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A Very Black Romance
(SLIGHTLY TINGED WITH BLUE),
By Miss Indiana Inkle.
helped remarking the existence of a noble addition to the landscape-a large white bull; which, by the way, seems to have strayed there most à propos, enabling our artist to fill up his foreground after nature, and ourselves to introduce to the reader one of the chief characters of this sable tale —the innocent cause of endless woe.
Heigh ho!* never was a bull more innocent than he. No, not even the holy Pope's. He was pure in heart as the natural whiteness of his skin—but not white-livered withal. His countenance (which we must not fail to add, although the artist has turned it from us)—his noble countenance beamed with joy, whilst a smile you would have been puzzled to decide as belonging to the ironical or the pitiful (supposing them not to be synonymous) played around his aristocratically turned mouth, giving increased animation to his features, and perhaps slightly expressing the zest with which he placidly grazed on the fresh herb. Nothing could equal the mental quietude, the repose of soul, which this unsophisticated brute enjoyed. To him, science and the self-lighting sealing-wax, luxury and the new Poor Law, Photography and India-rubber pavement, Mr. Dickens's “ Notes" and the American currency, the exhibitions of the Royal Academy and Prize Cattle, the meetings of the British Association and Female Chartists, were each and all unknown. Neither the new Income Tax nor the new Tariff affected him. He was not surprised at Sir Robert Peel's promises, and, like Sir Robert, never dreamt of his fulfilling them. In short, nothing disturbed, nothing astonished him. Our bull was a complete child of nature (like John Bull perhaps, a little overgrown). Had you inquired of him the way to any town, his reply would simply have consisted of one ingenuous smile, proving at least he was not the dupe of your facetiousness.
who all the world knows came in with the Conqueror, and (but for the sequel *) would in all human probability only have gone out with the Pension List. On looking further into the carriage, it would have been found to contain more than the noble family, by two portmanteaus and a bonnet-box, a fact which no faithful chronicler could omit, inasmuch as they were part of the personal property of the De Cringeys.
Two horses were attached by rope traces to the vehicle, for no other traces existed of their attachment. Black they were (horses and traces both) as Newcastle adamant, and melancholy black was the outward expression of their inward feelings; for judging, as Lavater would have done, by their physiognomies, we are safe in concluding they drew with regret their noble burthen.
Mem. Never have black horses put to your travelling carriage ; they are mostly in the habit of taking passengers a step further than they wish. See the sequel of our tale.
Place aux Dames ! One of the De Cringeys who sat in the rumbling carriage was a lady, about--no matter, a lady's age should be respected—a lady who, having nothing but her husband to divert her, gazed with intense relief upon our friend the bull. She was in stature slightly
above the middle size, and her countenance, which cannot be compared with either we have described, was melancholy as the moon's—the full moon's, be it understood, for the crescent presents anything but a melancholy phiz. Had the rumbling carriage stopped but one halfhour for your accommodation, between each revolution of the wheels around their axles, you might have scanned this fair creature's features till, like a poet, you believed your rapturous gaze transfixed upon an ethereal being-an angel, but
with this algebraic typification,
-2 wings + 3 petticoats, which is anything but poetical. Judging from her complexion, you might possibly have guessed the beauty's Blanche; but no, 't was Constance. Was constancy her nature? Nous verrons.
In this same rumbling carriage was a little man, whose hair had obviously fallen off from using Rowland's Macassar, but which defect was remedied by the united skill of Truefitt, and his valet Nicho
las (not a Swiss). We have said he was little in person : was he less in politics,
* The most dramatic writers generally explain their plots beforehand
NOTE OY THB EDITOR.
being a Whig, and out of place? Whether he wore a tail as a political allusion cannot be positively stated, but
it is more than probable to have been-because our artist gave him one. There is a point we had nearly forgotten to statehe was the husband of Constance. Not that the fact is important, considering the indifference with which he had bestowed his name and title, and the indifference with which she, on the other hand, had received them. In the eyes of Constance he was necessarily a monster-many husbands are ! Poor injured creature! where is the woman that does not sympa
thize with her ? Attached to the carriage, and the family of De Cringey, was a third person. Does the reader inquire who, and where? We reply at once, the valet Nicholas, in the rumble! Yes, Nicholas—the aspiring Nicholas ! whose only thought was, that destiny had unjustly frowned upon
him-was ignominiously perched in the rumble. What was he like?We'll describe him. His countenance was not wanting in a certain irregular style of beauty; his nose, though snub, was twitched with an air of nobility; his complexion was of a pale, bilious cast; his eyes, colourless; his forehead-gracious powers! what a forehead he had— and there we'll stop, and take up his hands, which were remarkable for their distinction, — they were red, very red, but then they were equally large. Could any woman gaze on him with indifference? Such was the interrogation stereotyped on his bump of curiosity. Nicholas,
though a peasant born, was too proud to cultivate the clay from whence he sprung, therefore had preferred blacking the boots and shoes of the noble De Cringeys,
But, alas ! when Constance saw the noble peasant
toiling at the brush her heart yearned towards him, and she gave way to a despondency that would have wrung pity even from one-aye, from any one-of her Majesty's tax-collectors. In her mental anguish she writhed like a wounded boa-constrictor, and her eyes shed torrents of tears that would have shamed the new fountain in
St. James's Park for limpidity of flow. As for Nicholaswho could not help perceiving the contortions to which his mistress subjected herself—in the moments of mixed delight and shame, he cast the dark lashes of his colourless eyes to the ground, and his countenance wore a mingled aspect of angelic resignation and ferocious despair.
A valet! He destined to be a miserable valet! He doomed to accept lodging, food, and raiment, from one who further added to the in
famy of the matter by compelling him to accept thirty pounds per annum, and paid him in light sovereigns !—'t was too bad! He could gnaw
his manly fists with despair ; throw himself out of window; cut from his lord and master and never come again. Such often had been his reflections ; nevertheless he had possessed sufficient command over
himself to remain. But, alas ! why did the noble De Cringey travel to Schlangenbad? Why did he, by this journey, tempt the destiny of the ill-used Nicholas ? 'T was at the very moment that Constance, leaning out of the carriage-window, contemplated the placid dignity of the bull, that the sight of the white shoulders of his mistress caused an eruption of the Etna which so long had boiled within his bosom. He kissed-yes, he, the valet Nicholas !—kissed the fair shoulder which the beauteous Constance had exposed to the gaze of her golden slave. Once having passed the
Rubicon of his destiny, no bounds could restrain his impetuousness; from the shoulder he passed to the head. Long had he admired the fair tresses of his soul's idol ; long had he coveted one to wear in his breast, a gage d'amour.
With sudden frenzy he seized the whole, and strove to effect a new rape of the lock” by severing it with his teeth!
wink at the affair, like a man of the world, he seized the delicate digits of Constance between his bony fists, and squeezed them with a vice-like force, forgetting she was a peeress, but, what pained her still more, that she wore diamonds, which not only cut diamonds but fingers.
Dreadful domestic drama! But 't is not all. No! the vengeance of De Cringey is not yet satisfied. His hands erewhile performed the office of nutcrackers to the filberts
of the delicate Constance, but now they are transformed into pincers. He watches the opportunity, and in the twinkling of an eye his nails have drawn out the bolt attaching the rumble to the body of the carriage.
The seat of the unfortunate Nicholas being no longer suspended, both roll headlong to the bottom of a precipice, and find their level just four thousand and one feet below that of the white bull !
At the sight of this horrible spectacle the affrighted horses started back into a yawning cave, tenanted by black serpents and green toads. Three years have elapsed, but the travellers have not made another step towards Schlangenbad.
heirs of De Cringey, who, missing the badge of servitude, which formed the only distinction between the two parties, naturally concluded they paid the last tribute to the dislocated tibiæ of their respected uncle. The undertaker and his companions, as is their usual wont, certainly did justice to the occasion.
Of the different characters who have played a part in this dark, melancholy tale, there exists to-day but the white bull; who, terrified at the result, has turned black
“ His hair grew (not) white
Melancholy effect of jealousy combined with precipice ! Who could have believed that the noble De Cringeys would thus obscurely fulfil their destiny in a cave primitively assigned by nature as the abiding place of simple toads ?— horrible! But what is still more horrible, who could have believed that the postillion, the ingenuous postillion-against whom and of whom we have never spoken a word—the honest postillion, who was innocent of the whole affair from beginning to end—who was even innocent of bilking the "pikes"— could any one have believed that he, the said postillion, likewise would become a victim? Nevertheless, it proves most satisfactorily (although of little satisfaction to him), that there is no rule without an exception, and that the innocent suffer with as well as for the guilty.
Unhappy victim ! to think that he had sung “It was all round his hat" only two minutes before—talk of warnings!
To return to Nicholas, whom we left at some distance; he is more tranquil and composed than ever. Found by some peasants at the bottom of the precipice from whence his noble master had cast him, they collected, with the most rigid care, his remains ; such as his coat and inexpressibles, hat, gold-band, and boots. He, personally, was buried with all the honours not due to his rank by the