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and her manner so shy and girlish, that she a range of precipitous cliffs shut in the was thought of more as a child than a young horizon. The wild and desolate aspect of woman. The “heiress of old Niccoli” was the scene was overshadowed and controlled, the designation made use of, when parents as it were, by the stern grandeur of these would endeavor to awaken the ambition ramparts of nature; and the whole contribof their sons, as they looked forward to what uted to form such a picture as artists travel might be some years hence; but Lelia, in a thousand miles to contemplate. Lelia, her own person, was a nonentity.
however, had looked upon it from childhood. Her mother had died in giving her birth; It had never been forced upon her imaginaand for many a year the life of the child had / tion by contrast, for she had never travelled been preserved, or rather her death prevent five miles from her father's house, and she ed, by what seemed a miracle. Even after the continued to knit, and sing, and dream, withdisease, whatever it might have been, had out even raising her eyes. yielded to the sleepless care of her father, Her voice was rarely loud enough to be she remained in that state which is described caught by the echoes of the opposite rocks; in the expression “not unwell” rather than although sometimes it did happen that, car: in perfect health ; although the most trouble. ried away by enthusiasm, she produced a some memento that remained of her illness tone which was repeated by the fairy was nothing more than a nervous timidity, ministrels of the glen. On the present ocwhich in a more civilized part of the country casion she listened with surprise to a similar might have passed for delicacy of feeling. effect, for her voice had died almost in a
Besides being in some degree shut out whisper. She sang another stanza in a louder from the society of her equals by this pecu- key. The challenge was accepted; and a liarity of her situation, she was prevented rich, sweet voice took up the strain of her from enjoying it by another. While her body favorite ballad where she had dropped it. languished, the cultivation of her mind had Lelia's first impulse was to fly; her second, advanced. Music, to which she was pas- to sit still and watch for a renewal of the sionately attached, paved the way for poetry; music; and her third, which she obeyed, to and poetry, in spite of the doctrines of a steal on tiptoe to the edge of the ravine, and certain school you have in England, unfitted look down into the abyss, from whence the her for association with the ignorant and voice seemed to proceed. The echo, she disunrefined. That Lelia, therefore, had never covered, was a young man, engaged in navisought to hear the ballads of Francesco was gating a raft down the river—such as is occasioned, it may readily be believed, by used by the peasantry of the Alps to float nothing more than an instinctive terror, themselves and their wares to market, and mingled with the dislike with which the which at this moment was stranded on the name of one of the ruffian minerali inspired shore, at the foot of the garden. He leant her; and, in truth, she listened to the tales upon an oar, as if in the act of pushing off that from time to time reached her ear, of his clumsy boat; but his face was upturned, the young gold-seeker, with somewhat of like one watching for the appearance of a the vague and distant interest with wbich star; and Lelia felt a sudden conviction, she we attend to descriptions of a beautiful but knew not why, that he had seen her through wild and cruel animal of another hemisphere. the trees while she sat singing, and bad
There came one at last, however, to whom adopted this method of attracting her attenpoor Lelia listened. She was sitting alone, tion without alarming her. If such had been. according to her usual custom, at the bottom his purpose, he seemed to have no ulterior of her father's garden, singing, while she view; for, after gazing for an instant, he plied her knitting-needle, in the soft low withdrew his eyes in confusion, and, pushing tone peculiar to her voice, and beyond which off the raft, dropped rapidly down the river, it had no compass. The only fence of the and was soon out of sight. garden at this place was a belt of shrubs, Lelia's life was as calm as a sleeping lake, which enriched the border of the deep ravine which a cloud will blacken, and the wing of it overlooked. At the bottom of this ravine, an insect disturb. Even this little incident flowed the river, rapid and yet sullen; and was matter for thought, and entered into the beyond, scarcely distant two hundred yards, soft reveries of sixteen. She felt her cheeks tingle as she wondered how long the young “My name !” said the lover, in reply to man had gazed at her through the trees, and her frank and sudden question ; " you will why he had floated away without speaking, know it soon enough.” “But I will not be when he had succeeded in attracting her at- said nay. You must tell me now-or at all tention. There was delicacy in his little con events to-morrow night.” trivance, to save her the surprise, perhaps the “Why to-morrow night?” “Because a terror, of seeing a stranger in such a situa- young rich suitor, on whom my father's tion; there was modesty in the confusion heart is set, is then to propose, in proper with which he turned away his head; and, | form, for this poor hand; and, let the conwhat perhaps was as valuable as either even fession cost what it may, I will not overto the gentle Lelia, there was admiration, throw the dearest plans of my only parent deep and devout, in those brilliant eyes that without giving a reason which will satisfy had quailed beneath hers. The youth was even him. Oh, you do not know him! as beautiful as a dream; and his voice !-it Wealth weighs as nothing in the scale was so clear, and yet so soft—so powerful, against his daughter's happiness. You may yet so melodious! It haunted her ear like be poor for aught I know; but you are good, a prediction.
and honorable, and, therefore, in his eyes, no It was a week before she again saw this unfitting match for Lelia.” It was almost Apollo of her girlish imagination. It seem- dark; but Lelia thought she perceived a ed as if in the interval they had had time to smile on her lover's face while she spoke, get acquainted! They exchanged saluta- and a gay suspicion flashed through her tions—the next time they spoke—and the mind, which made her heart beat and her next time they conversed. There was cheeks tingle. He did not answer for many nothing mysterious in their communications. minutes ; a struggle of some kind seemed to He was probably a farmer's son of the upper agitate him; but at length, in a suppressed valley, who had been attracted, like others, voice, he said—“To-morrow night, then.” by the fame of the heiress of old Niccoli. He, “Here ?” “No, in your father's house; in indeed, knew nothing of books, and he loved the presence of—my rival.” poetry more for the sake of music than its The morrow night arrived ; and, with a own ; but what of that ?-the writings of ceremonious formality practised on such ocGod were around and within them; and casions in the valley, the lover of whom these, if they did not understand, they at Lelia had spoken was presented to his misleast felt. He was bold and vigorous of mind; tress, to ask permission to pay his addressand this is beauty to the fair and timid. He es ; or, in other words,- for there is but skimmed along the edge of the precipice, short shrift for an Anzascan maid-to deand sprung from rock to rock in the torrent, mand her hand in marriage. This was inas fearless as the chamois. He was beautiful, deed a match on which old Niccoli bad set and brave, and proud; and this glorious crea- his heart; for the offer was by far the best ture, with radiant eyes and glowing cheeks, that could have been found from the Val laid himself down at her feet to gaze upon d'Ossola to Monte Rosa. The youth was her face, as poets worship the moon! rich, well-looking, and prudent even to
The world, before so monotonous, so blank, coldness :-what more could a father de60 dear, was now a heaven to poor Lelia. / sire ? One thing only perplexed her: they were Lelia had put off the minute of appearsufficiently long-according to the calcula- | ing in the porch, where the elders of both tions of sixteen—and sufficiently well ac- families had assembled, as long as possible. quainted; their sentiments had been avowed While mechanically arranging her dress, she without disguise; their faith plighted be continued to gaze out of the lattice, which yond recall: and as yet her lover had never commanded a view of the road and of the mentioned his name! Lelia, reflecting on parties below, in expectation that increased this circumstance, condemned, for the mo to agony. Bitter were her reflections durment, her precipitation; but there was now ing that interval! She was almost tempted no help for it, and she could only resolve to to believe that what had passed was nothing extort the secret-if secret it was at the more than a dream-a fignient of her imanext meeting.
gination, disordered by poetry and solitude,
and perhaps in some measure warped by | was seen that her cheeks were dry, and her disease. Had she been made the sport of face as white as the marble of Cordaglia an idle moment ?-and was the smile she had A murmur of compassion ran through tbe observed on her lover's face only the herald bystanders; and the words “poor tbing ! of the laugh which perhaps at this moment still so delicate !-old hysterics !" were whistestified his enjoyment of her perplexity peringly repeated from one to the other. and disappointment! His conduct presented | The father was alarmed, and bastened to itself in the double light of folly and ingrati- cut short & ceremony which seemed so tude; and at length, in obedience to the re-appalling to the nervous timidity of his peated summons of her father, she descended daughter. “It is enough," said he ; "all to the porch with a trembling step and a will be over in a moment. Lelia, do you fevered cheek.
accept of this young man for your suitor The sight of the company that awaited come, one little word, and it is done." Lelia her awed and depressed her. She shrunk tried in vain to speak, and she bowed her from them with more than morbid timidity; acquiescence. “Sirs,” continued Niccoli, my while their stony eyes, fixed upon her in all daughter accepts of the suitor you offer. It the rigidity of form and transmitted custom, is enough ; salute your mistress, my son, seemed to freeze her very heart. There was and let us go in, and pass round the cup of one there, however, whose ideas of "pro- alliance." “ The maiden hath not answered," priety," strict as they were, could never observed a cold, cautious voice among the prevent his eyes from glistening, and his relations of the suitor. “Speak, then," said arms from extending, at the approach of Niccoli, casting an angry and disdainful look Lelia. Her father, after holding her for a at the formalist --" it is but & word-a moment at arm's length, as with a doating sound. Speak!" Lelia's dry, white lips had look his eyes wandered over the bravery unclosed to obey, when the gate of the little of her new white dress, drew her close to court was wrenched open by one who was his bosom, and blessed her. “My child," apparently too much in haste to find the said he, smiling gayly through a gathering latch, and a man rushed into the midst of the tear, “it is hard for an old man to think of circle. "Speak not !" he shouted, “I forbid !" parting with all he loves in the world : but Lelia sprung towards him with a stifled cry, the laws of nature must be respected. and would have thrown herself into his Young men will love, and young lasses arms, had she not been suddenly caught mid. will like, to the end of time; and new fam way by her father. " What is this ?" demand. ilies will spring up out of their union. It is ed he sternly, but in rising alarm; “ruffian the way, girl-it is the fate of maids, and --drunkard,-madman 1-what would you there's an end. For sixteen years have I here ?" “ You cannot provoke me, Niccoli," watched over you, even like a miser watch said the intruder, “were you to spit upon ing his gold; and now, treasure of my life, me! I come to demand your daughter in I give you away! All I ask, on your part, marriage.” “You !" shouted the enraged is obedience-ay, and cheerful obedience- father. “You !” repeated the relations in after the manner of our ancestors, and ac- tones of wonder, scorn, rage, or ridicule, according to the laws of God. After this is cording to the temperament of the indiover, let the old man stand aside, or pass vidual. “There needeth no more of this," away, when it pleases Heaven; he has left said the same cold, cautious voice that had his child happy, and his child's children will spoken before; "a wedding begun in a bless his memory. He has drunk of the cup brawl will never end well. To demand a of life-sweet and bitter-bitter and sweet girl in legitimate marriage is neither sin nor -even to the bottom; but with honey, shame ; let the young man be answered by Lelia,—thanks to his blessed darling I-with the maiden herself, and then depart in honey in the dregs !"
peace.” “He hath spoken well,” said the Lelia fell on her father's neck, and sobbed more cautious among the old men; “speak, aloud. So long and bitter was her sobbing daughter; answer, and let the man be gone!" that the formality of the party was broken, Lelia grew pale, and then red. She made and the circle narrowed anxiously around a step forward-hesitated-looked at her her. When at last she raised her head, it father timidly—and then stood as still as a
statue, pressing her clasped hands upon her -a single year; name a reasonable sum ; and bosom, as if to silence the throbbings that if, by the appointed time I cannot tell the Jisturbed her reason. “Girl,” said old Nic- money into your hand, I hereby engage to coli, in a voice of suppressed passion, as he relinquish every claim, which her generous seized her by the arm, “ do you know that preference has given me, upon your daughman ?-did you ever see him before ? An- ter's hand.” “It is well put,” replied the swer, can you tell me his name ?” “No!" cold and cautious voice in the assembly. “No !—the insolent ruffian! Go, girl, pre “A year, at any rate, would have elapsed sent your cheek to your future husband, between the present betrothing and the that the customs of our ancestors may be damsel's marriage. If the young man befulfilled, and leave me to clear my doorway fore the bells of twelve, on this night twelveof vagabonds !” She stepped forward me- month, layeth down upon the table, either chanically ; but when the legitimate suitor, in coined money, or in gold, or golden ore, extending his arms, ran forward to meet her, the same sum which we were here ready to she eluded him with a sudden shriek, and guarantee on the part of my grandson, why I, staggered towards the intruder. “ Hold— for one, shall not object to the maiden's whim, hold !” cried the relations, “ you are mad— -provided it continues so long-being conyou know not what you do—it is Francesco, sulted, in the disposal of her hand, in prefthe mineralo !” She had reached the stran erence to her father's judgment and desires. ger, who did not move from where he stood; The sum is only three thousand livres !” A and, as the ill-omened name met her ear, laugh of scorn and derision rose among the she fainted in his arms.
