Page images
[blocks in formation]

‘Do you know,' said Josephine, in a subdued tone, as we walked slowly across the meadow, that to me Nature and Time seem at an eternal warfare; Time effacing and destroying, Nature producing and making new? How many evidences of the contest do we behold around us !!

‘Of what were you thinking ?'

Of the mouldering chapel and the crumbling stone which guard the remains of those once active,

“But silent now, and sunk away:' and of the scene about us; the verdure, the foliage, the cataract which leaps from rock to rock, the river, the valley, the everlasting hills, the round earth itself, which even now seems breathing at our feet. Thousand-voiced, do not all these hail the great PRODUCER and SUSTAINER?'

*And our hearts?'

“There, Nature preserves her freshness perpetual, if we are but true to her; if we are not, our hearts grow old and earthly, and so Time, the destroyer, does his work, even in them.'

*You are a philosopher.'

'I am not. I can find no philosophy which pleases me; and unless we are pleased, how can you expect us to be satisfied ?' continued my companion, suddenly changing her tone to a gay one. 'Nay, philosopher I am none.'

A proper test. An abstraction will hardly pleasure your sex, I know, and you are very frank to admit it.'

* And why should I not be frank ?? 'Surely; why not?'

‘Only your sex dare not avow so honestly, fearing you may make yourselves ridiculous.'

We have not that privilege.

'No, indeed; it is your province to be very wise, very profound, and very unmeaning. * And

s?' "To be none of these.' ‘And are you then so easily understood ? I'*Hallo, there! which way are you walking ? Do


you not see that in

upon him.


but run

that direction

will never

reach your calèche ?' cried a stentorian voice from a distance.

We both turned, and beheld Dr. Lindhorst standing in the road near our carriage, and perceived that we were indebted to him for the friendly caution. We immediately changed our course, and were presently close

*Ah! I have made you hear me at last, cried Dr. Paul, as we came up. “It is strange that the sound did not reach you; it went precisely in the direction with the wind;' and the Doctor saluted my companion affectionately, while he gave me a cordial greeting: 'It is you, then, my little Josephine, who are pointing out objects of interest to our English friend. I suppose you have been across the meadow to view the situation of the strata in the hill which slopes so suddenly down. It is remarkably curious; full of different species of chamites, ostracites, globosites, selenites, strombites, and other similar petrifactions. I am glad, Josephine, you remembered my direction, or you would scarcely have found them. I

you the locality affords the best specimens this side of Berne. The stream, which rises farther up, and pours through the cleft of the rock yonder, is a curious spectacle. Do you know there are persons so foolish as to contend that the cleft was produced by the continual trituration of the water? Now, I admit that water, or indeed any liquid, may, by continual dropping, wear away stone

non vi, sed sæpe cadendo ning water is quite a different affair. It is very ridiculous to suppose it produces any such wonders. The clefts and the valleys are caused by great commotions in nature, and the streams, seeking their level, flow through these, wearing gradually a larger course and a wider channel. By-the-bye, were you not intending to return to your carriage! You were going quite out of the way when I called you.

‘By accident, we deviated from the path,' said I.

Which is a thing,' returned Dr. Paul, 'I sometimes do myself, when solus; but I can hardly understand how two should happen at the same time to make the same mistake: it is a coincidence, a singular coincidence. Now I think of it,' continued the Doctor, where are your specimens ?'

“To tell you the truth,' said Josephine, we did not?

"Exactly; you thought best to make sure first of the locality. But this is always dangerous. You often lose an invaluable specimen by some person's stepping in before your next visit. Did I not discover, in the hill which rises above Musingen, the celebrated ostracite, which weighs nearly twenty pounds, and which now adorns the cabinet of


friend Dr. Wyttenbach, at Berne ? but thinking it would be safe for the next eight-and-forty hours, I clambered over the mountain.

When I came back -it pains me to think of it, although it was thirty years ago — that magnificent fossil was gone. My friend happened to be out the same day, took a similar route with myself

, stumbled on my ostracite, and, being a more sensible man than I, secured the prize. "I never made a second mistake of that kind; and let me impress it on both of you, always to take possession of what you

find.' 'It seems to me,' said I, that your friend should have given up the ostracite to you, by virtue of first discovery.'

“There you wing him and me,' replied Dr. Paul. “Wyttenbach learned

I repeat

how matters stood, from Christoph Schuppach, to whom I mentioned my loss before I knew who had occasioned it, and forthwith sent to my cabinet, with many apologies, the famous specimen ; which I, as an honest man should, returned instanter to the owner. Let this it—be a warning to you both!'

We had continued standing precisely in the same position during this conversation, and Dr. Paul showed no signs of quitting his post. I ventured, therefore, to ask him if he was going from or returning to Thun.

‘Scarcely one or the other, my friend,' replied the Doctor. "I was told that a bed of slate had been discovered at the foot of yonder hill, like that found in the lower part of the Niess; which, by the way, is the last mountain of that high calcareous chain of which the Stockhorn, the Neuneren and the Ganterish are the principal, and which joins close upon the Alps. Now, although I knew it was not so, yet, old fool that I am, I must needs throw away half a day in making sure of what I was positive about. You see I have answered your question, and I shall now consider my time happily redeemed by coming back to the subject of the tertiary deposits of your country, which was so abruptly broken off when we first met. You are fresh from the spot, and have doubtless made new and important discoveries. I wonder if any further remains of the anaplothenium have been found in the Isle of Wight. It is singular I should have found a tooth, and been unable to light upon any other trace. But as to the tertiary deposits; is there no possibility of connecting them with those of the continent?'

Here Josephine Fluellen kindly came to my aid. 'My dear Doctor, she cried, advancing to the naturalist, and laying her hand gracefully on his shoulder, “I fear the subject must once more be interrupted. Herr Saint Leger is engaged'. 'Quite right; entirely right; absolutely right,' interrupted the worthy

'I understand you without your saying another syllable: you have other localities to visit, and I have already too long detained you. When you pay me a visit, which I hope will be very shortly, we will go over the whole ground. Now you must lose no more time. As for myself, since I am here, I will just go once more and examine the molasse at a little distance yonder, which contains glossopetræ, though I admit they are but rarely to be found in it. Josephine, commend me to your excellent father. And, now I think of it, when is Annette coming home? Lina mourns her absence. She must come back; say to her, she must come back, the dear child, and comfort us all again.'

I fancied I could see a moisture in the eyes of that abstracted man; the thought of Annette seemed connected with some deeper feeling. ‘And so,' I said to myself, there is no armor quite proof against human manifestations. Like the invulnerable panoply of Achilles, some little point is left for the archer, and the arrow is sure to find it.'

We got into our calèche, and leaving Dr. Lindhorst to make his visits in search of the glossopetræ, we drove along pleasantly toward home. I could not but comment on the character of the worthy Doctor, and made several inquiries about him of my companion; then I recalled her promise to give me an account of Annette, who had interested me so much, and to whom Macklorne was so devoted. Josephine smiled; professed to


be amused at my curiosity; was half inclined to withhold her story, that, (as I insisted, she might be more strongly importuned to teil it; then, with a smile and a look which sent a glow over my frame and a thrill through my soul, she proceeded :

' Dr. Lindhorst has been an intimate friend of my father from the time they were both together at Heidelberg. The Doctor was born in Switzerland, and, after finishing the study of medicine, came back to his native town to practise it. Before this, however, he had become enthusiastically devoted to geology and its kindred sciences, botany and mineralogy; and, indeed, to all those pursuits which have direct relation to nature and her operations. His father dying soon after, and leaving him a handsome patrimony, he had abundant opportunity to indulge in them ; which he did without, however, neglecting his profession. Indeed, he soon acquired a reputation for being skilful and attentive, while every one spoke in terms of commendation of the young Doctor Paul. Suddenly there was a change. He declined any longer to visit the sick, excepting only the most poor and miserable. He absented himself for days and weeks in the mountains, pursuing his favorite objects with an unnatural enthusiasm. Then he left Thun for foreign countries, and was gone two or three years, and returned with an accumulation of various specimens in almost every department of natural science : with note-books, herbariums, cabinets, strange animals stuffed to resemble life, birds, fishes, petrifactions — in short, the air, the water, and the earth had furnished their quota to satisfy his feverish zeal for acquisition. He was still a young man, scarce five-and-twenty, but he bore the appearance of a person at least forty

* But the cause of this strange metamorphose ?'

