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4 THE FOUR-LE AW E D C L OVER.
where the moonbeams are sleeping on the clustering vines that cover the arbour. They have conversed long and earnestly on many subjects till he has learnt something of the variety and richness of her mental stores, and she has become thoroughly aware of his deficiencies; and yet there is a sympathy that draws them together; and before they part he ventures to press her hand very fervently between both his own, and say, “Pardon my very great presumption, dear Grace. I know that I am rude and ignorant compared with yourself; and yet I have the sense to know also that you are a million times the most lovely of your sex. May I not hope that—” “Now, I know what you are going to say. But hope nothing from me till I can recognise you as my equal, if not my superior, in all respects. I will not deny, Biron, that I am partial, perhaps too partial to you; but I will never be the victim of an ill-assorted match. I must respect the man who—” “Ah! I see how it is. You can never love such an ignorant boor as I am,” interrupted Biron bitterly; and he threw himself into a chair and buried his face in both hands. His whole frame shook with the violence of his emotions.
Very tenderly did the lady approach him, and said, laying her hand kindly upon his shoulder, “Now, Biron, you are distressing yourself very unnecessarily. All depends upon your own firmness and perseverance. Make yourself what you know you ought to be.”
“I’ll do it!” said he, springing up with an energy which showed that the resolution was really taken. Love had breathed into him the breath of an intellectual life.
* * * * *
The time would fail me to tell how that courtship went on. The lady was highly educated, proud and sensible. She knew her power, and exercised it with the most salutary influence on her lover's character and habits. She made him. a willing votary to science, a laborious student, until he had superadded to the manly exercises in which he was already proficient, the more liberal accomplishments of knowledge and art; so that at last, his lengthened course of attentions being crowned with its rich reward, as he stood at the altar, he fervently blessed the day when an auspicious somerset turned a sporting clown into a gentleman.
AMoNG the passengers that arrived one fine morning from England, in the Great Western, was Denham Kingsbury, who had been absent from America about nine years, eight of which he had spent in India, from whence he returned over land; afterwards devoting a year to visiting some of the principal places in Europe. On landing in New York, he repaired almost immediately to the counting-house of his friend, Edward Lambe rton, with whom, during his residence in India, he had been connected in a very successful and lucrative business. From him he learnt, with much satisfaction, that all was going well with the mother and sisters whom Kingsbury had left in his paternal mansion at one of the villages on the banks of the Hudson, and whom he had duly apprised of his having taken passage in the Great Western a month before she was to leave Bristol. “Here"—said Lamberton—“is a letter which arrived this morning from Thessaly, addressed to my care, and which is, of course, intended to meet you immediately on your landing, and to set you completely at ease by giving you the very latest intelligence of the health of the family.” “It is Rosella's hand”—said Kingsbury—“dear girl! how thoughtful to provide against my having to endure even one hour of suspense; though they must all be certain that I would proceed up the river this very afternoon. Excuse me a few minutes, while I read her most welcome letter.” He broke the seal; and his friend Lamberton watched with some anxiety his countenance, after seeing a slight cloud pass over it as he perused the contents of his sister's missive. On opening the sheet there appeared within it a small folded paper, which Kingsbury, after glancing for an instant at its interior, hastily refolded, and slipped into his waistcoat pocket. Miss Kingsbury's letter contained the following words:
My DEAR BROTHER, Understanding that it is about the time for the Great Western to arrive, and that she is always punctual, I write this to meet you in New York, where I suppose your stay will be very short, merely till you can get your trunks out of the vessel. Therefore, as no time is to be lost, I wish you to match some crewels for me, according to the samples inclosed, and to bring them up with you to Thessaly, as, till I get them, I cannot finish the piece of worsted work on which I am now engaged. If you are unable to find the precise 1 *
colours at Brown's, perhaps you may obtain them at Green's; or if not at Green's, in all probability they can be had at White's; but you will observe that all the twelve shades must be exactly matched, without the slightest variation from the pattern. I want at least four skeins of each. But, on further consideration, it will be safest to get two extra skeins (six in all) of the second shade of cherry-red, two more of the third shade of celestial blue, and three additional skeins of the lightest shade but one of the yellow-green. I think also, it may be well to have two extra skeins of the fourth shade of red-lilac, and two more of the full cinnamon-brown; one of the primrose-yellow, and one more also of the bird of Paradise. You may likewise get four skeins of royal purple, for which you will not need a pattern, as you must have seen so many kings in the course of your travels. Minetta desires me to say that if, while in the city, you should meet with any quite new models for worsted work, she will thank you to bring her some, with all the proper crewels, which you can easily select by comparing them with the colours in the prints. Dogs, parrots, leopards, and indeed most animals, are rather out of fashion. Flowers and fruit are quite gone by. All Thessaly seems to have taken chiefly to people. Nothing else will go down. Napoleon and Victoria are worked by the same persons, without distinction of party. We are expecting you with great impatience. If you do not arrive within a few days I shall have to stop short with my Grand Turk, and Minetta will have finished her Greek Captive, and have nothing else to do. We often thought during the last year, of asking you to supply us with crewels and models from Europe; but you have been rambling so inconveniently from place to place, that we never knew exactly where letters of importance might find you. And, besides, we could not wait; and we could always send down by any of our friends that were going to New York, and sometimes we went for the purpose ourselves. In the hope of seeing you very soon, I remain Your affectionate sister, Rose LLA KINGs BURY. P. S. We have just heard that a new model has come out called the Scott pattern. Will you ascertain whether it is Sir Walter or the General, and if it is pretty. I wish it may be the general, for he would require the handsomest colours, and make the best show, being, of course, in uniform. But I rather think none of our own American 5
6 THE KINGSB URY S.
great men have yet been done in worsted; all the models coming from Europe. If you should chance to meet with a good pattern of Dickens, pray get it for us, with plenty of red for his waistcoat. I fear, however, the waviness of his locks will be rather unmanageable in cross-stitch. I forgot to tell you we are all well.
“What in the world has gotten into the girls?” —exclaimed Kingsbury to his friend Lamberton— “Rosella has sent me a paper filled with bits of party-coloured yarn, and gives me a host of incomprehensible directions about matching them with browns, and greens, and whites. Then she says that animals are old-fashioned in Thessaly; that flowers are out of favour, and that nothing goes down there but people. And she talks, at the last, of stitching up the wavy locks of Dickens. What does it all mean?” “It means”—replied his friend—“that the mania for worsted-work, which has fortunately subsided in the large cities, (at least among the best classes,) is now epidemic in the provincial towns, and unhappily your sisters have been seized with it. Has it not shown itself in any of their former letters to you?” “It is more than two years”—answered Kingsbury—“since either of them has written to me. They were such mere children when I left home, that the family correspondence having commenced between my mother and myself, seems always to have continued so; the letters of the girls being few and far between, and very juvenile. As I said, for the last two years neither of them has written at all; my mother always excusing them to me on the plea of their time being so much devoted to their needles. So I thought they had become very notable, and were doing all their own sewing, and perhaps making garments for the poor.” “If they are under the influence of the worsted mania”—observed Lamberton—“I doubt if they find leisure to do any of their own sewing, much less to work for objects of charity. My wife had a touch of it when we were first married. But, being a reasonable woman, she soon perceived the folly of wasting time and money in such an absurd occupation; and of stultifying her mind by devoting her whole attention for hours together to counting threads and arranging stitches of worsted, in silence that admitted of no interruption; not to mention the uncouth and absurd things which were the product of all this waste of eyesight, waste of attention, waste of time and waste of money; for I understand that the articles used in worsted-work soon mount up to a much greater cost than is at first supposed. Also, my observation being awakened to this folly, in all its bearings, while my wife continued under its influence, I have noticed much of its effects among the ladies belonging to families whom we visit. I have seen how uncompanionable it makes them, how uneasy (and sometimes how petulant) when
