The Little Country-Girl

CHAPTER I.

MY father’s old friend, Captain Joseph, came down by the morning train, to inquire concerning a will placed in my keeping by Farmer Hill, lately deceased.

This is his first visit since our marriage.

He declares himself perfectly satisfied with — a certain person, and insists on my revealing the reason, or reasons, of her choosing — a certain person, when she might, no doubt, have done better.

And he is equally charmed with our locality, — is glad to find such a paradise.

I like Captain Joseph. He does n’t croak. Some old men would look dismal, and say, perhaps, — “ Happiness is not for earth,” or, “ In prosperity prepare for adversity.” As if anybody could !

“ A beautiful spot,” says Captain Joseph. And truly it is a pleasant place here, close by the sea, — a place made on purpose to live in. It is a sort of valley, shut in on the east and on the west by high wooded hills, which stretch far out into the sea, and so make for us a charming little bay. There are only a few houses here: the town proper, where I have my law-office, is a mile off.

I found this nook quite accidentally, while sketching the islands off in the harbor, and the water, and the deep shading on the woods beyond. The people here took me to board. That was ten years ago.

Then the family was large. There was old Mr. Lane, his wife, their five grown-up boys, Emily, the sick one, and Miss Joey. The eldest son went out to China, and there died. The next three, at different times, started for California. Two died of the fever, and the third was supposed to have been murdered in crossing the Plains.

David remained. He was a tall, wellmade youth, with plenty of health and good looks, willing to work on the farm, but devoted mainly to his little sloopboat. People called him odd. He was both odd and even. He was odd in being somewhat different in his habits from other young men ; but then he had an even way of his own, which he kept. With him, the sea and his little sloopboat and the daily paper supplied the place of balls, concerts, parties, and young women.

“ Why don’t you dress up, and go gallivantin’ about ’mong the gals ? ” his old mother used to say. But he would only laugh, and pshaw, and walk off to the shore. And I, watching his erect gait and firm tread, would wonder how it was that one good-looking young man should be so different from all other good-looking young men. Still, there was a sort of sheepishness' about the eyes, and that was probably why he never turned them, when meeting the girls, but strode along, looking straight ahead, as if they had been so many fence-posts.

Fanny J——once laid a wager with me that she would make him bow. She contrived a plan to meet him as he returned from the Square. I hid behind the stone wall, and peeped through the chinks. Just as they met, she almost let the wind blow her bonnet off, hoping to catch his eye. But he looked so straight forward into the distance that I was alarmed, thinking there might be a loose horse coming, or a house afire. That was in the first of my staying there. We were afterwards great friends. He liked me, because I was good to the old folks, and to Emily,—and hd a sort of respect for me, because I was the oldest, and because I could talk, and because of the great thick books in my room. I respected him, because I had seen the world and its shams, and knew him to be good all the way through, and because he could n’t talk, and also, perhaps, because he was so much bigger and handsomer than I. In fact, I should have felt quite downhearted about my own looks, if I had n’t learned from books—not the thick ones—that sallow-looking men, with dark eyes, are interesting.

David’s mother approved of steady habits, but for all that she would rather have had him waste some of his time, and be like the rest of his kind.

“ Poor David ! ” she would say, sometimes, “ if anybody could only make him think he was somebody, he ’d be somebody. But he ’a’n’t got no confidence.”

“ Mother,” I would answer, “ don’t worry about David, He’s good, and goodness is as good as anything.”

She liked to have me call her mother. I had been there so long that I almost filled the place of one of her lost ones. Besides, I had no mother of my own, and no real home.

Miss Joey, not being past thirty, had a plan in her head. Her head was small, — so was she, — but the plan was large enough and good enough.

This plan, however, was upset, and by her own means, even before the prospert of its being carried out was even probable. It was Miss Joey’s own notion that one half the house should be let.

“ We are so dwindled down,” she said. “ A small, quiet family would bring in a little something, and be company.” This was at the close of a long and rather lonely winter.

So, one day, Mr. Lane came home, and said he had let the other half to a family from up - country,—man and wife and little girl.

“ The very thing! ” said Miss Joey.

Alas for human foresight !

The next day, at sundown, a loaded wagon drove up; then a carryall, from which stepped an elderly couple and a sweet pretty girl.

“ What angel is that, alighting upon earth ? ” I exclaimed, looking over Miss Joey’s head.

“ Thought she was goin’ to be a little girl,” said she.

“ Wal,” replied Mr. Lane, “ that’s what he called her: suppose she seems little to him. But so much the better. The bigger she is, the more company she ’ll be.”

Miss Joey went in to receive them, and I retired to my chamber. From the window I observed that the pretty girl was very handy about helping, and heard her mother call her Mary Ellen.

The next morning, just as I was leaving for the office, I heard a quick stop across the entry. The door opened, and “ the little girl,” Mary Ellen, came in. Her hair was pushed straight behind her ears, and her sleeves were rolled up to the elbows.

“ I came in,” said she, rather bashfully, “ to ask if Mr. Lane would help us set up a bedstead; father had to go, and mother’s feeble.”

“ Mr. Lane’s gone to get his horse shod,” said Miss Joey.

Mary Ellen stood still, doubting whether to speak, but looking rather puzzled ; for David was in plain sight, fixing his pickerel-traps in the back-room.

“ Miss Joey,” said I, smiling, and looking towards him, “ there are two Mr. Lanes, you know.”

“ Oh, David, — yes, — David. Wal, so David could.”

And so David did. I bit my lip, and went out.

In turning the corner of the house, I passed the open window, and glanced in, as was natural. ’T was an old-fashioned bedstead, and there was David, red as a rose, screwing up the cord, while Mary Ellen, fair as a lily, was hammering away at the wooden peg, while the old lady stood by, giving directions.

It struck me so queerly that I laughed and talked to myself all the way to the office.

“ Poor David! ” I muttered, “ how could he steady his hands, with such a pair of white arms near them ? Good ! good ! ” And then I would ha ! ha ! and strike my stick against the stones. “ Turner,” said I, addressing myself, “ she ’s what you may call a sweet pretty girl,”

I addressed the same remark to Miss Joey that night at tea.

“ The girl,” said she, “ is an innocent little country-girl. She’s got a good skin and a handsome set of teeth. But there’s no need of her findin’ out her good looks, unless you men-folks put her up to’t.”

This I of course took to myself, David being out. of the question.

An innocent little country - girl ! And so she was. She brought to mind damask roses, and apple-blossoms, and red rosebuds, and modest violets, and stars and sunbeams, and all the freshness and sweetness of early morning in the country. A delicious little innocent country - girl ! Poor David ! who could have guessed that you were to be the means of letting in upon her benighted mind the secret of her own beauty ?

Anybody who has travelled in the country has noticed two kinds of country-girls. The first are green-looking and brazenfaced, staring at you like great yellow buttercups, and are always ready to tell all they know. The others are shy. They look up at you modestly, with their blue or their brown eyes, and answer your questions in few words. Of this last kind was Mary Ellen. She looked up with brown eyes,—not dark brown, but light, —hazel, perhaps.

And those brown, or hazel, or grayish eyes looked up to some purpose,—as David, if he had had the gift of speech, might have testified. But a man may tell a good deal and never use his tongue at all. The eyes, for instance, or even the cheeks, can talk, and are full as likely not to tell lies.

It might have been two months, perhaps, after the other half was let, that I heard Mrs. Lane say one day, —

“Joey, there ’s an alteration in David.”

“ For better or wuss ? ” calmly inquired that maiden.

I did not hear the reply, but I had seen the alteration. In fact, I had noticed it from the beginning, and had come to the conclusion that the mischief was done the first day,—that his heart somehow got a twist in the screwing-up of the bed-cord,—that it received every one of the blows which those white arms were aiming at the insensible wood.

It was a case which had vastly interested me. I mean that it was quite in my line, detecting a man’s secret in his countenance. I was glad of the practice.

Mary Ellen knew, too; and yet she had received no help from the profession. Only an innocent little country - girl ! ’T was her natural penetration. What a pity women can’t be lawyers, they have so much to start with !

Poor David ! He was n’t sensible of what had befallen him. How should he be ? He did n’t know why he smarted up his dress, why Bay-fishing was n’t profitable, or why working on the land agreed with him best. He had n’t even found out, as late as June, why he liked to have her bring out the luncheon-basket to the mowers. But before the autumn he had discovered his own secret. He knew very well, then, why he thought it a good plan for Mary Ellen to come in and pare apples with Miss Joey at the halves.

I could have wished him a pleasanter way, though, of finding out his secret.

There was another that saw the alteration, and that was Emily, the sick one,— the care and the blessing of the household. For twelve summers her foot had never pressed the greensward. They told me that once she was a gay, frolicsome girl. ’T was hard to believe, so tranquil, so spiritual, so heavenly was the expression which long suffering had brought to her face. That face, apart from this wonderful expression, was beautiful to look upon. It seemed as if sickness itself was loath to meddle with aught so lovely. So, while her body slowly wasted from the ravages of disease, her countenance remained fair and youthful.

She often had days of freedom from suffering, — days when, as she expressed it, her Father called away His unwelcome messengers. At these times she would sit in her stuffed chair, or lie on the sofa, and the family went in and out as they chose. Everybody liked to stay in Emily’s room. Its very atmosphere was elevating.

Then there were collected so many beautiful things, — for these she craved. “ I need them, mother,” she would say, —“ my soul has need of them. If there are no flowers, get green leaves, or a picture of Christ, or of some saint, or little child.” And sometimes I would dream, for a moment, that even I, with all my obtuseness, my earthiness, could have some faint perception of the way in which, in the midst of suffering, any form of beauty was a strength and a consolation.

And singularly enough for a sick girl, she liked gold ornaments and jewels. People used to lend her their chains and bracelets. “ I know it is strange, mother, ’ she said, one day, while holding in her hand a ruby bracelet,—“ strange that I care for them; but they look so strong, so enduring, so full of life: hang them across the white vase, please; I love to see them there.”

It was good for her when Mary Ellen came, vigorous, fresh, beautiful, like the early morning. She liked to have her in the room, to watch her fare, to braid her long brown hair, and dress it with flowers, or pearls, or strings of beads, — to clasp her hands about the pretty white throat, as if she were only a pigeon, or a little lamb, brought in for her to play with.

She was pleased, too, about David. “ He is so good,” she said to me one day. “ I always knew he had love and gentleness in his heart, and now an angel has come to roll away the stone.”

I thought a great deal of my privilege of going into her room, the same as the rest. After the perplexing, and often low, grovelling duties of my profession, it was like sitting at the gate of heaven.

I used to love to come home, at the close of a long summer’s day, and find the family assembled there. I felt the rest of the hour so much more, sitting among people who had been hard at work all day.

The windows would be set wide open, that not a breath of out - door air might be lost. And with the air would seem to come in the deep peace, the solemn hush of a country-twilight. It pervaded the room ; and even my cold, worldly nature would be touched.

In these dim, shadowy hours, when Nature seemed to stand still, breathless, waiting for the coming darkness, if I longed for anything, it was for a voice to sing. Speech seemed harsh. Yet we often repeated hymns and ballads. Emily knew a great many, and, after saving them over, would dwell upon them, drawing the most beautiful meanings from passages which to me had seemed obscure, and sometimes talked like one inspired.

I felt that these seasons were my salvation,— were saving me from my worldliness. Still, 1 sometimes had a guilty feeling, as if I were drawing from Emily her beautiful life, —as if I were getting something to which I had no right, something too good for me, — as it she might exclaim, at any moment, “ Virtue is gone out from me ! ”

But Mary Ellen could sing. That was good. She knew hymns by dozens, and tunes to them all, both old and new. Besides these, she could sing love-songs and quaint old ballads, that nobody ever heard before.

After she came, we had music to our twilights.

David, of course, was a listener. He said he was always fond of music. I used sometimes to wonder if the pretty singer of love-songs had any special designs upon him. For I had been curiously watching this innocent little country-girl.

In talking with a friend of mine, he had laid it down as a law of Nature, that all women, wild or cultivated, delight to worry and torment all men; that they play with and prey upon their hearts; and that this is done instinctively, as a cat worries a mouse.

“ A ministering angel thou,” quoted I, rather abstractedly, as if comparing views.

“ Angels? Yes, — and so they are,” he answered, rather smartly. “ And every man’s heart is a pool, into which they must descend and trouble the waters ! ”

I knew my friend had reason for his bitterness. Still, I resolved to watch Mary Ellen.

David’s bashful attentions were by no means displeasing to her: that I saw. She had not been accustomed to your glib, off-handed, smartly dressed youths. Here was a good-looking young man, of blameless life, who helped her draw up the bucket, took her to sail, taught her to row, brought her home bushes of huckleberries and branches of swamppinks from the pasture, and shells from the beach.

That few words accompanied his offerings was matter of little moment, since what he would have said was easily enough read in his face. It was sufficient that his eyes spoke, that they followed her motions, that he seemed never ready to go so long as she remained, that when she went he could not long stay behind.

