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SEASONS OF SENTIMENT.
tendency to indulge in mental associations more by depriving it of any specific meaning, and makes it or less connected with the sentimental and emotional merely a compliment which may be interchanged between side of our nature. At no time are the best women, or friends. A young lady must be very inexperienced who men either, free from such influences, for the thoughts would attach any serious meaning to the pretty words and actions of good lives are always regulated by them; embedded in garlands of flowers and all the glories of lacebut they are comparatively private and undemonstrative, paper, and artistic colour-printing which the postmanexcept at the particular seasons to which we allude. who ought by rights to look as much like a valentine Religious feeling, for instance, ought at all times to Cupid as the exigencies of modern costume will permitdirect and guide us; but special times are selected for delivers into her hand on the morning of the famous a more public profession. It would be a bad thing for fourteenth of February. the world if we were affectionate, genial, and home-loving It has now become the custom, and a very pretty only at Christmas time, yet it is then we indulge in a custom too, to send little valentines to little children, more open expression of those qualities. We are not with pretty little pictures and verses which they can actually more kindly, more desirous of promoting the understand. How delighted are the tiny Mauds and happiness of others in the last week of December than Kates when the dainty little missives are handed to them, at any other period of the year, but traditionary custom- and they are left to guess all day who could have sent influenced by certain religious associations-induces us to them, and are only enlightened when papa and uncle make a more outward demonstration, to interchange and cousins look very mysterious, and ask if they have had "compliments of the season," send Christmas cards, and any valentines this year? employ other means of communicating with our relations We have known valentines sent to those who are no and friends in an affectionate and cordial manner.
longer young by their partners through many years of February has one day on which a little playful senti- wedded life. A smile on the face, still beautiful, mentality and badinage are sanctioned by custom. St. although the freshness of youth has passed away, speaks Valentine's Day gives a measure of freedom which at no the pleasure the letter has given, but the contents are other season could be permitted. A young lady may then sacred, treasured up in the storehouse of the heart. receive a tastefully ornamented epistle, containing a few Such a valentine, like a Silver Wedding, revives old lines of conventional sentimentality, and smile at what, memories, but it cannot add to the calm intensity of sent at any other time, would be considered an unwar- ripened love, which has matured with the progress of
years and the community of joys and griefs. “I know well you love me, as you did when I was younger, but it is pleasant to be told so," are the words of many a happy wife whose once bright hair is tinged with silver, but to whom advancing years have brought no diminution of tenderness or sympathy.
It is very pleasant to see the smile of fathers and mothers when the daughters of the house jump up at the postman's knock, and laughingly and blushingly open the pretty envelope. Real love-letters are not read in public and handed round afterwards for inspection, as valentines are, and the fair recipients have no difficulty in guessing who sends them, although the names may not be duly signed. But there is always a little pleasing, teasing mystery about valentines--a mystery which gives rise to many speculations and a considerable amount of joking on the part of brothers and sisters, and grave papas, too. For papa, while he jokes his girls, often, no doubt, remarks that years ago he sent a valentine to a young lady whom he thought to be the most charming creature in the world, and who, indeed, is little less charming now, as she sits at the head of the breakfast table, smiling demurely, not, most likely, without sharing the thought that is flashing into the mind of papa himself, how people do not, when they are old, forget their early lives; they see in their children their own youthful life reproduced, and, knowing their own happiness, trust that a similar joy will be realized by the young hearts about them.
“ You, in your girls, again be courted,
And I go wooing in my boys," is the silent adoption of the words of the old balladist, by many a man of middle life while gazing on his wife amid the laughter and gaiety which mark the morning of St. Valentine's Day.
This " season of sentiment,” then, is a time for playful sentiment of the versifying kind, with no very deep feeling underlying it. We have the flashing ripple of the brook, not the strong unswerving current of the deep stream which flows and flows for ever. We must be careful not to mistake the one for the other. Valentines are toys, charming, graceful toys, but they are not the expression of that mysterious powerful emotion which links lives in the most sacred and most enduring of earthly ties. But, while toys, valentines should deserve the epithets, “charming and graceful,” we have given to them. We will not speak to our readers of the coarse productions which are named “ valentines," and sent to gratify spite, or a mean, despicable liking for insulting the weak and unprotected. But there is a tendency sometimes exhibited, which should be guarded against, to extend the proper licence of the time to unkind jokes and even sneers and sarcasms. “Omit it altogether.” Good taste always goes hand-in-hand with good humour; and our valentine Cupid, when he gives his double knock at the door, should bring nothing but what good taste and good feeling can sanction, in alliance with the pleasant merriment and pretty sentiment appropriate to the day.
