Page images
PDF
EPUB

Shall she let it ring? No, never! Flash her eyes with sudden

light, And she springs and grasps it firmly,-“Curfew shall not ring

to-night."

Out she swung, far out, the city seemed a speck of light below, 'Twixt heaven and earth her form suspended, as the bell swung

to and fro,And the sexton at the bell-rope, old and deaf, heard not the bell, But he thought it still was ringing fair young Basil's funeral

knell. Still the maiden clung most firmly, and with trembling lips and

white, Said to hush her heart's wild beating,-“Curfew shall not ring

to-night.”

It was o'er, the bell ceased swaying, and the maiden stepped

once more

Firmly on the dark old ladder, where for hundred years before, Human foot had not been planted. The brave deed that she had

done Should be told long ages after, as the rays of setting sun Should illume the sky with beauty; aged sires with heads of

white, Long should tell the little children, Curfew did not ring that

night.

O'er the distant hills came Cromwell; Bessie sees him, and her

brow, Full of hope and full of gladness, has no anxious traces now. At his feet she tells her story, shows her hands all bruised and

torn; And her face so sweet and pleading, yet with sorrow pale and

worn, Touched his heart with sudden pity, lit his eye with inisty light: “Go, your lover lives,” said Cromwell; “Curfew shall not ring to-night!

Rosa HARTWICK THORPE.

cover

fire.

Notes. - Cur' few is derived from the French, and means

The ringing of the curfew in England after the Norman Conquest, was to warn people to cover up their fires and go to bed. The custom of ringing the bell at eight or nine o'clock is still continued in some parts of England, and also in some cities in the United States. The original significance of the ringing has of course been lost.

Oliver Cromwell was born in 1599, and became the real leader of the party which rose in rebellion against Charles I. in 1646. In 1653, he was invested with the title of “Lord Protector," and ruled England in that capacity until his death in 1658.

Baş'il is a name derived from the Greek, and means kingly.

Elocution. - With what tone of voice should the first stanza be read ? Point out the changes in tone that should occur throughout the poem.

Mark the inflections in the last line of the first stanza, and in the last line of the last stanza.

Language. – Arrange the words in the last stanza in the order of prose. Change such words and forms of expression as do not properly belong to prose.

47.-NICHOLAS NICKLEBY LEAVING THE

YORKSHIRE SCHOOL.

splēen, anger.
humor, temper.
pros' trate, stretched out.
pro lònged', continued.
fū' ġi tive, one who has fled.

lī bā'tion, drink.
flăġ el la'tion, beating or whip-

ping.
supple, piant ; gielding.
ā'mi a ble, pleasing; charming.

on

As time passed away the poor creature, Smike, paid bitterly for the friendship of Nicholas Nickleby; all the spleen and ill humor that could not be vented Nicholas

were

bestowed on him. Stripes and blows, stripes and blows, stripes and blows, morning, noon, and night, were his penalty for being compassionated by the daring new master. Squeers was jealous of the influence which the şaid new master soon acquired in the school, and

66

hated him for it; Mrs. Squeers had hated him from the first; and poor Smike paid neavily for all.

One night he was poring hard over a book, vainly endeavoring to master some task which a child of nine years could have conquered with ease, but which to the brain of the crushed boy of nineteen was a hopeless mystery.

Nicholas laid his hand upon his shoulder.
“I can't do it."

“Do not try. You will do better, poor fellow, when I am gone.”

Gone? Are you going ?

“I can not say. I was speaking more to my own thoughts than to you. I shall be driven to that at last! The world is before me, after all.”

“Is the world as bad and dismal as this place ?”

“Heaven forbid. Its hardest, coarsest toil is happiness to this.”

"Should I ever meet you there?”

Yes,” – willing to soothe him.

“No! no! Should I-should I Say I should be sure to find you."

“You would, and I would help and aid you, and not bring fresh sorrow upon you, as I have done here."

The boy caught both his hands, and uttered a few broken sounds which were unintelligible. Squeers entered at the moment, and he shrunk back into his old corner.

Two days later, the cold feeble dawn of a January morning was stealing in at the windows of the common sleeping-room, when Nicholas, raising himself on his arm, looked among the prostrate forms in search of one.

[ocr errors]

6

“Now, then,” cried Squeers, from the bottom of the stairs, are you going to sleep all day up there?

“We shall be down directly, sir.”

“Down directly! Ah! you had better be down directly, or I'll be down upon some of you in less time than directly. Where's that Smike?”

Nicholas looked round again.
“He is not here, sir.”
“Don't tell me a lie. He is."
“ He is not. Don't tell me one."

Squeers bounced into the dormitory, and swinging his cane in the air ready for a blow, darted into the corner where Smike usually lay at night.

The cane descended harmlessly. There was nobody there.

“ What does this mean? Where have you hid him?"

“I have seen nothing of him since last night.”

“Come, you won't save him this way. Where is he?

“At the bottom of the nearest pond, for any thing I know."

In a fright, Squeers inquired of the boys whether any one of them knew any thing of their missing school-mate.

There was a general hum of denial, in the midst of which one shrill voice was heard to say-as indeed every body thought

“Please, sir, I think Smike's run away, sir."
“Ha! who said that?”

Squeers made a plunge into the crowd, and caught a very little boy, the perplexed expression of whose countenance as he was brought forward, seemed to intimate that he was uncertain whether

[ocr errors]

66

he was going to be punished or rewarded for his suggestion. He was not dong in doubt.

“ You think he has run away, do you, sir?” “Yes, please, sir.”

“And what reason have you to suppose that any boy would want to run away from this establishment? Eh ?”

The child raised a dismal cry by way of answer, and Squeers beat him until he rolled out of his hands. He mercifully allowed him to roll away.

“There ! Now if any other boy thinks Smike has rur away, I shall be glad to have a talk with him.”

Profound silence.

“Well, Nickleby, you think he has run away, I suppose ?"

"I think it extremely likely."
“Maybe you know he has run away?”
“I know nothing about it.”
He didn't tell you he was going, I suppose ?”

"He did not. I am very glad he did not, for it would then have been my duty to tell you.”

“Which no doubt you would have been sorry to do?”

"I should, indeed."

Mrs. Squeers had listened to this conversation from the bottom of the stairs; but now, losing all patience, she hastily made her way to the scene of action.

“ What's all this here to-do ? What on earth are you talking to him for, Squeery? The cow-house and stables are locked up, so Smike can't be there; and he's not down stairs anywhere, for the girl has looked. He must have gone York N way, and by a public road. He must beg his way, and he could

« EelmineJätka »