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this half hour.” Then passing her arm within that of the individual she had addressed, she drew her aside before she had a chance to answer Mrs. Marygold's question.
In a few minutes after, a gentleman handed Melinda to the piano, and there was a brief pause as she struck the instrument, and commenced going through the unintelligible intricacies of a fashionable piece of music. She could strike all the notes with scientific correctness and mechanical precision. But there was no more expression in her performance than there is in that of a musical box. After she had finished her task, she left the instrument with a few words of commendation extorted by a feeling of politeness.
“Will you not favour us with a song?” asked Mr. Harwood, going up to one of the young ladies to whom allusion had just been made.
“My sister sings, I do not,” was the modest reply, “but I will take pleasure in accompanying her.”
All eyes were fixed upon them as they moved
towards the piano, accompanied by Mr. Harwood, for something about their manners, appearance and conversation had interested nearly all in the room who had been led to notice them particularly. The sister who could not sing, seated herself with an air of easy confidence at the instrument, while the other stood near her. The first few touches that passed over the keys showed that the performer knew well how to give to music a soul. The tones that came forth were not the simple vibrations of a musical chord, but expressions of affection given by her whose fingers woke the strings into harmony. But if the preluding touches fell witchingly upon every ear, how exquisitely sweet and thrilling was the voice that stole out low and tremulous at first, and deepened in volume and expression every moment, until the whole room seemed filled with melody! Every whisper was hushed, and every one bent forward almost breathlessly to listen. And when, at length, both voice and instrument were hushed into silence, no enthusiastic expressions of admiration were heard, but only half whispered ejaculations of “exquisite!” “sweet!” “beautiful!” Then came earnestly expressed wishes for another and another song, until the sisters, feeling at length that many must be wearied with their long continued occupation of the piano, felt themselves compelled to decline further invitations to sing. No one else ventured to touch a key of the instrument during the evening. “Do pray, Mrs. Lemmington, tell me who those girls are. I am dying to know,” said Mrs. Marygold, crossing the room to where the person she addressed was seated with Mrs. Florence and several other ladies of “distinction,” and taking a chair by her side. “They are only common people,” replied Mrs. Lemmington with affected indifference. “Common people, my dear madam! What do you mean by such an expression?” spoke up vol. xxvii.-4
Mrs. Florence in surprise, and with something of indignation latent in her tone. “I’m sure their father, Mr. Clayton, is nothing but a teacher.’’ “Mr. Clayton. Surely these are not Clayton's daughters!” ejaculated Mrs. Marygold in surprise. “They certainly are, ma'am,” replied Mrs. Florence in a quiet but firm tone, for she instantly perceived, from something in Mrs. Marygold's voice and manner, the reason why her friend had alluded to them as common people. “Well, really, I am surprised that Mrs. Harwood should have invited them to her house, and introduced them into genteel company.” “Why so, Mrs. Marygold?” “Because, as Mrs. Lemmington has just said, they are only common people. Their father is nothing but a schoolmaster.” “If I have observed them rightly,” Mrs. Florence said to this, “I have discovered them to be a rather uncommon kind of people. Almost any one can thrum on the piano; but you will not find one in a hundred who can perform with such exquisite grace and feeling as they can. For half an hour this evening I sat charmed with their conversation, and really instructed and elevated by the sentiments they uttered. I cannot say as much for any other young ladies in the room, for there are none others here above the common run of ordinarily intelligent girls—none who may not really be classed with common people in the true acceptation of the term.” “And take them all in all,” added Mrs. Lemmington with warmth, “you will find nothing common about them. Look at their dress; see how perfect in neatness, in adaptation of colours and arrangement to complexion and shape, is every thing about them. Perhaps there will not be found a single young lady in the room besides them whose dress does not show something not in keeping with good taste. Take their manners. Are they not graceful, gentle, and yet full of nature's own expression. In a word, is there any thing about them that is “common?''' “Nothing that my eye has detected,” replied Mrs. Florence. “Except their origin,” half sneeringly rejoined Mrs. Marygold. “They were born of woman,” was the grave remark. “Can any of us boast a higher origin?” “There are various ranks among women,” Mrs. Marygold said firmly. “True. But,
