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hardly know this changed face of yours !" said Margaret Darwin, looking up to it, tenderly.
"That ride over to the creek this morning has put new life into me. Oh, Margaret, it seems good to be well once more."
The bright color had returned to the young man's lips now, and the cheeks had rounded to soft, oral outlines. Algernon leaned his head down a moment on his sister's shoulder, and then lifted it snddenly.
"Come, sis, let's have a song together," glancing toward the piano, in one corner, which, with some mantel ornaments, were the only new articles that had been added to the room since Squire Darwin had left it.
"It's fitting that this day should go from us with sweet songs, because it has brought us so many fair and pleasant gifts."
Margaret did not answer. She stood looking into the dancing flames with a dreamy, absorbed expression. Algernon bent down, and gazed into her face.
"What are you thinking of, Margery, sweet Margery?" he asked, playfully pulling one of her curls.
"Of two matters, Algernon. One was how easily we slip into a pleasant life, and how soon it becomes easy and natural to us; and the other was—"
"Was, what could have made Uncle Robert leave us his property, when he was so bitter an enemy to papa for so many years!"
"I have myself wondered over that a great many times of late. Mrs. Pierson," turning snddenly toward the window, "you were with our uncle a great deal during the last days of his life. Can you tell us what so softened his heart toward us?"
The little woman hesitated, and at last stammered, " I suppose he came to see things differently in his last hours. You know people have clearer eyes when they come to look over the long path of their life then."
This was too general an answer to satisfy the brother or the sister. The curiosity of both was aroused. Margaret went over to Mrs. Pierson, and said, earnestly, "If you know anything of this matter, and we feel you do, don't fail to tell us; it is our right to know."
Thus appealed to, Mrs. Pierson complied; and, with a good deal of embarrassment, she related her last, long conversation with Squire Darwin. Her voice broke down many times during the narrative, and the brother and sister were weeping together before she conclnded.
"And it is to you, after all, dear Mrs. Pierson, that we owe the deed of the Darwin Homestead !" said Algernon, at last, breaking along silence. "Oh, how shall we ever be able to repay yon?"
"How, indeed?" sobbed his sister.
"My dear children, not to me, but to God, who softened the hard heart of your uncle at the last, do you owe all that has come to you."
The November night had let down its dark curtains about them long before this. Mrs. Pierson could not see the young faces turned toward her, but their voices, soft and tremulous with gratitnde, reached her—
"To God, and to you—we owe it!"
No Mother.—She has no mother! What a volume of sorrowful truth is comprised in that single sentence—no mother 1 We must go far down the hard, rough paths of life, and become inured to care and sorrow in their sternest form before we can take home to our experience the dreadful reality—no Mothek—without a struggle. But when it is said of a frail young girl, just passing from childhood toward the life of woman, how sad is the story summed up in that one short sentence. Who shall administer the needed counsel—who shall check the wayward fancies—who shall bear with the errors and failings of the motherless girl?
Deal gently with the child. Let not the cup of sorrow be overfilled by the harshness of your bearing, or your unsympathizing coldness. Is she heedless in her doings? Is she careless in her movements? Remember, oh, remember she has no mother I When her companions are gay and joyous, does she sit sorrowing? Does she pass with a downcast eye and languid step, when you would fain witness the gushing of youth? Chide her not, for she is motherless; and the great sorrow comes down upon her soul like an incubus. Can you gain her confidence —can you win her love? Come, then, to the motherless: with the boon of your tenderest care; and by the memory of your mother already passed away—by the possibility that your own child may be motherless—contribute as far as you may to relieve the loss of that fair, fair child who is written "motherless."
Axticipatios.—Expectation, in a weak mind, makes an evil greater, and a good less; but in a resolved mind it digests an evil before it comes, and makes a future good, long before present. We must expect the worst, because it may come; the best, because I know it will come.
THE ORPHAN'S FAITH.
AH INCIDENT OF THE YELLOW FEVER IN NEW «R LEANS,
Thb fever raged. A father was struck down
Only two remained:
It is a fearful word that brief—alone!
Millions of broken hearts have echoed it
Within their secret depths since time began.
And millions more, in ages yet to come,
Must weep o'er withered hopes and buried joy:
'Tis misery's seal; yet, 'tis Jehovah's mark
By which, when they come down, the angels know
Those who shall nil high seats 'neath heaven's dome,
And, in their new, unending happiness,
Forget that earth had sorrows or despair.
