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People in our circumstances must learn this lesson. Hunt sighed at thought of the curb put upon her benevolent desires by bitter necessity. Hunt subjoined certain of his personal experiences, all tending to establish the principle that in a vast majority of cases of seeming destitution the supplicant was an accomplished rogue, and the giver of alms the victim of his own soft heart and a villain's wiles. Jeannie drank in every syllable, until her ideal beggar quite equalled the ogre who would have made a light supper off of Hop-o'-myThumb and brothers.
Hunt, at length. I had none to give her. Hunt dropped her hands in her lap, and stared in speechless dismay at her daughter. Even her husband felt it his duty to express his disapprobation. You will never see it again. There is not the least probability that your property will be returned.
Was it a good umbrella? Hunt was annoyed with and sorry for the culprit, yet he could not help smiling at this high-flown generosity of confidence. I shall not mind the loss of the umbrella if it prove to be the means of giving you a lesson in human nature.
In this world, dear, it will not do to wear your heart upon your sleeve. Page Never believe a pretty story until you have had the opportunity to ascertain for yourself whether it is true or false. I declare I don't know what to say to you, Sarah! You must give up your walks in damp weather after this. I can't say that I'm very sorry for that, though. I never did fancy your traipsing off two or three miles, rain or shine, like a sewing girl. These long, solitary walks were one of the unAmerican habits that earned for Sarah Hunt the reputation of eccentricity.
They were usually taken immediately after breakfast, and few in the neighborhood who were abroad or happened to look out at that hour, were not familiar with the straight, proud figure, habited in its walking dress of gray and black, stout boots, and gray hat with black plume. It was a uniform selected by herself, and which her mother permitted her to assume, because it "looked genteel," and became the wearer. Especially did she enjoy these tramps when the threatening storm, in its early stages, kept others of her class and sex at home.
The untamed spirit found a fierce pleasure in wrestling with the wind; the hail that ushered in the snow-storm, as it beat in her face, called up lustre to the eye and warm color to the cheek. To a soul sickening of the glare and perfume of the artificial life to which she was confined, the roughest and wildest aspects of nature were a welcome change.
I remember laughing heartily, as I doubt not you did. A " wee toddler," perhaps four years old, with a most lack-a-daisical expression upon her chubby visage, accosts her grandmother after this fashion: " I am tired of' life, grandmainma! The world is hollow, and my doll is stuffed with sawdust, and, if you please, ma'am, I should like to go to a nunnery! And what wonder? From their cradles, hundreds of children, in our so-called better classes, are fed upon husks.
A superficial education, in which all that is not showy accomplishment is so dry and uninviting that the student has little disposition to seek further for the rich kernel, the strong meat of knowledge, is the preparatory course to a premature introduction into the world, to many the only phase of life they are permitted to see, a scene where all is flash and froth, empty bubbles of prizes, chased by men and women with empty heads, and oh, how often empty, aching hearts!
Outside principles, outside affections, outside smiles, and most pitable of all, outside piety! Penury of heart and stomach at home; abroad a parade of reckless extravagance and ostentatious profession of fine feeling and liberal sentiments! Out upon the disgusting, indecent race.
The worship of the golden calf is bad enough, but when this bestial idolatry rises to such a pitch of fanaticism, that in thousands of households, copies in pinchbeck and plated-ware are set up and served, the spectacle is too monstrous in its abomination! This it is, that' crowds our counting-rooms with bankrupts and our stateprisons with defaulters; that is fast turning our ball-rooms and other places of fashionable rendezvous, into vile caricatures of foreign courts, foreign manners, and foreign vices; while the people we ape-our chosen models and exemplars-hold their sides in inextinguishable laughter at the grave absurdity of our laborious imitation.
It is no cause for marvel, that, in just retribution, there should be sent a panic-earthquake, every three years, to shake men to their senses. Such was the atmosphere in which Sarah Hunt had always lived. In the code subscribed to by her mother, and the many who lived and felt and panted and pushed as she did for social distinction, nothing was of real, absolute value except the hard cash.
Gold and silver were facts. All things else were comparative in use and worth. The garment which, last winter, no lady felt dressed without, was an obsolete horror this season. The pattern of curtains and furniture that nearly drove the fortunate purchaser wild with delight, three years back, was now only fit for the auction room. In vain might the poor depleted husband plead for and extol their beauties. The fiat of fashion had gone forth, and his better half seasoned his food with lamentations, and moistened her pillow with tears until she carried her point.
We have intimated that Sarah was a peculiar girl. Whence she derived her vigorous intellect; her strong, original turn of thought; her deep heart, was a puzzle to those who knew her parents. The mother was energetic, the father sensible; but both were commonplace, and followed, like. Page 33 Husxs. They were pleased that Sarah brought home all the prizes offered at school, and both considered that she gained a right, by these victories, to pursue her studies at home, provided she did not obtrude her singular views and tastes upon other people.
Hunt sighed, frequently and loudly, in her presence, that her genius had not been for shell, or bead, or worsted work, instead of for reading volumes, that did not even decorate the show book-case in the library. I'd have'em framed right away, and be real proud to tell who done them. The sweetest drop of pleasure she had tasted for many a day was the thrill she experienced when the forlorn object she had rescued from the power of the storm stood before her, decently and comfortably clad.
The rash confidence she had reposed in so suspicious a stranger was the outgoing of a heart too noble and true in every impulse to pause, for a moment, to speculate upon the chances of another's good or bad faith. The great world of the confessedly poor was an unknown field to her —one she longed to explore. Her footsteps loitered more often near the entrance of some narrow, reeking street or alley, down which she had promised her mother not to go, than on the spacious pave, where.
