Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

hours, expensive dress, and vinegar diet could make them.

“She is good-looking enough,” said Mrs. Selden; “ but who was she? Brought up for charity, I believe.”

Certainly Milly's sunny temper could not weigh for a moment against Miss Kate Selden's aristocracy of birth, and hopes of fortune.

“I think Frank Enfield has shown good taste and good judgment,” said Addy Lee, with spirit. “From Mary Lester's description, his bride must be perfectly charming."

“We all know you will swear by anything Mary Lester says, Addy; and really I wonder that your mother allows you to visit her, now, when she keeps a boarding-house."

"Every one was ready to visit her when she was rich, and gave pleasant parties,” retorted Addy; "and she is far better worth visiting now. She is a high-minded, noble girl, who could make any position honorable."

A slight indescribable lifting of the eyebrows, and movement of the shoulder, was all she answer Mrs. Selden vouchsafed to Addy's impetuous defence.

But Mrs. Bradshaw felt herself also touched, for she had suffered her intimacy with the Lesters to die out entirely, since they were "out of society;" and her sneer was scarcely as covert as courtesy required, as she said, -

“I envy your generous temper, Miss Lee. Few are so entirely free from jealousy, or could be content to be second even to a Mary Lester. Have you no fears for your future?"

“No, indeed, Mrs. Bradshaw. Mr. Smith first won my respect by the refined courtesy of his attentions to Mary, and his genuine appreciation of her value."

Addy Lee's straightforwardness was more than a match for her opponents, and for awhile she and Mary Lester were let alone.

It was true, Mr. Smith's chivalry had won his bride. She was not so gifted as Mary, nor did she possess her powerful intellect and energy, but she was not deficient in sense; was amiable and warm-hearted, and far better suited to Mr

Smith (as he already was convinced), than the loftier nature that had at first captivated his fancy.

He had told her honestly of his first love and disappointment, but his subsequent kindnesses he did not speak of, and when Mary told her the whole story, good Mr. Smith became a very hero in the eyes of his fair betrothed, thenceforward through her whole life.

There was one person who was beginning to look · upon

Miss Lester with very different eyes. Oscar Sumner had unconsciously adopted Matilda Lyndsay's view of her character, and considered her a vain and rather haughty girl, whose only attractions were her beauty, and a sort of dashing independence of manner that enabled her to say things that no one else would dare to utter.

Now he began to understand her truly. Her character, subdued by the discipline of life, had acquired a dignified repose, refining, not impairing, its

power. The constant demands made on her

sympa

thy, hy her invalid mother, had quickened her affections, rendering her gentle, considerate, and watchful of the comfort of others.

It was a constant attraction to Oscar to examine and elicit her tastes and opinions.

Her original mind seized new aspects of any subject under observation. His, slower but more profound, patient in analysis, unwearied in investigation, was roused into new life by the revelations, as it were, made by her more vivid perception, and gradually he formed a sort of habit, of bringing his impressions and experiences to examine them by this new light.

So, slowly but surely, a deep attachment was striking root in these two hearts, once apparently so utterly beyond the sphere of mutual influence.

What an amusing variety is displayed in the mode of performing that common (or uncommon) process, called “falling in love."

While the two just mentioned were walking in, in the quietest way, Doctor Floyd was startled from a tranquillity gained by long continued effort, to find that his happiness was no longer in his own keeping. An early and most painful experience had destroyed, not his faith in woman, as might have been the case with a feebler spirit, but his faith in his own future.

He was no dreamer. He believed that he had risked all—and lost all; that a love-lighted home could never be his; and devoting himself to the practical duties of life, with all the ardor of his vehement nature, he had resolved to seek therein his only happiness.

This delusion had strengthened year by year, till at last, suddenly dispelled, he saw how he was capable of feeling a truer and worthier love than that first wild dream of passion, and hope scarcely realized a sense of possible joy in store for him; a vague but ineffable gladness dawned softly on the darkness of his heart's slumber. He was not one

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »