of serious apprehension, no one knowing what extent of penalty might be imposed by an authority notoriously ruled by any considerations rather than those of rationality. It was thought, on the strength of former instances, not impossible that each of the grown gentlemen of the party might have to pay twenty or five-and-twenty pounds. One more confident than the rest offered four sovereigns to another as an insurance to cover his own risk, or, as an alternative, proposed to undertake that gentleman's risk for three; and the latter arrangement was actually entered into. Early next morning, when we were all on the qui vive to learn our fate, a boat came up, and the magical term so well understood in England, 'All right,' soon spread a general smile over the company. The authorities, by an amazing stretch of generosity and common sense, had agreed to overlook the delinquency, on condition that certain expenses should be paid, amounting to something less than two pounds. The passengers for Copenhagen were therefore permitted to land immediately with their luggage, and the vessel was allowed to commence discharge of cargo, preparatory to proceeding to St Petersburg.
A SWISS TALE.
The early darkness of a winter twilight had already set in, the wind was blowing boisterously, and the snow rapidly descending, when Herman the carpenter reached his cottage after a hard day's toil, there to receive the fond caresses of his children. His wife exchanged his wet clothes for such as were warm and dry, and little Catherine drew his arm-chair to the side of the fire, while the boys, anxious to do their part, brought his large pipe.
'Now, father,' said little Frank, when he saw a column of smoke issuing forth, 'you are happy and comfortable; what shall we do while mother gets supper ready? Tell us a tale.'
'Yes, tell us a story,' repeated the other children with delight.
They were on the point of clustering round, when something passing caught little Catherine's eye. 'Oh,' said the child, 'here is such a poor man in the street, all covered with snow, and who does not seem to know where to go!'
'He is a compagnon' (journeyman), said Frank—'a whitesmith; I see his tools in his bag. Why does he stop in the street in such weather?'
'He plainly knows not his way,' Catherine replied. 'Shall I go and ask him what he wants?'
'Do so, my child; and give him this small coin, for perhaps he is poor, as I have been, and it will serve to pay for his bed, and something to warm him. Show him the Compagnon's Inn at the end of the street.'
When the child had returned, the clamour was again raised for the story.
'What shall it be?'
'Perhaps the Black Hunter?'
'Neither of these to-night, my children. I will tell you about the "Return of the Compagnon."'
The children gladly drew round their father to hear his new story, which was as follows:—
It was a beautiful spring morning: the sun had begun to show his radiant face on the summits of the mountains; the little birds cried for their food; the insects of every kind, shaking their wings, began humming among the foliage; the sheep, penned up, were bleating; and the labourers were preparing to resume their toil. A young man, laden with a heavy bag, walked gaily along the road leading to one of the little towns of Swissland, his dusty feet showing that he had come from afar, and his sunburnt face exhibiting the effects of more southern climes. He was a compagnon carpenter returning to his country after years of absence, and impatient to see his home again. He had walked all night, and now a brilliant sun embellished each successive object that offered itself to his anxious view. He had already seen the steeple of the church of his beloved town, and his true Swiss heart bounded with joy. 'Ha!' exclaimed he, 'how beautiful is the country where we have lived from childhood to manhood! How clear and limpid its waters, how pure its air, how smiling its meadows! My feet have trodden the soil of France, where grows the grape, and Italy, the land of figs and oranges: I have rested under groves of roses, and the sweet lemon-tree has bent over my head, laden with its golden fruits and perfumed flowers: I have, at the sound of the guitar and the castanet, joined at night in the dance with people for whom the middle of the day is the time for repose, and the absence of the sun the signal for labour or pleasure—people whose life flows on in cheerful contentment, because light work suffices for their wants under so warm a sky, and possessed of a soil that nature has covered with her choicest gifts, and does not desolate with the north winds, frosts, and snows. Yes, the poor Swiss compagnon has seen all these things, and has admired them, but never has he wished to live and die among them. He has always sighed for the pale rays of his northern sun, the steep rocks of his mountains, the uniform colour of his dark pines, and the pointed roof of his cottage, where he still hopes to receive his mother's blessing.'
While these thoughts, and many like them, were crowding into the mind of the young workman, his steps became more and more rapid, and his tired feet seemed to recover their swiftness. All on a sudden, a turn of the road showed him the roofs of his native village, from which curled some clouds of smoke. There was the old church wall, there was the steeple stretching towards heaven. At the sight of this the young traveller stopped short; the tears trickled down his cheek; he exclaimed in a voice broken with emotion, 'I thank thee, my God, for permitting my eyes once more to see these things.' He pursued his walk, devouring with his eyes all he saw. 'Ah, here,' said he, 'is the white wall marking the terrace of the public walk where I used to play so joyfully! ah, there is the arch of the little bridge where we have so often fished! Now I can see the head of the old lime-tree which shades the church: only twenty paces farther is the cottage in which I was born, where I grew up, where I lost my poor father, and where I hope to see my dear mother. It is not in vain I have laboured so long: I have that with me which will comfort her old age.' As he spoke, a small flower attracted his attention: it was a daisy. He stooped down and gathered it, and commenced plucking its leaflets away one after the other. 'It was thus,' he said smiling, 'the day before my departure, that Gertrude gathered a daisy from the bank of the river, and bending her pretty face over the flower to conceal the emotion my departure occasioned, she pulled out the leaflets in silence, and arriving at the last one, she said to me in a low voice, "Adieu, Herman, I shall never marry till you return;" and so saying, fled away, as if she feared having said too much. Soon shall I see her little window with the blue curtain! Oh that I may see my Gertrude there as I used, her eyes rejoicing at my return! Happy the moment when I shall say to her, "Gertrude, here is Herman returned, faithful to his promises, as you have been to yours. Come and share the little wealth I have acquired: come and aid me in rendering my aged mother happy."'
Under the influence of these thoughts the young workman rapidly approached his native town. As he advanced, he interrogated the countenances of those he met, hoping to meet with friendly looks, a recollection of the past, or a few words of welcome, but in vain. At last, as he passed the gates, he saw a man walking gravely to and fro as he smoked his pipe: it was the toll-keeper. Herman, looking at him closely, easily recognised Rodolphe, his playfellow, his earliest friend. He was on the point of rushing into his arms, and exclaiming, 'Here I am again!'—but the tollman looked coldly at him as he passed, and left a cloud of tobacco-smoke behind him.