Imatges de pÓgina

was often like latent caloric, — an all- her whole manner having something sepervading force, that affected no visible rious and celestial. She came directly thermometer, shown chiefly by a noble towards him and put out both her little silent confidence, a ready helpfulness, hands, with a smile half-childlike, halfbut seldom outbreathed in caresses; yet angelic; and the Doctor bowed his head natures like Mary's always craved these and covered his face with his hands. outward demonstrations, and leaned to- “ Dear friend,” said Mary, kneeling wards them as a trailing vine sways to and taking his hands, “ if you want me, the nearest support. It was delightful I am come. Life is but a moment,- there

a for once fully to feel how much her moth- is an eternal blessedness just beyond us, er loved her, as well as to know it. - and for the little time between I will

“ Dear, precious mother! do you love be all I can to you, if you will only show me so very much ? ”

me how." “I live and breathe in you, Mary !" And the Doctor said Mrs. Scudder,-giving vent to her- No, young man,—the study-door closed self in one of those trenchant shorthand just then, and no one heard those words expressions wherein positive natures in- from a quaint old Oriental book which cline to sum up everything, if they must told that all the poetry of that grand old speak at all.

soul had burst into Aower, as the aloe Mary held her mother silently to her blossoms once in a hundred years. The breast, her heart shining through her face feelings of that great heart might have with a quiet radiance.

fallen unconsciously into phrases from “Do you feel happy this morning ?” that one love-poem of the Bible which said Mrs. Scudder.

such men as he read so purely and de“ Very, very, very happy, mother!” voutly, and which warm the icy clear

“I am so glad to hear you say so!” ness of their intellection with the myrrh said Mrs. Scudder, - who, to say the and spices of ardent lands, where earthtruth, had entertained many doubts on ly and heavenly love meet and blend her pillow the night before.

in one indistinguishable horizon-line, like Mary began dressing herself in a state sea and sky. of calm exaltation. Every trembling “ Who is she that looketh forth as the leaf on the tree, every sunbeam, was like morning, fair as the moon, clear as the a living smile of God,--every fluttering sun ? My dove, my undefiled, is but breeze like His voice, full of encourage- one; she is the only one of her mother. ment and hope.

Thou art all fair, my love! there is no “ Mother, did you tell the Doctor what spot in thee !" I said last night?”

The Doctor might have said all this; “I did, my darling."

we will not say he did, nor will we say " Then, mother, I would like to see he did not; all we know is, that, when him a few moments alone.”

the breakfast-table was ready, they came “Well, Mary, he is in his study, at his out cheerfully together. Madame de morning devotions.”

Frontignac stood in a fresh white wrap" That is just the time. I will go

to per, with a few buttercups in her hair, him."

waiting for the breakfast. She was starThe Doctor was sitting by the win- tled to see the Doctor entering all-radidow; and the honest-hearted, motherly ant, leading in Mary by the hand, and lilacs, abloom for the third time since looking as if he thought she were some our story began, were filling the air dream-miracle which might dissolve under with their sweetness.

his eyes, unless he kept fast hold of her. Suddenly the door opened, and Mary The keen eyes shot their arrowy entered, in her simple white short-gown glance, which went at once to the heart and skirt, her eyes calmly radiant, and of the matter. Madame de Frontignac


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knew they were affianced, and regarded

CHAPTER XXIX. Mary with attention.

The calm, sweet, elevated expression of her face struck her; it struck her also The announcement of the definite that that was not the light of any earthly engagement of two such bright particulove,- that it had no thrill, no blush, no lar stars in the hemisphere of the Doctremor, but only the calmness of a soul tor's small parish excited the interest that knows itself no more; and she

that such events usually create among sighed involuntarily

the faithful of the flock. She looked at the Doctor, and seemed There was a general rustle and flutto study attentively a face which happi- ter, as when a covey of wild pigeons has ness made this morning as genial and at- been started; and all the little elves who tractive as it was generally strong and fine. rejoice in the name of " says be" and

There was little said at the breakfast- " says I” and “ do tell ” and “ have you table; and yet the loud singing of the heard” were speedily flying through the birds, the brightness of the sunshine, the consecrated air of the parish. life and vigor of all things, seemed to The fact was discussed by matrons make up for the silence of those who and maidens, at the spinning-wheel, in were too well pleased to speak. the green clothes-yard, and at the foamy

Eh bien, ma chère,” said Madame, wash-tub, out of which rose weekly a after breakfast, drawing Mary into her new birth of freshness and beauty. Malittle room,— c'est donc fini?

ny a rustic Venus of the foam, as she “ Yes,” said Mary, cheerfully.

splashed her dimpled elbows in the rain“ Thou art content?” said Madame, bow-tinted froth, talked of what should passing her arm around her. "Well, be done for the forthcoming solemnities, then, I should be. But, Mary, it is like and wondered what Mary would have a marriage with the altar, like taking on when she was married, and whether the veil, is it not ?”

she (the Venus) should get an invitation "No," said Mary ; " it is not taking to the wedding, and whether Ethan the veil; it is beginning a cheerful, rea- would go,-not, of course, that she carsonable life with a kind, noble friend, ed in the least whether he did or not. who will always love me truly, and whom Grave, elderly matrons talked about I hope to make as happy as he deserves.” the prosperity of Zion, which they imag

“I think well of him, my little cat," ined intimately connected with the event said Madame, reflectively; but she stop- of their minister's marriage; and deped something she was going to say, and scending from Zion, speculated on bedkissed Mary's forehead. After a mo- quilts and table-cloths, and rummaged ment's pause, she added, “ One must their own clean, sweet-smelling stores, have love or refuge, Mary ;- this is thy fragrant with balm and rose-leaves, to lay refuge, child ; thou wilt have peace in it." out a bureau-cover, or a pair of sheets, She sighed again. "Enfin," she said,

or a dozen napkins for the wedding outfit. resuming her gay tone, “ what shall be The solemnest of solemn quiltings was la toilette de noces ? Thou shalt have

resolved upon.

Miss Prissy declared Virginie's pearls, my fair one, and look that she fairly couldn't sleep nights with like a sea-born Venus. Tiens, let me try the responsibility of the wedding-dresses them in thy hair.”

on her mind, but yet she must give one And in a few moments she had Mary's day to getting on that quilt. long hair down, and was chattering like The grand monde also was in motion. a blackbird, wreathing the pearls in and Mrs. General Wilcox called in her own out, and saying a thousand pretty little particular carriage, bearing present of a nothings,- weaving grace and poetry up- Cashmere shawl for the bride, with the on the straight thread of Puritan life. General's best compliments, -- also an oak-leaf pattern for quilting, which had red, and blue, felt rising in her breast been sent her from England, and which a passion for somewhat vague and unwas authentically established to be that known, which came out at length in used on a petticoat belonging to the a new pattern of patchwork. CollecPrincess Royal. And Mrs. Major Sea- tions of these tiny fragments were always forth came also, bearing a scarf of wrought ready to fill an hour when there was India muslin ; and Mrs. Vernon sent a nothing else to do; and as the maiden splendid China punch-bowl. Indeed, to chatted with her beau, her busy flying say the truth, the notables high and needle stitched together those pretty mighty of Newport, whom the Doctor bits, which, little in themselves, were had so unceremoniously accused of build- destined, by gradual unions and accreing their houses with blood and estab- tions, to bring about at last substantial lishing their city with iniquity, consid- beauty, warmth, and comfort,-- emblems ering that nobody seemed to take his thus of that household life which is to be words to heart, and that they were mak- brought to stability and beauty by revering money as fast as old Tyre, rather ent economy in husbanding and tact in assumed the magnanimous, and patted arranging the little useful and agreeable themselves on the shoulder for this oppor- morsels of daily existence. tunity to show the Doctor that after all When a wedding was forthcoming, they were good fellows, though they did there was a solemn review of the stores make money at the expense of thirty per of beauty and utility thus provided, and cent. on human life.

