Historical Books

history Turn the pages of the past.

Visit Black Raven Adventures's Website
Previous Page Previous Page Next Page Next Page

Easter-Even

But I would not let him proceed; I felt for that woman down stairs as though she had been a man and a brother, and I was determined to save her from the rest. I threw my book and a great piece of rock over the side of that perfidious old demi-lune, the startled Professor rushed up the stairs, and there I was, innocently waking up, and regretting that the wind had blown the new volume off the parapet. I took that man's arm, and I walked him home, and I never stopped talking one instant until I had masked the retreat of the governess up stairs to her own room; and then I went back to Hospital Street and told Sara.

"No doubt she is sitting there now, surrounded by her relics, the vicious-looking roots, the shells, the lumps of coquina, the spiny things, and the bone," said Sara, laughing.

"Don't laugh, Sara; it is too real. She liked that man."

"So much the worse for her, then," replied my companion. "She had better tear out her heart and throw it to the dogs at once."

When Sara answered me after that fashion, I generally let her alone.

"Aunt Diana is really going to-morrow," I said, the next evening, as John Hoffman and I stood leaning on the Plaza railing, waiting for the mail.

"Yes; shall you go also?"

"No; we have decided to remain another week, Sara and I. But I am really surprised; I thought Iris would carry the day; she was determined to stay longer."

"I think I can account for that," said John, smiling. "We were walking together last evening in the moonlight on the seawall, and, happening to stroll into the demilun¬e—"

"Oh, that demi-lune!"

"Yes, that demi-lune. There we found the Captain."

"The Captain?"

"The Captain. But not alone. Miss Arabella—Miss Van Amsterdam was with him!" Now Miss Van Amsterdam was a beauty and an heiress.

The next morning we bade farewell to the departing half of our party. "Do you think that impervious old Professor will try it again between here and New York?" I said, as we strolled back from the little depot.

"I doubt it," answered Sara. "He is the kind that goes in ankle deep, and then hesitates over the final plunge. But probably all the rest of his life he will cherish the delusion that he had only to speak, and he will intimate as much to his cronies over a temperate and confidential glass of whisky on winter nights."

"After all, Miss Sharp is worth twenty Professors. How silently and even smilingly she bore her fate! Iris, now, pouted openly over the Captain's desertion."

"She will forget all about it before she is half way to Tocoi, and there will be a new train of admirers behind her before the steamer enters the Savannah harbor," said Sara, smiling.

"Do you know who has been the real heroine of the romance of these last weeks, Sara?"

"Who?"

"The demi-lune!"

Our one remaining week rolled its hours swiftly along. Every morning the Sabre-boy began the day by ringing his great bell, beginning on the ground-floor, then up the stairs, a salvo in our little entry-way, a flurry around the corner, and a long excursion down the gallery, with a salute to all outdoors on the roar balcony; then countermarch, ringing all the time, back to the second-story stairs, up the stairway, and a tremendous clanging at the three blue doors; then, face about, and over the whole route again down to the ground-floor, where a final flourish in jig time always brought the sleepy idea that he was dancing a double-shuffle of triumph in conclusion.

"I don't know which is the worst," said Sara, "the dogs that bark all night, the roosters that crow all day, the Sabre and his morning clanging, or the cathedral chimes, those venerable and much-written-about relics that ring in the hours like a fire-alarm of cow-bells gone mad."

"Do you know that to-morrow will be Easter?" I said, when we had but two days left. " We must ask Mr. Hoffman to take us out this evening to hear the Minorcans sing; to-morrow we will go to the Episcopal church, and then, on Monday, .ho! for the bonny North."

"Very bonny!" said Sara.

"Do you agree to the programme, mademoiselle ?'

"All save the church-going."

"We are not Episcopalians, I know, but on Easter-Sunday—"

"Oh, it isn't that, Martha. I don't want to go to church at all. I am not in the mood."

"But, Sara, my dear—"

"Yes, and Sara, my dear! Religion is for two classes—the happy and the resigned. I belong to neither. I am lost out of the first, and I haven't yet found the second. I took this journey to please you, Martha. I don't blame you; it was all chance; but— You think you know all my life. You know nothing about it. Martha, I was once engaged to John Hoffman."

"What! engaged?"

Easter-Even Serenade

"Yes, for six short months. But it was ten years ago, and I was only eighteen. He had forgotten both it and me, as I could see by his face when you first introduced him on that New York steamer. I am only one of a succession, I presume," continued Sara, in a bitter tone. (I thought it very likely, but did not say so.) "I was at home up in the mountains then, and he came that way on a hunting expedition. It was the old, old story, and I was so happy! I knew little and cared less about his social position. I was educated, therefore I was his peer. But he was stern, and I was proud; he was unyielding, and I rebellious; he wished to rule, and I would obey no one, although I would have given him freely the absolute devotion of every breath had he not demanded it. We parted, still up in the mountains, where he had lingered for my sake, and I had never seen him since that day until, when fairly out at sea, he appeared on the deck of that steamer. He took the initiative immediately with his calm politeness, and I was not to be outdone. I flatter myself that not one of you suspected that we had ever met before. And now, Martha, not one word, please. There is nothing to say. We shall soon be parted again, very likely for another ten years, as he does not return North with us. Do not fancy that I am unhappy about it. I am like Esther in Bleak Home, when, after that unwished-for and unpleasant offer of marriage, she nevertheless found herself weeping as she had not done since the days when she buried the dear old doll down in the garden. It is only that the old chords are stirred, Martha dear; nothing more."

When, late in the evening, John sent up word that he was waiting for us, I hesitated; but Sara rose and said," Come," in her calm, every-day manner, and I went.

"What will it be like, Mr. Hoffman?" I said, as soon as we reached the street, in order to make talk.

"Principally singing," he replied, "according to an old custom of the Minorcans. On Easter - even the young men assemble with musical instruments, and visit the houses of all their friends. Before they begin singing they tap on the shutter, and if they are welcome there is an answering tap within. Then follows the long hymn they call Fromajardis, always the same seven verses, with a chorus after each verse, all in the Minorcan dialect. Next comes a recitative soliciting the customary gifts, a bag is held under the window, and the people of the house open the shutter, and drop into it eggs, cheese, cakes, and other dainties, while the young men acknowledge their bounty with a song, and then depart."


 
Previous Page Previous Page

[Return to Top of Page.]

Next Page Next Page
 

Vacation || History || Community || St. Augustine Map || Contact Us     RSS RSS  || StumbleUpon Toolbar  || Delicious social bookmarking service.  || Find Us on Facebook  || Watch Our YouTube Channel

Weather | Vacation Guide | Request Information | Calendar of Events

Copyright © 1998 - 2022 by VisitStAugustine.com || Privacy Policy || Site Map · Please send feedback to the Webmaster.

Website by St. Augustine Web Design