her among perfect strangers, would be instantly eclipsed. Come then, Mrs. Marygold, lay aside all these false standards, and estimate woman more justly. Let me, to begin, introduce both yourself and Melinda to the young ladies this evening. You will be charmed with them, I know, and equally charmed with their mother when you meet her.” “No ma'am,” replied Mrs. Marygold, drawing herself up with a dignified air. “I have no wish to cultivate their acquaintance, or the acquaintance of any persons in their station. I am surprised that Mrs. Harwood has not had more consideration for her friends than to compel, them to come in contact with common people.” No reply was made to this; and the next remark of Mrs. Florence was about some matter of general interest. “Henry Florence has not been here for a week,” said Mrs. Marygold to her daughter Melinda, some two months after the period at which the conversation just noted occurred. “No; and he used to come almost every evening,” was Melinda's reply, made in a tone that expressed disappointment. “I wonder what can be the reason?” Mrs. Marygold said, half aloud, half to herself, but with evident feelings of concern. The reason of her concern and Melinda's disappointment arose from the fact that both had felt pretty sure of securing Henry Florence as a member of the Marygold family—such connection, from his standing in society, being especially desirable. At the same time that the young man was thus alluded to by Mrs. Marygold and her daughter, he sat conversing with his mother upon a subject that seemed, from the expression of his countenance, to be of much interest to him. “And so you do not feel inclined to favour any preference on my part towards Miss Marygold?” he said, looking steadily into his mother's face. “I do not, Henry,” was the frank reply. “Why not?” “There is something too common about her, if I may so express myself.” “Too common! What do you mean by that?” “I mean that there is no distinctive character about her. She is, like the large mass around us, a mere made up girl.” “Speaking in riddles.” “I mean then, Henry, that her character has been formed, or made up, by mere external accretions from the common-place, vague, and often too false notions of things that prevail in society, instead of by the force of sound internal principles, seen to be true from a rational intuition, and acted upon because they are true. Cannot you perceive the difference?” “O yes, plainly. And this is why you use the word “common,’ in speaking of her?” “The very reason. And now, my son, can you not see that there is force in my objection to her —that she really does not possess any character distinctively her own, that is founded upon a clear
and rational appreciation of abstractly correct principles of action?” “I cannot say that I differ with you very widely,” the young man said, thoughtfully. “But, if you call Melinda ‘common,' where shall I go to find one who may be called “uncommon?' " “I can point you to one.” “Say on.” “You have met Fanny Clayton?” “Fanny Clayton!” ejaculated the young man, taken by surprise, the blood rising to his face. “O yes, I have met her.” “She is no common girl, Henry,” Mrs. Florence said, in a serious voice. “She has not her equal in my circle of acquaintances.” “Nor in mine either,” replied the young man, recovering himself. “But you would not feel satisfied to have your son address Miss Clayton?” “And why not, pray?—Henry, I have never met with a young lady whom I would rather see your wife than Fanny Clayton.” “And I,” rejoined the young man with equal warmth, “had never met with any one whom I could truly love until I saw her sweet young face.” “Then never think again of one like Melinda Marygold. You could not be rationally happy with her.’’ Five or six months rolled away, during a large portion of which time the fact that Henry Florence was addressing Fanny Clayton formed a theme for pretty free comment in various quarters. Most of Henry's acquaintances heartily approved his choice; but Mrs. Marygold, and a few like her, all with daughters of the “common" class, were deeply incensed at the idea of a “common kind of a girl” like Miss Clayton being forced into genteel society, a consequence that would of course follow her marriage. Mrs. Marygold hesitated not to declare that, for her part, let others do as they liked, she was not going to associate with her—that was settled. She had too much regard to what was due to her station in life. As for Melinda, she had no very kind feelings for her successful rival—and such a rival too! A mere schoolmaster's daughter! and she hesitated not to speak of her often and in no very courteous terms. When the notes of invitation to the wedding at length came, which ceremony was to be performed in the house of Mr. Clayton, in Sycamore Row, Mrs. Marygold declared that to send her an invitation to go to such a place was a downright insult. As the time, however, drew near, and she found that Mrs. Harwood and a dozen others equally respectable in her eyes were going to the wedding, she managed to smother her indignation so far as, at length, to make up her mind to be present at the nuptial ceremonies. But it was not until her ears were almost stunned by the repeated and earnestly expressed congratulations to Mrs. Florence at the admirable choice made by her son, and that too by those whose tastes and opinions she dared not dispute, that she could per
THE school was in an uproar, not in a state of insurrection, far from it, but the unwonted somnolency of the good Domine had given license to the very spirit of boyish fun and mischief. The master asleep! Jesse Sampson, the good-natured, order-loving Jesse asleep! The boys could hardly believe their own eyes. One of the most daring crept on tiptoe across the room, holding up his finger all the while, staring his eyes and puckering his mouth to the last degree of the grotesque, till he came to the very footstool of the master, where he peered close into the face, and felt the regular quiet breathing of the good man upon his own rosy cheek. At this point he could restrain his ecstacy no longer. He gave one leap into the air, coming down, however, lightly upon his toes; he spread out his hands, and then brought them together in the shape of a clap, but carefully to make no sound, and then mounted a desk in the rear, and began to enact the Domine in dumb show. There he is with his saucy hand upon the sacred cap of the good master, and helping the uproar by mock attempts to allay it. This is Charles—, an aristocrat and a leader from the very cradle; frank, generous and bold; a young king, “by the grace of God” and the free will of his companions, for a democracy of boys can no more do without a head, a leader, a king, whatever the name may be, than a community of those of a larger growth. This is a noble instinct of our nature, thus to recognise the full man, the godlike, the inherent right of him who combines in himself the qualities common to all, yet in a higher degree, the right vested by the Almighty in such an one, to lead the councils of the rest. Smart, sturdy, fun-loving boys were they of the village school, each “father of the man.” You can read their history as they are now grouped, for this is an instant of time when the true nature is revealed. By the side of Charles is Francis—, a grave,
studious lad, with his finger upon his lip, and but half relishing the indignities put upon the master. Not so Tom —, who has even encroached upon the sanctum of the capacious pocket, and is ripe for all sorts of mischief. Opposite this group is another; you will see Henry —, with MS. in hand, quietly enjoying the fun which he neither aids nor quells—with native kindness and genuine refinement of heart he is replying to the eager questionings of little Peter A–, who has just entered, and cannot as yet comprehend the nature of the disorder on every side. Samuel —, a pure specimen of the lymphatic, has laid his head close to the table, and is slowly gathering ideas; behind them are two Johns of the school, fiery, prompt, athletic youths, abounding in animal life, and yet capable of the best mental efforts. They regard books as a bore, while so much that is better may be learned under the free heavens, and amid the wild solitudes of wood and water. You see one is resolutely clinging to the head of the other, while his mate has seized him by the “forelock,” as we are recommended to do with time. John K. has just declared that the sister of John N– has a turned-up nose, and a pitched battle is the consequence. That pale boy upon the top of the desk in the loose tunic, looking terrified and aghast, is the little son of Widow Jones, of whom we shall have more to say hereafter. James — and George — are settling an old grudge, while Edward — is catching his breath, and looking on half in terror and half in delight, for when was there ever a boy that didn't enjoy a contest of whatever kind. That is he in the little coat with the skirts falling just below the shoulder-blades; that coat has been a miracle of skill, and the five boys of Mrs. — have worn it one after another, to the great pride and joy of the good woman. William and Edwin C. are rummaging the 40
THE WILL AGE SCHOOL.
