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The Wedding Guest by T.S. Arthur

Part 3 out of 5

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matter to me. I am dying in perplexity."

"Well", replied Lizzie, archly, "_I_ made those caps."


"Certainly; that is, I and Margaret. I kept my work a secret from
you, because you were opposed to my exerting myself, and although
you have come near surprising me more than once, I have carried on
my treasonable designs pretty successfully until to-day."

"But, dear Lizzie, how could you?"

"I can answer that question. I saw pretty clearly into your business
affairs, and I knew that we could not live in this style long. So I
thought I would disobey you. My cousin George, the hat manufacturer,
seconded my designs, and privately sent me caps to make, nearly a
year ago."

Hamilton opened his eyes in astonishment.

"Surprising, isn't it? But this isn't all. You insisted on my
keeping Margaret, when I might just as well have done my housework
myself; I thought I would make her useful, and made her help me work
on the caps. Besides, you were not satisfied if I neglected to use
all the spending money you allowed me, and I pretended to use that,
just to please you. Now, before you scold me for my disobedience,
witness the results of my industry and economy."

Lizzie opened her desk, and displayed to Hamilton's bewildered
sight, a pile of gold which filled him with greater astonishment
than anything else.

"There," continued Lizzie, without allowing him to speak--"there are
three hundred dollars. Of course, this little sum wouldn't make
anybody rich, but I hope it will convince you that a wife's economy
and industry are not to be despised."

"Lizzie! dear Lizzie!"

"Oh, this is nothing--only a sample of what I can do. Come, now,
acknowledge your error, and say that I may have my own way in

Hamilton replied by clasping his wife in his arms.

"There, say nothing more about it," she continued. "Don't think of
your misfortunes, but remember that we can be happy even if we both
have to work hard. Poverty cannot crush us; and I hope I have
already convinced you that work will not make me lose attraction in
your sight."

The young husband's heart overflowed with gratitude and joy.

"How have I misunderstood you, dear Lizzie!" he exclaimed. "You are
worth more to me than southern riches; and now that I know poverty
cannot crush you my mind is at ease. Lizzie, I am so happy!"

"And I may have my way?"

"Yes, always."

"Remember this!" cried Mrs. Burgess, archly.

With a lighter heart than he had felt for many months before,
Hamilton went about the settlement of his business affairs, while
Lizzie devoted herself to perfecting a new system of housekeeping.

When Mr. Burgess came home at night, he was surprised at the
wonderful change which had taken place during his absence.

"Don't scold," said his wife, regarding him with a smile; "you said
I might have my way."

"True--but what have you done?"

"I have been making arrangements to let half the house to Mr.
Smith's family, who will move in next week. They are pleasant
people, and as we had twice as much room as we actually needed, I
thought it best to take them. Then again, we shan't need so much
furniture, and if you like, you can sell Mr. Smith some of what we
have, at a fair price."

Mr. Burgess neither frowned nor looked displeased, nor did he ever
afterwards oppose his wife's designs. He soon found his expenses so
reduced, that, with the fruits of his wife's industry added to his
own, they were able to live quite comfortably and happily; and,
although he soon became engaged in more profitable business, he
never again urged her to indulge in the folly of "living like a


MR. FERRARS, who sat reading the morning paper, suddenly started
with an exclamation of grief and astonishment that completely roused
his absent-minded wife.

"My dear Walter, what has happened?" she asked, with real anxiety.

"A man a bankrupt, whom I thought as safe as the Bank of England!
Though it is true, people talked about him months ago--spoke
suspiciously of his personal extravagance, and, above all, said that
his wife was ruining him."

"His wife!"

"Yes; but I cannot understand that sort of thing. A few hundreds a
year more or less could be of little moment to a man like Beaufort,
and I don't suppose she spent more than you do, my darling. At any
rate she was never better dressed. Yet I believe the truth was, that
she got frightfully into debt unknown to him; and debt is a sort of
thing that multiplies itself in a most astonishing manner, and sows
by the wayside the seeds of all sorts of misery. Then people say
that when payday came at last, bickerings ensued, their domestic
happiness was broken up, Beaufort grew reckless, and plunged into
the excitement of the maddest speculations."

"How dreadful!" murmured Lady Lucy.

"Dreadful indeed! I don't know what I should do with such a wife."

"Would not you forgive her if you loved her very much?" asked Lady
Lucy, and she spoke in a singularly calm tone of suppressed emotion.

"Once, perhaps, once; and if her fault were the fault of youthful
inexperience,--but so much falseness, mean deception, and mental
deterioration must have accompanied such transactions, that--in
short, I thank Heaven that I have never been put to the trial."

As he spoke, the eyes of Mr. Ferrars were fixed on the leading
article of the Times, not on his wife. Presently Lady Lucy glided
from the room, without her absence being at the moment observed.
Once in her dressing-room, she turned the key, and sinking into a
low chair, gave vent to her grief in some of the bitterest tears she
had ever shed. She, too, was in debt; "frightfully" her husband had
used the right word; "hopelessly" so far as satisfying her
creditors, even out of the large allowance Mr. Ferrars made her; and
still she had not the courage voluntarily to tell the truth, which
yet she knew must burst upon him ere long. From what small
beginnings had this Upas shadow come upon her! And what "falseness,
mean deception, and mental deterioration" had truly been hers!

Even the fancied relief of weeping was a luxury denied to her, for
she feared to show the evidence of tears; thus after a little while
she strove to drive them back, and by bathing her face before the
glass, and drawing the braids of her soft hair a little nearer her
eyes, she was tolerably successful in hiding their trace. Never,
when dressing for court or gala, had she consulted her mirror so
closely; and now, though the tears were dried, she was shocked at
the lines of anguish--those delvers of the wrinkles of age--which
marked her countenance. She sat before her looking-glass, one hand
supporting her head, the other clutching the hidden letters which
she had not yet the courage to open. There was a light tap at the

"Who is there?" inquired Lady Lucy.

"It is I, my lady," replied Harris, her faithful maid. "Madame
Dalmas is here."

Lady Lucy unlocked the door and gave orders that the visiter should
be shown up. With the name had come a flush of hope that some
trifling temporary help would be hers. Madame Dalmas called herself
a Frenchwoman, and signed herself "Antoinette" but she was really an
English Jewess of low extraction, whose true name was Sarah
Solomons. Her "profession" was to purchase--and sell--the cast-off
apparel of ladies of fashion; and few of the sisterhood have carried
the art of double cheating to so great a proficiency. With always a
roll of bank-notes in her old leather pocket-book, and always a
dirty canvass bag full of bright sovereigns in her pocket, she had
ever the subtle temptation for her victims ready.

Madame Dalmas--for she must be called according to the name engraved
on her card--was a little meanly-dressed woman of about forty, with
bright eyes and a hooked nose, a restless shuffling manner, and an
ill-pitched voice. Her jargon was a mixture of bad French and worse

"Bon jour, miladi Lucy," she exclaimed as she entered Lady Lucy's
sanctum; "need not inquire of health, you look si charmante. Oh, si
belle!--that make you wear old clothes so longer dan oder ladies,
and have so leetel for me to buy. Milady Lucy Ferrars know she look
well in anyting, but yet she should not wear old clothes: no
right--for example--for de trade, and de hoosband always like de
wife well dressed--ha--ha!"

Poor Lady Lucy! Too sick at heart to have any relish for Madame
Dalmas' nauseous compliments, and more than half aware of her cheats
and falsehoods, she yet tolerated the creature from her own dire

"Sit down, Madame Dalmas," she said, "I am dreadfully in want of
money; but I really don't know what I have for you."

"De green velvet, which you not let me have before Easter, I still
give you four pounds for it, though perhaps you worn it very much
since then."

"Only twice--only seven times in all--and it cost me twenty
guineas," sighed Lady Lucy.

"Ah, but so old-fashioned--I do believe I not see my money for it.
Voyez-vous, de Lady Lucy is one petite lady--si jolie, mais tres
petite. If she were de tall grand lady, you see de great dresses
could fit small lady, but de leetle dresses fit but ver few."

"If I sell the green velvet I must have another next winter!"
murmured Lady Lucy.

"Ah!--vous avez raison--when de season nouveautes come in. I tell
you what--you let me have also de white lace robe you show me once,
the same time I bought from you one little old pearl brooch."

"My wedding-dress? Oh, no, I cannot sell my wedding-dress!"
exclaimed poor Lady Lucy, pressing her hands conclusively together.

"What for not?--you not want to marry over again--I give you
twenty-two pounds for it."

"Twenty-two pounds!--why, it is Brussels point, and cost a hundred
and twenty."

"Ah, I know--but you forget I perhaps keep it ten years and not
sell--and besides you buy dear; great lady often buy ver dear!" and
Madame Dalmas shook her head with the solemnity of a sage.

"No, no; I cannot sell my wedding-dress," again murmured the wife.
And be it recorded, the temptress, for once, was baffled; but, at
the expiration of an hour, Madame Dalmas left the house, with a huge
bundle under her arm, and a quiet satisfaction revealed in her
countenance, had any one thought it worth while to study the
expression of her disagreeable face.

Again Lady Lucy locked her door; and placing a bank note and some
sovereigns on the table, she sank into a low chair, and while a few
large silent tears flowed down her cheeks, she at last found courage
to open the three letters which had hitherto remained, unread, in
her apron pocket. The first, the second, seemed to contain nothing
to surprise her, however much there might be to annoy; but it was
different with the last; here was a gross overcharge, and perhaps it
was not with quite a disagreeable feeling that Lady Lucy found
something of which she could justly complain. She rose hurriedly and
unlocked a small writing-desk, which had long been used as a
receptacle for old letters and accounts.

