Imatges de pàgina
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As I sit sometimes in the twilight,

And call back to life in the coals
Old faces and hopes and fancies

Long buried, - good rest to their souls !

Her face shines out of the embers ;

I see her holding the light,
And hear the crunch of the gravel

And the sweep of the rain that night.

'T is a face that can never grow older,

That never can part with its gleam ; 'T is a gracious possession forever,

For what is it all but a dream ?


HEN I reached Kenmure's house, human greetings that night, there would

er a disappointment to find that he would inevitably be pulling my eyelids and his charming Laura had absented apart before sunrise. themselves for twenty-four hours. I It seemed scarcely dawn when I was had not seen them since their marriage; roused by a little arm round my neck, my admiration for his varied genius and and waked to think I had one of Raher unvarying grace was at its height, phael's cherubs by my side. Fingers of and I was really annoyed at the delay. waxen softness were ruthlessly at work My fair cousin, with her usual exact

upon my eyes, and the little form that housekeeping, had prepared everything met my touch felt lithe and elastic, like for her guest, and then bequeathed a kitten's limbs. There was just light me, as she wrote, to Janet and baby enough to see the child, perched on the Marian. It was a pleasant arrange- edge of the bed, her soft blue dressingment, for between baby Marian and gown trailing over the white nightme there existed a species of passion, dress, while her black and long-fringed I might almost say of betrothal, ever eyes shone through the dimness of since that little three-year-old sunbeam morning. She yielded gladly to my had blessed my mother's house by lin- grasp, and I could fondle again the gering awhile in it, six months before. silken hair, the velvety brunette cheek, Still I went to bed disappointed, though the plump, childish shoulders. Yet sleep the delightful windows of the chamber still half held me, and when my cherub looked out upon the glimmering bay, appeared to hold it a cherubic practice and the swinging lanterns at the yard- to begin the day with a demand for arms of the frigates shone like some lively anecdote, I was fain drowsily to softer constellation beneath the bril- suggest that she might first tell some liant sky. The house was so close stories to her doll. With the sunny upon the water that the cool waves readiness that was a part of her nature, seemed to plash deliciously against its she straightway turned to that young very basement; and it was a comfort lady, - plain Susan Halliday, with both to think that, if there were no adequate cheeks patched, and eyes of different


colors, — and soon discoursed both her Life to her was no alternation of joy and me into repose.

and grief, but only of joy and more When I waked again, it was to find joyous. the child conversing with the morning Twilight brought us to an improvised star, which still shone through the win- concert. Climbing the piano-stool, she dow, scarcely so lucent as her eyes, went over the notes with her little taper and bidding it go home to its mother, fingers, touching the keys in a light, the sun.

Another lapse into dreams, knowing way, that proved her a musiand then a more vivid awakening, and cian's child Then I must play for her, she had my ear at last, and won story and let the dance begin. This was a after story, requiting them with legends wondrous performance on her part, and of her own youth, “almost a year ago," consisted at first in hopping up and down - how she was perilously lost, for in- on one spot, with no change of motion, stance, in the small front yard, with a but in her hands. She resembled a little playmate, early in the afternoon, minute and irrepressible Shaker, or a and how they came and peeped into the live and beautiful marionnette. Then window, and thought all the world had she placed Janet in the middle of the forgotten them. Then the sweet voice, floor, and performed the dance round distinct in its articulation as Laura's, her, after the manner of Vivien and went straying off into wilder fancies, a Merlin. Then came her supper, which, chaos of autobiography and conjecture, like its predecessors, was a solid and like the letters of a war correspondent. absorbing meal; then one more fairy You would have thought her little life story, to magnetize her off, and she had yielded more pangs and fears than danced and sang herself upstairs. might have sufficed for the discovery And if she first came to me in the of the North Pole; but breakfast-time morning with a halo round her head, drew near at last, and Janet's honest she seemed still to retain it when I at voice was heard outside the door. I last watched her kneeling in the little rather envied the good Scotchwoman bed — perfectly motionless, with her the pleasant task of polishing the hands placed together, and her long smooth cheeks, and combing the dishev- lashes sweeping her cheeks — to reelled silk; but when, a little later, the peat two verses of a hymn which Janet small maiden was riding down stairs in had taught her. My nerves quivered a my arms, I envied no one.

