Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

passed against her oddity and short-sightedness, and wondered in their hearts what sort of a great match Louise could be anticipating, that she should refuse such a capital chance as this. But Everett, when he heard of it, said not a word; he did not quite clearly understand, but he approved in his heart of what she had done — never dreaming that he had helped her soul to the possession of its right.

Young Isham at length entered on the study of the law. There was no necessity of haste in the conduct of his studies, so that his progress was marked by his customary thoroughness and deliberation, and his investigations were conducted in a manner worthy of his broad habits of thought. There was no cramping and no stint allowed. He chose the law because he liked the science of the profession, and had patience to submit to its details. He gave himself diligently to acquirement of mastership in it..

More broadly and deeply his noble character developed with unfolding years. He travelled and saw the world ; his mind had continual enrichment. There was no slighting, no wasting of advantages; the same polish of manner and surpassing grace of address that had marked his youth, which was the polish of nature, characterized his manhood ; but there was no effeminacy betokened by it. His searching into the things of life was as earnest as ever — as deep and as unguessed of the most of his companions. He formed few friendships, and these, for the most part, were among men of high and severe culture; he took his place among them in the attitude of a student, but was honored in turn by them as a friend.

Meanwhile his sisters had grown old in married life. Neither of them had in any respect varied in the progress of their career, from that which he had indicated as their probable course. But the fulfilments of sad prophecies are not occasions of proud rejoicing in prophetic hearts. It was far otherwise with Isham. In the drawing-room of his lofty and magnificent elder sister, in her circle, exclusive to a point, he felt that there was something like the crying hunger of great poverty ; and his eyes saw that the disappointment had fallen and the pride had culminated. In the more gay and brilliantly-filled rooms of Ada, he found that reckless dissipation, that ignorance and absence of all quiet home-life enjoyments, which he had foretold — the whirl of the maze of fashion in its place. He was not often found in either of these places, yet. Mrs. La Marque and Mrs. Alexander were proud of him, even while they laughed at what they called his prudery and preaching.

After he had opened his office, and entered on the practice of his profession, he planted himself on that ground, and toiled as became him, and his reputation for learning, eloquence, and wisdom extended year by year. Men of power and discernment knew what Isham's place was, and they always found him faithful in holding it.

There were some great changes in the family shortly after he began to take his position among men. His father and mother both died, while George from abroad had preceded them in the time of his departure.

While Everett was abroad, during the life-time of his parents, Louise Raymond had come to live with the family, to superintend the educa

tion of the younger sisters; and on the death of Mrs. Isham, she, in a great measure, filled the mother's place. She was living with them still in that fine old gubernatorial mansion, which preserved the street it stood on within the limits of the habitable world.

Jessie and Clarissa were the names of the young daughters of the house. In person they seemed reproductions of their elder sisters, so close was the resemblance they bore to them. But they had been differently trained ; for from the day of Lucretia's and Ada's marriage, Everett had kept them in his thought continually, and had labored with and for them in ways they would probably never know, or fully appreciate. There was no danger that their lives would be lost. With wise foresight and diligence, Isham had foreseen the dangers to which they would be subjected, and he had provided against the possibility of such a mistake as had befallen his elder sisters; their sentiments had been purified, their taste and feeling cultivated rightly; they were prepared to enjoy life, and to estimate it at its worth. The family, in its varied aspects, was one well worth the contemplation of the philosopher and economist; those two older sisters, with whom the world had had over-much to do, and the two younger, whom the strong hand and unflinching purpose of a loving heart had directed ; so much there run to waste and wholly lost, so much here preserved and brought out again in its undiminished value, to fulfil its best purpose.

Now, when it became needful for. Isham to think seriously of the entrance of the girls into society, when the subject pressed upon him, and would admit of no farther delay, in justice to them, for he saw that they were looking forward to the world with longing, and that the delay was but calculated to heighten their estimate of the advantages and delights to be derived therefrom, he considered within himself and began to examine the question once before considered by him — waived now these many years, until it was nearly forgotten - a wife; and as he mused, he recalled his old ideal admiration, and found that now in his ripened manhood, laden with work and growing fame, and the dig. nities of his position, as he had been, almost to entire forgetfulness of these things, that now in his manhood he was true to the estimate formed in his youth of what his wife should be.

Then he began to look about him for one that should answer to his call; and she who first responded to his seeking was Clarissa, his youngest sister, so like, yet so unlike the gay and dashing Ada. Point by point he went over this character, which was clear as though' written with a sun-beam’ to his eyes. There was a hesitancy and a falling short of perfect satisfaction when he had finished tracing the resemblance between her and the ideal woman. She was his sister, and he could think of improvements on this style of being which she beautifully represented — improvements which were not in the work of education, but of the original work of Nature - an intellect of wider reach and firmer grasp, and more mental vivacity. Well, whither now ?

He started when he saw the image which, without an effort, of its own spontaneous impulse, rose from the midst of shadows, and stood before him ; started to see the unanticipated face that answered to his summons; started almost in consternation and with incredulity when he recognized the lineaments of Louise !

What! Louise Raymond, his cousin ! whom he had been in the habit of consulting with such an off-hand confidence and familiarity in the emergencies of his intellectual and spiritual life? Louise, who had become so near, dear, needful as a friend, that he had never thought of her in any other light! Louise, who had been so sincere in all her disagreements with him, so cordial in her agreements! Louise, who was so unpretending in her womanly ways, who found so much to enjoy in the world, but was so careless of its recognitions ! Louise, who was fanciful as a poet, enthusiastic as an artist, warm-hearted and freshfeeling as a generous, romantic school-girl, yet so wise, so self-forgetful in the conduct of her lofty life, and so exact in the management of her concerns! Yes, Louise, Louise, whom the girls clung to as she had been a mother, whom they loved, honored, and obeyed. Take her away from the house — he is now contrasting the views — remove her, this swift-thinking, swift-moving, energetic, noiseless, thorough-going woman, this delightful mixture of gayety and thoughtfulness, what would be left in that great mansion ? His sisters and himself. The prospect was wanting in all warm coloring and life-likeness. Was it possible that one being could make itself so felt, so needful, that its departure would work such a change as he saw in all this house if she were gone? He did not tarry long to question about that. The effect on his mind as he estimated the result of this subtraction, set him rather hurriedly to calculating the chances of success in that which he immediately resolved to attempt.

As if he had been blind all his life, he now thought of Louise in a sort of astonishment. How exactly she corresponded to his ideal! His imaginary seemed indeed to have drawn all the best features for the portrayal which in late times had been somewhat obscured by the joyous life her presence helped him to live, seemed to have drawn them all from the glory and the beauty of the human. Fancy was dull when compared with fact. His ideal was a bungle ; Nature's real was perfection.

And directly, with the generous enthusiasm of a true lover, he began to impute to her all the good that was within him, all the honor he had won. Unconsciously she had inspired him ; he had only carried out her noble sentiment into appropriate action. He looked at the past, and recollected that he had been wont to pride himself on his early insight and wisdom at a time when, in the nature of things, it was impossible that he should have had any experience of life ; now he was swift to assure his mistaken self that it was the impression derived from her noble character that had led him to place his standard so high. Indebted to her for the formation of his character and the joy of his life, he thought upon Louise.

And now what room, what occasion had he for hope? He began to consider what the bearing of Louise was toward him — Louise, who was full five years older than he — Louise, the unpretending woman, who had suddenly become so formidable, if she should oppose herself to him ; but he desisted from the effort of calculating chances ; the

task was not an easy one. With an effort of his vigorous will, he arose above doubt and fear, and swung his hope around the truth of her character and the generosity of her heart; and feeling that success in his suit involved greater and farther-reaching consequences than any ever before intrusted to his pleading, with something of the lofty spirit of the Christian, who commits his most darling hopes to God, and goes without a fear onward in the prosecution of his valorous enterprises, content if the HIGHEST WILL be done, so went Everett Isham from his study, searching for Louise.

And when he found her walking in the garden, he said to her, as he might have said an hour ago, when this purpose of his life-time, of which he had become suddenly intelligently aware, was lying hidden in his heart :

Louise, why is this September day the sweetest of the year?'

It's not to me,' she answered, looking around her on the evidences of the completed summer, and pointing with her foot to the leaves that were fallen upon the walk.

• Why not to you, Louise ?' asked Everett, looking not at her, but up to the branches of a tree which already was nearly bare of foliage.

• The promise of the spring is better, is n't it? I am young enough to think so yet.'

Young enough!' He looked at her ; she was really somewhat advanced ! She met his look and smiled without the blushing of a young girl in her teens, and said : • Yes, young enough ; you believe it, don't you?'

Any thing you say I believe. That is giving you a large liberty ; don't abuse it when you have an opportunity. The idea, though, of your growing old! You like all the stir and activity of spring ; but see the repose of a day like this. See what peace there is in it! Just listen to those insects.'

They all say, “It is finished,' I know, but it makes me sad to hear it.

· It is finished : yes, every thing says that; the pain and struggle done ; and now the fruition, Louise. It seems to me we may draw an inference from this difference between us; the relations which the seasons symbolize we may bear to each other. Does not this day say as much? Think of me, Louise, as you never did before, for a moment. Do you find in me nothing that satisfies you ? — your heart, I mean? Our task is in a great measure completed. The girls must go into society this winter ; we have something to think of now beside them ; we must have, for they will soon be beyond our responsibilities, though never beyond our love. They are the children of your loving care, as well as mine; let them continue the children of our loving hearts. I would not have the guardianship suspended by you, and I am certain that while I live, it will not be by me. But, Louise, do not mistake me. Their need may have brought my heart to a knowledge of itself; a little domestic perplexity may have hastened the exhibition of the whole thing ; but the fact is unaffected by the method of its discovery. I am not the man you would suspect of consulting expediency in this case. If you reject me, I shall never marry, and shall chaperone my sisters as I best can. Whether you reject me or not, it is a proud thing for me to tell you my love. With my whole heart I love you : if there is any thing of this in your heart for me, it is not in you to trifle, Louise !

They were now standing, their slow steps having come to a full pause. He spoke her name at the conclusion of his declaration as it had been a call, and she responded to it how? in turning from him and walking rapidly away.

And what did Isham do? He stood and watched her : spasmodically, certainly with no real intent to follow her, he started, and advanced a pace or two, and then stood still. As a statue, he stood motionless. He watched her as she went; he saw her going hurriedly down the walk, evidently not thinking whither, out-going her surprise or agitation, and which he could not tell; and he saw her when presently she paused, and turned, and looked at him, and began to retrace her steps, her face all glorious to his eyes with reflections of the workings of the soul within. Then he went to meet her; and, as you say, a complete life stood in the midst of the completed summer. 0. c.

THE PRESS: FROM A POEM ON THE STOCKS.'.

BY L. J. BAIES

How oft have scholars of the 'good old time,'

When the Coliseum was in all its glory,
Pored over many an antiquated rhyme,

Legend of eld, romance, tradition hoary,
Wasting long days deciphering the story

From worn-out manuscript of worn-out lays,
Till PLATO swore he would be shot' before he

(Or the same thing in more exalted phrase)
In scribbling like our school-boys, would consume his days.

It was indeed a very difficult matter

To write with sticks for pens, and reeds for paper,
Which is the reason why a certain satire,

Intended to extinguish HOMER's taper,
And shroud great HORACE in oblivion's vapor,

Like TUPPER's poems of more modern years,
Was never put intelligibly in shape, nor

A charming ode on CLEOPATRA's ears,

· Of which three lines were really written, it appears. VOL. XLVI.

« AnteriorContinuar »