Page images

until all had retreated into the house, and then ran to discover the cause of such terrible anger. What was his vexation to find the vile snapping-turtle so placed within the hollow of the tree as to show to the greatest advantage all its hideousness, while the grapes had entirely disappeared. It was now his turn to exclaim, in the inmost recesses of his boiling soul,

"That's Tom Rice!"

And to make matters worse, he saw Caroline at the window, and felt that she must suppose he was exulting over the success of his trick.

Tom Rice took care to be invisible; and the only person who met Seymour's eye was Mr. Hay himself, who came out, apparently in musing mood, thinking, doubtlessly, of the trick that had been played upon his daughter.

Seymour approached Mr. Hay and said, in his most awkward manner, "It wa'r'nt me, indeed, sir!”

"What is it, Seymour?" said Mr. Hay, so mildly that one might know his mind was not upon snapping-turtles.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

"Oh! that frightened the girls, eh! no, I dare say it was some of Tom Rice's nonsense." And Mr. Hay passed on in wonderful unconcern. This was the extent of Seymour's explanation, and Mr. Hay never thought of it again, so that the truth did not reach Miss Hay's ears, as the unfortunate Cymon hoped it might.


The faithful and impartial historian regrets to acknowledge that Seymour's thoughts, as he tossed on his sleepless pillow that night, ran almost exclusively on the subject of pounding" Tom Rice thoroughly, as soon as he could catch him in the morning. Nay, so entirely had this idea taken possession of him, that when, after several restless hours, he had at length fallen asleep, he knocked the skin completely off his knuckles in an encounter with the bed-post, which senseless piece of furniture received a blow intended for the handsome nose of the unfortunate joker.

There are some people who habitually

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

consume, in planning, the time which would be most suitable for the execution of their intentions. We shall not allow that this was a common fault of our friend Seymour, but it is certain that when he awoke in the morning, two hours later than usual, and found that the object of last night's denunciations had set off at peep of dawn on a long tour of business for Mr. Hay, he wished he had not indulged his angry feelings quite so vehemently when he ought to have been asleep.

This incident, trifling as it was, produced upon the yet unopened mind of this young man no unimportant effects. We are all conscious, at times, of sudden light breaking in upon us, from sources which are apparently so trivial, that we are at a loss to account for the magnitude of their influence. Now Seymour had felt at intervals, and transiently, a dim and vague sense of power to be something more than he had yet been. He had so nearly discovered the truth, that the merest trifle was sufficient to give the rousing touch he needed. So from the chaos of that one wakeful night's thoughts

-a jumble of hard work, and John Kendall, and snapping-turtles, and bunches of grapes, and Tom Rice's head-work, and easy life and enviable impudence, and his own violent but unavailing anger, and the pretty damsel's scornful looks from a jumble of all these things, and many more beside, an idea dawned upon him, - darkly and blunderingly at first, but gradually clearer and of the advantages of men

more inspiring,

[ocr errors]

tal power over mere strength

of education

over mere labour; and so absorbing, and so laborious was the process of thinking out for himself what he might have found clearly laid down in dozens of volumes, had he known of their existence, that he forgot his vexation and its saucy cause, and almost the fair enemy herself, while he argued himself into a resolution to change, at once, his plans for the future, and to arm himself for the battle of life with other weapons than the plough and scythe.

The short remainder of his stay at Mr. Hay's saw him eat his meals like a Trappist.


"At his outset he was not what he thus became. * It is true there is always a large stock of individuality, but how many ideas, how many sentiments, how many inclinations are changed in him!”- GUIZOT.

A YEAR and a half had elapsed since the abstraction of the grapes, and the skin had grown over Seymour's knuckles, and also the bark over certain letters which he had carved in very high places on some of Mr. Hay's forest trees; and, sympathetically perhaps, a suitable covering over the wounds made in his heart by the scornful eyes of the unconscious Caroline. His figure had changed its proportions, as if by a wiredrawing process, since what it had gained in length was evidently subtracted from its breadth. The potato redness of his cheeks had subsided into a more presentable complexion, and his teeth were whiter than ever, while the yawns which used to exhibit

« PreviousContinue »