Pledge with Wine
PLEDGE with wine—pledge with wine!" cried
the young and thoughtless Harry Wood.
"Pledge with wine," ran through the brilliant
The beautiful bride grew pale—the decisive hour
had come, she pressed her white hands together,
and the leaves of her bridal wreath trembled on her
pure brow; her breath came quicker, her heart
"Yes, Marion, lay aside your scruples for this
once," said the Judge, in a low tone, going towards
his daughter; "the company expect it, do not so
seriously infringe upon the rules of etiquette;—in
your own house act as you please; but in mine, for
this once please me."
Every eye was turned towards the bridal pair.
Marion's principles were well known. Henry had
been a convivialist, but of late his friends noticed
the change in his manners, the difference in his
habits—and to-night they watched him to see, as
they sneeringly said, if he was tied down to a
woman's opinion so soon.
Pouring a brimming beaker, they held it with
tempting smiles toward Marion. She was very
pale, though more composed, and her hand shook
not, as smiling back, she gratefully accepted the
crystal tempter and raised it to her lips. But
scarcely had she done so when every hand was
arrested by her piercing exclamation of "Oh, how
terrible!" "What is it?" cried one and all, thronging
together, for she had slowly carried the glass at
arm's length, and was fixedly regarding it as though
it were some hideous object.
"Wait," she answered, while an inspired light
shone from her dark eyes, "wait and I will tell you.
I see," she added, slowly pointing one jewelled
finger at the sparkling ruby liquid, "A sight that
beggars all description; and yet listen; I will paint
it for you if I can: It is a lonely spot; tall
mountains, crowned with verdure, rise in awful
sublimity around; a river runs through, and bright
flowers grow to the waters' edge. There is a thick,
warm mist that the sun seeks vainly to pierce;
trees, lofty and beautiful, wave to the airy motion
of the birds; but there, a group of Indians gather;
they flit to and fro with something like sorrow upon
their dark brow; and in their midst lies a manly
form, but his cheek, how deathly; his eye wild
with the fitful fire of fever. One friend stands beside
him, nay, I should say kneels, for he is pillowing
that poor head upon his breast.
"Genius in ruins. Oh! the high, holy looking
brow! Why should death mark it, and he so
young? Look how he throws the damp curls! see
him clasp his hands! hear his thrilling shrieks
for life! mark how he clutches at the form of his
companion, imploring to be saved. Oh! hear him
call piteously his father's name; see him twine
his fingers, together as he shrieks for his sister—his
only sister—the twin of his soul—weeping for him
in his distant native land.
"See!" she exclaimed, while the bridal party
shrank back, the untasted wine trembling in their
faltering grasp, and the Judge fell, overpowered,
upon his seat; "see! his arms are lifted to heaven;
he prays, how wildly, for mercy! hot fever rushes
through his veins. The friend beside him is weeping;
awe-stricken, the men move silently, and leave
the living and dying together."
There was a hush in that princely parlor, broken
only by what seemed a smothered sob, from some
manly bosom. The bride stood yet upright, with
quivering lip, and tears stealing to the outward edge
of her lashes. Her beautiful arm had lost its
tension, and the glass, with its little troubled red
waves, came slowly towards the range of her
vision. She spoke again; every lip was mute.
Her voice was low, faint, yet awfully distinct: she
still fixed her sorrowful glance upon the wine-cup.
"It is evening now; the great white moon is
coming up, and her beams lay gently on his
forehead. He moves not; his eyes are set in their
sockets; dim are their piercing glances; in vain
his friend whispers the name of father and sister—death
is there. Death! and no soft hand, no
gentle voice to bless and soothe him. His head
sinks back! one convulsive shudder! he is dead!"
A groan ran through the assembly, so vivid
was her description, so unearthly her look, so
inspired her manner, that what she described
seemed actually to have taken place then and there.
They noticed also, that the bridegroom hid his
face in his hands and was weeping.
"Dead!" she repeated again, her lips quivering
faster and faster, and her voice more and more
broken; "and there they scoop him a grave; and
there without a shroud, they lay him down in the
damp reeking earth. The only son of a proud
father, the only idolized brother of a fond sister.
And he sleeps to-day in that distant country, with
no stone to mark the spot. There he lies—my
father's son—my own twin brother! a victim to
this deadly poison. Father," she exclaimed, turning
suddenly, while the tears rained down her beautiful
cheeks, "father, shall I drink it now?"
The form of the old Judge was convulsed with
agony. He raised his head, but in a smothered
voice he faltered—"No, no, my child, in God's
She lifted the glittering goblet, and letting it
suddenly fall to the floor it was dashed into a
thousand pieces. Many a tearful eye watched her
movements, and instantaneously every wine-glass
was transferred to the marble table on which it had
been prepared. Then, as she looked at the
fragments of crystal, she turned to the company,
saying:—"Let no friend, hereafter, who loves me,
tempt me to peril my soul for wine. Not firmer
the everlasting hills than my resolve, God helping
me, never to touch or taste that terrible poison.
And he to whom I have given my hand; who
watched over my brother's dying form in that last
solemn hour, and buried the dear wanderer there
by the river in that land of gold, will, I trust, sustain
me in that resolve. Will you not, my husband?"
His glistening eyes, his sad, sweet smile was
The Judge left the room, and when an hour later
he returned, and with a more subdued manner
took part in the entertainment of the bridal guests,
no one could fail to read that he, too, had
determined to dash the enemy at once and forever
from his princely rooms.
Those who were present at that wedding, can
never forget the impression so solemnly made.
Many from that hour forswore the social glass.