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and his only daughter. The school-house was at the opposite end of the common, just beyond the church, whose new spire showed so fairly among the dense foliage. This dwelling-house, with a few acres of smooth meadow adjacent to the village, were the sole property of the school-master, and of that he was merely tenant by courtesy,' in the jargon of the lawyers. The labor of the summer sufficed to gather a supply of the ordinary necessaries of life; and, to eke out this frugal income, the scanty pay of a village teacher in early times was his sole depend
The villagers knew the good school-master's name to be Augustus Lee; they knew he was a faithful and kind dominie, and that no man ever doated upon a daughter more tenderly than he upon his darling Alice. Some had seen the ponderous books and the mysterious instruments that filled the curious oaken secretaries in the master's library; and there were not wanting some among the rude and uninformed, to whom such black-letter folios and uncanny apparatus, gathered in a sombre apartment, carried an ill-defined and secret awe. Nor were such vague terrors likely to be at all diminished by the appearance of the skull which always rested on an antique cabinet, and, with sternly clenched teeth and hollow eyes, seemed striving to stare the beholder to stone. of the people, whether more or less intimate, seemed to recognize the rare intellect, the original genius, which was doomed to the daily drudgery of the village school.
Alice, the scholar's bright-eyed daughter, motherless from infancy, had received a father's care only; and how faithfully he had discharged his duty, only the self-denial, the toil, and the almost feminine solicitude of fifteen years could witness. With a vigorous physical system, developed by habitual exercise in the open air; with fine native talents, trained and expanded by constant contact with her father's superior intellect; with a soul of tenderness and sensibility; and with a rare symmetry of features, to which her physical and mental culture gave at once the glow of perfect health, and an air of intelligence and grace; with such advantages of person and education, no wonder that the orphan, Alice Lee, was the favorite of all the good matrons in the village, or that her father was so often seen regarding her with a look of unutterable pride and affection.
At the age of sixteen, while most school-girls were toiling over arithmetic, embroidering tiresome "samplers,' or vainly wrestling with the construction of obdurate sentences, the scholar's daughter, already versed in the principles of mathematics, and familiar to a considerable extent with the ancient languages, was a companion in his daily studies, and shrank not from the abstruse theories of the schoolmen, nor from the conflicting commentaries upon the classics and the Scriptures. But with the maturity of coming womanhood was blended the playful grace of the child; and, when at evening the books were restored to their ancient cases, her buoyant spirits would break forth in the merriest laughs and the fondest endearments. If an angel had looked in at those antique windows, during such a time of recreation, it could not have been without delight. Nay, it seemed, as the flickering light played on the serene face of Plato and the stern features of Demosthenes, that even the silen!
marble broke into smiles while looking down upon a scholar so blest.
But, though the orphan was rich in the treasures of learning, of the knowledge of the world, that tree of good and evil, she knew nothing. Taught only the pure precepts of philosophy, and the perfect law of love, she was child-like in her trustfulness, and ignorant of the evil that so often gnaws at the core of the fairest seeming character. Into her own heart she looked, as into the placid face of the village pond; all was clear and bright, and heaven lay mirrored there in unruffled beauty. The storm had never yet swept over it, to break its tranquillity, and to arouse the unsuspected tides of passion beneath its fair surface.
A bold rock projects over the mountain side, from which nearly the whole village of Innisfield is visible. Below, the forest had been partially cleared, so that there was no obstruction to the view. Alice often rambled over the mountain in search of wild flowers, and to gather the twigs of the fragrant birch and the young roots of the aromatic sassafras. One afternoon she took her accustomed stroll, and, descending from the summit a short distance to the overhanging rock, stood gazing at the familiar scene below. The sun was about setting, and the long shadows of the trees were reflected in the pond, as though to adorn a nether landscape. Not a breeze was in motion; the man-like vane rested from its weary evolutions, and glowed with a richer light as the sun drew near the golden gates of the west. The beautiful valley! The sketcher cannot by word-painting depict its dreamy repose; it must be portrayed by a true artist; his practised hand alone, obedient to the sense of beauty in the soul, may reproduce the picturesque scene over which Alice hung.
And it was reproduced. Just at her right hand, seated under a clump of shrub oaks, was a painter with an open port-folio, busily touching an exquisite picture of the valley. It was the new-comer at the village inn, George Greenleaf. So light were the footsteps of Alice, and so completely absorbed was the artist with his work, that he had not observed her until she uttered an exclamation of delight, as she chanced to look at the picture. He raised his eyes, and at first would have concealed his work. He had effectually shunned observation for a month, and would have gladly departed unknown as he came. But an impulse, which he did not stop to question or analyze, stayed his hand, and the picture still lay upon the rude, extempore easel
. It would seem that we are often the quiet instruments, rather than the arbiters of our fate; that we are the recipients of an occult and overmastering influence, before which pride and resolution vanish, and the soul yields without question.
* I'm glad you are a painter,' said Alice, with unaffected simplicity. ' And why?' asked Greenleaf.
* Because this is a glorious prospect, and I have always wanted to see it fairly drawn.
• But that is not quite to the point. You say you are glad that I am a painter.
Oh, it is not worth telling, perhaps, but there are people who think that all they do n't fully know must be wrong! Some of them have wondered at your stopping so long in this little village; and a few super
stitious folks shake their heads doubtfully, when they see you go into the woods every day with your satchel.'
• Do they, indeed? But you wander here alone, it seems.'
"Me!- I love the woods. I feel' a new life under these grand oaks and solemn-whispering pines. I talk to them, and they seem to answer me, and wave all their green tops over me in gladness.
Why, you talk like an angel !' No; angels do not talk to men, as they once did. Father says they may, perhaps, visit us again, if our lives are pure and our souls transparent.
Greenleaf felt rebuked. Here was a maiden, nearly come to womanhood, who did not know what flattery meant. He turned his picture toward her.
How do you like it?' said he.
'It is beautiful; the church, the river, the trees, hills; all but the sunset. You have not painted those great rose-colored clouds, nor those bars of crimson, edged with gold, nor the amber hues of the sky above them.'
“My pallette has no colors with which to mock the glories of sunset. But, my little wood-nymph, where did you learn to criticise paintings ?'
“My father, the school-master, has a few pictures. The wood-nymphs, I suspect, have been long ago frightened away by our rough wood-choppers. I have never met one, though I used to call them till the echoes rung again.
Thinking she had talked quite long enough with a stranger, she turned to leave, but stopped as he spoke again.
* In finishing this sketch, I could not but notice the peculiar vane on the church-spire. How came it to be of such a shape ?'
'You will but laugh if I tell you.
' How so? Was it the master-piece of some rustic blacksmith, who strove to forge out an immortality for himself on his sounding anvil ?'
•No; at least, I do not know who made it. It is but a few years since it was put up: I remember the day. A stranger brought the vane, and gave it to the church. He affected some mystery about his move ments; and his singular air, the unusual shape of the vane, and its horrid creaking, all gave rise to some odd conjectures among our old people.”
• And pray, what may they be?'
“Why, some people pretend to believe that the 'arch-enemy' brought our former wicked minister, and put him on the pivot for a vane, that he may swing over the church which he profaned as long as it stands.'
* And I suppose there are a plenty of old women who have seen him squirm on stormy nights, when witches and other wild fowl are sailing about!' "Oh, yes, such stories are current here.'
Capital ! I'll paint the steeple in a storm, with all due adornments. Thank
for the story. Do n't mention my profession to any your father.
It was nearly night, and the painter returned home with an exhilarated pulse and a bounding step. The rustic legend, or some other subtle inAuence, kept his mind fixed upon the unlooked-for interview with the maiden. With the first dawn he awoke; the accessories of the picture
had been planned during sleep, and with a few rapid strokes, the spire, with the struggling man impaled on it, with witches, bats, and divers other fearful shapes around it, and with clouds as wild as the dishevelled locks of the storm-king sweeping' over it, was boldly and powerfully depicted.
One evening, not long after, when the children came down the street rejoicing from school, the painter took his picture of the spire, and his sketch of the village, and walked toward the school-master's house. Mr. Lee was sitting under the great elm, and his daughter, as usual, was by his side. At Greenleaf's approach, she rose gracefully and without embarrassment, and bade him welcome. Her father had heard of their chance meeting with some secret regret, but a glance at the open and ingenuous face of his visitor reässured him, and, at his bidding, Mr. Greenleaf entered the house. The pictures were first admired, for Alice remembered the painter's promise, and prevailed on him to open his port-folio at once. In a few minutes, conversation was in rapid progress. Such inen as Augustus Lee and George Greenleaf could not meet without creating a strong mutual interest. Their minds were cast in different moulds ; still, it would not be easy to determine which was the superior in natural gifts. Lee was profoundly learned; the painter's information, though perhaps as varied, was not as minute and accurate. The one had devoted himself to books, the other was a student of Nature, and her glorious beauty had filled his soul as with a visible presence. Thus finely balanced in their organizations, the new friends conversed until a late hour, each separating with a cordial regard. Alice, as was her custom when her father had visitors, listened with eager attention, but took no part in the conversation. A change, hardly perceptible to himself
, came over the painter. His taste for sketching landscapes began to lose its exquisite relish. The woods were not less beautiful to his eye, nor their mystical influences less potent over his soul. The skies still hung with changeless beauty over the valley; and the pomp of morning, and the Assyrian splendors of evening, still touched the hidden springs of poetry; so that the full heart had but to speak, and its glowing thoughts, like molten glass, would have issued, to be crystalized in forms of perennial grace.