the patchwork-spread best worthy of Simeon Brown was the only excep- such distinction was chosen for the quilttion. He stood aloof, grim and sarcas- ing. Thereto, duly summoned, troop tic, and informed some good middle-aged ed all intimate female friends of the ladies who came to see if he would, as bride, old and young; and the quilt they phrased it, “esteem it a privilege being spread on a frame, and wadded to aild his mite” to the Doctor's outfit, with cotton, each vied with the others in that he would give him a likely negro the delicacy of the quilting she could boy, if he wanted him, and, if he was too put upon it. For the quilting also was conscientious to keep him, he might sell a fine art, and had its delicacies and him at a fair profit, - - a happy stroke nice points, which grave elderly maof humor which he was fond of relating trons discussed with judicious care. The many years after.

quilting generally began at an early The quilting was in those days consid- hour in the afternoon, and ended at ered the most solemn and important re- dark with a great supper and general cognition of a betrothal. And for the jubilee, at which that ignorant and inbenefit of those not to the manner born, capable sex which could not quilt was a little preliminary instruction may be allowed to appear and put in claims for necessary.

consideration of another nature. It may, The good wives of New England, im- perhaps, be surmised that this expected pressed with that thrifty orthodoxy of reinforcement was often alluded to by economy wbich forbidls to waste the the younger maidens, whose wickedly merest trifle, had a habit of saving ev- coquettish toilettes exhibited suspicious ery scrap clipped out in the fashion- marks of that willingness to get a chance ing of household garments, and these to say “No” which has been slanderthey cut into fanciful patterns and con- ously attributed to mischievous maidens. structed of them rainbow shapes and In consideration of the tremendous quaint traceries, the arrangement of responsibilities involved in this quilting, which became one of their few fine arts. the reader will not be surprised to learn, Many a maiden, as she sorted and ar- that, the evening before, Miss Prissy made ranged fluttering bits of green, yellow, her appearance at the brown cottage,

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armed with thimble, scissors, and pin- a piece of embroidery. When she was cushion, in order to relieve her mind by gone out, Miss Prissy looked after her a little preliminary confabulation. and sunk her voice once more to the

“ You see me, Miss Scudder, run 'most confidential whisper which we before to death,” she said ; " but I thought I described. would just run up to Miss Major Sea- “I have heard strange stories about forth's, and see her best bed-room quilt, that French woman,” she said; “ but as 'cause I wanted to have all the ideas we she is here with you and Mary, I suppose possibly could, before I decided on the there cannot be any truth in them. Dear pattern. Hers is in shells,—just common me! the world is so censorious about shells, — nothing to be compared with women ! But then, you know, we don't Miss Wilcox's oak-leaves; and I suppose expect much from French women. ' I there isn't the least doubt that Miss Wil- suppose she is a Roman Catholic, and cox's sister, in London, did get that from worships pictures and stone images; but a lady who had a cousin who was gov- then, after all, she has got an immortal erness in the royal family; and I just soul, and I can't help hoping Mary's inquilted a little bit to-day on an old piece fluence may be blest to her. They say, of silk, and it comes out beautiful; and when she speaks French, she swears ev. so I thought I would just come and ask ery few minutes; and if that is the way you if you did not think it was best for she was brought up, may-be she isn't acus to have the oak-leaves."

countable. I think we can't be too char“Well, certainly, Miss Prissy, if you itable for people that a’n’t privileged as think so," said Mrs. Scudder, who was

Miss Vernon's Polly told me as pliant to the opinions of this wise she had seen her sew Sundays, — sew woman of the parish as New England Sabbath-day! She came into her room matrons generally are to a reigning sudden, and she was working on her emdress-maker and factotum.

broidery there; and she never winked Miss Prissy had the happy conscious- nor blushed, nor offered to put it away, ness, always, that her early advent under but sat there just as easy! Polly said any roof was considered a matter of es- she never was so beat in all her life ; she pecial grace; and therefore it was with felt kind o' scared, every time she thought rather a patronizing tone that she an- of it. But now she has come here, who nounced that she would stay and spend knows but she may be converted ?” the night with them.