interrupted; how it deadens and stupefies their conversational powers, and also how idle it renders them; for to throw away time in work that is neither useful nor ornamental, is the worst sort of idleness. But, fortunately, worsted-work is now exploded in the most fashionable circles of our community; and being abandoned by them it will gradually recede farther and farther, and sink lower and lower, till it dies out somewhere about the purlieus of the Rocky Mountains, that region which, for a few years longer, must still be regarded as the Ultima Thulé of our country.” “Well”—said Kingsbury—“I am really very sorry to hear all this. What am I to do about executing my sister's commission?” And he took out the paper of worsted patterns and looked at them in despair. “And yet”—continued he—“since the girls seem so earnest in this business (foolish as it certainly is) I can scarcely find it in my heart to disappyjnt them. On returning home after so very long an absence, I shall be sorry to cause them any vexation, or to seem unkind, or regardless of their little fancies and gratifications. When we are better acquainted, I hope to open their eyes to the folly of this worsted-work. But, for the present, I think I must indulge them in complying with their request.” “You will not have time, if you go up the river this afternoon”—said Lamberton. “Matching crewels is a most tedious business, as I know by the experience of having once accompanied my wife on such an expedition, (you may be sure it was once only,) and, till I found the cost would be so great, I was for buying “at one fell swoop' all the worsted in the shop, and having it sent home en masse, that Louisa might compare every possible shade, and match them at leisure. But, give me the bits of patterns: I will send them up to my house, enclosed in a note, requesting my wife to go out and match them for you. She will do it con amore, and it will give her a chance of gratifying any little remains of a secret hankering after worsted affairs, which may yet hang about her. Go, now, and get your baggage out of the vessel, and put things in train for your departure this afternoon. At three o'clock come up to my house, and dine with Louisa and myself; and at five I will escort you to the boat that is to convey you to Thessaly.” “A thousand thanks”—exclaimed Kingsbury, shaking his friend warmly by the hand. “A thousand thanks are nine hundred too many merely for an invitation to a family dinner”——observed Lamberton, with a smile—“even when backed by an offer of walking with you down to Barclay street wharf.” “I must confess”—said Kingsbury, laughing-“that this vivid outpouring of gratitude was chiefly elicited by your most considerate offer of relieving me from the task of worsted-matching. And, now that the first burst is over, allow me in a quiet and gentlemanlike manner to express my acknowledgments for the offered pleasure of two hours more of your society, and for the honour of an introduction to Mrs. Lamberton, whose considerate kindness of heart, is, I am well persuaded, quite equal to that of her husband.” Denham Kingsbury then gaily departed; and soon dispatching his business with the customhouse officers, he made his arrival known to a few of his former intimates; and, exactly at three o'clock, found himself at the well-ordered dinner table of the Lambertons. After they adjourned to the drawing-room, Mrs. Lamberton put into his hand a package containing the worsteds, and a roll of engravings, comprising half a dozen new models. She joined in the risibility they excited in the two gentlemen, particularly on displaying the thing that was called Sir Walter Scott, with his face and hands apportioned into square stitches, and the strange, hard, stiff expression given to what seemed his countenance. “If you think this delineation of the immortal Sir Walter so very ludicrous”—said Mrs. Lamberton—“I can assure you it will be “worse by and bye,' when transferred to canvas and roughened all over with worsted stitches. I can speak feelingly on this subject, for, in my days of folly, I too was a worstedworker. But, thanks to the representations of my husband, I stopped short before I had wasted much time, or disfigured much canvas; most heroically leaving unfinished a Mary Queen of Scots, which Edward and several other gentlemen pretended to mistake for Dame Quickly.” At five o'clock, Lamberton took leave of Kingsbury on Barclay street wharf, the North River boat being just about starting. As long as daylight permitted him, our hero enjoyed once more the beautiful scenery of the Hudson. The wind and tide were both favourable; the boat was of celebrated rapidity, and about half past ten Denham Kingsbury found himself in Thessaly, and at the door of his mother's house. Another boat that had left the city but ten minutes after the arrival of the Great Western, had already brought the news; and Mrs. Kingsbury and her daughters were prepared to greet that night the return of the long-absent wanderer. Rosella and Minetta had more than an hour ago laid aside their worstedwork, finding that the stitches and shades were going wrong in their impatience to see how their brother Denham would look after nine years' absence. Though now in his thirty-second year, they were surprised to find him so little changed, and still appearing so young. The truth was, that temperate habits, and a careful adaptation of his manner of living to the peculiarities of the climate had preserved his health, even under the burning sun of the Indies; and he had returned home unbroken in constitution, and improved in person. He rejoiced in observing that time had passed lightly over his mother. His sisters, who were children when he left them, had now grown into two very pretty young ladies, with very long curls, very small waists, and dresses rather in the ex
THE KINGSBURYs. 7.
