صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

per : “Ponder well the paths of thy feet;” of the proud, "Be not high-minded, but fear;" and of the seeker for this world's favor, “Come unto me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and yo shall find rest to your souls!"

“Might I but do this!" she said, half aloud.

“Might you but do what, cousin ?" asked Susan, laughing. She had that moment returned to the boudoir. “Confess now, Carl," continued she, as she rummaged some boxes that stood on her dressingtable—"might you but get a husband? or—or what? I would like to know where my gloves are. Mary has ransacked my chamber, and the parlor, and the hall. Ah! this is pleasant; here they are. Come, now, confess,” she added, again laughing; "might you-why how spiritual you look, Caroline! You must have been thinking-Might I but go to Birmah, and convert the heathen !-But your eyes are full. Pardon me just this time, sweetest cousin, and I will try." She kissed Caroline, dropped a tear or two, and then in one moment was pulling on her tight gloves, and making all sorts of comic grimaces. “The truth is, Caroline, there is no uso in all my trying. If I were with you, or Aunt Sarah, or Dr. Butler all of the time, it might succeed; but every other influence in Gotham is against me; and I am just weak enough to feel a sort of—of magnetic, I suppose it is a sort of magnetic sympathy with whatever spirit takes hold of me. Heigh-ho! Well, hast tried my guitar, Caroline ?”

Caroline shook her head.

“Well, another time. Come in this evening; or, this do. Come back here after our walk. We shall be almost starved, you know; and we shall take such comfort over our dinner! And then, when the day declineth,' we will sit here, and sing, and be happy."

Caroline smiled and nodded assent, and arranged Susan's shawl.

“Thank you: your shawl is always correct. Papa says if you were to throw your things on, they would be sure to fall always in just the best mode; and I believe they would; but I am so short! I haven't room for things. Did you ever see such looking curls?

“I don't know," answered Caroline. “Who occu. pies the second floor of the brick house opposite ?"

“ The Starks. You see the sign below, Stark, Wainwright, & Co.' The Starks were from Yan. koe land some ten or a dozen years ago. I can just remember now how I laughed at the queer little jockey-cap their babe wore when they came. 'But such a fat, fair face, and such curls I never saw; and now she has grown the most splendid little gipsy in the world. I have longed to get at her when I have heard her laugh, so clear and ringing. We are not on terms, however; Mr. Stark's firm and papa's are rivals in trade, so they pass each other; and one never meets them in society. I conclude that they were from the woods direct: at any rate, they seem to prefer birds and flowers to people; for their parlor is at once parlor, aviary, and greenhouse. Ah! now I remember- I suppose Mrs. Stark is very ill: I have noticed the last two years that she has been growing paler and paler. I did not see her once all last winter; but Dr. Lane called every day, and, the first beautiful warm spring day, the parlor curtains were put farther back, a window was opened, and, as I sat here, I saw her husband bring her and seat her in an easy-chair close by the window. And such a look as here was when she turned her large dark eyes up to the sky! Her face was as dazzlingly white as her deshabille, except a round spot in each cheek, and her lips, which were as red as a cherry. She looked like a beautiful spirit; and I could not avoid weeping as I sat here and thought how dread. ful it was that she must so soon be 'barred from the day,' and from her husband, who is truly elegant, and wbo seems as tender of her as if she were a babe. But Miss Malone came in, and I brushed off my tears. She was infinitely amazed at the simplicity of my boudoir, described hers, told me about Amelia Ashton's divan, and Laura Hastings's toilet appointments, and Miss Vane's Psyche; and from that hour until last evening, when my improvements reached papa's "Thus far and no farther,' I have thought of nothing but boudoirs and boudoir appendages. Ah! Caroline, I understand that look of yours. It is too bad, I know, to go on so, forgetting everything serious in scrambling after fashions and vanities. Eh bien! I sha'n't grow lachrymose about it. Come! there go the Dunklees. Now, Away, away we bound o'er-Stop, Carl! let me take my parasol. Of one thing I am thoroughly convinced; that is, I was not made for a pattern lady. Where can my parasol be? I have tried, times without number, to be like you, as you know; and you know, and I know how I failed, and how ridiculous I made myself. No; do you be Minerva; that is your forte; for that your solid head and queenly form were made. But Idid you ever see anybody so short?-Aha! here is my parasol —And just rap on my forehead, Caroline, and see if it is not hollow. But how serious you are this morning! There, now I am ready: do come now! When will we look upon the sea ?

‘Away, away we bound over the doep; Lightly, brightly our merry hearts

This is miserable! there come the Dunklees into the court, and up to our door. But we will wait here. Fifteen minutes is their rule; and if obliged to ransack every nook and corner of their dull brains for themes, they never leave a moment too soon; or if discussing Miss Lorena Ann's accomplishments, gained chiefly in one year at that miserable boarding-school of Mrs. Dearbon-by the way, the most fruitful topic they ever hit—they never stay one moment too long. But why-what makes you so uncommonly mute to-day? What bave you been looking at?"

There is freedom in the ocean,

There is spirit in the breeze There is life in every motion

of the ever-restless seas.'”

"Oh, don't sing so loud, Susan!” said Caroline, again withdrawing her eyes from the window. “See ! there is a carriage at Mr. Stark's door, and a coffin !"

"Yes; and they are carrying it in. Dreadful! Mrs. Stark has gone, then. But how you tremble, dear Caroline! You surely don't allow yourself to be moved in this way at sight of every coffin ?”

“Not of every one; but just like this my mother died: she too died in spring, when she was longing to go where she might see green fields, and trees, and flowers once more. I was only twelve, you know; but, as if it were yesterday, I remember allher last kiss, and the blessings that came upon her last breath. Oh, could she but have lived, Susan ! could even one of my parents but have been spared to me! You know not-God grant you never may learn by such an experience as mine—the reasons you have now to bless Him with every breath you draw.”

Susan flung her arms around Caroline's neck, wept a few moments as if her heart were breaking, sobbed out broken and passionate assurances of sympathy and love for Caroline, of gratitude to Heaven, and of determinations to begin then to live a better life. But see how it all ended! At the Park, the cousins were met by Frank Vane and his sister, who had a thousand "airy nothings” to discuss with them. Were they at Mrs. Gilman's concert last evening?were the Holmes's girls there?—did Adaline wear her new velvet?-was Park Howland as assiduous as ever in his devoirs to that inimitable Abby Lane?Oh! Ah! Indeed! Well, they would part them.After much more nonsense and sarcasm on the part of the Vanes and Susan—they would part then and there; but they would meet again to-morrow at the Bennett's grand dinner: au revoir, au revoir.

never shook his head, or said "No," or went on with his newspaper reading, saying never a word. There was no time when she could not go out with money in her purse; no time when she could not send John out with wood, coal, provisions, clothing; not in all that long, cold winter in New York, when cheeks grew hollow and purple with hunger and cold only a little way from their door; and when beseeching eyes were raised to hers, and thin, trembling hands held out from human beings whose hearts were making ready every moment for deeds of crime, by the growing desperation of their conditions, by the gnawing hunger, and by the thought of the little ones that waited at home. She never heeded them; or, if ever she did, no one knows it; it was only for a moment; not long enough for the benevolent thought to go out in the benevolent deed. Her head was so full of balls, dinners, and operas-of ball, dinner, and opera dresses! God forgive her that, of all he had given her, she had nothing for his needy children-nothing for the poor and sick of his earthly kingdom! God forgive her that she lived so many days and months of leisure and plenty, and yet went not one step forward, made herself not one grain wiser or happier than she was six months before! When Christmas came, she made unprecedented outlay in costly gifts for her wealthy friends. And this she might innocently have done if she had not “left the other undone,” the other work of providing also gifts for the poor. She would leave “all that sort of thing” to Caroline and Mrs. Adlin, the good aunt with wbom Caroline resided, she said, as she ran laughing and singing away.

Have my readers read that excellent thing of Dickens's, his "Christmas Carol ?" Then do they not wish that on that Christmas evening, when Caroline and Susan sat each in her chamber at home, and fell asleep in her easy-chair of weariness-do they not wish that then Dickens's good old “Ghost of Christmas Present" might have come in his slippers to each by turns, taking them abroad through the streets, the close doors, and windows, whenever their Christmas words and works had gone, laying it all bare before them, what they had done, and what they had left undone? In a magnificent parlor, a few rods from her house, Susan would have heard it in ridiculously affected tones—"I absolutely can't think why Miss Allen sent this sort of thing here to me: we're not in the least intimate, you know," and all that. “But, isn't this a nice idea? I'll send it straight to that Miss Webbor out in the woods somewhere, who sent me the moss work. Won't this be excellent?” The “thing" was a vase of shells, the chef-d'œuvre of Susan's Christmas operations. A little farther, she would have found a beautiful ring about being disposed of in pretty much the same summary way. She would have seen that a fow things gave a real pleasure, were really prized: but, alas! this was where she cared least about giving a pleasure, least about bestowing a prize. Pity sho

CHAPTER II.

Susan tried no more; or, it is not known to us, who see with the mortal eye, that she tried. She may have done it, for all that. Night may have known of tears running silently upon the pillows; and of “oh dears!" more than we could count; and of determinations to do something in the next twenty-four hours worth the doing; of saying something worth the saying-worth the being written in the Lamb's book. We can never know; for Night is dark and silent on such points; and the girl showed no fruits of repentance. There was no amendment: you never heard her speak, that she mig not as well have been still, for all the good it did. Rich she was, or her father was rich, which was all the same, since to her reasonable desires he

didn't see this: the lesson would directly have made ber a nobler, happier girl.

Caroline would have seen in more than one poor house such quiet lids, now that it was all over; now that they had had such a day and evening of warmth and plenty! She would have seen them in another home, children and all, still up, talking over the delights of the day, sitting far back; and a thing was this they could not often do, to sit away back in a large ring, some of them at the windows even the room was so warmed through and through of that sweet Miss Norris's wood. They would love to sit up all night, not to have the warmth wasted; and it was so now, so good not to be jammed shivering together close by the little stove. Only think of it! there were, after all, plates full and plates full left; and wood enough to last them a fortnight; and by that time, why long enough before that time, Mrs. Hampden would be ready to pay them for that fine sewing, and Miss Lawrence for that washing; and father would be strong by that time, wouldn't he? now he needn't be worrying about them; now they had such plates full, and such heaps of wood; and now the sweet Miss Norris was coming to see them every little while all winter. Wouldn't father be better? Yes, children, that we know now; because it happened that he was better directly. It was, in reality, only a slight indisposition. He just saw that his arm had less strength than was its wont; that sometimes, oftener than ever before, rheumatism ran along the cords; that continually day and night he felt fever and disquiet in his brain. This set him to thinking that he might soon be helpless. He probably would soon be helpless; and then, in all that great, wealthy city, there were none save the authorities who would look in on them, who would bury him out of the way if he died, or do anything for all that host of little ones, or for the faithful mother, whose strength was already so far spent with the toilsomeness of her way. These were freezing thoughts; and for a few days they acted like palsy on the poor man's heart and arms. It was the opportuno kindness of our good Caroline that brought him out of it, and made him straightway a sound