Poor David! It wasn’t his fault. He did n’t mean to. Everybody knew’t was n’t a bit like him. He was charmed. And that reminds me of what Miss Joey said to Mr. Lane, the old man.

It was just about sundown, and they two were sitting in the front-room, looking out of the windows. It had been a sultry day. I was trying to keep comfortable, and had found a nice little seat just outside the door, underneath the lilacs.

Mary Ellen and David came slowly walking past. They did n't seem to be saying much. She had come out bareheaded, just for a little fresh air and a stroll round the house, How cool she looked, in her light blue gown, and her white apron, that tied behind with white bows and strings, or streams ! A Maybee buzzed about their ears, and lighted on her shoulder. Poor David ! He brushed it off before he thought. How frightened he looked ! how confused ! But then just think of all the other maybes he had in his head, confusing him, buzzing to him all manner of beautiful things!

They stopped under the early-ripe tree. Mary Ellen pointed upwards, laughing. He sprang up and snatched off the apple. Then she pointed higher, and still higher, until at last he climbed the tree, and dropped the apples down into her apron.

“ Mr. Lane,” said Miss Joey,in an impressive undertone, “ did you ever hear of anybody’s bewitchin’ anybody ? ”

“ In books, Joey,” he answered.

“ Wal,” said she, in a low, but decided voice, “ I ’ll tell you what I think, and what’s ben my mind from the beginnin’ on’t. That gal’s bewitched David. Don’t you remember,” she continued, “ that the fust week they come David had a bad cold ? ”

“ Wal, like enough he did,” drawled the old man. “ David was always subject to a bad cold.”

“ He did,” replied Miss Joey. “ I ‘ve got the whole on’t in my mind now. And mebby you’ve noticed that these folks

are great for gatherin’ in herbs, and lobely, and bottlin’ up hot-crop ? ”

“ Pepper-tea’s a suvverin’ remedy for a cold,” put in the old man.

“ But now,” Miss Joey proceeded, sinking her voice almost to a whisper, “I want to fix your thoughts on somethin’ dark-colored, in a vial, that she fetched across the entry for him to take.”

“ Help him any ? ”

“ Can’t say it did, and can’t say it did n’t. But ever sence that, David’s ben a different man. He’s follered that gal about as if there’d ben a chain a-drawin’

him,—as if she’d flung a lassoo round his neck, and was pullin’ him along. See him, and you see her. If she wants huckleberries, she has huckleberries. If she wants violets, she has violets. See him now, lookin’ down at her through the branches. And see her, turnin’ her face up towards him. He’s nigh upon addled. Should n’t wonder this minute, if he did n’t know enough to keep his hold o’ the branch. Does that seem like our David, Mr. Lane, a bashful young feller like him ?”

“ Bashful or bold makes no difference,” replied the old man. “ Love ’ll go where ’t is sent, — likely to hit one as t’ other. And when they ’re hit, you can’t tell ’em apart.—Why, Joey,” he continued, suddenly quickening his tone, “ there’s the Doctor’s boy, as I’m alive ! ” Dr. Luce lived the other side of “ the Crick.” The young man coining along the road was his son, just arrived home.

As he came nearer, I took notice of his dress. I usually did, when people came from the city. He wore a black bombazine coat, white trousers, white waistcoat, blue necktie, and a Panama hat. His complexion was fair, with plenty of light hair waving about his temples. He stepped briskly along, with shoulders set back, twirling his glove.

I knew Warren Luce well enough. I could tell just how it would strike him, seeing David up in a tree, flinging down apples to a girl. I could very well judre, too, how he would encounter the fair apparition beneath.

But how would he strike Mary Ellen. — this polished, smooth-tongued, handsomely dressed youth ? I had forebodings. I seemed to divine the future. I fidgeted upon my seat, and straightened myself up, rather pleased that my studies were getting complicated,—that I should have a chance of searching out the natural heart of woman, when under the most trying circumstances.

But just as I was making ready to commence upon my new chapter, Mrs. Lane called me to come and help move Emily.

I very often lifted her from the chair to the sofa. It could hardly be called lifting. ’T was like taking a little bird out of its nest and placing it in another,

“ The Doctor’s boy has come,” said I, very quietly, when I had wheeled the Sofa so that she might feel the air from the window.

She made no answer then ; but a little after, when her mother stepped out a minute, she said, just as quietly, —

“ How will it be ? ”

“ How do you think ? ” I said.

“ I wish,” she replied, “ that he had n’t come. David is a dear brother. I fear,” When Emily said “ I fear,” there was no need to ask what. She feared the effect upon Warren Luce of Mary Ellen’s fresh and simple beauty. She feared the effect upon her of his city-manners and fluent speech. She feared for David an abiding sorrow. Warren Luce had travelled, had been in society, and had been educated. I knew him well for a selfish, heartless fellow, whose very soul had been drowned in worldly pleasures. Just from the midst of artificial life, how charming must appear to him our sweet wild-rose, our singing - bird, our fresh, untutored, innocent little country-girl!

“ But why borrow trouble ? ” I said to myself. “ It will come soon enough. If not in this way, then in some other. Trouble stays not long away.”

CHAPTER II.

“THE CRICK” was n’t half a mile across. The Doctor’s house was in plain sight from our windows. ’T was just a pleasant walk round there, and we called them neighbors. The two young men had always been on the very best of terms. Warren liked David because he knew how good he was, and David liked Warren because he didn’t know how bad he was. The chief bond between them was the boat. Our stylish young gentleman, when he came down to Nature, wanted to get as near her as he could, — not, perhaps, that he loved her, but he liked a change. Nothing suited him better than “camping out,” or starting off before light a-fishing with David.

I was not at all surprised, therefore, that he should appear bright and early the next morning, to make some arrangement for the day.

I saw him coming, from my window, and was pleased that I had lingered at home rather beyond office - hours,—for Mary Ellen was shelling peas in the back - doorway beneath, and I should have an opportunity of advancing somewhat in my new chapter. It was a nice shady place. The door-steps and the ground about them were still damp from the dew.

He came trippingly along, inquiring for David. Mary Ellen blushed some. I saw that their acquaintance had commenced the night before. He chatted a little with the old folks, but directed most of his talk to Mary Ellen, that he might have an excuse for looking her full in the face, and drinking in her beauty. I saw him seat himself on the flat stone. I saw him glance admiringly at the pretty white hands, handling so daintily the green pods. I saw him show her how to make a boat of one, putting in sticks for the thwarts. And finally, I saw David come round the house and stop short.

Warren sprang up.

“ Waiting for you, David,” said he. “ Tide coming, stiff breeze. We can be on Jake’s Ledge in a twinkling.”

And passing over a high hill, on my way to the Square, I saw the sloop-boat, with flag flying, putting off towards Jake’s Ledge.

