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In one of the strictly agricultural and richly. I it had not in former times. Large barns, half cultivated districts of the midland counties of empty; cow-houses, with only two or three England was a solitary farm-house. It lay on lowing occupants; old waggons sinking idly the verge of one of those royal forests, of which into decay in the yard, showed that the farm now only two or three remain in England, and was no longer what it had been. But the house, those few sadly shorn of their pristine glory. old as it was, had an appearance of substantial Years ago, this noble forest extended for miles comfort, befitting a prosperous farmer or yeoand miles over the country, so that it was a man; one of that race which the tide of comday's journey or more to cross it from boun- merce and manufactures is gradually sweeping dary to boundary. Beasts of prey made their away from the face of the land. Its sole misdens in its dark recesses, and wild deer roamed tress now was a widow, who with her only child about in security from the hand of man. Age still kept up, in a small degree, the farm on after age man had encroached upon its limits, which her husband had lived, worked, and had driven the wild beasts from their dangerous died. covert, and cut down the ancient trees. Now It would be difficult accurately to describe stately mansions and green lawns occupied the Mrs. Grainger, the widow. She was not a place of the dens of the wolf and the bear. Still, lady-she made no pretensions to dignity higher however, though much diminished in extent, the than that of a farmer's wife; and yet there was forest was dangerous for a stranger to traverse an air of refinement about her, which made those without a guide ; and many an old woodsman, both above and below her in worldly station treat who had been for years accustomed to its mazes, her with equal respect. People talk of country never ventured to pierce into its gloomy depths clowns, and country rudeness; and yet there is without a mariner's compass in his pocket to often more of natural politeness and good manguide him on his way.
ners under the roof of an English farm-house, At the foot of a wooded hill, which formed the than in all the civilized city districts. Mrs. boundary of the forest at this side, lay the farm- | Grainger's old-fashioned parlour was a curious house of which we have spoken. It was in a one, with its square piece of carpet in the centre, lovely sheltered valley; behind it, almost at the and dark polished oak floor shining outside; very door, rose up the dark woods in a sudden the fine China ornaments, and the broad mantelascent; and in front were green undulations, piece; the few old books on a shelf in one scarcely amounting to hills, but still enough to corner, and the ancient anomalous-looking form a barrier against cold winds. The house, piece of furniture called a side-board, which low, straggling, and surrounded by innumerable seemed old enough and large enough to contain smaller erections, looked, as an English farm all the generations which had successively owned house generally does, like a little village, en- it. Like her habitation, was Mrs. Grainger herclosing within itself its own domestic resources, self-simple, upright, precise : without need of wants, and amusements. And indeed it would any disguise, she used none; and her heart was have been almost useless to the inhabitants to as free from the dust of evil as her furniture. look elsewhere for such appliances, as the house To go on with the simile, as sweet and fresh was many miles distant from any town, and in as the flowers with which the old house was winter-time almost inaccessible. There was garnished, was the widow's only daughter, now an air of desolation about the place, which Ruth.
We must confess to a weakness for the naine “What a pity such a handsome fellow was of Ruth. Its Hebrew meaning-well watered- not born a gentleman!” is pleasant; and then the name, after our own If any asked about the younger brother, the Saxon, has such a gentle, pitiful sound of for- answer usually wasgiveness, ruth. Then, too, it brings thoughts “Oh, the young man is good enough; clever, of her
too, in his way; some day he thinks of being “ Who stood in tears amid the alien corn,"
schoolmaster, when old Brown dies, I dare
say.” and of her tale of filial love and holy piety. | Ruth Grainger had been all her life treated by Fashion calls the name obsolete and quakerish, Horace and Stephen as a younger and petted as she does many other scripture names, good sister; and now that all were grown up, there and pleasant of old, to our forefathers, though was still but slight difference-in their outward now discarded; but we like Ruth all the better behaviour, at least. Ruth knew too little of the for being a favourite with the worthy sect who world to be aware that such adopted ties could number among them William Penn and Eliza- not last for ever; that they would either be beth Fry. And surely since the days of Naomi's weakened in their force, or deepen into a stronger daughter, never was a gentler or fairer Ruth and more enduring affection: she had loved than this of ours. She had grown up like one both brothers equally in her childish days, had of the primroses of her native forest, as pure sported and laughed with Horace, and held and as beautiful. A hackneyed description this grave and confidential talks with Stephen. Now, of a village heroine, often most opposed to if there was any change, it was that her manner nature; but still sometimes in the most un- | towards the latter was more reserved; it might looked-for spots, and amidst the rudest com- be from a girlish fear of his great talents. Yet, pany, we meet sweet and graceful creatures though she always talked with Horace, she loved springing up, like flowers by the way-side. And to listen in silence while Stephen spoke, and such a one was Ruth Grainger.
