« PredošláPokračovať »
through the recesses of this valley shoulder, and her tiny feet and ancles and the surrounding hills; she goes which the mountain dress she wore singing her little roundelays over the was not calculated to conceal. Her whole wilderness, and there is scarce- hair was of a glossy fairness, and her ly, a rock, a cave, or a precipice, complexion of that fine bloom which which has not echoed to her song.' arises from health and purity of blood. “ Forgive me (said I), if I ask whe- Considerably. heightened by exerther you are a native of this valley ; cise, the glow of her cheek was only your conversation would lead me to surpassed by the bright redness of think not.” “Alas, sir! (replied the her mouth, which seemed indeed the matron,) I saw many years of sorrow very bed of sweetness. Eyes, with before I came to this solitude. My which we are inclined to imagine husband was an officer of distinction angels, heavenly blue and liquid in the army—but, hush! (said she, from the overflowing of a tender putting her finger to her lips,) Lilian and sensitive heart. A simple white is coming ;—and I think it but fair to wrapper of very thin muslin, showkeep the canker from the bud, let the ing off the harmony and gracefulness old tree decay as it will," added she, of her figure to the greatest advanforcing a smile as her daughter ap- tage, and more like a mist than a proached.
garment, shrouded this little godAt the end of the arbour where I dess; and as the foam of the cataract sat, the foliage was sufficiently thick curled to her foot, or burst in a thouto conceal me, yet not so dense as to sand frothy shapes around her, she prevent my seeing what might pass stood like the Naiad of the River, without ; receiving a significant which thundered in unruly joy at resmile from the widow, I withdrew ceiving her amongst its billows. myself farther into the shade, just as In this attitude she advanced, the girl had reached the foot of the brightening as she approached her bridge. When she came to the mid- mother, and mincing her steps with dle where the water was deepest, she girlish sportiveness, till she came stopped, and clasping her hands, within a few paces of the bower ; while she drew them to her neck then unclasping her hands and spreadwith that natural 'grace which be- ing her arms, as if to embrace her longs to the period of extreme youth- anxious parent, like a spirit at play, fulness, at the same time bending she began a kind of fantastic dance ; her aërial form into the attitude of one and as her nimble fairy feet twinkled supplicating inwardly, she looked at on the green turf, and her thin garb her mother with an intensity of ex- floated on her shoulders like wings, I pression, which denoted more heart- thought the veritable Ariel swam beful feelings than words could possibly fore my sight. Fondly tantalizing convey. This beautiful apparition her delighted mother, who sat with seemed to have but just escaped the outstretched arms to receive her, age of childhood ; or rather, extreme while tears of joy trickled from her innocence had prolonged that portion eyes, the playful girl still continued, of her life beyond its due period; without actually touching, to hover her figure was small, but exquisitely round her, accompanying her fantasproportioned, as was evident from tic movements with a little song of her delicate arms bare almost to the the wildest sweetest cadency.
I've been roaming! I've been roaming !
Here the fairy threw herself into thusiastic disposition. I forgot the her mother's breast, and was covered actual world, -forgot that I was in with kisses, as fervently repaid. it, and gave myself wholly up to the
The favourite goat, which had dreams of fancy. The sylvan Godbeen her companion, now presented dess, or spirit of this place, had now itself at the entrance of the bower, become familiar, and as she hovered having a little basket of light osier around my path, pointing out the suspended from one of its horns, and freshest spots where I might recline containing a profusion of flowers while she sung me into slumber, and which its mistress had gathered in showing me the various flowery treaher excursions. In rising from her sures of her enchanted garden, I mother's lap to relieve her companion thought of Eden, of Elysium, of Pafrom its charge, my figure met her radise, fancied I had already by some view. A blush, at the recollection forgotten means been transported to that she had been seen by a stranger, one of these delightful abodes, and overspread her whole face, bosom, her own angelic airy form confirmed and even her arms, with the deepest the delusion. In fact, this singular crimson. When the good woman girl had a character of mind and presented her to me as her daughter, frame which was quite preternatuwith her cheek half averted, she ral; she was a perfect, I had almost made me a simple curtsey, and re- said real, Wood-nymph; her form, tired almost like a child behind her her actions, her thoughts, were those mother. In a little time we went to that belong to such a being. She breakfast in the arbour, and the seemed to have imbibed the very business of the scene was a relief to spirit of germination which pervaded her embarrassment, but she remained the wild productions of her native in total silence, whilst at every turn valley ; the tenderness and diminu, of my head the blood mantled invo- tive symmetry of its herbage, had luntarily to her cheek and bosom. imparted a like delicacy and grace In this secluded valley, where per. to her form ; the purity and fineness haps no one of my sex above the of its elements had infused themgrade of a peasant had ever appear. selves into her blood; the wildness ed, and from which society was na- of its imagery, its sublimity, and its turally excluded, neither her bashful- beauty, had assimilated the disposiness nor her reserve surprised me, tion of her mind to themselves. She especially when I considered her ex- was something between earthly and treme youth; but that such a beau, celestial; she had the form of a tiful creation could exist upon earth, mortal, but the habits of a spirit. without drawing the world to adore it For the first two or three days as the symbol of heavenly perfection, which I spent in the Vale of the was to me totally inexplicable. Waterfalls (as it was called), Lilian
Sensations which I never had ex- was distant and reserved, but when perienced before, sensations under a little habituated to my presence, which my entire frame trembled with with the freedom which we an agitation at once excessive and in childhood when fear has subpleasurable, now took possession of sided, she became affectionate and my soul; I seemed to have plunged familiar, nor was there ever in her into a new world, a world of superior manners that coyness which gene
l purity, where the softness of the air, rally distinguishes maidenhood; she and the brightness of the verdure, had seemed to be totally unconscious exalted my feelings to a height of that it was necessary, and gave herenthusiasm and intense sensitiveness, self to my society as she would to which we attribute to the inhabit that of a brother. ants of our visionary vales of eternal I became her inseparable compablessedness. Shut in from the com- nion. She would lead me through mon occurrences of life which might the devious paths of the wilderness, destroy the illusion, placed amid sce- and bring me to the several grottos nery, so romantic, so melancholy, so and fountains, and fresh rolling lovely, it was no wonder if to one of streams, with which this solitude amy fervid imagination, his nature bounded; she would guide my steps should seem to be exalted by the over little hillocks blooming with the place, rather than the beauty of the loveliest flowers, and glades of the scene to be exaggerated by his en- sweetest verdure; then having em
bosomed me among these inextricable gaily as she waved it round her récesses, disappear like a wraith in head. She had silently mounted the some dell or hollow, and start up rock behind me, and snatched the again when I least expected her. ribband from my breast, where I had One day as I sat alone under the preserved it. I attempted to recover shade of a rock, I felt something it, but she escaped me like a shadow rustle softly in my bosom, and looks before I had run a dozen paces. In ing round perceived the girl skipping a short time she re-appeared, and down from the rock, with the ribband coming up to me, threw a little knot which had first seduced me to this of blue flowers into my bosom, singvalley in her hand, and laughing ing
Sweet blue-bells we,
Mid flowers of the lea
Our bonnets so blue
Are tinged with the dew,
Our bloom more sweet
Than dark violet,
At every return
Of the dew-breathing morn,
Grows brighter and brighter again! A very remakarble circumstance tions of sounds. Such of her songs attending my acquaintance with this as I can recall to memory-for as she creature was, that, except on the sung from momentary impulse it was above occasion, I never knew what extremely difficult to find her repeatit was to feel her touch; and even ing the same words except on similar here, the sensation was more that of occasions-such of these as I could a breeze rustling in my bosom, than collect on the instant will appear in of a mortal hand. Though perfectly order, whilst I endeavour to give familiar and unsuspicious, whenever some notion of this extraordinary I approached within the possibility girl, with whom the happiest, if not of touching her, she seemed to flit the most rational moments of my life from me by imperceptible degrees, were spent. so that I could not at this moment Her mother has often told me that assert, except from the evidence of she did not know how Lilian subsistsight and reasoning, that she was ac- ed. She would never sit down to a tually corporeal. Indeed all her regular meal, but would sometimes habits and actions partook of another take a morsel of bread with her when nature. She spoke little; expressing she purposed a distant excursion, herself mostly by gestures or inarti- and even this would be found strew. culate modulations of voice. When ed on some pathway for the birds she did utter words, they were who might happen to light there. breathed in a kind of recitative or She was impatient of confinement; cadence, or, as was most generally and often when her mother had seen the case, her sentiments were con- her to bed, on going into her room an veyed in the form of a song. I have hour after, it would be found empty, given a few specimens of these ; and and Lilian escaped unseen to wander although simplicity is their principal by moonlight in the valley. This attribute, when aided by her angelic happened frequently during my resivoice and expressive gestures, they dence there; and once being excited were the wildest and sweetest ima- by curiosity, I went out in search of ginable. In fact she had a natural her and found her in the bottom of a turn for poetry, education had no- dell-drinking dew out of the cups of thing to do with it; both her poetry flowers. “ Lilian," said I, “why have and the music with which she ac- we lost you?” “My sisters ! my siscompanied it, were irregular and in- ters!" answered she impatiently. artificial, like the song of a bird, the « What sisters?” “Look! look!" said murmur of a brook, or the sigh of a she, pointing to some fantastic shapes tree-more the involuntary emana- into which the spray of the distant cations than the premeditated combina. taract were formed by the reflection of
the moon. “I see nothing but the ract and disappeared. Uttering a
The wren hath her nest at the root of a tree,
Then why should Lilian's bed be warmer Her senses were incontestably more licate perceptions of sound were acute than belongs to the nature of mostly verified by fact. I rememmortality. She would often stop in ber sitting with her one sunny day the midst of our conversation, to lis- on the river bank in a sequestered ten, as she said to the wind walk- part of the vale, when, after a fit of ing over the flowers; and accord- contemplative silence, upon my adingly in a little time I would per- dressing myself to break it, she raised ceive the breeze to swell into a tran- her head, and motioning me to be sient gust as it passed by the place still, began in a low tremulous voice, where we stood. Whether in some scarcely distinguishable from the instances her romantic imagination mixed murmur which rises from the might not bave suggested ideal mur- breast of the woodland in summer murs I will not decide, but her den time, a kind of irregular chaunt
What a wild and sylvan sound !