treme of the mode, as is frequently the case with provincial belles, even if they live but within a few hours distance of the metropolis. Par parenthose, why do fashions travel so slowly. Unaccountable as it may seem, it generally takes a year for a novelty in dress to find its way from New York to Philadelphia. The first emotions of meeting having somewhat subsided, Rosella Kingsbury inquired of her brother if he had received a letter she had sent to the city to meet him on his arrival. He replied in the affirmative; and when he produced from one of his trunks the crewels and the new models, her delight was unbounded, and she kissed him again, and called him the best brother that ever lived. Minetta also expressed her joy at the commission having been so satisfactorily executed, and said that she should hurry with her Greek Captive, being all impatience to begin Sir Walter Scott. The two sisters then held a long consultation in a low voice about the new patterns, while Mrs. Kingsbury talked with Denham concerning his voyage home, and the last year of his absence. They then all adjourned to the back-parlour, and partook of a very inviting little supper, which had been prepared under the superintendence of the careful mother, who continued in conversation with her son till long after the girls had become sleepy and retired for the night. Next morning, Denham Kingsbury having enjoyed an uninterrupted repose, was down stairs early, and finding himself alone, walked about, and took a view of the parlours which had been newly furnished within the last three years. On the preceding evening he had observed what he supposed to be pieces of coarse low-priced calico laid over the tabourets and the music-stool, as he supposed, to keep them clean. He now found that these were permanent covers of worstedwork, representing figures evidently intended for those of human beings. There were also, immediately under each of the pier-glasses, one of the low divans on which nobody is ever to sit, decorated with flower-pieces in worsted work, that looked almost as well as Brussels carpeting. Kingsbury, however, came to the conclusion that the flowers were far preferable to the figure pieces; the designs of which from their awkwardness of outline, and their glaring defects of light and shadow, he vainly endeavoured to make out. And besides, they were so coarse, so clumsy, and so confused with the thick heavy back-ground, which in needle-work is always as prominent and as highly coloured as the figures or the fore-ground, and frequently more so. “Ah! Denham!”—exclaimed Rosella—“you seem to be admiring our worsted-work. Don't you think we have been industrious, Minetta and I. Besides the four tabourets, and the musicstool, and the two pier-divans, we have done two pair of fire-screens, which are now at the upholsterers getting mounted with stands; and Minetta