often sat watching the changes of his expressive Ruth had spent her childhood almost alone. but not strictly handsome face, when no one Their nearest neighbour was an old farmer of observed her. Still, if any one had asked her the name of Leigh. Late in life Mr. Leigh had | which of her old playfellows she liked best, married a young wife, who died, leaving two | Ruth could hardly have told; but fortune soon infant boys. Some intermarriages between the brought about the discovery. Leighs and Graingers, years ago, had consti- A few months after his father's death, Horace tuted a sort of nominal cousinship; Mrs. Grain- | Leigh rose up one sunny morning, and without ger's kind heart made her take an interest in the saying a word of his intention to Stephen-an motherless boys, and they were Ruth's frequent unusual circumstance-rode off to the Hill and only companions. Horace Leigh, the eld. Farm. He did not seek Ruth or ask for her, est, was his father's darling. He was named but went directly to Mrs. Grainger's little parafter one who had been the pride of the old | lour; and when Ruth came in, she heard with farmer--his master's son, the young squire, a surprise, and some slight vexation, that Horace high spirited, generous youth, who never lived had been with her mother two whole hours, and to manhood, and whose deeds he loved to re- yet she herself had not been sent for. When she count, and to point to the stately tomb of poor | entered the room both started; Mrs. Grainger Master Horace in the old church. A little of kissed her daughter more fervently than even this loving veneration seemed to have descended was usual to her after a parting of some few to the child who bore his name; for Horace was hours; and Horace listened with slight conever more regarded than his younger brother fusion to Ruth's gay reproaches. Stephen. This might have caused jealousy; “ And here you are going to run away the but Stephen was of an humble and yielding na- | moment I come in," said she, seeing the young ture, and sc accustomed from his birth to give man take his hat and riding-whip. way to his bolder and handsomer brother, that “ I must go now, Ruth; I have business." no more dissensions than are usual with boys I “ But you will come again ?” rose up between them.
“I hope so-nay, I will, indeed I will,” said The boys grew to manhood, and the old father | Horace earnestly, looking with strong affection died. He was a yeoman of good estate; so that at the young girl, who had laid her hand on his when Horace inherited the farm, with the broad arm to detain him; he pressed it warmly, shook acres which his father during a long and labo- | hands with Mrs. Grainger, and a minute afterrious life had added to it, he was considered / wards Ruth watched him from the window not beneath the notice of the smaller gentry of dashing his horse at full speed down the lane. the neighbourhood. He hunted with them, That night, when Ruth and her mother were riding to cover on fine horses, that set off to ad- shut up together in their own room-for the vantage a really well-proportioned form, and a widow and her child were never parted day or face of which any young man would be proud. / night-Mrs. Grainger listened to Ruth's laughing Horace well knew these facts, and he returned the questions as to what her mother and Horace salutation, with which many of his superiors ho- could find to talk about for two hours, and noured him, with an air in which there was not then answered gravely-"We had many things overmuch of humility; nevertheless, the young to say.” squires only smiled, and the ladies would say " l'hen why did you not send for me to help
in the discussion ? I wonder Horace did not | or from the Leighs. Gentle as bad been Ruth's care to see me, mother.”
rejection of her lover, she knew how acutely he “ Horace is very fond of you, Ruth."
must feel it; and her heart was sorely pained at “ He told you so, did he? I am glad of it; the inevitable breaking of what had been such a it is so pleasant to be liked by those one likes pleasant tie. She grew so sad, and evidently very much in return,” said Ruth frankly and suffered so much, that one might have thought cheerfully.
she had really loved Horace; sometimes she The mother looked surprised at her daughter's alınost thought so herself, but when she asked open countenance, and then said, “I see you her own heart the question, the answer was, do not quite understand me, love. Come and “ No; not him, not him!” sit down here, I have something to say to you.” Ruth was returning one day down the hill,
Ruth drew her footstool close to the widow's from one of her forest rambles, when she saw a chair, and sat down with her head leaning on horse tied at the gate of the house: she feared her mother's lap, her favourite position,
it was Horace's, and she shrank much from Mrs. Grainger went on :-“ I know that you meeting him; so she turned back into the wood. and Horace have been like brother and sister; A few minutes after, she was orertaken, not by but it is not this kind of love which he feels her lover, but by Stephen. Ruth held out her now; he told me so to-day. Horace loves you hand in cordial greeting, and her old companion very much-more than ever, Ruth; he wishes to took it in the same spirit. The young girl was make you his wife.”
relieved to find that either Stephen knew nothing Mrs. Grainger pronounced these words slowly I of what had passed, or else that he bore no ill-will and with visible agitation. Ruth turned very to her for it. In a few minutes the two were pale, and then a deep colour rose to her cheek walking arm-in-arm, and talking as of old. as she said in a low tone--"I did not expect Stephen did not mention his brother's name this, mother. Tell me all Horace said."
for some time, and when he did, it was in a And the widow related the young man's con
passing way; but he felt Ruth's hand tremble. fession of a sincere and long-cherished love; his frank statement of his good prospects, his hopes,
“ How is Horace?” she asked, her kindly and his doubts lest Ruth's affection for him
nature overcoming the reserve which was natural should only be of that sisterly nature which had
in such a case. once been all he desired.
