of a checkered life thus far without complaint; self-exile himself from the home of his childhood, amid the rich, tropical scenery of Brazil; fly for dear life from the classic land of Italy, where he had lived just so long as to become contented and hopeful; seek the shores of the northern continent of the New World, and by drudgery earn his daily pittance; yes, he could do all this and rejoice that it was done, and even descry hope in the distance not dimly, but with the index-finger of promise waving him on; but for Genevieve to leave him to recruit her health, to be ignorant when they would meet again, to run the gauntlet, it may be, of assiduous rivals, to be without her smile, the light of her eyes, her word of cheer, this, this it was that paled our young hero's face and bowed his head in sorrow. Should he discover to Genevieve the true state of his feelings toward her before her departure? Should he disturb now the even beat of that girlish heart with a woman's vows? No, no; he would seek to become worthy of her first. She should yet hear his voice on commencementday, when beauty would wave her thousand handkerchiefs, and men would applaud as only manhood can. Then the seal should be taken from the deep fount of his heart; then, and not till then, should Genevieve Mather know that one had loved her true and long. Take care, my boy, that you lose not the coveted prize. A woman's heart is like the wind, which bloweth where it listeth. Others will be planning to mar your hopes and sip your joy. Death may claim the bride. We shall see, we shall see.
A few days afterward a hackney-coach was seen standing in front of the Mather residence. A white-haired old gentleman and a sweet, pale face were bidding adieu to a raven-locked and noble-featured youth, who looked as pale and transfixed as the fabled Niobe. The steps were folded up, the door of the
vehicle closed; the sweet, pale face peered through the glass and smiled an adieu. The statue that stood by involuntarily moved and mechanically kissed its hand, and away rattled the wheels on the stone pavement toward 'Long Wharf,' where the steam-boat was puffing with impatience to leave her dock. They embarked on the Traveller,' which then plied on the Sound between New-Haven and New-York. How beautiful art thou, City of Elms, from the wave! How well-defined the Puritan character upon thy many churches, whose towers and steeples and spires proclaim freedom to worship GOD. Thy perfumed gardens, thy majestic elms, thy houses stainless as the driven snow, the very mountains at whose base you sleep, are all conceived in beauty. But Genevieve bids thee and her lover farewell.
After the usual incidents of travel, Mr. Mather and his daughter arrived in Baltimore, where they were received by the most flattering attentions by their relatives. 'Cousin Genevieve has come,' shouted Rosalind with joy. Mrs. Mather shared her daughter's enthusiasm, and even the darkies from the kitchen could have been seen successively protruding their woolly heads through the sitting-room door, which stood ajar, and exhibiting their ivory teeth in token of satisfaction at Miss Genevieve's arrival. Easter the cook hurried to adjust for herself quite a formidable coiffure out of a large redflowered cotton handkerchief, which she had washed till it was scrupulously clean, and ironed till it glistened as bright as her face. Next in order, she put on her new dress, a flaming-colored print, the principal figure in it being as big as a full moon, and much resembling that luminary in shape; and to complete her toilet, she adorned the immaculate ebony of her bosom with a large gold breast-pin, for which she had paid a quarter of a dollar at the toy-store, and sported four huge gold rings on each digit of her right hand, except the thumb; the sixteen rings having cost in cash 'a levy' a piece.
Titus, familiarly called 'Tite,' was very much impressed when Easter paraded in her choicest attire; but Cathele, who loved money as his life, and was wont to call it, in language of endearment 'the bounty,' and who, moreovr, prided himself on being an exemplary member of the church, plainly hinted to Easter that she would bring down the heavenly wrath upon her devoted head if she persisted in spending the bounty so lavishly to decorate her person with the gew-gaws and flummery which perish in their using.
Easter retorted: 'Kat Mather, if you only knowd it, de BIBLE says, 'Mine your own business.' I know what dis nigger is 'bout. Do you 'spect Miss Genevieve is gwine to look at Easter Mather if she did n't dress fashionable an' 'spectable as oder folks?'
'I don't 'ject to your wearing one ring, but dem four rings on one finger is what I 'plain of; dat is wat I call wasen de bounty sartain, and East Mather knows it as well as I do. Do n't you 'member wat Massa Angry said in his sarmint last Sunday 'bout costly 'parel and sich like? And sure as I'm settin here, he 'peared to be countin' dem rings on your fingers.'
