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to make sure of Hamlet if Laertes had failed. He had forgotten to warn the queen of the bowl, which she drank off and immediately died, exclaiming with her last breath that she was poisoned.
Hamlet, suspecting some treachery, ordered the doors to be shut while he sought it out. Laertes told him to seek no further, for he was the traitor; and, feeling his life go away with the wound which Hamlet had given him, he made confession of the treachery he had used, and how he had fallen a victim to it; and he told Hamlet of the envenomed point, and said that Hamlet had not half an hour to live, for no medicine could cure him; and, begging forgiveness of Hamlet, he died, with his last words accusing the king of being the contriver of the mischief.
When Hamlet saw his end draw near, there being yet some venom left upon the sword, he suddenly turned upon his false uncle, and thrust the point of it to his heart, fulfilling the promise which he had made to his father's spirit, whose injunction was now accomplished, and his foul murder revenged upon the murderer.
Then Hamlet, feeling his breath fail and life departing, turned to his dear friend Horatio, who had been spectator of this fatal tragedy; and with his dying breath requested him that he would live to tell his story to the world (for Horatio had made a motion as if he would slay himself to accompany the prince in death), and Horatio promised that he would make a true report as one that was privy to all the circumstances.
And, thus satisfied, the noble heart of Hamlet cracked ; and Horatio and the bystanders with many
tears commended the spirit of their sweet prince to the guardianship of angels. For Hamlet was a loving and a gentle prince, and greatly beloved for his many noble and prince-like qualities; and if he had lived, would no doubt have proved a most royal and complete king to Denmark.
DREAM-CHILDREN: A REVERY.
ap-pa-ri'tion (-rish'un), appearance. Psalter-y (sawl'ter-y), part of the Lē'the, the fabled river of oblivion. book of Common Prayer. Norfolk (nor'fok).
taw'dry, showy without taste.
CHILDREN love to listen to stories about their elders, when they were children ; to stretch their imagination to the conception of a traditionary great-uncle or grandame, whom they never saw. It was in this spirit that my little ones crept about me the other evening to hear about their great-grandmother Field, who lived in a great house in Norfolk (a hundred times bigger than that in which they and papa lived), which had been the scene - so, at least, it was generally believed in that part of the country — of the tragic incidents which they had lately become familiar with from the ballad of the Children in the Wood.
Certain it is that the whole story of the children and their cruel uncle was to be seen fairly carved out in wood upon the chimney-piece of the great hall, the whole story down to the Robin-Redbreasts ! till a foolish rich person pulled it down to set up a marble one of modern invention in its stead, with no story upon it.
Here Alice put out one of her dear mother's looks, too tender to be called upbraiding.
Then I went on to say, how religious and how good their great-grandmother Field was, how beloved and respected by everybody, though she was not indeed the mistress of this great house, but had only the charge of it (and yet in some respects she might be said to be the mistress of it too), committed to her by the owner, who preferred living in a newer and more fashionable mansion which he had purchased somewhere in the adjoining county.
But she still lived in it in a manner as if it had been her own, and kept up the dignity of the great house in a sort while she lived, which afterwards came to decay, and was nearly pulled down, and all its old ornaments stripped and carried away to the owner's other house, where they were set up, and looked as awkward as if some one were to carry away the old tombs they had seen lately at the Abbey, and stick them up in Lady C.'s tawdry gilt drawing-room.
Here John smiled, as much as to say, “That would be foolish indeed.” And then I told how, when she came to die, her funeral was attended by a concourse of all the poor, and some of the gentry too, of the neighborhood for many miles round, to show their respect for her memory, because she had been such a good and religious woman; so good indeed that she knew all the Psaltry by heart, ay, and a great part of the Testament besides. Here little Alice spread her hands.
Then I told what a tall, upright, graceful person their great-grandmother Field once was; and how in her youth she was esteemed the best dancer, — here Alice's
little right foot played an involuntary movement, till, upon my looking grave, it desisted, — the best dancer, I was saying, in the county, till a cruel disease, called a cancer, came, and bowed her down with pain; but it could never bend her good spirits, or make them stoop, but they were still upright, because she was so good and religious.
Then I told how she was used to sleep by herself in a lone chamber of the great lone house; and how she believed that an apparition of two infants was to be seen at midnight gliding up and down the great staircase near where she slept, but she said “those innocents would do her no harm ;” and how frightened I used to be, though in those days I had my maid to sleep with me, because I was never half so good or religious as she, –and yet I never saw the infants. Here John expanded all his eyebrows and tried to look courageous.
Then I told how good she was to all her grandchildren, having us to the great house in the holidays, where I in particular used to spend many hours by myself, in gazing upon the old busts of the twelve Cæsars, that had been emperors of Rome, till the old marble heads would seem to live again, or I to be turned into marble with them; how I never could be tired with roaming about that huge mansion, with its vast empty rooms, with their worn-out hangings, fluttering tapestry, and carved oaken panels, with the gilding almost rubbed out, — sometimes in the spacious old-fashioned gardens, which I had almost to myself, unless when now and then a solitary gardening man would cross me.
And how the nectarines and peaches hung upon the
walls, without my ever offering to pluck them, because they were forbidden fruit, unless now and then, and because I had more pleasure in strolling about among the old melancholy looking yew-trees, or the firs, and picking up the red berries, and the fir-apples, which were good for nothing but to look at, - or in lying about upon the fresh grass with all the fine garden smells around me, -- or basking in the orangery, till I could almost fancy myself ripening too, along with the oranges and the limes in that grateful warmth, — or in watching the dace that darted to and fro in the fishpond, at the bottom of the garden, with here and there a great sulky pike hanging midway down the water in silent state, as if it mocked at their impertinent friskings.
I had more pleasure in these busy-idle diversions than in all the sweet flavors of peaches, nectarines, oranges, and such-like common baits of children. Here John slyly deposited back upon the plate a bunch of grapes, which, not unobserved by Alice, he had meditated dividing with her, and both seemed willing to relinquish them for the present as irrelevant.
Then, in somewhat a more heightened tone, I told how, though their great-grandmother Field loved all her grandchildren, yet in an especial manner she might be said to love their uncle, John L-because he was so handsome and spirited a youth, and a king to the rest of us; and, instead of moping about in solitary corners, like some of us, he would mount the most mettlesome horse he could get, when but an imp no bigger than themselves, and make it carry him half over the county in a morning, and join the hunters