صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

to her gown.

“ Did you never hear of Effie Duncan, boat down here, fishing tackle, and plenty the poor girl who wandered away from of ready-made bait.” Scotland, in search of her lover, and final- A trim little row-boat was ready for ly in despair at her fruitless search them, and the girls seated themselves in drowned herself?

it, while John sculled them off from the “Never."

bluffy shore. The breeze off the lake was “It was ten years ago this summer, I just fresh enough to require all the musthink, that her body was picked up by a cular strength of John's arms to keep the steamboat inward bound. It had floated, boat from running upon shore with the they thought, from the mouth of the riv- tide. His cheeks flushed with the exerer; for a wreath of rushes was plaited in tion, his eyes sparkled, he enjoyed it, her hair, and a branch of osiers fastened this free, pure life. I am sure the dryads

On that very boat, her and naiads, peeping out upon him, knew lover came.

He told the tale, after the him, every eff of them, for a man pure, first great horror and grief had passed. true, earnest, childlike yet.

They were betrothed, but were poor. He was happy, too, in his love. He came to America, and in two years With such a man love is a motive powhad prospered so he sent for her to come er, a one passion. All minor affecto him. He received her answer, telling tions — the effervescent heats of youthful the time at which she should start. The warmth — only purify the soul of such season was stormy, and the boat in which for the abiding-place of a life-long love. she sailed never reached land.

This had come to him. He asked no “ The poor fellow waited and waited in questions, only opened his heart to it, as New York, hoping against hope until it to an angel visitant that should sanctify failed him entirely, and then, discouraged the house. and broken in spirit, he wandered from He couldn't have told you why he loved one city to another, restless, dissatisfied, this woman — what particular qualities moody, and fitful, working a little here of mind, or heart, or person, had drawn and there as his fancy led, until, on the his soul to hers; he never thought of boat that day, he found her dead body, that; he may hardly have known the transported, as it seemed to his cracked color of her eyes; but he knew he loved brain, from the stormy waves of the At- her. It is such love as few men give, lantic to the calm lake. He died in a perfect, pure. madhouse, two years later."

Did she deserve it? I don't know; “ Ruth Bates, it's well for Galena's cu- few women can; but he never asked that, riosity you finished that story before I nor did Christ, when he said to the cruci. came; " and the girls were startled by fied thief, “ This day shalt thou be with John's sudden apparition, a strong, tall, me in paradise.” healthy one, with rich color and spark- Further up a bay opened beyond the ling eyes.

bluffs into the prairie, with a white sand “Why, eavesdropper ?”

beach and calm waters. Here John an" Because passing by all your insin- chored his craft and cast his lines. The uations not spoken - you've no right to fresh breeze swayed the lines, and the be telling such hobgoblin tales on such a fish caught up the tempting baits as fast party, tired but happy, reached the doc- cottage, where he had seen her sweet face tor's. John walked on with Galena. He so often, past the schoolhouse, where he was happy, joyful, and his joyfulness would have been one of the meanest of overflowed into an expression of his love, her pupils, to catch her smile. and a frank request for hers as his wife. His foreman met him, and signalled

charmince day"

ne that were thrown almost

Galena's face grew white as she lis- “ all right;” but I question if he saw it. tened, — drawn and pinched as though a He passed the foundries with their furlifetime of pain rushed upon her in one nace-mouths puffing smoke from smoulmoment.

dering fires, the railroad depots hurried She shuddered as deadly cold; stopped and noisy, past the packing-houses, and still and faced him, words rushing from shanties of the laborers, out into the quiet her lips as if borne out on the impetuous of the prairie. throb of her heart.

Who can tell what devils, born into his « No.

Stop, for God's sake. Don't boy-soul with this life-disappointment, say another word. How dare you think hissed their hellish proposals into his ear? of love and me. I tell you I am ashes, What fiends of despair gloated over this burned out, you shall not mock me

new victim ?

What wordless agonies with visions of household fires.”

danced like deathyard witches in this The man's whole face and form seemed newly-tried soul ? palsied; he was livid.

The waves came swelling under the The passion of the girl forsook her be- stiff breeze, and crashed against the bluffs fore the tempest of calm before her. She just above the Inlet. grew humble, sad.

The sound awoke him to normal sight. “Forgive me. I love Ruth ; I respect Before him lay the lake under a strong you. I did not, could not foresee this. wind. Out toward the horizon he des. Think everything I would say, and for- cried the white sails of the ships standgive me that I cannot love you.” ing out against the leaden sky, like mo

Ile looked at her; tried to speak; put tionless phantoms. From the north, a his hand to his forehead in a dazed way, black object lay on the water, with red turned and went.

smoke following in its wake. He met two young men,

fashionable What did these mean? do-noughts about town, - and the frag- Commerce. ment of their gossip flew into his brain Down on the wharves, he knew eager like swallows into a burned-out chimney. inen - merchants, speculators, hackmen,

“ What! Redway's daughter, whom expressmen, men of all grades — were Benton jilted last fall?”

collected, awaiting the mails, the freight, IIis purse jingled too the people. emptily.”