They buried her beside the cherished dead.
Of ever varying splendors ne'er to end;
Alas! that such hours ever should have end,
Thus joys forever fade; the boy awoke,
O brave young heart! O blessed faith! O trust.
Only in heaven born! what lessons thou
Couldst teach old Christians, in profession gray I
Thy pure faith in that mother shall live on,
As hers In God's eternal promises,
When all earth's crowns and fleeting vanities,
With they who held them, shall have passed away
And, far amid the stars, with angels bright,
Thy first fair dream to its fulfilment comes
Within the realm of heaven's perfect life!
Affectation.—All affectation is the vain a ridiculous attempt of poverty to appear ricli. BT MART W
"MY MOST INTIMATE FRIEND."
"Asd I shall hear from yon often, Laura?"
"Oves, indeed I I shall have nothing else to occupy my time hut making calls, shopping, and writing home to my old schoolmates. You will be deluged with letters, darling. It will he splendid to board; no cares!"
"It most be," I assented; "so much leisure at your command. But there's the carriage. Don't forget to write often." And I kissed her repeatedly.
"You '11 hear from me every week, nil about my new city home; and when I keep bouse you are to make me such long visits, you know. Yon mustn't forget this, my dearest friend. Now, darling Nell, farewell!"
"Good-by! God bless you!" I answered, less romantically, but quite as fervently—I think note far more sincerely—than the bride of an hour, who tore herself from the embrace of my clinging arms, and then turned to receive the adienx of her family ere she was handed to the carriage by her tall, handsome, city husband.
"Farewell, darling, till you hear from me!" she added, leaning a moment from the window of the vehicle wherein sat the bridal party— herself, husband, and his two stylish sisters— then were whirled away to the railroad depot.
It sounded very pathetic, this parting salutation to me—Ellen Brewster, Laura Dashington's most intimate friend; and my eyes were quite w-t as I gazed after them a minute, then turned from the house whence had gone out a bride, and bent my steps homeward to my mother's modest little cottage.
It had been a fashionable wedding for our quiet Ashbrook; and, with most of Laura's schoolmates at the seminary, I had been invited to her father's pretentious mansion, for Jonas Ho!man had amassed quite a little fortune by dint of fortunate business capacity, and stood the moneyed man, par excellence, of the town. But I had .1 greater claim than many of the guests to the pretty bride's favor, for we had been intimate friends from the day I entered school; and though Laura's junior by two or three years, she had chosen to attach herself to me by the Mrongest protestations of regard. Indeed, we were the feminities for Damon and Pythias, and almost one and inseparable. Hardly a day passed but found Laura at our pretty cottage,
where I lived with my gentle widowed mother and younger brother Willie, or me at her more elegant home. Thus it came to pass that I conceived I had a rpecial right to be miserable when Laura married.
The husband whom Laura Holman had selected—or, rather, who had selected her—was a handsome, black-whiskered, showy man, seven or eight years her senior, of the firm of Lond, Talk, Dashington & Co., importers, Boston. From the time Laura had met him, two years previous, while on a visit to a city aunt —from which visit she returned in love with city life—it had been my firm belief that she would marry and make her home there; and when Mr. Dashington made his appearance at the Ashbrook Hotel, one Saturday, and was seen in Mr. Holman's pew the next Sabbath, as Laura's escort, the element of Ashbrook population who devoted themselves to the especial charge of love matters voted it "an engagement." And an engagement it proved to be, a fact which was promptly imparted to me in a dainty note Laura sent over to our cottage, one snowy day, by her little brother Frank, for the drifts were too deep to permit her coming in person; and time passed, and Laura wtnt to Boston to purchase her outfit, and her dresses were pronounced upon by Miss Price, the Ashbrook dressmaker, as "the loveliest things she had ever made up;" and at length the fateful day arrived, and Laura stood up a girl and sat down a bride.
As I said, it was a very fashionable morning wedding for Ashbrook. We supposed that the bridegroom's city sisters had had a good deal to do with that. The parlors were darkened, and the soft beams of solar lamps lent a subdued light; the bridal dress and veil were rich, and Laura looked, as all brides do, sweet and interesting; the Misses Dashington — Grace and Eloise—were perfect in their responsible roles of bridesmaids; and the cake, wine, weildingcards, et cetera, were of the most approved order of their kind. I even cherished the fancy that my own fresh white mulle, with my bine sash, looked pretty, and suitable, and very becoming to me.