To tell the truth, the interior of the desk did not present a very
orderly arrangement. Cards of address, bills paid and unpaid, copies
of verses, and papers of many descriptions, were huddled together,
and it was not by any means surprising that Lady Lucy failed in her
search for the original account by which to rectify the error in her
shoemaker's bill. In the hurry and nervous trepidation, which had
latterly become almost a constitutional ailment with her, she turned
out the contents of the writing-desk into an easy-chair, and then
kneeling before it, she set herself to the task of carefully
examining the papers. Soon she came to one letter which had been
little expected in that place, and which still bore the marks of a
rose, whose withered leaves also remained, that had been put away in
its folds. The rose Walter Ferrars had given her on the eve of their
marriage, and the letter was in his handwriting, and bore but a few
days earlier date. With quickened pulses she opened the envelope;
and though a mist rose before her eyes, it seemed to form into a
mirror in which she saw the by-gone hours. And so she read--and

It is the fashion to laugh at love-letters, perhaps because only the
silly ones ever come to light. With the noblest of both sexes such
effusions are sacred, and would be profaned by the perusal of a
third person: but when a warm and true heart is joined to a manly
intellect; when reason sanctions and constancy maintains the choice
which has been made, there is little doubt that much of simple,
truthful, touching eloquence is often to be found in a "lover's"
letter. That which the wife now perused with strange and mingled
feelings was evidently a reply to some girlish depreciation, of
herself, and contained these words:--

"You tell me that in the scanty years of your past life, you already
look back on a hundred follies, and that you have unnumbered faults
of character at which I do not even guess. Making some allowance for
a figurative expression, I will answer 'it may be so.' What then? I
have never called you an angel, and never desired you to be perfect.
The weaknesses which cling, tendril-like, to a fine nature, not
unfrequently bind us to it by ties we do not seek to sever. I know
you for a true-hearted girl, but with the bitter lessons of life
still unlearned; let it be my part to shield you from their sad
knowledge,--yet whatever sorrow or evil falls upon you, I must or
ought to share. Let us have no secrets; and while the Truth which
gives its purest lustre to your eye, and its richest rose to your
cheek, still reigns in your soul, I cannot dream of a fault grave
enough to deserve harsher rebuke than the kiss of forgiveness."

What lines to read at such a moment! No wonder their meaning reached
her mind far differently than it had done when they were first
received. Then she could have little heeded it; witness how
carelessly the letter had been put away--how forgotten had been its

Her tears flowed in torrents, but Lucy Ferrars no longer strove to
check them. And yet there gleamed through them a brighter smile than
had visited her countenance for many a month, A resolve approved by
all her better nature was growing firm within her heart; and that
which an hour before would have seemed too dreadful to contemplate
was losing half its terrors. How often an ascent, which looks in the
distance a bare precipice, shows us, when we approach its face, the
notches by which we may climb!--and not a few of the difficulties of
life yield to our will when we bravely encounter them.

"Why did I fear him so much?" murmured Lady Lucy to herself. "I
ought not to have needed such an assurance as this to throw myself
at his feet, and bear even scorn and rebuke, rather than prolong the
reign of falsehood and deceit. Yes--yes," and gathering a heap of
papers in her hand with the "love-letter" beneath them, she
descended the stairs.

There is no denying that Lady Lucy paused at the library door--no
denying that her heart beat quickly, and her breath seemed well-nigh
spent; but she was right to act on the good impulse, and not wait
until the new-born courage should sink.

Mr. Ferrars had finished the newspaper, and was writing an
unimportant note; his back was to the door, and hearing the rustle
of his wife's dress, and knowing her step, he did not turn his head
sufficiently to observe her countenance, but he said,

"At last! What have you been about? I thought we were to go out
before luncheon to look at the bracelet I mentioned to you."

"No, Walter--no bracelet--you must never give me any jewels again;"
and as Lady Lucy spoke she leaned against a chair for support. At
such words her husband turned quickly round, started up, and

"Lucy, my love!--in tears--what has happened?" and finding that even
when he wound his arm round her she still was mute, he continued,
"Speak--this silence breaks my heart--what have I done to lose your

"Not you--I--" gasped the wife. "Your words at breakfast--this
letter--have rolled the stone from my heart--I must confess--the
truth--I am like Mrs. Beaufort--in debt--frightfully in debt." And
with a gesture, as if she would crush herself into the earth, she
slipped from his arms and sank literally on the floor.

Whatever pang Mr. Ferrars felt at the knowledge of her fault, it
seemed overpowered by the sense of her present anguish--an anguish
that proved how bitter had been the expiation; and he lifted his
wife to a sofa, bent over her with fondness, called her by all the
dear pet names to which her ear was accustomed, and nearer twenty
times than once gave her the "kiss of forgiveness."

"And it is of you I have been afraid!" cried Lady Lucy clinging to
his hand. "You who I thought would never make any excuses for faults
you yourself could not have committed!"

"I have never been tempted."

"Have I? I dare not say so."

"Tell me how it all came about," said Mr. Ferrars, drawing her to
him; "tell me from the beginning."

But his gentleness unnerved her--she felt choking--loosened the
collar of her dress for breathing space--and gave him the knowledge
he asked in broken exclamations.

"Before I was married--it--began. They persuaded me so many--oh, so
many--unnecessary things were--needed. Then they would not send the
bills--and I--for a long time--never knew--what I owed--and
then--and then--I thought I should have the power--but--"

"Your allowance was not sufficient?"' asked Mr. Ferrars, pressing
her hand as he spoke.

"Oh, yes, yes, yes! most generous, and yet it was always forestalled
to pay old bills; and then--and then my wants were so many. I was so
weak. Madame Dalmas has had dresses I could have worn when I had new
ones on credit instead, and--and Harris has had double wages to
compensate for what a lady's maid thinks her perquisites; even
articles I might have given to poor gentlewoman I have been mean
enough to sell. Oh, Walter! I have been very wrong; but I have been
miserable for at least three years. I have felt as if an iron cage
were rising round me--from which you only could free me--and yet,
till to-day, I think I could have died rather than confess to you."

"My poor girl! Why should you have feared me? Have I ever been

"Oh, no!--no--but you are so just--so strict in all these things--"

"I hope I am; and yet not the less do I understand how all this has
come about. Now, Lucy--now that you have ceased to fear me--tell me
the amount."

She strove to speak, but could not.

"Three figures or four? tell me."

"I am afraid--yes, I am afraid four," murmured Lady Lucy, and hiding
her face from his view; "yes, four figures, and my quarter received
last week gone every penny."

"Lucy, every bill shall be paid this day; but you must reward me by
being happy."

"Generous! dearest! But, Walter, if you had been a poor man, what

"Ah, Lucy, that would have been a very different and an infinitely
sadder story. Instead of the relinquishment of some indulgence
hardly to be missed, there might have been ruin and poverty and
disgrace. You have one excuse,--at least you knew that I could pay
at last."

"Ah, but at what a price! The price of your love and confidence."

"No, Lucy--for your confession has been voluntary; and I will not
ask myself what I should have felt had the knowledge come from
another. After all, you have fallen to a temptation which besets the
wives of the rich far more than those of poor or struggling
gentlemen. Tradespeople are shrewd enough in one respect: they do
not press their commodities and long credit in quarters where
ultimate payment seems doubtful--though--"

"They care not what domestic misery they create among the rich,"
interrupted Lady Lucy, bitterly.

"Stay: there are faults on both sides, not the least of them being
that girls in your station are too rarely taught the value of money,
or that integrity in money matters should be to them a point of
honour second only to one other. Now listen, my darling, before we
dismiss this painful subject for ever. You have the greatest
confidence in your maid, and _entre nous_ she must be a good deal in
the secret. We shall bribe her to discretion, however, by dismissing
Madame Dalmas at once and for ever. As soon as you can spare Harris,
I will send her to change a check at Coutts's, and then, for
expedition and security, she shall take on the brougham and make a
round to these tradespeople. Meanwhile, I will drive you in the
phaeton to look at the bracelet."

"Oh, no--no, dear Walter, not the bracelet."

"Yes--yes--I say yes. Though not a quarrel, this is a sorrow which
has come between us, and there must be a peace-offering. Besides, I
would not have you think that you had reached the limits of my will,
and of my means to gratify you."

"To think that I could have doubted--that I could have feared you!"
sobbed Lady Lucy, as tears of joy coursed down her cheeks. "But,
Walter, it is not every husband who would have shown such

"I think there are few husbands, Lucy, who do not estimate truth and
candour as among the chief of conjugal virtues:--ah, had you
confided in me when first you felt the bondage of debt, how much
anguish would have been spared you!"


WHAT is it? A little pencil note, crumpled and worn, as if carried
for a long time in one's pocket. I found it in a box of precious
things that Fanny's mother had hoarded so choicely, because Fanny
had been choice of them. I must read it, for everything of Fanny's
is dear to us now. Ah! 'tis a note from a gentleman who was at
school with us at F--, whom Fanny esteemed so much, whom we both
esteemed for his sterling integrity and his gentleness. It is
precious, too, as a reminder of him. I love the remembrance of old
schoolfellows,--of frolicsome, foolish, frivolous, _loving_
schooldays. But let me read. 'Tis mostly rubbed out, but here is a

"You know full well that long since, 'that _dear cousin_' permitted
me to call her by the endearing name of sister; and may I not, when
far away, thinking of bygones, add your name to hers in the sisterly
list? You asked me when I had heard from _the dear one:_ she was
down here a short _hour_ last week, but what was that among so many
who wished to see her?"

Ah! that means me! If I had only known it then! And just now I was
wondering if he _really_ loved me, and perhaps felt almost in my
secret heart to grieve a bit--to murmur at him. I fear I spoke as he
little dreamed then the "_dear one_" would ever do. What shall I do?
I remember him now, in all his young loveliness, in all the
excitability of a first love, and my heart kindles too warmly to
write what I wished.

What if one had told me then that my home would be in his
heart--that my beautiful Alma would be his child! My Alma, my
beautiful babe! how sweetly she nestles her little face in his neck.
She has stolen her mother's place; little thief! I wonder she does
not steal his whole heart to the clear shutting out of her mother!

Little wives! if ever a half suppressed sigh finds place with you,
or a half unloving word escapes you to the husband whom you love,
let your heart go back to some tender word in those first
love--days; remember how you loved him then, how tenderly he wooed
you, how timidly you responded, and if you can feel that _you_ have
not grown unworthy, trust him for the same fond love now. If you
_do_ feel that through many cares and trials of life, you have
become less lovable and attractive than then, turn--by all that you
love on earth, or hope for in Heaven, turn back, and _be_ the
pattern of loveliness that won him; be the "dear one" your
attractions made you then. Be the gentle, loving, winning maiden
still, and doubt not, the lover you admired will live for ever in
your husband. Nestle by his side, cling to his love, and let his
confidence in you never fail, and, my word for it, the husband will
be dearer than the lover ever was. Above all things, do not forget
the love he gave you first. Do not seek to "emancipate" yourself--do
not strive to unsex yourself and become a Lucy Stone, or a Rev. Miss
Brown, but love the higher honour ordained by our Saviour, of
old--that of a loving wife. A happy wife, a blessed mother, can have
no higher station, needs no greater honour.

Little wives, remember your first love. As for me, I see again the
little crumpled note about the "dear one," and I must go to find
love and forgiveness in his arms.


No jewelled Beauty is my Love,
Yet in her earnest face
There's such a world of tenderness,
She needs no other grace.
Her smiles, and voice, around my life
In light and music twine,
And dear, oh very dear to me,
Is this sweet Love of mine.

Oh, joy! to know there's one fond heart
Beats ever true to me:
It sets mine leaping like a lyre,
In sweetest melody;
My soul up-springs, a Deity!
To hear her voice divine,
And dear, oh! very dear to me,
Is this sweet Love of mine.

If ever I have sigh'd for wealth,
'Twas all for her, I trow;
And if I win Fame's victor-wreath,
I'll twine it on her brow.
There may be forms more beautiful,
And souls of sunnier shine,
But none, oh! none so dear to me,
As this sweet Love of mine.


"HOME!" How that little word strikes upon the heart strings,
awakening all the sweet memories that had slept in memory's chamber!
_Our_ home was a "pearl of price" among homes; not for its
architectural elegance--for it was only a four gabled, brown country
house, shaded by two antediluvian oak trees; nor was its interior
crowded with luxuries that charm every sense and come from every
clime. Its furniture had grown old with us, for we remembered no
other; and though polished as highly as furniture could be, by daily
scrubbing, was somewhat the worse for wear, it must be confessed.

But neither the house nor its furnishing makes the _home_; and the
charm of _ours_ lay in the sympathy that linked the nine that called
it "home" to one another. Father, mother, and seven children--five
of them gay-hearted girls, and two boys, petted just enough to be
spoiled--not one link had ever dropped from the chain of love, or
one corroding drop fallen, upon its brightness.

"One star differeth from another in glory," even in the firmament of
home. Thus--though we could not have told a stranger which sister or
brother was dearest--from our gentlest "eldest," an invalid herself,
but the comforter and counsellor of all beside, to the curly-haired
boy, who romped and rejoiced in the appellation of "baby," given
five years before--still an observing eye would soon have singled
out sister Ellen as the sunbeam of our heaven, the "morning star" of
our constellation. She was the second in age, but the first in the
inheritance of that load of responsibility, which in such a
household falls naturally upon the eldest daughter. Eliza, as I have
said, was ill from early girlhood; and Ellen had shouldered all her
burden of care and kindness, with a light heart and a lighter step.
Up stairs and down cellar, in the parlour, nursery, or kitchen--at
the piano or the wash-tub--with pen, pencil, needle, or
ladle--sister Ellen was always busy, always with a smile on her
cheek and a warble on her lip.

Quietly, happily, the months and years went by. We never realized
that change was to come over our band. To be sure, when mother would
look in upon us, seated together with our books, paintings, and
needle-work, and say, in her gentle way, with only a half-sigh, "Ah,
girls, you are living your happiest days!" we would glance into each
other's eyes, and wonder who would go first. But it was a wonder
that passed away with the hour, and ruffled not even the surface of
our sisterly hearts. It could not be always so--and the change came
at last!

_Sister Ellen_ was to be married!

It was like the crash of a thunderbolt in a clear summer sky! Sister
Ellen--the fairy of the hearthstone, the darling of every
heart--which of us _could_ spare her? _Who_ had been so presumptuous
as to find out her worth? For the first moment, _this_ question
burst from each surprised, half-angry sister of the blushing,
tearful, Ellen! It was only for a moment; for our hearts told us
that nobody could help loving her, who had looked through her loving
blue eyes, into the clear well-spring of the heart beneath. So we
threw our arms around her and sobbed without a word!

We knew very well that the young clergyman, whose Sunday sermons and
gentle admonitions had won all hearts, had been for months a weekly
visiter to our fireside circle. With baby Georgie on his knee, and
Georgie's brothers and sisters clustered about him, he had sat
through many an evening charming the hours away, until the clock
startled us with its unwelcome nine o'clock warning; and the softly
spoken reminder, "Girls, it is bed-time!" woke more than one stifled
sigh of regret. Then sister Ellen must always go with us to lay
Georgie in his little bed; to hear him and Annette repeat the
evening prayer and hymn her lips had taught them; to comb out the
long brown braids of Emily's head; to rob Arthur of the story book,
over which be would have squandered the "midnight oil;" and to
breathe a kiss and a blessing over the pillow of each other sister,
as she tucked the warm blankets tenderly about them.

We do not know how often of late she had stolen down again, from
these sisterly duties, after our senses were locked in sleep; or if
our eyes and ears had ever been open to the fact, we could never
have suspected the _minister_ to be guilty of such a plot against
our peace! That name was associated, in our minds, with all that was
superhuman. The gray-haired pastor, who had gone to his grave six
months previous, had sat as frequently on that same oaken arm-chair,
and talked with us. We had loved him as a father and friend, and had
almost worshipped him as the embodiment of all attainable goodness.
And when Mr. Neville came among us, with his high, pale forehead,
and soul-kindled eye, we had thought his face also "the face of an
angel"--too glorious for the print of mortal passion! Especially
after, in answer to an urgent call from the people among whom he was
labouring, he had frankly told them that his purpose was not to
remain among them, or anywhere on his native shore; that he only
waited the guidance of Providence to a home in a foreign clime.
After this much--bewailed disclosure of his plans, we placed our
favourite preacher on a higher pinnacle of saintship!

But sister Ellen was to be married--and married to Mr. Neville. And
then--"Oh, sister, you are not going away, to India!" burst from our
lips, with a fresh gush of sobs.

I was the first to look up into Ellen's troubled face. It was
heaving with emotions that ruffled its calmness, as the tide-waves
ruffle the sea. Her lips were firmly compressed; her eyes were fixed
on some distant dream, glassed with two tears, that stood still in
their chalices, forbidden to fall. I almost trembled as I caught her

"Sister! Agnes--Emily!" she exclaimed, in a husky whisper. "Hush! be
calm! _Don't_ break my heart! Do I love home less than--"

The effort was too much; the words died on her lips. We lifted her
to bed, frightened into forgetfulness of her own grief. We soothed
her until she, too, wept freely and passionately, and, in weeping,
grew strong for the sacrifice to which she had pledged her heart.

We never spoke another word of remonstrance to her tender heart,
though often, in the few months that flitted by us together, we used
to choke with sobbing, in some speech that hinted of the coming
separation, and hurry from her presence to cry alone.

Our mother has told us the tidings with white lips that quivered
tenderly and sadly. No love is so uniformly unselfish as a mother's,
surely; for though she leaned on Ellen as the strong staff of her
declining years, she sorrowed not as we did, that she was going.
She, to, was happy in the thought that her child had found that
"pearl of price" in a cold and evil world--a true, noble, loving
heart to guide and protect her.

Father sat silently in the chimney-corner, reading in the family
Bible. _He_ was looking farther than any of us--to the perils that
would environ his dearest daughter, and the privations that might
come upon her young life, in that unhealthy, uncivilized corner of
the globe, whither she was going. Both our parents had dedicated
their children to God; and they would not cast even a shadow on the
path of self-sacrifice and duty their darling had chosen.

To come down to the unromantic little details of wedding
preparations; how we stitched and trimmed, packed and
prepared--stoned raisins with tears in our eyes, and seasoned the
wedding cake with sighs. But there is little use in thinking over
these things. Ellen was first and foremost in all, as she had always
been in every emergency, great or small. Nothing could be made
without her. Even the bride's cake was taken from the oven by her
own fair hands, because no one--servant, sister, or even mother--was
willing to run the risk of burning sister Ellen's bride's cake; and
"_she_ knew _just_ how to bake it."

We were not left alone in our labours: for Ellen had been loved by
more than the home-roof sheltered. Old and young, poor and rich,
united in bringing their gifts, regrets, and blessings to the chosen
companion of the pastor they were soon to lose. There is something
in the idea of missionary life that touches the sympathy of every
heart which mammon has not too long seared. To see one, with
sympathies and refinements like our own, rend the strong ties that
bind to country and home, comfort and civilization, for the good of
the lost and degraded heathen, brings too strongly into relief, by
contrast, the selfishness of most human lives led among the gayeties
and luxuries of time.

The day, the hour came. The ship was to sail from B. on the ensuing
week; and it must take away an idol.

She stood up in the village church, that all who loved her, and
longed for another sight of her sweet face, might look upon her, and
speak the simple words that should link hearts for eternity. We
sisters stood all around her, but not too near; for our hearts were
overflowing, and we could not wear the happy faces that should grace
a train of bridesmaids. She had cheered us through the day with
sunshine from her own heart, and even while we are arraying her in
her simple white muslin, like a lamb for sacrifice, she had charmed
our thoughts into cheerfulness. It seemed like some dream of fairy
land, and she the embodiment of grace and loveliness, acting the
part of some Queen Titania for little while. The dream changed to a
far different reality, when, at the door of her mother's room, she
put her hand into that of Henry Neville, and lifted her eye with a
look that said, "Where thou goest will I go," even from all beside!

Tears fell fast in that assembly; though the good old matrons tried
to smile, as they passed around the bride, to bless her, and bid her
good--bye. A little girl, in a patched but clean frock, pushed
forward, with a bouquet of violets and strawberry-blossoms in her

"Here, Miss Nelly--please, Miss Nelly," she cried, half-laughing,
half-sobbing, "I picked them on purpose for you!"

Ellen stooped and kissed the little eager face. The child burst into
tears, and caught the folds of her dress, as though she would have
buried her face there. But a strong-armed woman, mindful of the
bride's attire, snatched the child away.

"And for what would ye be whimpering in that style, as if _you_ had
any right to Miss Ellen?"

"She was always good to me, and she's my Sunday-school teacher,"
pleaded the little girl, in a subdued undertone.

Agnes drew her to her side, and silently comforted her.

"Step aside--Father Herrick is here!" said one, just then.

The crowd about the bridal pair opened, to admit a white-haired,
half-blind old man, who came leaning on the arm of his rosy
grand-daughter. Farther Herrick was a superannuated deacon, whose
good words and works had won for him a place in every heart of that

"They told me she was going," he murmured to himself; "they say 'tis
her wedding. I want to see my little girl again--bless her!"

Ellen sprang forward, and laid both her white trembling hands in the
large hand of the good old man. He drew her near his failing eyes;
and looked searchingly into her young, soul-lit countenance.

"I can just see you, darling; and they tell me I shall never see you
again! Well, well, if we go in God's way we shall all get to Heaven,
and it's all light _there_!" He raised his hand over her head, and
added, solemnly, "The blessing of blessings be upon thee, my child.

"Amen!" echoed the voice of Henry Neville.

And Ellen looked up with the look of an angel.

So she went from us! Oh! the last moment of that parting hour has
burnt itself into my being for ever! _Could_ the human heart endure
the agony of parting like that, _realized_ to be indeed the
last--lighted by no ray of hope for eternity! Would not reason reel
under the pressure?

It was hard to bear; but I have no words to tell of its bitterness.
She went to her missionary life, and we learned at last to live
without her, though it was many a month before the little ones could
forget to call on "Sister Ellen" in any impulse of joy, grief, or
childish want. Then the start and the sigh, "Oh, dear, she's
gone--sister is gone!" And fresh tears would flow.

Gone, but not lost; for that First Marriage in the family opened to
us a fountain of happiness, pure as the spring of self-sacrifice
could make it. Our household darling has linked us to a world of
needy and perishing spirits--a world that asks for the energy and
the aid of those who go from us, and those who remain in the dear
country of their birth. God bless her and her charge! Dear sister
Ellen! there may be many another breach in the family--we may all be
scattered to the four winds of heaven-but no change can come over us
like that which marked the FIRST MARRIAGE.


MR. JAMES WINKLEMAN shut the door with a jar, as he left the house,
and moved down the street, in the direction of his office, with a
quick, firm step, and the air of a man slightly disturbed in mind.

"Things are getting better fast," said he, with a touch of irony in
his voice, as he almost flung himself into his leather-cushioned
chair. "It's rather hard when a man has to pick his words in his own
house, as carefully as if he were picking diamonds, and tread as
softly as if he was stepping on eggs. I don't like it. Mary gets
weaker and more foolish every day, and puts a breadth of meaning on
my words that I never intended them to have. I've not been used to
this conning over of sentences and picking out of all doubtful
expressions ere venturing to speak, and I'm too old to begin now.
Mary took me for what I am, and she must make the most of her
bargain. I'm past the age for learning new tricks."

With these and many other justifying sentences, did Mr. Winkleman
seek to obtain a feeling of self-approval. But, for all this, he
could not shut out the image of a tearful face, nor get rid of an
annoying conviction that he had acted thoughtlessly, to say the
least of it, in speaking to his wife as he had done.

But what was all this trouble about? Clouds were in the sky that
bent over the home of Mr. Winkleman, and it is plain that Mr.
Winkleman himself had his own share in the work of producing these
clouds. Only a few unguarded words had been spoken. Only words! And
was that all?

Words are little things, but they sometimes strike hard. We wield
them so easily that we are apt to forget their hidden power. Fitly
spoken, they fall like the sunshine, the dew, and the fertilizing
rain; but, when unfitly, like the frost, the hail, and the
desolating tempest. Some men speak as they feel or think, without
calculating the force of what they say; and then seem very much
surprised if any one is hurt or offended. To this class belonged Mr.
Winkleman. His wife was a loving, sincere woman, quick to feel.
Words, to her, were indeed things. They never fell upon her ears as
idle sounds. How often was her poor heart bruised by them!

On this particular morning, Mrs. Winkleman, whose health was feeble,
found herself in a weak, nervous state. It was only by an effort
that she could rise above the morbid irritability that afflicted
her. Earnestly did she strive to repress the disturbed beatings of
her heart, but she strove in vain. And it seemed to her, as it often
does in such cases, that everything went wrong. The children were
fretful, the cook dilatory and cross, and Mr. Winkleman impatient,
because sundry little matters pertaining to his wardrobe were not
just to his mind.

"Eight o'clock, and no breakfast yet," said Mr. Winkleman, as he
drew out his watch, on completing his own toilet. Mrs. Winkleman was
in the act of dressing the last of five children, all of whom had
passed under her hands. Each had been captious, cross, or unruly,
sorely trying the mother's patience. Twice had she been in the
kitchen, to see how breakfast was progressing, and to enjoin the
careful preparation of a favourite dish with which she had purposed
to surprise her husband.

"It will be ready in a few minutes," said Mrs. Winkleman. "The fire
hasn't burned freely this morning."

"If it isn't one thing, it is another," growled the husband. "I'm
getting tired of this irregularity. There'd soon be no breakfast to
get, if I were always behind time in business matters."

Mrs. Winkleman bent lower over the child she was dressing, to
conceal the expression of her face. What a sharp pain now throbbed
through her temples! Mr. Winkleman commenced walking the floor
impatiently, little imagining that every jarring footfall was like a
blow on the sensitive, aching brain of his wife.

"Too bad! too bad!" he had just ejaculated when the bell rung.

"At last!" he muttered, and strode towards the breakfast-room. The
children followed in considerable disorder, and Mrs. Winkleman,
after hastily arranging her hair, and putting on a morning cap,
joined them at the table. It took some moments to restore order
among the little ones.

The dish that Mrs. Winkleman had been at considerable pains to
provide for her husband, was set beside his plate. It was his
favourite among many, and his wife looked for a pleased recognition
thereof, and a lighting up of his clouded brow. But he did not seem
even to notice it. After supplying the children, Mr. Winkleman
helped himself in silence. At the first mouthful he threw down his
knife and fork, and pushed his plate from him.

"What's the matter?" inquired his wife.

"You didn't trust Bridget to cook this, I hope?" was the response.

"What ails it?" Mrs. Winkleman's eyes were filling with tears.

"Oh! it's of no consequence," answered Mr. Winkleman, coldly;
"anything will do for me."

"James!" There was a touching sadness blended with rebuke in the
tones of his wife; and, as she uttered his name, tears gushed over
her cheeks.

Mr. Winkleman didn't like tears. They always annoyed him. At the
present time, he was in no mood to bear with them. So, on the
impulse of the moment, he arose from the table, and taking up his
hat, left the house.

Self-justification was tried, though not, as has been seen, with
complete success. The calmer grew the mind of Mr. Winkleman, and the
clearer his thoughts, the less satisfied did he feel with the part
he had taken in the morning's drama. By an inversion of thought, not
usual among men of his temperament, he had been presented with a
vivid realization of his wife's side of the question. The
consequence was, that, by dinner-time, he felt a good deal ashamed
of himself, and grieved for the pain he knew his hasty words had

It was in this better state of mind that Mr. Winkleman returned
home. The house seemed still as he entered. As he proceeded up
stairs, he heard the children's voices, pitched to a low key, in the
nursery. He listened, but could not hear the tones of his wife. So
he passed into the front chamber, which was darkened. As soon as he
could see clearly in the feeble light, he perceived that his wife
was lying on the bed. Her eyes were closed, and her thin face looked
so pale and death-like, that Mr. Winkleman felt a cold shudder creep
through his heart. Coming to the bed-side, he leaned over and gazed
down upon her. At first, he was in doubt whether she really breathed
or not; and he felt a heavy weight removed when he saw that her
chest rose and fell in feeble respiration.

"Mary!" He spoke in a low, tender voice.

Instantly the fringed eyelids parted, and Mrs. Winkleman gazed up
into her husband's face in partial bewilderment.

Obeying the moment's impulse, Mr. Winkleman bent down and left a
kiss upon her pale lips. As if moved by an electric thrill, the
wife's arms were flung around the husband's neck.

"I am sorry to find you so ill," said Mr. Winkleman, in a voice of
sympathy. "What is the matter?"

"Only a sick-headache," replied Mrs. Winkleman. "But I've had a good
sleep, and feel better now. I didn't know it was so late," she
added, her tone changing slightly, and a look of concern coming into
her countenance. "I'm afraid your dinner is not ready;" and she
attempted to rise. But her husband bore her gently back with his
hand, saying,

"Never mind about dinner. It will come in good time. If you feel
better, lie perfectly quiet. Have you suffered much pain?"

"Yes." The word did not part her lips sadly, but came with a softly
wreathing smile. Already the wan hue of her cheeks was giving place
to a warmer tint, and the dull eyes brightening. What a healing
power was in his tender tones and considerate words! And that
kiss--it had thrilled along every nerve--it had been as nectar to
the drooping spirit. "But I feel so much better, that I will get
up," she added, now rising from her pillow.

And Mrs. Winkleman was entirely free from pain. As she stepped upon
the carpet, and moved across the room, it was with a firm tread.
Every muscle was elastic, and the blood leaped along her veins with
a new and healthier impulse.

No trial of Mr. Winkleman's patience, in a late dinner, was in store
for him. In a few minutes the bell summoned the family; and he took
his place at the table so tranquil in mind, that he almost wondered
at the change in, his feelings. How different was the scene from
that presented at the morning meal!

And was there power in a few simple words to effect so great a
change as this! Yes, in simple words, fragrant with the odours of

A few gleams of light shone into the mind of Mr. Winkleman, as he
returned musing to his office, and he saw that he was often to blame
for the clouds that darkened so often over the sky of home.

"Mary is foolish," he said, in partial self-justification, "to take
my hasty words so much to heart. I speak often without meaning half
what I say. She ought to know me better. And yet," he added, as his
step became slower, for he was thinking closer than usual, "it may
be easier for me to choose my words more carefully, and to repress
the unkindness of tone that gives them a double force, than for her
to help feeling pain at their utterance."

Right, Mr. Winkleman! That is the common sense of the whole matter.
It is easier to strike, than to help feeling or showing signs of
pain, under the infliction of a blow. Look well to your words, all
ye members of a home circle. And especially look well to your words,
ye whose words have the most weight, and fall, if dealt in passion,
with the heaviest force.


TWO men, on their way home, met at a street crossing, and then
walked on together. They were neighbours, and friends.

"This has been a very hard day," said Mr. Freeman in a gloomy voice.

"A very hard day," echoed almost sepulchrally, Mr. Walcott. "Little
or no cash coming in--payments Heavy--money scarce, and at ruinous
rates. What is to become of us?"

"Heaven only knows," answered Mr. Freeman. "For my part, I see no
light ahead. Every day come new reports of failures; every day
confidence diminishes; every day some prop that we leaned upon is
taken away."

"Many think we are at the worst," said Mr. Walcott.

"And others, that we have scarcely seen the beginning of the end,"
returned the neighbour.

And so, as they walked homeward, they discouraged each other, and
made darker the clouds that obscured their whole horizon.

"Good evening," was at last said, hurriedly; and the two men passed
into their homes.

Mr. Walcott entered the room, where his wife and children were
gathered, and without speaking to any one, seated himself in a
chair, and leaning his head back, closed his eyes. His countenance
wore a sad, weary, exhausted look. He had been seated thus for only
a few minutes, when his wife said, in a fretful voice,

"More trouble again."

"What's the matter now?" asked Mr. Walcott, almost starting.

"John has been sent home from school."

"What!" Mr. Walcott partly arose from his chair.

"He's been suspended for bad conduct."

"O dear!" groaned Mr. Walcott--"Where is he?"

"Up in his room. I sent him there as soon as he came home. You'll
have to do something with him. He'll be ruined if he goes on in this
way. I'm out of all heart with him."

Mr. Walcott, excited as much by the manner in which his wife
conveyed unpleasant information, as by the information itself,
started up, under the blind impulse of the moment, and going to the
room where John had been sent on coming home from school, punished
the boy severely, and this without listening to the explanations
which the poor child; tried to make him hear.

"Father," said the boy, with forced calmness, after the cruel
stripes had ceased--"I wasn't to blame; and if you will go with me
to the teacher, I can prove myself innocent."

Mr. Walcott had never known his son to tell an untruth; and the
words smote with rebuke upon his heart.

"Very well--we will see about that," he answered, with forced
sternness, and leaving the room he went down stairs, feeling much
worse than when he went up. Again he seated himself in his large
chair and again leaned back his weary head, and closed his heavy
eyelids. Sadder was his face than before. As he sat thus, his
oldest daughter, in her sixteenth year, came and stood by him. She
held a paper in her hand--

"Father,--" he opened his eyes.

"Here's my quarter bill. It's twenty dollars. Can't I have the money
to take to school with me in the morning?"

"I'm afraid not," answered Mr. Walcott, half sadly.

"Nearly all the girls will bring in their money tomorrow; and it
mortifies me to be behind the others." The daughter spoke fretfully.
Mr. Walcott waved her aside with his hand, and she went off
muttering and pouting.

"It is mortifying," spoke up Mrs. Walcott, a little sharply; "and I
don't wonder that Helen feels unpleasantly about it. The bill has to
be paid, and I don't see why it may not be done as well first as

To this Mr. Walcott made no answer. The words but added another
pressure to this heavy burden under which he was already staggering.
After a silence of some moments, Mrs. Walcott said,

"The coal is all gone."

"Impossible!" Mr. Walcott raised his head, and looked incredulous.
"I laid in sixteen tons."

"I can't help it, if there were sixty tons instead of sixteen; it's
all gone. The girls had a time of it to-day, to scrape up enough to
keep the fire going."

"There's been a shameful waste somewhere," said Mr. Walcott with
strong emphasis, starting up, and moving about the room with a very
disturbed manner.

"So you always say, when anything is out," answered Mrs. Walcott
rather tartly. "The barrel of flour is gone also; but I suppose you
have done your part, with the rest, in using it up."

Mr. Walcott returned to his chair, and again seating himself, leaned
back his head and closed his eyes, as at first. How sad, and weary,
and hopeless he felt! The burdens of the day had seemed almost too
heavy for him; but he had borne up bravely. To gather strength for a
renewed struggle with adverse circumstances, he had come home. Alas!
that the process of exhaustion should still go on. That where only
strength could be looked for, no strength was given.

When the tea bell rung, Mr. Walcott made no movement to obey the

"Come to supper," said his wife, coldly.

But he did not stir.

"Ain't you coming to supper?" she called to him, as she was leaving
the room.

"I don't wish anything this evening. My head aches badly," he

"In the dumps again," muttered Mrs. Walcott to herself. "It's as
much as one's life is worth to ask for money, or to say that
anything is wanted." And she kept on her way to the dining-room.
When she returned, her husband was still sitting where she had left

"Shall I bring you a cup of tea?" she asked.

"No; I don't wish anything."

"What's the matter, Mr. Walcott? What do you look so troubled about,
as if you hadn't a friend in the world? What have I done to you?"

There was no answer, for there was not a shade of real sympathy in
the voice that made the queries--but rather a querulous
dissatisfaction. A few moments Mrs. Walcott stood near her husband;
but as he did Not seem inclined to answer her questions, she turned
off from him, and resumed the employment which had been interrupted
by the ringing of the tea bell.

The whole evening passed without the occurrence of a single incident
that gave a healthful pulsation to the sick heart of Mr. Walcott. No
thoughtful kindness was manifested by any member of the family; but,
on the contrary, a narrow regard for self, and a looking to him only
to supply the means of self-gratification.

No wonder, from the pressure which was on him, that Mr. Walcott felt
utterly discouraged. He retired early, and sought to find that
relief from mental disquietude, in sleep, which he had vainly hoped
for in the bosom of his family. But the whole night passed in broken
slumber, and disturbing dreams. From the cheerless morning meal, at
which he was reminded of the quarter bill that must be paid, of the
coal and flour that were out, and of the necessity of supplying Mrs.
Walcott's empty purse, he went forth to meet the difficulties of
another day, faint at heart, and almost hopeless of success. A
confident spirit, sustained by home affections, would have carried
him through; but, unsupported as he was, the burden was too heavy
for him, and he sunk under it. The day that opened so
unpropitiously, closed upon him, a ruined man!

Let us look in, for a few moments, upon Mr. Freeman, the friend and
neighbour of Mr. Walcott. He, also, had come home; weary,
dispirited, and almost sick. The trials of the day had been
unusually severe; and when he looked anxiously forward to scan the
future, not even a gleam of light was seen along the black horizon.

