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MY COUSIN DE BOR A н.

IN FOUR PARTS: BY R. A. OAKES.

'Tis better to have loved and lost,

Than never to have loved at all.'- ALFRED TENNYSON.

I. A

RETROSPECT.

I HAD graduated with distinguished honor.

So said the Mapletown Gazette, and sitting in the dingy old room, which for the last four years, with the exception of an occasional and sometimes most weary absence, had been my abiding place, with my feet complacently crossed upon the window-sill, while I inhaled alike the warm, sun-shiny air and the fragrance of a rich Havana, I read the somewhat eulogistic notice which the editor of that paper had seen fit to give the closing exercises of the graduating class of which I was a member.

Yes, I, Philip Massingale, had graduated with distinguished honor. My wardrobe, (it was but a scanty one,) worn and thread-bare, was securely packed in a hair-trunk that much resembled one belonging to Willis's quondam friend, Mr. Forbearance Smith, and I was ready to leave forever the walls which had so long sheltered me.

Yet, despite the fragrant odors of my Havana, a parting 'treat' from a class-mate, and despite the eulogistic notice in the columns of the Mapletown Gazette, I was indulging in bitter thoughts. My college life had been a most weary one, one of trial and bitter privation, endured without a murmur, and now, thank God, so honorably terminated. In the winter season I had been compelled to go out into the wilderness to me a most drear wilderness among rude, uncultivated, yet oftentimes warm-hearted people, whose ideas of book-learning never went beyond the three Rs, reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic; and there, day after day, in the bitterness of a proud spirit doing brute service, had I trudged through snows waist-deep to teach a few uncouth, unkempt urchins not ideas, GOD never blessed or cursed them with such - how to shoot. It was a miserable pittance to be sure, that I gained from such labor, but, with the most rigid economy, it kept my body and soul together a part of the year which followed.

I boarded round'- a significant phrase, whose meaning every poor country school-master learns with all its variations; sometimes going miles through mournful yet ever verdant pine forests, over roads travelled only by lumber-men, to get my rude fare and still ruder lodg ings; and at night, when all the family had retired they were primeval people, accustomed to unremitting toil and early hours, alike at night and morning I used to rake forward the coals, and throwing a few fagots upon them, lie down, like Ben Franklin, upon my breast, to learn, in such a manner and by such scanty light, the lessons which my class-mates at college were going over in comparative ease.

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In haying and harvesting, which usually occurred during the summer vacations, I used to go out among the farmers, taking my chance with men accustomed to severe labor from childhood, turning my swath with them, pitching my windrow with them, and with them receiving the same wages. Sometimes I went down to my uncle John Massingale's, a hard man, but an honest, as the world termed him; one who asked GOD's blessing on his meat, and thanked HIM night and morning. From him I received no more favors than his other help. With them, ere the high lawns appeared under the opening eyelids of the morn,' I took my place in the field, and through the long, weary day, under the burning sun, I bore my part. Most truly did I then and there fulfil the injunction of the Scriptures, for by the sweat of the brow did I earn my bread! At noon, when the conch-shell sent its mournful echoes swelling over the hills, like the wail of wintry winds, calling us to dinner, I washed at the same water-spout with the blackened workmen, wiped on the same towel, and eat at the same board. I do not speak of this because I think myself better than they, or worthy of daintier fare, but because my uncle John Massingale, my own father's brother, whose helping hand he had known so often in his hour of need, sat in the room above, and from silver service partook his meat, nor deigned to think of his poor kinsman below; nor I do not recount to you my hardships for your sympathy. Once, nay twice, I had a sympathy broader than all the oceans of the mighty earth, and far more precious, though they enshrine within their bosoms armament and merchant-man and spice-ship laden with amethyst and red gold.

My first recollections are of the great metropolis of wealth and affluence, and most of all and dearest, my mother's love! O minds of richest, rarest imagery, Tennyson or Shelley, or sweetest of them all, and next to Shakspeare, sweetest of all the earth, 'poor John Keats!' you have no words to paint it, though your pens be steeped in heaven's beauties, and wielded with all Job's tender pathos. Oh! well has the poet said:

'HAPPY he

With such a mother! faith in womankind
Beats with his blood, and trust in all things high
Comes easy to him; and though he trip and fall,
He shall not blind his soul with clay.'

My father was a merchant, fair to do with all the world, but unsuccossful speculation ruined him, and he died broken-hearted, close followed by my mother. Then was I left alone in all the world, penniless, homeless, fatherless, and worst of all and hardest to bear, motherless! GOD indeed have pity on him whose bursting manhood-leaves know not a mother's prayers!

With heart so bruised and broken, what could I do? I reached out blindly through my fast-falling tears, and as though it were the only harbor for my poor life-hulk, so early wrecked, in all God's world, I turned my poor face beseechingly to my uncle John Massingale. With a cold smile lighting up his features, like the great sun on a weary wintry waste, he said his house was mine, and that his roof should always shelter me; but his lip said it only, not his heart, so hollow and

meaningless broke it upon my ear, like some old Grecian oracle; and rather from unwilling hands take the bread of dependence, I would have placed my lips in the dust of God's highway, and died like any beggar!

