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in tears; and Mattie, with a volume of love and trust unsealed in her heart, went out from the home-nest and into her new life. I gazed upon the two with hand in hand, and eye and heart answering back to eye and heart, and tried to give utterance to the longings that swept across my soul. "Come back, oh, come back to me, beautiful life of my lost youth! Oh, come again, sweet trust, rare hope, tender love!"
But the words died dumbly on my lips, across which a spell seemed to be flung. I could only sit, like the marble statues that gleamed passionless from their niches in the wall, and gaze longingly and eagerly while the phantasm faded away from my gaze. Another picture now rose before me.
I saw myself again clad in a garb which I remembered well—a pretty, cheerful morningdress, which was Warren's choice, and my birthday gift. I sat in a nursery, and my babe, the only one God ever gave me, was playing on my lap; and Warren came in, a proud and happy father, and the baby laughed, and crowed, and stretched out his tiny hands; then a shadow fell. Three years went by, and a demon had entered our home and sat side by side with me at my hearth. It was not Want, it was not Wine, it was not Uukindness; but it was the fiend Fashion, who came and touched me with her foul breath. Business had prospered with the merchant Warren Henderson, gold had poured into his coffers, his ships rode on the sea, his warehouses were crowded with their stores; and with gold came Fashion, with Ambition, and Pride, and a score of demons in her train. It whispered: "You are young and you are, beautiful: in the great world you would be an acknowledged queen. Put your husband's wealth to use! furnish a splendid home! give feasts and entertainments, attend them; let not your beauty fade out in the nursery; your child will get on well enough in the nurse's care ; let the world know that you are alive, and live in it, and can shine a queen!"
And this was the beginning of the shadow which darkened the picture. I saw it all in the panorama unfolding before me; and, sitting in my velvet chair, with the waves of lustrous silk bathing my person, I groaned in bitterness of spirit as I recognized the faithfulness of the portraiture. I saw the glitter of the ball and the rout, the splendid furniture, the silver plate, the gay equipage, the costly pictureframe adorning stately apartments, and, amidst it all, through the opened door of a neglected nursery I saw a pale, pining, drugged four-year
old child slowly dying 1 The end came. The tiny rosewood casket was closed over the features of the child who died motherless ; for no mother had lived, since the first year of his babyhood, for him 1 I saw a strong man bend in convulsed grief over his dead boy, then go out silently, and, growing graver day by day, turn to his business again; I heard frantic bursts of grief from the stricken mother's lips; and I clasped my jewelled hands, and stretched forth my braceleted arms till every diamond struck back a blinding glow into my eyes, and cried in anguish: "Oh God, be merciful I Dash not my sin back into my face 1 I loved my boy—but I was mad! mad 1 The siren voice of Fashion drowned every other cry. Oh, if those days could but stay with me again, when my boy was alive and playing on my knees! Oh come back to me, my beautiful boy I Open your blue eyes and smile upon me again! Laugh and grow upon your mother's lap!" But even while I implored and stretched forth my clasped hands, the shadow brooded heavier, and its sable wing blotted out the picture from my vision.
A long pause fell between; and then another, and the last picture swept before me. I recognized its faithfulness at once. I had seen its counterpart daily all the latter period of my life—myself, as reflected in the long mirrors on the walls—my home, as I presided over it day by day. Was it possible that ten years had intervened between this picture and the preceding one? I had not changed save to fuller and perfected beauty. My lengths of purple black hair had lost none of their glossiness; my figure had no angular lines, only roundness of outline and dignified grace ; my eye had lost none of its brightness, nor had a line furrowed my white, satin-smooth brow. But, ah, this was a magic picture, for it revealed my heart 1 It held a little mound, beneath which I had buried my baby, but this was all overgrown with weeds; there were other headstones there, too, upon which, in half-effaced characters, I traced dimly and blurred the words Love— Faith—Trust; and over all seemed written, in letters of gold, the words Fashion—Ambition— and Pride.
I turned from this portraiture of myself to that of the house I inhabited, for I dared not call it by the blessed name of "home." Its walls rose fair and stately, and the choicest decorations of furnishing were within. There were carpets of Persian dye, tables of costly mosaic, chairs of rosewood and velvet, statues of marble and bronze, wares of china and silver plate; and through these halls I moved, a cold and beautiful woman of ice. In all that wide and stately mansion, no cheerful home nook, no cosy corner for the easy chair, the slippers, or the kitten on the hearth; pianos, pictures, statuary, the rustle of silks, the artificial smile of "well-bred" men and women, the sound of fashionable waltz orpolka—all thesewere there, but not a child's gleesome laugh, or the patter of baby steps. In all that great mansion, no beat of a healthy human heart-life, no love, no household affection, no welcoming kiss and pressure of kindly hands, only two benumbed lives coming occasionally into contact, and shielded in the casing of form and ceremony— my pale, haggard, business-worn husband, toiling over his ledgers and accounts, and the woman who preserved her beauty for the admiration of her world of fashion, heV love for the gewgaws and tinsels of wealth, and her soul to be laid at the altar of ambition—that woman, myself!