Page 34 34 Hnu S KS. She wondered how such throngs of breathing beings contrived to exist in those fetid, cramped quarters; how they lived, spoke, acted, felt. The great tie of human brotherhood became daily more tense, as she pondered these things in her heart.
On this particular day, as she sat, silent and thoughtful, at her needle, the chit-chat of her companions less heeded than the continual dropping of the rain without, the wail of the shivering wanderer caused a painful vibration through every nerve. The deed was done! She was ashamed that an event so trivial held her eyes waking, far into the night.
At least, she said to herself, she would not be without a lesson of some kind; would learn whether deceit and falsehood prevailed in the lowest, as well as the higher ranks of society. If, as she still strove to believe would be the case, the child returned the borrowed property, she would make use of her, as the means of entering upon a new sphere of research and action. After so complete a refutation of her theories respecting the utter corruption.
She would then have a work to do-something to call out energy and engage feeling in healthy exercise-and soothed by the romantic vision, she fell asleep with a smile upon her lips. The morning dawned between breaking clouds, that soon left the sky clear and bright. A14 through the day Sarah watched for her visitor of the preceding day-watched with nervousness she could not wholly conceal, from morn to night, for two, -three days-for a week.
Then she looked no longer while at home; her question, at entering the. Hunt was right in supposing that the "unsophisticated girl" had learned something. Whether she were happier or better for the lesson thus acquired was another thing.
Once again Sarah had an opportunity for speech with her delinquent proteey. Two months later she was passing through a by-street in a mean neighborhood, very far up town, in her morning ramble, when her progress was arrested, for an instant, by two boys, who ran out of an alley across the walk. One overtook the other just in front of the lady, and catching him by his ragged collar, threw him down.
I'll help! Grinning with delight, she flung herself upon the prostrate form and commenced a vigorous assault, accompanied by language alike foul and profane. Sarah recognized her instantly, and while she paused in mingled amazement and anger, the child looked up and saw her. In a twinkling she relinquished her grip of the boy's hair-jumped up and sped back into the dirty alley, with the blind haste of guilty fear. Hunt was a wise man, who knew the world, and trebly sage in her generation, was his spouse.
If their daughter had never acknowledged this before, she did now, in her disgust and dismay at this utter overthrow of her dreams of the virtuous simplicity to be found in lowly homes, where riches and fashions were things unknown. Page 36 36 HU KS.
MR had come to the country with its bloom and its beauty, its harvests and its holidays. In town, its fever heat drew noisome smells from overcharged sewers, and the black, oily paste to which the shower that should have been refreshing had changed the dust of crowded thoroughfares. Cleaner pavements, in the higher portions of the city, burned through shoe-soles; glass radiated heat to polished stone, and stone radiated, in its turn, to brick, that waited until the evening to throw off its surplus caloric in hot, suffocating waves that made yet more oppressive the close nights.
The gay procession of fashionable humming-birds had commenced their migrations, steamboats and excursioncraft multiplied at the wharves, and the iron steed put forth all his tremendous might to bear onward the long train of self-exiled travellers. The Hunts, too, must leave town; Lucy must, at all events, have a full season, and a brilliant one, if possible, for it was her second summer, and much might depend upon it.
Her mother would accompany her, of course; and equally of course her father could not; that is, he must return after escorting them to Saratoga, and spend the remainder of the warm months at home. His business would not allow him to take an extended vacation. The boys were easily disposed of, being boarded every summer at the farmhouse of an early friend of Mr. Hunt's, where they were acceptable inmates, their clothes as well cared for as they. The younger girls caused that excellent manager, their mother, more perplexity.
This was not the first time she had repented her indiscretion in allowing Sarah to "come out" before her elder sister had " gone off. This summer she realized, as she had not done before, the inconvenience of having two full-fledged young ladies upon the carpet at once.
Lucy's elegant and varied wardrobe, and the certain expenses in prospect for her and her chaperon at Spa, seaside, and en route, left a balance in hand of the sum allotted for the season's expenditure that was startling in its meagreness. Hunt was a capital financier, a peerless economist, but the exigency taxed her resources to the utmost. One morning she arose with a lightened heart and a smoother brow. The " Eureka! Forthwith she unfolded to him her scheme.
She was a native of New Jersey, "the Jarseys" she had heard it called in her father's house-had probably thus denominated the gallant little State herself in her girlhood. In and around the pretty, quiet village of Shrewsbury there were still resident scores of her relatives whose very names she had sedulously forgotten.
One alone she could not, in conscience or in nature, dismiss to such oblivion. This was her elder and only sister, long malried to a respectable and worthy farmer, and living within a mile of "the old place," where both sisters had drawn the first breath of life. Twice since Mrs. Hunt had lived in the city had this kind friend been summoned on account of the. The earlier of these occasions was that of the second child's birth, and in the softened mood of her convalescence Mrs. Hunt had bestowed upon the babe her sister's name —Sarah Benson-a homely appellative she had ofttimes regretted since.
At distant and irregular intervals, one, two, three years, Mr. Benson visited their connections in " York;" but the intercourse grew more difficult and broken as time rolled on and the distance widened between the plain country folk and their rising relations. Then, again, death had been busy in the farmhouse; coffin after coffin, of varying lengths, but all short, was lifted over the threshold and laid away in the village graveyard, until but one was left to the parents of the seven little ones that had been given to them, and to that one nature had denied the gifts of speech and hearing.
