Графични страници
PDF файл

istence remained. For nobody could ever persuade him that he had not been for three months Mr. BallicaĪli Chaw, of Ballicalli Park, in the county of Northumberland, and he never would marry for fear of those three months of his life being rediscovered, and Lady Kitty Ballicalli prosecuting him for bigamy.


O’er the gorgeous room a luxurious gloom,

Like the glow of a summer's eve, hung;
From its basin of stone, with rose-leaves bestrown,

The fountain its coolness flung ;
Perfumes wondrously rare fill'd the eunuch-fann'd air,

And on gem-studded carpets around
The poets sung forth tales of glory or mirth

To their instruments' eloquent sound;
On a throne framed of gold sat their monarch the bold,

With coffers of coin by his side,
And to each, as he sung, lavish handfuls he flung,

Till each in his gratitude cried,
Long, long live great Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old!
Disturbing the feast, from the Rome of the East

An embassage audience craves;
And Haroun, smiling bland, cries, dismissing the band,

• We will look on the face of our slaves !"
Then the eunuchs who wait on their Caliph in state

Lead the messenger Lords of the Greek.
Proud and martial their mien, proud and martial their sheen,

But they bow to the Arab right meek ;
And with heads bending down, though their brows wear a frown,

They ask if he audience bestow.
" Yea, dogs of the Greek, we await ye, so speak ! -

Have ye brought us the tribute you owe ?
Or what lack ye of Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old ?"
Then the Greek spake loud, “ To Alraschid the Proud

This message our monarch doth send :
While ye played 'gainst a Queen, ye could mate her, I ween-

She could ill with thy pieces contend;
But Irene is dead, and a Pawn in her stead

Holds her power and place on the board :
By Nicephorus stern is the purple now worn,

And no longer he owns thee for lord.
If tribute ye claim, I am bade in his name

This to tell thee, O King of the World,
With these, not with gold, pays Nicephorus bold !"-

And a bundle of sword.blades he hurl'd
At the feet of stern Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old.
Dark as death was his look, and his every limb shook,

As the Caliph glared round on the foe-
“View my answer!" he roar'd, and unsheathing his sword,

Clove the bundle of falchions right through.
“Tell my slave, the Greek hound, that Haroun the Renown'd,

Ere the sun that now sets rise again,
Will be far on the road to his wretched abode,

With many a myriad of men.
No reply will he send, either spoken or penn'd;

But by Allah, and Abram our sire,
He shall read a reply on the earth, in the sky,

Writ in bloodshed, and famine and fire !
Now begone !" thundered Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old.

As the sun dropt in night by the murky torch-light,

There was gathering of horse and of man:
Tartar, Courd, Bishareen, Persian, swart Bedoween,

And the mighty of far Khorasan-
Of all tongues, of all lands, and in numberless bands,

Round the Prophet's green banner they crowd,
They are form'd in array, they are up and away,

Like the locusts' calamitous cloud;
But rapine or spoil, till they reach the Greek soil,

Is forbidden, however assail'd.
A poor widow, whose fold a Courd robb’d, her tale told,

And he was that instant impaled
By the stern wrath of Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old !

On o'er valley and hill, river, plain, onwards still,

Fleet and fell as the desert-wind, on!
Where was green grass before, when that host had pass'd o'er,

Every vestige of verdure was gone !
On o'er valley and hill, desert, river, on still,

With the speed of the wild ass or deer,
The dust of their tread, o'er the atmosphere spread,

Hung for miles like a cloud in their rear.
On o'er valley and hill, desert, river, on still,

Till afar booms the ocean's hoarse roar,
And amid the night's gloom are seen tower, temple, dome-

Heraclea, that sits by the shore !
The doom'd city of Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old.

There was mirth at its height in thy mansions that night,

Heraclea, that sits by the sea !
Thy damsels' soft smiles breathed their loveliest wiles,

And the banquet was wild in its glee !
For Zoe the fair, proud Nicephorus' heir,

That night was betrothed to her mate,
To Theseus the Bold, of Illyria old,

And the blood of the Island-kings great.
When lo! wild and lorn, and with robes travel-torn,

And with features that pallidly glared,
They the Arab had spurn'd from Damascus return'd,

Rush'd in, and the coming declared
of the armies of Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old.