God, this was life! Care, anxiety, And the rest floated away in the dis- work, to-night, to-morrow, next daytance.

always; jostle and hurry, no rest, The fair face he had seen that evening sweet home face for peace out of the after the death of Grant's child flashed world, — no home love for benediction! full before him now as the gas-light had The waves dashed against the shore revealed it to him then, -Galena's. with

caps. In such storms, She loved that man Benton, it seemed, many lives, out of the wrecks of boats, and he had broken her heart.

had the fierce waves swallowed! Would He ground his teeth; he clinched his they feel a pang the more — those waves hands; his eyes gleamed with a fierce if another wreck might go down to light. I don't know but all his good an- find a peace and quiet under their rav. gels would have hidden their eyes for ings, – if another life should slip quietly weeping, had he met Edward Benton then from the storm into the calm ? and there.

The moon sailed up the sky between Mrs. Gurnsey waited her tea, but in the clouds, - a placid moon, round and rain. He was walking past the doctor's full and beautiful.

- The same.

- no

angry white

CHAPTER VI.

- And you

The stars blinked contentedly, -happy “ Not a chronic attack of the blues, stars, white and satisfied.

little girl,” he said, smiling at her earWas it the calmness and stillness of nestness. those upper worlds, running their courses • No; I wont be put off with any eva50 noiselessly and certainly and continu- sions. I want to know if you have been ally, that rebuked the mad disorder in - well - if Galena has” this man's veins ?

“If I have been drawing tickets in the He threw himself upon the ground and lottery of life ?” he asked, interpreting wept.

her shamefaced question, looking at her with calm eyes, but pale lips.

Yes, John.”

“ Well; then, I have.” The following morning, Bates greeted his men as usual at the foundry, went “ Drew a blank, that's all. It's noththrough the daily routine of his work, ing more nor less than others do.” examining, giving orders, shipping off "I never, never can forgive Galena finished machinery, reporting at the office. Redway!”

A close observer might have detected, “ Never say that, never think that perhaps, a want of the usual nervous vig- again, Ruth. "If I suffer in loving her, or, or a slight paleness and compression the suffering comes not through her, but of the lips, drawing the mobile lines into myself. She never in word or look, and fixed quietness; but further than that now I know, in thought, countenanced it. there was no indication that the man had I loved her because I must, as one loves met the greatest temptation of his life, a rose. I was not made to wear roses, wrestled with and conquered it so lately.

Not one other thought of blame Life was before him, stripped of all its to her; she can't help her sweetness, or household loves and fireside delights; but that others love it.” outside the world stood, — the poor old

“() John - John!” and Ruth's evanworld, asking for men to take the lever escent passion was drowned, woman-like, of the blind old pagan and pry her out in a shower of tears. of the ruts of blindness and selfishness Ruth never held anger, or vindictiveand fanaticism.

As hurt as she felt through John's Bates knew what that lever was, loss, her generous nature acquitted GaleLove.

na of blame, yet she never could feel that Not the sweet blessedness of wife's, or freshness of confidence in a perfectly free children's, or friend's affection alone, but communion. It was the first real disapthe outgushing of the heart of man tow- pointment of her placid existence. Still ard man.

she loved Galena as never before, was even This man was no poet, and yet I think more thoughtful, more expressive in affecno poet ever conceived a more touching tion, as if to atone to her for her momen. self-abnegation than John Bates, standing tary injustice, speaking of John as usual, above the dead hope of his manhood, not telling of his goodness, his charitable deeds, murmuringly, but contentedly.

his self-sacrifices, with no revengeful hope Poor little Ruth saw the change in of causing her to feel what a good man she John, and instinctively fathomed the rea- had lost. It was Galena who knew first

you see.

ness.

her all the joy she deserves, and I think and pain in remembrance. Those memoshe'll get it.”

ries, now three years old, when they were " You shall have a home with us, Frank brought up suddenly before her, touched says. I told him I wouldn't have him many bare nerves with an electric shock. on any other arrangement.”

