صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

CHAPTER III.

hour's peace. I lost heart in my parish; Everything around bore traces of hurI lost faith in myself.”

ry and confusion. A part of the unforA long pause fell between them. It tunate nobleman's toilet lay where it had was broken by a rap at the door. been flung by the hands of his valet over

Lawrence went to open it. It was a a chair opposite the couch ; half the conservant from the hall. Lord Lemwall tents of a phial had been carelessly spill. was very ill; the physician had pro- ed over the flowers of the rich Turkey nounced his injuries to be of a serious carpet, leaving a long dark stain; and a character; he asked to see a minister. vase of deep pink roses, culled the day

before from their master's conservatory, drooped down on the little side-table

which had been pushed up near the couch LAWRENCE set out at once on his mels to support the stand of phials, their satin ancholy errand. With what strangely- leaves withering in the dry air of the mingled feelings he threaded his way on close chamber. foot up the broad avenue of oaks to the Lawrence's eyes turned toward the bed, hall-door. A light snow shrouded the first with a repressed shudder, then with thick masses of dead leaves ; the stars a steadily gathering composure. There glimmered down through the rushing was a shadow of pain over the sleeper's rifts of clouds; an intense mournful still-face, upon the high marble brow, and ness, undisturbed even by a gust of wind around the white lips. among the naked branches of the oaks, We have said Lord Lemwall was a brooded over the park.

young man, that he bore his years The old porter admitted him, and the well. He was such no longer. In one housekeeper, already in waiting, took him day, the freshness and bloom of youth up to her master's chamber. She stopped had gone out from his countenance, and he at the door. “My lord has fallen into a looked what he was, - a prematurely old light sleep," she whispered ; “ you will wait man. There were the lines of vice, of till he awakes ;” and Lawrence went in. unrest, of grief, brought out distinctly un

It was a large apartment, sumptuously der the iron hand of suffering. furnished, as were all the modern rooms Lawrence stood gazing down upon him, of Lemwall house. The new wing had a cold shudder creeping over him where been built and fitted up in the first year he stood. Was this his friend, — the of the viscount's marriage, when his pur- boy he had loved as a brother, the man pose then lay in returning and building trusted and served, later, obeyed and up a home in England instead of the long, clung to in evil, and later still, the wickunlooked-for residence abroad. It was ed plotter who had sought the ruin and the dressing-room through which Law- destruction of his daughter, — his one rence had passed, glittering with costly little cherished lamb, — and now, at last, Parisian mirrors, decked with furniture stricken down in the very hour of his of glossy black walnut, and embellished high-handed crime? Oh, what a lesson with all the rich appurtenances of the of human life! toilet; here, in this inner chamber, the The sleeper moved and woke. He pale rose hangings shed a ghastly reflec- tried to raise his hand to his temples to tion over the white face on the couch sup- clear recollection; the nerveless fingers lordship's desire,” he said, at last. of softening impressions, and it may be “ [f

that, in that hour, his life spread out be“ Richards unisunderstood me,” said the fore him, wasted and weary, with a dim viscount, speaking with difficulty, and picture, side by side, of what it might with an impatient gesture of his hand, have been. while his face remained averted. " It

“ As a Christian minister, however onwas the rector of Lauderdale I desired, — worthy,” said Lawrence, breaking the Mr. Ascott."

silence, and speaking in a low voice, The sharer of his drunken pleasures, “ you must bear with me one word. Lord the faithful servant of his will, was no fit Lemwall, your wife's grave still -stands comforter by the bed of death, even to unmarked among strangers, and her memViscount Lemwall.

ory is a disgrace to all who loved her.” Lawrence understood. “ My lord," There was a painful struggle; the dyhe said, “ I will leave you, — God forbid ing man's face showed the conflict plainly I should force myself upon you at this for a moment. It was soon over. “ You hour ! — but first, there are two things are right,” he said, slowly. “I thank you! for your own peace. For the wrong you it is the only atonement." sought to do my child, I forgive you, He lay back, exhausted. Lawrence owning myself a sinner deserving of pun- went up and held a cup of cordial which ishment before God. Second, I will re- stood on the little side-table to his lips. lease your mind from a great anxiety. The door opened softly; a servant Your marriage with the late Lady Fran- looked in. .“ Mr. Rathlan has come, sir, ces was as strictly legal as her ladyship – my lord's lawyer. Is he able to see at that time believed it to be."

him?" “llow?” said the viscount, forgetting The viscount nodded an eager assent. all his pain in the eager interest which You may go, Lawrence," he whispered ; these last words inspired, and half rising “ leave us together!” and the curate from his pillow, how?

went out. "My lord," resuned Lawrence, “I It was their last parting. Lawrence myself performed the funeral services had hardly reached home, in his slow over the grave of the first Lady Lemwall walk, before a servant hurriedly followed in the week following my own marriage. to announce that Viscount Leinwall had I was then on my wedding tour in Dev- just expired. onshire.”

