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THE BRIDAL GIFT.
BY MRS. FAIRLIE.
EMILY F. was the daughter of a lady who, since her widowhood, had seen much adversity. Mrs. F. was of good family, and her deceased husband had been highly respected and eminent in his profession. Many of their children had fallen victims to consumption, and there now only remained three of a once numerous family: Emily, Charles, and Edward, were their names. They were all remarkable for personal beauty; Emily's was of the most feminine and delicate character. Her hair was of a light and glossy brown, and peculiarly abundant; her eyes deep blue, her cheeks faintly tinted with pink, but her lips were of the brightest hue. Such were her charms; and the portrait of her, which was painted when she was on the eve of marriage with one to whom she was most fondly attached, conveys but an inadequate idea of their perfection. Albert was but three years her senior, and was in every respect a suitable match for her. His parents already loved her as their own child, and all who knew them began to think that for once the course of true love must run smooth. The wedding day was fixed, and Emily took a natural and innocent delight in looking at the bridal apparel, and simple but elegant accessories to a female toilet, which were gifts from her present and future relatives Albert was not wealthy, and consequently diamonds pearls, and rubies, India shawls and costly robes were not there: nor did the happy girl for one moment regret their
absence; and her lover, when he saw her glossy ringlets and fair and polished brow, thought plumes and a tiara would almost mar their beauty.
Eagerly did Emily gaze from her chamber window at the hour when Albert usually arrived, and gladly did she hail him when he came. Bright visions of years of bliss floated before them both, and they were never weary of painting their future home. Alas! their hopes were doomed to be unfulfilled. Albert was seized with sudden illness. Medical aid, and the attentions of fond relatives and of an adoring girl were unavailing; and, on the day previous to that which should have shone on her nuptials, Emily had to deplore the death of her lover.
I need not try to paint the anguish of her feelings. Vainly should I waste words to describe that which all can well imagine. Yet Emily sorrowed not as "one without hope;" she had the blessed conviction that her Albert's virtues had secured to him an eternal abode in those happy regions where there is no parting, where tears cease to flow, and where hearts ache not. Time soothed the violence of her sorrow, but she felt no less than at the first how totally irreparable was her loss. She spoke not of her departed Albert, but her thoughts were ever with him.
It was about two years after the death of her lover that Emily became acquainted with Lord L. He was a young man of prepossessing manners and appearance, and possessed of a large fortune. His heart was soon bestowed on the gentle and lovely girl, and he paid her many kind and unobtrusive attentions. Lord L. was totally unacquainted with Emily's previous engagement, and attributed to the alteration in her fortune that depression which arose from
disappointed affection. Emily believed that he was acquainted with her sad story, and was grateful for his delicate and silent regard; but she knew not the nature or depth of his feelings. She was therefore much surprised, and really grieved, when he one day avowed his love, and besought her to become his bride. She burst into tears, and for some moments was unable to speak. At length, she was about to reply, but a visitor was announced, and ere she had time to say more than "I will write to you," a giddy, fashionable acquaintance entered the room, who exhibited no intention of a speedy departure. Consequently, in a brief time Lord L. took his leave, wearied by the frivolity, which would at any period have annoyed him, but which now very quickly exhausted his patience.
It was nearly an hour ere Emily bade adieu to the intruder; she then flew to her mother, whom slight indisposition had confined to her apartment. On naming to her the proposal she had received, Mrs. F. exclaimed, "how fortunate, how delightful!"
Delightful?" echoed her daughter; "my dearest mother, I do not understand these expressions."
Why, what parent would not rejoice at her daughter having engaged the affections of so amiable, agreeable, and in every way charming a young man as Lord L.?"
Nay, you should pity him," said Emily, "since I believe him sincere in his professions of regard, and he will consequently feel much disappointment when I shall tell him how utterly impossible it is that I should ever marry."
"And why, Emily, should you never marry?"
"Dear mother, can you ask that question?-can you believe me so mean as to wed for wealth and rank?”
"You dislike Lord L., then?" said Mrs. F.
"Oh! no; I think him an amiable and agreeable young man, with much good sense, and high and honourable feeling. I have never met with one I would more gladly hail as the husband of my sister, had I one; but dearest mother, I can never love again; my heart lies in the tomb of Albert."
Tears flowed abundantly as she concluded, and for some time they were both silent. At length Mrs. F. resumed. "I have, I believe, Emily, always been a kind and tender parent to you."
“You have, you have, indeed!” interrupted her daughter. "And I have never been unreasonable or unjust. Emily, were Albert living, I would not urge you to marry another, though a reigning sovereign should ask you for his bride. But, he is gone, and since Lord L. is not personally disagreeable to you-since you know and appreciate his many amiable and estimable qualities, I beseech you not to refuse the happy and brilliant position which is now offered to you. I am aware that a young and ardent girl imagines that it is necessary to be violently in love when she marries. You say you can never be so more ; but trust me, my dear child, respect, esteem, and regard, will make you as happy as, or even perhaps happier than, love could do."
Did Mrs. F. believe her own words? I doubt it; at any rate, she failed to convince her daughter. But I will not detail the many conversations which took place between the ladies; suffice it to say, Emily agreed that her mother
should see Lord L. the following day, and explain to him her feelings.
When her elder son returned that evening, Mrs. F. was closeted with him for some time. He told her he was sure Lord L. was in total ignorance of Albert ever having existed; and strongly urged her not to mention to his lordship the circumstances of his sister's attachment.
"Of course," added he, "Emily feels at first a little dislike to form a new engagement. It is natural, since it recalls more vividly the memory of poor Albert. He was a fine, noble fellow, and any girl might have liked him ; but L. is also an excellent young man; he is besides handsome and rich, and Emily will soon insensibly become attached to him. I would let her imagine he knew all her former history, whilst, in fact, I would tell him she was not prepared to give a decided answer at present, and keep him in a little suspense, at the same time giving great hopes (which I think you reasonably may) of a final satisfactory reply."
Mrs. F. highly approved of her son's scheme, and acted accordingly. Some months afterwards, Lord L., who had continued his visits, again besought Miss F. to become his wife. His letter was a rare specimen of ardent affection, and good sense. Had it by any accident fallen into the hands of an uninterested stranger, it would, unlike the generality of love letters, have failed to excite a smile of derision. This epistle had its due effect with Emily; and her relatives so strongly urged her, that she at length gave her consent. She now strove as much as possible to banish all remembrance of other days. Lord L. was fond of