For the next two months the Doctor’s boy walked straight in the path which my prophetic vision had marked out for him. Morning, noon, and evening brought him paddling across “ the Crick,” or footing it round by the shore-way.

Emily and I were troubled. We had once feared that our good brother and friend would pass through life as a blind man wanders through a flower-garden, lost to its chief beauty and sweetness. But his eyes had been opened. And now was his life-path to lead him into a thorny wilderness ? was a worse darkness to settle down upon him ?

I fancied there was a hopeless look in his face, — that he shrank into himself more than ever. The Doctor’s boy had fairer gifts than he to offer, and no lack of well-chosen words. It was with the utmost uneasiness that I caught, occasionally, some of these telling phrases. I liked not his air of devotedness, his eye constantly following Mary Ellen’s movements. I liked not the flower-gatherings, the rambles among the rocks, the rowing by moonlight. Emily’s short sentence came often to mind, “ I fear.”

For I felt almost sure that Warren Luce was in earnest,—that he was deeply and truly in love with Mary Ellen. Not that he intended this at first, but that her beauty conquered him. Most likely this was the first of his knowing he had a heart, ’t was so small. Still, ’t was the best thing he had, and appeared to hold considerable love for one of its size.

And how was it with Mary Ellen ? Ah, she was enough to puzzle a justice ! I was not long, though, in perceiving that this unenlightened maiden felt instinctively that her personal appearance should be attended to a little more carefully than when only David was to admire. Her hair was always in nice order, and I observed that even in the morning she would have some bit of muslin or lace-work peeping from beneath her short sleeve. I hope there is no harm in saying that I had, even before this, noticed the shapeliness of her arm. I think I was struck with it the first morning, when she came across the entry.

And was she really a coquette, carrying herself steadily along between two lovers, that she smiled just as pleasantly on David, giving him never a cold word, even while the blushes kindled by the soft speeches of Warren Luce still burned upon her cheeks ?

I found myself getting confused. My new studies were very absorbing in their nature, and extremely intricate. Three books to translate, and never a dictionary !

After patient investigation, I settled down upon the conviction that there was in the heart of our little countrygirl one corner of which David’s constant goodness, and earnest, though unspoken love, had given him the entire possession.

I thought thus, because I saw that in her own nature were truth and goodness. And she was quick of perception. I was often struck by the shrewdness of her remarks. I thought the more favorably of her, too, that she was fond of pictures. Before they came to live in the other part, she had taken a dozen lessons of an itinerant drawing-master. 1 had often encountered her in my walks, trying to make a sketch of a tree or a house. She always tucked it behind her, though, or into her pocket, the minute I came in sight.

It was certainly true that she had not yielded to the fascinations of the Doctor’s boy so readily and so entirely as I had feared. “ The girl has some common sense,” I thought, “ some stability,—and likewise some ideas of the eternal fitness of things.” For 1 noticed, with pleasure, one night in Emily’s room, when somebody said, “ There comes the Doctor’s boy,” that she got up and closed the door.

She had been singing the old-fashioned hymn commencing, —

“ On the fair Heavenly Hills.”

The last line,

“ And all the air is Love,”

was repeated. The music was peculiar, — the notes rising and falling and rolling over each other like waves.

She had just stopped. Nobody moved. The silence was broken only by the rustling of the lilac-bushes, as the night-wind swept over them.

“ The whispering of angels ! ” said Emily, softly.

I was pleased that she closed the door. It showed that she felt his. unfitness to enter our little paradise. I took heart for David. And yet it was only the next day that came the crowning with hopblossoms.

I had returned home early, and was in my own room, waiting for tea. Casting my eyes towards the garden, I saw Mary Ellen sitting beneath a tree, leaning against the trunk. Near by was a hoppole, laden with its green. And near by, also, stood Warren Luce, holding in his hand a thin, square book. He had gathered a quantity of the beautiful hop-blossoms and tendrils, and was directing her how to arrange them about her head. It appeared to be his object to make her look like a picture in his book. “ A little more to the right. A few leaves about the ear,” I heard him say ; and then, “They must drop a little lower on the other side. In the picture, the tendrils touch the left shoulder. Now hold the basket full of them, in this way. The blossoms must be trailing over it, and your right hand upon the handle. Not so. Let me show ” —— And as he touched her hand to place it in the right position, I almost sprang from my seat, I was so indignant for David.

I might have saved myself the trouble, though, for the next moment David himself appeared, walking slowly home from the Square, with something in a basket he was bringing for Emily. David was a good brother.

“ Perfect! ” exclaimed Warren, as he completed his tableau. “Just like the picture, only ” —— And here he dropped his voice.

“ David, come here,” he called out, “ and see which picture is the prettiest.”

Poor David ! I saw that it was all he could do, to walk straight past without speaking.

“ Take them off,” said Mary Ellen. “ They are heavy.”

And she pulled the wreath from her head.

That evening, coming home late, I saw a bright light in her room, and glanced up, as I came near. She stood at the looking-glass between the windows, holding a light in her hand. Upon her head, trailing down upon her left shoulder, was a wreath of hop-blossoms. She wanted to know how she looked in them. At least, this was my interpretation of the vision. And while she held the light, first in one hand, then in the other, turning this way and that, I stood debating whether there was any harm in a girl’s knowing she was pretty, or in her wishing to inform herself whether any adornments rather out of the common course — hop-blossoms, for instance—were becoming. That question, and the other, about all women being coquettes, remain in my mind undecided to this day.

Emily must have noticed something peculiar in David’s manner, when he brought her the basket. For it was the next day, I think, that she said to me, in her quiet way,—

“ Mr. Turner, a new feeling is taking hold of me. I’m afraid I — hate ! ”

She made this announcement in her usual calm voice, as if she had been speaking of some new manifestation of her disease. Then she told what she had been observing in David’s manner, and in Mary Ellen’s. Said she, —

“ The girl has no heart. She trifles with David, and he is so wretched. Better the stone had never been rolled away than his love be so thrown back upon him. I pity him so much, and can do nothing.”

I hardly knew what to say in reply, for I was just as troubled as she about David. He wandered off by himself, in the chill autumn evenings, returned late, and stole off to his bed in silence. Stories of suicides came to me. A man who never spoke might do anything. And this, I thought, was the point. If I could only make him speak !

He had always been more open with me than anybody, — had expressed himself freely about the homestead, and his plans for redeeming it, and about his anxiety for Emily. I could certainly, I thought, bring him to speak of his trouble, if I only had for him a sure word of encouragement. But this I had not, because Mary Ellen was such a puzzle. Her openness served better for hiding the truth than did David’s reserve. At the bottom of my heart, though, was full faith in her love for him. I paid her the compliment of believing she was too good to care seriously for such a man as Warren Luce. But, then, I could n’t give my faith to David.