desk, and about to lay violent hands upon a doughnut belonging to little Jesse Sampson, who was at his father's knee, triumphantly droning forth b-l-a bla, b-l-e ble, &c., at the time the unlucky fit of sleep came on. This peril of the doughnut caps the climax of little Jesse's suffering, and you perceive he is looking quite as dolorous as the master himself. David B. is a dull youth, too dull to start any thing original in the shape of mischief, though he has all the propensity therefor; he is making the hackneyed experiment of looking funny in the spectacles of the Domine, and the rest having better sport, pay little regard to his odd looks. Thus much for the school. Now comes the more important office devolving upon us as chronicler of the event; the singular and unprecedented drowsiness of the good Mr. Sampson. In doing this it will be necessary to enter into a review of certain things transpiring three or four years anterior to the said map, which caused so much disorder in the village school. Jesse Sampson had been five years a widower; a period of mourning very tranquilly divided between the village school, the village church, and the village matrons, the latter of whom always gave the good Domine an extra cup of tea with the condoling remark, that “he must find himself very lonely,” whereupon the smooth face of the good man assumed an expression at once dolorous in the extreme. It was very considerate in his wife Sally to drop off as she did, without subjecting him to any great expense or anxiety on her account, either of which would have been very inconvenient for him to bear. The young Jesse was a baby at this time, a brown lymphatic child, who sucked his thumb resolutely, as if with the express purpose of sparing the feelings of the bereaved father. Indeed every thing seemed as if arranged for this very purpose, and thence came it, that Jesse was as sleek, hearty a mourner as ever filled the lists of widowhood. On the Sunday after the commencement of this period, Jesse prepared a note, recounting the great calamity which had befallen himself and the little Jesse, which the parson read in a loud and emphatic voice, whereupon the whole congregation stared Jesse full in the face. Then, in his prayer, the parson dilated largely upon the virtues of the deceased, and the perils in store for the little Jesse, till the poor Domine was quite overcome with the extent of a misery which seemed greater than he had before realized. From this time forth he received from dame and spinster smiles of sympathy and condolence, which very much mitigated his sense of suffering. Mr. Sampson had kept the school for about fifteen years, and was thence acquainted with all the pupils, even from their babyhood. He could tell the hair-breadth 'scapes of each—the exact period of weaning and dentition, and the transi. tion states, involving robe, tunic, and finally jacket
and inexpressibles. There was not a youth in the village under twenty who had not experienced his tender mercies in the shape of a flogging one or more times at the least. It was an affecting sight to behold Jesse Sampson, every day for the last three years, in his widowhood, daily pass to and fro leading poor little Jesse, armed with a huge slice of bread-andbutter, or making inroads upon a doughnut. On the Sabbath too, little Jesse sat in the pew beside him, the master considerately holding the boy's lips a little apart, that his snore might not interfere with the labours of the parson. These distressing avocations were relieved by regular visits to sundry good dames with wellstocked larders, where Jesse, the younger, was pitied, petted, and stuffed to his heart's content; and Jesse, the elder, was sure to be in a fair way of preserving his rotundity of aspect. Amongst these visits, which so much relieved the tediousness of his widowhood, was one to Mrs. Jones, the wife of Deacon Jones, the latter of whom had been ailing for nearly a year, and thence was highly gratified whenever Mr. Sampson came in to read the newspaper, discuss the probable result of an election, or tell with what exceeding unction parson Johnson held forth on the preceding Sabbath, though this last subject belonged more immediately to Deacon Brown, who was likewise a widower, and a frequent caller upon the invalid Deacon Jones, as being a brother in the same church, and deprived of public ministration. David Jones, the youngest son of Mrs. Jones, was about the same age of little Jesse, and it was thence very natural that Mr. Sampson should often take him upon his knee, and talk kindly to him, and even in school extend to him a considerable degree of indulgence; and it was quite natural too that the child should conceive a good degree of favour for the man who so considerately laid aside the thunders of his station in his behalf. At length it so happened that Deacon Jones grew suddenly worse, so much worse that Deacon Brown, Parson Johnson, and Master Sampson were all precipitately summoned to his bedside. It was all in vain, for the Deacon expired just as the first of these worthies stepped upon the doorsill, whither he had hurried with such promptitude as to actually leave his well-preserved hat hanging upon the peg behind his own door. The two latter were in season to find