« PreviousContinue »
mortal ear; but when, some hours afterwards, her hus- came straight from the heart; look to it dear, slow old band drew aside the curtain, and looked on the sleeping Robert; or throw away your spectacles and live in face of his young wife, he found it was flushed as with blindness evermore. unquiet slumber, and the long lashes that rested on it, Carry was gone to see the poor relative who had been wet with recent tears.
Nellie's protectress; Robert was spending an hour with They all said it was a pleasant Christmas Day; even his mother, as his custom was every morning. Nellie Carry allowed that—and certainly everyone seemed brought her work, an embroidered collar that Carry had very merry. There was old Mrs. Fairfield, with her designed for her, and sat down beside the sofa on wbich quiet, dignified ways, making her very looks respected; Margaret lay reading. The book was laid aside at her even Carry was awed into trying to win a golden sister's first attempt at conversation. opinion from her. There was Margaret, so delighted “Well, Peggie dear, you haven't told me how you like with everything around her, praising their country fare Robert ?” and habits at every turn; never tired of hearing how “ There was no need for it, Nellie ; who can help all looked in summer, and what were the pleasures they liking so kind and gentle a man ?” tasted then. Robert, too, continued to keep clear of all " You don't find him very old-fashioned, long stories, devoted himself chiefly to Margaret, and then ?” renounced spectacles for the day. Why he ever wore “I like old-fashioned things, Nellie; did we them no one could understand. It was not for the sake not agree yesterday that there were no songs, no of looking professional, for he was a man of small, but books, no flowers, like the old-fashioned ones?” independent fortune; nor because he was near-sighted, * And you do think Robert old-fashioned ?" or had weak eyes—no, but he had formed the habit, “It is such a strange epithet to apply to him, I hardly and though he could see much better without them, know. What does it mean ?” not even Nellie's coaxing could procure more than one “Why, that he is prosy and odd, not like the
young day's intermission of the odious things.
men of the present day.” “ Your marriage is not quite such a mystery to me “He is hardly to be called one of them, dear Nelly; as it was last night, Nellie,” said Carry, smiling archly, so that says nothing. As to his being prosy, I don't when they found themselves alone again.
know; he tells long stories, certainly; but he so evi“Oh!” said Nellie triumphantly, "you begin to do dently enjoys them himself, and has such a kind intenhim justice then ?"
tion of amusing his listeners, that they should be the “Do you justice, do you mean, you demure little hypo- last to find them so." crite? however, you might have been frank with me. “One more question, Madge, and I have done. How much a-year has she?"
Would you have married Robert Fairfield had he asked " Who?" Why, Mrs. Fairfield, of course."
“No, Nellie.” “ I have no idea,” said Nelly. “Why ?”
“Ah! there you see, why not?” “Ol! I dare say you have no expectations,"
“Because, dear, there was one, and only one, to whom Carry, satirically; "you are quite superior, you and I ever would have said “Yes,'” answered Margaret Robert, to anything of the kind."
quietly, though her changing color revealed the emotion “My dear Carry,” said Nellie, with wounded amaze- she tried to suppress. ment, “Mrs. Fairfield lives on an onuity that dies with Nellie kissed her caressingiy. Ler."
"Forgive me teasing you with questions," she said; “ Then I am more in the dark chan ever,” said Carry. "but Carry has put these things into my head-she does She stood looking musingly at the fire a few not like Robert. You see Mr. --, I mean the young
man she is engaged to, is such a fine handsome fellow, “But there, go to bed, Nellio, do," she added, giving she cannot help comparing her lot with mine; and her a cold kiss; “I think, after all, you're just a fit wife then she pities me, buried, as she says, in the country, for that dear, slow old Robert of yours. Good night, and leading such a humdrum life.” Nellie; good night.”
