Obrazy na stronie

quickly followed by another from her rich full lips, still more damning to my accusing conscience

“My husband will be with us presently. He will be so glad to make your acquaintance.”

As we were still in the room alone, I was just about beginning a nice little previously-concocted speech, having special bearing and reference to our early years, when she provokingly asked me, in the most winning and tender terms, after the welfare of my wife and children, and, without giving me time to reply, she added :

“ You would like to see my children, I'm sure. I used to be very fond, you know, of keep-sake ornaments in my youth, but now, I am like the famous Cornelia, daughter of the great Scipio, who when importuned by a lady of her acquaintance to shew her toilet, she deferred satisfying her curiosity till her children, who were the famous Gracchi, came from school, and then said. En! haec ornamenta mea sunt,' —“ These are my ornaments." Oh, here they come ! Mr Constance, my dears."

This was nearly too much for me; but I managed to get over the ceremony of embracing and fondling some half-dozen second editions of their mother pretty well, and was at last beginning to feel the full force of the conviction that things were not so bad after all, when my equilibrium of mind was doomed once more to be disturbed by the half-whispered remark of Lucy the younger to her mother, that she thought “ Mr Constance was crying !”

Just at this moment, however, a hale, hearty aldermaniclike personage, having all the air of a “City” man, smilingly entered the room.

“My husband. Mr Constance."

Mr Lovelace shook me most heartily by the hand, expressing the very great pleasure he felt in making my acquaintance, congratulating me on my safe arrival in my native land after so long absence, reiterating the pleasure and delight he felt that I had taken up my residence in his own immediate neighbourhood, and at the pleasing prospect of the friendly interchange of courtesies between the two families.

The company now began to arrive, and in the general conversation which ensued, I felt my spirits rising again to their usual height, and Lucy-I mean-Mrs Lovelace—and I chatted away about anything and everything, except our early loves, or broken vows, or present unhappiness.

Dinner announced, Mr Lovelace asked me in the blandest manner possible to lead to the dining-room the mistress of the house, which I most gallantly did, sat at her right hand during dinner, did the amiable in the most approved style of the West End, and again led her up to the drawing-room, where the young people had already assembled, to conclude with the merry dance the festivities of the evening.

To make the narrative complete, I may as well add that I was actually Mrs Lovelace's partner in the first quadrille, her dutiful husband and Mrs Constance being the opposite couple, and that what took place beneath the mistletoe was just that which usually occurs either when old or young pass under the enchanted bough.

Many years have passed away since then, and my wife and Mrs Lovelace have been bosom friends ever since, while Mr Lovelace and I have had many a quiet rubber together in each other's houses, always winding up with a modicum of warm cognac, drinking each other's good health, as well as that of our wives (when present) with all the gusto and warmth of old, attached friends.

I stated at the outset how much I disliked long introductions, and now add in conclusion, that I have an equal aversion to what is popularly called “pointing " the moral of a tale. My opinion has always been that if a tale be worth the paper on which it is written it ought to carry its moral along with it, not requiring any formal or studied "application" of the subject.

I should now, therefore, finally conclude with the simple yet comprehensive words, "Second thoughts are best," were

[ocr errors]

it not I overhear some of my fair readers doubtingly whisper, Depend upon it, these old lovers-especially the lady-were simply playing a part, affecting indifference to, and non-remembrance of, former days, while their real feelings had actually undergone no change, being in point of fact, as strong and sensitive as ever.”

Now, I frankly admit this is not only the poetic view of the subject, but that true, pure, and first heart-love knows no decay; and had I been writing a novel, most certainly there would have been a suicide, or a murder, or some other dread catastrophe amongst my characters long before this time. But as I am not writing a romance, but a story of real life, I must not colour my narrative at the expense of truth, nor sacrifice domestic felicity at the shrine of wedded love. Rather allow me to refer to the only witness, besides myself, who can by any possibility unravel the mystery. Mrs Lovelace still lives, a happy wife and mother, in her semi-detached villa at Brompton; and sure I am, when she reads these lines, her evidence will coincide in every important particular with my own—the gist of the whole simply amounting to this, that in spite of ourselves, the feelings of love we once entertained for each other gradually and imperceptibly, without reasons asked, given, or assigned, died completely and for ever away, giving place to a deeper, higher, and holier affection, which neither time nor death can ever destroy, exemplifying the grand difference between love as a passion and love as a deepseated feeling of the heart.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

I ALWAYS wished I had had a sister ; the very name “ sister" has such a charm about it of sweetness, and purity, and beauty, and love! How, I thought from boyhood, I should have tended, adored, and loved an only sister! I used to think, to muse, to dream of, yea, petition, beseech, and pray for a little sister, not only to share in my youthful pleasures and amusements, but to partake of my ardent affection, my deep-seated, yearning, devoted love. The wish became in time a passion, so that everything in nature, every event of providence, was hallowed by the precious, mysterious unction of a sister's love, which imagination governed, subdued, and sweetened every emotion of the soul, every affection of the heart, until I lived a new existence of elevated, inspired aspirations.

Pretty little sister,

Art thou far away,
That thou dost not hear me

Calling thee all day!


Art thou in the sunshine,

Giancing on the streams,
Crystalline bright sunbeam,

Lighting all my dreams?

Art thou in the rosebud,

Gemmed with morning dew,
Peeping out so slyly,

While I wait for you?

Art thou with the skylark,

Chanting in the sky,
While on earth I listen

Thy sweet minstrelsy?

Art thou in the welkin,

Glist’ning like a star,
While all night I'm weeping,

Wond'ring where you are ?

Art thou like an angel,

Bright with sunny wings,
Crowns and sceptres golden,

Harps of sweetest strings ?
Pretty little sister,

I can weep no more ;
Shall we meet in heaven,

If not on earth before ?

Come, sweet little sister,

Nestle in my breast,
Songs of welcome greeting-

Softly be at rest.

My strange yet ardent wish was at length realised. I was just turned twelve when another member was added to our already numerous family. No one was more really interested in all the preliminary stages of preparation for the longlooked-for event, and no one more assiduously watched the mysterious movements and whispered instructions of “Nursy” than myself. And when at last the announcement was made

a girl," my heart leapt within me for very joy, and I experienced all the joyous feeling and hallowed delight which those only can feel and experience who have courag

that it was

« PoprzedniaDalej »