But the children of art, in all their various spheres, are haunted by a vague sense of the unattained. The vision' is glorious, but for its perfect representation the faculty' is not often completely divine.' Years before, forms of beauty had hovered over the painter in his earliest attempts in his art; but their changeful, evanescent images, had always eluded his grasp. They seemed to allure him with graceful smiles, and then dissolve into air; he could not reproduce them upon his canvas. Weary with fruitless efforts to arrest and embody these subtle and enchanting eidola, he turned to the more tangible charms of nature; and in the quiet enjoyment of sketching actual scenes, strove to forget the opal-hued dreams that had mocked him. Now, however, the visions of former days returned with an unwonted vividness; they hung over his pillow by night, and the glare of day did not dissipate them. Bright eyes looked at him from every flower; and if he turned to the skies, forms of ethereal grace bent over him from every summer cloud. Impelled by a new and unaccountable enthusiasm, he took his implements, and upon a piece of canvas he had prepared for a view from Holyoke, not many miles distant, he commenced the head of a Madonna. The child who first sees the lines made by a stick of phosphorus, glowing in the dark upon a wall, could not be more surprised than was Greenleaf with the outlines which his rapid pencil had traced. As the thoughtful features of the Virgin MOTHER were brought out, stroke by stroke, the canvas seemed instinct with life. The picture regarded him almost like a human soul, with its calm eyes and open brow. It seemed to Greenleaf that he had evoked a spirit
, aná that its impalpable presence was now made manifest in the form he hai created. The day passed, the village bustled through its usual routine, and the painter yet stood before his easel, still fixed, as by fascination, upon the marvellous beauty of that face, whose spell had scarcely less of awe than of gladness for him, now that twilight gradually stole into the apartment. Duskier still grew the shadows, and the painter yet gazed; and it was not until night fell, wrapping all objects in indistinguishable gloom, that he awoke from his reverie, remembered the long hours of, Tabor, and was conscious of the prostration that always follows a season of protracted excitement.
The painter was now in a new world. Satisfied hitherto with delineations of picturesque scenery, such as Innisfield and its vicinity afforded, he now remained in his chamber, and exulted in his newly-found powers. When the devotee first lifts his eyes under the lofty dome of St. Peter's, he is oppressed by the sense of vastness, and is lost in the unimagined wealth of architecture around; but his soul, if he be a true man, soon expands and fills the great temple, as though it were to be the place of his daily abode. Greenleaf began at once to turn his thoughts backward to the great artists, whose fame had before appeared to him like the radiance of the inaccessible stars. Now, in the exulting confidence of youth, they seemed his brethren; he would clasp their hands, and claim a place in their immortal circle. Greenleaf's knowledge of art as derived from the study of great works was not very extensive. The country had not then a reputable gallery, and pictures in private colections are rarely accessible to young artists. The world-renowned galleries of Florence and of the Vatican now contained for our painter more attractions than the treasures of Aladdin's cave. The thought came instantly; he would visit Italy. He would give the fullest development to his powers, by the immediate contact of genius. He would study the great masters, and who could say how far their transatlantic pupil would be ultimately surpassed? The idea shot a fiery exhilaration along his nerves; and under its influence every glimpse of the glorious future brought a subtle and delicious joy. Italy! Italy!- he would see Italy! And he walked the room with an elastic step, his right hand brandishing a brush, his hair and apparel uncared for, and his eye glowing with a preternatural light. In the height of his enthusiasm, the door opened, and the yellow turban was revealed in its full proportions. The good landlady, surprised at the wild expression of her hitherto gentle boarder, at his furious gestures, and at the many faces which now regarded her from the walls around, could do nothing more than stare; for her one hani) was angaged in slipping her snuff-box under her check apron, while