The Mourning Veil

Then in lifes goblet freely press
The leaves that give it bitterness,
Nor prize the colored waters less,
For in thy darkness and distress
              New light and strength they give

And he who hae not learned to know
How false its sparkling bnbbles flow,
How bitter are the drops of woe
With which its brim may overflow,
              He has not learned to live.

—Longfellow

It was sunset. The day had been twenty-four hours had melted it like the one of the sultriest of August. It would pearl in the golden cup of Cleopatra, and seem as if the fierce alembic of the last it lay in the West a fused mass of transparent brightness. The reflection from the edges of a hundred clouds wandered hither and thither, over rock and tree and flower, giving a strange, unearthly brilliancy to the most familiar things.

A group of children had gathered about their mother in the summer-house of a garden which faced the sunset sky. The house was one of those square, stately, wooden structures, white, with green blinds, in which of old times the better classes of New England delighted, and which remain to us as memorials of a respectable past. It stood under the arches of two gigantic elms, and was flanked on either side with gardens and grounds which seemed designed on purpose for hospitality and family freedom.

The evening light colored huge bosquets of petunias, which stood with their white or crimson faces looking westward, as if they were thinking creatures. It illumined flame-colored verbenas, and tall columns of pink and snowy phioxes, and hedges of August roses, making them radiant as the flowers of a dream.

The group in the summer-house requires more particular attention. The father and mother, whom we shall call Albert and Olivia, were of the wealthiest class of the neighbouring city, and had been induced by the facility of railroad travelling, and a sensible way of viewing things, to fix their permanent residence in the quiet little village of Q—. Albert had nothing in him different from multitudes of hearty, joyous, healthily constituted men, who subsist epon daily newspapers, and find the world a most comfortable place to live in. As to Olivia, she was in the warm noon of life, and a picture of vitality and enjoyment. A plump, firm cheek, a dark eye, a motherly fulness of form, spoke the being made to receive and enjoy the things of earth, the warm-hearted wife, the indulgent mother, the hospitable mistress of the mansion. It is true that the smile on the lip had something of earthly pride blended with womanly sweetness,the pride of one who has as yet known only prosperity and success, to whom no mischance has yet shown the frail basis on which human hopes are built. Her foot had as yet trod only the high places of life, but she walked there with a natural grace and nobleness that made every one feel that she was made for them and they for her.

Around the parents were gathered at this moment a charming group of children, who with much merriment were proceeding to undo a bundle the father had just brought from the city.

“Here, Rose,” said little Amy, a blue eyed, flaxen-haired pet, who seemed to be a privileged character, “let me come dont be all night with your orderly ways; let me cut that string.” A sharp flash of the scissors, a quick report of the bursting string, and the package lay opened to the little marauder. Rose drew back, smiled, and gave an indulgent look at her eager younger sister and the two little ones who immediately gathered around. She was one of those calm, thoughtful, womanly young girls, that seem born for pattern elder sisters, and for the stay and support of mothers hearts. She watched with a gentle, quiet curiosity the quick and eager fingers that soon were busy in exposing the mysteries of the parcel.

“There's a dress for Rose,” said Amy, triumphantly drawing out a delicate muslin; “I can always tell whats for her.”

“How?” put in the father, who stood regarding the proceeding with that air of amused superiority with which the wearers of broadcloth look down on the mysteries of muslin and bar~ge.

“How?” said Amy, why, “because they look just like her. If I were to see that lilac muslin in China, I should say it was meant for Rose. Now this is mine, I know,this bright pink; isnt it, mamma? No half shades about me!”

“No, indeed,” said her mother; “that is your greatest fault, Amy.”

” Oh, well, mamma, Rose has enough for both; you must rub us together, as they do light red and Prussian blue, to make a neutral tint. But oh, what a ribboa! oh, mother, what a love of a ribbon!”

“Rose! Rose! look at this ribbon! And oh, those buttons! Fred, I do believe they are for your new coat! Oh, and those studs, father, where did you get them? Whats in that box? a bracelet for Rose, I know! oh, how beautiful! perfectly exquisite! And here—oh!”

Here something happened to check the volubility of the little speaker; for as she hastily, and with the license of a petted child, pulled the articles from the parcel, she was startled to find lying among the numerous colored things a black crape veil. Sombre, dark, and illomened enough it looked there, with pink, and lilac, and blue, and glittering b~jouterie around it!

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