He found that Alice had revived; but The viscount clasped his hands togeth- her sorrow and self-reproach were painful er; a look of strange relief blended with to witness. Innocent as she really was wonder crept over his face. "You were of anything beyond girlish imprudence silent, Mr. Lawrence ?” he said, looking and too credulous trust, and tender as up suddenly at his curate.

were the parents who, from their own “How should I know, my lord,” said deep suffering, knew how to deal gently Lawrence, with some embarrassment, with the anguish of others, she could not " that this was so unknown to you, — at feel to forgive herself. least, at the time?”

It was an imposing funeral pageant “ You say she died ?” resumed the which witnessed the remains of Viscount viscount, after a pause.

Lemwall laid away among his ancestors. “Yes. She came to me for help; I A white marble shaft rose beside the othwickedly denied her.

I think her reason ers in the old church to mark the spot ; left her for a time, and she wandered she but we turn to a lowlier grave among the knew not where. She died among stran- secluded valleys of Devonshire. gers, and was buried in a nameless grave.” Great was the surprise in that little

A pause fell between them. The vis- hamlet when, one day in the early March, count's face was wrong as by some keen two or three strangers found their way recollections. Hardened he was, into the old graveyard with a blue-veined death, in its near approach, brings a rush headstone of Italian marble, which they

as

[ocr errors]

“so I

placed above a neglected grave long over- Lawrence paused; he could hardly grown with the thick rank grass and tan- recognize the vigorous and sturdy gentlegled vines. When the stone was set and man he had last seen in the bowed and they had gone out, the curious villagers white-headed old man before him. Well, drew near to read the inscription. they had met and parted a score of

years “Sacred to the memory of Alice, the before. beloved first wife of Clinton Gervase, “My memory is a little treacherous, Viscount Lemwall, of Lanscott, Herford- sir,” said Mr. Seaton, pointing to a chair. shire."

“I have a dim recollection of your name, On the evening of that same day on but when or where" which the setting sun shone for the first Lawrence took the offered seat. He time on this white headstone above the knew not how to begin. tangled grave, Lawrence quitted the sta- You wished to see me, sir, on imtion at C- and took up his hurried portant business ?” said his host, walk toward the village about half a mile think your paper stated.” He fumbled distant.

at it slowly. More than twenty years had passed “I did, Mr. Seaton,” said Lawrence, since his feet had pressed these scenes, speaking with difficulty, -"on business but few outward changes had taken place which concerns yourself.” amidst the quiet country homes. The “I am at a loss,” observed the old genbare hedgerows were beginning to be tleman, slowly. crowded with swelling buds; the yeomen • It is of a private nature,” observed were driving abroad their sturdy teams; Lawrence, anxious to break the shock, pale blossoms here and there were strug- “ of a family nature, I should say.” gling up into bloom in shaded gardens. “ Ah?” Mr. Seaton looked up anx

He went on his way with hurried steps, iously now, “If you refer to my te stopping at last, when a few rods from the daughter” – first cottage of the hamlet, before a gray “I do,” said Lawrence, eagerly. “You old country edifice, the long branches of say your late daughter, Mr. Seaton ; you whose thick elms swayed gracefully down are then aware that she is dead ? ” over the now grass-grown carriage-walk. “I thought so," said the venerable faHis tread grew slower as he passed under ther, pressing his hand upon his temples ; them and wended his way toward the house. I have long felt so.

But who are you, He knocked; and his voice wavered, sir, who dare to talk to me of her, in spite of himself, as he asked the old mention her name in my presence ?" servant for Mr. Seaton.

Not without cause, Mr. Seaton ; bear She stopped, irresolute, with the door with me! No one in passing from the in her hand. " Mr. Seaton, sir, don't see world left a purer name, a fame more visitors, in a regular way, that is entirely freed from all taint and scandal, Shall I take your name, sir ? "

than your daughter. Alice was a wife; Lawrence took out his pocket-book, the world knows her to have been such scribbled a few words under his address, to-day; it is written on her tombstone. and

gave the paper to the woman. I myself, a curate in orders, married her His heart beat quick as he stood in the to Viscount Lemwall. He is dead, and stillness awaiting her return. The gloom, in his last moments rendered her justice."

6

to

THE DYING HERO.

By Mrs. Matteson. “ MOTHER," spoke a youthful hero,

As they bore him through the door, “ Mother, I've come home to see you,

Hear your precious voice once more. Lay me down upon the pillow

Which my head was wont to press When, in gladsome, joyous, childhood,

Mother laid me down to rest !

rence,

he could not tell ; but he felt that his late atonement was accepted by the dead.

The shades of night were falling, the last train had gone out from the station, and he took up his quarters at the village inn. Here he told to the wondering landlord the story of his errand. It was well that it was so. Here, in her own birthplace, to the lowliest as well as the highest, should Alice's long-blotted fame be cleared.