Hear! hear !
Most reeds sigh to willow dank!
He sings at his flowery fare !
From the sun-cloud trills the lark ! She could discriminate accurately our notions of a spirit, was the lightbetween the scents of flowers of the ness, grace, and peculiar swiftness same species, so as to name them of her motion. Something between blindfold. Her sight was so fine that flying and dancing. Her movements she would detect the minnows lying were so rapid that sometimes it reon the bed of a stream, in the darkest quired no great stretch of superstiweather, when to me they were in- tion to believe that she actually distinguishable from the slimy pebbles vanished into the air. The wild of the bottom ; on putting down a and restless life she led, wandering straw to the place she pointed out, over hill, dell, rock, and precithey flitted. Her other senses were pice, had given an elasticity to her equally discriminative.
foot, which made her seem to tread But in what she chiefly resembled on air; whilst the slightness of her limbs, formed on the most her mind; for her wildness, melan
; delicate model of beauty and grace, choly, gaiety, and sublimity of imaappeared by the tremulous insta- gination, were nothing but the tranbility which they gave to her frame, scripts of those passions which seem to indicate a necessity for perpe- to animate the system of natural tual and ever-varying motion. I things. A wild rock or a solitary had often dreamed of Attendant Spi- cave attracted her notice, she grew. rits, Sylphs, Houris, Semi-deities, romantic or melancholy: a sunny and imagined beings partaking flower or a darkly-waving pine caught of a double nature, the spiritual her eye, she became gay or gloomy and corporeal, beings of an inter- accordingly. But as the predomimediate class, whose outlines and nating features of the solitude even figures were human, but whose in its most charming dress were meform was insubstantial; whose ac- lancholy and wildness, so the genetions, habits, and thoughts were ral characteristics of her thoughts not preternatural, nor supernatural were sadness and romance. wholly, but such as human actions, We sat one evening on the river habits, and thoughts, would be when side, just at the foot of the princi, refined by some celestial alchemy pal cataract, where the waves plungwhich would clear them of their ing from on high down into a rocky grossness without divesting them of basin, shook the very bank we sat on their specific essence: with such vi- by their fall, and drowning each sionary beings had my waking dreams other in the pool, raised a continual been peopled, but never until now din and echo by their struggles and were these conceptions apparently tumultuous contentions. The wind realized. This creature adequately had swept in frequent gusts through represented my preconceived notion the vale during the latter part of the of an intermediate being.
day, but as night approached the old The surface of the Vale of the Wa- trees began to groan with a heavier terfalls was not uniform, but was blast, and the wild birds flew with broken into numberless hillocks fearful screams to the groves; the and dells in miniature, interspersed small flowers closed up their breasts
with the several varieties of rock, rapidly, and committed themselves to cleft, grove, glade, and declivity. the storm, whilst the river seemed Amid these romantic solitudes was to foam and swell under the chafing Lilian ever straying ; every singular wing of the tempest. In a few mior characteristic point of the Vale, nutes the rack began; thunder broke was to her in place of a companion; in tremendous peals over our heads, hillocks, rocks, shrubs, and flowers, leaves flew in eddies through the air, the people of the wilderness, were to the shrill reed whistled, and the her in place of society. I have fre- swinging pine moaned loudly in the quently wandered for the whole day night wind, whilst the caves and narin search of her, and perhaps found row passages between rocks swelled her at length in a shady nook singing the terrific chorus by their hollow to the wild flowers, or on a sunny voices. Shuddering, I turned to Lilian. bank dancing round a knot of cow. She had risen, and was hanging over slips, or hovering on the brink of the the brink of the whirlpool, muttering torrent chaunting her mystic verses something which, by its wildness and to its monotonous numbers. Some- incoherence, resembled an incantation. times I have accompanied her from Her delicate white arms were crossed the cottage door, while she rambled upon her bosom, her long hair flew like a wild bee from bank to dell, and over her shoulders on the wind, and from shrub to flower, conversing with her little cheek grew pale as she uther by snatches, but never finding it tered her mystic numbers to the roar possible to confine her either to one of the torrent. “Lilian,” said I, “come subject or one place. The character away, the night grows terrific.” She of her thoughts was wildness mingled answered not, but elevating her voice with deep tenderness and melan- till it nearly reached a scream, and choly; but she was at times gay and mingled with the noise of the waves playful. A high strain of sublimity like the cry of one drowning, she would often convert the sylph into a chaunted a wild rhapsody, her eye sybil, when the changes in the face almost lighted to frenzy, and her of nature gave a gloomy colour to cheek whitening every moment