Grief and the infirmities of approaching old age disinclined the worthy pair to stir from home, and their ambitious sister was too busy in building up a " set" of her own, and paving the way for her daughters' distinction, to hide her light for ever so short a period in so obscure a corner as her former home. Aunt Sarah, however, could not forget her nurseling.
Every few months there arrived some simple token of affectionate remembrance to "the child" she had not seen since she wore short frocks and pinafores. The reception of a basket of fruit, thus despatched, was the suggestive power to Mrs.
IHIunt's present plan. She had made up her mind, so she informed her husband straightway, to write that very day-yes! But dear me! I know her! As to Jeannie, she is satisfied to be with her sister anywhere. She is getting thin, too; she looks real peaked, and there's nothing in creation so good for ailing children as the salt-water bath.
They have first-rate still-water bathing not a quarter of a mile from sister's. It's jest the thing, I tell you! The wonder is it never came into my head before. Hunt had his sigh now. You look as if you was about to be hanged, instead of feeling obliged to me for turning, and twisting, and contriving, and studying, day and night, how to save your money, and spend what we must lay out to the best advantage.
I can tell you what-there's few women would make your income go as far as I do. The question is"-. Hunt paused, cleared his throat, and strained his nerves for a mighty effort, an unprecedented exercise of moral courage.
I am growing old, and I love to have my children about me; I begin to feel the want of a home. There is Johnson, in the - Bank, gets five hundred less per annum than I do; yet, after living quietly here a few years, he bought himself a snug cottage up the river, and has his family there in their own house, every thing handsome and comfortable about them. I have been in the harness for a long while; I expect to die in it.
I don't mind work-hard work! Hunt sank into a chair and began to cry. It isn't for myself that I care. I can work my fingers to the bone, and live upon a crust! I can scrape and save five dollars or so a month! I can bury myself in the country! But your children! I don't deny that I have been ambitious for them, and I did hope that you had something of the same spirit; and now to think of your complaining, and moping, and groaning over the money you say I've been and wasted; Oh!
Wie are not millionaires, whatever may be said of the girls' visiting acquaintances, and I tremble sometimes to think how all this false show may end. Hunt's borrowed courage had not evaporated entirely. It's downright sinful, and what I shouldn't have looked for from you. I can tell you how it will end. If both of us live ten years longer, you will see your daughters riding in their own carriages, and leaders of the tong, and your sons among the first gentlemen of the city.
If this does not turn out true, you needn't ever trust my word again. I've set my head upon getting Lucy off my hands this summer, and well off; and mark my words, Mr. Lucy w'ondered at the cheerful alacrity with which she consented to be " hidden away in that horrid bore of a farmhouse," and Jeannie cried as her elder sister " supposed that they would eat in Aunt Sarah's kitchen, along with the servant-men. Benson is a man of independent means, quite rich for the country. They live very nicely, and I have no doubt but that your sisters will b.
Ere the recital was concluded, the child was impatient for the hour of departure, and indignant when she heard that Aunt Sarah must be. There was nothing feigned in Sarah's satisfaction; her preparations were made with far more pleasure than if she were to accompany Lucy. The seclusion that would have been slow death to the latter was full of charms for the book-loving sister.
Aunt Sarah would be kind; the novel phases of human nature she would meet would amuse and interest her; and, besides these, there was Jeannie to love and pet, and river, field, and grove for studies and society. She panted for the country and liberty fiom the tyrannous shackles of city customs. Aunt Sarah wrote promptly and cordially, rejecting the offered compensation, and begging for her nieces' company as long as they could content themselves in so retired a place.
Simple-minded as she was, she knew enough to be sure that the belles and beaux of the neighborhood would be very unsuitable mates for her expected visitors. If her own girls had lived, she would have asked nothing higher for them in this world than to have them grow up respected, beloved, and happy, among the acquaintances and friends of their parents; but " Sister Betsy's children had been raised so differently!
They are welcome to the pony whenever they've a mind to ride, and Jim or I will find time to drive them around a'most every day; and what with riding, and boating, and bathing, I guess they can get rid of the time. Page 43 Hu S KS. This personage we will let the good woman herself describe. Hle comes North'most every summer, and never goes back without paying us a visit.
He's been here three days now. But he is just as easy as an old shoe, and sociable as can be, so you won't mind him. He went to Georgy when he wasn't more than sixteen years old, and has lived there ever since. He married a rich wife, I believe,"-sinking her voice -' and has made money fast, I've heard.
Philip never says a word about their wealth, but his father owns a great plantation, for husband asked him how many acres they worked. Then the children -there are four of them —have had fine educations, and always spend money freely. Philip is not the sort to boast of any thing that belongs to him or his. He is a good-hearted boy. He was here the August my last daughter —my Betsy-died, and I shall never forget how lind and tender he was then.
I can't look at him without thinking how my Alick would have been just his age if he had lived. One was born on the fourth and the other the fifth of the same April. Then, as the child was wild to run out of doors, she suffered her to go, charging her not to pass the boundary of the yard fence. Aunt Sarah was dressed in a second mourning de. A neat sprigged lawn, modest and inexpensive, was not out of place among the old-fashioned furniture of-her chamber, nor in the " best room," to which they presently descended.
Aunt Sarah ushered her into the apartment with some stiffness of ceremony. In truth, she was not herself there often, or long enough to feel quite at ease, her property though it was. Alleging the necessity of "seeing to the tea," she bade her niece "make herself at home," threw open a blind that she " might see the river," and left her.