* is just completing her foot-stool, and mine is more
8 THE KINGS BURY S.
than half finished. And we have done slippers and bags by the dozen. And we have been thinking some time of commencing new covers for the ottomans in the recesses, with a different figurepiece on each cushion. The patterns you brought us last night will do exactly, unless some that are still newer come out before we get through. Minetta is going to begin with Taglioni in the Sylphid, and then she will do Sir Walter Scott, and then the Pope of Rome. I have chosen first the May Queen, next Columbus, and then Lady Macbeth. Mamma, to be sure, rather discourages this undertaking. Indeed she is always persisting in the strange idea that all these articles of furniture looked better with the original covers of crimson damask.” “No doubt they did”—said Denham, glancing round at them all. Both the sisters seemed startled at his saying so. “Oh! Denham!”—exclaimed Minetta—“have you also a prejudice against worsted-work?” “I am afraid I have"—was the reply. “That is because you do not understand it”— resumed Rosella. “You can have no idea how fascinating it is, and how completely it chains one down. Like chess-playing, one gets so completely absorbed in it as to be lost to every thing else in the world.” “So much the worse"—said Denham. “Have you examined these tabourets?”—inquired Minetta. “You must acknowledge they are beautiful. This Laeries and Ophelia was worked by me.” “Ophelia and Laertes”—said Denham—“I really thought it was Reuben Butler and Madge Wildfire.” . “Pho! nonsense!”—said Rosella—“you thought no such thing. And here is my Byron, standing by a rock on the sea-shore.” “Now, I mistook that for Robinson Crusoe"— said Denham. “Really, Denham, you are too bad!”—exclaimed Minetta. “Now, here is my other tabouret. This is Young Lochinvar galloping off with the bride of Netherby.” “Indeed!—I supposed it to be Tam O'Shanter with the witch of Alloway behind him.” “Oh! shame—shame!”—exclaimed both sisters. “Well"—persisted Denham—“I have had three tabourets satisfactorily explained. Now, what is number four.” “That”—said Rosella—“is Ivanhoe's Rebecca in prison.” “I am glad to hear you say so; for I imagined it Margery Daw, who sold her bed and lay upon straw.” “Why, Denham!”—exclaimed Rosella—“is it really possible that all these beautiful things do not speak for themselves, and tell their own stories.”
“Not one of them.”—replied Denham. “The
original designs may have been intelligible, but by the time they are parodied into patterns for worsted-work, and then burlesqued still farther by being stitched with coloured yarn upon canvas, they are so transmogrified and vulgarized that their identity is lost. Excuse me, my dear girls, if I speak too severely. But I have just come from visiting those master-pieces of art with which Europe abounds, and therefore it grieves me to see genteel women—to see young ladies— to see my sisters throwing away their time, and spoiling their taste in this contemptible occupation.” “But you cannot expect worsted-work to look like painting”—said Minetta—“ or even like embroidery.” “Why then do it at all? The same time devoted to drawing or to embroidery, would make you very clever at either.” The conversation was now interrupted by the entrance of Mrs. Kingsbury, and the family placed themselves round the breakfast table, at which a constant attendant was a large white cat, called Moses, whom Denham had left as a pretty playful kitten, and who had always been much petted and pampered. He came regularly every morning for a saucer of milk, which he was accustomed to take by the side of Mrs. Kingsbury's chair; and if she did not set it down for him before she began to pour out the coffee, Moses was much offended; and whined impatiently, and scratched at her dress to remind her. As soon as he had finished his milk, he repaired always to the music-stool, on which he had a habit of stationing himself for his morning nap. On this morning he jumped down from it, the moment after he had leaped up, looked much dissatisfied, mewed and pawed at the music-stool, and then went to Minetta, and mewed and pawed at her. “Minetta.”——said Rosella—“you have forgotten, this morning, to put the chintz cover on the music-stool. You know very well that Mose will never settle himself to sleep, unless he finds the smooth chintz beneath him.” Minetta then rose, got the chintz cover, spread it over the worsted-worked top of the music-stool, and immediately Mose sprung up, and composed himself to a comfortable slumber. “You must know, Denham”—explained Mrs. Kingsbury—“that Mose, more than two years ago, made choice of the music-stool as his afterbreakfast reposing place. It was then covered with damask. But Minetta afterwards worked for it a worsted cover, with a musical trophy of a harp, a guitar, a trumpet, and a clarionet, which device our purblind neighbour, old Dr. Glimmering, mistook for a gridiron, a frying-pan, and two ladles. Now, the very morning after the musicstool first appeared in its new garb, when Mose, as usual, bounced up on it, to take his nap, he found himself grievously incommoded by the roughness of its canvas-and-worsted surface, and he would not be pacified till it was cased in chintz