So the wedding passed off with fclat, and the glare of day had again been let into Jonas Holman's parlors, and the carriage had whirled them and their trunks to take the A. M. train for Boston, and I, Laura's most intimate and now most disconsolate friend, was walking homeward, quite mournful, in the bright, bland, October morning.
All at once a footfall overtook mine on the leaf-strewn sidewalk, and I looked up to behold Esquire Abbot walking beside me. He was one of our prominent Ashbrook lawyers, a grave, staid, but cultivated man, and had been my mother's lodger during the three years of his residence among us, a man whom I had dubbe* " old bachelor" to the school-girls, and who had dubbed himself my "godfather" to my mother when he assisted me about my lesson§ of an evening in the little parlor of our cottage.
"Well, Miss Ellen, been to the wedding, I suppose ?" he said, speaking quickly.
"Yes, sir," I replied, dropping my veil, and not caring to look him in the face, for I knew my eyes were red with weeping, and I dreaded nothing so much as appearing sentimental in the estimation of Esquire Abbot, who had a way of being cynical and sarcastic when he chose. So I asked, gayly: "But why weren't you there? Everything passed off splendidly!" —for I knew that he had been one of the invited guests, as Mr. Holman's lawyer.
"Oh, an out of town client came in, and so the tasty wedding favor had to lie unhonored on my table. But I should have made but a poor party at a wedding, an old bachelor like me, and you can tell me all about it, Miss Ellen. Of course the knot was legally tied, and the happy.pair will soon be whirling Bostonward. There goes the train now"—as the shriek of the engine whistle came round a bend in the road of quiet Ashbrook. "Any sentiment at the altar? They say young ladies always cry at weddings, Miss Ellen," he continued, presently, stooping down to pick up a brilliant maple leaf that floated down on the sidewalk just before him. "Laura Holman is a pretty, cleverish sort of girl, but not deep; hardly the one for yon to mourn much for." And he turned and looked full into my tear-stained face, provokingly revealed by a light wind blowing my veil aside just then.
"Laura is my most intimate friend, Mr. Abbot," I answered, haughtily.
"Yes, yes, I see," said my cynical companion. "I've spen all this before; but, Miss Ellen, did it ever occur to you what is usually the end of such ardent school-girl friendships?"
"What?" I asked, with a little asperity of manner.
"Oh, a sort of natural death; they fade out like this." And he stooped again, and picked up a sere, brown, withered leaf which lay ou the vivid green grass border of our path.
"Never!" I answered, emphatically. "Laura is married, to be sure, and gone to a new home, and will have new ties; but I know she will always hold a large place in her heart for her most intimate sehool-girl friend. You say this because you are too calculating and old for such friendships yourself, Mr. Abbot."
Esquire Abbot smiled a little, a sad, weary sort of smile, then said: "Perhaps you are right. Pardon my unwelcome prophesies, Miss Ellen. Thirty-five and seventeen jndge differently. And yet I fancied I was connoissenr enough in human nature to detect its different kinds, and that your heart and Laura Holman's —pardon! Mrs. Albert Dashington's—were made of dissimilar materiel. Time will prove; and, if the thought pains you, may it also prove me a false prophet!"
I felt a little ashamed of my impetuosity, a little vexed at my want of respect toward Esquire Abbot, and also not a little flattered at his implied compliment to myself, so I said, to turn the subject: "What a splendid Indian summer day, Mr. Abbot!"
"Yes, glorious! These days are the wine of the year," he replied, sending the gaze of his dark eyes up to the golden, hazy sky, the trees in their gorgeous autumn livery, and drinking in a long draught of the bland, delicious air. "Your Ashbrook woods are grand; that line of ash and maples crowning the hill yonder on the outskirts of the town looks like a battle array of kings, in crimson and scarlet robes full panoplied, and flaunting their banners on the air. My morning's client cheated me out of the wedding, but the afternoon is at my disposal. Are you too absorbed with memories of Mrs. Albert Dashington to accompany me in a forest stroll after dinner, Miss Ellen?"
We had paused at the corner of a street; Esquire Abbot to bend his steps to the postoffice for the morning's mail, and I to strike off into the pleasant avenue leading homeward. "I should be delighted with the walk, Mr. Alvbot. But, pray, why do you think"—here I hesitated a little—"what makes you imagine Laura and I so unlike V
"Ah, the wound rankles !" he said, smiling. "Did I say unlike? No; yet you are so. I can hardly explain, now. Wait two, three, or five years, and we '11 talk further of this. Tell your mother that your godfather is to take charge of you for a stroll in the autumn
woods this afternoon. Good-morniug." And he walked rapidly down the street.