A new, living, humbler indeed than Lanscott, but far happier, awaited Law

The new master of Lemwall bad another friend to settle in his curacy, and had this not been the case, other reasons would have prevented Lawrence from remaining. He went away to begin, in his declining years, a new and a much better life.

Alice ultimately married, married an honorable and worthy man, who, knowing, could compassionate and forgive her early imprudence. It was long, indeed, before she could forgive herself, long before she could bring herself to listen to an honorable 'suit; and perhaps the blight never fully passed from her life until, in her fuller years, she found herself surrounded by her children growing up to truth and goodness. Then, in the long lapse of years which bridged between, she could afford to forget the ole bitter error of her youth.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

- A gen

“Mother, I shall feel your kisses

When I gain the other shore, Feel them mingling with your teardrops,

Feel them, bless them evermore. Clasp my hand in one last pressure,

Shattered though the tendrils be! I am going, going, mother ;

Fare thee well ! farewell to thee!”

A TRIAL AT REPARTEE. tleman, one evening, was seated near a lovely woman, when the company around were proposing conundrums. to each other. Turning to his companion, he said,

Why is a lady unlike a mirror ?
She gave it up

“ Because,” said the rude fellow, "a mirror reflects without speaking; a lady speaks without reflecting. Very good,” said she.

“ Now answer me. Why is a man unlike a mirror?"

“ I cannot tell you."

“ Because the mirror is polished, and the man is not."

66

O'er the cold and mangled body

Crouched she, quaking, sobbing there, Kissed his pale and clammy forehead,

Smoothed his dark and glossy hair. He was dead, - her darling Jesse, –

Gone from out the poor, limp form; He had died for love of country,

In the home where he.was born. Muskegan, Mich., 1864.

HERO AND HEROINE,

all the heroism of a man's life could be

crowded into one or two or three acts of By Mrs. C. A. Soule.

physical daring! As though there were "Do you really mean what you just no true heroes among the men who crowd Dow said, Ella ? Is that no my final an- the marts of trade or the fields of labor, swer, - - no hope for me?

or clamber up the hills of study. The young man looked keenly at the She looked up now into Albert Grey's young girl, the expression of his eyes de- face. It wasn't handsome, - too round noting an eager, anxious wish to read the and ruddy she thought and had always heart whose secret he had thought he thought; and his eyes were blue and his knew so well.

hair light, and he was only medium height She did not lift her face, but she felt and stooped, and — a carpenter by trade. that searching glance, and it thrilled her Ah! it was very hard for a young, roas never before had the look of a human mantic girl to make a hero out of such being. Every nerve tingled with new materials; for she forgot, or rather she and delicious sensations. She yearned to had too little experience in life to know have him take her hand within his own, that the soul, and the soul alone, makes clasp it between his palm and fingers, and the hero. press his lips mutely on the soft white “ Don't trifle with me, Ella! Yes or skin; but he did not move.

Like a no.” The young man's tones faltered, statue he stood by the mantel, one arm and there was a convulsive twitching of resting lightly on the marble, and the the muscles about his mouth. other thrown across his heart, as if there She hesitated a moment. He would was a pain there he would fain still by get over this feeling for her, she said to pressure.

herself; men never died of love, and she The silence became oppressive. She was so young, – only seventeen,

it

was would have given worlds to have had him too bad to throw herself away on a carbreak it; but his lips moved not. She penter. She would wait for her hero. would have given worlds to have had him So she said, “No;” but she did not look away; but his eyes moved not. She look at him as she spoke, and there was must answer.

a suspicious mist upon her eyes, while her I-I never thought of you but as heart sunk all at once as if some one had a friend, Albert," she managed to stam- plumped a ball of lead into its lava tides. mer at last.

For some minutes, Albert Grey stood “But now that you know I am some- stock still. Then rousing himself, he thing more than a friend, Ella, - now said, solemnly, “ It is a great blow to that you know I love you, that I want me, Ella ; for I have loved you with all you for my wife, to love, cherish, and the tenderness and strength of my naprotect so long as we both do live, — is ture. But if you don't love me, if you that no my finál answer, or may I hope ?” can't love me, why – why," — he almost

Poor, romantic little girl! She had broke down, and two great tears rolled always said she would marry a hero or over his face, — "I-I must crush out die an old maid. What her ideas of a my own affection. Good-by, and God hero really were it would be rather hard bless you." to tell. I doubt if she knew, herself; only Gone! Yes, he was gone. She heard she was sure of this: a hero was always a the front-door clash after him ; she heard tall, stately, handsome man, with hair the ring of his boots upon the flagstones. like a raven's plumage and eyes like an Gone ! eagle's, and he must have done something She went to the window and listened, very wonderful too, - risked his life climb- listened till the footfalls no longer sounding up Mont Blanc, or killed a bandit ed. Then she turned quickly and ran who attacked him in some lonely wood, up-stairs, darted into her chamber, shut or plunged into the seething ocean to res- and bolted the door, stripped off her cue some mother's darling. As though clothes, and hurried herself into her bed

« السابقةمتابعة »