gnawing pain, especially in the heart of the daughter, for beauty, for beauty in their home, for flowers, pictures ; and oh, for books! for leisure to read them! O God, for these !—for a tittle of that which was trodden under foot as of nothing worth in the home across the way! But Caroline found them; Caroline found them! She heard young Vane wishing that, somewhere among “the Upper Ten," be could find such large, lustrous, heavenly eyes as that sewing girl bad in her pretty, little, haughty head. Gad! or if she had “the tin," and not the station ; but—whew! whew! where were his gloves ? Would his sister and Miss Susan just help him to find his gloves? He was going to see if he could scare up a party of wild, good fellows for some sort of a scrape or other. He must get that Mansen girl's eyes out of his heart some way. Not again should he be persuaded to go to the widow's, if the work to be brought was as rich as a Golconda dia. mond. It might be broken; it had better be than his heart. Whew! au revoir, ladies. With this, he took himself from the room, laughing, and yet with a flushed face and unquiet eyes.

If the Ghost had taken Caroline to the widow's room that evening, she would have seen nothing new except that table between the widow and her daughter. But it was all they could have asked in the whole world. They did not want anything else; they were so grateful in the thought that their longing was appreciated, that there was one in that city who thought their privations something, even though they did not actually freeze, actually starve. The table was new, and ran lightly on its castors, so that by day it could be wheeled into the sunlight, for the sake of a thing of matchless beauty budding and blossoming there, a marble rose ; and, by night, to the centre of the room near the stove, that the rose, the large volumes, the “Magazine," and the “Journal,” might be between the widow and her daughter, beneath the light of the new lamp. It was an unusual thing in that room, such a light as that large lamp gave. And this was an unusual thing, having in a can oil enough to supply it plentifully into the short spring evenings. Caroline would not have heard many words; but she would have seen that Mrs. Mansen could not read at all for the tears in her eyes; that, at length, she gave up trying, and sat and rocked with her eyes on the sweet face opposite, bent low over the volume she was reading. And presently she would have heard a voice sweet as the face itself say: “Oh mamma! hear this :- But thero is a far higher likeness to Christ than the artist ever drew or chisellod. It exists in the heart of his true disciple. The true disciple surpasses Raphael and Michael Angelo. The latter have given us Christ's countenance in fancy, and, at best, having little likeness to the mild beauty and majestic form which moved through Judea. But the disciple who sincerely conforms himself to the disinterestedness, and purity, and filial

man.

There was one home not of what we call absolute want. The widow Mansen and her two daughters had a tidy room on the third floor of a third-rate house. By being every minute of the day and far into the night over their needles, they met Want always on the threshold, and sent the meagre wretch away. They were never hungry, or thirsty, or cold, that they had not the means of supplying at least that day's need. One inay be grateful for this; and in their gratefulness, in their hope of the freedom, the rest, and the enjoyment of Heaven, they may be happier a million times than the rich about them who never give thanks, whose hopes and pleasures are all built on this ever-jostling foundation called Earth. But there was a want that often became a

worship, and all-sacrificing love of Christ, gives us no fancied representation, but the true, divine lineamonts of his soul, the very spirit which beamed in his face, which spoke in his voice, which attested his glory as the Son of God.'” Then she would have seen the large eyes fill, and the large tears go drop, drop upon the page.

As it was, as no Ghost of Christmas Present came, Carolinè saw and heard none of these things; but sho knew that others were happy for what she had done ; that she was happy; and she lay down in peace.

CHAPTER III.

