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hearted. The girl never could remember exactly how their engagement came about. Sometimes it seemed all like a dream, and she wanted to wake up and could not.
While at others, she was happy in witnessing the happiness she had created.
Time fled away. The wedding day was fixed, and close at hand; when one evening, as Mary walked thoughtfully up and down the lawn, in the pale moonlight, the gardener's boy brought her something which he had found while digging in an adjacent border, and which he thought must belong to her_it was the little cornelian heart! Mary pressed it to her lips, and burst into tears. A few hours afterwards she sent for her mother, into her little chamber, andweeping passionately, declared that whatever happened she never could or would marry Lawrence Stainforth! Mrs. Vernon, could scarcely believe her senses.
There was the white satin robe, and the bridal wreath lying on the bed, the glittering jewel ca-ket open upon the toilet table--and even the very wedding ring !—when suddenly her glance fell upon the little cornelian heart. Mary knelt before her mother, and burying her face in her lap, told her all, even from the very beginning—and how she could never love any one but her cousin Tom.
you think that he cares for you, Mary?” “No,” said the young girl, sadly'; “but I cannot help loving him for all that!"
Mrs. Vernon saw that it was in vain to chide ; and almost feared it would be equally so to attempt reasoning with Mary in her present mood. She appealed to her woman's pride“Would you remember what he has forgotten ?" And still Mary answered with tears—“ I cannot help it !"
Again her mother spoke soothingly. She told her (oh, sad truth!) how seldom it happened that girls ever married their first love; and yet (strange contradiction!) how happy they were notwithstanding. She reminded her of Mr. Stainforth's long and earnest affection; and how joyfully her father and herself looked forward to their union-il union every way so desirable. She alluded slightly to the magnificent house, now nearly furnished, and the sweet little carriage and ponies, which Lawrence had just presented her with. She pointed to the satin robe with its costly trimmings, and the glittering jewel casketand asked her whether it was right to sacrifice all these, together with the happiness of three loving hearts, for one who, she had owned, cared not for her.
“ Poor Lawrence!" murmured Mary, while she still wept, only less passionately and despairingly. 66 Poor Lawrence! at any rate it would be wrong to marry him without telling him everything."
“ Why there is nothing to tell,” said her mother, with a smile. “ Most young people fancy themselves in love many times before they really are. I will venture anything that Mr. Stainforth has done the same. It was only the other day he was searching his desk for something, and I saw a golden curl, tied up with blue ribbon, lying at the bottom.”
“ I should like to know the history of that curl,” said Mary. " Some childish attachment no doubt. But
must never say a word to him about it; such things are best forgotten, and it is astonishing how soon the memory of them passes away. But I must go down stairs, or they will be wondering what has happened. Shall I tell Mr. Stainforth that you have the head-ache, and cannot see him to-night?”
“ Yes, mamma, if you please. And stay, you had better take the little cornelian heart with you."
Mrs. Vernon smiled, and kissing her affectionately, rejoined the party below ; while Mary knelt down and prayed fervently that she might be strengthened to do her duty as the wife of Lawrence Stainforth ; and that she might not think too much of her cousin Tom.- Nay, even in her distrust of herself, that they might never meet again! Wishing him every happiness which can fall to the lot of mortal.
How beautiful Mary looked in her bridal dress, with the white orange blossoms wreathed amid her dark curls. No wonder that Mr. Stainforth was so proud of her. No wonder that he should thank her parents with the tears in his eyes, for having given him such a treasure. Mary did not look more sweetly pensive, or shed more tears than became a youthful bride leaving home for the first time. Nor did she look very like a victim when her old father blessed, and her mother kissed her, and she went forth, leaning on her husband's arm, to the travelling carriage, which waited to take them away to pass the honeymoon at the land of all Mary's earliest and most romantic dreams sunny Italy !
Time fled rapidly on as it always does, whether in fiction or reality, especially when we are young. It is only Age and Sorrow, who count the hours on the dial, and complain that they hang heavily.
" It is just two years to-day since you were married,” said
Mrs. Vernon to her daughter, as she sat with her in her pleasant home, holding on her knees a little infant boy, and looking at him with that proud smile so peculiar to grandmothers.
“Oh, mamma, can it be so long ? How quickly the time
“ It always does with the happy.”
“I am sure I am very happy—thank God!" said Mary. “ There is only one thing !"
It is the same everywhere the common lament even of the most fortunate - there is always one thing wanting - one little thing without which our felicity is incomplete.
66 Can it be,” thought Mrs. Vernon, “that she has not yet forgotten her childish penchant for Tom Harrington !"
“ Well,” said she, observing that Mary hesitated. “ Will you not tell me this one thing ?”
« Oh, mamma! it seems so foolish; but do what I will I cannot drive it out of my mind for long together."
“ Perhaps she wants the little cornelian heart back again,” thought her mother. “ Is there anything that I can do for you, , my dear?” said she.
“ No, mamma, Lawrence is the only person, and I do not like to ask him. You remember the golden curl which you told me you saw lying in his desk, and tied with blue ribbon ? I shall never rest until I know who it belongs to, and whether he ever did love any one else!"
“ Are you not afraid lest he should put the same question to
“ No indeed, for I would answer with truth-never! never! But I know what you are thinking of, mamma, that foolish romance of mine about poor cousin Tom! which I am determined to tell Lawrence, this very evening, when he comes back, and to ask him in return concerning the golden curl which he still treasures so carefully. On the anniversary of our wedding day he can refuse me nothing—or any other day either, I verily believe !" added the young wife, with a happy laugh—“ Only I wish he would not keep that bit of hair !"
That night when her mother had returned home, and the baby slumbered peacefully in its little cot; Mary leant her head upon her husband's shoulder, and told him everything. And how, to use her own words, she had been silly enough to fancy that she could ever like any one but him. For after all, as she took much useless pains to explain, it was a mere girlish romance which faded before the reality of a true affection. She even told
him of her tears and prayers on that memorable night, and how since then, those witely duties which she had supplicated for strength to perform, had become her privilege and her pride! Mary told him all this smilingly, and Mr. Stainforth could not help smiling also while he listened ; but now her voice trembled as she asked in return, about the little golden curl, tied with blue ribbon, which he kept so carefully concealed in his desk.
“ Did I never tell you, Mary, that it belonged to my first love ?"
“ No, never.”
- This was no childish attachment,” continued her husband, earnestly, “no boyish love; but one which grew with my growth, and strengthened with my strength-one which will never pass away wbile life remains ?”
Mary turned pale; and sought in vain to disengage herself from his encircling arms.
“ Everything but my love for that dear one has changed since then,” continued Mr. Stainforth, “even the very color of her hair, so that she no longer recognizes her own !"
Mary looked up with a joyful smile.
“ Yes, I remember now,” said she, “ although I was but a child at the time - a wild, wilful child! And have
And have you really kept it ever since ?" Oh, Lawrence! I am not worthy such a love as yours !”
“ Well,” said her husband, after a pause of deep feeling, and speaking with an assumed playfulness, in order to restore her composure ; "and must I really burn my pretty golden curl, after having it so long ? Or give it to mamma to keep for me, as you did poor Harrington's heart ?"
Mary smiled upon him through her tears, and whispered something about being the happiest woman in existence; as we verily believe she was at that moment.
Mr. Harrington never married. Years afterwards, be returned to England, diseased in mind and body, while Mary silently contrasted his withered appearance, and proud, querulous disposition, with the manly form and cheerful temper of her dear husband, and marvelled more than ever at the past.
One day, when her eldest girl, who was also called Mary, was about seven years old, Mrs. Stainforth, wishing to make her some little present as a reward for her good conduct, asked her mother for the old cornelian heart. As she justly said, it was no use letting it lay by, and it would be exactly the thing to give her darling! Mr. Harrington came in while she was
fastening it on, and recognized it immediately. Presently afterwards he called the little Mary to him, and told her that her mother had given her a fortune. And then he kissed her several times, and the cornelian heart as well, while his burning tears fell upon the child's neck.
A few months afterwards Mr. Harrington died, and the little Mary was left sole heiress of all that he possessed—but no one ever knew why.
Thus it is that Hearts are lost, and won, and broken, in this strange world of ours !
TO THE LOVED AND ABSENT.
I THINK of thee at that first bright hour
Oh! then I think of thee!
Then, then, I think of thee!
But seek in vain for thee!
Then, then, I pray for thee !