How would it do to make a bold move, — to speak to her ? Might I not show her how much was at stake, and in some way have my faith confirmed ? Would, or would n’t it answer for me to do this ? Should, or should n’t I make bungling work of it ? I turned the matter over in my mind, to assure myself of my right to intermeddle.

e, too, had a sort of friendship, and I conceived that she very much respected my opinion. In some ways, I had been of service to her. The old man, her father, had been involved in legal troubles. She was anxious to understand all about It. So I talked law to her, read law to her, and marked law for her in my big books, besides giving advice gratis. She had also taken other books from my library, whenever she chose. I had lent her pictures to copy, and had shown her the way to various points, in the country round about, whence a simple view might easily be taken. Moreover, I was all the same as one of the family, and felt a brother’s interest in David. And, lastly, I was eight or ten years older than she.

’T was certainly my right to speak. I could well see, however, that it was a matter of some delicacy. My superior age and wisdom might shed a halo around me; still, I was nothing more nor less than a young man, for all that.

It was one pleasant afternoon in the latter part of September, that, engaged in these perplexing meditations, I strolled down towards the shore. Mary Ellen had n’t been in to tea, her mother said, and I was wondering what had become of her.

One solitary buttonwood stood close to the edge of the bank,—so close that at high tide its branches hung over the water. I climbed up into a reserved seat which was always kept for me there, a comfortable little crotch among the boughs. Upon extraordinary occasions,—a splendid sunset, or a rain, coming over the water, or an uncommonly fine moon, or a furious storm, — I used to mount to this seat for a good view.

On this particular afternoon the tide was unusually high,— in some places, up to the top-rail of the meadow-fence. Our “ Crick ” was quite a little bay.

A skiff came paddling along-shore. As it drew near, I saw that it contained two people,—the Doctor’s boy and Mary Ellen, He was singing, but I was unable to distinguish the words. Then there was some laughing. After that, she began singing to him, and I made out both words and tune, for then the boat was quite near. It was an old-fashioned ballad, which I once heard her sing to Emily. It began thus: —

“ As I was walking by the river-side,
Where little streams do gently glide,
I heard a fair maiden making her moan, —
‘ Oh, where is my sweet William gone?
Go, build me up a little boat,
All on the ocean I will float,
Hailing all ships as they pass by,
Inquiring for my sweet sailor-boy.' ”

I liked the music, it was so plaintive, so different from the common well-bred songs.

Not a breath of air was stirring. Her voice rang out upon the stillness, clear and shrill as a wild bird’s. It was such a voice as you frequently meet with among country - girls, entirely uncultivated, but of great power, and, on some notes, of wonderful sweetness. Her admiring listener rested upon his oars, letting his skiff drift along upon the tide. It floated underneath the tree, and up into “ the Crick.” As it passed, I saw, in the bottom of the boat, a little basket of wild cherries.

While watching their progress, I heard a rustling among some alder-bushes that grew about a fence, and, upon looking that way, saw David. He, too, was watching the play, though he had not, like me, the benefit of a seat in the gallery'.

The expression on his countenance was something like what I had seen on the faces of people at the theatre: a sort of fixed, immovable look, as if its wearer were determined on being sensation-proof.

I glanced at the skiff. The Doctor’s boy was throwing cherries at Mary Ellen, and she was catching them in her mouth. She was in a great frolic, laughing, showing her pretty teeth, and so earnest that one might suppose life had no other object than catching wild cherries.

Just then I perceived, a little to the right of me, the head and shoulders of a woman rising slowly above the bank, and recognized at once the small features and peculiarly small gray eyes of Miss Joey. She had been gathering marsh-rosemary along-shore.

She, too, was a spectator of the play, — was, in part, an actor in it; for, while David’s eyes were fixed upon the boat, hers were fixed upon him, and with the same despairing expression.

“ Poor Miss Joey!” I said mentally, “ doomed to see your beautiful plan fail and come to nought! You and he suffer the same suffering, but it can be no bond between you.”

She turned, and slowly descended the bank, and I watched her small figure as it picked its way among the rocks, and finally disappeared around a point.

Meanwhile the voyagers had landed, and were making their way to the house. I could see them until they reached the garden - gate, could see Mary Ellen swinging her sun - bonnet by its string, and hear her laughing, as she tried to mock the katydids.

Then I looked for David. The feeling came over me that I was in some magnificent theatre, where I was like a king, having a play acted for me alone. David was lying upon the ground, with his face buried in the damp grass.

No matter how much we may read of the effects of great sorrow or great happiness, they will always, in real life, come to us as something we never heard of. I involuntarily turned my head aside, feeling that. 1 was where I had no right to be, that I had intruded my profane presence into the innermost sanctuary of a human heart.

While I was debating whether to remain concealed, or to go to him, throw my arms around him, and say some word of comfort, he arose and walked slowly towards the house. And 1 noticed that he went by exactly the same route which the two had taken before him, — which brought to mind Miss Joey’s expression, “ as if there ’d ben a chain a-drawin’ him.”

That very evening, as I was sitting at my window, watching the moon rise over the water, I saw Mary Ellen pass along the road, and sit down upon a little wooden step which was attached to a fence for convenience in getting over. She was watching the moon rise, too.

The scene I had so recently witnessed from the buttonwood - tree had made me desperate. I felt that now, if ever, I must speak. Seizing my hat, I walked rapidly to the spot, hoping it would be given me in that hour what to say.

After we had talked awhile about the moon, how it looked, rising over the waters, as we saw it, and rising over the mountains, as she had seen it, I turned my face rather aside, and said, quite suddenly, —

“ Mary Ellen, I want to speak to you about something important. I hope you will take it kindly.”

She made no answer; seemed startled. I hardly know how I stumbled along, but I finally found myself speaking, of my friendship for David, and of my aversion to Warren Luce. She appeared not at all displeased, but said very little. This was not as I expected. 1 thought she might answer carelessly, — lightly.

There came a pause. I could n’t seem to get on. She sat with averted face, her arm on the fence, her head in her hand. In the strong light of the moon, every feature was revealed. How beautiful she was in the moonlight! But what was her face saying ? A good deal, certainly ; but what ?

I stood leaning against the fence.

“ Mary Ellen,” said I, with a sudden jerk, as it were, “ it can’t be that Warren Luce — that he is the one whom — that — that you ” —— And here I stopped.

“ I think Warren Luce has great power over me,” said she, calmly, as if coolly scanning her own feelings; “ but you said right. He is not the one whom — that” ——

And here she smiled, as if at the thought of my broken-off sentences, but without looking up.

“ My dear girl,” said I, earnestly, and taking a forward step, — “ forgive me, but — I think — I hope — you love David, — don’t you ? ”

’T was a bold question, and I knew it; but I was thinking how pleasant’t would be to carry good tidings to my friend.

“ I love his goodness,” said she, just as calmly' as before. “ And I love him for loving me. 1 wish he was happy. I hope no harm will come to him. I would do everything for him,— but” —and here her voice fell—“ I don't love him as Jane loved.”

“Jane who? ” I asked, in surprise.

“ Jane Eyre.”

Here was a dilemma for me. What should I say next ? What business had I, meddling with a young girl’s heart ? I had been almost sure of finding soundings, yet here I was In deep water! And, with all my pains, what had I accomplished?

She arose, and moved towards the house. I walked along by her side, without speaking.

“ I’m going away to - morrow,” said she, as we reached the gate, “ to make a visit at the old place; then everybody will be happier.”

It was my turn then to be silent, — for I was trying to take in the idea that there was to be no Mary Ellen in the house. She had occupied our thoughts so long, had been so prominent an actor in our daily life, — how we should miss her!

“ Oh, no,” I said, calmly,—for I had thought away all my surprise,— “ we shall all miss you very much.”

And there we parted.

She left us the next morning, for a visit to her old home.

The latter part of the day I went into Emily’s room. She had been growing worse for some time, and had been removed to the westerly room to be rid of the bleak winds. David was sitting on a low stool by her bedside, his head resting upon the bed, looking up in her face. She smiled as I entered.

“ David is so tall,” said she, “ that 1 can’t see his face away up there, and so he brings it down for me to look at.”

She held in her hand the ruby bracelet.

“ David says,” she continued, “ that he is going to the gold-country, to get money to pay off the mortgages, — and that, when he begins to get gold, he shall get a heap, and will bring me home a whole necklace of rubies, and make a beautiful home for me: when he goes,” she repeated, with an unbelieving smile.

I smiled, too, and passed on, feeling that I had already intruded too much upon the privacy of hearts, and would leave the brother and sister in peace.

A few nights after this, I came home late from the Square, and found the household in great commotion. David went out fishing, long before daybreak, and had not yet returned. Other boats had come in, but nothing had they seen of him, either on the Ledge or off in the Bay. This was the more mysterious, as the weather had been unusually mild, with but little wind.

After talking over the matter with them, I suggested that he might have gone farther than usual, and, on account of the light winds, had not been able to get back. The night was calm, with plenty of moonlight. There could be no possible danger to one so accustomed to the water as David.

This appeared very reasonable ; and, at a late hour, all retired to bed.

The next morning I looked from my window at daybreak. Miss Joey was standing on the hill, gazing off upon the water. In a few minutes the old folks came out. They crept up the hill, and stood looking off with Miss Joey. I joined them. There was a fine strong breeze, and fair for boats bound in. Not one, however, was in sight. Away off in the Bay was a homeward-bound schooner, with colors flying. A fisherman, probably, returning from the Banks. The morning air was chilly. We silently descended the hill.

During the day we heard that a vessel from Boston had spoken, half-way on her passage, a small sloop-boat, with one man in it. Boston was sixty miles distant, and it was something very unusual for a small boat to make the passage. Friends in the city were written to, but no information was obtained, and day after day passed without relieving our suspense.

But this was at last ended by a letter from David himself. It was written to me. He had sold his boat in Boston, and had gone to New York, where his letter was dated. He was going to sail for California the next day.

“ I have long been meaning to go,” he wrote, “ but never thought of leaving in this way, until I reached the fishingground, last Wednesday morning. It came into my mind all at once, and I kept straight along. If I’d gone back, the old folks, maybe, would n’t have let me come, because, you know, I ’m the last. Besides, I thought I could go easier while—— But you know all about it, Turner. I saw that you knew. It has been very hard. Somehow, trouble don’t slip off of me easy. Taking everything as it was, I could n’t stay by any longer. Otherwise, 1 don’t know as I could have left the old folks and Emily. I can’t ask you to stay, unless it’s convenient ; but while you do, I hope you ’ll have a care over all I ’ve left behind. You can cheer up Emily better than anybody.”

“ The strength and the beauty of the house are gone! ” remarked Emily to me, as I sat down one afternoon by her window.

Poor girl! It was but seldom she was able to speak at all. David’s sudden departure, and the anxiety attending it, had been too much for her. Besides, she missed Mary Ellen. That little countrygirl had, besides her innocence and her good looks, a vein of drollery, which made her a very entertaining companion. And then, being so quick-witted, and so kind-hearted, she thought of various little things to do for Emily’s comfort, which never would have occurred to her mother or Miss Joey. Emily wanted her back again. She had got over that feeling of hatred of which she once accused herself.

“ It was n’t her fault,” said she, one day, quite suddenly.

“ What ? ” I asked.

“ That she did n’t love David in the way he loved her. I don’t think she deceived him. He never said anything, you know; so, of course, she had no reason for being any other than kind to him. I believe she felt badly about it, herself. I’ve seen her, when she thought I was asleep, lean her head upon her hand, and sit so for a great while. Maybe, though, it’s because I want so much to love her that I make excuses for her. I wish she 'd come, — it’s so lonely.”

And it was lonely. It was like remaining in the theatre after the play is over and the actors retired. For Warren Luce, too, was gone. His visit was only for the summer, and he had returned to his clerkship.

“ How would it have been, if he had n’t come?” I asked myself. “ Might David have been happy ? Might she have loved him as ‘ Jane ’ loved ? And how much of her heart had the Doctor’s boy carried away ? Perhaps his power over her was greater than she would own, — greater than she knew herself. Perhaps he was even then corresponding with her. He might even be with her among the mountains.”

Thus I debated, thus I questioned.

CHAPTER III.

MARY ELLEN was gone six weeks. We were all glad when she came back, the house had seemed so like' a tomb. I’m not sure about Miss Joey. No doubt she looked upon her with an evil eye, as being the upsetter of all her plans. But then there was nothing Miss Joey dreaded more than a lonely house. She wanted company.

And what better company, pray, can there be than a fair young face ? Who would ask for better entertainment than to watch the lighting-up of bright eyes, and the parting of rosy lips, or the thousand other bewitchments of youth and beauty ?

And she looked more beautiful than ever,—I suppose, because she came in a dull time: just as flowers seem lovelier and more precious in the winter. I fancied she was very sad, very thoughtful. Perhaps ’t was David’s going away that caused this. Perhaps she was sorry she had cast from her such a precious thing as love.

