« AnteriorContinua »
her creed; and yet, there they were, the day. Do you know I came here to get Catholic and the Puritan, each strong you to take me? I want you to show me in her respective faith, yet melting to how to find peace where you do; will gether in that embrace of love and sor- you let me be your sister ?” row, joined in the great communion of “Yes, indeed,” said Mary, with a cheek suffering. Mary took up her Testa- brighter than it had been for many a day; ment, and read the fourteenth chapter her heart feeling a throb of more real of John:
human pleasure than for long months. “ Let not your heart be troubled ; ye “Will you get your mamma to let me believe in God, believe also in me. In stay ? ” said Virginie, with the bashfulness my Father's house are many mansions; of a child ; “ haven't you a little place like if it were not so, I would have told you. yours, with white curtains and sanded I go to prepare a place for you; and if I floor, to give to poor little Virginie to go and prepare a place for you, I will learn to be good in ?" come again and receive you unto myself, Why, do you really want to stay that where I am, there ye may be also.” here with us," said Mary, "in this little
Mary read on through the chapter,- house ? ” through the next wonderful prayer; her “Do I really ? " said Virginie, mimickface grew solenınly transparent, as of an ing her voice with a start of her old playangel; for her soul was lifted from earth fulness ; —"don't I really? Come now, by the words, and walked with Christ far mimi, coax the good mamma for me,— tell above all things, over that starry pave- her I shall try to be very good. I shall ment where each footstep is on a world. help you with the spinning,- you know I
The greatest moral effects are like spin beautifully, — and I shall make butthose of music, - not wrought out by ter, and milk the cow, and set the tasharp-sided intellectual propositions, but ble. Oh, I will be so useful, you can't melted in by a divine fusion, by words that have mysterious, indefinite fulness “I should love to have you dearly," of meaning, made living by sweet voices, said Mary, warmly ; “ but you would soon which seem to be the out throbbings of be dull for want of society here." angelic hearts. So one verse in the Bi- “Quelle idée! ma petite drôle !” said ble read by a mother in some hour of the lady,— who, with the mobility of her tender prayer has a significance deeper nation, had already recovered some of and higher than the most elaborate of the saucy mocking grace that was hasermons, the most acute of arguments. bitual to her, as she began teasing Mary
Virginie Frontignac sat as one divine- with a thousand little childish motions. ly enchanted, while that sweet voice read “ Indeed, mimi, you must keep me hid on; and when the silence fell between up here, or may be the wolf will find me them, she gave a long sigh, as we do when and eat me up; who knows ?” sweet music stops. They heard between Mary looked at her with inquiring eyes. them the soft stir of summer leaves, the “ What do you mean?" distant songs of birds, the breezy hum “I mean, Mary, -I mean, that, when when the afternoon wind shivered through he comes back to Philadelphia, he thinks many branches, and the silver sea chimed he shall find me there ; he thought I in. Virginie rose at last, and kissed Mary should stay while my husband was gone; on the forehead.
and when he finds I am gone, he may “ That is a beautiful book," she said, come to Newport; and I never want to " and to read it all by one's self must be see him again without you ;- you must lovely. I cannot understand why it should let me stay with you.” be dangerous; it has not injured you. “ Have you told him," said Mary,
“ Sweet saint,” she added, “ let me stay " what you think?" with you; you shall read to me every “I wrote to him, Mary,- but, oh, I can't
spare me !”
trust my heart! I want so much to be- French. But then, in the third place, lieve him, it kills me so to think evil of she was out of health and unhappy,- and him, that it will never do for me to see there was a pro again ; for Mrs. Scudder him. If he looks at me with those eyes was as kind and motherly a soul as ever of his, I am all gone; I shall believe any- breathed. But then she was a Catholic, thing he tells me; he will draw me to con. But the Doctor and Mary might him as a great magnet draws a poor little convert her,-pro. And then Mary grain of steel."
wanted her,-pro. And she was a pret“ But now you know his unworthiness, ty, bewitching, lovable creature,-pro.his baseness,” said Mary, “ I should think The pros had it; and it was agreed that it would break all his power.”
Madame de Frontignac should be in“ Should you think so ? Ah, Mary, we stalled as proprietress of the spare chamcannot unlove in a minute; love is a ber, and she sat down to the tea-table great while dying. I do not worship that evening in the great kitchen. him now as I did. I know what he is. I know he is bad, and I am sorry for
CHAPTER XXVI. it. I should like to cover it from all the world, - ev
-even from you, Mary, since I see it makes you dislike him; it hurts The domesticating of Madame de me to hear any one else blame him. But Frontignac as an inmate of the cotsometimes I do so long to think I am tage added a new element of vivacity mistaken, that I know, if I should see to that still and unvaried life. One of him, I should catch at anything he might the most beautiful traits of French natell me, as a drowning man at straws; ture is that fine gift of appreciation, I should shut my eyes, and think, after which seizes at once the picturesque side all, that it was all my fault, and ask a of every condition of life, and finds in its thousand pardons for all the evil he has own varied storehouse something to asdone. No,- Mary, you must keep your
sort with it. As compared with the blue eyes upon me, or I shall be gone." Anglo-Saxon, the French appear to be
At this moment Mrs. Scudder's voice gifted with a naïve childhood of nature, was heard, calling Mary below.
and to have the power that children “Go down now, darling, and tell mam- have of gilding every scene of life with ma; make a good little talk to her, ma some of their own poetic fancies. reine! Ah, you are queen here ! all do Madame de Frontignac was in rapas you say, - even the good priest there; tures with the sanded floor of her little you have a little hand, but it leads all; room, which commanded, through the so go, petite."
apple-boughs, a little morsel of a seaMrs. Scudder was somewhat flurried view. She could fancy it was a nymph's and discomposed at the proposition ;
cave, she said. there were the pros and the cons in her “ Yes, ma Marie, I will play Calypso, nature, such as we all have. In the
and you shall play Telemachus, and Dr. first place, Madame de Frontignac be- H. shall be Mentor. Mentor was so very, longed to high society, - and that was very good !---only a little bit - dull," she pro ; for Mrs. Scudder prayed daily said, pronouncing the last word with a against worldly vanities, because she felt wicked accent, and lifting her hands with a little traitor in her heart that was ready a whimsical gesture like a naughty child to open its door to them, if not constantly who expects a correction. talked down. In the second place, Ma- Mary could not but laugh; and as she dame de Frontignac was French,—there laughed, more color rose in her waxen was a con; for Mrs. Scudder had enough cheeks than for many days before. of her father John Bull in her heart to Madame de Frontignac looked as trihave a very wary look-out on anything umphant as a child who has made its
mother laugh, and went on laying things did not know it was in this bag. I had out of her trunk into her drawers with a looked for it everywhere." zeal that was quite amusing to see.
“ Sister Agatha would have told you “You see, ma blanche, I have left all to make a rosary of it,” said Madame de Madame's clothes at Philadelphia, and Frontignac; “ but you pray without a brought only those that belong to Vir- rosary. It is all one,” she added; "there ginie, — no tromperie, no feathers, no will be a prayer for every shell, though gauzes, no diamonds,-only white dresses, you do not count them. But come, ma and my straw hat en bergère. I brought chère, get your bonnet, and let us go out one string of pearls that was my mother's ; on the beach." but pearls, you know, belong to the sea- That evening, before going to bed, Mrs. nymphs. I will trim my hat with sea- Scudder came into Mary's room.
Her weed and buttercups together, and we manner was grave and tender; ber eyes will go out on the beach to-night and get had tears in them; and although her ususome gold and silver shells to dress mon al habits were not caressing, she came to miroir."
Mary and put her arms around her and “Oh, I have ever so many now!" said kissed her. It was an unusual manner, Mary, running into her room, and com- and Mary's gentle eyes seemed to ask ing back with a little bag.
the reason of it. They both sat on the bed together, and “My daughter," said her mother, “I began pouring them out,- Madame de have just had a long and very interestFrontignac showering childish exclama- ing talk with our dear good friend, the tions of delight.
Doctor; ah, Mary, very few people know Suddenly Mary put her hand to her how good he is!” heart as if she had been struck with " True, mother," said Mary, warmly; something; and Madame de Frontignac “ he is the best, the noblest, and yet the heard her say, in a low voice of sudden humblest man in the world.” pain, Oh, dear!”
“ You love him very much, do you “ What is it, mimi?” she said, looking not ?" said her mother. up quickly.
“ Very dearly,” said Mary. “ Nothing," said Mary, turning her “ Mary, he has asked me, this evening, head.
you would be willing to be his wife.” Madame de Frontignac looked down, “ His wife, mother?” said Mary, in the and saw among the sea-treasures a neck- tone of one confused with a new and lace of Venetian shells, that she knew strange thought. never grew on the shores of Newport. Yes, daughter; I have long seen that She held it up
he was preparing to make you this pro“Ah, I see,” she said.
posal.” this. Ah, ma pauvrette,” she said, clasp- You have, mother ? ” ing Mary in her arms, “thy sorrow “ Yes, daughter; have you never meets thee everywhere! May I be a thought of it?” comfort to thee! — just a little one!” “ Never, mother."
“Dear, dear friend !” said Mary, weep- There was a long pause,— Mary standing. “I know not how it is. Some- ing, just as she had been interrupted, in times I think this sorrow is all gone; but her night toilette, with her long, light hair then, for a moment, it comes back again. streaming down over her white dress, and But I am at peace; it is all right, all the comb held mechanically in her hand. right; I would not have it otherwise. She sat down after a moment, and, claspBut, oh, if he could have spoken one ing her hands over her knees, fixed her word to me before! He gave me this,” eyes intently on the floor; and there fell she added, “when he came home from between the two a silence so profound, his first voyage to the Mediterranean. I that the tickings of the clock in the next
“ He gave you
room seemed to knock upon the door. “ If he really loves me, mother, it would Mrs. Scudder sat with anxious eyes watch- give him great pain, if I refused," said ing that silent face, pale as sculptured Mary, thoughtfully. marble.
“ Certainly it would; and, Mary, you “Well, Mary,” she said at last.
have allowed him to act as a very near A deep sigh was the only answer. The friend for a long time; and it is quite natviolent throbbings of her heart could be ural that he should have hopes that you seen undulating the long hair as the loved him." moaning sea tosses the rockweed. “I do love him, mother, - better than
"My daughter," again said Mrs. Scud- anybody in the world except you. Do der.
you think that will do ?” Mary gave a great sigh, like that “ Will do ? ” said her mother; “I don't of a sleeper awakening from a dream, understand you." and, looking at her mother, said, - " Why, is that loving enough to marry?
“ Do you suppose he really loves me, I shall love him more, perhaps, after, mother?”
shall I, mother?” “ Indeed he does, Mary, as much as man Certainly you will; every one does." ever loved woman!”
“I wish he did not want to marry me, “Does he indeed ?” said Mary, relaps- mother,” said Mary, after a pause. “I ing into thoughtfulness.
liked it a great deal better as we were * And you love him, do
before." her mother.
“ All girls feel so, Mary, at first; it is “Oh, yes, I love him.”
“ You love him better than any man “ Is that the way you felt about father, in the world, don't you ? "
mother ?” “Oh, mother, mother! yes !” said Ma- Mrs. Scudder's heart smote her when ry, throwing herself passionately forward, she thought of her own early love, – that and bursting into sobs ; " yes, there is no great love that asked no questions,—that one else now that I love better, had no doubts, no fears, no hesitations, one! — no one!”
nothing but one great, outsweeping im“My darling! my daughter!” said Mrs. pulse, which swallowed her life in that Scudder, coming and taking her in her of another. She was silent; and after a
moment, she said, " Oh, mother, mother!” she said, sob- “I was of a different disposition from bing distressfully, “ let me cry, just for a you, Mary. I was of a strong, wilful, little, -oh, mother, mother, mother!” positive nature. I either liked or dis
What was there hidden under that liked with all my might. And besides, despairing wail?— It was the parting of Mary, there never was a man like your the last strand of the cord of youthful father.” hope.
The matron uttered this first article Mrs. Scudder soothed and caressed her in the great confession of woman's faith daughter, but maintained still in her with the most unconscious simplicity. breast a tender pertinacity of purpose, “Well, mother, I will do whatever is such as mothers will, who think they my duty. I want to be guided. If I can are conducting a child through some nat- make that good man happy, and help him ural sorrow into a happier state.
to do some good in the world After Mary was not one, either, to yield long all, life is short, and the great thing is to to emotion of any kind. Her rigid edu- do for others.” cation had taught her to look upon all “I am sure, Mary, if you could have such outbursts as a species of weakness, heard how he spoke, you would be sure and she struggled for composure, and soon you could make him happy. He had not seemed entirely calm.
spoken before, because he felt so unwor.
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 you 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 strued ; 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 them with such unutterable sighings, 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 herself in the mirror.
her mate beating against the bars withNothing is capable of more ghostly ef- in ? fect 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,