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was a young fellow of promise, not of brilliant but reliable capacities and powers; he never astonished his class or his companions, but the unweariedness of his application, the quickness of his perception, the depth of his insight gave a good promise which the future was almost certain to redeem. His capacities admitted of a large degree of culture, and his taste implied a necessity of cultivation ; he was equal to a sterling pride, but incapable of vanity; and in this was like and unlike his sister Lucretia. He saw the world through the same medium with Ada, but he could not laugh at and scorn it as she did ; for he had a wider vision, saw farther into the depths, and knew that tears rather than railing were the world's due. There was in him the sterling merit of a fixed and independent purpose of doing for himself the best he might.
By the force and purity of his character, he was attracted irresistibly toward the worthiest men and women of those among whom he was thrown. He had a rare faculty, young though he was, for discerning their positive points. Mendacity met with no mercy at his hands when it put itself upon him for a treatment, and would not be avoided. He had the most austere, and yet, I think, not rare perception of justice ; men err too frequently in the weakness of their commiseration for those with whom they have to deal. I say this in the face of all the carping criticism uttered with intent to kill, reckless denunciation, ignorant and evil-minded judgments men pass on one another. Hasty and violent denunciation is one thing, deliberate and earnest disapproval is another. God tempers his justioe with mercy; and man abrogates himself when he refuses a like merciful and strict administration. The loving justice of the HEAVENLY FATHER, though it be tempered, is never temporizing. His strict conduct and exposition of His own unapproachable and indefeasible rights is what brings into light and establishes the virtue of His creation. He chargeth His angels with folly, but endureth them evermore about His Throne! I trust the reader will perceive a reason for this digression, and so pardon it.
Everett Isham had a virtuous perception of justice ; for with a pure heart and cleap hands, not ignorantly, not vaguely, he sought to learn her ways; he never stooped to temporize with her adversaries, nor made an effort to persuade or reclaim them, for his time had not yet come. He could not yet speak as one having aụthority. He was yet but a beholder of the splendors of the camp, and had not sought a commission to fight the battles of his race.
If thou knowest such a youth, treat him with reverence, nor attempt to laugh down his convictions; that thou canst no more do than could the scoffing people allay the flood that drowned the world ; for his convictions are as real and prophetic as the Being and Providence of God. For thine own sake, not for his — his victory is sure - greet him with gladness and encouragement; the world has vital need of such, and cries aloud for them. The chivalrous of virtue demand the heartiest, most solemn benison thou canst give; defraud them of it, all the loss is thine own
This was Everett Isham's character. His justice and his virtue förmed its underlying and impregnable basis. The character did not
stand out formidable in its proportions, as might be supposed. The se. verity of judgment, the undeceivable clear-sightedness, the lofty scorn of the cringing and temporizing spirit that distinguished his time, much of this appeared in the daily man.
Not from design, not from any hidden motive, did he veil himself from others. The easy grace and dignity of his intercourse with those around him was the natural garb of the man. His sense of superiority was as innocent of vanity as Job's assertion of integrity was free of presumption. His righteous judgment, not haughty depreciation, never showed itself in rude utterances and actions ; his refinement of spirit and association was too real for that. Such manifestation would not have been according to his natural method of expression. He might have grown into that misfortune under certain methods of treatment, if the cruelty of wilful misapprehension, or wilful neglect, or rough thwarting, instead of kindly training, had found any thing to do with his management. The method of his education had probably been the very best for him, and he approached his manhood firm in the acceptation of his responsibilities, gazing upon the various forms in which they had found demonstration, with the brave intent of a thoroughly furnished being.
His sisters, yet unmarried, were on the verge of matrimony when he had arrived at an age that, in accordance with his mental habits, required of him a seeking in every phenomenon the cause of its special expression. It was inevitable that he should turn his thoughts with some scrutiny to the form of this new relation, whose occupancy they anticipated, and to their provision for entering into it.
Before she put on long skirts and dressed for company, Ada had been his play-fellow; but since that time they had seen as little of each other as was possible for them, living under the same roof. The avoidance was not of course a deliberate one; but a woman entering on the full tide of fashionable life, having once submitted to the current, finds herself borne irresistibly along with it. She may strike out for life against this current, and breast the waves, and reach the shore, and return like the prodigal, but such a course requires the vigorous exercise of a spirit that is rarely found in operation among women who have been educated from their birth to float gracefully along the tide ; the home-sickness does not often demand an escape so fraught with danger as that : it is commonly allowed to run its course, and has no breaking; and the manifold inevitable misgivings as to what the end shall be, are lived down, are, for a time at least, got rid of. All this is true enough to make a parent shudder who is looking forward to the success of young daughters in the world.
Everett was of course admitted into none of the fine lady councils of the house ; if it occurred to any of them in a moment of vexation which demanded a decision to look to his clear and cool judgment for an opinion, it was to Ada; and there was always something lying remotely among her convictions, of which she obtained some dim perception, that kept her from the confidence when she came in sight of his quiet, thoughtful face, and magnified, in the contrast with his youth, the severity of his expression. In these matters therefore he was a cipher in the house. The young men who visited there never thought the boy's friendship or favor any thing important, worth the trouble of drawing him from his retirement, and so he was left alone to observe and reflect, and this with all diligence he continued to do.
Louise Raymond was a cousin of the Ishams. They always called her cousin, but the relationship was in reality more distant. She was of the same age as Ada, one-and-twenty, but in person and spirit she was four or five years younger.
As she was poor, and had no particular claim on her relations, Louise taught music in a school through the week, and on Saturdays usually went to visit at her uncle's house. They were unceremonious visits — made sometimes in the nursery, or in the garden with the children, who loved her, or reading in the library, or chatting with her uncle or aunt, or Everett, wherever they might be, but rarely sitting up in state in the drawing-room.
They all liked her, she had such freshness of enjoyment in every thing that was agreeable, was so unassuming, unpretentious, which characteristics, to assuming and pretentious people, have an especial charm. Even Lucretia and Ada liked Louise, and never found her in the way, because her self-respect served her like an instinct, and taught her to keep out of it. She was not a politic but a wise woman, and I fancy she went to her uncle's house to visit on these Saturdays with something of the feeling with which an intelligent body goes to a menagerie and pays the keeper for his exhibition, and gets what good he can from the show, confident of his safety in the tacit understanding that the owner of the caravan shall keep his wild animals safe locked within their cages.
Louise had an uncommon musical talent, and without much culture or critical exactness had attained to a very certain position of her own as a teacher, which she held securely. She loved music, though she made no pretensions as professor ; but she could sing ballads to perfection. Sometimes, but rarely, she had been persuaded to appear at some of her cousins' gay parties, and on such occasions she had sung to please the company; but never those songs which haunt the ear of Everett when he brings the guitar from the drawing-room to the library, and his younger sisters make with him the little audience. She would as soon think of sitting down in the market-place to tell the sacred secrets of her heart, the loves and griefs, to whatever idler strolling by should chance to pause and gape at her, as sing those songs she loves to an indiscriminate throng. For this sweet gift of hers she has been sought sometimes outside the circle of relationship. A guest of the Ishams' might surely find admittance anywhere. Once or twice she has been persuaded, to her own subsequent regret, to accept these invitations, but vulgar people know so ill how to manage such things that they have disgusted her; and so when she goes into society at all, it is among unostentatious people, who do not distinguish between her and her gifts.
Louise has a lover, to whom she is nearly betrothed. It is this fact probably that has tended somewhat to unequalize her temperament, and induce the more than ordinary thoughtfulness and anxiety with which
she has of late contemplated the future. If she were not an orphan, and under the necessity of doing something for her own maintenance, she would not now be thinking of the offer of the wealthy widower, an offer which she has contrived to avert and delay whenever she has felt it immediately impending. She does not investigate the reason of this shrinking from him, while at the same time that she hinders herself from so doing, she looks upon him as the unfolder of her future destiny. She dare not. They have congratulated her on her prospect at the mansion, not Everett, but his sisters, and her aunt and uncle Isham. Strange as it may seem, slight as is the value attached to his judgment by the rest of the family, if Everett would but join with them in these gratulations, she would feel a lighter heart and greater confidence about it; and because she knew that he would not speak in the same strain with them, she had sought and succeeded in avoidance of his comments on the subject. The reason of this he did not discover, but he felt the fact, and it imposed silence upon him for a time; but after he had learned that his sisters' engagements were fixed facts, and had perplexed himself with endeavoring to discern the facts, and had silently passed a really true but most severe judgment on their proceedings, he began to suspect himself of indulging a belief in a power he did not actually possess, a discernment of things quite beyond his ken, and he turned hopefully for relief of his perplexity to Louise, bethought him of the state of her affairs; remembering, that according to report, she also was betrothed, and that she appeared to be in no such disturbed, excited state of being as his sisters, he waited impatiently till she should come up to spend another Saturday at the house, determined that she should help him to the opinion and feeling which he ought to have in regard to the developing family affairs.
When Louise came, it happened that his sisters had gone out for the day, and there was no one in the house to receive her but himself, nor even he; for though he saw her as she came up the street, and heard her as she entered the gate and pulled the door-bell, though he knew there was no one there but servants to welcome her, he kept his place. The only thing for which he cared to see her just now was to question her on this point, that had absorbed his contemplations during the past week ; and now that the time had come when he might question, in the certainty of frank replies, he was loth to go and use the opportunity. It was not a pleasant thought to him that he might hear from a woman's lips or read in a woman's eyes a confirmation of the truths he guessed at, or suspected; for as yet, wanting as he was in confidence in the imaginings of his heart, he had not arrived at the entire and beautiful truth that would free him from all fear.
Nevertheless, in the course of the half-hour succeeding her arrival, he went out from his room and entered the library, and rested his course on the event. If Louise should come into the library that afternoon, he would question her as he had designed. She came.
Very little really idle talk ever passed between them: when they were together, there was a directness in their mode of speech that spoke well for their sincerity and earnestness. When Louise came into the room, he arose and approached her, taking from the reading-table a
bouquet of flowers he had gathered in anticipation of her arrival ; and his admiration shone from his eyes as he looked at her, she received the gift with so much grace.
Louise,' he said presently, throwing himself into a chair opposite that which she had taken, “ Louise, I can understand some things better when you have expressed your opinion about them. What do you think of these marriages we are going to have in the house ?'
Louise was taken aback by the suddenness and strangeness of the question, and she was slow to answer - not that she was without the requisite confidence in Everett to express with freedom her opinion on whatever subject he proposed, but because she felt what she did at length express. “I do not think it right to discuss the subject, cousin ; it is none of our business.'
We won't quarrel about that; but do you think Lucretia and Ada well matched, either of them, Louise ?'
They have not asked my opinion. It makes no difference what I think. I'm not a fit judge, in the first place, nor a competent one.'
You say so. I do n't agree with you. I would like to have an honest woman's opinion. You will not speak; then I will. Now note if I make a mistake in any of my conclusions.
Do not, Everett,' said Louise hastily, as if in alarm. I do n't like this sort of thing; it looks like treachery.
· Treachery : why, no ; I do n't think so. I have had no confidence reposed in me. I only speak of what has been announced to all the world. All the world will judge of it, or has a right to do so; for the thing speaks for itself. What I want to do is just to look at the facts, and forget my own position in regard to them; and I want you to help me. Call the girls by any other names than Lucretia and Ada, if that is what you do n't like about it. Just think of a handsome and proud woman who has no occasion to be married, except for the sake of her heart, to get it back again if she happens to lose it, just in the way that all folks who find their lives must first lose them, according to the Scriptures. Think of her contracting a relation for life which do n't call one of the noblest affections into operation! This lady has lived on flattery so long, and this man flatters her so egregiously and so acceptably, the just conclusion seems to be that it's about as substantial food as she can endure ; but that's not so. Look at her, and you 'll see it is not. Why should she marry an obsequious politician? If his temporizing, not that any good may come either, but his own aggrandizement, has made him notorious among the virtuous few, and famous among the unvirtuous many, and he carries this same spirit into the drawing-room, and talks in the same spirit, though in another vein, to a lady, is this sufficient to win a lady's heart? She has some natural high-mindedness, but do n't believe it's that light, hid under a bushel, that he appreciates. He is a showy man of great pretensions, but I assure you nothing more?
'I think your judgment is severe,' said Louise quickly, after a pause that followed his words. When she spoke, it seemed as if she were recovering from some deep abstraction, as if while her ear had taken in his words, and she had pondered them in surprise, as he sharply defined,