'Massa Angry need n't talk. I is well 'quainted wid dat preacher, and knowed his mudder afore 'im. He is allers rompin' and cuttin' up wid de gals wen he an't preachin'; and I'll jest bet ye he 'll be arter settin' up to Miss
Genevieve in less than no time. I an't gwine to be skeered by Massa Angry's preachin' anyhow. Preachers ought to be sort o' solemncholy, and set a 'zample for oders, and not be kissin' all de purtiest gals. I have seed 'im lookin' at Miss Jenkins's darter of a Sunday wen he was preachin', and she reddened up jest like a beet. An' if he goes to sayin' any ting to dis darky 'bout dem rings, he is gwine to get a talkin' to, sure as he am one born chile. I'll tell 'im 'bout his mudder afore 'im, skeering de best preacher I ever hearn tell of, old Massa Perkins, her own granfadder, wen he went to bed one night widout any cannel, and was jest kneelin' down to say his prayers where he allers knelt, wen wat should he see but summit like Miss Perkins's ghost settin' up right afore 'im in bed, wid her dress on, spectickles, cap and ever ding, an' de old man was skeered so, dough he was a preacher, dat he hollered out loud enuf for every body in de house to hear him: 'De LORD have mercy!' I have allers hearn it said, wat is bred in de bones is hard to come out, and Massa Angry 'll hear so too, if he cums dis way lecturin' Easter Mather.'
David Mather's house at this time was the head-quarters of Methodism in the city of Baltimore. Step in there on almost any evening, and you would see one or more divines enjoying the hospitalities of their popular host; now perhaps seriously discussing the doctrines, the discipline, and the present and future success of Methodism, or again, with gravity thrown to the winds, and an entire abandonment of manner, enlivening their social intercourse with sidesplitting and soul-stirring incidents drawn from that exhaustless store-house of a rich and varied experience, the Methodist itinerancy. Occasionally a bishop would step in, whose presence could be easily detected by the number of satellites which revolved around him, by the fatherly feeling and interest with which he spoke, and the filial affection and deference of manner with which his words were received; but oftener, the youthful divine, unknown to fame and devoid of earthly fortune, nevertheless whose enthusiasm and unflagging zeal, it may be, whose education and already clustering honors gave promise of a golden fruitage by-and-by, when the high places of the Church, then so worthily filled, should have become vacant, and the illustrious living should have become the illustrious dead.
On one of these social and festive occasions a suggestion was casually made by some one, that a large deputation should go down from Baltimore to attend a camp-meeting, to be held at Devil's Island, in the Chesapeake Bay; that the Baltimore brethren should not only go, but carry their tents with them, and make the encampment every way worthy of the palmy days of Methodism. The suggestion took like wild-fire; Mr. Mather heartily indorsed it, while the female members of his family were still more enthusiastic at the idea; but most pleased of all, if possible, was Genevieve, who, reared among the strongholds of Congregationalism in the good old State of Connecticut, had never attended a Methodist camp-meeting. Her eye brightened with the vivacity of former days at the prospect of a ride upon the waters of the majestic and at times apparently shoreless waters of the Chesapeake; at the idea of living in a canvas tent for two or three weeks, on a lately uninhabited island, and worshipping GOD in temples not made with human hands, in the aboriginal groves, and along the
briny beach where the waves dashed and foamed. Then a smile, with most unmistakable meaning in it, passed over the invalid's face. Was she thinking she might become a heroine in some bit of romance? But whence was to come the hero? Did she stand self-impeached as the smile quickly vanished, and a cloud like a raven's wing settled on the whilom speaking but now enigmatical face.
'Cousin Genevieve, how ill you look! Do tell me what 's the matter,' said Rosalind.
Oh! it is nothing, Rosa. I felt a little unwell for a moment, but it is all
'Is my Yankee cousin sure she is quite recovered? We are expecting the Rev. Mr. Danguerry to dinner to-morrow, and I want her to be ready for conquests.'
The Rev. Mr. Danguerry! Who is the Rev. Mr. Danguerry?'
'He is the husband of the future Mrs. Danguerry, née Genevieve Mather.' 'Oh! nonsense, Rosa; but pray who is he?'
'Young ladies who are to set their caps for young divines are so oblivious. Did n't you read my note inclosed in pa's letter to Uncle Abraham?'
