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viewed in the dead white light of saber judgment, tested by commercial rates, his ambition to stand chief victor in Cupid's lists would be ignoble and unremunerative. He felt that he would himself thus rate it, had he no other aim in life. Aware, as he was, that he kept step with his fellows in business pursuits, that he was intellectually the peer of those the crowd called masters, he did not let the thought of adverse criticism of his affaires du cour weigh too heavily with him. It was easy to persuade himself that since the world's conquerors and prophets, sages, warriors, and saints, had, each in his time, esteemed the love of woman the worthiest meed of valour, learning, and piety; had fought, gone mad, and made shipwreck of faith, to gain and wear the prize, leaving upon record the aspiration “to waste life upon her perfect lips," alongside of heroic epics and religious meditations,-his researches and successes in this field of art, the mining and delving and polishing that attended his explorations among the curiosities of
curiosities of woman's affections and follies-were lawful and dignified, and should entitle him to an honourable grade in the school of philosophers.
Apart from these cold-blooded considerations (a man Alirt is always more cold-blooded than a woman-coquetry and the desire to conquer hearts being oftener a passion with the latter than a deliberate plan), apart from these, I say, “ Orrin Wyllys was, as he would have said of himself, “ not a bad fellow.” He liked to give pleasure, to be useful to his kind, to be thanked and praised for his benefactions.
Finding myself, once upon a time, in the actual presence and in social converse with one of the brightest of modern (American) stars-a man I had reverenced, afar off, as a mental and moral monarch among mortals, I was disenchanted and appalled at hearing him say something like this:
“ I have no patience with this talk about finding one's truest happiness in promoting that of others. 'I believe that man is best employed who makes the most and best of Himself! My business in life is to improve Myself by every means at my command—to make Myself, spiritually and intellectually, 'round and perfect as a star,' without diverting my energies and wasting my sympathies with projects for the good of my race. idea of true philanthropy."
“And the rest of mankind may go hang !” said a plain-spoken auditor.
The star shrugged his broad shoulders.
Ce n'est pas mon affaire !”
This was, substantially, Orrin's creed, but he had his own notions as to the manner in which the cultivation of Self was to be conducted, and being still some degrees below the exalted plane of observation occupied by the aforesaid Star, was not superior to the weakness of talking about philanthropy, even believing himself that he did good for good's sake, and that his satisfaction in seeing others made happy through his instrumentality, was
pure benevolence. His charities were many—and open. Indeed, Lady Patronesses shook their heads, smilingly, at him while deprecating his “soft-hearted credulity" and lauding his generosity, and his name was a synonym among men for good nature and lenient judgment.
Therefore, when he muttered—“Just like my confounded amiability, this taking so much pains to benefit those who may never appreciate my motives, nor be grateful for what I have done !” as he buttoned his overcoat up to his chin and pulled on his fur-lined gloves, he half believed that he spoke sincerely-went systematically to work to arrange his projects with the best side toward him, and found substantial comfort in so doing,
Roy had left his affianced to his guardianship, and her action at this juncture might be fraught with important consequences to her ard to Roy himself. He could allay Mr. Kirke's scruples, if he had any, relative to his daughter's acceptance of Mrs. Baxter's pressing offer of hospitality and chaperonage, better in five minutes' talk than by twenty written pages. He was anxious that Jessie should
the visit. She had taken a strong hold of his fancy, and he could study her to advantage while she was her cousin's guest; be her cavalier wherever she went, by virtue of the authority vested in him by her absent be. trothed. Hamilton was dull this season. There was not a woman in it whom he had not read from preface to · Finis”-and his energies were chafing for lack of exercise in his noble vocation. The prospect of Jessie's comingthe high-spirited child of nature, lively and loving—was very tempting
But this was, he perceived, a digression, and he hastened to regain the original line of thought. His scheme—which Mrs. Baxter must be suffered to believe was her's, instead-of giving the country clergyman's daughter a season in town, was a golden opportunity of improvement of her mind and manners that should not be lightly cast aside. She had, more than once, confidentially bemoaned her inability to procure in Dundee the tuition in music and German she fancied she needed to qualify her to fill worthily the station to which Roy had elected her.