As he stepped across the threshold of his dwelling, a pang shot
through his heart; for the thought came, "How slight the present
hold upon all these comforts!" Not for himself, but for his wife and
children, was the pain.

"Father's come!" cried a glad little voice on the stairs, the moment
his foot-fall, sounded in the passage; then quick, pattering feet
were heard--and then a tiny form was springing into his arms. Before
reaching the sitting-room above, Alice, the oldest daughter, was by
his side, her arm drawn fondly within his, and her loving eyes
lifted to his face.

"Are you not late, dear?" It was the gentle voice of Mrs. Freeman.

Mr. Freeman could not trust himself to answer. He was too deeply
troubled in spirit to assume at the moment a cheerful tone, and he
had no wish to sadden the hearts that loved him, by letting the
depression from which he was suffering, become too clearly apparent.
But the eyes of Mrs. Freeman saw quickly below the surface.

"Are you not well, Robert?" she inquired, tenderly, as she drew his
large arm-chair towards the centre of the room.

"A little headache," he answered, with slight evasion.

Scarcely was Mr. Freeman seated, ere a pair of little hands were
busy with each foot, removing gaiter and shoe, and supplying their
place with a soft slipper. There was not one in the household who
did not feel happier for his return, nor one who did not seek to
render him some kind office.

It was impossible under such a burst of heart-sunshine, for the
spirit of Mr. Freeman long to remain shrouded. Almost imperceptibly
to himself, gloomy thoughts gave place to more cheerful ones, and by
the time tea was ready, he had half forgotten the fears which had so
haunted him through the day. But they could not be held back
altogether, and their existence was marked, during the evening, by
an unusual silence and abstraction of mind. This was observed by
Mrs. Freeman, who, more than half suspecting the cause, kept back
from her husband the knowledge of certain matters about which she
had intended to speak with him--for she feared they would add to his
mental disquietude. During the evening, she gleaned from something
he said, the real cause of his changed aspect. At once her thoughts
commenced running in a new channel. By a few leading remarks, she
drew her husband into conversation on the subject of home expenses,
and the propriety of restriction at various points. Many things were
mutually pronounced superfluous, and easily to be dispensed with;
and before sleep fell soothingly on the heavy eyelids of Mr. Freeman
that night, an entire change in their style of living had been
determined upon--a change that would reduce their expenses at least

"I see light ahead," were the hopeful words of Mr. Freeman, as he
resigned himself to slumber.

With renewed strength of mind and body, and a confident spirit, he
went forth on the next day--a day that he had looked forward to with
fear and trembling. And it was only through this renewed strength
and confident spirit, that he was able to overcome the difficulties
that loomed up, mountain high, before him. Weak despondency would
have ruined all. Home had proved his tower of strength--his walled
city. It had been to him as the shadow of a great rock in a weary
land. Strengthened for the conflict, he had gone forth again into
the world, and conquered in the struggle.

"I see light ahead" gave place to "The morning breaketh."


WHILE Titans war with social Jove,
My own sweet wife and I
We make Elysium in our love,
And let the world go by!
Oh! never hearts beat half so light
With crowned Queen or King!
Oh! never world was half so bright
As is our fairy ring,
Dear love!
Our hallowed fairy ring.

Our world of empire is not large,
But priceless wealth it holds;
A little heaven links marge to marge,
But what rich realms it folds!
And clasping all from outer strife
Sits love with folded wing,
A-brood o'er dearer life in life,
Within our fairy ring,
Dear love!
Our hallowed fairy ring.

Thou leanest thy true heart on mine,
And bravely bearest up!
Aye mingling love's most precious wine
In life's most bitter cup!
And evermore the circling hours
New gifts of glory bring;
We live and love like happy flowers
All in our fairy ring,
Dear love!
Our hallowed fairy ring.

We've known a many sorrows, sweet!
We've wept a many tears,
And often trod with trembling feet
Our pilgrimage of years.
But when our sky grew dark and wild,
All closelier did we cling;
Clouds broke to beauty as you smiled,
Peace crowned our fairy ring,
Dear love!
Our hallowed fairy ring.

Away, grim lords of murderdom;
Away, oh! Hate and Strife!
Hence, revellers, reeling drunken from
Your feast of human life!
Heaven shield our little Goshen round
From ills that with them spring,
And never be their footsteps found
Within our fairy ring,
Dear love!
Our hallowed fairy ring.



IT was to be a quiet wedding. Fannie would have it so; only _his_
relations. She, poor thing, was an orphan, and only spirit-parents
could hover around her on this great era of her life.

The bride entered the large, sunny parlour, leaning upon the arm of
her stately husband. Her white lace robe, and the fleecy veil upon
her head, floated cloud-like around her fragile, almost child-like
form. Peace hovered like a white dove over her pure brow, and a
truthful earnestness dwelt in the dark brown eyes.

On one side of the room nearest the bay-windows,
Where the sunset kept shining and shining between
The old hawthorn blossoms and branches so green,

stood the eight brothers of the groom. All tall, dark, stately men,
pride in ever black glancing eye; the same curl upon every finely
formed lip, harsh upon some, softer upon others, yet still there,
tracing the same blood through all; the same inherent qualities of
the father transmitted to the sons. One brother was a type of all,
differing only as pictures and copies--in the shade and touch.

Upon the opposite aside were seated the five sisters of the groom,
not so like one another. One had blue eyes, another auburn curls,
one a nose retroussť, a fourth was fresh and rosy, a fifth
round-faced; still the same pride had found a resting-place on some
fine feature of each face, and stamped it with the seal of
sisterhood. The same sap ran in all the branches, and each branch
put forth the same leaves.

The thirteen faces had been stern and cold, but when their youngest
brother and his fair bride came in, affection and curiosity softened
their eyes, as for the first time she appeared before them. Some
thought her too delicate, others too young; the sisters, that
Harwood could have looked higher; but all felt drawn to that
shrinking form and pale countenance; each hand had a warm grasp for
hers, each curling lip a sweet smile, and the manly voices softened
to welcome her into their proud family. Gracefully she received all,
happy and joyful as a child. But the first shadow fell with the

"Brothers and sisters," said Harwood pleadingly, "upon this my
wedding day cast aside your bitterness of spirit for ever, and
become as one--"

"Harwood!" replied quickly the elder sister, "upon this--this happy
day, we hide all feelings called forth by the malice and
unbrother-like conduct of our brothers, but only for the present;
we, can never become reconciled."

A silence fell upon all; strange as it may seem, the sisters were
colder and sterner than the brothers. A frown settled upon every
brow; the lips curled with contempt. A storm was tossing the waves,
but peace breathed upon the waters and all was calm. The presence of
the bride restrained angry expressions of feeling.

This was the first knowledge that Fannie had of the family feud;
tears stood in her soft eyes, and the rosy lips trembled; but her
husband's bright glance, and gentle pressure of her hand, reassured
her. There was no more warmth that day--during the ceremony and the
brief stay of the newly married. The sisters gathered around the
young wife, and the brothers around Harwood. Occasional words were
interchanged; but there reigned an invisible barrier, that seemed to
say "so far shalt thou come but no farther."

When the carriage stood at the door and Fannie and Harwood stepped
in, she stretched out her pretty hand and beckoned to the elder
brother and sister; they approached; she took a hand of each, saying
in a trembling voice:

"You both breathe the same air; the same beautiful sunlight shines
upon you; you pray to the same God, both say 'forgive us our
trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us.' Be examples
for those younger--let me join your hands--" But the sister, with a
frown, threw aside the little hand rudely, the brother pressed the
one he held, but laughed maliciously. The carriage drove on, and the
fair head rested sobbing upon the shoulder of her husband. Sadly did
he relate to her the family feud, a quarrel of ten years' standing;
sisters against brothers, resting on a belief of unfairness in the
disposition of the will of a relation. The sisters passed the
brothers upon the street without speaking, refused them admittance
to their house. Harwood being the youngest, was too young to take
part in the quarrel, and had never been expected to do so.

Poor Fannie wept bitterly; but tears more bitter yet were in store
for her.


Upon her return from the bridal tour, no sooner was Fannie settled
in her new home, than the family feud endeavoured to draw her from
her quiet course, to take part for or against. Numberless were the
grievances related to her. All that could be said or done, to
convince her that the sisters were "sinned against instead of
sinning," were brought forward.

"Well, Fannie," said the elder brother, one day, "I met my immaculate
elder sister, just coming out of your door. Has she been giving you
a catalogue of fraternal sins? She would not speak to _me_. She
carries her head high. It maddens me to think how contemptuously we
are treated, and being food for talk beside."

Fannie hesitated; she could not reply, for Jessie had been venting a
fit of ill humour upon him, and it was only adding fuel to the fire,
to repeat.

"Say, Fannie, what _did_ the old maid say? That it was a, pity we
were not all dead?"

"Oh! hush," she replied, holding up her hand reprovingly. "I am very
unhappy at your continued disagreements. If," she continued,
timidly, "you would but take a little advice--I know I am young,

"Let us have it," he returned, quickly, turning away from the
pleading eyes.

"You will not be angry with me?"

"No, no; let me hear!"

"You are the eldest; your example, is followed by the seven brothers;
your influence with them is great; you give an 'eye for an eye, a
tooth for a tooth.' Jessie and the others may have a foundation for
their ill-will. You have never endeavoured to discover what this is.
Your pride took offence, and you say to yourself _that_ can never
bend. Was this right?"

Her voice trembled, her head drooped, and in spite of her
self-command, she burst into tears.

"Fannie! sister Fannie!"

