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6. “ Behold,” said the old man to the delighted youth, “ the emblem of thy new and active life! Nat ire, which hath warned thee, may now reward thee also.”—And mine own heart," replied the youth, with emotion, "and the approbation of my faithful teacher.” The charms and beauty of Nature can truly delight him only who in her life views his own.
FROM THE GERMAN
LI. — A CHASE ON THE ICE. 1. DURING the winter of 1844, being in the northern part of Maine, I had much leisure for the sports of a new country. To none was I more passionately addicted than to skating. The sequestered lakes, frozen by intensekt cold, offer a wide plain to the lovers of this pastime. Oftents would I bind on my skates, and glide away up the glittering river, threading every mazy streamlet that flowed on towards the parent ocean, and feeling every pulse bound with the joyous exercise. It was during one of these excursions that an adventure befeli me, that I can rarely think upon, even now, without a certain thrill of astonishment.Et
2. I had left a friend's house one evening, just before dusk, with the intention of skating a short distance up the noble Kennebec, which, under its icy crust, flowed directly before the door. 37 The air was clear, calm, and bracing. The new moon silvered the lofty pines, and the stars twinkled with rare brilliancy from their dark-blue depths. In the stillness, the solitude and magnificence of the scene, there was an effect almost preternatural upon the mind. I had gone up the river nearly two miles, when, coming to a little stream which emptied into a larger, I turned in to explore its course. Fir and hemlock trees of a century's growth met overhead, and formed an evergreen archway, radiant with frost-work.
3. All was dark within; but I was young and fearless, and, as I peered into the unbroken forest, El I laughed in very joyousness. My wilde hurra rang through the woods, and I stood listening to the echok that reverberated again and again, until all was hushed. Occasionally from some tall oak a night-bird would flap its wings. I watched the owls as they fluttered by, and I held my breath to listen to their distant hooting
4. All of a sudden," a sound arose, which seemed to proceed from the very ice beneath my feet. It was loud and tremendous at first, and ended in a long yell. I was appalled. Coming on the car amid such an unbroken solitude, it sounded like a blast from ao infernal trumpet. Presently I heard the twigs on the shorek
snap as if from the tread of some animal. The blood rushed tu my fõrchead with a bound that made my skin burn; but I felt a strange relief that I had to contend with things of earthly and not spiritual mould. My energies returned. The moon shone through the opening by which I had entered the forest, and, considering this the best direction for escape, I shot toward it like an arrow.
5. The opening was hardly a hundred yards distant, and the swallow could not have skimmed them more swiftly; yet, as I turned my eyes to the shore, I could see two dark objects dashing through the underbrush at a pace nearly double that of my own. By their great speed, and the short yells which they gave, I knew.133 at once that they were of the much-dreaded species known as the gray wolf. The untamable fierceness and untiring strength of this animal,
“ With its long gallop, that can tire
The hound's deep bate, the hunter's fire,”
render it an object of dread to benighted travellers. The bushes that skirted the shore now seemed to rush by me with the velocity of light, as I dashed on in my flight.
6. The outlet was nearly gained; one second more, and I would be comparatively safe ; but my pursuerstl suddenly appeared on the bank directly above me, which rose to the height of some ten feet. There was no tiine for thought; I bent my head and darted wildly forward. The wolves sprang, hut, miscalculating my speed, sprang behind, while their intended prey glided out upon the river. Instinct turned me toward home. How my skates made the light icy mist spin from the glassy surface! The fierce howl of my pursuers again rang in my ears. I did not look back; I thought of the dear ones awaiting my return, and I put in play every faculty of mind and body for my escape. I was perfectly at home on the ice; and many were the days I had spent on my skates.
7. Every half-minute an alternate yelp from my pursuers told me they were close at my heels. Nearer and nearer they came; I could hear them pant. I strained every muscle7 in my frame to quicken my speel. Still I could hear close behind me the pattering of feet, when an involuntary motion on my part turned me out of my course. The wolves, unable to stop and as unable to turn, slipped and fell, sliding on far ahead, their tongues loll. ing out, their white tushes gleaming from their red mouths, their dark, shaggy breasts freckled with foam; and, as they slid on, they howled with redoubled rage.
8. The thought occurred to me, that by thus turning aside whenever they came too near, I could avoid them; for, from the peculiar formation of their feet, they cannot run on ice except in a right line. I immediately acted on this plan. The wolves, having regained their feet, sprang directly towards me. The race was renewed for twenty yards up the stream; they were already close on my back, when I glided round and dashed past them. A fierce howl greeted my evolution, and the wolves slipped upon their haunches, and again slid onward, presenting a perfect picture of baffled, blood-thirsty rage.
9. Thus I gained, at each turning, nearly a hundred yards. This was repeated two or three times, the wolves getting more excited every moment, until, coming opposite the house, a couple of stag-hounds, aroused by the noise, bayed furiously from their kennels. Quickly taking the hint, the wolves stopped in their mad career, turned skulkingly, and fled. I watched them till their dusky forms disappeared over a neighboring hill. Then, taking off my skates, I wended my way to the house, grateful to Provi. dence for my escape, and determined never to trust myself again, if I could hely it within the reach of a gray wolf.
