Harrington: A Story of True Love
A STORY OF TRUE LOVE.
BY THE AUTHOR OF “WHAT CHEER,” “THE GHOST: A
CHRISTMAS STORY,” “A TALE OF LYNN,” ETC.
“Herein may be seen noble chivalrye, curtosye, humanyte, friendlyenesse,hardyenesse, love, friendshype, cowardyse, murder, hate, vertue and synne.Doo after the good, and leve the evyl, and it shall brynge you to good fameand renomme.”—Sir Thomas Malory: Preface to Morte D’Arthur.
THAYER & ELDRIDGE,
114 & 116 WASHINGTON STREET.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by
THAYER & ELDRIDGE,
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court, of the District of Massachusetts.
W. H. Tinson, Stereotyper.
TO MY WIFE.
|Chapter I.||—The Reign of Terror,||69|
|II.||—The Fencing School,||81|
|III.||—Quarte and Tierce,||90|
|IV.||—Muriel and Emily,||116|
|VI.||—An Episode of the Reign of Terror,||138|
|VIII.||—The Shadow of the Hunter,||163|
|IX.||—Scholar and Soldier,||173|
|XI.||—North and South,||191|
|XIII.||—The Fairy Prince,||228|
|XIV.||—The Anti-Slavery Convention,||240|
|XV.||—War and Peace,||252|
|XVI.||—The Glimpses of the Moon,||268|
|XVIII.||—The Pretty Pass Things Came To,||290|
|XIX.||—The Roar of St. Domingo,||302|
|XXI.||—The Breaking of the Spell,||328|
|XXIII.||—The Blooming of the Lily,||349|
|XXIV.||—The Blowing of the Rose,||358|
|XXVI.||—A Man of Ruined Blood,||402|
|XXVIII.||—The Sabbath Morning,||421|
|XXIX.||—Hell on Heaven Impinging,||428|
|XXX.||—The Hearts of Chevaliers,||443|
|XXXI.||—Wreck and Ruin,||453|
|XXXIII.||—The Old Achaian Hour,||485|
|XXXIV.||—In Liberty’s Defence,||502|
As hot a day as ever blazed on the lowlands of Louisiana,blazed once in mid-April on the plantation of Mr. TorwoodLafitte, parish of Avoyelles, in the Red River region. Perhapsit was because the heat was so unseasonable that itseemed as if never, not even in midsummer, had there been sohot a day. One might have been pardoned for imagining thatheat not of this world. Mr. William Tassle, overseer toLafitte, was a profane man, but he might have been consideredas only a profane poet aiming at the vivid expressionof a mystical dark truth, when, speaking of the day, he said itwas as hot as Hell.
It was the Sabbath, but an active fancy, brooding over thegeneral condition of man and nature on Mr. Lafitte’s plantation,might have thought it rather the Devil’s Sabbath thanthe Sabbath of the Lord. Through the vaporous atmosphere,simmering with the heat, swarming with insect life, and reekingwith the dense, sickly sweetness of tropic plants andflowers, the fierce sun poured a flood of stagnant, yellow light,which lay in a broad and brassy glare over the low landscape.Veiled by the cruel radiance, rose afar in the west and norththe Pine Woods of Avoyelles, and in the southern distance thesolemn masses of gloom formed by the cotton-woods, live-oaksand cypresses of the Great Pacondrie Swamp. The eyewandering backward from the depths of the morass, saw thesmouldering fire of the atmosphere envelop the enormoustrees, draped everywhere with long streamers of black moss,and kindle the broad palmetto bottoms, and the multi-coloredluxuriance of tropical vegetation, which sprang into ranker lifebeneath the vivid and sullen ray. The sluggish tide of thebayou basked with snaky gleams in the quivering lustre; thered marl of the plantation where mules and negroes were toilingpainfully under the oaths and blows of the drivers and overseer,darkly glowed in it; the bright, rank green of the lawnbefore the mansion was aflare with it; and the mansion itself,with its rose and jasmin vines drooping around the postsof the veranda, looked scorched to a deeper brown in thehot, thick, yellow, intolerable glare.
Shadows that day were the demons of the landscape.Shadows of intense and peculiar blackness, so compactthat they seemed to have a substantial being of their own,lurked in the yellow light around and beneath every object. Adark fancy might have dreamed them a host of devils, disguisedas shadows, and mustered to prevent the escape of a soul fromHell. Black with a strange blackness, shaped to an ugly goblinresemblance of the thing they accompanied, they were scatteredlike a host of demon sentries all over the scene, and hadwatch and ward of everything. The gaunt, stilted bittern standingmotionless near the water, had his black goblin duplicatebeneath him on the glistering clay. The mud-hued, warty-hided,abominable alligator, as he raised himself on his short legs, hadhis black, misshapen, shadow-caricature to lumber up with himon the trodden mire, and it went with him as he took his lumpishplunge into the foul bayou. Every plant or shrub had itsscraggy imp of shadow sprawling beneath it, and darting anddodging as if to catch it whenever it moved. Every tree—cypress,live-oak, sycamore, cotton-wood, or gum, all solemnlydraped with black moss—had its scrawny phantom to toss andflicker fantastically with the tangled motion of a hundred dartingarms, if the branches or their streamers swayed in thefurnace-breath of the light wind. Every fallen trunk, or log,or stump, or standing post had its immovable, black sentinelshape of shadow projected beyond it, or crouching by its side.Along the running fences on the plantation ran black, spectralbars on the red marl. In the fields, among the new-sprungcorn, sown with the pain and sweat of slaves, a demon-cropof shadow mocked with its ugly color and fantastic shapethe green beauty of the pennoned grain. The reeking mules,panting and straining, with drooping heads, as they draggedthe groaning ploughs through the soil of the cotton fields, orpulled the clanking harrows over the furrowed rows, had theirmonstrous jags of sooty shadow, like the malformed beasts ofa devil’s dream, jerking along with shapeless instrumentsbeside them. The black drudges, men and women, ploddingand tottering in the sweltering heat, behind the ploughs,beside the harrows, or dropping seed into the drills, hadhunched and ugly goblin dwarfs of shadow, vigilantly doggingtheir footsteps, and bobbing and dodging with their moreactive movements. The burly overseer on horseback had hishorsed demon of lubber shadow, which aped his every gestureand movement, ambling fantastically with him hither andthither among the rows, and grotesquely motioning intosquirms of phantom glee the shadows of the writhing slaveson whom his frequent whip-lash fell. Up around the planter’smansion, shadows as fantastical, as black and demoniacal asthese, wavered or lay in the fierce, yellow glow. And amongthem all there was none uglier or more seemingly sentient thanone within the room opening on the veranda—a black,hellion shape which floated softly as in a pool of oil, on anoblong square of sluggish sunshine shimmering on the floor,just behind the chair of Mr. Lafitte.
Angry words had been uttered in that room within the lastfew minutes—angry at least on the part of Madame Lafitte,who sat away from the sunlight, opposite her husband, with atable laid with fruit and wine between them. She was of thesuperbest type of southern beauty—and there is no beautymore exquisite; but now her lovely olive face was dusky whitewith fury and agony—its pallor heightened by contrast withher intense black hair, which she wore in heavy tresses droopingalmost to the broad gold ornaments in her ears. Silentat present, she sat with her white arms tightly clasped belowher bosom, which convulsively rose and fell beneath its muslinfolds, and with dilated nostrils, and pale lips curved with hateand grief, kept her dark eyes, lustrous with passion, fixed onthe evil visage of her husband.
“You are well named,” she broke forth again, her voice, arich contralto, trembling with vehemence; “but you areworse than