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PAULO-POST-MORTEM.

(GHOST LOQUITUR.)

JUNE:

:-s0 I used to call it, as I think,What time the merry Earth keeps carnival, Green-masked and garlanded, and jewel-pranked With lily-pearl, carnation-carbuncle, The sapphire that the Iris steals from Heaven, Laburnum's topaz, lilac's amethyst, Rose-ruby, and all gems her casket holds. Methinks she wears them with a difference now, A glory something fainter. Is the change In these or me, the seer or the seen ? Or does that fond false artist Memory Trick them with livelier hues than e'er they wore? I know not,—but all colour seems a-cold. I recollect the time when such a Sun, As that which blazes high in Heaven to-day, Would send me sweltering to my summer-seat Beneath the broad fan-branches of the limes That fringe my lawn ;-it doesn't warm me now! I seem to miss the old-accustomed wraps Of flesh and skin ;-I shall get used to it In time, I doubt not; but it's strange, as yet, To feel the light airs blow me through and through Uncharged with sense of coolness or of warmth, Nor more disturb me now than I disturb One leaflet of the rose-bush that, untrimmed, In wanton wild luxuriance, all but bars The garden-porch with block of bud and flower.

Curious—this gliding noiseless, like a thief, In to one's own ;-no playful tap at pane Startling the twilight gossip round the hearth,No tingle of the bell, - no rat-tat-tat Of the black lion's nose-ring on the door, — No eager bark of recognising Tray,Poor beast ! he couldn't jump upon me now If he were here !-I miss him though :-how long, How many evenings did he watch to hear At the old hour the old footstep?

Is he dead Like me? I've read, what time I took delight In books, of dogs that pined and died of grief For loss of those they loved. (Philosophers Have held it doubtful whether such disease Made ever Ghost of Man.) There's Puss, at least, That ever, with her velvet back on-arch, Would rub a purring welcome round my legs, Soon as I sate :-she's got small notion now That here I am i' the midst. They used to set

The case,

My arm-chair ready ;-'tisn't in its place?
Ah! there it lurks i' the corner, thrust aside,
With one leg lacking,-just a hospital
For all the children's maimed and mangled pets,
Noah's leaky ark, the Patriarch and his wife,
Shem, Ham, and Japhet, all the sequent beasts
Emptied pell-mell, the lion with the lamb,
And jostled amid wreck of broken drums,
And trunks of long-decapitated dolls!

Somehow I lose of late my count of time :-
How many of the spaces men call days
Have dawned and darkened, registered, ticked off,
In that old unconsulted almanac
Wherein Time keeps the count of all the Past,
Some day to meet its audit? Is't a week,
A month-it cannot sure be more--since I,
Since it, I mean (how the old habit clings !)

the shell, the husk, that held me once, Was carried, with more pomp and circumstance, More numerous tendance, and more lavish cost Than e'er was spent upon it in the flesh, Into the narrow house that, every week, The parson warned me I must tenant soon ? Pooh! It is there—not I! The parson preached Some truth, no doubt ;-according to his lights Most honest ;—but you can't get blood from stones, Or out of Parsons more than Parsons know.

I wonder-after It was borne awayHow long they looked at that old chair, and left Its seat untenanted,-how long they talked With bated breath of him who filled it once, As though the cheerier tone of natural speech Might shock the delicate ear of Death, and mar The new scarce-tasted quiet of the grave ?That topic's talked out now, if I can judge ; That fear is lost. I see black broadcloth still, And ells voluminous of bombasine At hearth and board; but small abiding sense Of what they signify. There's a new song Spread out-a vulgar darling of the Halls Misnamed of Music-o'er the ivory keys ;There's a new novel on the window-sill ;And from its leaves methinks I scent a whiff Foul, stale, of that abominable weed Whose filthy use I never brooked indoors. I count enough familiar things,--and yet How all seems other than it used to seem ! A chilly, vague, uncomfortable sense Of novelty hangs over all things old, And some are changed in place and some I miss. Where have they put that sketch that used to hang Beside my corner 1-prized for her dear sake

Who pencilled it long since,-a simple thing,
A cottage, tree, and streamlet,—short perhaps
Of academic excellence, but Hers,
Hers, whom I lost ere these were old enough
To know their share in such a loss more great
E'en than mine own: I'd like to rend and burn
That chromo-lithograph that fills its place!

Ah me! new lords, new ways !-They're young, I know;
It's natural, I suppose but in my time
Long since, when I succeeded, did I hold
Lightly as these the favourites of the Dead ?
I think I'm glad they cannot know I'm here
Among them-glad I cannot speak to them.
I dare not guess what welcome I should get
Could I declare my presence. I was pleased
At thought of coming; now I'm glad to go.
They're well and happy,—that should be enough
To satisfy a reasonable ghost.
May they long live so! Farewell! I depart !

Some other way, though—not by that front door
Through which I saw them bear It out, feet first,
That morn when half the village blinds were down,
And all the children out to see the show.
Back, by the postern, through the offices
I can slip out, -no footfall to betray
The master's prying presence. I forget!
What babble I of lord and master now?
I shall not scare the idle scullery wench,
That lounges, giggling with the idle groom,
Beside the stable door, the while, unfed,
My old grey pony stands at empty rack
And manger, looking patient for the oats
His due an hour ago. The garden gate !
The kitchen garden, where my arbour bench,
With honeysuckle roofed and clematis,
Looked through espaliered rows of plum and pear,
Glistening with diamond dew of summer morns,
Down to the walnut at the orchard end,
Set by the grandame whom I never knew;
My beds, my shrubs, my fruit-trees, -I may look
Once more on these, at least, and find no change.
There's the old pond, and on its turfy slope
The old dial, and the sleepy old gold-fish
Among the water-lilies. Hah! what's that?-
That bald red line of brick that cuts the sky?
Is that dismantled block my garden wall ?
I think, when I was heir, I would have cleft
My right hand from its socket, ere I lopped
One twig that owed its planting to my sire !
I know Dick never loved those ivy stems
It cost me years to train from base to crown,
Till all the country couldn't show their match.

He used to sneer, and call them alms-houses
For slugs and snails. It might be ; but I know
I never lacked a peach at autumn-tide :
There always was enough for slug, and snail,
Me, Richard, and the rest. He might have spared
His father's hobby for a year or two.
Or—there's a gardener's face that's new to me-
'Twas he, no doubt, not Richard, that despoiled
My walls of that luxuriant coronal
I wreathed upon their brows. I trimmed their locks
I' the garden-side-but 'twas a sight to see
How outwardly they bourgeoned, how they flung
Their dark, dense, sun-defying canopy
Of shoot, and leaf, and cluster, o'er the path
That wound beneath it up the skirting lane !

'Tis best I go no further, I would keep
Some pleasant memories yet, and dare not risk
To prove them cheats. I will depart, and come
No more. I had thought often to return,
To see old faces, hear old voices. No!
That dream is dreamed! What feeble whine was that?
What moan, as of a dumb thing, sore in pain,
Comes from the corner where the stables dwarf
To byre and sty? There was no creature there,
In my time, but was happy. Ah! my

God !
Who was it that did this? My Tray, my dog,
My friend, who loved me as a child might love
Its father; whom I loved-Heaven pardon me!
Almost as might a father love his child,
Turned out, uncared-for, banished, kenneled, chained !
And I–I cannot loose him! Savages,
That slew the hound upon his owner's grave,
And deemed that to the happier hunting-grounds
They sent him partner of his master's chase,
Had kinder hearts! And I must slink away,
Ashamed, in silence, like a guilty thing,
And but be thankful that he cannot know
My presence, or with piteous mute appeal
Of eye upbraid me that I leave him thus !

Ah me! I looked to see some change, for change,
I know, is death's successor,—some disuse
Most like of trivial ordinance,—some touch
Perchance of new improvement,-but not this !
Poor Tray ! thy heart is broken !-so is mine!

*

« Les Revenants !”. -so the Frenchman calls us ghosts :“ The Comers-back,"—no more; no touch, no hint Of reverence or affection,-just a plain Prosaic recognition of a fact : The Comers-back.-Would God I had not come!

H. K. UNDER THE MASK.

CHAPTER 1,--THE COT OF CHRYSIPPUS.

JOHN STRONG was attentively re- this old lady was herself suspected garding his little son, who was build- of many a frolic on broomstick, yet ing a house on the floor.

she had long since sown her wild " There is too much of his mo- oats, and her testimony was credited ther in the face," he muttered. Now, by all. the unprejudiced observer, who had It may be believed, therefore, that looked at Mr Strong (and everybody when Mr Strong wooed, won, and looked at him once) would have wedded in a single week little Molly probably concluded that the more Davis, who was both pretty and the face of the late Mrs Strong was poor, and whose father was said to represented in that of her child, the owe untold sums to the ill-omened better for him ; and yet the voice bridegroom, the villagers were much of the father, when he uttered the annoyed. Indeed they so far above comment, expressed anything emerged from their local lethargy as but satisfaction.

to murmur at old Davis, who went “ Mobile, sensitive, almost effem- about smiling so pitiably, that a inate," he grumbled, with the cor- flood of tears would have been comners of his mouth drawn down, and paratively exhilarating; and the his eyebrows drawn stiffly upwards. ale-house oracle, who had a remark"Perhaps I might do it,” he con- able mastery of a chain of reasoning, tinued, after a long pause : “such a openly expressed a doubt, whether skin as that must be always deli- to sell your daughter to a man who cate, and the winds from every had already sold himself, were not quarter are rough enough in these tantamount to a delivery to the ultidays, heaven knows.”

As he con- mate purchaser. Few of his hearcluded the sentence, a strange twitch ers were able to follow the argudistorted his face for a moment. ment; but it is recorded that more “ Bah! am I a fool ?” he grunted. heads were shaken at The Odd

Mr John Strong did not enjoy Horse-Shoe on the day of the wedan enviable reputation in the neigh- ding, than on any previous occasion. bourhood. The village in which he Molly, however, who was at least as lived was out of the world, and still silly as pretty, accepted her fate cherished many monstrous supersti- with apparent resignation, and with tions, of which not the least mon- the last smile of her girlhood on her strous was that this worthy man lips, entered the dark house, which had sold himself to the devil. The seemed to shrink away from the origin of the legend was wrapped in village street. When a year was darkness; but there was one old ended, and her boy was born, she dame, who remembered well that felt a strange return of her old at his birth a star with fiery tail gaiety one summer morning, and had appeared in the heavens; and with the first smile of her married that on his twenty-first birthday a life on her lips quietly passed away. swart man on a black horse had been The hoy, whom she left to his stern seen in the village, who might or sire's care, was Chrysippus. might not be the attorney from the Mr John Strong sat in his highneighbouring town. And though backed chair, staring at his son and

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