“Laugh at her for her pity, Nellie; you don't need Nellie had a puzzled look on her face when she left it; and if it is any consolation to you, I assure you, the room; it wasn't as bright and cheerful now as on were I compelled to choose between the two gentlemen, Christmas Eve.
you would be the loser, not Carry." “Dear, slow old Robert,” murmured Nellie, as she “Ah! you would take my Robert, then; and yet laid her hand on the handle of the parlor-door; "after Charles Sewell is very handsome and gentlemanly." all, I may as well go to bed at once; I dare say he “Granted; but I prefer Robert's expressive face and doesn't care for a gossip ;” and softly withdrawing it, genuine kindness.” she went up stairs again.
Nellie kissed her again ; she felt happy and contented Look to it, Robert; for a man with spectacles, you once more; and laying aside her embroidery, drew out are blind indeed if you cannot see that there is a veil a pocket-handkerchief of Robert's that wanted hemming weaving between your heart and your little wife's. The and worked his initials in her own hair. Margaret bright smile has been worn for show to-day, and the smiled quietly, and resumed lier book. cheerful voice made an effort to be cheerful-neither *
It is in the middle of June, and a bright summer day | allow her a small annual sum, which she could eke out -not your modern summers, but an old one, such as our with needlework. ancestors basked in: there are June flowers in the gar- This reply was repeated by Carry in her weekly letden, June scents pouring in at the window, and filling ter to Nellie. Margaret was silent on the subject, and the cheerful rooms with their rich fragrance; and bet- in her indignation she carried the letter to Robert. ter than all, June smiles on the sunny face of Robert's “You must write to Margaret, dear," he said when little wife, as she stands beside him, in a plain cotton he had read it, "and tell her, as long as we have a home dress, reaching up the nails he is hammering into the there will be a place in it for her ; she will be a blesswall.
ing to our house, my wife we shall all be better for There are genial, beneficent spirits abroad this morn- it." ing to a certainty, and their influence is seen and felt “Dear Robert, how I thank you! but how shall we everywhere; there isn't a swallow soaring round the afford it ?” cottage that isn't conscious of it; there isn't a saucy “That is my province, Nellie; the extra tronble will breeze dancing among the leaves, or dashing in at the be yours—shall you mind it?” window, to ruffle Nellie's stray curls, that isn't full of What, for Margaret? Oh no, dear!" the joyous certainty as it can be ; the brawling brook in The summons was sent; they wrote it together, and, the meadow beside the house is singing the same thing; wrote it so that there was no resisting it. and the flowers nod their heads and toss them up and By six o'clock the next morning there was a great down, with evident conviction of the fact.
bustle and hammering in the house. Nellie opened her But what has all this to do with a newly whitewashed eyes, and sleepily wondered what it might mean. Preroom, a new cheerful paper, a husband nailing up mus- sently she discovered Robert was gone. Ah! then ho lin curtains, and a little wife handing him the nails ? A was at the bottom of it, no doubt. With righteous great deal, as you will see.
curiosity she jumped up, thrust her little white feet into The six months that have passed have not gone by slippers, flung on a dressing-gown, and stole down stairs. without leaving some token of their presence and effects. As she opened the study door, the beloved sanctum of If Robert were compelled to make a confession, though her husband, the room which even she always entered thumb-screws and the rack wouldn't induce him to do with a sensation of awe, she was driven back by a it, he would own that the Christmas visitors had not left cloud of dust. Returning to the charge, she presently his home such a happy one as they found it; and that distinguished through it that the walls were disman tled every time a letter came in Carry's handwriting, there the heavy bookshelves moved, the old disused doorway was a renewal of the old strangeness in Nellie's tone and to the garden opened, and the carpet taken up. mannera shadow on her face that used not to be seen “Why Robert, Robert," interrupted Nellie, “what there once; that very often, when his spectacles were does this mean; what are you doing?” bent on his book, his eyes were looking over them, try- Robert emerged from the interior, dusky with dust ing to find out what that something was- —all to no pur- and dirt. Nellie laughed at the figure he presented. pose. And Nellie, oh! hers would be hard confessions, “What are you doing, ogre?" she repeated. too, of envious feelings when she heard of Carry's gaiety, “Arranging a room for our sister, Nellie, to be sure ; and Carry's lover, and Carry's presents; of yearnings to you didn't think she was to be doomed to her bedroom be fashionable whenever patterns of the newest shapes or our company for ever, did you? No, no; she must were sent her; of attempts at Italian sonatas, instead of have her own little quiet parlor, where no one shall the simple old songs that Robert loved. A shameful enter without her leave. A little paint and papering, a confession, indeed, Nellie, and one you may well blush new carpet, a sofa, &c." to make, even to us.
“But your study, Robert—your papers and books ?” But it had been even worse than this since May, when “Must find a fresh place, Nellie.” Carry was married; and in truth the account of the “Dear, kind husband.” wedding, such a wedding as it was, might well turn Nel- She forgot his dusty coat, and laid her little head lie's simple head, and make her heart discontented for a lovingly against it. month afterwards. And if the truth must be told, the 'Why, you see, darling, I can have the bay window house was smaller, the garden emptier, and Robert's in the parlor, place a table there for my papers, a shelf stories longer than they had ever been before. It was for my books, and be as snug as here." well that Carry could not marry again just yet.
“You are too kind, dear," said Nellie, with tearful About a week before the bright morning we have eyes. just described, a note had come from Margaret, announ- Robert thought she was going to say more, so he cing that the aged relative with whom she had hitherto caught her up in his arms, and ran with her to her own resided was no more, and she had written to Carry room. asking froin her the asylum she needed.
“ Dress yourself quickly, and come to work, Nellie,” This was natural, for Carry's husband was a rich man, he said, cheerfully; "there will be great nood of your and in her large establishment, a nook could easily be clever fingers.” found for her sick sister.
So there was, indeed, and busy enough they were for Bat Carry had replied that her husband declined many days. The Italian songs were quite forgotten ; heing burdened with her, though he would be happy to the new fashions laid aside in oblivion, and Carry me her husband, if ever they came into Nellie's thoughts, up, a last touch with the duster, a vase of fresh flowers were dismissed with gentle pity.
on the table, and all would be ready for dear Margaret, The room was nearly ready now, looking so clean who was making the journey in short stages, and would and bright, those fluttering muslin curtains once hungarrive by tea-time.
There was a stealthy knock at the door leading to the “Oh, come in, Tora!” garden.
“Well, Tom,” said Robert, “what news ?" And as “Come in,” said Nellie.
he spoke, he gave a reluctant nail a blow, that consigned A shaggy head was thrust in.
it to its fate.
Now Tom was not a ready speaker, though a careful, great emphasis on the first word, “I'll give a look in at loving attendant of Robert's horse, and a most discreet Missus's flowers from time to time.” gardener of Nellie's flower-beds.
“Do, Tom, and what's more, if ever you go courting “ Please Sir, the Squire's no objection."
Annie Morris of a Sunday, and don't come here first " What, he'll take you, Tom, will he ?” said Robert, for a flower to put in your button-bole, why I hope turning round on the top of the ladder, with a boldness Harry Long will cut you out.” that struck fear to Nellie's heart, and looking down on “ Thank ye, Sir, I'm sure," said Tom, with á grim the mortals beneath himn with the aspect of a very new smile, “ if I may make so bold. Not as I'm afraid o' and original cherub of a reckless character.
the likes of him!” “Please Sir," said Tom, glancing up rather timidly; Robert held out his hand to his faithful servant. for he did not feel ensured against a precipitate descent Tom took it respectfully, and shook it roughly. Nellie from his master; "please Sir, the Squire'll try me." too turned round, and extended hers; but Tom could “What! is Tom going ?” said Nellie.
not stand it any longer. He bolted out of the room “Yes, my dear. You see I have sold the horse. It and hiding himself behind the stable-door, blubbered doesn't want another nail, Nellie, does it ?”
like a child. “Sold the horse, Robert ?”
Robert told one of his longest stories after tea that “ Yes, my dear. I may come down now, mayn't I?" night, when they sat beside Margaret in her pleasant
“Steady, Sir," said Tom, applying his hand to the little room; and he had scarcely begun it when Nellie ladder.
quietly stole her hand into his, and so startled him, he Robert went on talking as he came, evidently pre- almost forgot what he was talking about. But he soon tending that he was used to it, and not at all ner- grew accustomed to it; and indeed it became such a vous.
habit, that he never could tell a tale well without it at "Walking is so much better for the health, my dear; last. and the Squire was quite anxious for my horse, he admired him so much. Take away the ladder, Tom, Robert wears his spectacles to this day; but it is will you, please? And so for the garden, Nellie my observed that every year he lives, he looks more and love, I think gardening good for the health too, and more over them at his wife's face, and less upon his that, between us, we can always keep it as pleasant and books. It is not surprising to those who know what neat as it is now, eh ?”
pleasant thoughts are written there, and what a quiet A very strange thing is taste. In Nellie's eyes at that contented heart they rise from. Margaret is a bond moment-ay, and for ever afterwards—that quiet, old- between them both—a constant exercise for self-denial, fashioned man, in his spectacles and his working-dress, patience and forbearance, keeping their souls ever pure was the handsomest hero that ever existed. The old from selfish rust and idle indifference; and Nellie, faith and love, only a thousand times stronger than having lost her taste for Italian and the fashions, and before, came welling up from her heart and streaming having once made up her mind that her husband is the from her eyes, as she threw her arins round him, and best and handsomest man on the earth, has never since murmured bow good and noble he was, and how been converted from the delusion, despite several wellunworthy she felt to be his wife. More she would have aimed efforts on the part of her sister Carry. And she said, in her shame and penitence, but Robert stopped is quite right too; these illusions are half-sisters to her with his kisses. He needed no confession. Her Faith; and if in the ancient camp in the wilderness face was still hid against his shoulder when Tom came there were some who spoke mockingly of wooden back, and she kept it there to hide her tears.
images, covered with gold, it was better to kneel “Well, Tom, you need not forget the old place, you among the simple believers, who called them angels of know, when you have a new one.
the Mercy Seat; for to those only was the hidden glory “By your leave, Sir,” said the worthy fellow, with revealed.
THE SUMMER VACATION.
The summer vacation begins with July, and soon we fling their awful shadows, no studies obtrude their irkshall see the meadows and mountains crowded with mi- some tasks, no routine of duties check the full expansion gratory citizens, in search of a brief rural episode of and riot of their capacities for pleasure. quiet and pleasure. The schools, many of them, how- It is an excellent thing, this brief respite from brick ever, do not close till near August, and therefore it is walls, odorous gutters, hot pavements, and the proprienot until the last of the summer trio is upon us that the ties. With what an elastic bound one's feet first touch season arrives at its height and fullness. Meanwhile, the turf after months of tramping over the hard, glitterexpectation is ripe, and the little ones, with longing ing, unyielding stone! with what a gasp of pleasure the eyes, are looking forward to that consummation of their air that comes over meads and forests, is drawn into the dreams—a month among the hills and forests—a free, lungs until it titilates through every vein in the anrestrained month of holidays, wherein no schools body! with what independence do we tear stock and collar from our necks, hide from our sight stiff beavers, | away. These are old highways by which the choicest encase our feet in the easiest of shoes, and in the way wild flowers dwell, over which armies of bees have of coat and pantaloons, repudiate fashion, law, and marched. Pleasant is it to linger about such spots as the tailors! And then with fly-baited hook, to sit and these, listening to the bleating of sleep, and the fainter dream upon river Lanks, and fancy ourselves true cry of the little lambs as they bound over the daisy-clad anglers; to saunter up the steep mountain side; to hillocks, wbile the deeper lowing of horned cattle, who gallop along the river road; to sleep at noon-day give a charm to every landscape, adds an agreeable beneath waving elms; to glide with spreading sail | voice to the out-of-door concert of Summer, and plays over the moonlit lake; to pluck fruit, fresh and dew- bass to the band of birds that sing in our great, green glistening, from drooping boughs—these are only a few cathedrals—the woods. Indeed he is not adapted for of the pleasures the summer respite affords. We find a vacation in the country, who cannot enter into all these rare pleasure in the most insignificant things of rural little pleasures, and mainly find his source of happilife; in berry pickings; in whole day's rambles in the ness in the thousand things that lie around his path. forests; in flower and moss gathering; in watching play Convulsive seekers after violent and noisy pleasures,
ht and shade amid the foliage; in the fishing should betake themselves to the watering-places, to big jaunt; in the mountain pic-nic; in the drive; in the hotels, hot bed-rooms, pompous and noisy dinners, midwalk; in cool drinks of creamy milk! This last is not summer balls, dusty drives, much fashion, and no comto be despised. Who that has wandered in the country, fort. The quiet, in-glowing happiness of rural life, is parched with thirst, has not felt a deep delight at stum- not for such as they. But those whose summer vacabling, unaware, by some sudden turning in a green lane, tions are spent with nature, in simplicity and love, will beside an open gate, upon some modest milk-maid, and have bathed in the bath of youth, and will go back to obtaining of her a draught of new milk, which was town duties and pursuits, regenerated and new-made. drunk while the white foam hung about the lips like The air they have breathed will be as nectar to their creamy may-buds. Those draughts of milk linger about lungs.—a golden spur to their vigor, and the blood so our memory still.
animated and set a-glow, will stagnate no more that It is delightful to wander up those green lanes that year. The brain will work the stronger and clearer, lead nowhere save to fields where the road is never and the heart will be the purer for its little diversion crushed by a wheel all summer long, saving where the into the sympathies, hopes, and charms of Nature. hav-harvest or the wheat harvest is gathered in and led
A STORY OF TWO LIVES.
"I think we are not wholly brain,
Magnetic mockeries."--In Memoriam.
some pleasant words — like flowers thrown upon & The scene was a London fireside about the middle of stream-into the murmuring babble of their family December. A family group was assembled round the talk. Opposite to her, in the fellow arm-chair, sat her tea-table, in the dining-room of a convenient substan- beloved husband, with their youngest treasure - & tjal house, in a pleasant and well-esteemed quarter; golden-liaired, blue-eyed darling of four years old—on evidences of comfort and wealth were abundant, and his knee; but for the father was no longer the blessing perhaps a stranger would have observed that the apart- of beholding the dear faces around liim. Mr. Ireton ment bore more the appearance of a commodious gen- was blind, and it was on account of liis bereavement eral sitting-room than of a mere salle d manger. Had that the family so often occupied the room withi which he known also that there was a very elegant suite of he thought himself the most familiar. As the child on drawing-rooms above, and a numerous and efficient his knee clasped its arms around his neck, played tricks corps of servants below stairs, he must have conjectured with his cravat, and showered kisses on his cheeks with that there was some especial reason for the family baby prattle, and restless infantile glee, there was somespending the evening in the room where they had thing pathetic in the manner in which the father passed dined.
his hands across the face of the child he had never seen! A girl of sixteen, just bursting out of childhood— The gesture was all the more touching, because it was with the bloom of her early womanhood rather to be only loving, not sad. guessed at than acknowledged-was presiding at the Willy put down his new book, and handed Mr. Ireton tea-table; her next sister, the junior by a year or two, his tea, with a gentle care not to bave been looked for was busily engaged on some wool-work, perhaps manu- in a school-boy; while she of the embroidery-needle facturing slippers for papa ; little Willy was cutting the bastened to lift down baby, as the youngest was still leaves of his prize-book; and Mrs. Ireton was leaning called, from her father's knee. It was the delight of back in her arm-chair, eyeing the party with quiet Mr. Ireton's children to watch and wait upon him; and maternal satisfaction, and every now and then dropping they felt jealous every time a servant approached him.