I think one never loses entirely a pain, “ You’re a very foolish little girl. or a happiness. It was so with this Young people don't want old bachelor girl. brothers around, to turn their sweet cup Clear in her judgments as she was into a bitter one, by their cynicism and growing, she never named the feeling she ill-nature."

had for John Bates. She pushed off all “ You cynical and ill-natured, John!” analysis when it intruded, — pushed it off And Ruth laughed heartily at the idea. with a quick blush and deadly following

“He shall live with us," she told Gale- paleness and faintness, always. Then she na, positively.

would go about her work with even a But he didn't. He persisted in remain- deeper earnestness, throwing herself out ing with the doctor and his wife, telling of herself - that is, all self-interest — to Ruth it was positively a matter of char- overcome the evil of some suspicious, un. ity to do so. What would the old people healthy mind among her pupils with kind do to be left all alone so suddenly ? Ruth words and gentle deeds, some hasty, pasdid not take it to heart as much as she sionate nature with sweet smiles, growing was at first determined on. Her new less proud, less independent, less self-conhousehold duties, and Frank's presence fident, more loving and tender through it through the evening, took up her time so all. completely that she found little chance for At home, Aunt Martha grew young fretting over John's wilfulness.

in the sunshine, and Biddy the most tidy, Occasionally, Galena met him there of respectful, and affectionate of servants. an evening, when she run over after Her father had arisen to become foreman school-hours to warm herself in Ruth's in the Star Foundry, and altogether, the happy smile.

fortunes of the family were increased. A grand man, no one could have helped “ Because of Mister Bates, who wudent but acknowledge. He was cheerful, yes, let us go to the dogs," Biddy always afhappy. In that fierce struggle with his firmed; and Galena believed her. dragon, he had killed whatever was self- It was summer again and June, ish, or small, or weak in his nature. Even calm, sweet day. The terrible storm that the most selfish and hardened of men felt has since broken in fury over our counand reverenced it with all that was still try, was only then in every mind a trangood in them. He was growing daily in sient thunder-gust that would growl and the respect and esteem of all classes, so spurt for a while, and then give way to that had some modern dyspeptic Dioge- brighter sunshine, to a purer air, and nes come enough out of his tub to have fresher breezes. There were no forebodsought in the market-places of the town ings of ill to blast a fair June day with for an honest man, he would have been blackness; no awful presence of a sorrow jeered at for not knowing where he might that can have no relief to turn the sun

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]

the running brooks, a happy tone in the Edward Benton — with the cold-souled drum of the waves, as Galena did that woman on his arm whom he should call day, three years ago.

wife, found, even so late, enough soul in She brought Evangeline with her again; him to ache for the heaven he had lost. but she didn't read much. The lake lay Some subtle divination aroused her a calm mirror; under the bluffs the tiny from her musings. She lifted her eyes waves gurgled and sung a monotonous and caught their gaze and, at the same content; the sun threw golden lines be- time, John Bates's eyes cast full on her tween the trees, and the winds blew fresh face, with a deep gaze, as though to read from the west.

her inmost soul.
She formed a pretty picture, — quiet Her eyes lighted — opened straight-
face, brown hair, and graceful form, her her face glowed with a glorious and full
black circular falling back from her shoul- revelation of the relation of these two
ders in the identical sweep the artist has men to her.
given Evangeline's, her hands folded in Edward Benton turned pale, and with
the same abandon, her eyes soft and mus- his companion retraced his way.
ing, looking out upon the lake, thinking John Bates came forward, his face full

- of what was she not thinking — of of a hope new-born, instantaneous.
Gabriel rowing up the swift waves past He held out his hands.
the sleeping girl. Had she not been “ Galena,” he said.
Evangeline herself, and let her Gabriel She answered, “John."
go up the river,

-away, away into a That was all. The sun glowed, the lonely life, leaving her with empty heart, breeze whispered, the waves drummed on finding too late her true name,

Evan- the beach. geline ?

Further north, a little way, the city's A lady and gentleman sauntered by, heart ached with an untold grief; further arm in arm, evidently part of a company south, ah, so far it seemed, the seeds of come out for an afternoon's pastime. the country's pestilence was maturing;

The woman was tintless, fair-haired, but in these two souls was a promise of gray-eyed, — a dead blonde, colder and love and peace for the future. harder than ice. Her companion tall, magnificent, on whose face the world had imprinted no softening characters.

HINDOO AMUSEMENT.—The languid and She touched his arm and pointed to slothful habits of the Hindoo have preGalena with one hand. The scene pleased scribed even his amusements. They are her artistic eyes. “A brownie at rest in almost all of the sedentary and inactive the shade."

kind. The game of pucheess bears a reHe looked ;

the man of the world semblance to chess and draughts, and is and society - Edward Benton — bit his played by two natives reclining on their lip until the blood came, to keep down the sides, with a small checkered carpet momentary agitation. He had loved this placed between them. Wonderful is the girl only a little less than his ambition. patience and interest with which they

He had hoped from the girl's intense watch and plan the evolutions of this nature that she would love him through languid game.

The mind in vacuity all, go down to her grave loving him. It droops and pines, where the body is most would give him pleasure that, to know gratified by repose. When interesting a soul waited on his, though hopelessly. objects seldom occur, the passion for play

But this face here was strong, triumph is a general resource. The Hindoos apant, exultant. The bird he had caged pear to have been at all times infected needed only her freedom to find her wings with the vices of gaming. This is pro

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »