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I have just left him,' she said. Her colour deepened a little as she spoke. Something in her tones caused him slightly to cloud his brows, as though from a vague perplexity. His face grew somewhat paler, and he took one or two steps nearer to where she stood.
Ah !' suddenly exclaimed Eloise, while turning an abrupt rosy-red. I believe you have begun to guess my secret before I've told you a word of it. Here, give me both of your hands.' So speaking she glided up to him, and seized both of his passive hands in both of her own. It was all settled to-night We are engaged to be married, Alfred and I. It seems so funny to call him “ Alfred.” You like him, do you not? I know you do, by the polite way in which you treat him. But then, everybody must like himI think he has no such incommodity as an enemy, And you're pleased, are you not? Well, if you are, tell me so.' She was shaking each of his hands in an impulsive, intimate manner, while a very full and pretty smile bloomed on her blushing face.
Reginald never remembered afterward how he behaved at this crisis. He believes it most probable that he acquitted himself with decent selfpossession. But the ordeal did not last long, for a little while later Mrs. Ross appeared in the hall, and Eloise, deserting him, ran coyly toward her guardian with the important intelligence.
Reginald slipped away after this. He went upstairs into his own room, and, locking the door, threw himself within a chair. An hour passed while he sat thus in the almost utter darkness of his chamber, but it did not seem to him longer than five minutes before he at length rose and struck a light. Looking at his watch, he promptly left the room and went downstairs through the silent house. All the family, including Wallace Willard, had evidently retired for the night; but on reaching the servants'
quarters he found them still occupied, and was enabled to give some low orders to the head groom, with whom he held converse in a certain gloomy passage-way. Then he passed upstairs again to his own room.
He now packed a portmanteau with a few needful articles. An hour or so later he threw himself on the bed, having left his light still burning. He remembered that he ought to leave a few lines to his mother, in some way accounting for his intended departure the next morning. But he was incapable of making the effort that such an act would have required.
sides, he could write on reaching New York. His lamp burned on, and the night grew.
But though his eyes often closed, he did not sleep. Sometimes a faint sigh escaped him ; sometimes he stared fixedly at the opposite wall for many moments; sometimes he lay with lowered eyelids ; sometimes he moved his head in painful restlessness from side to side.
But finally, at a very late, or rather a very early, hour, sleep overmastered him. And during this sleep he was visited by a strange dream—by what many people would, perhaps unhesitatingly, call a vision, holding the old marvel-suggesting word as more pertinent to the present circumstances than any natural physical explanations. He was lying on the lounge in the sittingroom downstairs.
The windows were shaded from the outer sunshine ; the pale matting, the rugs, the bamboo furniture, the graceful surrounding ornaments, were all dimly evident to him. Presently his mother appeared at his side. * Does your ankle pain you much now, Reginald ?' she tenderly asked, and her hand began to smooth his hair while she spoke.
No,' he answered ; ‘not at all.' And then his mother murmured, in the most natural of voices, while he seemed to feel only a vague half-surprise at her words : Eloise is coming home this morning, you know, with your brother Julian Almost immediately after this, his mother vanished, and a loud wailing as of a terrified child struck upon his ear.
While he was trying to discover whence the noise proceeded, Beatrice appeared beside him, holding in her hand a handkerchief, deeply stained with bloodmarks.
· Haslitt has shot your dog, Lion, Reginald,' she told him, in very composed tones. • I hope you are not angry.' And then he put forward a hand and seized that of Beatrice, and, in his dream, kissed it many times. * You noble girl :' he cried. “You good, wise, generous, charitable girl !' But as his words ended, a clear-pealing laugh sounded from the fuither part of the room, and Eloise, dressed in a white muslin dress, with a great pink rose on her bosom, hurried up to him, exclaiming : I'm home earlier than I expected, though I've been nearly frightened to death by that awful thunder-storm. It struck a tree all into splinters only a few yards away from me.
Oh! it was horrible!' And now Eloise lowered her voice to the faintest of whispers, and scanned his face with her bright blue eyes, that had somehow turned very gravely serious.
But Julian came with me,' she said. "He is waiting outside. Shall he come in ?'
“Yes,' Reginald answered. “Mother told me that he had accompanied you. I want to see him.
I have not seen him, you know, since we were both five years old.'
And now the room seemed to darken, and neither Beatrice nor Eloise were any longer present.
But a voice was speaking somewhere amid the dimness, a clear, resonant, manly voice, and yet like none other that Reginald had ever heard.
'I am here,' the voice said, “but you cannot see me, for matter may not look on spirit. There are some things hard to explain, Reginald .... In truth, what is there which a poor mortal like you may really say that he knows? I cannot tell you why we were parted from each other ... it was for a reason,
a certain reason
but I am not permitted to tell. Yet be sure of one thing : if you are incomplete in your life without me, so am I incomplete in my life without you. All your past perplexity, all your weak indecisions, all your abrupt outbursts of fine strength, all, all, are attributable to this. We should have been one; we are two.
That tree, which you saw the lightning split in two portions last summer, will, doubtless, put forth leaves and branches from either por. tion in years to come. But the blessed unity will be wanting to each, which once gave the perfect tree its beautiful equipoise. Had we both lived, we would have been as one man, full of mutual love, help, sympathy. But even then, there would have been many assailing doubts for each of us, as to the special incompleteness and insufficiency of either; and when death, at unequal periods, finally divided us, the anguish, the great sense of loss would have surpassed, for him left, any suffering you have ever yet known.'
For a moment the voice paused, and it now seemed to Reginald, as if the most pitchy darkness surrounded him.
'I must leave you,' the voice recommenced ; 'I have already remained too long . . . For a spirit like myself to speak of form, is to deal in what means very differently to you and to
will understand me better if I say it thus : Hereafter, when you leave this earth, one form shall cover us, and we shall be one entity. . . Our severed halves shall reunite, our separate fragments shall make one strong, noble and divine union ... Be patient till then. Be patient and wait.
With a start, Reginald awoke. The early summer sunshine flooded the room. The lamp burned smokingly on a near table. His packed portmanteau lay close beside the bed. The hard realism of these mute facts brought
softly down with the mighty stream
Of Time, as it onward glides,
Oh, list! for it breathes of rest and peace
And looking back up the long, dark stream
And brightest shine out our Christmas-tides,-
The Saviour is born, and His peace shall reign.
Oh Father, though oft the song seems faint
WASHINGTON IRVING'S OLD CARISTMAS
BY WALTER TOWNSEND.
T is indeed the season of re- of the season is derived from the sight
generated feeling—the season and sense of the happiness of others. for kindling, not merely the fire of To the child, who tries in vain to keep hospitality in the hall, but the genial awake to see Santa Claus make his flame of charity in the heart. The appearance down the chimney ; to the scene of early love again rises green to boy with longing visions of bats and memory beyond the sterile waste of balls, books, skates, and boxes of tools ; years; and the idea of home, fraught to the youth with fresh and glowing with the fragrance of home-dwelling aspirations after pleasure, Christmas joys, reanimates the drooping spirit- is a season of innocent selfishness. as the Arabian breeze will sometimes But to the man, who has done with waft the freshness of the distant fields toys, and who has found that even to the weary pilgrim of the desert. pleasure will pall, the feeling that Stranger and sojourner as I am in the every one is doing his best to be land—though for me no social hearth happy, or at the very least, to appear may blaze, no hospitable roof throw happy, constitutes, as Irving says, the open its doors, nor the warm grasp of charm of a merry Christmas.
Of friendship welcome me at the thresh- course there is, as cynics take care to hold—yet I feel the influence of the remind us, a certain amount of humseason beaming into my soul from the ; bug about Christmas, but I am not so happy looks of those around me. sure that humbug, if it be of the right Surely happiness is reflective, like the sort, and not too rampant, is at all light of heaven ; and every counte- times a misfortune.
It does no one nance, 'bright with smiles, and glow- any harm to be forced to shake an ining with innocent enjoyment, is a different, or maybe, an uncongenial, acmirror transmitting to others the rays quaintance warmly by the hand, and of a supreme and ever-shining benevo
wish him, with effusive enthusiasm, lence. He who can turn churlishly 'a Merry Christmas and many of them.' away from contemplating the felicity
If he should respond with extra of his fellow-beings, and sit down
warmth, and if by chance a merry darkling and repining in his loneliness
twinkle steal into his eye, it is just when all around is joyful, may have
possible that we would say as we his moments of strong excitement and parted, “Really, Jones is not such a selfish gratification, but he wants the
bad fellow after all, although he did genial and social sympathies which
try to pass off on me that spavined constitute the charm of a Merry
old mare of his.' And Jones, on the Christmas.'
i other hand, might depart murmuring, It is thus that dear, delightful * Well, Robinson is not quite Washington Irving writes of the feel
detestable a curmudgeon as I thought, ings engendered by Christmas, and as
and it is not his fault if he doesn't in our lives each succeeding Christmas
know a good horse when he sees one.' comes and goes, we realize more
And then, as we grow older, the acand more fully that the chief delight
cumulated treasures of memory in
crease, and so sacred are the associa- Much as we love every article and tions of Christmas, that long years, story in the Sketch Book, we recur at stirring events and change of clime this time of the year with the greatare powerless even to cast a haze over est affection, to the series of papers on the brightness of our earliest recollec- Old Christmas. It appears singular tions. We still see the tender, much- that an American should have written loved mother, at whose knee we first the most delightful account of Christlearned the sweet story of Christmas, mas that our literature possesses. Irbending over the little cot at the foot ving was, however, imbued with such of which hangs the tiny stocking warm love for his parent country, ready for Santa Claus—we still re- and for all her old institutions and member that, ever kind, ever thought- customs, that he wrote concerning ful as she was, at Christmas time her them with equal warmth, and with care seemed warmer and her love more truth, than would be possible to more sacred ; we see her once again as a native born Englishman. Not only she appeared to our childish eyes, a in his account of Christmas, but in glorified and perfect being, and alas, his papers on "The Boar's Head for some of us, the vision is blotted Tavern, on London Antiques,' on out by a blinding rush of tears. But Little Britain,' and in many other why recapitulate those sweet and bitter instances, he evinces an affection for memories which are so familiar to us old customs, which, from his greater all! To him who is separated from familiarity with them, would not be the home of his youth by a thousand likely to impress an Englishman so leagues of sea, Christmas is especially deeply. Nothing in England'—he dear by reason of these mingled recol- says-'exercises a more delightful spell lections ; he can be sure that then at over my imagination, than the lingerleast, he is fondly remembered, and ings of the holiday customs and rural that, amidst all their rejoicings, those games of former times.' In discourshe has left behind will feel a pang of ing of these old customs and games, tender regret when they think of the ab- Irving throws a halo of sentiment sent one. And just in the same way as around them, which renders his acevery individual Englishman feels his count charming, without in the least heart stirred at Christmas time by depriving it of the accuracy gained by yearning thoughts of his childhood's study and observation. The story of home, so the vast family of Englishmen, his Christmas passed in the country whether born in Canada, Australia, or opens with a delightful description of Old England itself, turn at this season a day's journey by stage-coach. The instinctively towards the land that revolution in our manner of travelling they are all proud to call home-the has been so complete, that, although land where Old Christmas finds his stage-coaches have not been defunct warmest welcome, and is most gaily half a century, we accord them all the decked out in holly and mistletoe. We reverence due to antiquity, and invest none of us need to be prompted either their memory with a tinge of sentiby literature or art in our remem- mental regret. We know that, as a brance of friends, or in our love for matter of fact, they were often dirty, Christmas, but it is very pleasant to ill-horsed, and unsafe ; that a traveller open one of some few books, which was compelled either to freeze with are themselves old friends, and to be cold outside, or to be stifled with bad gently reminded of the old familiar air inside-and this, in a journey of faces and the old familiar scenes- any length, for four or five days at a and among such rare books Washing- stretch ;-and yet, although these and ton Irving's “Sketch Book' deserves other cruel facts are patent, we oba prominent place.
stinately shut our eyes to them and