The reader of human nature smiled a little just here.
“When, if the truth were known, the practical Professor would be better pleased—aye ! and better served in the long run, were his Jessamine to confine her ambition to the realms of cake, and bread, and butter-making. I have seen other women as mistakenly risk complexions and eyes in poring over books, under the fond impression that they were qualifying' themselves to be their husband's 'helpmeets'! What an age of shams is this!”
Since, however, this was Jessie's delusion, it might as well be indulged. She could have excellent music and language masters in Hamilton. He would, himself, snatch a few hours, weekly, that he might read German with her. The readings would prevent him from rusting in a language once familiar to him, as his own, and he
This is my
would find further compensation for his trouble in the enjoyment he foresaw in guiding her eager mind through the rich storehouses of literature a knowledge of German would unlock for her. Waxing more complacently benevolent, he dwelt upon the comfort and pleasure Mrs. Baxter-a worthy, though ridiculous, creature--would derive from the companionship of her young friend. The Lady-President was a born Patroness. The introduction of the sparkling luminary he was sure Jessie would become in the Hamiltonian firmament, would be with her a work of pride and love. She would spare no pains to make the novice's sojourn in her abode delightful to all parties interested in it.
Notwithstanding which irrefragable reasoning—such was the effect of atmospheric and other extraneous influences upon one in the undisputed possession of a sound body, sane mind, and serenely approving conscienceMr. Wyllys relapsed into discouragement several times in the earlier stages of his journey ; wrote himself down an ass for taking the trouble of a ten hours' ride into the country at this gloomy season to accomplish that, which, after all, might have been settled by letter. Breakfast by gas-light, a hard run through muddy streets to catch the train ; a seat in a damp, close-smelling car, which was chilled, rather than warmed, by a stove-full of green wood, were sorry tonics for preparing spirits and temper for the duties of a new day. It annoyed the philanthropist that he could not put from his mind the vision of Roy Ford ham's happy face as it shone upon his waking sight one July morning—the first of the summer vacation. Valise in hand, he had burst into his cousin's sleepingroom to say “Good-bye,” for he was off, by peep of dawn, to Dundee and Jessie. Orrin remembered every word that had been spoken ; how he had forborne to remind the rapturous lover that this was the last visit he could pay his promised bride before his departure for Europe in August, and the calm surprise he had felt at seeing prudent,' far-seeing Roy apparently oblivious of all save present delight. Oddly enough, it would have been more agreeable to his trusty relative to think of the absentee as a staid, studious personage, whose affections were always subservient to duty and judgment.
Few of earthly mould—such are the freaks of imagination and the complications of nervous irritation-are, at all times, superior to like vicissitudes of purpose and temper. I trust, then, that my hero will not suffer materially in the opinion of the exceptional minority when I state that it was near noon ere he finally and stably reassured his dubious mind that in this flying visit to the parsonage, he was acting wisely for himself, and, as secondary, third, and fourth rate considerations, for Jessie, Roy, and Mrs. Baxter. The lever that completed the task of elevating his self-esteem from the slough of doubt, was not the anticipation of Jessie's personal and mental improvement, or Mrs. Baxter's gratified maternal longings. It was the thought how the light imprisoned in Eunice Kirke's berylline eyes,
would break up to the surface in the golden glints he had seen, at infrequent intervals, dash their placid darkness; how her slow, bright smile would greet his unexpected appearance, and applaud his vivacious sallies; the sweet monotone, many a queen of fashion would give her costliest jewels to imitate successfully, reply to his questionings. For he would have many questions to put. This was a studious autumn with the sisters. While Roy had laughed at Jessie's lamentations over her lack of learning, protesting that she “knew more already of books and men than any professor's wife he had ever met," he had, in compliance with her desire, and believing that active employment would be wholesome discipline for her in the weary months of their separation, arranged a schedule of history, ancient and modern, French, German, and general reading for her. Orrin had also visited Dundee in the August vacation, accompanying Roy back to town, and not quitting him until he waved his farewell from the pier to the slowly-moving steamship "outward bound.” During those sad, precious “last days,” the disengaged pair were, of necessity, often left to entertain one another for hours together, and their decorous friendship had matured naturally and gracefully into an equally decorous intimacy. Orrin had marked passages for Eunice's consideration in divers books they had glanced over in company; sent to her, after his return to Hamilton, Carlyle, Emerson, and Macaulay ; besides running down for a day in October, to bring a thick roll of duets, sonatas, and études, and the whole of Mozart's Twelfth Mass, for Miss Kirke's practice in the lengthening evenings.
He had taken extraordinary pains to ascertain her tastes, and displayed his customary tact in ministering to these.
“We are almost relations-in-law, you know!” had been his only apology for attentions and gifts, and Eunice had accepted all in simple good faith.
Her interest in his talk and her manifest liking for him, were a more flattering tribute to his vanity than was Jessie's frank cousinliness. I think it is always thus with the tokens of favour vouchsafed to friend and admirer by reserved, self-concentrated women. While Jessie was his especial study (or quarry) just now, he did not disdain the goods the gods offered him in the esteem and preference of the handsome elder sister. He had found her eminently convenient when his motive was to pique and mystify his cousin's betrothed by a feint of haughty indifference, and he was too wise an economist to cast aside what he had gained. He would be a clumsy diplomatist, indeed, were he to prove himself incompetent to the management of two affairs at the same time.
If my attempted analyzation of a “fascinating man's" principles and intentions has seemed prolix to the surfacereader, he will bear in mind that it is but a meagre abstract of what Mr. Wyllys thought, felt, and reasoned through the dreary November day, that did not see the were leaden, the lids drooping wearily, and she was thinner in face and figure than when he had parted from her six weeks ago. Her dress, of dark, “navy” blue serge, made plainly, the long skirt heavy and still while she stood, and unrelieved save by narrow linen collar and cuffs, looked like a mourning garb.
“The Mater Dolorosa to the life !” said the quickeyed lover of the fine arts to hinıself. “A blue hood drawn well forward would make the likeness perfect. Who would have thought that a morbidly love-sick girt could, by dreaming and fretting, stamp her features with the imprint of that divine sorrow! Marvellous are the tricks of Nature!"
All this while he held. Jessie's hand; his eyes seemed as if they could not leave the countenance whose change had so pained him. The girl's faint smile was very
sun until a break in the clouds low upon the western hills let out his light upon a sodden, wretched earth.
The late rays burnished Windbeam's coronal of cedars into golden-green, but curling fleeces of mist clung about his mighty chest and flanks, making him look grimmer and blacker by contrast; the valley was full of shadows, purple and grey; the old church was lightless save for the one dazzling arrow which was shivered against the slender tip of the spire, when Orrin undid the latch of the parsonage-gate. Provençal warmth and roses were things that belonged to the dead summer. Eunice's ever. greens hardly redeemed the garden from desolation. A trim arbour-vitæ hedge kept warm the southeru border, that would be gay in March with crocuses and tulips; the box-trees were the only leafy shrubs in the alley down which Jessie had crept, tu faint in his arms at the the other end. A thrifty holly, beaded with scarlet, mounted guard on the left of the front steps, as did a cedar, covered with bluish-white berries, at the right. A stately young pine he remembered as a favourite of Jessie's, filled the air with its solemn sighing, while he awaited the answer to his knock.
“So, Winter comes even to the Happy Valley !” he moralized. “I ought to have known it, of course, only I had not thought of it.”
Patsey, the good-humoured servant girl, opened the door, and welcomed Mr. Wyllys with tlie broadest of smiles.
“Mr. Kirke and Miss Eunice is not at home, sir. They're a-visiting some place in the village. Miss Jessie is in, though. Be pleased to walk into the parlour, and I'll tell her you're here."
He heard swift feet skim the floor overhead, as his name was repeated, and Jessie was in the room before he could take off his gloves. With a wild, scared face, lips that moved without sound, and eyes that demanded con firmation or denial of the dread that was strangling her heart, she caught his hands and looked up dumbly at him. His smile broke the spell sooner and more effectually than words could have done. She wrested her tingers from his, with a laugh so burdened with shame and happiness as to be more like a sob, testifying what had been the pressure and what was the release.
“I was sure"-
“That I was the bearer of bad news from abroad. I understand," Orrin took up the broken sentence. “You were never more mistaken. Your letter, enclosing Mrs. Baxter's, brought me. Your fears must take counsel of hope and faith another time. Roy was well when last heard from-well and happy, and, you may be sure, very busy. But what is this?” leading her to the window and scrutinizing her with fond solicitude. “What have you been doing with yourself? I am afraid he keeps his pledge of health, and resignation to the Inevitable, better than you do yours to him. Are you not well? You have been sick, and I was not told of it!"
Her complexion was dead to sallowness; her eyes
“I am not sick! I have no physical ailment beyond a sensation of general good-for-nothingness. I ought to be ashamed to confess it, but I imagine I have a touch of what fine ladies call the 'blues.' Papa would have in Dr. Winters a month ago, in spite of all I could do ant say. He laughed at me a little, scolded me a great deal, and pronounced my malady dyspepsia, or low fever, or nervous debility-he was not certain which. In any case, his prescription was quinine, dumb-bells, and porter, ale, lager beer, or a decoction of gentian-root and chamomile flowers. Think of it!" With a grimace. “Could my cup of existence be more effectually embittered? I take quinine, and swing the bells a thousand times each day, but I do not see that the regimen increases my appetite or makes me sleep better. There is nothing the matter with me that will not yield to resolution and commonsense and-and-time! I shall be all right when I get used to things as they are," she continued, with feverislı rapidity, marking his doubtful look. “I need discipline, hardening, tempering. If papa and Euna would rate me soundly for my folly and childishness, the counter-irritant would brace my system, I should need no other medicine. But they won't, unfortunately!”
She was laughing now, but not with her native glee. Orrin's scrutiny-serious and tender-was prolonged unti} her eyes sank, and a blush of the lost colour tinged her temples. A sigh escaped him as he relinquished her hand, and walked twice through the apartment to collect thoughts and words.
“My coming was timely,” he said, drawing a chair to her side. “Dear child! your life is too precious to be wasted in unavailing regrets. Your peace of mind is dear to too many to be wrecked by morbid nursings. Don't think me harsh! You should have something to engage your time and thoughts beyond the routine of occupation and recreation appointed to you here; should see more of the world than that portion of it which is bounded by these mountains. You would starve upon what satisfies your sister. Duty to be performed-duty done-a straight course and strength to walk therein-these fill the measure
of her earthly desires. Your temperament and your intellect demand a larger sphere-wider range for your mind and more food for your heart. You are dying of inanition, and you do not know it. You are a caged wild bird who is trying to learn to sing by note.”
She shook her head wilfully.
“You are altogether wrong. I have been pampered, housed, petted, until nerve and muscle, mental and spiritual, are gone. I need a stimulant, but a moral one."
Orrin changed his ground.
“What if I supply it in the guise of a German course, seasoned with unsparing admonition whenever you are indolent or unreasonable?" he said, lightly.
“ I was pre
CHAPTER VII. A less vain man than Mr. Wyllys would have been fattered by the effect produced upon the spiritless, faded creature, the mocking shadow of the old blithesome Jessie, by half an hour's talk with himself. A less patient man would have been chagrined by the discovery that his enumeration of the varied and substantial benefits that would accrue to her from the proposed visit to Mrs. Baxter, and the delicate skill with which he contrived to keep before her all the while the prospect of his society and guardianship, weighed but as thistle-down with the obtuse “love-sick girl," in comparison with the circumstance that Hamilton was Roy Fordham's home.
Orrin was surprised, and not agreeably, when her own words forced this astounding fact upon him.