When Emily became much worse, which was shortly after her return, she installed herself as chief nurse, sitting for hours in the darkened room, amusing her with children’s songs and stories, —for the sick girl, in her weakest state, Craved childish things.

That was a quiet, a truly pleasant winter. After getting letters from David, telling of his safe arrival out, everybody became more cheerful.

But in the spring, as warm weather came on, Emily grew every day weaker. The apple-blossoms came and went unheeded.

One morning she awoke, unusually free from pain, and said to Mary Ellen, —

“ I saw David last night. He said to me, ‘ I shall come sooner than I expected. But, before I come, I shall send the ruby necklace.’ ” Then she described the miner’s hut in which she had seen him.

This was in the first part of June.

On the day after the fourth of July we got news of his death. He had been lost overboard, in a storm, between San Francisco and the Sandwich Islands.

It is very sad to recall that time of deep affliction. He was the last of five sons, all of whom had left home in full health and strength, none of whom returned.

“ Five as likely young men,” said poor Miss Joey, “ as ever grew up beneath one roof.”

“ All five gone ! ” groaned the old man, as he leaned his face against the wall.

“ Five brothers waiting for me,” whispered Emily, as Mary Ellen bent over her, weeping.

“ Five boys,” moaned the poor brokenhearted mother, — “ nobody to take care of them, nobody to do for them, no comforts, no mother, and now no grave ! ”

’T was touching to see her husband trying to console her. Her favorite seat was in one corner of the hard, old-fashioned settee. There she would sit, swaying herself to and fro, whispering sometimes to herself, “ Deep waters ! deep waters ! ”

The old man would sit close up to her, and say, softly, —

“ Now, mother, don’t! I would n’t take on. You know he is n’t there. Look up. Don’t forget God ! ”

Poor old man ! ’T was hard for him to look up, with so much to draw him down. But I don’t think he ever forgot God.

A little before sunset, one afternoon, a few weeks after the sad news of David’s death had reached us, Mary Ellen came out to where I was sitting under the lilacs, and asked if I could n’t move Emily into her own room for a little while.

“ Is she able ? ” I asked.

“ I don’t know what has come over her,” she replied, “ she seems so strong. For a long time I thought her asleep, but all at once she spoke out clear and loud, and said, ‘ I want to see his grave. If anybody could take me to my own room, I could see his grave.’ She keeps repeating it, and she means the sea.”

’T was not much to take her across the entry. Mary Ellen arranged everything, and we placed her on a sofa by the window.

“ Oh,” she exclaimed, “ how I have longed for this ! I have hungered and thirsted for a good look at the sea.”

Her cheeks were pale, her eyes large and bright.

She looked so ethereal, so unearthly, and lay so long motionless, with her eyes fixed upon the water, that I half feared she would at that moment pass away from us, — that she might, in some beautiful form, a dove, or a bright angel, soar upward through the open window, and be lost to our sight among the golden-edged clouds above.

But she was thinking of David’s grave. And a beautiful grave it seemed, from that window. The water was still, and as smooth as glass. I had never noticed upon it so uncommon a tinge. ’T was mostly of a pale green, very pale ; but portions of it were of a deep lilac. Farther off it was purple, and very far off a dim, shadowy gray. I was glad It had on that particular night such a peaceful, placid look.

“ Oh, what a beautiful grave ! ” said Emily. Then her eyes wandered to different points of the landscape, dwelling for a long time on each.

“ I suppose you think,” said she, at last, in a low, sweet voice, “ that it is easy for a sick girl to go. But I love everything I ’ve been looking at. It may be more beautiful there, but it will not be the same. I shall want to see exactly this stretch of water, and the islands beyond, and the shadows on those woods away off in the distance, and the field where father has mowed the grass for so many years. Every summer, as soon as June came in, I’ve listened, early in the morning, before noise began, to hear the whetting of the scythe, and then waited for the smell of the hay to come in at the windows.

“ Those maples, on the knoll, are my dear friends. I’ve been glad with them in the spring, and sorry with them in the fall, through all these years. The birds and the dandelions and the violets are all my friends. I’ve waited for them every year, and it seemed as if the same ones came back. You well people can’t understand it. They are near to me. I enter into the life of each one of them, just as you do into the lives of your human friends. Spirits go everywhere, see everything. That will be too much. I’m attached to just this spot of earth. And then I’m attached to myself. I can’t realize that I shall be the same, and I don’t want to give myself up, poor miserable creature as I am.”

Mary Ellen and I could only look at each other in astonishment. Her voice, her seeming strength, and, more than all, her conversation, amazed us. She had always been so trusting, so full of faith in her Heavenly Father.

The next morning, when Mary Ellen went to her bedside, she found her lying awake, with her thin, white fingers clasped about her throat. She looked up with a strange smile, and said, —

“ My ruby necklace has come, and next, you know, will be the beautiful home. It is almost ready, David said. But he brought the necklace, and clasped it about my throat. It choked me, and I groaned a little. David went then, and I’ve been waiting ever since for you to come.”

It was noontime when Mary Ellen told me this. I observed that she trembled.

“ My dear girl,” said I, “ what makes you tremble so ? ”

“ Why,” said she, in a whisper, “ there is truly a red circle about her throat. I saw it. ’T is a warning. She’s going to die.”

“ Maybe,” I said, “ she is going soon to her beautiful home. But we know no harm can come to our dear sister, she is so good, and so pure.” Then, taking her by the hand, I led her along to Emily’s room.

Her mother and Miss Joey stood near, weeping. The old man, with the Bible upon his knees, sat at the foot of the bed. He had been reading and praying.

She looked up with a smile, as I entered with Mary Ellen.

“ I know,” said she, in a perfectly distinct, but low voice, as we drew near the bedside,— “ I know what made me talk so yesterday.”

She paused then, and afterwards spoke with difficulty. We all stood breathless, bending eagerly forward, that not a word might be lost.

“ I know,” she repeated, “ what it was. ’T was the earthy principle in me — which revived — for a moment—at the last — and then put forth all its strength. Since I have seen David — it seems pleasant — to go. I can’t tell, — you would n’t understand, — 1 could n’t, if the separation — had n’t begun. I ’m not wholly here now.” And the fixed, strange look in her face confirmed the words as they fell from her lips.

She lay for some time very still, breathing every moment fainter and fainter, but seemingly in no distress.

Suddenly she started. Her face grew radiant. Her gaze seemed fixed on some point, thousands and thousands of miles away. Clasping her hands together, she cried out, joyfully, —

“ Oh, the beautiful home ! the beautiful home ! ”

’T was over in an instant. She closed her eyes, turned her head a little on the pillow, and breathed her life away as softly and peacefully as a poor tired child sinks away to sleep.

