« PreviousContinue »
its paltry wants, its petty humiliations—then will be the real trial.” * But,” said I, now that
you have got over the severest task, that of breaking it to her, the sooner you let the world into the secret the better. The disclosure may be mortifying; but then it is a single misery, and soon over: whereas, you otherwise suffer it, in anticipation, every hour in the day. It is not poverty so much as pretence that harasses a ruined manthe struggle between a proud mind and an empty purse—the keeping up a hollow show that must soon come to an end. Have the courage to appear poor, and you disarm poverty of its sharpest sting. On this point I found Leslie perfectly prepared. He had no false pride himself, and as to his wife, she was only anxious to conform to their altered fortunes.
Some days afterward, he called upou me in the evening. He had disposed of his dwelling-house, and taken a small cottage in the country, a few miles from town. He had been busied all day in sending out furniture. The new establishment required few articles, and those of the simplest kind. All the splendid furniture of his late residence had been sold, excepting his wife's harp. That, he said, was too closely associated with the idea of herself; it belonged to the little story of their loves : for some of the sweetest moments of their courtship were those when he had leaned over that instrument, and listened to the melting tones of her voice. I could not but smile at this instance of romantic gallantry in a doting husband.
He was now going out to the cottage where his wife had been all day superintending its arrangement. My feelings had become strongly interested in the progress of this family story, and, as it was a fine evening, I offered to accompany him.
He was wearied with the fatigues of the day, and, as we walked out, fell into a fit of gloomy musing.
“ Poor Mary!" at length broke with a heavy sigh from his lips.
“And what of her ?" asked I: “has any thing happened to her ?"
What,” said he, darting an impatient glance, “is it nothing to be reduced to this paltry situation—to be caged in a miserable cottage—to be obliged to toil almost in the menial concerns of her wretched habitation ???
“ Has she then repined at the change ?"
“Repined ! she has been nothing but sweetness and good humor. Indeed, she seems in better spirits than I have ever
known her; she has been to me all jove, and tenderness, and comfort !"
"Admirable girl!" exclaimed I. “You call yourself poor, my friend; you never were so rich-you nevei knew the boundless treasure of excellence you possessed in that woman.
“Oh! but my friend, if this first meeting at the cottage were over, I think I could then be comfortab.e. Bui this is her first day of real experience; she has been introduced into an humble dwelling—she has been employed an. day in arranging its miserable equipments—she has, for the first time, known the fatigues of domestic employment—she has, for the irst time, looked round her on a home destitute of every thing elegant, almost of every thing convenient; and may now be sitting down, exbausted and spiritless, brooding over a prospect of future poverty.”
There was a degree of probability in this picture that I could not gainsay, so we walked on in silence.
After turning from the main road up a narrow lane, so thickly shaded with forest trees as to give it a complete air of seclusion, we came in sight of the cottage. It was humble enough in its appearance for the most pastoral poet; and yet it had a pleasing rural look. A wild vine had overrun one end with a profusion of foliage; a few trees threw their branches gracefully over it; and I observed several pots of flowers tastefully disposed about the door and on the grass-plat in front. A small wicket gate opened upon a footpath that wound through some shrubbery at the door. Just as we approached, we heard the sound of music--Leslie grasped my arm; we paused and listened. It was Mary's voice, singing, in a style of the most touching simplicity, a little air of which her husband was peculiarly fond.
I felt Leslie's hand tremble on my arm. He stepped forward to hear more distinctly. His step made a noise on the gravel walk. A bright, beautiful face glanced out at the window and vanished-a light footstep was heard-and Mary came tripping iorth to meet us; she was in a pretty rural dress of white; a iew wild flowers were twisted in her fine hair; a fresh bloom was on her cheek; her whole countenance beamed with smiles -I had never seen her look so lovely.
• My dear George,” cried she, “ I am so glad you are come! I have been watching and watching for you, and running down the lane and looking out for you. I've set out a table under a beautiful tree behind the cottage; and I've been gathering some
of the most delicious strawberries, for I know you are fond of them and we have such excellent cream—and we have every thing so sweet and still here. Oh!” said she, putting her arm within his and looking up brightly in his face, “oh, we shall be so happy !”
Poor Leslie was overcome. He caught her to his bosomhe folded his arms round her—he kissed her again and againhe could not speak, but the tears gushed into his eyes; and he has often assured me that though the world has since gone prosperously with him, and his life has indeed been a happy one, yet never has he experienced a moment of more exquisite felicity.
MONUMENT MOUNTAIN.-WILLIAM CULLEN Bryant.
Thou who wouldst see the lovely and the wild
With the thick moss of centuries, and there
There is a tale about these gray old rocks,
One day into the bosom of a friend, A playmate of her young and innocent years, She poured her griefs. Thou know'st, and thou alone, She said, for I have told thee, all my love, And guilt, and sorrow. I am sick of life. All night I weep in darkness, and the morn
Glares on me as upon a thing accursed,
It was a Summer morning, and they went