I shrank from the portraiture with dismay. Was it possible that the happy child, the trusting, betrothed maiden, the young bride, the proud mother, had become merged into this cold, glittering petrifaction, whose silken robes draped a heart of ice? Why had this been? It was all wrong—a bitter, bitter mistake; and I passed judgment upon the woman I saw before me, as though she were the third party, and I held her fate in my hands.
While I sat and gazed in anguish of soul, into the picture glided a pale, care-worn, haggard man, wearing the same expression I had often seen, or might have seen had I looked with wifely eyes upon my husband's face. How changed he looked from the hopeful, manly, buoyant Warren Henderson, who had stood beside me in the June moonlight, and received answering sympathy and encouragement when he spoke of the toils and anxieties of his business life! how different from the young husband of years before, who found a faithful heart into which he might pour all the troubles of his harassed life, or the success which crowned his ventures. Warren Henderson had not used to look so careworn; but a few months had done the work of years. He had been a grave and silent man ever since his boy died; but now there is some fresh trouble, some anxiety eating away his life. He looks old, too, for one who should be still in his prime: he is but forty yet; I am only thirty-five, and my raven braids are fresh and glossy as at eighteen; but there are gray hairs on his temple locks. "What has brought this about ?" I asked.
In a moment my question was answered. Into the magic picture before me came a shadowy finger, and pointed to the paper-strewn table at which my husband sat. I gazed, and beheld a revelation, and mechanically my eye ran over every paper he opened. The catalogue was fearful—a long array of bills—plate, furniture, statues, jewels, silks—a long array, in which I recognized distinctly my own agency. All these had / decreed that the wealthy merchant's wife must have; and I had never dreamed but that the purse of Fortunatus held enough to supply all. And, balancing this catalogue of expenditures, stood R tangled trade, depreciated stock, warehouses crowded with unmarketable goods, empty coffers, with the word "Panic!" "Panic!" written as with a pen of fire over all. While he sat and unfolded paper after paper, and laid it aside with a harassed look, I stole nearer and gazed upon one he had just taken. I recognized it ere he opened it—my latest bill sent home that evening, the bill for my ball-dress. How came it there? I had thrust it into the drawer of my dressing-bureau before going t o Madame Washington's; but here it was—and my pale, haggard husband was scanning the last price of my folly. I made a movement to snatch it from him, but he waved me back, saying, in a hollow voice: "Nay, it is too late I And, after all, what matters it when the last feather that breaks the camel's back is laid upon him? It is useless to try to keep up longer. I have done my best to keep above-board, but the crash must come! I do not care for myself— but for you, for you, Mattiel" and he turned despairingly away.
The spell was broken—he had called me "Mattie!" For years I had been to him "Mrs. Henderson."
"Oh, no! noI don't care for me, Warren! I see it all now—my selfishness has led you to ruin; but I can be a different woman I Oh, Warren, believe me, I will be different!" I cried aloud, '' What do I care for wealth or station, in comparison with the happiness of my husband?"
"What is it, Mattie? You asleep here, and dreaming? It is late—past three o'clock!" I heard in reply; and I started to find myself seated in the great velvet chair, and my husband standing beside me,
Was it true! Had I indeed been asleep, and dreaming? Had my four visitors—my four other selves—the child, the betrothed maiden, the bride, the mother—been conjured from the realms of dreamland? and I looked across the room to the chairs and fautcuil against the wall, to assure myself that they were not really occupied by them still. But, dream or no, it had brought its lesson to sink deep into my heart; I saw myself in my true character; and the gas-light was not turned so low but I could see, # also, the careworn expression on every feature of my husband's face, and that he was pale and hollow-eyed.
"Did I fall asleep? I must; but you, Warren, you have not slept!" I said, for just then I noticed that he was in his coat and full dress.
"I have been up late, looking over some papers I brought up from the store—sitting down in my little basement writing-room. But I was just going up stairs," he replied. "You should be asleep before this, Mrs. Henderson," he added, half-reprovingly, his eye wandering with a sort of pained look over my brilliant toilet.
"Oh, say 'Mattie!' Do not put me so far from your heart, Warren!" I broke out, taking his hand—it was cold and trembling—into my own. "Do pity me, for I have learned to pity myself! Oh, Warren, I have had a dream this evening that has shown me myself in my true light. I am nothing, worse than nothing! A drag, instead of a help-meet—a useless toy, instead of the true wife you married and had a right to expect me to remain! You have made a slave of yourself to gratify my selfishness; you have toiled early and late, and I have scattered the fruit of your labors like water spilt upon the ground. This life is killing you, and I am accountable for it all! Speak to me, Warren, and tell me that you do not hate me, and think I cannot awake, even at the eleventh hour, from my insane course!"