“ And I saw the angels of God ascending and descending,” I said, earnestly. For I felt that one whose spiritual eyes were opened might certainly do so.

Late in the afternoon, when the heat of the day was past, 1 walked out to the clump of maples on the knoll. Mary Ellen was already there.

“ Yes,” said I, sitting down by her side, upon the grass, “ we will lay her here among her friends. And we will place here a white marble monument.”

“ I wish,” said Mary Ellen, looking timidly up in my face, “ that it could be in memory of David, too.” She said this with tears in her eyes, and an unsteady voice.

As I sit writing, I can see from my window the simple white monument, which Mary Ellen and 1 planned together. The grass and field-flowers are growing all about it, and the birds, Emily’s birds, are singing in the branches above. It has only this inscription,—

In memory of David and Emily,”

“ Six children, — and only one grave to show for all of them ! ” groaned the poor old mother, when we first led her out to show her the stone.

But there was shortly another grave beneath the maples; for the worn-out old woman soon sank after Emily’s death, and with her last breath begged to be laid by her side.

Only the old man and Miss Joey left. Still I could not go away. No other place seemed like home. And besides, I had found out, long ago, my own secret. It had been revealed to me, day by day, as I watched Mary Ellen in the sick-room of Emily, — as I observed her patience, her sweetness, her tenderness !

And my secret came upon me with an overwhelming power. But I mastered it. I kept it to myself. That is, as far as words were concerned. For the expression of his face, for involuntary glances, no man can be held responsible.

I kept it to myself,—or tried to do so ; for I was n’t sure—of anything. Emily’s words, “ I fear,” came to me with deep meaning. For, if the goodness of David, if the fascinations of Warren Luce had effected nothing, what could I hope ?

And was I sure about this last, about Warren ? He was in the place. Emily’s sickness only had kept him away. I reviewed myself to myself, overhauled whatever virtues or failings I knew of as belonging to me.

Nothing very satisfactory resulted. But I remembered what the old man said to Miss Joey, “ Love ’ll go where ’t is sent,” and took courage. Eight or ten years older. I wonder if she would mind that ?

Day after day passed, and my secret still burned within me. It must shine out of my eyes, I thought. But then, since Emily’s death, I had seen Mary Ellen much less frequently. She kept mostly with her mother, on their own side of the house.

But the time that was foreordained from the beginning of the world for the bursting-forth of my secret came at last.

It was a month after Emily’s death. I happened to come home in the evening unusually early. ’T was exactly such a night as the one on which I tried to sound the depths of a young girl’s heart, and failed. If she would only come out in the moonlight again, and let me try once more !

As I passed the orchard, my heart gave a great leap, for she was there,—she and Miss Joey, carrying in a great basket of apples. I seized her side of the basket with one hand, and with the other grasped hers so earnestly that she fairly started : I was so glad to see her !

I led her along to the house, and then led her back, until we came to the same little step on the fence, — with full faith, now, that it would be given me in this hour what to say.

I seated her exactly as she was before, with the moon shining full in her face. Then I took my stand, leaning against the fence, just the same. How beautiful she was in the moonlight!

“ And is there anybody,” said I, as if continuing the conversation, “ that you do love as Jane did ? ”

My voice, though, was far less steady than at the other time.

“ Mr. Turner,” she exclaimed, starting up, with flashing eyes and glowing cheeks, “ you’ve no right to ask me such a question! ”

That blushing by moonlight! It was too much to be endured with calmness. I felt myself giving way before it.

But I sha’n’t tell any more. It’s no sign, because a man opens his heart, that he should let everything drop out of it.

If those interested know, that, at my earnest request, she gave me the right to ask not only that question, but others which would naturally follow, they know enough.

I would willingly tell them, though, if our English language had a few thousand words added to it, how delightful it was to know that this sweet wild-rose had been blossoming for me, that our singingbird had been singing for me! I am willing to tell, too, how foolish I felt, when the deceitfulness of the human heart, of my own human heart, became apparent; when I found that I had been loving for myself, while I thought I was loving for David,—that I had been jealous for myself, and not for him; when I found that I had been studying my chapter, without regarding the notes underneath.

And being at last put upon the right track, I found it taking me a long way backwards. It took me away to the beginning, when Mary Ellen first came across the entry, and showed me that then and there the arrow was sped, and love went where it was sent. I had misgivings, even, of having taken a portion of the dark liquid in the little bottle. I could perceive the drawing of the “ chain,” and almost feel the “ lassoo ” about my neck.

“ Lawyer, indeed ! And wonderfully sharp at cross-questioning, when you could n’t draw a secret from a woman ! Lawyer, indeed ! Of great penetration, that could n’t read a young girl’s heart, when it lay open before you,—that could n’t read your own ! You’d better give up the profession, and go to painting. That suits you better. Beauty is your chief delight, after all. Not only beauty of face, but beauty of everything under the sun. Go sit in your crotch among the green boughs and paint landscapes ! ”

It was full four years ago that I thus inveighed against myself, and just about a year from the time when I took up the moonlight talk where it had been left off, and finished it so charmingly. We two were taking a long stroll together, and had been making our mutual confessions, — our man-and-wife confessions.

My innocent little country-girl turned her sweet face up to mine with a doubtful expression, a comically wise look, and said, a little anxiously,—

“ Do you think it will pay ? ”

Oh, she’s a capital wife! She has beauty and sweetness and exquisite taste and simplicity and loving-kindness, with just enough worldliness to take all these charming qualities safely along through life.

Hear how wisely she discusses the “ coquette ” question.

Says she,—“ I think it’s natural for all women to want to please all men. I believe that the very best and wisest woman in the world is affected by flattery from a handsome man who knows how to

flatter. Very likely this might be put the other way about, but then in books that side is usually left out. But what you, Mr. Landscape-painter, would like to know is, whether I coquetted with the Doctor’s boy. And I will own that I tried to please him. 1 liked to have him think I was pretty. I can’t think what it was about him that had such power over me. 1 tremble now to think what might have been, if—— And just think what a whole life would be with such a person ! I don’t believe, though, any girl could have withstood him, unless her heart—— I believe 1 should certainly have loved him, if” ——

“ If what, and unless what ? ” I asked, drawing her close up to me, as if that dangerous youth had still power to take her from me.

She looked up so roguishly,—

“ You ought to know; you took the chapter to study.”

Oh, my innocent little country - girl ! If I were a poet, I’d write a song in your praise; and if I were a musician, I ’d set it to music. But the poetry is in my heart; and 't is set to music there.