“ Mary has not said much about her “I knew," she added, “ that your spare

state of mind,” said Mrs. Scudder; "but chamber was full, with that Madame de something of deep interest has passed be

what do you call her?—if I was tween them. Mary is such an uncomto die, I could not remember the wom- mon child, that I trust everything to an's name. Well, I thought I could curl her.” in with you, Mary, 'most anywhere." We will not dwell further on the par

“ That's right, Miss Prissy,” said Ma- ticulars of this evening, — nor describe ry; “ you shall be welcome to half my how Madame de Frontignac reconnoitred bed any time.”

Miss Prissy with keen, amused eyes, “ Well, I knew you would say so, nor how Miss Prissy assured Mary, in Mary; I never saw the thing you would the confidential solitude of her chamber, not give away one half of, since you that her fingers just itched to get hold was that bigh,” said Miss Prissy, - illus- of that trimming on Madame de Frogtrating her words by placing her hand something's dress, because she was pretabout two feet from the floor.

ty nigh sure she could make some just Just at this moment, Madame de Fron- like it, for she never saw any trimming tignac entered and asked Mary to come she could not make. into her room and give her advice as to The robin that lived in the apple-tree

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my life ! ”


thy of such a blessing; he said I was to selves which seems to look out of an intell you that he should love and honor finite depth in the mirror, as if it were you all the same, whether


could be our own soul beckoning to us visibly his wife or not, — but that nothing this from unknown regions. Those eyes side of heaven would be so blessed a look into our own with an expression gift, – that it would make up for every sometimes vaguely sad and inquiring. trial that could possibly come upon him. The face wears weird and tremulous And you know, Mary, he has a great lights and shadows; it asks us mysterimany discouragements and trials ; — peo- ous questions, and troubles us with the ple don't appreciate him; his efforts to suggestions of our relations to some dim do good are misunderstood and miscon- unknown. The sad, blue eyes that gazstrued ; they look down on him, and de- ed into Mary's had that look of calm spise him, and tell all sorts of evil things initiation, of melancholy comprehension, about him; and sometimes he gets quite peculiar to eyes made clairvoyant by discouraged."

"great and critical" sorrow. They seem“ Yes, mother, I will marry him,” said ed to say to her, “ Fulfil thy mission ; life Mary ;-"yes, I will."

is made for sacrifice; the flower must My darling daughter !” said Mrs. fall before fruit can perfect itself.” A Scudder, —" this has been the hope of vague shuddering of mystery gave in

tensity to her reverie. It seemed as if " Has it, mother?” said Mary, with a those mirror-depths were another world; faint smile ; " I shall make you happier, she heard the far-off dashing of sea-green then?

waves; she felt a yearning impulse to“Yes, dear, you will. And think what wards that dear soul gone out into the a prospect of usefulness opens before infinite unknown. you! You can take a position, as his Her word just passed had in her eyes wife, which will enable you to do even all the sacred force of the most solemnmore good than you do now; and you ly attested vow; and she felt as if that will have the happiness of seeing, every vow had shut some till then open door day, how much you comfort the hearts between her and him; she had a kind of and encourage the hands of God's dear shadowy sense of a throbbing and yearnpeople.”

ing nature that seemed to call on her,“ Mother, I ought to be very glad I that seemed surging towards her with an can do it,” said Mary ; "and I trust I am. imperative, protesting force that shook God orders all things for the best.” her heart to its depths.

Well, my child, sleep to-night, and Perhaps it is so, that souls, once into-morrow we will talk more about it." timately related, have ever after this a

strange power of affecting each other, CHAPTER XXVII.

a power that neither absence nor death can annul. How else can we interpret

those mysterious hours in which the Mrs. Scudder kissed her daughter, power of departed love seems to overand left her. After a moment's thought, shadow us, making our souls vital with Mary gathered the long silky folds of such longings, with such wild throbbings, hair around her head, and knotted thein with such unutterable sigbings, that a for the night. Then leaning forward on little more might burst the mortal bond ? her toilet-table, she folded her hands to- Is it not deep calling unto deep? the gether, and stood regarding the reflec- free soul singing outside the cage to tion of herelf in the mirror.

her mate beating against the bars withNothing is capable of more ghostly effect than such a silent, lonely contem- Mary even, for a moment, fancied that plation of that mysterious image of our- a voice called her name, and started,

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