Not a word came from my husband's lips, but he sank on the carpet by my side and buried his face in my lap, and his clasp on my hand which he had retained was like an iron vice.
"Why do you not speak to me, Warren? Are you in trouble? Though unworthy of your confidence, yet your wife asks and needs it at this hour. You are in some great trouble, Warren!" I cried, for, bending over him, I read the deep lines in his forehead and the iron compression of his lips.
"Can you bear the worst, Mattie?" he said, hoarsely, lifting his eyes to mine. "The worst?"
"Anything, anything, my dear husband! I have been blind, but the scales have fallen now. Tell me everything! Are we ruined, Warren?"
"We are," he whispered in a thick, unsteady tone. "The crisis has carried me down. I have dragged away the long hours of this night in trying to devise some loophole of escape; but all in vain. To-morrow sees my notes protested, and our house goes down in the crash. I do not care for myself, but for you—for you, Mattie!" and he groaned in bitterness of spirit.
"Not for himself— but for me!" The very words of my dream 1 I could not bear it without a burst of tears. He so thoughtful for me, and I so selfish, so idle of his anxieties or cares! I pressed my lips to his corrugated forehead, and said, amid my sobs: "No, Warren, not ruined; for we have saved our love from the wreck! It will prove our salvation— I feel assured of it. Let the storm come! I believe I shall bless it as the happiest event of my life, if it brings us nearer to each other, as a true husband and wife ought to live!"
Warren looked at me steadily, and a weight seemed to be lifted off his head. His cheeks flushed; the veins that had stood out like knotted whipcords on his forehead, relaxed; his lips lost their grim compression; and there was a ripple of tears in his voice.
"Mattie, you have saved me!" he said.' "Maddened by the thought of the morrow, I know not but the result might have been this — see I" and with ashndder he drew forth a little vial, labelled "laudanum," from his vest pocket. "I bought it at an apothecary's as I came up to-night. God forgive me, Mattie—I was mad! I said, 'It would be but a dreamless sleep, and I should never wake more to disgrace.* Yes, God pardon me; I was a coward and mad! But you have saved me, Mattie!" and again his face sank upon my lap, and a passion of weeping shook his strong frame, and relieved his overcharged heart.
"Warren, we have both been mad!" I said, with pallid lips, and striving, for his sake, to subline the terror that begirt my whole being when I realized how nigh my husband had stood to the wretched guilt of a suicide. "And God forgive me for my want of sympathy in all your troubles; and help me, from this hour, to be your faithful wife! Let the world be cast behind us—it will be no loss, so our lesson brings us heart to heart. Oh, Warren, we will live over again the old days, when the world and fashion had not come between us, and, God helping me, they shall never part tis again!"
And, sitting there late into the night, my husband kneeling beside me, and with his head upon my lap, I bent my cheek to his; and our tears, baptizing our rennion, fell upon the silken folds of my last folly, my ball-dress.
SUGGESTIVE READINGS. Unhealthy Positions op The Body.—Those persons engaged in occupations requiring the hands alone to move, while the lower limbs remain motionless, should bear in mind that without constantly raising the frame to an erect position, and giving a slight exercise to all parts of the body, such a practice will tend to destroy their health. They should, moreover, sit in as erect a position as possible. With seamstresses there is always more or less stooping of the head and shoulders, tending to retard circulation, respiration, and digestion, and produce curvature of the spine. The head should be thrown back, to give the lungs full play. The frequent long-drawn breath of the seamstress evinces the cramping and confinement of the lungs. Health cannot be expected without free respiration. The life-giving element is in the atmosphere, and without it in proportionate abundance must disease intervene. Strength and robustness must come from exercise. Confined attitndes are in violation of correct theories of healthy physical development and the instinct of nature. Those accustomed to sit writing for hours, day after day, can form some idea of the exhausting nature of the toilsome and ill-paid labor of the poor seamstress.
Haste.—The eagerness and strong bent of the mind after knowledge, if not warily regulated, is often a hindrance to it. It still presses into farther discoveries and new objects, and catches at the variety of knowledge, and therefore often stays not long enough on what is before it, to look into it as it should, for haste to pursue what is yet out of sight. He that rides post through a country, may be able, from the transient view, to tell how in general the parts lie, and may be able to give some loose description of here a mountain and there a plain; here a morass, and there a river; woodland in one part, and savannahs in another. Such superficial ideas and observations as these he may collect in galloping over it. But the more useful observations of the soil, plants, animals, and inhabitants, with their several sorts and properties, must necessarily escape him; and it is seldom men ever discern the rich mines, without some digging.
Tue love of excellent friends is one of God's greatest blessings, and deserves our utmost thankfulness. The counsel of sound heads,
and the affection of Christian spirits is a staff of support and a spring of rejoicing through life.
BT RATE HARBINOTOR.
Ah Time, relentless, stern, and cold!
Our bridal, love! Thy earnest tone
Twelve moons in beanty wax and wane;
Then blithely comes young spring again,
And in her lap the morn I see
That sealed my plighted troth to thee.
Twice hallowed now! returned to mark
The launching of our tiny barque,
Round whose frail spars my fond hopes twine
With love's deep anthem, "bis and mine."
Again the trysting time has come—
Back, back, O spring! thy balmy breath
Home, where his welcome footsteps came,
But now 'tis night; the day is done;
The dying winds repeat my moan.
I sink in slumber—wild and free
My dreams are all of Heaven and thee.
I mount—I soar—the ether blue
Parts its soft haie and wafts me through;
I hear thy voice—I feel thy kiss,
And thought Is lost in wilderlng bliss.
A Hxbrt company of visitors it was, true enough, that filled my mansion home last summer. Proud Virginia Clifford, with her royal beauty, and grand Mr. Vernon, with his noble heart and sarcastic gravity, were the "stars," of course; but best beloved in my heart was our little comet, Willmette Ward. She was a relative of the Clifford family, and as I had often heard Virginia speak of her young cousin, I urged her to bring Willmette with her when she came to spend the summer with me. She wrote me, saying: '' Brother Harry has always assumed the charge of our little household pet, and it was with the greatest difficulty that I could persuade him to allow his 'little Ward,' as he calls her, to accompany me for even a short visit, and he would not hear to her going at all unless I would promise, first, to let her return home whenever he should come for her; and, secondly, that I would not take her into society. You will laugh at this, I doubt not; but if you knew how heartily Brother Harry despises fashionable society, you would not wonder at it. You know he is thirty-six now, and having been a great student and traveller, has seen enough of the world's fashionable, to be disgusted with their heartlessness and wearied with their follies. 'Why, Virna,' said he, 'I would rather shut Willmette in with lock and key than see her among the prattling puppets one meets in so-called society, which is a mere coming together of anglers, each fishing for the best partner with whom to dance away life's idle whirl.' 'Why, you grand master of impertinence,' said I, 'I consider that personal; and there you have my digit covers.' 'Ah, my dear sister,' said he, smiling, 'I grant you there are redeeming characters; but, though you are fifteen years younger than I, you must know by this time that what is generally filled fashionable society is a vain and heartless show, where softness is substituted for sentiment, policy for wisdom, pertness for wit, and beauty for all things; and where true friendship and disinterested love are unknown.' There was truth in what he said, and I felt it; but, you know, my friend, I find an excitement in fashionable life, and a certain enjoyment, too, and I have so many true friends that I can be entirely independent of 'general society,' in the popular sense of the term, if I choose. But I beg a
thousand pardons for this digression; and let me say in a few words, with the aforesaid proscriptions and restrictions, we come; that is, Willmette and I, with our waiting-maids."
One morning, two or three weeks after their arrival, while Virginia and Mr. Vernon were away for a ride upon our fiery "Jet" and " Raven," little Willmette, who, by the way, was a bewitching sprite, with slight, girlish figure, laughing blue eyes, and complexion of the sweetest rose and lily, came, and, throwing herself on the veranda steps by my side, and laying her head, clustered with sunny golden curls, upon my knee, she suddenly exclaimed—
"Dear Mrs. Arlington, who is this Mr. Vermin?"
"Vernon, Mr. Vernon, child."
"O yes! But who is he? where did he come from, and what makes him feel so grave and important?"
"Well, my dear, he is a wealthy English gentleman, and came from one of those splendid homes in England that Washington Irving tells us of in his histories."
"Oh, I never read history. Is that Washington the one that Cousin Harry tells me of, who fought the British, and was called 'the Father of his Country?'"
"O no; this is Washington Irving, a great author."
"Indeed I Well, I presume you think me terribly stupid; but, the truth is, I always hated history; and you see I'm but fifteen, and my mamma died when I was twelve years old, and she had never taught me anything but how to embroider, and sing, and read poetry, and play the guitar, and dance, and write letters. Ah, when she died, it almost broke my heart. Soon Cousin Harry came and took me to his home."
"Allow me to interrupt you, Willmette, dear," said I. "Who is this cousin Harry?"
"O my! don't you know? He is Virginia's only brother. She says that he is an old bachelor; but any way he is the high and mighty czar of the Clifford family, and we all think he knows everything. Not even a servant on the whole plantation dares wink, scarcely, until they know Harry approves it. And then he's—"
"Well, that will do, darling. I am anxious to hear your story."