A faint tumult afar, the first breathing of war,

Multitudinous floats on the gale ;
The lelie shout shrill, and toss'd cymbal's peal,

And the trumpet's long desolate wail,
The horse-tramp of swarms, and the clangour of arms,

And the murmur of nations of men.
Oh woe, woe, and woe, Heraclea shall know-

She shall fall, and shall rise not again;
The spiders' dusk looms shall alone hang her rooms,

The green grass shall grow in her ways,
Her daughters shall wail, and her warriors shall quail,

And herself be a sign of amaze,
Through the vengeance of Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old.

'Tis the dawn of the sun, and the morn-prayer is done,

And the murderous onset is made;
The Christian and foe they are at it, I trow,

Fearfully plying the blade.
Each after each rolls on to the breach,

Like the slumberless roll of the sea.
Rank rolling on rank rush the foe on the Frank,

Breathless, in desperate glee ;

The Greek's quenchless fire, the Mussulman's ire

Has hurled over rampart and wall.
And 'tis all one wild hell of blades slaughtering fell,

Where, fiercest and fellest of all,
Work'd the falchion of Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old.

But day rose on day, yet Nicephorus grey,

And Theseus, his daughter's betrothed,
With warrior-like sleight kept the town in despite

Of the Moslem insulted and loathed.
Morn rose after morn on the leaguers outworn,

Till the Caliph with rage tore his beard;
And, terribly wroth, sware a terrible oath-

An oath which the boldest ev'n fear'd.
So his mighty Emirs gat around their compeers,

And picked for the onslaught a few.
Oh! that onslaught was dread, -every Moslem struck dead!

But, however, young Theseus they slew,
And that Idened fierce Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old.
Heraclea, that night in thy palaces bright

There was anguish and bitterest grief.
“ He is gone! he is dead!” were the words that they said,

Though the stunn'd heart refused its belief;
Wild and far spreads the moan, from the hut, from the throne,

Striking every one breathless with fear.
“Oh! Theseus the bold, thou art stark,-thou art cold, -

Thou art young to be laid on the bier."
One alone makes no moan, but with features like stone,

In an ecstasy haggard of woe,
Sits tearless and lorn, with dry eyeballs that burn,

And fitful her lips mutter low
Dread threatenings against Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon ol d.
The next morn on the wall, first and fiercest of all,

The distraction of grief cast aside,
In her lord's arms arrayed, Zoe plies the death.blade,--

Ay, and, marry, right terribly plied.
Her lovely arm fair, to the shoulder is bare,

And nerved with a giant-like power,
Where her deadly sword sweeps fall the mighty in heaps ;

Where she does but appear the foe cower.
Rank on rank they rush on, -rank on rank are struck down,

Till the ditch is choked up with the dead.
The vulture and crow, and the wild dog, I trow,

Made a dreadful repast that night as they fed
On the liegemen of Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old.
This was not to last.--The stern Moslem, downcast,

Retrieved the next morning their might ;
For Alraschid the bold, and the Barmecide old,

Had proclaimed through the camp in the night,
That whoso should win the first footing within

The city that bearded their power,
Should have for liis prize the fierce girl with black eyes,

And ten thousand zecchines as her dower.
It spurred them right well; and they battled and fell,

Like lions, with long hunger wild.
Ere that day set the sun Heraclea was won,

And Nicephorus bold, and his child,
Were captives to Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old.
To his slave, the Greek hound, roared Haroun the renowned,

When before him Nicephorus came,
" Though the pawn went to queen, 'tis checkmated, I ween,

Thou'rt as bold as unskilled in the game.

Now, Infidel, say, wherefore should I not slay

The wretch that my vengeance hath sought ?"
"I am faint, -I am weak,- and I thirst,” quoth the Greek,

Give me drink.” At his bidding 'tis brought ;
He took it ; but shrank, lest 'twere poison he drank.