relations. Yes, yes,” said they, “it is but The confusion that ensued was indescri- just. Let the mineralo produce three thoubable. Lelia was carried senseless into the sand livres, and he shall have his bride. house;
and it required the efforts of half the Neighbor Niccoli, it is a fair proposal ; alparty to hold back her father, who would have low us to intercede for Francesco, and beg grappled with the mineralo upon the spot. your assent !" “Sirs,” said Francesco, in Francesco stood for some time with folded perplexity mingled with anger, “ the sum of arms, in mournful and moody silence; but three thousand livres”-He was interrupted when at length the voice of cursing, which by another forced laugh of derision. “ It is Niccoli continued to pour forth against him, a fair proposal,” repeated the relations ; had sunk in exhaustion, he advanced and agree, neighbor Niccoli, agree !” “ I agree,” confronted him. “I can bear those names,” said Niccoli disdainfully. “ It is agreed !” said he “from you. Some of them, you know replied Francesco, in a burst of baughty inwell, are undeserved; and if others fit, it is dignation; and with a swelling heart he withmore my misfortune than my fault. If to drew. chastise insults, and render back scorn for A very remarkable change appeared to scorn is to be a ruffian, I am one; but no take place from that moment in the characman can be called a vagabond who resides ter and habits of the mineralo. He not in the habitation and follows the trade of only deserted the company of his riotous his ancestors. These things, however, are associates, but even that of the few respecttrifles—at best they are only words. Your able persons to wbose houses he had obreal objection to me is that I am POOR. It tained admission, either by his talents for is a strong one. If I choose to take your singing, or the comparative propriety of his daughter without a dowry, I would take her conduct. Day after day he labored in his in spite of you all; but I will leave her- precarious avocation. The changes of the even to that thing without a soul-rather seasons were not now admitted as excuses. than subject so gentle a being to the priva- The storm did not drive him to the winetions and vicissitudes of a life like mine. Il shed, and the rain did not confine him to his demand, therefore, not simply your daughter, hut. Day after day, and often night after but a dowry, if only a small one ; and you night he was to be found in the field—on have the right to require that on my part 1 the mountains—by the sides of the rainshall not be empty-handed. She is young, courses—on the shores of the torrent. and there can be, and ought to be no hurry He rarely indulged himself even in the with her marriage ; but give me only a year / recreation of meeting bis mistress, for whom
all this labor was submitted to. Gold, not | religious watchings performed. Then came as a means but as an end, seemed to be his dreams and prodigies into play, and omens, thought by day, and his dream by night, the and auguries. Sortes were wrested from the object and end of his existence. When they pages of Dante, and warnings and commands did meet in darkness, and loneliness, and translated from the mystic writings of the mystery, it was but to exchange a few hur skyried sentences of hope and comfort, and
“ The stars which are the poetry of beaven." affected reliance upon fortune. On these occasions, tears, and tremblings, and hysteri- ! The year touched upon its close ; and the cal sobbings, sometimes told, on her part, at sum which the gold-seeker bad amassed, once the hollowness of her words, and the although great almost to a miracle, was still weakness of her constitution ; but on his, all | far-very far, from sufficient. The last day was, or seemed to be, enthusiasm and stead of the year arrived, ushered in by storm, and fast expectation.
thunderings, and lightnings; and the evenDays and weeks, however, passed by- ing fell cold and dark upon the despairing moons rolled away-the year was drawing labors of Francesco. He was on the side of to its wane, and a great part of the enor- the mountain opposite Niccoli's house ; and, mous sum was still in the womb of the as daylight died in the valley, he saw, with mountains. Day by day, week by week, inexpressible bitterness of soul, by the and month by month, the hopes of the number of lights in the windows, that the mineralo became fainter. He could no fête was not forgotten. Some trifling suclonger bestow the comfort which did not cess, however, induced him, like a drowning cheer even his dreams. Gloomy and sad, man grasping at a straw, to continue his he could only strain his mistress in his arms, search. He was on the spot indicated by a without uttering a word when she ventured dream of his enthusiastic mistress; and she an inquiry respecting his progress, and then had conjured him not to abandon the attempt hurry away to resume, mechanically, his till the bell of the distant church should hopeless task.
silence their hopes for ever. It is a strange, sometimes an awful thing, His success continued. He was working to look into the mystery of the female with the pickaxe, and had discovered a very mind.
small perpendicular vein ; and it was just Lelia's health had received a shock from possible that this, although altogether inthe circumstances we have recorded, which adequate in itself, might be crossed at a left her cheek pale, and her limbs weak, for greater depth, by a horizontal one, and thus many months ; and to this physical infirmity form one of the gruppi, or nests, in which was now added the effect of those dumb, the ore is plentiful and easily extracted. To but too eloquent, interviews with her lover. work, however, was difficult, and to work The lower he sunk in despondency, however, long, impossible. His strength was almost and the more desperate grew their affairs, exhausted; the storm beat fiercely in his the higher her spirits rose, as if to quell and face ; and the darkness increased every mocontrol their fortune. Her hopes seemed to ment. His heart wholly failed him; his grow in proportion with his fears, and the limbs trembled; a cold perspiration bedewed strength which deserted him went over as his brow; and, as the last rays of daylight an ally and supporter to her weakness. departed from the mountain-side he fell Even her bodily health received its direc- senseless upon the ground. tion from her mind. Her nerves seemed to How long he remained in this state he did recover their tone, her cheek its hue, and her not know ; but he was recalled to life by a eye its brilliancy. The cold and sluggish sound resembling, as he imagined, a human imagination of a man is unacquainted with cry. The storm howled more wildly than half the resources of a woman in such cir-ever along the side of the mountain, and it cumstances. Disappointed in her depend was now pitch-dark; but on turning round ence on fortune and casualty, Lelia betook his head he saw, at a little distance above herself to the altars and gods of her people! where be lay, a small, steady light. FranSaints and martyrs were by turns invoked; cesco's heart began to quake. The light vows were offered nip, and pilgrimages and advanced towards him, and he perceived