« السابقةمتابعة »
Robert, whose callous nature rendered him alike impervious to the soft touch of affection and to the harder smitings of parental rebuke; and so, with a heavy heart, the Doctor returned from his short and fruitless expedition. There was but one of his family to welcome him, for Mrs. Langton, whether stultified by the heterogeneous mixture of her self-inflicted remedies, or wearied by the
rack of her too easy chair,' was in her halfparalyzed nonentity scarcely to be counted as an existent being. But Helen met the wearied man on his return, -Helen, who would so gladly have shared his anxieties, and soothed him with a daughter's love.
• Father,' she said, and, throwing her arms round his neck, she kissed him fondly. * Father, I am glad to see you at home again—so glad,—but do you bring good news? Is Robert sorry? Was he glad you came to see him?' And thus she poured forth her rapid questions, while the Doctor, cross, tired, and disappointed, divested himself of the travelling outer garments which covered his neat professional costume of solemn black ; and ensconcing himself in his business chair, proceeded at once to the task of making up for the time he had wasted. The presence of his daughter, and the nature of her questions irritated him sorely, and he answered her with undisguised impatience.
Don't you see I'm busy? There, go to bed, your brother is alive and well ;-what do you want more? I have no time for chattering now. Off with you,' and Helen, as she closed the door, heard the scratching of the pen as it scrawled along the paper, but not the heavy sigh which would have made her forgive the seeming harshness of his words.
It was a few weeks after the Doctor's visit to London that Helen, baving found a refuge from the heat of the mid-day sun, had established herself with her books and work under the pleasant shade of the spreading tree. She was very handsome,-tall, fully
formed, and of a clear, rich paleness. Her hair was dark, abundant, and glossy, and her eyes, not large, but long, with somewhat drooping lids, were full of the tenderness which Love's touch might ignite into dangerous passion ; but what need to describe each feature in detail, when it is sufficient to say that of all the exquisite gifts of beauty which Nature can lavish on her children, scarce one was wanting to make up the sum of loveliness that had fallen to the share of Helen Langton.
The girl leant back against the tree, and her threaded needle hung idly from her fingers; very enervating was the perfume of the roses, as, carried on the balmy air, it entwined itself round many a deep-seated emotion in that warm, young heart, stealing from it its first virgin purity.
In after-years, when bitterer breathings had brought sadder thoughts to Helen, and when the airy tongues that syllable men's names' had been busy with the one she dared no longer call her own, her faithful fancy brought back to her the memory of that summer garden, with the odour of its roses and the pure kisses that the zephyr's breath had left upon her cheek.
She was not alone, for stretched on the grass at her feet, lay a young man, whose sole occupation was that of gazing at her fair, face admiringly. Edward Burrowes (for it was he) was no longer the shy, awkward youth, shrinking from woman's notice and crushed by the ridicule of an underbred boy. He was dressed in the uniform of the corps to which he had been appointed (a battalion of which was then stationed at Warminster), and the dark dress became him well. Though still plain in feature, and somewhat gaunt and bony of frame, his long course of mental exertion and honourable endeavour had not failed to leave their impress on his countenance and character. Nor had his military drill and exercises been less successful in giving firmness and decision to his carriage, and vigour and activity to his
limbs. Reader, can you feel any interest in this poor and obscure young man? Can you care to follow the humble soldier-surgeon through the complicated perils which are at once the trials and the rewards of the lot he has chosen ? If you cannot, and if, according to the fashion of the world, you can overlook, in your admiration for more brilliant heroes, the obscure, but hard-working men by whom success is earned, then indeed have we wasted too much time in describing this humble hero, and we must pass on to other themes. The silence between the two cousins lasted till Edward, thinking he read the girls thoughts aright, responded to them thus :
* Helen, I have something pleasant to tell you; I have just heard that Thornleigh is to remain here with the Depôt.'
She answered him with a smile, pleasant, but provoking.
Of course he is, I heard your news last night.'