First, Sarah looked around the room. It was large and square, and had four windows, two in front and two in the rear. The floor was covered by a well-saved carpet, of a pattern so antique that it was in itself a curiosity; heavy tables of a mahogany dark with age; upright chairs, with slippery leathern seats; a ponderous sofa, covered with haircloth; small mirrors, with twisted frames, between the windows; two black profiles, of life-size, over the mantel, and in the fire place a jar of asparagus boughs, were appointments that might have repelled the looker-on, but for the scrupulous, shining cleanliness of every article.
It was a scene so strange to Sarah that she could not but smile as she withdrew her eyes and turned to the landscape commanded by her window. The sight changed the gleam of good-humored amusement to one of more heartfelt pleasure. Beyond the grassy walks and flower-borders of the garden behind the house lay green meadows, sloping down to the river, broad and smooth at this point, so placid now that it mirrored every rope and seam of the sails resting quietly upon its surface, and the white cottages along the banks, while the banks themselves,.
Page 45 E S KS. The reflected blush of the crimson west upon its bosom was shot with flickers of golden light, and faded in the distance into the blue-gray twilight. The air seemed to grow more deliciously cool as the- gazer thought of the hot, pent-up city, and the beds of thyme and lavender added their evening incense. The hum of cheerful voices joined pleasantly with the soothing influences of the hour, and, changing her position slightly, Sarah beheld the speakers.
Upon a turfy mound, at the foot of an apple-tree, sat Jeannie beside a gentleman, whose hands she watched with pleased interest, as did also a boy of fifteen or thereabouts, who knelt on the grass before them. Sarah divined at once that this was her aunt's deaf and dumb son. The gentleman was apparently inter preting to Jeannie all that passed between himself and the lad, and her gleeful laugh showed it to be a lively dialogue. Could this be Mr. Benson's nephew, the beardless youth Sarah had pictured him to herself from Aunt Sarah's description?
He could not have been less than six-andtwenty, had dark hair and a close, curling beard, an intelligent, handsome face, and notwithstanding his loose summer sack and lounging attitude, one discerned plainly traces of uncommon grace and strength in his form. A gallant professional beau, who will entangle me in my speech, and be an inevitable appendage in the excursions?
I flattered myself I would be safe from all such drawbacks," thought Sarah, in genuine vexation, as she obeyed her aunt's summons to tea. Perhaps Mr. Benson read as much in her countenance, for, beyond a few polite, very unremarkable observations, addressed to her when his hosts made it necessary for him to do so, he paid her no visible attention during the whole.
The next day he set off, the minute breakfast was over, with his gun and game-bag, and was gone until sunset. Sarah sat at her chamber window as he came up to the back door; and, screened by the vine trained over the sash, she watched him as he tossed his game-bag to Charley and shook hands with Jeannie, who ran up to him with the familiarity of an old acquaintance.
I have been down to the shore. Well, you beat every thing! I suppose you have walked as much as ten miles in all! I am getting used to your sand, uncle; it used to tire me, I confess. Charley had carried the galme-bag to the mound under the tree, and was exhibiting its contents-mostly snipe and red-winged black birdsto his little cousin.
How I would like to set that task for certain of our Broadway exquisites! I thought, from her appearance, that you would suit each other," was the reply, certainly respectful enough, but whose lurking accent of dry indifference sent the blood to Sarah's face.
Hastily withdrawing from the open window, and beyond. In vain she chided herself for her sudden heat. Mortified she was, and even more ashamed of herself than angry with the cool young man who had pronounced her to be a fitting associate for her excellent but unpolished aunt. While his every look and intonation bespoke the educated gentleman, a being as different in mental as in physical muscle from the fops who formed her sister's train, had he weighed her against the refined woman of his own class and clime, and adjudged her this place?
At heart she felt the injustice, and, stimulated by the sting, arose the resolve that he should learn and confess his error. Not tamely or willingly would she accept an ignoble station at the hands of one whom she inwardly recognized as capable of a true valuation of what she esteemed worthy.
She looked haughty, not humbled, when she took her seat opposite her critic at the tea-table. The very phrase, borrowed, as it was, from Aunt Sarah's vocabulary, seemed to her seasoned with contempt. She kept down fire and scorn, however, when Mr.
Benson accosted her with the tritest of remarks upon the probable heat of the day in town as contrasted with the invigorating breeze, with its faint, delicious sea flavor, that rustled the grapevines and fluttered the white curtains at the dining-room door and windows. Her answer was not exactly gracious, but it advanced the one tempting step beyond a mere reply.
Thus was the ice broken,, and for the rest of the meal, Aunt Sarah and " Uncle Nathan"-as he requested his nieces to style him-had respite from the duty of active entertainment, so far as conversation went.
To Sarah's surprise, Mr. Benson talked to her almost as he would have done to another man. IHe spoke of notable persons, places,. It was the unaffected interest of an inquirer; the entire attention of one who felt that he received more than he gave. They parted for the night with a bow and a smile that was with each a mute acknowledgment of pleasure derived from the companionship of the other; and if neither looked forward to the meeting of the morrow as a renewal of congenial intercourse, both carried to their rest the effects of an agreeable surprise in the events of the evening.
A WEEK had passed since the arrival of the city nieces at the farmhouse. An early tea, one of Aunt Sarah's generous and appetizing repasts was over; and through the garden, out at the gate that terminated the middle walk, and across the strip of meadow-land, danced C harley and Jeannie, followed at a more sedate pace by Philip Benson and Sarah.