" It will be the next best thing !” she said, dreamily, a happy smile touching her lips and kindling up her eyes. "I have heard him talk so much of the place and the people, that it will be like revisiting half-remembered scenes-renewing former acquaintanceships. You will show me all his favourite haunts, let me see the friends he values most highly-won't you? The ocean is narrower and quieter when I think of taking the walks and drives he likes best—which he has described to me over and over; of mingling with those who were his daily associates—who knew him before I did. Though I don't like very well to think of that”-interrupting herself with a laugh. "I feel as if nobody had the right. It seems to me that I cannot recollect when I did not know him."
She mused silently for some minutes—the tender light still trembling over her face. It was as if she had forgotten his presence, until a sudden thought turned her to him with an abrupt query.
“Mrs. Baxter knows nothing of_has heard no rumours?” in shy anxiety that appeared overstrained to one who had heard the loving solioquy Orrin was prompt to decide was in very bad taste, even when the unconsidered listener was in the confidence of both parties.
“Of your engagement?” he said, with grave direct.
Hamilton is in profound ignorance on that subject. Roy knows how to keep his own counsel, and knowing it was his wish that your betrothal should remain secret for the present, I have mentioned it to no
You need be under no embarrassment on that score."
Jessie was silent again, but the pause was filled with soberer thoughts. She began to fear lest she had been talking nonsense-been indiscreet and unmaidenly. Orrin kindly overlooked the lapse into selfish sentimentality, but she was ashamed that she had given him occasion for exercising forbearance on this subject. He noted, and with satisfaction, that she treated him to no more love rhapsodies that night; did not voluntarily name Roy in the ensuing dialogue.
“I am happy to learn that Mrs. Baxter is warmhearted and sincere,” she said, at the close of a searching catechism upon that lady's characteristics. possessed in her favour, less by her letter, than because she loved my mother. My sister has been a dear and careful parent to me. You have seen what my father's fond indulgence is, But the core of my heart has ached for my mother--my own beautiful mother-ever since she died. I was not quite five years old, yet I recollect her as if I had kissed her for the last time, yesterday. My father had this oriel built to please her. I remember seeing her nowhere else until she was carried up to her death-bed. Her easy chair stood there "-pointing"and her writing-desk beside it. When I could, by standing on tip-toe, just get my chin upon the windowsill, she would make me measure, with a bit of ribbon, how much the jessamine had grown in a week. She planted these vines and tended them as if they had been her children. She said to me, more than once or twice, that she hoped I would be like my name-flower when I grew up-brave, sweet, faithful-telling how one had for fifty years curtained the porch of the house in which she was born, and how dearly she loved it. She made me her companion, and, in some sort, her confidante by the time I could talk plainly, and very proud I was of the distinction. She used to take me upon her lap, or hold me closely in her arms as she lay on her lounge in the twilight, and repeat stories of her Southern home; sing ballads so sweetly sad that I could not help crying quietly while I listened-very quietly, for fear she should hear me, and stop."