HOLDEN WITH THE CORDS.
II.-STUDYING TO ANSWER. MAJOR BERGAN—to give him the title by which Major's face ; and the smile came when he had finished
he was known throughout the country round- the letter, and did its work all the more effectually because displayed no alacrity of welcome. He first scanned his it was a somewhat sad one. visitor closely from head to foot, and then silently ex- “Forty and two years," said he, musingly, "since tended his hand for the letter which the young man had Eleanor went! Yet I can see her now, with her bright drawn forth from an inner pocket.
face and her arch ways! She was the sunshine of the "Hold that light here !” were his first words, in a tone old hall ; it has never been the same place since she left deep as a thunder-peal, and addressed not to Bergan Arling, it. And she would hardly know it, if she were to come but to the aforesaid torch-bearer. And quit your staring, back now! But times change ; and we are fools if we do and mind your business, or I'll——”
not change with them. Well, my boy! I'm glad to see The sentence died away in an inarticulate growl, but you, and that is not what I would say to many,—I'm not the boy was plainly at no loss to understand its purport. much in the way of having visitors. But Eleanor's son With a startled look, he fixed his eyes on the torch, and is heartily welcome to the old place.” only ventured to withdraw them for an occasional, furtive He took his nephew's hand, shook it cordially, and glance at the object of his curiosity. Meanwhile, his continued to hold it in a vice-like grasp, while he once master opened the letter, and read it deliberately from more attentively scanned the young man's features. beginning to end. The light of the torch fell full upon “You are a true Bergan,” he said, at length, “ I'm his face as he did so, giving Bergan Arling an opportunity glad to see that! And you have her eyes, too. Ah, what to study him, in his turn.
eyes they used to be! as soft and bright as any faw n's! His face was a striking one ; in youth it had doubtless Well! well! it's no use to think of the old times—they been handsome. Now, his brow was too massive, his can't come back. But I am right glad to see you, my mouth too stern, his eyes too cold, his beard too grey and boy; and I take it very kind of Eleanor to have sent you heavy, to bear any relation to mere personal beauty. All
Is she much changed?” soft lights and lines had long gone out of them; what "I suppose so," said Bergan, smiling,—" that is, since remained was hard, bold, and rugged, as a rocky headland you knew her. She has not changed greatly during my in winter. The rude strength which was the marked remembrance. She is a young-looking woman yet, for characteristic of his form, repeated itself emphatically in
her years; her eyes are still bright, and her cheeks rosy. his face. Comparing it with the mental portrait, care- Our western climate and life have agreed with her well. fully touched and retouched by his mother's hand, which Yet I cannot fancy her a young lady.” Bergan had carried in his mind since childhood, he felt “Ah, but you shall see her as a young lady! There's that the one resembled the other only as a tree in autumn, a portrait of her in the old house, taken not long before stripped bare of its foliage and its blossoms, resembles she went away, that does everything but speak and move. the same tree in its gracious summer bloom and verdure. Indeed, I used to imagine that it did both, when I had it Little trace of the frank, proud lineaments, the warm, yet in my quarters out here, as I did for a time. But it gave generous temper, of that ideal picture, was to be found in me the blues so, to look at it, and think how things used this harsh, stubborn, sarcastic face; the face of a man to be, and see how they had altered, that I finally sent it long given over to the hardening influences of a solitary back to its old place in the portrait gallery. But how did and a selfish life. In short, Major Bergan confirmed anew
you get here at this hour?" the old truth that no man can live long for himself alone,
“I walked from Savalla, leaving my baggage-except shutting out all gentler ties and amenities, and driving this portmanteau—to come on by stage to-morrow.” straight at his own practical ends, unmindful of either “ Walked! A nice little tramp of thirteen miles or the ways, the opinions, or the feelings of others, with- more! Why, in the name of sense, didn't you ride?” out reaping his due reward in a loss of moral health, “I was too late for the stage, and could not readily and a gradual decay of all his finer sensibilities and find a hack. To be sure, I wasted but little time in lookhigher instincts.
ing for one; I do not mind walking, I'm used to it.” The only point wherein the real man resembled the “That may do very well for the West. But you'll ideal one, was in a certain ineffaceable pride of birth, lose caste, my boy, if you walk here. You must have a showing itself not only in his port, but darkening his
horse.” harsh features with a heavy shade of hauteur.
“When I can afford it,” replied the young man, Yet a smile might do much to light up and soften the lightly shrugging his shoulders.“ Meanwhile, doub:less,
I shall find my Western habit useful, if vulgar. But I am not prepared to admit that it is vulgar. A young English nobleman, who spent some months in our neighbourhood, was a practised walker; he thought nothing of fifteen or twenty miles, on occasion. And if it was 'caste' for him, why not for me?”
“Humph! we Southerners boast a good deal of our English ancestors, but we don't feel called upon to imitate them l"
With the softening recollections of his youth, the Major had also laid aside his unwonted gentleness of manner; and the freezing tone of his last words, though it was doubtful whether he meant it for himself or his nephew, pained the young man's ear. Instinctively he dropped the discussion.
“I forgot to mention,” said he," that I did not walk quite the whole distance. A queer old character whom I overtook, insisted upon giving me a lift to Berganton."
“To Berganton! What had you to do with Berganton, I should like to know ?"
“I was not aware that the road had been changed. I supposed that I must needs pass through the village on my way to Bergan Hall. I intended to stay there over night, and come to you early in the morning. I did not think it right to descend upon you suddenly, late at night. But, finding myself unexpectedly on the road hither, and almost in sight of the Hall, I regarded it as an indication of Providence not to be misunderstood.”
“And well you did !" returned the Major, with rude emphasis, “well you did! I should have taken it as a direct insult if my sister's son had slept anywhere in this region but on the old place. I wish I could say, under the old roof,” he went on, in a friendlier tone, “but that leaks like a sieve, and I quitted it long ago. Of course, it might have been mended; but, to tell the truth, the old house was much too big and gloomy and damp and dis- . agreeable to keep bachelor's hall in comfortably, and I was glad to get out of it. Besides, I'd had all sorts of trouble with my overseers, and I decided that the only way to have things managed to my mind was to manage them myself. In order to do that, it was necessary to be on the spot. So I fixed up my overseer's cottage into a snug little box for myself, where I'm as cosey and comfortable as a rat in a rice-heap. But, come in, and see for yourself how it looks. Jip, you rascal! why don't you take your young master's portmanteau?”
The torch-boy caught the portmanteau, and Bergan followed his uncle into a small cottage at one corner of the quadrangle, so situated as to command a view both of the mill and the cabins. The room into which he was ushered was plainly but comfortably furnished. A fire of pitch-pine knots blazed on the hearth, reddening the rough walls and the bare floor with its pleasant glow. A slipshod negress, with a gay turban, was busy laying the table for supper. The effect was, upon the whole, cheery, and ought to have been especially so to a tired and hungry traveller ; yet Bergan looked around him with a manifest
air of disappointment. His uncle noticed it, and remarked, apologetically“You would prefer to see the Hall, eh? Well
, you shall see it in the morning, and I reckon you'll agree with me that it's anything but a cheerful-looking abode. Though, if I had known that a nephew of mine was coming to keep me company, I don't know but what I should have stayed there."
The negress now signified that supper was on the table, the food having been brought in, ready cooked, from the nearest cabin; and Major Bergan pointed to a chair opposite his own.
“Sit down, Harry, and fall to. Your tramp must have given you a right sharp appetite."
“ Thank you. But, uncle, my name is Bergan, not Harry."
“Not Harry!" repeated the Major, sharply, “I should like to know the reason why! Didn't your
mother write that she had named you for me?"
“Yes, certainly. But she regarded you as the head of the family, and in giving me the family name
“She named you for the whole breed—my degenerate half-brother and all!” interrupted the Major, bringing his clenched fist down upon the table with a force that threatened to demolish it. “I tell you what it is, sir, I shall not stand any half-way work! If you are named after me, you've got to go the whole figure. Harry Bergan Arling you are, and Harry Bergan Arling you shall be-at least as long as you stay in these parts."
The imperious tone of this speech was by no means agreeable to Bergan's ear; it was not without an effort that he replied, pleasantly
“ Call me what you like, uncle. I shall not refuse to answer to any name that you are pleased to give me.”
Major Bergan was evidently much gratified.
upon he exclaimed, heartily. “I'm glad to see that Eleanor has raised her son in the good old fashion of submission to elders. Bless my soul! I thought it was entirely obsolete. Young men round here know more at twenty than the fathers that begot them. As for obedience, they leave that to the negroes.”
The meal was abundant and substantial. It consisted of a single course, of bacon, vegetables, and corn-bread, very simply, not to say radely, served. It would seem that the master of the feast cared no more for refinements of table than of manner. Here, as elsewhere, were to be seen the pernicious effects of his solitary mode of life. He ate greedily; he forgot his duties as host, or they came but tardily to his remembrance ! he fell into fits of abstraction, and started as from a dream at the sound of his nephew's voice. Yet tokens were not wanting that he had once been well versed in the art of external
At intervals, answering involuntarily, as it were, to the touch of Bergan's fine, natural courtesy, the gentlemanly instincts of earlier days revived, and Aung a