Seven days' rustication had wrought a marked change in the town-bred girl. There was a lighter boundin her step, and in her cheek a clear, pink glow, while her eyes looked softly, yet brightly, from out the shadow of her gypsy hat, a look of half surprise, half confidence in her companion's face. How I disliked you for coming down here to interfere with my liberty and leisure! I overheard it accidentally from my window, and I can assure you properly appreciated the compliment, which, by the way, was more in the tone than the words.
Page 50 50 H S KS. I am glad I said it! Here is the boat. Philip helped Sarah in, placed Jeannie beside her, and stationing himself upon the middle bench took up a second pair of oars. A noiseless dip of the four, and the craft glided out into the stream, then up against the tide, the water ripling into a foamy wake on either side of the sharp bow. A row was now the regular sequel to the day's enjoyments, and to Jeannie, at least, the climax of its pleasures.
How gloomy her recognition of the analogy! Changed as was her mood, a shade fell over her countenance. Was it of apprehension, and did Philip thus interpret it? Such, it seems to me, must be the rapture of. Have you ever thought how much happier we would be if we were to live only in the Now we have, and never strain our eyes with searchings for the lights and shades of what may be before us, or with' mournful looking' after what is gone?
To me that would be a miserably tame, dead-level existence over which Hope sheds no enchanting illusions; like this river, as we saw it three days ago, cold and sombre as the rainclouds that hung above it. Oh, no! Tell me frankly, Miss Sarah, did you ever meet another woman who had as much character as yourself?
I have always been told so; but it is natural to me. My character has many rough and sharp edges that need softening and rounding-"' "In order to render you one of the pretty automatons, the well-draped, thoroughly-oiled pieces of human clockwork that decorates men's homes —falsely so called-in these.
I understand all the wires that work the dear puppets-flatter myself that I can put them through their paces excuse the slang! The delightful divinities! A little music, and a little less French; a skimming of the arts and sciences; rand it is a rare thing to meet one who can tell an art from a science ten days after she has graduated-a stock of pet phrasesall hyperbolical, consequently unmeaning —a glib utterance of the same; a steady devotion to balls, beau-catching, gossip, and fancy-work;.
I never think of the possibility of being thus ensnared without an involuntary repetition of a portion of the Litany-' From all such, etc. I have seen such in my day dreams. She is my ideal. No reproachful looks! This is the sincerity of a friend. I have promised never to flatter you again, and do not violate the pledge in speaking thus. From -my boyhood, I have made human nature my study, and it would be hard to convince me that I err in this case.
I am not gentle! I nerer was. I fear that I never will be! Maybe I won't tell tales out of school to the one you care least for. She isn't my dear, best sister! Sarah's lip trembled. The share of affection she had hitherto dared to claim as her own had barely sufficed to keep her heart from starving outright.
She had often dreamed of fulness of love as a stay and comfort, as solace and nutriment in a world whose wrong side was ever turned to her. Now there dawned upon her the sweetness and beauty of a new revelation, the bliss of loving and being beloved. Over life floated a warm, purple tinge, like the sunset light upon the river. For the first time within the reach of her memory her heart rested! In the smile whose overflowing gave a tender loveliness to her features, Philip saw the effect he had wished and anticipated, and, motioning to Charley to let the boat drift with the current, he picked up the guitar, that by Sarah's request was always taken along in these excursions.
It is the twilight hourThe hour for you and me; The time when memory lingers Across life's dreary track, When the past floats up before us, And the lost comes stealing' back. Sarah's smile was softer, but it was a smile still, as the melody arose on the quiet air. When the ballad was concluded, she only said; "' Another, please!
Without extraordinary power, his voice had a rich and flexible quality of tone and a delicacy of expression that never failed to fascinate. To the rapt and listening girl it'seemed as if time could bring no more delicious fate than thus to glide on ever upon this empurpled, enchanted stream, the summer heavens above her, and, thrilling ear and soul, the witching lullaby that rocked her spirit to dreams of the youth she had never had, the love for which she had longed with all the wild intensity, the fervent yearning, her deep heart could feel.
Still they floated on with the receding tide, its low washing against the sides of their boat filling up the pauses of the music. The burning red and gold of the sky cooled into the mellower tints of twilight, and the pale curve of the young moon shone with increasing lustre. Jeannie fell asleep, her head upon her sister's lap; the dumb boy sat motionless as stone, his dark eyes fixed on the moon; there seemed some spell upon the little party. Boat after boat passed them, almost noiselessly, for far into the clear evening went the tones of the singer's voice, and the dullest hearer could not withhold the tribute of admiring silence until beyond its reach.
And Sarah, happy in the strange, restful languor that locked her senses to all except the blessed present, dreamed. Page 55 H -us KS. Into it stole presently a theme of sadness, a strain of grief, a heart-cry, that, ere she was aware, wrung her own heart-strings with anguish.
Whenfrom my window's height I look out on the night, I am still weeping, My lone watch keeping. His face I ne'er shall see, And naught is left to me But bitter weeping, My lone watch keeping. There breathes in it a spirit wail so mournfully sincere that one recognizes its sob in the very chords of the accompaniment. The mere murmur of the melody, were no words uttered, tells the story of grieving desolation.
Sarah did not move or speak, yet upon her enchanted ground a cloud had fallen. She saw the high casement and its tearful gazer into the night, a night not of music, and moonlight, and love, but chill, and wet, and dreary. Rain dripped from eaves and trees; stone steps and pavements caught a ghastly gleam from street lamps; save that sorrowful watcher, there was no living creature abroad or awake.
She grew cold and sick with looking into those despairing eyes; the gloom, the loneliness, the woe of that vigil became her own, and her heart sank swooning beneath the burden. As she ceased the song, Philip looked up for some comment or request. To his surprise, she only clasped her hands in a gesture that might have been either relief from or abandonment to woe, and bowed her head upon them.