"Esquire Abbot is thirty-five years old, then," I mused, as I went homeward. "Well, I should have said he was full as old; that is, I should have thought so if I had thought at all." That was it, reader; I had never thought of his age, or of him save as a good, pleasant, elderly gentleman, whom my mother regarded with respect, and who was very fatherly and kind to me; but as he walked down the street i mused further. "And Eloise Dashington is eugaged to a rich old man of forty, Laura says, and they don't seem to think it anything out of the way, either; horrid, /think." Reader, forty was a Methusaleh-istio period and thirtyfive an advanced age to me then, for I was but seventeen.
That was a golden afternoon to me in the October woods. Even the prestige of Laura's wedding was quite out of mind; the artificial light of Jonas Holman's parlors was put to ehaine by the golden lauces the sun shot down through quivering tree-boughs; the crimson of his moreen curtains was out-hued by the glow of the blood-red maples and sumachs ; the softness of their carpets rivalled by the elastio wood moss; and the silver plate from which was served the bridal cake would have been dnll beside the sheen of the sunlit brooks leaping down the hillsides or winding through the glades. And Esquire Abbot was less cynical and more companionable than usual the hours of that golden-hearted October afternoon. "Better than parties or wedding festivals, this—eh, Miss Ellen ?" he said, seating himself on an old log gray with hoary wood moss, beside the noisy brook that ran through the forest, and tossing me a splendid spray of cardinal flower ho had leaned over to pluck from the hank. "When I am gone from Ashbrook, you won't forget this afternoon's walk in these grand old woods, will you, Miss Ellen 1"
"Gone ! leave Ashbrook! You are not going away, Mr. Abbot?" I asked, in surprise, for I had heard nothing of this intention hitherto. "Why, I thought you liked and had settled in Ashbrook!"
"I do like this pleasant, quiet old town, and at one time supposed I had fixed, not exactly my household gods, but my red-tape divinities here, Miss Ellen; but, like some ministers, I find that I have had ' a louder call.' And yet don't suppose that it's money merely that tempts me away; for, perhaps you know, I 've a competence my dear old father left me, and, besides, were it not so, I am one of those who
have learned to be rich with little. There are better things than money can bring us, Miss Ellen, in this life, and by these I mean sweet friendships, confidences, and perhaps dearer dreams, or, maybe, one day a merging of dreams into realities"—and for a moment his grave face grew glowing with mobile expression as his eye fell on ine, then he looked away to the crimson sumachs across the brook. "It isn't the hope of gain from a wider sphere of my profession, hut the breadth of life and the depth of experience one meets in a larger acquaintance with human nature. Besides, an old friend—Judge Graves—urges rue to become his partner; so, Miss Ellen, I have just decided to open my new office in Boston."
I did not say one word, sitting there by his side on the old moss-covered log that afternoon. It was so sudden. He had been so long with us—three years—an age to my light girlhood, aud I had never thought of change coming to our quiet, happy cottage.
"You will miss your old godfather a little at first, but your mother will be answering my letters on business, and you can inclose a little note now and then to let me know how you are getting on with your studies, for I shall feel interested in everything here still, Ellen."
"Oh, certainly," I said, confusedly, like one talking in a broken dream; and then added, more by way of making conversation than because I thought of a third party then, "You will see Laura often in Boston?"
"Perhaps," he said, half smiling, "thongh the city is not quite like Ashbrook, and one don't get too intimate with their neighbors. I shall hear of your coming down some' day to huy your wedding finery—eh, Miss Ellen 1"
"My first trip to Boston will be to visit my old friend when she is at housekeeping," I answered, curtly, and tossing my head with what I fancied an assumption of dignity.
"Oho, that is frromised, then? Well, I shall promise also to enact the godfather still, unless the young gallants find an old man in their way. I shall know when yon are in town. Let us go home, now, aud acquaint your good mother with my plans, Miss Ellen."
Why was it that the homeward walk through the October woods was so much gloomier than the going f Why had the golden haze that had filled all the air changed to dnll gray gloom? The sun had not yet set, and long lances wero striking aslant through the maples and sumachs, and the mountain ashes were heavy with their fruit; but all seemed dull, and dead, and sere.
My head ached all the evening, and I shaded