morning, and again at evening, when Uncle Joseph said, with bis good, persuasive voice : “Let us all unite in prayer.” Then every face was thoughtful and subdued in a moment; every little knee was bent, every childish voice said Amen, and in such loving tones that it always sent a thrill through Susan's heart. Those parents with hands as hard as a shell, and with the sweat of labor for ever on their brows, those little children even, kept God always near them, saw Him in all their bountiful supplies of fruit, flowers, and grain, trusted in Him, and felt no fear. It was He that blessed them in all things; hence there was no pride, no vain-glory in their successes. Susan felt it more and more every day, that, in coming near them, He also came near her, waited for her, held out a father's hand to her, and said, ever plainer and plainer, “Daughter, give me thine heart." If she went abroad and it was all the same if she sat within—through the open windows and doors, she heard all the birds, and every living thing praise Him. The river went by bright and glorious, telling of the mighty hand that gathered its waters. She only, with all her gifts, and her conscience upbraiding her for her frivolousness, bent no knee, gave no thanks, asked no blessing, wasted the days and the years. She wept herself asleep thinking of this; and the next morning, when Uncle Joseph said " Let us pray," she knelt with them and again wept. Soon she was a new creature. She saw a new and glorious beauty in nature, a new and glorious interest in life. There was no more ill-natured mimicry, or fault-finding. If one was vain, another foolish, and yet another frivolous, so was she all of these until the Lord helped her to be wise.

SUMMER came, and the poor thought the city a paradise, because there were no cold days and nights; no long, dark evenings: because work was moro plenty and wants were less pressing ; but the rich could never endure such heat and such prostration. Hence, they betook themselves one way and another to watering-places, or to friends in the country. Caroline and Susan had tried Saratoga, Rockaway, and Newport, at different seasons This year they would go up the Hudson to Uncle Joseph's. They were there--the uncle, aunt, and cousins—in the quaintest of all houses, on a large farm that their united industry had made to “blogsom like the rose." They were kind and intelligent. They loved to see the nieces there, going through the rooms filling the vases, arranging the books, playing with the children, instructing them--not by regular lessons, but incidentally as they frolicked and talked -sitting down quietly and sewing, now making the new garment, and anon tucking bits of braid, or fringe and buttons on the old, taking the children -all but the baby, and they begged altogether to take her too, she was such a darling—to a sail, walk, or carriage-drive. It made Aunt May's head whirl as she stood with baby in her arms, seeing the girls and their oldest boy, Henry, go galloping and “cutting the air" on those wild young creatures. “No more fit for a woman to ride !" she always said. But Uncle Joseph was lifted in the air by the daring, the sublimity of the thing; and the boys swung their hats and cheered.

Uncle Joseph's folks bad a room full of children, from Henry, who was sixteen years old, down to the little Mary, who was less than two; but there were never too many of them. Look at any one of them, and you would be sure that that one could not be spared; the house would be sad enough, if it were not for that one, with his or her peculiar ways, measures, and amiabilities. As it was, there were berries, trout, birds of game, frolics, surprises, outeries, out! torn frocks and pants enough to keep mouths, fingers, and brain ever interested, ever busy. They were never still, except in the

CHAPTER IV.

“ ANGEL,” her young friends called Susan when they returned to the city, such a beautiful light was in her eye, such a benutiful barmony and pleasantness pervaded her whole being. Some, however, would curl their lip; but the distortion did not come legitimately; it was, in reality, no disgust they felt that Susan was so mild, so full of light, such an “angel." She did them good, all of them. It was more here, and less there; but all were better, if only in a trifling degree, for coming near her. It did them good when, in a few months, they stood 80 many of them in her death-chamber, and saw that certainly she was not too much an angel, none too pure and godlike for the presence she was soon to enter. She blessed them all, begged them to give themselves to God then. They ought to love Him, she told them with a choking voice, He was 80 good to them; and they never would be truly happy until they did, never. It was the old story. They had all heard it from the pulpit, from aged lips; they had seen it in books; yet it was a new thing coming from that young friend, the dear, the beloved one; and it melted them as nothing had ever melted them before. She died with a heavenly peace in her uplifted eyes and on her tongue; and her young friends went onward in life, He only,“ who searcheth the heart, seeing it exemplified in them the blessedness of Susan's regenerated life, and of her triumphant death."

CHAPTER V.