'Oh! I recollect now.'
'I am glad to see my coz is regaining her memory.' Herewith follows an impromptu description of the Rev. Mr. Danguerry by Rosalind Mather, for the benefit of her cousin Genevieve, who is too modest to ask any questions. the first place, he is tall.'
'I don't like tall people. It looks too much like an act of condescension when they speak to you.'
Secondly, he is fat."
'Mercy! tall and fat! I hope to gracious the cannibals will get him; I am sure they could appreciate him better than I.'
'Thirdly, he is handsome.'
"Then I would n't have him. 'How ill-sorted a match,' people would say, 'a plain woman united to a handsome husband.' Ugliness palpable is one of the conditions of my affinity.'
'Fourthly, he is very lively.'
Then I must insist on being excused. I wish to do all the scampering in my own household, while my smaller half will be expected to look on and admire. If an earthquake should overtake us, he must maintain a calm stolidity, but if it was desirable, I would n't hesitate to drag him out, while he enacted the Caius Marius amid the ruins.'
Fifthly, he preaches most eloquently.'
'If that is the case, I know he must be vain, and I don't want my husband
to be so. You have capped the climax, so please stop.'
Sixthly, he will be our escort to the camp-meeting, and our wilful coz will be completely fascinated.'
'Sixthly on my side, I won't like him; I know I won't; so I issue this my proclamation of war at the outset.'
The next day, near dinner-hour, the Rev. Mr. Danguerry was announced,
or rather announced himself by walking unceremoniously into the drawingroom and drumming away at the piano-forte.
'Tite, let that piano alone,' cried Rosalind.
'Let's go and see what he is trying to play,' said Genevieve. In they ran. 'O Mr. Danguerry!' said Rosalind, 'I did n't know it was you. My cousin, Miss Mather.'
The minister shook hands with Miss Mather, and then proceeded to say that he was most unfortunate in the matter of names. Some called him Mr. Angry, some Mr. Daguerrian, some Mr. Gerry; one old woman always called him Mr. Menagerie, and now Rosalind had christened him 'Tite.'
No one unacquainted with the fact would have suspected that the gentleman with Rosalind Mather as his vis-à-vis, was a minister of the Gospel; that gentleman who sat so much at his ease and chatted so oilily; who cracked a joke inimitably, and made every body laugh; whose ruddy and unctuous face was more suggestive of spring-chieken and butter-beans, of sweet-potatoes and steamed oysters, of terrapins, gumbo and soft-shell crabs, of new milk and fresh-laid eggs, than of anxiety for the spiritual welfare of his flock, and penance for his own sins in the flesh. He has certainly never wished with Jeremiah, 'Oh! that my head were waters,' etc. On the contrary, if any collaborator in his MASTER'S vineyard affected the doleful Jeremiah, the Rev. Mr. Danguerry was sure to impale him on his witticisms, and yet would do it in such a way, that the victim would take no offence; on the contrary, would pronounce his tormentor the best fellow in the world. Generally a monopolist of conversation, yet around the festive board no one could be more self-sacrificing. The reverend gentleman's remarks here partook of the monosyllabic and suggestive form, while he evinced a heart-felt satisfaction at his success in drawing out his interlocutors. What if he did take the choicest pieces of the turkey while his companions were all animation and talk! What if he did cast furtive glances at the plumpest oysters, and transfer them silently but effectively to his own plate, while some sanctimonious brother was just reaching an eloquent climax! What if he did get an extra allowance of the custard! Will any one malign him for that? Have not other people been absent-minded besides the Rev. Mr. Danguerry? Have not others' appetites been involuntarily whetted by their listening to animated and brilliant conversation?
The approaching. camp-meeting was discussed in all its bearings. The Rev. Mr. Danguerry described a circle on tip-toe, such was his delight; and it was unanimously voted that the Mather family should go under his escort. After this first interview with the young clergyman, Genevieve seemed to recover faster than ever from her invalidism, and look forward with bright anticipations to the two weeks' bivouac on the island.
The time for the camp-meeting soon rolled round. Several steamers were chartered for the occasion. At the different wharves all was excitement; the smoke issued in volumes from the chimneys, and the steam roared out of the escape-pipe as if impatient for its energies to be turned upon the machinery. What a motley group of happy and expectant faces! Here a minister is readily recognized by his white neck-tie, and his dignified and fatherly