+ ~ -
 
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
 
Report an Error
Go!
 
Go!
 
TOC
 

may buy me meat and wine, and laugh, at
death. If once I get sober, I shall die; but
with the cheerful Burgundy singing in my
brain, I would sit in a dead-pit, and defy
fate. I must drink, and dance, and sing,
and dice, and make roaring love to maids,
wives and widows, and disport me gallantly,
to keep away this Phantom that walks up
and down. So, the key of the money-chest,
greybeard, before I draw my sword across
your throat!"

As old Hansel had fully made up his
mind that he should die, it might have been
supposed that this menace would have had
very little effect upon him. But there is
something exceedingly disagreeable in having
one's throat carved in cold blood; and
to make use of an Hibernicismit is
natural to wish to put off the evil day, if
only for half an hour. So, after some
muttering and shirking, Mark at lengthquickened
in his movements by the near approach
of the rapierput his hand into his pocket,
and produced the required key. His nephew
received it with a laugh of triumph.

"One more favour I require of you. I want
the key of your wine-cellar as well."

"Why trouble me farther ? " muttered the
old silk-mercer. " I am no wine-bibber like
yourself, thank Heaven!"

"The very reason why there is plenty for
me in your cellars. I know you can produce
a good flask upon occasion; and I mean to
taste the quality of your wines before I go.
Come, give me the key without more ado.—
Ah, that's it! Thanks! See what a civil
fellow I am as long as you behave like a dutiful
uncle. Now will I go and embalm me in
your Rhenish, and fortify my flesh against
corruption. Farewell, nunksunless you will
come and crack a bottle with me. You
won't ? Then I leave you to die at your
leisure, while I live merrily: I, drunk and
living; you, sober and carrion. Farewell,
greybeard! and the devil seize the right one!"

He reeled out of the room as he spoke, and
went lumbering down the stairs, seeming to
make direct for the wine-cellar. Mark heard
him enter, and close the door with a loud jar
behind him. Then all was again quiet,
except at intervals; when fragments of some
drunken song from below became faintly
distinguishable.

"What a horrible, abandoned reprobate he
is! " thought Mark. " I wish he had never
found his way in. I have lost my money, my
wine, and my resignation, all at one blow.
How long the dreadful hour is in coming!"

At length he fell asleep, quite worn out
with watching and mental excitement. When
he awoke it was broad daylight. Looking
at the clock, and finding that it was six, his
heart leaped within him, and he could not
help shouting out aloud, " Hurra! By the
blessing of Heaven, the Old Liar's prophecy
is defeated. I have lived over the night."
And he fairly danced about the room.

In a little while, feeling hungry, he set
about preparing himself some breakfast, and
began eating it with great relish. " I shall
laugh at the devil's prophecies in future," he
thought. " But I wonder what has become
of that rascal nephew of mine. If he is
still in the house, I could almost shake hands
with him, I feel so happy. I don't think it
was a dream that he was here last night.
Stay; I'll go seek him."

Mark went through several of the empty
rooms without success, and at last bethought
him of the wine-cellar. Thither he repaired,
and saw something lying on the ground, like
a heap of clothes.

"Here he is," thought Mark, "drunk
and sleeping like a log, with an empty
wine-flask in his hand. Asleep? Merciful
Heaven! he's deadplague-strucktwisted
and wrenched with pain! Horrible!" And
Mark rushed out of the cellar.

His nephew was indeed dead. The Pest
had overtaken him in the midst of his boasted
preservative, and had withered him like a leaf.
And so the prophecy was fulfilled, though
not in the sense understood.

Mark must have been fated not to die of
the Plague; for, even this last peril did not
hurt him. After he had seen his nephew
buried, he went into the country to some
distant relatives, and lived many years
longer. During this time he frequently
related the story of his interview with
the Devilin which he never ceased to
believeand of the death of his wild
nephew.

As for me, I confess that, to my mind, the
devil part of the story was a dream; but this
is only my individual opinion, and I offer it as
nothing more.

THE AUTHOR OF GIL BLAS.

IN a line with the south transept of the
Cathedral of Notre Dame, at Boulogne, runs
a little streetthe Street of the Ch√Ęteau.
Whoever looks at the second house on the
left, in passing up the street from the
cathedral, may observe, over its picturesque
doorway, the outline of a dark block of
marble, upon which is to be read by good
eyes, an inscription in Roman capitals that
have lost much of their distinctness.
"Here died the Author of Gil Blas, in
seventeen hundred and forty-seven." Le Sage
has, I believe, no other monument of stone,
and he owes this to the enthusiasm of what
might be thought an odd set of admirers,
namely, the Boulogne Agricultural Society;
but the most intelligent gentlemen of the
department are, in fact, enrolled in this
patriotic association, and papers on literary
subjects are read, and poems recited, at some
of its meetings.

Not only stone-masons, but even biographers
have been too little concerned with