But Cousin Deborah, O sweet Deborah! with her dark eyes all a-glow with tenderest sympathy, and her white bosom swelling up with tears that would gush out, placed her hand lovingly in mine, and in her sweet, winning, gentle way, won me from my grief's first bitterness, and so my heart' leapt captive to her feet,' and now lies buried with her! I cannot paint to you my Cousin Deborah; I doubt me much if Raphael himself could do it. She was indeed

'ONE

Not learned, save in gracious household ways;
Not perfect, nay, but full of tender wants;
No angel, but a dearer being, all dipt
In angel instincts, breathing paradise;
Interpreter between the gods and men,
Who looked all native to her place, and yet
On tiptoe seemed to touch upon a sphere

Too gross to tread; and all male minds perforce
Swayed to her from their orbits as they moved,
And girdled her with music.'

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АH! truly my Uncle John Massingale was a hard man, but an honest, walking upright before the world, and dealing out his niggard charities where the breath of fame could do their heralding; and it behooved him now to notice his poor kinsman in some small respect, who might say with Cæsar, looking over the weary battle-field of his college life, Veni, vidi, vici: so came the offer, cold and courteous, and winding up with written words of affection, of a situation as Principal in Linklaen Academy, of which he was trustee.

What motive had I for accepting it — I, Philip Massingale, who had struggled up and conquered without his aid when most needed what cared I now for the situations he might obtain for me? The world was a broad world, a most broad world, and manly independence and force and vigor might hew out for itself a road through the flintiest rock, and make the desert path breathe all the odors of Araby. Why did I accept his offer then, and find myself seated at his table again, not with his common help, to be sure, but still at his table? It was the sweet face of my Cousin Deborah; the one great lodestone where every hope of life and death lay centred. And now I fold my hands in calm and patient waiting, while the mournful melody of these two lines from Coleridge's 'Wallenstein' rings in my ears and thrills my heart like music:

'THITHER where she lies buried!

That single spot is the whole world to me.'

But I pass to brighter scenes in my history, not forgetting that my life-beaker, if it has had its dregs of bitterest sorrow, has had also its foam-bead of joy.

If the welcome I received from my uncle John Massingale was cold and courteous, that from my Cousin Deborah was as warm and tender as my heart could wish. I have neglected to mention that my aunt

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After the

was dead, and that Deborah presided over the household.
tumult of greeting was over, she showed me to my room, and once
away from beneath her father's eye, she grasped my hands in hers, and
whispered she was so glad that I had come. Oh! how the warm blood
gushed to my heart; and as she turned and left me, it seemed as though
I could have fallen down and kissed the hem of her garment, and risen
up a better man for that single act of earthly devotion.

I was sitting one Saturday morning, in the sweet month of June, within the low piazza that overlooked my uncle's garden, watching the ever-changing evolutions of a beautiful humming-bird, whose golden crest varied in color as often as he changed his position, when my Cousin Deborah startled me from my intent observation, by asking me if I did not wish to go to the Rowans, a particular field upon my uncle's farm, to pick strawberries with her. Starting up gladly, I seized the basket which she held in her small hands, and through the lush June grass, trampling down butter-cup and daisy and the golden dandelion, went we to the Rowans.

Oh! the sweetness of that June-morning walk! how the memory of it comes back to me through the long lapse of weary years, as fresh and vividly as though it were but yesterday, filling my soul with such a tenderness, that tears will gush up to water anew the dead and withered hopes of my heart!

The hedges were all athrill with liquid melody, from the thrilling spink-spank-spink of the bobolink, who lifted his white crown from the tender green of the grass, to the carolling welcome of the robin, with his red vest, and the sweet song of the pewit. Away over the broad wavy meadows a thousand blossoms, gold and white and crimson, looked up into the sun-shine, while the long, narrow, sword-like blades of grass, still dabbled with the morning's dew, reached their heads up lovingly to snuff their fragrant odors.

Adown the middle of the Rowans ran a gurgling stream, winding its silver eddies, radiant with the sun-shine, through all the luxurious garniture of the pleasant June. Thick set were its banks with purple violets and gold-eyed cowslips, while the spotted lily, from the graceful curve of its slender neck, dispensed its nods and becks most loyally. Further back, nestling in loving clusters, were the crimson tufts of the balm-flower, contrasting their beauty with budded lupines and sweet-swelling anemones. Down toward the lower end of the meadow where the little stream wound itself into the woodland shadows, the narrow leaves of the willow turned up their silver lining, as though to put to shame the sun-shine, and then laughed and quivered all over at such a fine conceit. The queen of the meadows stood up in all her regal loveliness, and, nodding their yellow turbans, like Arabs doing homage, a thousand graceful adders'-tongues received the languid favors of the passing breeze. Oh! how glorious and grand and full of loveliness was that June morning, and queenliest of all those meadow-beauties was my sweet Cousin Deborah, whose

-feet

Seemed far sweeter than the sweet
Wild-flowers that would follow her
With iridescent eyes.'

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