Many years have passed since then. Then it was '34, now it is '48; fourteen years have passed; and if you go now to the old home of Susan, the parents are not there. Go up to Uncle Joseph's ; and there you will find them across the way, in the loveliest spot of all that lovely region; close by the river in the midst of all those voices that once were in their beloved daughter's ear. They love to think of this; they would never be willing to live anywhere else ; in no other spot on the earth could they have made the grave of Susan. The grave-you can see the white monument there among the wil. lows, close by the river. Unclo Joseph's youngest, named for their Susan, is almost always with them. They spoil her, the neighbors say; but they do not. They are no longer blind in their movements. They know that it is an immortal one they lead about by the band, take to their arms, their table, and the little cot close beside their own bed. No, the parents could not live anywhere else, now Susan is away.

Go back to the city; and there in the former home of the Vanes you will find the widow Mansen, her daughter, and her daughters but no matter ; 'tis a long story about the daughter; and there is here no room for it. Mrs. Mansen is no better, and it may be not vastly happier, in the main, than when it was

“Work-work-work,

Till the brain began to swim:
Work-work-work,

Till the eyes were heavy and dim!” We would not have thought the change in her condition worth naming, only it minds us afresh that, in this new republic, we are all, as it were, on Ixion's wheel; so that, if we find ourselves looking down on people at present, we may as well be humble, not only for humility's sweet sake, but because by and by we may be coming down, down; and those who erst were below us may be going up, up far enough over our heads. The bankruptcy of

he Vanes would have been infinitely easier to bear if there had been no arroganco, no foolish pride in the day of their strength.

The reverse in Mrs. Mansen's fortune came of her only brother, who, ten years ago, returned from

Russia, where he had made a fortune. He was "rich as a Jew," and it was for this consummation he had been toiling all those long years. But he was not in the least happy, since no pleasant lips ever turned to him and said-husband, father, brother, or uncle. He came home; and, after a long search, found his sister and niece in the home of Caroline, whence good Aunt Odlin had departed

It was pleasant that Caroline took the widow ind orphan under her hand. There had been mutual comfort in the thing all along; and then in the end Caroline married the old bachelor from Russia. This would have been no lucky dénouement, as marrying a rich bachelor merely; but nowhere else in the world could she have found a panion so perfectly suited to her, with such a noble face and figure, so highly intellectual, and above all so loving and kind; fond of travel like herself, and like herself no less fond of sitting quietly in their own room, reading, and talking of what they read, what they had seen in their travels, and laying plans with her for the relief of the poor of the city. Mrs. Mansen was their almoner; and she went chiefly among the sewing women. She knew what they suffered ; and she had determined that the rest of her life should be given to them.

Caroline has two babies, beauties! and such lovely things! You would not think it of such a tidy, magnificent man as her husband—that is, if you have no good brother, brother-in-law, or husband who does the same-but he does lie on the carpets often, and let the children crawl over him. Mothers know how much this is worth to Caroline. Their gambols afford her a pleasant diversion; she has many a hearty laugh over them. Besides, she is able, while they go on, to fold her hands and rest; feeling thankful that it is not of necessity that all amusements beyond those furnished by the hired nurse must come from her, whether she is strong or weak, disposed to laugh, or only to read quietly, or look in the grate with her thoughts back in the olden time, when there were parents and childhood's home for her, when the dear Susan lived, and ospocially when she died.

SONNET.-WATER.

BY WM. ALEXANDER. MYSTERIOUS Fluid i claim'st thou highest praise

By power penetrative thou art everywhere!

Where matter is, there thou-in earth, in air Perchance, too, where gleam Fire's red flashing rays Thy viscous nature makes our houses stand.

Deprived of thee, wood into ashes turns,

Stones crumble into dust. The sparkling urns,
Where thou, in love, invitingly dost stand,
Are richest treasure to both poor and proud;

And sandy deserts can thy value tell,

Where nations strive to gain some cold deep well; Whence gushest thou with silvery voice and loudIn rills and rivers through the woods thou goest; Carrying life and joy and health where'er thou flowest

« السابقةمتابعة »