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Now, Infidel, say, wherefore should I not slay
The wretch that my vengeance hath sought ?"
"I am faint, I am weak,-and I thirst," quoth the Greek,
He took it; but shrank, lest 'twere poison he drank.
"Thou art safe till the goblet be quaffed!"
Cried Haroun. The Greek heard, took the foe at his word,
And claimed mercy of Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old.
Haroun never broke word or oath that he spoke,
And then bade his slaves bear stately Zoe the fair,
But the royal maid cried in the wrath of her pride,
Such a foe to her house and to Heaven.
Her entreaties they spurned, and her menace they scorned;
All food she denied, and by self.famine died;
And her father went mad from that hour.
Thus triumph'd stern Haroun Alraschid, the Caliph of Babylon old!
G. E. INMAN.
A TALE OF THE MORGUE.
BY EDWARD MAYHEW.
THE streets of Paris after midnight are, at best, no very pleasant quarters; but on the 15th of last February they were even less agreeable than usual. It was a most awful night. The fierce black firmament whooped and grinned ghastfully as it spat its lightning over the earth, and the wind scampered along, raving like a mad thing. Not a sound reigned in the deserted streets saving the roar of the contending elements. At one time the ear caught only the sputtering of the rain against the window-panes; at another, this was stifled in the wild howl of the blast; and anon nothing was heard but the deafening thunder crashing through the skies, loud, startling, and awful as the dread peal of the last trump.
Late on this terrible night, in the antiquated salon of an ancient mansion in the Faubourg St. Germain, sat an old man, who by his looks numbered some three-score years and odd. The few hairs
which the meddling fingers of Time had left unplucked on his head were hoary with the frost of age; while in his face the same busy hand, or the rougher one of Care, had scored many a deep and sorrowful wrinkle. It was evident by the stripes of riband decorating his coat that he was one of no mean rank in his country. A book lay open on the table before him, but matter of a more important and less pleasing character than its pages appeared to engross his mind; for his eyes were abstractedly fixed on the fire, his brows
were knitted closely together, his face was half buried in his hands, and occasionally certain indistinct and angry mutterings burst from his lips.
The clock on the mantel-piece, tinkling the hour of four, aroused the old man from his revery. He started wildly from his chair, and rapidly pacing the apartment, exclaimed-" Four !-four! and he still absent !-Yes! now it must be as I feared. What else could detain him till such an hour?-and on such a night, too! Ay ! it is too plain--too glaring to be mistaken. He is-O God!-is what I would sooner that he had died than ever lived to be."
The old man stood still, and covered his face with his hands for a while. Presently he again burst forth
"I have long suspected it. The late hour at which he has returned home for many nights hinted as much to me. And to-night -this terrible night, when all hell appears to have broken loose, and to be rejoicing over his perdition, assures me of the fact. My son! -my only son!"
And the aged man sank upon the sofa in a paroxysm of despair. His feelings were, however, far too fierce and poignant to allow him to rest.
"There is but one-one stern and most humiliating way to be pursued to save my boy from toppling headlong down the dread abyss, on whose brink he now stands unconsciously tottering. But it must-ay! and though the heavy task crush me, it shall be done -anything rather than live to look upon my son debased to that basest of all base creatures, a—"
A loud knock at the outer door of the house cut short the old man's speech. His limbs trembled as if palsied, and tottering towards his chair, he exclaimed, in a faint voice, ""Tis he! tis he!"
The door of the salon opening ushered into the apartment a youth, rich with the bounty of some twenty summers. He was evidently the old man's son, and betrayed on entering not a little surprise to find his aged parent occupying the room at such an hour.
"What has made you thus late, Alphonse ?" inquired his father, as he motioned the young man to be seated.
"I was with some friends, sir," he replied
"Friends!" sarcastically exclaimed the Count. Oh, most goodly friends!-most staunch friends !-most disinterested and infallible friends! I'd stake my life upon their fealty. Wouldn't you, Alphonse ?"
"I do not comprehend you, sir," said his son.
"Not comprehend me! How should you, boy, when I speak upon so incomprehensible a subject as the friendship of your last night's companions? Come tell me now, good Alphonse, where were you all last night?"
"I told you before, sir," replied the young man, evidently vexed at being thus doubted, "at the house of a friend."
"At the house of the devil, sir!" vehemently retorted his father, "where, doubtlessly, you were taught to lie thus unblushingly."
"I lie not," exclaimed the youth.
"Then, sir, if you do not," responded the Count, "it is because you have of late become so intimate with the dark fiend that you
are justified in calling him your friend. For to your face I tell you, that at his house, and among his emissaries, you squandered away last night."
"I do not understand your meaning, M. le Comte," returned Alphonse.
"Well, sir, since you will be so unlearned in matters of this sort, and needs must have a translation of the sentence, I'll give you one-you passed last night at the gaming-table."
"I-sir-I at the gaming-table?" stammered out the young
His father remained silent for a while, and then said in a solemn tone, "Now, on your honour-on your soul, sir, did you not spend last night at the gaming-house?"
Alphonse hung down his head with evident remorse, and replied in a faint voice, "I did, sir."
"This," responded the youth, drawing from under his cloak a little sack of money, and handing it to his father.
"And so these are the wages of your last night's turpitude!" exclaimed the Count, as he took the bag, and made the coin jingle within it. "Upon my word, a goodly heavy sum-almost as heavy as the hearts of those from whom you won it. Let's see how much it makes."
And the aged man proceeded to empty the money upon the table, and to reckon the amount.
"So, five thousand francs, sir," said he, when he had finished the task. "And these you say, sir, are your winnings?" "Yes, sir.”
"Then, sir, you do not say the truth."
"Heaven is witness that you do me wrong," cried Alphonse. "Heaven is witness that I do no such thing," exclaimed the Count; "for Heaven knows that nothing can come of gaming but perdition, that so deeply hath the dark fiend schemed, that what you think you win is but a sop to whet the greedy player's appetite, a bribe to tempt the mercenary fool to rashness, craftily making the largest gains the heaviest losses. And so I tell you, sir, that these pieces, which you ignorantly call your winnings, are but a sum lent you by the devil, who shall in time exact an interest so usurious for the loan, that house, land, fortune, honour, peace of mind,—all shall go to liquidate the debt. With what different eyes," continued he, gazing at the specie laid out on the table before him, "do we behold money differently got! How beautiful appear the bright wages of honest industry! How each small silver coin seems to glisten with a proud and almost conscious chastity! With what a different aspect do those damned evil-gotten pieces strike upon mine eyes! The very whiteness, which before appeared so purely beautiful, in them assumes the loathsome pale and sickly hue of some most vile disease. But it shall taint no house of mine. To some poor wretched vagrant the money may prove a godsend; but here it can but breed damnation." And so saying, the old man hustled the pieces back into the
bag, opened the window, and cast them into the street, exclaiming,-"Away with thee! thou sickly-looking and infectious dross!
"I am now going to tell you, Alphonse," proceeded the Count, when he had re-seated himself, " a story which never yet has jarred on mortal ear, a story so beset with the sharp and poignant evils of the gaming-table, that if it do not tear the wild infatuation from your heart, why then, indeed, the vile hag Avarice has glared her evil eye upon you, and indelibly marked you for her own."
"It is now," said the aged man, after a few moments' deliberation, "about fifty-six years since I,- like you, now, Alphonse,— young, thoughtless, reckless, the menial of my passions, a slave to Avarice, the lackey of Vice, betook myself to one of Chance's dens.
"I will not attempt to describe to you the wild and savagelooking animals I there saw, chained by infatuation to the spot. The ravenous tiger glares not at its prey with a more intense and hungry eye than they did at the cards, and that tiger springs not with a more gluttonous fury on its food than they upon their winnings. But there was one among this ghastly group whose innocent expression of countenance stood out in strong contrast to the fiend-like faces of those around him. It required no great penetration to perceive that he was a stranger to the scene. His unruffled brow, his laughing eye, his smiling lip, all told you that the jaundice of distempered avarice rankled not in him. You had but to observe the happy, placid cast of that young man's countenance, and then to fix your eyes upon the haggard care-worn features of those around, to perceive in what deep and legible characters Time cuts 'gambler' on the face.
Well, I saw how little versed was this same youth in all the subtle mysteries of play; and shall I tell you what it came into my head to do? Oh no! no! I cannot, dare not, make myself out to you the foul black villain I that night became. I cannot with mine own hands pluck from out your heart all that respect and all that love (for the one must come away with the other) which a father most delights to husband in his child. And yet what would not a father brave to save that child from such a fate! Alphonse, I will tell you what it came into my head to do; and oh! let it make you shudder to behold the abject depth of the precipice upon whose crazy brink you have of late been carelessly sporting. It was this: to lead that young man on to play, and so-ay! let me out with it, for such it literally was-rob him of his money.
"It needed not much art to win the boy to the first part of my plans. The golden eye of the serpent had beamed upon him in all its overpowering brightness, and he had become fascinated with its look.
"We sat down to play.
"You may readily conceive that, having stooped thus much to infamy, I scrupled not to descend to the stale and wily trick of tickling my poor dupe with the winnings of the first few games; and I could perceive, when once he tasted of the gaming-table's savoury food, his relish for it soon became most keen and gluttonous.
"Well, we played, and played, and played again, each coup at
length producing but another golden crop for me to reap, until in time the petty remnant left him of a thousand francs was staked upon the ensuing game. The cards were dealt-the old thing followed-the sum was mine.
"Damnation!' shrieked the youth, striking his head with his clenched fists in violent despair.
Nay, never let it vex you thus !' I exclaimed. Try another coup. The goddess Fortune is but a jilting jade at best; and who knows but the very next game she may bestow her smiles on you.'
"I have no more money,' he cried. 'You have taken all-allall! And stung with the thought, he started wildly from his chair, and hurried off to another quarter of the room.
"He had but avoided Scylla to be drawn into Charybdis.
"Close to where he tarried sat two of Chance's devoutest bigots, sacrificing most largely to their blind and senseless idol. Such was their superstitious zeal, they scrupled not to risk five hundred francs upon the game. I marked the steadfast eager eye with which the young man dogged their play through all its oscillations; nor when he saw the winner clutch his gains was the tough struggle that evidently then took place within his mind lost to my observation. "He was too weak to wrestle with the sturdy devil that I plainly perceived was tussling with his heart.
"He returned, and we sat down again to play,—not for the driblets we before had done, but for rich and lusty prizes. He had two thousand francs still left. In three games, fifteen hundred of that sum were mine. With a desperate hand he cast his last five hundred on the board. We played again, and as we did so I could see the cards tremble in his hand. He lost!
"Oh! never, never shall I forget the intense and frantic glare he then fixed upon me. 'Demon!' he shouted with a ghastly grin, and springing from his seat, dashed like a furious maniac from the room.
"By the morrow," continued the Count, "all recollection of the above scene had flitted, like breath upon a mirror, from the surface of my mind, and I rose in the morning with even a lighter heart than usual, gladdened, no doubt, at the increased preponderance of my purse.
"I stood engaged that day to escort a young country friend to some of the far-famed sights of Paris. He came, and we set out to view the venerable fane of Notre Dame. Crossing the Pont Neuf on our way thither, I said 'Apropos, Pierre, there is one place peculiar to our city, which you have not yet seen.'
"Eh bien!' returned my companion, who loved to crack a joke almost as much as to crack a bottle. And which is that, pray La Bastille !—for if so, I can assure you I have no wish to take other than a superficial view of it.'
"Parbleu! Nor would you, Pierre,' I replied, laughing at this jest, desire to be any more intimately acquainted, I believe, with the quarter to which I allude, it being none other than the asylum for those ill-starred ladies and gentlemen who may have gone, or perchance been sent, on an aquatic excursion to the other world,-La Morgue!'