No one pretends to tell,' continued Josephine. “There is a report (and, my father, who, I am quite sure, knows all, does not contradict it) that Paul Lindhorst was attached to a young girl who resided in the same town, and that his affection was returned. On one occasion, a detachment of French soldiers was quartered in Thun for a short time, and a sub-lieutenant, who had in some way been made acquainted with her, was smitten with the charms of the pretty Swiss. I suppose, like some of her sex, she had a spice of coquetry in her composition, and now possessing two lovers, she had a good opportunity to practise it. Paul Lindhorst, however, was of too earnest a nature to bear this new conduct from the dearest object of his heart with composure, neither was it his disposition to suffer in silence. He remonstrated, and was laughed at; he showed signs of deep dejection, and these marks of a wounded spirit were treated with thoughtless levity or indifference; he became indignant, and they quarrelled. It is quite the old story: the girl, half in revenge, half from a fancied liking for her new lover, married him ; soon the order for march came, and, by special permission, she was permitted to accompany her husband, as the regiment was to be quartered in France, and not to go on active service. Such,' continued Josephine Fluellen, ‘is the story which I have heard repeated, and to which was attributed the extraordinary change in the young physician. His devotion to his favorite pursuits continued to engross him, he grew more abstracted, more laborious, more unremitting in his vocation. Again he visited foreign

years old

lands, and was gone another three years. Returning, he brought, in addition to his various collections, a little bright-eyed, brown-haired child, a girl, some four years old ; and taking her to his house, which he stili retained, he made arrangements for her accommodation there, by sending to Berne for a distant relative, a widow lady, who had but one child, also a little girl, about the age of the stranger. She accordingly took up

her residence with Dr. Lindhorst, and assumed the charge of both the children, while the Doctor continued to pursue his labors, apparently much lighter of heart than before ?'

But the child ?' 'I was about to add that I learned from my father the following account of it. He told me (but I am sure this is not known to any out of our own family) that as Dr. Lindhorst was returning home after his second long absence, he entered a small village near Turin, just as a detachment of * The Army of Italy' were leaving it. The rear presented the usual motley collection of baggage-wagons, disabled soldiers, sutlers, camp-women, and hangers-on of all sorts, who attend in the steps of a victorious troop. As Paul Lindhorst stopped to view the spectacle, and while the wild strains of music could be heard echoing and reëchoing as the columns defiled around the brow of a mountain which shut them from his sight, the rear of the detachment came up and passed. At a short distance behind, a child, scarcely four years of age, without shoes or stockings, her hair streaming in the wind, and thinly clad, ran by as fast as her little feet could carry her, screaming, in a tone of agony and terror, · Wait for me, mamma!''Here I am, mamma!”. Do not leave me, mamma!' Do wait for me, mamma !' Paul Lindhorst sprang forward, and, taking the child in his arms, he hastened to overtake the detachment, supposing that by some accident the little creature had been overlooked.” On coming up, he inquired for the child's mother.

“Bless me!' said one of the women, if there is not poor little Annette !!

We can't take her; that's positive,' cried another. "How did she get here?' exclaimed a third.

“Something must be done,' said a wounded soldier, in a compassionate tone. "Give her to me; I will carry her in my arms;' and taking little Annette, who recognized in him an old acquaintance, he easily quieted her by saying her mamma would come very soon.

The Doctor at length discovered that the poor child's mother had died in the village they were just leaving. He learned also that she was the wife of an officer who had been wounded some time before, and that she had made a long journey, just in time to see him breathe his last, and had remained with the camp until her own death. Some charitable person, attracted by the sprightly appearance of the little girl, had volunteered the charge of it, and, the halt at an end, the detachment had marched on its victorious course. Paul Lindhorst felt a shock, like the last shock which separates soul from body. He had inquired and been told the name of the deceased officer; he buried his face in his hands and wept. Little Annette had fallen asleep in the old soldier's arms, and the heavy military wagon lumbered slowly on its way. It was more than he could bear, to give up the child into the bands of strangers — her child. Old

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »