Зображення сторінки


you are choos


I dare say we will do our best to spoil you—the girls, especially. You are pleased with your new sister then ?

• My new sister ? Oh, you mean Rose Trevaille? Yes ; so far as I can judge from one evening's acquaintance, she is a charming girl. Bright, sweet, and very pretty.

* And my pearl of girls-my “rare pale Margaret," --has not she aroused your enthusiasm ?'

Eric gently raised his eye-brows. • Enthusiasm, my dear father! Is it possible to become enthusiastic about any human being so calmly placid, so deliciously tranquil as my cousin Margaret?

Oh, I see your penchant is for vivacity and brilliance; well, you will find those qualities in Rose, but when you tire of them you will value more highly the exquisite repose of manner which distinguishes your betrothed wife.'

Eric stared at his father with a look of blank amazement, which did not even contain the element of enquiry, so thoroughly at a loss was he to understand his meaning. Presently, however, an amused twinkle came into his eyes, and he laughingly said, 'Why, father, for one moment

you absolutely terrified me! I feared that I had entered into a matrimonial engagement without being aware of it, and to one who values his liberty as I do, what a terrible mishap that would be! You allude to that absurd and super-romantic notion of mine to engage myself to Margaret before I went abroad? Of course, if she remembered that nonsence for more than a week, it could only have been to laugh at the childish folly of it.'

'I cannot answer for Margaret's memory, but mine has retained the fact very distinctly, perhaps, because it coincided so perfectly with my desires. However, it is too soon, and wholly unnecessary at present, to discuss the subject, but my dear boy, let me tell you that nothing on earth would

make me so happy as to see you married to Margaret ; she is a woman in a thousand for loveliness of nature and character, and so,

when ing a wife, remember your father's wishes.'

Eric looked somewhat embarrassed and just a trifle annoyed. Had he withstood the sieges of match-making mothers, and equally match-making daughters in all quarters of the world, besides the more subtle danger of sincere affection and admiration, which this handsome rich young American won so easily from the fair daughters of every clime—had he escaped this, he asked himself, to be the victim of a matrimonial scheme, the first thing on his return ?

His father saw the shade of displeasure, and hastened to say, 'but come, the girls are waiting us in the draw. ing-room, and no doubt, pulling you to pieces in the unmerciful manner peculiar to their sex.'

Eric smiled complacently as he followed his father from the room. Without being an abnormally conceited young man, he knew well that, when in the hands of fair critics, he was in no danger of a harsh judgment.

As time passed, the serene happiness which had hitherto existed in Mr. Forbes' household was disturbed. The more Eric thought of his father's project, and he now found it impossible

not to think of it every day of his life, the more distasteful it appeared to him. It was not that he liked his cousin Margaret less than formerly, it was simply to make use of Brutus' very expressive distinction that he loved Rose more. Margaret's prophecy had come true, and Eric's heart, hitherto held so securely in his own keeping, was lost to the little stranger, who had entered like a sunbeam into his father's family. Margaret herself was the first to become aware of the state of affairs, and by the cold deathly chill that struck to her heart when she realized the fact, she knew, also, that she loved her cousin Eric- loved


him with the one great constant pas- that she is aware of my admirationsion of her life.

love—for Rose, and approves of it. I love him!' she cried, between her Thank heaven, with her assistance we closed teeth, as she watched him from can frustrate my poor father's plans an upper window, slowly strolling in the simplest and most natural man round the garden paths with Rose by ner.' his side, on a lovely evening in early Dear Margaret,' he said, gratefully, June.

touching her hand, I would like a • I love him! Oh, humiliation worse tête-à-tête with Rose this morning, if than death! Unsought and unasked, you will pardon my abominable rudeI have let my heart go from me to one I have something to say to her who loves another! and she-as the —but stay; I am in a quandary! thirsty flowers drink in the summer Margaret, my sage councillor in days showers, yielding their own sweet per- gone by, advise me.' fume in the return, so does she return 'Speak! Demand! We will answer!' his love! I will tear his image from said Margaret, quoting the Witches my heart, banish all thought of him in Macbeth, while every word he utter. from my mind! But no—that is im- i ed pierced her heart, for she knew she possible. Too well I know myself; was to be made the confidante of his nothing but death, if even that, can love-tale, and that later she would be kill my love! It must be hidden, obliged sympathetically to listen to the buried deeply away where no one will overflowings of Rose's happy feelings. even guess that it has an existence. It was a severe trial, but, difficult as Ah the woe—the despair of knowing it was to meet, she was thankful, for that 'I love where I am not loved ! it proved that her own secret was safe. That one day he will be the husband I love Rose Trevaille,' he said, of another!'

' and you, with your quick woman's · And that was how she welcomed eye, have divined it. I do love her, the event about which she had joked Margaret, with my whole heart-who 80 pleasantly with her friend. Oh, could know her and not love her! the irony of fate!

You have known her longer than I ; Will you ride with us this morn- tell me, is she not a rare combination ing, Margaret ? Rose wishes to go for of beauty, talent, and goodness of disa canter.' It was Eric who spoke, position ? and, as she raised her face to answer, Margaret laughed. “I agree with he thought how marble-like it was, you in everything! Rose is a darling, and how unfathomable were her deep and I am glad oh, very glad! that violet eyes. Of course he wished her she has won your heart, for she loves to refuse, and she knew it. His manner, unknown to himself, betrayed • Oh! do you think so? Are you him, notwithstanding his perfect good

sure ?' breeding and politeness.

"Sure? Yes; we women know the • Would I not be de trop ?' she symptoms in one another. asked, smiling archly.

would much rather she told you her. He looked at her a moment, and self than I, wouldn't you? Ask her, then a pleased, surprised expression and make yourself and her happy. dawned on his face. What a fool I She will not keep you in suspense. have been to worry about a marriage Like Juliet, she has not cunning to be with this girl !' passed rapidly through strange?' his mind; why she doesn't care a * But it is on that point I want particle for me, more than as a cousin, your assistance. My father-he will and wouldn't marry me if I were ten not consent.' times her devoted slave ! More than 'Not consent? What possible ob


[ocr errors]

But you



[ocr errors]

jection can my uncle have to your drooping plumes and glowing face, marriage with Rose? She is beautiful, making a pretty picture in the darkhigh-bred, and rich, and he loves her green setting as a daughter already. You are surely 'Has Margaret gone to put on her mistaken.'

habit ?' she said, colouring vividly as • Well, Margaret, my dear father is she encountered his glance in which absurd enough to have "other inten- the ardent love which he had been tions” regarding my disposal in the just discussing, beamed without disfield of matrimony.'

guise. Margaret's face fushed to the roots No; Margaret will not ride with of her hair ; her very ears tingled She wishes to spend the morning with the unusual emotion of indigna- with my father.' tion and alarm, and the fire leaped Oh! then we will have to go alone,' into her eyes till they sparkled like said Rose ; and having arrived at this great sapphires.

logical conclusion, she ran down the My uncle could not be so absurd, garden-path, not so sorry, perhaps, at so foolish! It is preposterous ; it is

the loss of Margaret's company as she not right! Excuse my warmth,' she would have been a few weeks before. added, with a nervous laugh, as she She waited at the gate for Eric, and, met Eric's surprised gaze, but any. placing her tiny foot in his hand, thing like coercion in marriage affairs sprang lightly into the saddle, and toalways calls forth my greatest indig- gether they cantered merrily away. nation.'

Rose chatted gaily and incessantly, *I am grateful to have an enthusi- and the exercise increased her vivacity ast on my side,' Eric said, kissing to a degree that was a little beyond her cheek. She grew deathly white, her own control ; as they entered a and turned faint at the caress, but beautifully inviting expanse of counquickly recovering, she said, speaking try, she touched her horse smartly and rapidly,

went off at a gallop. Eric was star. • You love Rose and she loves you.

tled. He saw that for some reason she Nothing must come between you- was unduly excited, hence his alarm, nothing shall

. It is my pet scheme, though he knew her to be an excellent that you and she should be married, horsewoman under ordinary circumand I won't be disappointed. There, stances. now, I have confessed myself that in- 'Pray, don't do so!' he cried, as tolerable creature, a match-maker! he overtook her; 'your horse is very See, there are the horses. Go, settle spirited, and you do not know the it with Rose, and I will manage ground !

She only threw back a “ mine uncle. And, with an airy saucy glance at him and darted off lightness that was too prononcé to be again. natural, if Eric had understood her Rose, darling-Hear me !--stop better, she left him.

-one moment!'-but before he had Bless the girl ; she has lifted a finished speaking she had lost her seat weight from my heart! Why, father and was lying motionless on the green will have to relinquish his "pet sward, while her horse, much surscheme” when he finds that his Rare prised at his riderless condition, was pale Margaret wouldn't have me on snorting inquiringly under a neighany terms.'

bouring tree. In a few moments Eric He stepped out of the

French had leaped from his horse and was window and met Rose on the piazza ; kneeling at her side. she was standing against a pillar *Are you hurt? Oh, Rose, my switching the climbing vines with her own sweet love, speak to me! Look riding-whip, and, with her bright at me!'



[ocr errors]

Rose sat up; her hat had fallen off Rose then hesitated, then murmurand' her hair hung over her shoulders ed the words, and slipped from his enin dishevelled luxuriance ; she tossed circling arm. it back from her face, which was dyed • Come!' she said, “I am auxious with blushes, and wore a slightly mor- to redeem myself. Let us mount.' tified expression.

And slowly riding, only occasionally 'I do not know whether I am hurt speaking, they returned home in a calm or not! I'll tell you presently, when state of happiness, which was as near I have recovered that erect posture perfection as this world affords. which nature designed for my species. Rose flew upstairs to Margaret, and In the mean time, please to hand me Eric went straight to his father's study. my hat and assist at my toilette !' and They found everything smooth and she laughed a little constrainedly, then ready prepared for them. Margaret burst into a merry peal at his per- received Rose's announcement with plexed look as he obediently did as sympathy and delight, and poured she had told him.

forth expressions of pleasure and conThanks-no, I'm not hurt-only gratulation. Mr. Forbes gave his unshaken! Shall we remount?'

qualified consent to the marriage. Not if you are going to ride so * It is not just as I had planned, my wildly! You might have been killed, boy, but since Margaret and you are and I told you

not for each other, I could not choose • There ! never mind the rest! We a better, sweeter wife for you than our women have the monopoly of that little Rose. You have my approval phrase, and you musn't encroach. I'm and blessing. Send Rose to me.' And sufficiently shaken for my recklessness Eric left him, too happy and wellwithout having to be scolded too! Be- satisfied to notice the abrupt dismissal, sides, it was all your


or the weary disappointment in his My fault?' said Eric, astounded. father's face. I know you are clever, and have a Mr. Forbes had suffered a keen discreative fancy, but if you succeed in appointment; more than that a bitproving that accusation, I will not ter grief, for he knew Margaret's sescold another word !' and as he spoke cret, and his heart ached with love and he drew close to her and threw his arm pity for her. She had gone directly to around the little trembling form. him upon leaving Eric that morning, now-how

was it my and laying her hand upon his arm, fault?'

• Uncle,' she had said, in her sweet low Why, because you startled me so tones, a little monotonous from reby calling-me-darling! And now straint, Eric and Rose love one anoI've lost my reputation for fine horse- ther. You must not oppose their union!' manship, and its all your fault!' And then, in answer to his impatient

He bent and kissed the pouting gesture of dissent and annoyance, she lips. 'You must get used to the ex- continued passionately : “My happipression, my durling, or your neck will

ness, my very life depends upon it!' be in constant danger. As for your and, sinking on her knees by his side, horsemanship, no one witnessed your and clasping his hand, she sobbed, downfall but myself, and I vow to "Oh, uncle, you who are everything to keep the secret sacredly on one con- me--father, mother, all-if you love dition.'

me, help me now! He loves her * Name it, Tyrant! I see you are --not me, and they must not know, inexorable !'

must not guess, what you have disOnly this--that

will say,

covered.' Eric, I love you, and I will be your

The old man

was inexpressibly wife!")

touched; he had never seen her so

· Tell me,

[ocr errors]




affected before. He lifted her in his arms and soothed her tenderly. "Be calm, my sweet child ! you are acting hastily,' he said, when she was quieter. • Eric is betrothed to you, and will return to his allegiance when his first fancy for Rose's pretty face has flickered itself out. It is my fondest wish that he should wed you, and he must.'

• Uncle, do not tempt me with that childish bond, which, trivial as it is, Eric would respect if it were insisted on! But what do I say? There is no tempation ! What, entrap a man into a marriage against his inclination! Where is your pride, and where, think you, is mine? If your son were to ask me to marry him in deference to your commands alone, I should quietly refuse, but if he asked me out of pity because of my mad love for bim, I should kill myself, if I did not die of shame.'

Her uncle looked at her, as she stood with flaming eyes and face of marble pallor. “You are right,' he said at last. * Forgive me, Margaret, if I sought to sacrifice your woman's dig. nity to my own selfish wishes. Eric may marry Rose, and you will stay with your old uncle always, and take care of him. Will you not?'

* Always, she said, softening at once, and kissing his forehead with a quivering lip. "Always,' and giving him one of her sweet, moonlight smiles, she escaped to her own room.

Rose Trevaille was a lovely bride, and her radiant beauty shone more by contrast, when she stood beside her pale bridesmaid, who, in gauzy draperies of snowy white, bent over her like a gentle lily, arranging and admiring her shimmering robes of creamy silk and lace.

After Eric and Rose had gone, Mr. Forbes feared for the health and strength of his much-loved Margaret, but without cause. She was in every way her old self, only a little more reserved and unfathomable to those who did not comprehend her. And, as years rolled by, and her raven hair whitened, though not with age, there was a saintliness, the sacredness of a great though hidden grief, about Margaret Elliott that caused even the poor and needy, to whom she was a ministering angel, to stand in awe of her, for

• Those who saw her snow-white hair,

ller dark, sad eyes, so deep with feeling, Breathed all at once the chancel air, And seemed to hear the organ pealing.'


(From the Italian of Peti occhi.)



I Skien

Which your stern power has crumbled in decay ?' He answered not, but fiercely turned away, And fled on swifter pinions through the air. I said to FAME : 0 thou who dost declare

With lofty voice, the glories of the past,

Reveal the tale.' Her eyes on earth she cast, Confused and sad, and silent in despair. Then turned I wondering where, with ruthless stride,

I saw OBLIVION stalk from stone to stone, O'er the fall’n towers : '() answer me, I cried,

Dark power! unveil the fact !' But in dread tone • Whose it was once,' he sullenly replied,

I know not-reck not- now it is my own.'

« НазадПродовжити »