It was twilight by this time. The mountain-crown was dusky as the plain ; the elm-trees in the churchyart were swaying in the bleak wind that bowed the gardenshrubbery, and swept the long grass above neglected graves into brown waves. The naked, snake-like sprays of the creepers tapped monotonously against the windowpanes. Orrin had healthy nerves, but as he looked through the glooming air at the shaft, standing like a sheeted ghost at the head of Mr. Kirke's second wife, and heard in the stillness of the place and hour, the sob
bing sighs of the pine boughs, he wished Jessie had “ Was that before or after she wrote to me?" chosen some other hour and spot for her weird reminis- " Probably afterward, for she told me that the sight of cence than the November gloaming and this haunted a keepsake given her by your mother had set her to
thinking of their early and close intimacy, and that she She was leaning back in her chair, her hands crossed, had 'obeyed the impulse which bade her make inquiries her face upraised to the sky:
about you, and ask you to visit her.' Those were ber “I have a perfect picture of her before me, at this words, as nearly as I can recall them. She expresses moment,” she went on, presently. “She had large, soft herself warmly—but not, I honestly believe, more warmly eyes, and very dark hair. She was always pale, and she than she feels." never laughed. But her smile was my reward when I was “I would not go to Hamilton had you recalled to her good, as her kiss was the cure for every hurt. Nobody mind the fact of my existence. If love for her lost friend else can ever tell me such wonderful tales. Some were did not prompt her to seek me out, I would not owe my in prose, many in verse, more beautiful to my apprehen- recognition to the recommendation of another. No! not sion than any poetry I have read since. This was on her to yours ! well days—my white days! when the writing-desk Had he not read aright her sturdy pride, her jealousy would, if I requested, be supplanted by the colour-box for her mother's memory, and her father's dignity? With and pencils, and we passed whole hours together-she what wise pre-vision he had detected the danger, and, by and I—she sketching or painting to illustrate anecdote his caution to Mrs. Baxter, averted it! and fairy story, I perched in my high chair at her side, Eunice, the beryl-eyed, also had her confidential talk looking on in rapt delight. I believe that I was a trouble- with Mr. Wyllys that night. some child-noisy, wayward, passionate-to' every body “Father,” she said, after supper, as he tarried, for an else in the house. I kept away from her of my own instant, in the dining-room. “I should like to speak accord in my stormy or sulky fits. The earliest lesson with Mr. Wyllys for ten minutes when Jessie is not taught me by my father was, that 'poor, sick mamma by. Can you contrive to call her out of the parlour by must not be disturbed.' I suppose it was on account of and by?” her feeble health that he always heard my prayers, put "Certainly, my daughter,'' he replied, without curiosity me to bed at night, and nursed me in my infant sick- or hesitation. nesses. It was he who came to my crib in the dim light Jessie was his pride and darling-very beautiful and of one terrible January morning, and told me that she gifted in his eyes. He lavished upon her the wealth of a was in Heaven. I did not understand exactly what that heart that had never known its own depth until he met meant, but I gathered that it was something very dread- her mother. The first Mrs. Kirke was the daughter of ful from the sight of his emotion. I have never seen one of his college professors, a little older than himself, him weep except that once. I had sprung from my pillow very amiable, very discreet, and the best housekeeper in to sob out my childish grief in his arms. He pressed me the parish. He owed much to her exemplary manage. to his bosom until I could scarcely breathe, and said, over ment since, relieved from cares domestic and pecuniary, and over, in a strange undertone that terrified me more he could devote much time, bring unjaded energies, and a than did the drip of the hot tears over my face- Ginevra's free mind to the prosecution of the studies he loved so baby! Ginevra's baby!' Baby though I was, the scene well. Without in the least entering into his enthusiasm is graven upon my memory for life.”
in scholastic research, she laid down as one of the rules The wind shook the casement, and the bare sprays of her orderly household, that his study was forbidden tapped more impatiently upon the glass, as the spirit of ground to heedless or intrusive feet; guarded him when the dead mother might have signalled her child to let her he had entered the sanctum, and shut the door between
him and the living, active world-as vigilantly as she “Mrs. Baxter will never weary of talking with you would have watched and defended hid treasure. He was upon a theme so dear to you both," said Orrin, shaking “about his business," in her phrase, and to her just, off the superstitious fancy.
practical ideas of duty and life it was but right that people Jessie was aroused to livelier speech by the sugges- should be allowed to follow their lawful and allotted calltion.
ings without molestation. She did not particularly enjoy “You have heard her speak of my mother, then ?" her husband's sermons, but he found her bread, butter,
“Yes, but before I suspected the identity of the and cake always to his taste. He was an accomplished "Ginevra' who was her adopted sister, with your father's linguist, and would have been glad to have one under his wife. By a singular mischance, she never named him own roof, with whom he could converse in Italian, to me until one day last week, when she asked if I knew German, or French. She had, as his correct ear conhim and you."
tinually reminded him, but an imperfect acquaintance with He had equivocated so adroitly as to bar cross-exami- her vernacular, according to classical standards. But her nation, he hoped, but Jessie's curiosity was not easily coffee was fragrant, clear, and strong; while a whiff of parried.
her Young Hyson was as the scent of a zephyr that bad