"Don't mind me; I am weak, nervous, foolish. I shall soon be better;
but it makes me so very unhappy to see you all at enmity. I had
hoped, when I came among you, to have been the olive branch,

"Fannie! dear sister Fannie!" he exclaimed, walking up and down the
room, "you have been--we are fire-brands plucked from the burning.
You have said all that any one could have said; yes, and done all
that could be done; never repeated any malicious speech, selected
all the wheat that could be culled from the chaff. You have softened
my obdurate heart. I have done wrong; you have shown me to the way
of return. If Jessie will come forward and forgive and forget, then
will I."

But Fannie knew that it was not so easy to make Jessie be the first
to own her errors and forgive. The brothers had done much to make
the division wider, in the way of hints and malicious whisperings;
and she continued weeping so wildly and hysterically, that the elder
brother endeavoured to console her, and was glad when Harwood came,
and lifting her in his arms, carried her up to her room.

When he returned, the elder brother still stood by the fire-place.
He turned and spoke.

"Fannie is very fragile and pale. Is she not well?"

"Not very. This family feud troubles her. She has taken it to heart.
When we were first married, she told me a dozen plans she had made
for your reunion, and made me a party to them, but now--"

He sighed; the elder brother sighed more deeply; both were silent;
the fire-light leaped up, lighting the room--a fierce, avenging
blaze; then died out, and all was gloom. Where were the thoughts of
that elder brother? They were wandering among the graves of the
past. In his imagination, new ones were there; the names on the
tomb-stones were familiar; the thirteen were all there; twelve
sleeping; his the only restless, wandering spirit. Fannie stood
before him, her face pale and tearful. She pointed to the graves,
and said, sadly, "This is the end of all earthly things." That night
he knocked at the door of his sister's mansion but gained no


The anniversary of Fannie's bridal was the counterpart of the
original. Sunny and genial, with here and there a white cloud
floating near the horizon, denoting a long and happy married life,
with but threatening troubles. How was the prophecy realized? Like
all riddles of earthly solution, to the contrary?

The eight brothers, with faces of stern grief in the same old
corner, side by side; the five sisters sobbing, tearful and quite
overwhelmed with sorrow, sat opposite, Their eyes were fixed upon
the same pair. Harwood knelt beside a couch in the middle of the
room, and there lay Fannie; but how changed! They had all been
summoned there, to see that new sister depart for another world; to
see the young breath grow fainter and fainter; the bright eyes close
for ever on them and their love. Oh! mystery of Life! thee we can
know and understand; but, mystery of Death, dark and fearful, only
thy chosen ones can comprehend thee. We walk to the verge of the
valley of the shadow of death with those we love; but there our
steps are stayed, and we look into the black void with wonder and
despair. Oh! faith! if ye come not then to the rescue, that death is

Thus felt the thirteen; all older, care-worn, world-weary, standing
beside the mere child-sister of the family, whose star of life was
setting from their view behind an impassable mountain.

The sweet face was calm, but a hectic flush lay upon the cheek, as
though some life-chord still bound her to earth.

"My child," said the old white-haired physician, "if you have aught
to say, speak now; when you will awaken from the sleep this draught
will produce, it may then be too late."

"My darling Fannie," said the kneeling Harwood, "for my sake let no
thoughts of earth disturb you; all will be well if--"

His voice was broken. He bowed his head upon the wasted hand he
held, and wept.

"All _will_ be well," she said, smiling faintly. "I feel it now.
Jessie, and you, elder brother, come near; nearer yet. I love you
both, love you all. Having no relatives of my own, my husband's are
doubly mine. My heart, since our marriage-day, has been living in
the hope of your reconciliation. I was too young; I undertook too
much. I wept when my health began to fail; I did not then know that
God was giving me my wish. I would have died to have seen you all
happy. _He_ has heard my prayer; the sacrifice is made; I go happy.
Jessie, my dying wish is to see you once more the forgiving girl you
were, when you knelt with your brothers at your mother's knee. Oh!
the chain of family love is never so rudely broken but it can be
renewed. Jessie, the young lover, who died in his youth, would
counsel you to forgive. The beloved parent would whisper, 'love thy
brother as thyself;' He who bore the cross said 'Father forgive
them--.' Jessie, a weak, dying girl begs you, for her sake, to be
true to yourself."

Jessie fell upon her brother's neck, and wept. One universal sob
arose from lip to lip. Brothers and sisters so long estranged,
rushed into each other's arms. Some cried aloud, others' tears
flowed silently: some there were, whose calm joys betrayed the
disquietude of long years of disunion. They were all recalled by
Harwood's voice.

"Fannie! Fannie! This excitement will kill her."

Half raised in the bed, her cheeks scarlet and eyes glowing with
perfect delight, the sunlight making a halo around her head, was the
young wife. She drank the draught the old physician gave her, with
her eyes fixed on her husband. She murmured,

"'Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.'"

With a sigh she dropped back upon the pillow; the eyes closed, the
face became waxen white. Soon, those who watched could not tell her
slumber from the sleep of death. Silence stole on tiptoe through the
room, with her finger on her lip--

While the sunset kept shining and shining between
The old hawthorn blossoms and branches so green.


Day was dawning in the watch room; the lamp was dying away, the
thirteen with pale expectant faces, now shadowed by fear, now
lighted with hope, were motionless. With his face bowed upon his
arms, Harwood had neither looked up nor spoken since Fannie slept.
The old clock had struck each hour from the dial of time into the
abyss of the past. Never before had time seemed to them so precious,
worth so much.

The physician with his fingers upon the patient's pulse had sat all
night; once he placed his hand over her mouth, and rising with a
puzzled look, walked to the window and thrust his head into the
vines; then drawing his hand over his eyes, he resumed his place,
and all was silent again, save the clock with its monotonous tick,
tick, beating as calmly as, though human passions were trifles, and
the passing away of a soul from earth, only the falling of the
niches of eternity.

The sun arose, and a little bird alighting on a spray near the
window, poured a flood of melody into the room. The sleeper smiled;
the doctor could have sworn it was so. Her breath comes more
quickly, you could see it now, fluttering between her lips; she
opened her eyes and fixed them on Harwood; he took her hand and gave
her the cordial prepared by the physician.

"She is saved," was telegraphed through the apartment. The brothers
prepared to go to their duties. The sisters divided, part to go
home, the rest to stay and watch Fannie. Harwood, with a radiant yet
anxious face, could not be persuaded to lie down, but still held the
little hand and counted the life beats of her heart.

"Ah! well!" said the old doctor to the elder brother, as he buttoned
his coat and pressed his hat down upon his head. "Well; there was
one great doubt upon my mind--in spite of all favourable
symptoms--_she was too good for earth_;--it says somewhere--and it
kept coming into my mind all the night long--'Blessed are the
peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.'"


IN his "Dream Life," Ik Marvel thus pleasantly sketches the lover
and the husband:--

You grow unusually amiable and kind; you are earnest in your search
of friends; you shake hands with your office boy, as if he were your
second cousin. You joke cheerfully with the stout washerwoman; and
give her a shilling overchange, and insist upon her keeping it; and
grow quite merry at the recollection of it. You tap your hackman on
the shoulder very familiarly, and tell him he is a capital fellow;
and don't allow him to whip his horses, except when driving to the
post-office. You even ask him to take a glass of beer with you upon
some chilly evening. You drink to the health of his wife. He says he
has no wife--whereupon you think him a very miserable man; and give
him a dollar, by way of consolation.

You think all the editorials in the morning papers are remarkably
well-written,--whether upon your side or upon another. You think the
stock-market has a very cheerful look,--with Erie--of which you are
a large holder--down to seventy-five. You wonder why you never
admired Mrs. Hemans before, or Stoddart, or any of the rest.

You give a pleasant twirl to your fingers, as you saunter along the
street; and say--but not so loud as to be overheard--"She is
mine--she is mine!"

You wonder if Frank ever loved Nelly one-half as well as you love
Madge? You feel quite sure he never did. You can hardly conceive how
it is, that Madge has not been seized before now by scores of
enamoured men, and borne off, like the Sabine women in Romish
history. You chuckle over your future, like a boy who has found a
guinea in groping for sixpences. You read over the marriage
service,--thinking of the time when you will take _her_ hand, and
slip the ring upon her finger; and repeat after the clergyman--"for
richer--for poorer, for better--for worse!" A great deal of "worse"
there will be about it, you think!

Through all, your heart cleaves to that sweet image of the beloved
Madge, as light cleaves to day. The weeks leap with a bound; and the
months only grow long when you approach that day which is to make
her yours. There are no flowers rare enough to make bouquets for
her; diamonds are too dim for her to wear; pearls are tame.--And
after marriage, the weeks are even shorter than before; you wonder
why on earth all the single men in the world do not rush
tumultuously to the altar; you look upon them all, as a travelled
man will look upon some conceited Dutch boor, who has never been
beyond the limits of his cabbage-garden. Married men, on the
contrary, you regard as fellow-voyagers; and look upon their
wives--ugly as they may be--as better than none.

You blush a little at first telling your butcher what "your wife"
would like; you bargain with the grocer for sugars and teas, and
wonder if he _knows_ that you are a married man? You practise your
new way of talk upon your office boy: you tell him that "your wife"
expects you home to dinner; and are astonished that he does not
stare to hear you say it!

You wonder if the people in the omnibus know that Madge and you are
just married; and if the driver knows that the shilling you hand to
him is for "self and wife?" You wonder if anybody was ever so happy
before, or ever will be so happy again?

You enter your name upon the hotel books as "Clarence--and Lady;"
and come back to look at it,--wondering if anybody else has noticed
it,--and thinking that it looks remarkably well. You cannot help
thinking that every third man you meet in the hall, wishes he
possessed your wife; nor do you think it very sinful in him to wish
it. You fear it is placing temptation in the way of covetous men, to
put Madge's little gaiters outside the chamber-door at night.

Your home, when it is entered, is just what it should
be--quiet, small,--with everything she wishes, and nothing more than
she wishes. The sun strikes it in the happiest possible way; the
piano is the sweetest toned in the world; the library is stocked to
a charm; and Madge, that blessed wife, is there--adorning and giving
life to it all. To think, even, of her possible death, is a
suffering you class with the infernal tortures of the Inquisition.
You grow twain of heart and of purpose. Smiles seem made for
marriage; and you wonder how you ever wore them before!


THERE she sat, with both little hands covering her face. It was
twilight, and beyond the little finger glanced a watchful eye
towards the door, to see if Theodore _would_ go. She didn't think he
would. He came back.

"Is the little child crying?" he asked, relentingly, as he took the
pretty fingers, one by one, away from the youthful face, hard as she
tried to keep them there. At last she gave up, and broke into a
merry laugh.

"You little hypocrite!" said her husband, in rather an incensed tone
of voice--men _do_ hate to be gulled into soothing a laughing wife.

"Well! can't I go?" pleaded the enchanting little creature, looking
up into his eyes _so_ beseechingly.

"Why, Nellie, it isn't becoming for you to go without me."

"Yes, it is!" she answered, in a very low way, as if she hardly
dared say it, and at the same time running her forefinger through
the hem of her silk apron. "May I go?" and she lifted up her eyes in
the same beseeching way again.

"Why are you so anxious to go, to-night?"

"O, because!"

"But that is not a good reason!"

"Well, I want to dance a little!"

"Nellie, I can't possibly go with you, to-night. You are very
young--you know nothing of the world and its malice--"

"But I can go with Mr. and Mrs. Williams, next door."

"I can't consent to your going without me, little pet."

Nellie put her apron up to her face, and actually did succeed in
squeezing two tears into her eyes. She instantly dropped her apron
after this was accomplished, and looked reproachfully into her
husband's face. Suddenly a thought darted into her head. "When will
you come home?" she asked, with quiet melancholy of manner.

"I fear not before ten or eleven, dear. Good-bye! I am late, now!"
He went away, and Nellie sat down and soliloquized.

"Business! old business! If there is anything I hate, beyond all
human expression, it is this business. I know it was never intended
there should be such a thing. Adam and Eve were put right in a
garden, and that shows that it was meant we should play around, and
have fun, and live in the country, and cultivate flowers and
vegetables to live on. I have always felt so, and I always shall. I
don't know that I'd be so particular about living in the country;
but the playing part, that's what I'm particular about. If we lived
on a farm, I suppose Theodore would wear cowhide boots, and pants
too tight and short for him, and a swallow-tailed coat. I declare!
I'm afraid I never should have loved him, if I had seen him--in such
gear, although I have said forty times that I should have known we
were created for each other, if we had met under any circumstances;
but I didn't think what a difference clothes make! Isn't he a
magnificent-looking man! Wouldn't anybody have been glad to have got
him? I think it's the most wonderful thing in the world how he ever
thought of such a little giddy thing as I am! Such a great man, and
so much older than I am! Thirty-two years old! No wonder he knows so
much! Well, I must stop thinking of this! 'To be, or not to be, that
is the question!' Shall I go, or shall I not? Would he be very mad
about it, or would he not? Let me see! He won't be home before ten
or eleven. I can dress and go with Mrs. Williams, and then Fred
shall bring me home before ten o'clock; and after a few days, some
time when Theodore is in a most delicious humour, and perfectly
carried away with my bewitchments, I'll gradually disclose the
matter to him, and say I'll never do the like again, and it's among
the things of the past, an error which repentance or tears cannot
efface; but the painful results will never be forgotten, namely, his
look of disapprobation. I wonder if that will do!" Nellie broke into
a low, gay laugh. She was a spoilt child; from her cradle she had
been idolized, and taught that she could not be blamed for anything.
But she buried her face in her hands, and reflected. That day she
had received a note from a young gentleman, saying,

"DEAR ELLEN:--_Will_ you come to the ball to-night? I have not seen
Alice yet. I am on the rack, in excruciating torture. Your family
and your husband don't fancy me, but you have known me from
childhood. You ought to show mercy, rather than cruelty. Will you


Nellie had read the letter, drowned in tears. How would she have
felt, if her family had been so unjustly prejudiced against
Theodore? Wouldn't she have expected some help from dear sister
Alice? And shouldn't she help Alice in her extremity, even if
Theodore should be vexed a little about it? Why did Theodore hate
Fred Orton? He never said so; but she knew he didn't like him.
Nellie wrote to Mr. Orton:

"POOR, DEAR FRED:--I'll come to the ball and speak with you, if I
can. I'll always be your friend, even if my own flesh and blood
don't do you justice. If you only knew how good father and mother
really are, and that they have heard wrong stories about you, you
wouldn't mind it. Your devoted sister


Nellie, dressed in white, looked like a veritable little angel, and
went to the ball with Mr. and Mrs. Williams. She spoke with Fred,
danced with him, took a letter for Alice, and told him how her
precious sister was almost dying of a broken heart. Then, thinking
she had spoken rather strongly, she added: "You know she feels so
some of the time." When Fred came the second time to ask Nellie to
dance, she thought his motion was slightly wavering. She attributed
it to the agitation of his heart on hearing about Alice, and he led
her out on the floor. His breath was tinctured with brandy. Nellie
grew white, and begged him to take her back to her seat. He
laughingly, but positively refused. "Good gracious!" she mentally
ejaculated, "I shall die with shame to be dancing with a drunken
man, and Theodore not here! I never should have believed the stories
about Fred, if I hadn't been convinced with my own eyes and nose.
Oh! what _will_ Theodore say to me? Oh! if I had only done as he
advised. If I had stayed at home--oh! I am so sorry I came! _Shall_
I ever be able to tell Theodore? Suppose it should make trouble
between us. Oh! I know now that I am _such_ a miserable, wilful,
perverse mortal. I was born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward!"
Nellie besought Mr. Williams to convey her home, the instant her
agonizing dance was over. He did so. She entered the parlour with
beating heart, with green veil on her head, with crape shawl thrown
around her pretty figure. Theodore sat there.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, clasping her hands with a start, and then
standing as motionless as if she had been shot. Theodore glared at
her with a pale face, set lips, and flashing eyes. She said, with
quivering lip, "I shall die, if you are going to look at me that way
long! Oh, dear! I'm so miserable! I'm always getting my own head
snapt off to accommodate other people."

"You have not injured yourself by accommodating me!" responded a
deep, ferocious voice.

"It wasn't for my own gratification that I went, Theodore."

"For whose gratification was it, madam?"--There was a shade less of
ferocity in the tone.

"For my sister's!"

"Why didn't you tell me _why_ you wanted to go, madam?"

"It was a secret between Alice and me; and I rather thought you
liked me, and I might impose on you, as I used to do on the girls at
school that liked me. I don't mean _impose_,"--(Mr. Grenly fairly
banged at the fire,)--"I mean--"

"What do you mean, Ellen Grenly?"

"I thought I could do just as I wished, and you'd make up just as
the girls used to do."

You thought your husband was like a girl, did you--_did_ you?"

"Yes! I hoped so!"

"Well, madam, you will soon find out that you are married to a man
who is not to be trifled with in this way."

"Oh, gracious Peter! what'll you do with me?"

"I'll send you back to your father's--to your pinafores--to your
nursery--and I'll leave the country for two or three years, until a
divorce can be obtained for separation. You may obtain the divorce,
madam. I shall never want to hold one of your perfidious sex in my
arms again. Women are one vast bundle of folly."

"I am a vast bundle of folly," sobbed Nellie, spasmodically, "but
all of them are not--they're not--I can prove it."

"I desire no proof from a woman of your--of your--of your calibre."

"I never was so sorry for anything in my life, Theodore. If you'll
forgive me this time, I'll try and make you such a good wife. I
won't disregard your advice, nor anything--nor--"

Mrs. Grenly wiped her tears on the corner of her shawl, and took
occasion to look at her husband as she did so.

"You may come here, madam!"

Madam went, knowing the victory was won; her tears were dry in a

"Nellie Grenly, look me right in the eyes!"

"Yes! there!"

And she concentrated her glorious laughing eyes upon him, trying
very hard not to make a display of rebellious dimples. He began to
doubt whether he had made a judicious request.

"Now, promise me," he said, "that as long as you live, you never
will do anything I disapprove of; because it's clear you are a
perfect baby."

"Oh! I can see myself in your eyes, just as plain as day!"

"Promise me."

"Did you know that your eyes were not all blue, but streaked--and
streaked. What's the nature of the eye, tell me? What are its
functions? You are always talking about duty, and functions, and all

"Ellen!" sternly.

"What?" very sweetly. "Oh! I guess I'll go and get a drink."

"No! you won't stir a step, until you solemnly assure me that you
never will go to any place that I advise you against."

"Oh! I hate to make such a promise."

"The reason I ask it, is because thousands of innocent women have
been misjudged for innocent actions; and I would not have my little
Nellie misjudged, when she is pure as an angel."

"I promise!"

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