Puzzled, yet flattered by her emotion, he refrained from interrupting her; and, resuming his oars, lent the impetus of their stroke to that of the tide. Nothing was said until the keel grated upon the shelly beach opposite the farmhouse. Then, as Philip stooped to lift the unconscious Jeannie, he imagined that he discerned the gleam of the sinking moon upon Sarah's dripping eyelashes.
The fancy pursued him after he had gone up to his room. Seated at his window, looking out upon the now starlit sky, he smoked more than one cigar before his musing fit was ended. It was not the love-reverie of a smitten boy. He believed that he had passed that stage of sentimentalism ten years before.
That Southerner of the male gender who has not been consumed by the fires and arisen as good as new from the ashes of half a dozen never-dying passions before he is eighteen, who has not offered the heart and hand,. Page 57 sHU fs. If these susceptible sons of a fervid clime did not take to.
Courtship is at first a pastime, then an art, then when the earnestness of a real attachment takes hold of their impassioned natures, it is the one all-absorbing, eager pursuit of existence, until rewarded by the acquisition of its object or thwarted by the decided refusal of the hard-hearted Dulcinea. This state of things, this code of Cupid, every Southern girl understands, and shapes her conduct accordingly. Sportively, yet warily, she plays around the hook, and he is a very fortunate angler who does not in the moment of fancied success discover that she has carried off the bait as a trophy upon which to feed her vanity, and left him to be the laughing-stock of the curious spectators of this double game.
She is imperturbable to nmeaning eqzuivoques, receives pretty speeches and tender glances at their current value, and not until the suit becomes close and ardent, the attachment palpable to every one else, and is confessed in so many words, does she allow herself to be persuaded that her adorer is "in earnest," and really desires to awaken a sympathetic emotion in her bosom.
Philip Benson was no wanton trifler with wToman's feelings. On the contrary, he had gained the reputation in his circle of an invincible, indifferent looker-on of the pseudo and real combats, in Love's name, that were continuallyr transpiring around him. Chivalrous in tone, gallant in action, as he was, the girls feared while they liked and admired him. In reality, he was what he had avowed himself to Sarah-a student of human nature; an amateur in this species of social research -than which no other so frequently results in the complete deception of the inquirer.
Certainly no other is so apt to find its culmination of devotion in a cold-blooded dissection of motive, morals, and sentiment; an unprincipled, reckless application of trial and test to the hearts and lives of its victims and final infidelity in all human good, except what is concentrated in the inspector's individual, personal self. Grown dainty amid the abundant supply of ordinary material, he comes at length to disdain common "' subjects. But a character fresh and noble from the Creator's hand; a soul that dares to think and feel according to its innate sense of right; an intellect unhackneyed, not vitiated by worldly policy or the dogmas of the schools; a heart, tender and delicate —yet passionate in love or abhorrence; what an opportunity is here presented for the scalpel, the detective acid, the crucible, the microscope!
It is not in fallible mortality to resist the temptation, and even professors of this ennobling pursuit, whose motto is, " The proper study of mankind is Man," are, as they allow with shame and confusion of face, themselves mortal. Of all the dignified humbugs of the solemn farce of life, deliver me from that creature selfstyled "' a student and judge of character! The attentions he had considered himself bound to pay her, in order to avoid wounding their kind hosts, were soon rendered from a widely different motive.
Page 59 HU S K. He was by no means deficient in appreciation of his personal gifts; rated his powers of pleasing quite as highly as did his warmest admirers, although he had the common sense and tact to conceal this; but he would have repelled, as an aspersion upon his honor, the charge that he was endeavoring to win this young girl's affections, his heart being as yet untouched.
Side by side, he set two mental portraits, and strove deliberately, impartially, to discern any traces of resemblance between the two. The future Mrs. Benson was a personage that engrossed much of his thoughts, and by long practice in the portrayal of her lineaments, he had brought his fancy sketch very nearly to perfection.
A tall, Juno-like figure, with raven locks, and large, melting eyes, unfathomable as clear; features of classic mould; an elastic, yet stately form; a disposition in which amiability tempered natural impetuosity, and generous impulse gave direction to gentle word and deed; a mind profoundly imbued with the love of learning, and in cultivation, if not strength, equal to his own; discretion, penetration, and docility combined in such proportions as should render her her husband's safest counsellor, yet willing follower; and controlling and toning the harmonious whole, a devotion to himself only second in degree, not inferior in quality, to worship of her Creator.
This was the ideal for whose embodiment our reasonable, modest Ccelebs was patiently waiting. Answer, oh ye expectant, incipient Griseldas! Page 60 60 IusKSS. And how appeared the rival picture in comparison? I must have beauty and grace as well. Yet," he continued, relentingly, " there are times when she would be quite handsome if she dressed better.
It is a pity her love for the beautiful does not enter into her choice of wearing apparel! The visionary robe was a faithful reflection upon the dreamer's mental retina of a certain organdie which had formed a part of Lucy's wardrobe the previous summer, and having become antiquated in six months' time, was altogether inadmissible in the belle's outfit of this season.
Hunt, "' and will make you a very useful dress while you are with your Aunt Sarah. It's too good to cut up for Jeannie! Besides, if you had a good complexion, you could wear blue as well as anybody. Philip Benson did I. ON a pleasant, although rather cloudy forenoon in July, our young pleasure-seekers carried into execution a longtalked-of expedition to the Deal Beach, distant about ten miles from Shrewsbury.