little when I saw that Susan Halliday At sight of the bread and milk, my had also been duly prepared for the cherub was transformed into a hungry night, and had been put in the same human child, chiefly anxious to reach attitude, so far as her jointless anatomy the bottom of her porringer. I was permitted. This being ended, the doll with her a great deal that day. She and her mistress reposed together, and gave no manner of trouble: it was like only an occasional toss of the vigorous having the charge of a floating butter- limbs, or a stifled baby murmur, would fily, endowed with warm arms to clasp, thenceforth prove, through the darkand a silvery voice to prattle. I sent ened hours, that the one figure had in Janet out to sail, with the other ser- it more of life than the other. vants, by way of holiday, and Marian's On the next morning Kenmure and perfect temperament was shown in the Laura came back to us, and I walked way she watched the departing. down to receive them at the boat. I

“There they go,” she said, as she had forgotten how striking was their stood and danced at the window. “Now appearance, as they stood together. His they are out of sight."

broad, strong, Saxon look, his noble “What!” I said, “are you pleased bearing and clear blue eyes, enhanced to have your


the fascination of her darker beauty. “Yes," she answered ; “but I shall America is full of the short - lived be pleased-er to see them come back.” bloom and freshness of girlhood ; but

friends go

grace is a rarer gift, and indeed it is hair, t'ie bend of her wrists, the mouldonly a few times in life that one sees ing of her finger-tips, - yet these details anywhere a beauty that really controls were lost in the overwhelming gracefulus with a permanent charm. One should ness of her presence, and the atmosremember such personal loveliness, as phere of charm which she diffused over one recalls some particular moonlight all human life. or sunset, with a special and concen- A few days passed rapidly by us. We trated joy, which the multiplicity of walked and rode and boated and read. fainter impressions cannot disturb. Little Marian came and went, a living When in those days we used to read, sunbeam, a self-sufficing thing. It was in Petrarch's one hundred and twenty- soon obvious that she was far less dethird sonnet, that he had once beheld monstrative towards her parents than on earth angelic manners and celes- towards me ; while her mother, gracious tial charms, whose very remembrance to her as to all, yet rarely caressed her, was a delight and an affliction, since and Kenmure, though habitually kind, all else that he beheld seemed dream seemed rather to ignore her existence, and shadow, we could easily fancy that and could scarcely tolerate that she nature had certain permanent attri- should for one instant preoccupy his butes which accompanied the name of wife. For Laura he lived, and she Laura.

must live for him. He had a studio, Our Laura had that rich brunette which I rarely entered and Marian nevbeauty before which the mere snow er, while Laura was constantly there; and roses of the blonde must always and after the first cordiality was past, I seem wan and unimpassioned. In the observed that their daily expeditions superb suffusions of her cheek there were always arranged for two. The seemed to flow a tide of passions and weather was beautiful, and they led the powers, which might have been tu- wildest outdoor life, cruising all day or multuous in a meaner woman, but over all night among the islands, regardless which, in her, the clear and brilliant of hours, and, as it sometimes seemed eyes, and the sweet, proud mouth, pre- to me, of health. No matter: Kenmure sided in unbroken calm. These su- liked it, and what he liked she loved. perb tints implied resources only, not a When at home, they were chiefly in the struggle. With this torrent from the studio, he painting, modelling, poetiztropics in her veins, she was the most ing perhaps, and she inseparably united equable person I ever saw; and had a with him in all. It was very beautiful, supreme and delicate good-sense, which, this unworldly and passionate love, and if not supplying the place of genius, at I could have borne to be omitted in least comprehended its work. Not in their daily plans, since little Marian tellectually gifted herself, perhaps, she was left to me, save that it seemed so seemed the cause of gifts in others, and strange to omit her also. Besides, there furnished the atmosphere in which all grew to be something a little oppresshowed their best. With the steady sive in this peculiar atmosphere; it was and thoughtful enthusiasm of her Puri- like living in a greenhouse. tan ancestors, she combined that grace Yet they always spoke in the simwhich is so rare among their descend- plest way of this absorbing passion, as ants, – a grace which fascinated the of something about which no reticence humblest, while it would have been just was needed; it was too sacred not to the same in the society of kings. And be mentioned ; it would be wrong not her person had the equipoise and sym- to utter freely to all the world what metry of her mind. While abounding was doubtless the best thing the world in separate points of beauty, each a possessed. Thus Kenmure made Laura source of distinct and peculiar pleas- his model in all his art; not to coin her ure, – as the outline of her temples, the into wealth or fame, – he would have white line that parted her night-black scorned it; he would have valued fame and wealth only as instruments for pro- trate its meaning, cast down her raclaiming her. Looking simply at these diant eyes, while the color mounted intwo lovers, then, it seemed as if no hu- to her cheeks. “You thought," she man union could be more noble or stain- said, almost sternly, “that I did not less. Yet so far as others were con- love my child.” cerned, it sometimes seemed to me a "No," I said, half untruthfully. kind of duplex selfishness, so profound "I can hardly wonder,” she continand so undisguised as to make one ued, more sadly, “for it is only what I sbudder. “Is it," I asked myself at have said to myself a thousand times. such moments, “a great consecration, Sometimes I think that I have lived in a or a great crime ?." But something dream, and one that few share with me. must be allowed, perhaps, for my own I have questioned others, and never yet private dissatisfactions in Marian's be found a woman who did not admit that half.

her child was more to her, in her secret I had easily persuaded Janet to let soul, than her husband. What can they me have a peep every night at my dar- mean? Such a thought is foreign to my ling, as she slept; and once I was sur

nature." prised to find Laura sitting by the small Why separate the two ?” I asked. white bed. Graceful and beautiful as “I must separate them,” she anshe always was, she never before had swered, with the air of one driven to seemed to me so lovely, for she never bay by her own self-reproaching. “I had seemed quite like a mother. But had, like other young girls, my dream I could not demand a sweeter look of of love and marriage. Unlike all the tenderness than that with which she rest, I believe, my visions were fulfilled. now gazed upon her child.

The reality was more than the imaginaLittle Marian lay with one brown, tion; and I thought it would be so with plump hand visible from its full white my love for my child. The first cry of sleeve, while the other nestled half hid that baby told the difference to my ear. beneath the sheet, grasping a pair of I knew it all from that moment; the blue morocco shoes, the last acquisition bliss which had been mine as a wife of her favorite doll. Drooping from would never be mine as a mother. If beneath the pillow hung a handful of I had not known what it was to love my scarlet poppies, which the child had husband, I might have been content with wished to place under her head, in the my love for Marian. But look at that exvery superfluous project of putting her- quisite creature as she lies there asleep, self to sleep thereby. Her soft brown and then think that I, her mother, should bair was scattered on the sheet, her desert her if she were dying, for aught I black lashes lay motionless upon the know, at one word from him!” olive cheeks. Laura wished to move " Your feeling is morbid,” I said, hardher, that I might see her the better. ly knowing what to answer.

“ You will wake her," exclaimed I, in “What good does it serve to know alarm.

that?” she said, defiantly. “I say it to “ Wake this little dormouse ?” Laura myself every day. Once when she was lightly answered. “Impossible.” ill, and was given back to me in all the

And, twining her arms about her, the precious helplessness of babyhood, there young mother lifted the child from the was such a strange sweetness in it, I bed, three or four times, dropping her thought the charm might remain ; but again heavily each time, while the it vanished when she could run about healthy little creature remained utterly

And she is such a healthy, undisturbed, breathing the same quiet self-reliant little thing," added Laura, breath. I watched Laura with amaze- glancing toward the bed with a momenment; she seemed transformed. tary look of motherly pride that seemed

She gayly returned my eager look, strangely out of place amid these selfand then, seeming suddenly to pene- denunciations.


once more.

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