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OR, MY P R O P O S A L.
My buoyancy of feeling was not soon exhausted. As I approached the domicil of my friend, I refused to be whirled along the dusty road, when a cross-cut over the fields would bring
me sooner in point of time, and pleasanter in many ways, up to his door. So I sent black
Abe along with the carriage, and leaping over the IGHT well do fence, struck a path across the fields. As my foot I recollect my touched the sod, I fairly threw up my hat for joy. The first meeting turf, so springy and elastic, was delightful to feet long with Alice used to unyielding granite pavements. The air was so Clare. It was soft and sweet, that I expanded my chest, and opened during a sum- my mouth wide to take in the delicious draught. I mer vacation, feared even to look at the grasshoppers that bounced An old friend about my feet. The new spring clover seemed to vield had sent to me fragrance as I pressed it beneath my tread. My blood an imperative ran quickly with new life, and tingled through my veins. command to The wind which came murmuring among the tree tops, come and lifted my locks, and tossed them about with delicious spend the dog freedom. The mere sensation of existence were at that days with him moment, exquisite happiness. I was content simply to at his retreat be. La delightfull. It was near sunset when I came up to the house. place upon the As I approached, my friend came running out with banks of a lit- both hands extended, and he shook me such a weltle lake in the come, that my fingers ache now to think of it. Then centre of the he marched up a troop of blooming daughters to preState_ana sent, the eldest of which was a fine, full-grown young very glad was woman; then after a brief delay appeared the mistress I to accept the of the house, grown buxom since I had seen her, but invitation. I happy, and proud enough, one could see, of her husbad passed a band and her brood of little ones. Jaborious year! It was really an exquisite spot—this home of my
and with a friend. I envied him from the bottom of my soul. As
boyish exulta-that very first evening we all sat in the twilight upon tion of spirits, I burst the thousand Lilliputian ligaments the wide, low verandah, and looked out through a of duty and habit, and prepared for a brief period of shadowed vista of arching boughs, upon the waters of full, unrestrained, and perfect freedom. As I stood the lake, just tinted with a reflection from the sunset upon the steamer's deck, and saw the city recede from sky, watching the shadows gathering beneath the many view, I banished it from memory as well as from sight | little wooded islands which dotted the lake, listening to - cast into utter forgetfulness its cares and labors, and the chirp of the cricket, and the cry of the whip-poorturned the whole strength of my thoughts and feelings will, there was a calm so sweet and intense came over upon the pleasures before me. I determined to take a me, that it seemed to me as if my previous life had delight in everything. I stepped back a dozen years of been a blank-a perfect death, wherein the soul had existence and became a boy again. The very smoke known no sensations, and no existence that this was that rolled out of the huge smoke-pipe; the light, my first real taste of life in its true, high, and perfect feathery steam that escaped, and floated like a bird meaning. And when later in the evening, Mary, the over the waves; the groups of passengers with their eldest daughter, went to the piano, and a sweet, plainstrong contrasts of ages, conditions, and manners; the tive melody came wafted on the air, mingling with the motion and play of the water; the foamy waves that musical night sounds around; and after this, three of rolled off from the steamer's wake; the shore, with its the sisters sang a sweet little trio; and then the whole changing aspects-out of all these things, I extracted bevy, four in number, came up to their parents for their pleasure. It is a great thing when we are resolved to good-night kiss; and the younger ones submitted to an be pleased. There isn't a pebble in our path that won't additional kiss from me, which I didn't dare ask of the contribute to such an end, if we will only permit it. two eldest ; and then they all tripped off to bed, happy
and laughing and chatting-—why, somehow, my mind and began to fill. I put back as fast as I could, but kept running on matrimony, and when I retired to the paddling with a broken oar was slow work, and I was chamber shown me, I really began to whistle to keep obliged to stop occasionally, and take to bailing with down the uncomfortable tug at my heart. I dreaint my hands. When within jumping distance to the that night of rippling waters, and pleasant shores, and shore, I tried the leap, and landed with both feet imlow music, and bevies of daughters, and a beautiful mersed to the boot tops. wife; and when I awoke, the very first thing was a These little mishaps dainpened my spirits somewhat, merry trilling of a young girl's voice under my window, but the recounting of them at the breakfast table and the air that came through the open sash was so soft afforded so much amusement to the whole family, that and delicious, loaded with riches stolen from the flower it began to dawn upon me that it really was, if I only beds-and in fact, all these things set me to dressing knew it, first rate sport. very abstractedly, and with a dogged sort of determin- After breakfast, took pole and line, and went fishing, ation to make one more visit to New York for the san- but caught no fish. Discovering that angling was an guinary purpose of erecting a bon-fire of red tape, absurd employment, I abandoned my piscatorial implecases, briefs, sheep-skin, deeds, titles, law—and wash- ments, and went gaming, but shot no game. A little ing my hands clean of such defilements forever more, discouraged, I set out for a ramble, and this time sucto embrace a life as full and rich, and true and beauti- ceeded—in getting lost. Forty times I was sure that ful as this I saw around ine.
the gables I saw through the opening foliage, belonged After dressing down I went for an ante-breakfast ram- to the house of my friend; forty times I was unaccountble. The air was so fine that my spirits went up like a ably mistaken. At last I came upon a little, narrow, barometer. I plunged through the shrubbery, and into romantic stream. This, said I, empties into the lake. the fields; got drenched with dew (which wasn't quite If I follow, it will lead me in the proper direction. I so comfortable), and so made for the shore, when, find- did so, but in the immensity of my wisdom, went up ing a little shallop, I put out upon the lake. The pad stream, instead of down. It did occur to me that the dle was weak, and snapped in two; the boat was leaky, stream got rarrower and shallower, but these facts I
attributed to the eccentricity of little streams in that “Pardon me, you are right, but you have so much locality. It will widen presently, said I, and I shall the advantage of me " come out upon the lake unexpectedly. But it didn't. “Oh, I am a frequent visitor at Mr. Woodward's. I Indeed it got so narrow, and wild, and full of cascades like them all so much. But you have lost your way, I and rapids, that I stood still in my perplexity—until think, and I am riding very near to Mr. Woodward's. suddenly it burst upon me in a flood of light, that the Won't you rest in the cottage until they send a carriage cascades were falling the wrong way! The astonish- for you ?” ment which this discovery caused me is beyond des | “Pardon me, miss- ” I paused with the hope she cription. Is it possible, thought I, that I have been so would fill up the blank, but she took no notice of my stupid as to come up stream? I had better, so my attempt to draw out her name, and I was compelled, cogitation continued, go back to New York at once. It awkwardly enough, to resume. “I will not trouble you is very evident that I don't know anything about wood- so much,” said I, “I am not fatigued, and once upon craft or stream-craft. It would be well for me not to the proper road, I shall reach my destination easily confess this blunder. I should never hear the end of it. enough.” . I think, hereafter, that I will stick to law. It is all I “Oh, sir, then follow this road to the right. It will am fit for.
lead you directly to Mr. Woodward's house," and touchAfter duly upbraiding myself in this fashion, I re-ing her horse slightly with her reins, gallopped off, solved to strike across the country to the first house I leaving me uncovered and staring after her. met, and there learn my whereabouts, and obtain a Here was an adventure! Something delightful and guide if possible. I put my resolve into effect. After romantic. Who could she be? Addressing me as Mr. an hour's walk, I saw a lovely little cottage, nestling Jackson, too. There was one comfort-I was quite amid trees and shrubbery and flowers. I got around to certain of meeting her again. This fact I hugged approach it properly in front. As I turned around a to my heart. And was there ever anybody so beausmall hill, into the green by-lane which came up to the tiful, with such eyes, such lips, such roses, and such house, quite a pleasant little picture presented itself— a figure! My heart was fairly cleft in twain. I could consisting of a horse, and a boy, and two dogs, assem-only think of the vision I had met. I could do bled together by a little thatched out-house of the cot nothing but recall her words. I walked on air. There tage. The horse was saddled for a lady, and one of the was nectar in my veins. I planned it all. I was to dogs was unmistakably a lady's pet. I stood looking grow more and more in love, and inspire her with at the group, for law experience had not quite destroyed the flame; my visit would be prolonged, and every hour a once quick sense of the picturesque, when out from was to be passed in her glorious presence. My rapture the cottage and across the lawn, there came tripping would be beyond belief. Then I would propose, and one of the most exquisite creatures I ever saw-bloom-receive that trembling, Yes ; then I would taste the ing and radiant, with floating curls from under a country unspeakable sweetness of her lips; then our moonlight sunhood, and a rustic, simple sort of dress—evidently walks, our sails upon the lake, our forest rambles; then designed for a free scamper through by-paths, and un- —then I tripped over a vine, and pitched sprawling into frequented lanes. She ran up to the horse with a | the dust! merry laugh, patted him affectionately upon the neck “Confound it !” said I, scrambling to my feet and (how I envied him!) jumped upon a horse block at hand limping away, “just iny luck.” I brushed the dust and before I could fairly see how it was done, she was from my clothes with the air of an injured man, and mounted, and her reins gathered up. The horse was a resumed my journey, planting each step firmly upon fine, plump, beautifully made creature, such a one as the ground, and with unaccountable suddenness feeling Landseer would have liked to paint-full of spirit, and a disgust for damp moonlight walks, and such romantic proud of his burthen. As he felt her weight upon his | fol de rol. back, his ears pricked up, his eye lighted, and his whole By the time I reached my friends my spirits were up figure grew animated. His rider, with a merry word again, however, and at tea I gave them all a glowing to the boy, turned his head in my direction, and was account of my adventure. about putting him to the gallop, when, for the first time “It must have been Alice Clare,” said Mary Woodshe saw me. She involuntarily drew in the reins, ward. I was delighted. Alice Clare sounded deliblushed, and then would have passed on; had not I ciously. I had vaguely apprehended that it inight lifted my hat, and with an apology, begged to be in-be Brown. Alice Clare was certainly a pretty pame. I formed of the proper direction to Mr. Woodward's kept repeating Alice Clare to myself continually. Later house.
in the evening, when we were all on the piazza, I got a "Mr. Woodward's," said as musical a voice as ever little drowsy (dreaming of Alice Clare all the while), I want to hear; “dear me! Why, it's full five and somebody whispered a sudden word in my ear. I miles.”
sprang to my feet, shouting out her name at the top of "Is it possible?” said I, determined to prolong the my voice, to the astonishment of everybody. In an interview ; “I am a sojourner at Mr. Woodward's" instant I became aware of what I had done, and sat
“ Mr. Jackson ?" interrupted she, with an interroga- down hastily, feeling, and no doubt looking, excestive bow.
sively foolish. I fairly stared. She knew my name. Who could “You mustn't fall in love with Alice Clare," said she be:
Mr. Woodward, good-humoredly. “She is "
“Oh, papa," broke in Mary, laughing and running up | grave surprise with which my cond ict was watched by to Mr. Woodward, “ don't say anything, please don't.” | Mr. Woodward, but these things only gave me occa
And then beckoning to her sister, off she scampered, sional uneasiness. “It's all right,” said I, “the lovelaughing gleefully all the while. I felt uncomfortably liest of her sex shall be the future Mrs. Jackson.” certain that all their laughter was at me, but as they The term of my vacation was drawing to its close. It returned presently, looking very demure, I soon forgot was necessary that I should hasten matters. I resolved all about it.
to—not exactly learn my fate, because my confidence in The next day, Alice Clare came gallopping up to the the way it would all end was never shaken by a doubt house-upon this occasion her fine form superbly set off —but I resolved to explain myself the first opportunity, in a riding-babit, and her thick curls gathered up under and settle the preliminaries. a dashing, jauntily-disposed riding-hat. When she The next day she rode over as usual to Mr. Woodentered the house, and Mary was about presenting me ward's, and I offered to accompany her back. No to her, I distinctly saw an exchange of signals between sooner were we started than I determined at once to thein. I wondered what it meant, and then wisely break the ice, and open the subject. I found it more recollecting how proverbially young girls are full of difficult than I supposed. The words stuck in my secrets that are no secrets, magnanimously over- throat. I hemmed and hawed, grew embarrassed, looked it,
silent, fidgety, perspiring, trembling, and nervous. We "Alice, Mr. Jackson ?” said Mary, demurely. rode on a mile or two without speaking. Alice kept
I bowed. I have a very perfect bow, I am sure. her head averted. This I considered a good sign. She Yet when I lifted my head, the tittering which both was embarrassed, too-blushing to her brows, no doubt. Miss Clare and Miss Woodward were endeavoring At last I urged my horse close up to hers, and stamto suppress, surprised me. I saw no good cause mered outfor it.
4. Miss Alice-_" The interview was quite a lively and spirited one, There was a moment's pause. Hero (this was the but it threatened to be fearfully short, until my propo- name of Alice's horse), as if jealous of me, began to sal to return with her, after a moment's hesitation, was mend his pace. I pushed up my steed to his side, and accepted. Mr. Woodward ordered a horse saddled for repeated again, in a low voice, agitated and trembling me, and in less than half an hour we rode away toge- in spite of mether. It wos delightful, this riding through shady! “Miss Alice-1-1- " lanes by the side of this exquisite creature. My heart Hero shot ahead a little. I urged my own nag forbeat; my blood tingled ; my head swam around.. ward. Hero only went the faster. I was half a length
I determined to make an impression. I opened the behind him. conversation in an exceedingly brilliant manner. Il “Miss Alice,” repeated I, somewhat louder, “I said a great many very original and striking things; I desire, Miss Alice, I wish--that is, I trust--" remarked that I never knew a more lovely evening; Hero broke out into a gallop. I struck forward at that I should think the sun to be an hour high; that the the same pace, but in spite of me nearly a length lake was a very pretty lake; that a scamper over the behind. It was getting deucedly awkward. heath, like the one we were enjoying, was a great treat “I wish, Miss Clare," resumed I, “to confess to you, to a New Yorker (here my horse shied, and I lost my to unfold to you, to offer— " stirrup); that fishing was the pursuit of a philosopher; Hero began to stretch out in long leaps. My nag that I wondered she didn't come to New York, where was an ambitious creature, but rather short-winded. her charms would be appreciated; did she like music? He didn't like this apparent attempt to leave his comwho could help liking music? was she fond of poetry? | pany, and giving his head an ugly shake, began to try Did she prefer Byron or Moore? Wasn't Tennyson his best. exquisite ?-and so on for a mortal hour. She said “Miss Clare,” said I, as I got up close to her side many sweet things in reply, and bade me good evening again, “ Miss Clare, I love-I offer " when I left, with the most entrarcing smile I ever saw Hero began to gallop at a furious rate. I urged my or smarted under.
own horse forward with whip and heel. We were going It is wonderful how an acquaintance ripens in the over the ground like mad. My hat blew off. I was an country. What with rides, sails, pic-nics with the uncertain horseman, and thought I should be bounced Woodwards to one of the Lake Islands, walks, &c., I out of the saddle. I grasped the mane with all my knew Alice Clare as well in three days as I would have might. done in half a year in town.
i Miss Clare-I off-off-fer- ” stammered I, still I was most indefatigable in my attempts to please. I holding pertinaciously to my one idea, although gaspgathered bouquets for her every morning, and rode ing, bewildered, blinded, my stirrups lost, and nearly over to present them; I composed a sonnet to her shaken out of my seat. beauty; I whispered in her ear the finest compliments I “ Alice-Miss Clare—dear Alice," I still kept crying could frame; I evinced in every possible way my admi- out, although now a dozen feet behind her. My horse ration of her person and her qualifications. I did not was winded, and began to lose his ground. Alice shot quite like the feu de joie of glances that was continu- ahead like an arrow, never deigning to give me one ally let off both by her and her friend Mary, nor the look. A turning of the road took her out of sight. A
few minutes more, and my horse was broken down | smile and a mischievous glance, “Mr. Clare-my altogether, and abruptly stopped. I ground my teeth husband !" together, and even let out an oath. I berated my I turned white, then red; I sat down, and stood up; broken-winded steed with every epithet I could think I stared, stammered, and wondered if there was a way of. In fact, I worked myself up into a tremendous pas- to vanish through the floor and at last seized my hat, sion. But, I didn't mean to give the matter up. I rode rushed out, and made my way off as fast as possible. back and found my hat, and then deliberately pursued Within two hours, I was on my way to New York. my way to Alice's cottage.
I found out all about it afterwards. Mary, the misAs I rode up I saw a horse, not Hero, dusty and tra-chievous puss, seeing that I was struck with Alice, and vel-stained, standing by the gate. A visitor, thought I inasmuch as Mr. Clare was absent, planned a little impatiently, and I shall fail to find an opportunity after sport at my expense—which Alice was very willing to all. However, I rode up, dismounted, and entered. Tjoin her in.
Alice was there, her riding-habit already removed. Reader, let ine give you two pieces of advice: A stranger was presenta tall, fine-looking man of not Be sure the lady you fall in love with hasn't a husmore than twenty-five.
band already. Both rose as I entered.
Never pop the question on horseback. “Mr. Jackson, permit me,” said Alice, with an arch!
MAUD, THE SORCERESS.
Continued from page 165 of present number.
" It was so sweet, dear Eva, so sweet and precious to head, and bending down till her young lips almost catch it, like an echo, in the faltering voice, and seize it touched his forebead; "silly child! did you not know like a light retreating in the timid eye/it was so sweet that I was to be married next month ?” to be the sole keeper of its secret life, that I have not. The words had hardly left her lips when she would dared to break this sacred spell, fearful lest in breath-have given much to have recalled them; for, without a ing over it I should dissolve it."
cry, a groan, a sigh, with nothing but a wild look in his Eva made an impatient movement. " What non- eyes, and a sudden starting to his feet, poor Paul fell sense!” she exclaimed almost pettishly.
| back on the mossy bank, stiff and rigid as one dead. At “You think so!” cried Paul, delighted. He mistook that moment, Eva heard the voices of her lover and her expression for one of annoyance at the long term | brother borne down the river; and rushing through the of silence which his timid poetry had imposed on wood, and over the cowslip meadow, she gained the them. He kissed her hand, and she left it in his, Hall before they returned, Paul still lying more than smiling. This further tended to deceive him. “Listen, half-dead by the water's edge. Eva,” he continued : “I have lived for years in a dream That evening, Eva was so gay and graceful, so prettily of most exquisite beauty. Ever near me was a spirit saucy to her betrothed, so flushed with youth and of grace and truth-a spirit of poetry, of love and love- beauty, that young Mr. Rollestone congratulated himliness, which I sometimes used to hope might be self again on bis return home, on possessing the best realized in life, and more often used to fear might lure bred-hunter, and the prettiest wife-to come in the me away from all realities of happiness for love of this whole county, and swore he was a lucky fellow; but as mocking fancy of a heated brain. But I have seen you, lucky was Eva Gray, too, for that matter; for the squire and now I know that my dream was more a prophecy of Oakenden West owned as long a rent-roll and as than a vision. I have foreshadowed you in my guar-grand a genealogical tree as the squire of Oakenden. dian angel. From henceforth let the shadow fade, and And while the young man was balancing thus bis the substance come forth into the sunlight! Eva, Eva, 1 account with love, a lifeless form floated down the I love you! Oh, tell me with your voice, as you have wandering river, and the moon-lighted waves rocked told me with your eyes, that you love me !" He waited round a pale face cradled on them-poor Paul, in his for a reply, but the girl was silent. He could not yet first fit of despair, rushing to death for love of a false read that false fair face, nor decipher the crimson letters heart. of crime.
In one hand, clasped on his heart, Paul held a lock of " You have shocked me, Paul,” she then said very golden hair, stolen-sweet theft!--one evening on the slowly, and her words fell like ice on the boy's bound- Hall terrace, when the three young people, he and Eva ing heart; “ and pained me, too. You have deceived and Horace-sat looking at the stars, and weaving ont yourself, and wronged me. You say I showed you the fabric of their future lives from the clouds; and love! No; I showed you only friendship. I cannot wild-flowers, crushed and broken, were clenched in the love you, for I am not fit to do so. Silly boy!" she other hand. added with her musical laugh, laying her hand on his! But an unseen and an unknown Providence watched