“ Thou art safe till the goblet be quaffed !"
Cried Haroun. The Greek heard, took the foe at his word,

Dashed down on the pavement the draught,
And claimed mercy of Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old.
Haroun never broke word or oath that he spoke,

So he granted the captive his life,
And then bade his slaves bear stately Zoe the fair,

To the warrior who won her in strife ;
But the royal maid cried in the wrath of her pride,

She would die ere her hand should be given,
Or the nuptial caress should be lavished to bless

Such a foe to her house and to Heaven.
Her entreaties they spurned, and her menace they scorned ;

But, resolute, spite of their power,
All food she denied, and by self.famine died;

And her father went mad from that hour.
Thus triumph'd stern Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old !


[blocks in formation]

The streets of Paris after midnight are, at best, no very pleasant quarters ; but on the 15th of last February they were even less agreeable than usual. It was a most awful night. The fierce black firmament whooped and grinned ghastfully as it spat its lightning over the earth, and the wind scampered along, raving like a mad thing. Not a sound reigned in the deserted streets saving the roar of the contending elements. At one time the ear caught only the sputtering of the rain against the window-panes; at another, this was stifled in the wild howl of the blast ; and anon nothing was heard but the deafening thunder crashing through the skies, loud, startling, and awful as the dread peal of the last trump.

Late on this terrible night, in the antiquated salon of an ancient mansion in the Faubourg St. Germain, sat an old man, who by his looks numbered some three-score years and odd. The few hairs which the meddling fingers of Time had left unplucked on his head were hoary with the frost of age; while in his face the same busy hand, or the rougher one of Care, had scored many a deep and sorrowful wrinkle. It was evident by the stripes of riband decorating his coat that he was one of no mean rank in his country. A book lay open on the table before him, but matter of a more important and less pleasing character than its pages appeared to engross his mind; for his eyes were abstractedly fixed on the fire, his brows

were knitted closely together, his face was half buried in his hands, and occasionally certain indistinct and angry mutterings burst from his lips.

The clock on the mantel-piece, tinkling the hour of four, aroused the old man from his revery. He started wildly from his chair, and rapidly pacing the apartment, exclaimed—“ Four !—four! and he still absent !-Yes! now it must be as I feared. What else could detain him till such an hour ?—and on such a night, too!

Ay! it is too plain--too glaring to be mistaken. He is-0 God! is what I would sooner that he had died than ever lived to be."

The old man stood still, and covered his face with his hands for a while. Presently he again burst forth

“ I have long suspected it. The late hour at which he has returned home for many nights hinted as much to me. And to-night -this terrible night, when all hell appears to have broken loose, and to be rejoicing over his perdition, assures me of the fact. My son ! —my only son!”

And the aged man sank upon the sofa in a paroxysm of despair. His feelings were, however, far too fierce and poignant to allow him to rest.

“ There is but one-one stern and most humiliating way to be pursued to save my boy from toppling headlong down the dread abyss, on whose brink he now stands unconsciously tottering. But it must-ay! and though the heavy task crush me, it shall be done -anything rather than live to look upon my son debased to that basest of all base creatures, a-”

A loud knock at the outer door of the house cut short the old man's speech. His limbs trembled as if palsied, and tottering towards his chair, he exclaimed, in a faint voice, “ 'Tis he! tis he!”

The door of the salon opening ushered into the apartment a youth, rich with the bounty of some twenty summers.

He was evidently the old man's son, and betrayed on entering not a little surprise to find his aged parent occupying the room at such an hour.

“What has made you thus late, Alphonse ?" inquired his father, as he motioned the young man to be seated.

“I was with some friends, sir,” he replied

Friends !" sarcastically exclaimed the Count. Oh, most goodly friends !-most staunch friends !-most disinterested and infallible friends! I'd stake my life upon their fealty. Wouldn't you, Alphonse ?"

“I do not comprehend you, sir,” said his son.

“Not comprehend me! How should you, boy, when I speak upon so incomprehensible a subject as the friendship of your last night's companions? Come tell me now, good Alphonse, where were you all last night ?"

“I told you before, sir," replied the young man, evidently vexed at being thus doubted, “ at the house of a friend."

“At the house of the devil, sir !” vehemently retorted his father, “where, doubtlessly, you were taught to lie thus unblushingly."

*I lie not," exclaimed the youth.

“Then, sir, if you do not," responded the Count," it is because you have of late become so intimate with the dark fiend that you

« ПредишнаНапред »