By Aunt Sarah's arrangement, Charley and Jeannie occupied the back seat of the light wagon, and Sarah was to sit by Philip in front, that she," might see the country. To her guileless apprehension there was no question how affairs were progressing between her niece and her nephew-in-law; and in sundry conferences on the subject between "husband" and herself; it had been agreed that a matrimonial alliance would be the best thing that could happen to either of the supposed lovers.
In her simple, pious soul, the dear old lady already blessed the Providence that had accomplished the meeting and intercourse under her roof, while she wondered at "the strange things that come about in this world. For a full half mile Philip did not speak,. He appeared thoughtful, perhaps perturbed-so Sarah's single stolen glance at him showed —and in tlie eyes that looked straight onward to the horizon, there was a hardness she had never seen there before.
She was surprised, therefore, when he broke the silence by an unimportant observation, uttered in his usual friendly tone, and for the remainder of the ride was gay and kind, with a show of light-heartedness that was not surpassed by the merry children behind them. There was hardly enough variety in the unpicturesque country bordering their route to give the shadow of reasonableness to Aunt Sarah's pretext in selecting her namesake's seat, and, despite her escort's considerate attentions, Sarah had an uncomfortable ride; while her manner evinced more of the haughty reserve of their introduction than she had shown at any subsequent stage of their acquaintance.
The grays travelled well, and a little after noon they were detached from the carriage, and tied in the grove of scrub-oaks skirting the beach. While Philip was busied with them, the others continued their course down to the shore; the children, hand-in-hand, skipping over sand-hills, and stopping to pick up stones; Sarah strolling slowly after them.
She had seen the oceansurf before, but never aught like this, with its huge swells of water, a mile in length, gathering blackness and height on their landward career; as they struck the invisible barrier that commanded, "Thus far and no farther! The beach was wide and uneven, of sand, whose whiteness would have glared intolerably had the day been sunny, drifted into hillocks and undulating. Page 63 HU S S. Here and there the hardy heather found a foothold amid the otherwise blank sterility, the green patches adding to, rather than lessening the wild, desolate aspect of the tract.
Fragments of timber were strewn in all directions, and Sarah's quick eye perceived that it was not formless, chance driftwood. There were hewn beams and shapely spars, and planks in which great iron bolts were still fast. When Philip overtook her, she was standing by an immense piece of solid wood, lying far beyond the reach of the highest summer tides. One end was buried in the sand; the other, bleached by sun and wind, and seamed with cracks, was curved like the extremity of a bow.
Her late embarrassment or hauteur was forgotten in the direct earnestness of her appealing look. There have been many wrecked on this coast. The sea was high, the wind blowing a perfect gale, and this schooner, having lost one of her most important sails, was at the mercy of the elements. She was cast upon the shore, and her crew, watching their opportunity, sprang overboard as the waves receded, and reached firm ground in safety. Then came a monster billow, and lifting the vessel farther upon the sand, left her careened towards the land.
It was pitiful to see the poor thing! The spray, at every dash, arose nearly as high as her mast-head, and a cataract of water swept over her deck. Piece by piece she broke up, and we could only stand and look on, while the scattered portions were thrown to our very feet. I shall never forget the sight. It taught me the truth of man's impotence and nature's strength as I had never read it before.
You were spared the spectacle of that most terrible scene in the tragedy of shipwreck. But the light of many a life has been quenched in that raging caldron. A young man, a resident of Shrewsbury, with whom I hunted last year, described to me a catalogue of horrors which he had beheld here, that has visited nie in dreams often since. An emigrant ship was cast away on this coast, in midwinter. High above the roar of the wind and the booming surf, was heard the cry of the doomed wretches, perishing within hail of the crowd of fellow-beings who had collected at news of the catastrophe.
The cold was intense; mast, and sail, and rope were coated with ice, and the benutnbed, freezing wretches were exposed every instant to the torrents of brine that swept over them like sleet. The agony was horrible beyond description, but it was soon over. Before the vessel parted, the accent of mortal woe was hushed. Not a man survived to tell the tale! The subject had, for Sarah, a fearful fascination, and, led on by her absorbed attention, Philip rehearsed to her wonders and stories of the mysterious old ocean, that to-clday stretched before them, blanched and angry, under the veil of summer cloud, until to his auditor there were bitter wailings blent with the surge's roar; arms, strained and bare, were tossed above the dark.
That day on the Deal Beach!. How quietly happy was its seeming! Charley and Jeannie wandered up and down the coast, filling their baskets with shells and pebbles; chasing the retiring waves as far as they dared, and scampering back, with shrieks of laughter, as the succeeding, billow rolled rapidly after them; building sand-houses, and digging wells to be filled by salt-water; exulting greatly when a rough coralline fragment, or a jelly-fish of unusual dimensions was thrown in their way.
They all lunchedl together, seated upon the heather-clumps, around Aunt Sarah's liberal hamper. I wish you would write to mother, and ask her to let us live here always. The little lady bridled instantly. I do wish you would never call, me a'baby' again! I am seven years and two weeks old. I could get along very well without mother for a while.
Of course, I would go over sometimes, and pay her a visit and get new dresses. Shrewsbury is a nice place; I would like to buy that pretty white house next to Uncle Nathan's, and live there-sister, and Charley, and I-and you-if you would promise not to tease me ever! But you know, Jeannie, my dear little cousin, that my home is far away from this quarter of the world. I have remained here too long already. Your kindness has, directly and indirectly, been the means of affording us much pleasure during our visit to our good aunt.