LII. — THE PARTICULAR LADY. 1. I am far from being opposed theoreticallyel to habits of neatness and order; but we sometimes see a good propensity care ried so far as to interfere with the comfort of others. Did you ever live with a particular lady ? - one possessed not simply with the spirit, but the demon of tidiness, — who will give you a two hours'l11 lecture upon the sin of an untied shoe-string, and raise a hurricane about your ears on the enormity of a fractured glove? who will be struck speechless at the sight of a pin instead of a string, or set a whole house in an uproar, on finding a book on the table instead of in the book-case? Those who have had the misfortune to meet with such a person will know how to sympathize with me. I have passed two whole months with a particular lady.
2. I had often received very pressing invitations to visit an old school-fellow, who is settled in a snug parsonage, about fifty miles from town; but something or other was continually occurring to prevent me from availing myself of them. But, on the 17th of June (I shall never forget it, if I live to the age of old Parre), having a few spare weeks at my disposal, I set out for my chum'sEl residence. He received me with his wonted cordial. ity ; but I fancied that he looked a little more care-worn than
a man of thirty might be expected to look, — married as he is to the woman of his choice, and in the possession of an easy fortune.
3. Poor fellow! I did not know that his wife was a precisian. The first hint I received of the fact was from Mr. S., who, removing my hat from the first peg in the hall to the fourth, observed, “ My wife is a little particular in these matters ; the first peg is for my hat, the second for William's, the third for Tom's, and you can reserve the fourth, if you please, for your own: ladies, you know, do not like to have their arrangements interfered with.”
4. I promised to do my best to recollect the order of precedence with respect to the hats, and walked up stairs, impressed with an awful veneration for a lady who had contrived to impose so rigid a discipline on a man formerly the most disorderly of mortals. I mentally resolved to obtain her favor by the most studious observance of her wishes.
5. I might as well have determined to be Emperor of China ! Before the week was at an end, I was a lost man. I always reckon myself tolerably tidy; never leaving more than half my clothes on the floor of my dressing-room, nor more than a dozen books about any apartment I may happen to occupy for an hour. I do not lose more than a dozen handkerchiefs in a month ; nor have more than a quarter of an hour's hunt for my hat or gloves, whenever I am going out in a hurry.
6. I found all this was but as dust in the balance. The first 35 time I sat down to dinner, I made a horrible blunder; for, in my haste to help my friend to some asparagus, I pulled a dish a little out of its place, thereby deranging the exact hexag'onal i order in which the said dishes were arranged. I discovered my mishap on hearing Mr. S. sharply rebuked for a similar offence.
7. Secondly, I sat, the whole evening, with the cushion a full finger's length beyond the cane-work of my chair ; and, what is worse, I do not know that I should have been aware of my delinquency, if the agony of the lady's feelings had not overpowered every consideration, and at last compelled her to burst forth, “ Excuse me, Mr. — * but do, pray, put your cushion straight: it annoys me beyond measure to see it otherwise!”
8. My third offence was displacing the snuffer-stand from its central position between the candlesticks ;-) my fourth, leaving a pamphlet I had been perusing on the pianoforte ;£1 its proper place being a table in the middle of the room, on which all books in present use were ordered to repose; my fifth - but, in short, I should never have done, were I to enumerate every separate enormity of which I was guilty. My friend S.'s drawing-room has as good a right to exhibit4 a placard of "steel traps and spring guns” as any park I am acquainted with.
* In reading aloud, the word Blank may be sometimes substituted (as in this instance) for a mark of Ellipsis. See | 147, Part I.
9. Even those chartered libertines,” the children and dogs, were taught to be as demure Is and hypocritical as the matronly tabby-catz herself, who sat with her two fore-feet together and her tail curled round her, as exactly as if she had been worked in an urn-rug, instead of being a living mouser. It was the utmost stretch of my friend's măr'itali authority to get his favorite spaniel admitted to the honor of the parlor ;E and even this privilege is only granted in his master's presence. If Carlo happens to pop his unlucky brown nose into the room when S. is from home, he retreats directly, with as much consciousness in his ears and tail as if he had been convicted of larceny in the kitchen, and anticipated the application of the broomstick.
10. As to the children, I believe that they look forward to their evening visit to the drawing-room with much the same sort of feeling. Not that Mrs. S. is an unkind mother, or, I should rather say, not that she means to be so; but she has taken it into her head that, as young people have sometimes short memories, it is necessary to put them verbally in mind of their duties, “ from morn till dewy eve.”
11. So it is with her servants. If one of them leaves a broom or a duster out of its place for a second, she hears of it for a month afterwards. I wonder how they endure it! I have sometimes thought that, from long practice, they do not heed it, as a friend of mine who lives in a bustling street in the city tells me he does not hear the noise of the coaches and carts in front of his house, nor even of a brazierl who hammers away in his near neighborhood from morning till night.
12. The worst of it is, that while Mrs. S. never allows a moment's peace to her husband, children or servants, she thinks herself a jewel of a wife ; but such jewels are too costly for everyday wear. I am sure poor S. thinks so in his heart, and would be content to exchange half-a-dozen of his wife's tormenting good qualities, for the sake of being allowed a little commonplace
13. I never shall forget the delight I felt on entering my own house, after enduring her thraldome for two months. I absolutely revelled in disorder. I tossed my hat one way, my gloves another; pushed all the chairs into the middle of the room, and narrowly escaped cuffing my faithful Christopher, for offering to put it “ in order” again, – “straightening,' as they call it in