Deacon Brown seated beside the widow, essaying the difficult task of consolation: Parson Johnson joined in prayer, and Mr. Sampson took little David upon his knee. This was Friday night, and now comes the important era of our story. The half day of schooling on Saturday was omitted, out of respect to the Deacon. On the Sunday following, Parson Johnson came out with a sermon expressly for the occasion, which the best judges of the village pronounced superior to any previous effort. After meeting was the funeral, the largest ever before known—for Deacon Jones was an inoffensive good man, well-to-do in the world, and now that all was over with him, the public were wonderfully alive to his merits. All these things kept the good Domine in a state of feverish excitement, sleep was out of the question. He could do nothing but think of the poor widow, solitary and in tears. Accordingly, about seven o'clock on Sabbath night, he walked slowly, solemnly in the direction of her dwelling. Nor had his sympathies alone been elicited on this trying occasion. As Mr. Sampson approached the house, a cheerful light stole from the window of Mrs. Jones, lighting up the pales of the fence in front, and revealing the wood-pile, heaps of chips, and the wheelbarrow, with a hoe lying half across it. Mr. Sampson paused not. As he passed the window, he observed a chair had turned aside a portion of the curtain. Mrs. Jones sat
REM IN ISC ENCES FOR THE FOURTH OF JULY. 41
with her handkerchief to her eyes, and Deacon Brown was holding her kindly by the hand. Mr. Sampson paused one moment—it was a moment of bitter self-reproach at his own tardiness. He then quietly turned away, passed the chips, the wheelbarrow, hoe, and wood-pile, opened the little gate, closed it, and moved down the road with a step even more solemn than that with which he went up. That was a long night to the poor Domine. * Monday morning came. The boys were each in their places. Mr. Sampson looked pale and haggard, and there was a double tone of kindness in his voice, as if new and strange sympathies had been awakened within him. Little Jesse stood by his side reading b-l-a bla, as before set forth. Slowly the Master's head sank upon his bosom, and the boys, little Jesse, Mrs. Jones, Deacon Brown, all faded into oblivion.
So much for my preserver, “Honest Ned,” which epithet he still bears among his neighbours, by whom he is much esteemed.—JUDGE HENRY.
REveRENCE for the departed is one of the most beautiful features of humanity, and it is said that it has prevailed in a ratio almost inverse to the degree of civilization; thus teaching us that it is the untutored voice of that deep religion of the soul which mature has implanted in the hearts of her simplest children, which prompts man to venerate the manes of his fathers. The funeral obsequies of the earlier and ruder nations of the East were full of pomp, sacrifices and sacred rites. The free and polished states of antiquity, too, wisely fostered this sentiment. They incited their youth to noble deeds by the posthumous honours which they lavished upon their illustrious dead. Greece was the land of apotheosized heroes and mengods; her liberties had no better safeguard than the shining example of her virtuous civilians and patriot warriors; and one of our own great orators has strikingly said that the battle of Thermopylae preserved her independence more than once. The ingenuous youth of Rome were surrounded by a thousand lively mementos of the ornaments and benefactors of the republic. Their minds were always filled with national memories and feelings. The deeds of their departed great were “enrolled in the Capitol;” perpetually kept fresh in the popular mind by amusements, games and festivals, and on all great and solemn occasions, their mute statues were borne through the capital in silent and slow procession.
Our own country, the youngest and fairest daughter of Liberty, should profit by the example of her elder sisters. True, as a nation we have no age of fabulous obscurity; no vague and shadowy traditionary era; no self flattering system of mythological genealogies. “Our country has stepped forth at maturity, in the panoply of war; like Minerva from the brain of Jove.” The earthly origin of the founders of our States and achievers of our independence is so well authenticated that we have no show of reason for tracing their paternity to the gods who erst sat enthroned on Mount Olympus. The Revolution—the nation's birthday, was an event of the last age; and
there are enough “veterans of half a century”
yet lingering with us, to link the past and the present generation as closely together as though both were but a single succession of men. But few years have elapsed since the death of the most illustrious of the lion-hearted, patriot warriors and statesmen of that era; the very chronological order of their departure is distinctly preserved in the personal recollection of those who are now but in the prime of life. And has the effect of this close familiarity with their personal appearance and habits, their character and actions, and their death, been prejudicial to the vast measure of true fame allotted them? No! This has not been the effect of familiarity with them as they lived; for we have derived none but