It will seem dull when you are gone. I shall not then be so soon forgotten. We have had some pleasant days and weeks together; have we not? Her cheek was seldom blooming, unless when flushed in animated speech, or by brisk exercise. She spoke of his going with politeness, that seemed.
While he repeated to himself his congratulations that his friendly and gallant attentions had not been misconstrued, had not awakened any inconvenient, because futile " expectations," he wondered if it were a possibility for a girl of so much sense and feeling, such genuine appreciation of his talents and tastes, to know him welleven intimately-without experiencing a warmer sentiment than mere approval of an agreeable associate's mind and manners, and Platonic liking for him on these accounts.
With the respectful familiarity of a privileged acquaintance, he drew her hand within his arm, as they arose at the conclusion of the collation 1 "We have yet two hours and more to spend here, before we set out for home. We can have one more walk and talk together. It was hard work, even to the man of the world, the heart-free student of human nature.
Gradually the conversation languished and died away, and, for a while, both sat silent, looking out upon the sea. Then Philip's gaze came back to his companion-stealthily at first, and, as she remained unconscious of his scrutiny, it lingered long and searchingly upon features, form, and attire. There were white, tight lines about her mouth, and a slight knitting of the brow, that imparted a care-worn look to the young face, it pained him to see. Her hands were clasped upon her knee, and the fingers were bloodless where they interlaced one another.
Was she suffering? Was the. If this were so, what was his duty as a man of honor —of common humanity? And if he were forced to admit that he held her happiness in his power, and to accept the consequences that niust ensue from his idle gallantry and her mistaken read-. Would it be a total sacrifice of feeling to a sense of right? It was a repetition, grave and careful, of the revery of that July night, two weeks ago.
Sarah's hat-a broad-brimmed "fiat" of brown straw —had fallen back upon her shoulders, and the sea-breeze played in her hair, raising the short and loose strands, and giving to the whole a rough, "frowzy" look. Her plain linen collar and undersleeves showed her complexion and hands to the worst possible advantage. Upon her cheeks, this same unfriendly wind had bestowed a coat of tan and a few freckles, that were all the more conspicuous from her pallor, while her fingers were as brown as a gypsy's.
Her gray poplin dress had lost most of its original gloss, and being one of Mrs. Hlunt's bargains-" a cheap thing, but plenty good for that outlandish Shrewsbury"-alreacly betrayed its cotton warp by creases that would not be smoothed, and an aspect of general limpness-a prophecy of speedy, irremediable shabbiness. Cast loosely about her shoulders was a light shawl, green, with black sprigs-another bargain; and beyond the skirt of her robe appeared the toe and instep of a thick-soled gaiter, very suitable for a tramp through damp sand, yet any thing but becoming to the foot it protected.
With an impatient shake of the head, involuntary and positive, Philip closed his final observation. And cutting off a large splinter from the weather-beaten timber, against which he leaned, set about trimming it, wearing a serious, settled face, that said his mind was fully made up. What had Sarah seen all this while? In the distance was a solitary sail; nearer to the land, a large sea-bird flew heavily against the wind. In such mateless, weary flight, must her life be passed; that lone, frail craft was not so hopelessly forlorn upon a gloomy sea, beneath a sky that gloomed yet more darklyas was her heart, torn suddenly from its moorings-anchor, and rudder, and compass gone!
Yet who could syllable the mighty sorrow of the complaining sea? And were there words in human language, that could tell the anguish of the swelling flood beating within her breast? Pregnant with woe she knew it to be, yet it was not until she was allowed to meditate in silence upon the meaning of the words that she realized what had truly come upon her: She had thrown away all her hope of earthly happinessrisked it as madly, lost it as surely, as if she had tossed ita tangible pearl-into the yawning ocean.
Her instinct assured her that, were it otherwise, the tidings of Philip's intended departure, his suddenly formed resolution to leave her, would have been conveyed to her in a far different manner. Her keen backward glance penetrated Aunt Sarah's simple wiles; his obvious annoyance thereat; his determination to save himself from suspicion; his honorable fear lest she, too, should imagine him loving, where he was only civil and kind. Yes, it was all over!
The best thing she could hope to do, the brightest prospect life had now for her, was that her secret should remain hers alone, until the troubled heart moaned itself into the rest which knows. She was used to concealment. All her existence, excepting the sweet delusive dream of the past three weeks, had been a stern preparation for this trial. But she was already wearyand faint-fit to lie down and die, so intense had been the throe of this one struggle. How long? I am not sure.
I did not intend to do so! And what wish shall I make in return for your beautiful benediction? My desires are not many or extravagant. You have a craving heart and a craving mind. May both be fed to the full, with food convenient for them-in measures pressed down, shaken together, and running over. She could not thank him, as he had done her. She only bowed, and, bending forward, took up a handful of the fine white sand that formed the shore.
Slowly sifting it through her fingers, she waited for him to speak again. Was this careless equanimity real or feigned? Will you think me presumptuous, if I call at your father's house to continue an acquaintance which has been, to me, at once agreeable and profitable? A warm glow, like sunrise, swept over cheek and forehead. A smile, slight but sweet, quivered upon her lips. Drowning in the depths, she heard across the billow a hail that spoke of hope, life, happiness.
Will you now, while you think of it, give me your address? She wrote the required direction, and received in exchange for it the now smooth bit of wood, which had afforded occupation to Philip for half an hour past. Suckaz Behind Screens feat. Make Or Break feat. Party Crashers feat. Walk The Streets feat. Live Your Life feat. The Hatred 2 feat. One Thing I Know feat. I Walk Alone feat. Nuclear Winter feat.
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