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- Hyperion - 30/43 -


panorama of the Alps; pine forests standing dark and solemn at the base of the mountains; and half-way up a veil of mist; above which rose the snowy summits, and sharp needles of rock, which seemed to float in the air, like a fairy world. Then the glaciersstood on either side, winding down through the mountain ravines; and, high above all, rose the white, dome-like summit of Mont Blanc. And ever and anon from the shroud of mist came the awful sound of an avalanche, and a continual roar, as of the wind through a forest of pines, filled the air. It was the roar of the Arve and Aveiron, breaking from their icy fountains. Then the mists began to pass away; and it seemed as if the whole firmament were rolling together. It recalled to my mind that sublime passage in the Apocalypse; 'I saw a great white throne; and him that sat thereon; before whose face the heavens and the earth fled away, and found no place!' O, I cannot believe that upon this earth there is a more magnificent scene."

"It must be grand, indeed," replied Flemming. "And those mighty glaciers,--huge monsters with bristling crests, creeping down into the valley! for it is said they really move."

"Yes; it filled me with a strange sensation of awe to think of this. They seemed to me like the dragons of Northern Romance, which come down from the mountains and devour whole villages. A little hamlet in Chamouni was once abandoned by its inhabitants, terrified at the approach of the icy dragon. But is it possible you have never been at Chamouni?

"Never. The great marvel still remains unseen by me."

"Then how can you linger here so long? Were I in your place I would not lose an hour."

These words passed over the opening blossoms of hope in the soul of Flemming, like a cold wind over the flowers in spring-time. He bore it as best he could, and changed the subject.

I do not mean to describe the Valley of Lauterbrunnen, nor the bright day passed there. I know that my gentle reader is blessed with the divine gift of a poetic fancy; and can see already how the mountains rise, and the torrents fall, and the sweet valley lies between; and how, along the dusty road, the herdsman blows his horn, and travellers come and go in charabans, like Punch and Judy in a show-box. He knows already how romantic ladies sketch romantic scenes; while sweet gentlemen gather sweet flowers; and how cold meat tastes under the shadow of trees, and how time flies when we are in love, and the beloved one near. One little incident I must, however, mention, lest his fancy should not suggest it.

Flemming was still sitting with the ladies, on the green slope near the Staubbach, or Brook of Dust, when a young man clad in green, came down the valley. It was a German student, with flaxen ringlets hanging over his shoulders, and a guitar in his hand. His step was free and elastic, and his countenance wore the joyous expression of youth and health. He approached the company with a courteous salutation; and, after the manner of travelling students, asked charity with the confident air of one unaccustomed to refusal. Nor was he refused in this instance. The presence of those we love makes us compassionate and generous. Flemming gave him a piece of gold; and after a short conversation he seated himself, at alittle distance on the grass, and began to play and sing. Wonderful and many were the sweet accords and plaintive sounds that came from that little instrument, touched by the student's hand. Every feeling of the human heart seemed to find an expression there, and awaken a kindred feeling in the hearts of those who heard him. He sang sweet German songs, so full of longing, and of pleasing sadness, and hope and fear, and passionate desire, and soul-subduing sorrow, that the tears came into Mary Ashburton's eyes, though she understood not the words he sang. Then his countenance glowed with triumph, and he beat the strings like a drum, and sang;

"O, how the drum beats so loud!

Close beside me in the fight,

My dying brother says, Good Night!

And the cannon's awful breath

Screams the loud halloo of Death!

And the drum,

And the drum,

Beats so loud!"

Many were the words of praise, when the young musician ended; and, as he rose to depart, they still entreated for one song more. Whereupon he played a lively prelude; and, looking full into Flemming's face, sang with a pleasant smile, and still in German, this little song.

"I KNOW a maiden fair to see,

Take care!

She can both false and friendly be,

Beware! Beware!

Trust her not,

She is fooling thee!

"She has two eyes, so soft and brown,

Take care!

She gives a side-glance and looks down,

Beware! Beware!

Trust her not,

She is fooling thee!

"And she has hair of a golden hue,

Take care!

And what she says, it is not true,

Beware! Beware!

Trust her not,

She is fooling thee!

"She has a bosom as white as snow,

Take care!

She knows how much it is best to show,

Beware! Beware!

Trust her not,

She is fooling thee!

"She gives thee a garland woven fair,

Take care!

It is a fool's cap for thee to wear,

Beware! Beware!

Trust her not,

She is fooling thee!"

The last stanza he sung in a laughing, triumphant tone, which resounded above the loud clang of his guitar, like the jeering laugh of Till Eulenspiegel. Then slinging his guitar over his shoulder, he took off his green cap, and made a leg to the ladies, in the style of Gil Blas; waved his hand in the air, and walked quickly down the valley, singing "Adé! Adé! Adé!"

CHAPTER VIII. THE FOUNTAIN OF OBLIVION.

The power of magic in the Middle Ages created monsters, who followed the unhappy magician everywhere. The power of Love in all ages creates angels, who likewise follow the happy or unhappy lover everywhere, even in his dreams. By such an angel was Paul Flemming now haunted, both when he waked and when he slept. He walked as in a dream; and was hardly conscious of the presence of those around him. A sweet face looked at him from every page of every book he read; and it was the face of Mary Ashburton! a sweet voice spake to him in every sound he heard; and it was the voice of Mary Ashburton! Day and night succeeded each other, with pleasant interchange of light and darkness; but to him thepassing of time was only as a dream. When he arose in the morning, he thought only of her, and wondered if she were yet awake; and when he lay down at night he thought only of her, and how, like the Lady Christabel,

"Her gentle limbs she did undress,

And lay down in her loveliness."

And the livelong day he was with her, either in reality or in day-dreams, hardly less real; for, in each delirious vision of his waking hours, her beauteous form passed like the form of Beatrice through Dante's heaven; and, as he lay in the summer afternoon, and heard at times the sound of the wind in the trees, and the sound of Sabbath bells ascending up to heaven, holy wishes and prayers ascended with them from his inmost soul, beseeching that he might not love in vain! And whenever, in silence and alone, he looked into the silent, lonely countenance of Night, he recalled the impassioned lines of Plato;--

"Lookest thou at the stars? If I were heaven,

With all the eyes of heaven would I look down on thee!"


Hyperion - 30/43

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