“ He has been ill--he is not well now," Ruth listened without a word, but the qui
answered Stephen, looking fixedly at his comvering of her lips revealed her strong emotion.
panion. “ And now," said the mother, drawing her
The tears came into the gentle girl's eyes;
Stephen noticed it, and said kindly, “ Do not child closer to her, “he only waits for your answer; mine is given. What could I say against
be sad, dear Ruth; I know all; I would not one with so much that is good in him as
have spoken of him, but that you asked me.” Horace; and who, moreover. will not part me! “ And you are not angry with me, Stephen?" from my child while I live? Tell me, Ruth, can “How should I be angry? You have done no you give Horace the love he asks--the love of a wrong. You had no power over your own heart. wife towards her husband ?"
Indeed it was natural, brought up as we have The young girl raised her head; her whole been, that you should only feel towards us as a frame trembled; but there was no maidenly sister," added Stephen, with a slight sigh. bashfulness, no irresolution in her colourless Ruth made no answer, and they came in features, as she answered, “Mother, I cannot." silence to an old and favourite spot, beside a
Horace's hopes had beguiled him ; even the little well that sprung from the hill-side, and mother herself was deceived. Ruth did not love flowed down to the valley ; in old times it had him!
been a medicinal spring of high repute; and the There was a long silence. Perhaps Mrs. I peculiar nature of its waters formed curious inGrainger felt relieved that there was no other crustations of various hues all round the sides; love to come between her and her darling; but so that looking down into the well was like she urged Horace's suit no more; only, as they gazing on a fairy palace below the surface, rose up to retire for the night, she said, “Well, which melted away at the touch. All round the I am glad that it was Horace, and not Stephen, well the two boys had planted primroses and wild who loved you; for he will bear the disappoint- hyacinths, which every spring grew more abumeut much better than poor Stephen would dant; a sweeter spot could not be, and so Ruth have done."
and Stephen said for the hundredth time as It was well that Mrs. Grainger's head was they came and sat down by the well. Ruth turned aside, so that she did not see the glowing dipped her slight fingers in the water, and played crimson that suffused Ruth's face and neck at with the broad primrose leaves; while Stephen, these words. Not until that moment had the after a short silence, again referred to Ilorace young girl known the secret of her own heart. I and his disappointment.
For some weeks after Virs. Grainger had im- “Ile does not know of my coming here toparted to Horace-kindly and gently as the day; but I could not bear to wait longer without young man deserved, and as her own motherly ; seeing you and your mother. Why should this regard for him prompted-the intelligence of the affair make any difference between us?” hopelessness of his love, nothing was heard of “Why indeed should it ?” repeated Rutlı
anxiously. “ Such old friends as we are --" | gentle bosom—the sorrow which was born with She stopped.
her love or whether from inherent delicacy, Stephen waited a moment, and then con- | which only needed some trifling cause to blight tinued: “I do not care what Horace says. I her youth and beauty, none could tell ; but she must come here; I will not part with you too.” drooped even in the midst of her happiness, as
“I should be sorry, very sorry;" and Ruth Stephen's plighted wife: he did not see it, nor drooped her head so that he could not see did her mother, until every one else knew that her face.
she was dying. And in little more than a year Stephen's countenance was usually calm, but from the time when Ruth had promised to be now every feature seemed disturbed; and his his own, Stephen laid his bride in the cold arms fingers were nervously tearing in pieces a hand- of death. ful of primroses which he had unconsciously It is hardly sad when the aged depart-nor plucked.
even the young, when we know there is no more “ We were very happy in our childish days, joy for them in this world; but when they die, Ruth,” he said, with an effort. “But I knew as Ruth, with a future full of hope dawning beit could not be always so; it must end at last." fore them, in the midst of love and happiness,
“ Do not talk thus,”' answered Ruth, turning it is bitter, very bitter! Poor human nature towards him her beautiful eyes. “Let us forget clings to visible things, not to the unseen joys all that has happened. Horace himself will of immortality. We cannot bear to lose the forget it in time; and meanwhile let me be, to light of our eyes, to lay our beloved down from you at least, the same--your sister.”
our arms, for happiness which we ourselves have “Oh, not my sister," cried the young man not yet tasted, and only know through faith ; impetuously, “ not my sister, but my wife. I and faith itself grows weak sometimes. No did not mean to tell you, Ruth, but I must. I wonder then, that when Stephen closed the eyes love you more than ever Horace did. Do not of his beloved, and laid her form down from say to me as you did to him!”
his bosom, where she had softly breathed her Ruth did not, for her sole answer was a gush life away, to its immovable repose, he felt as if of silent tears. The birds sang in the forest- life was all darkness to him. boughs over head; the primroses dipped their Of the widow'a anguish, thus bereaved of her heads in the water; the sunny earth was full of only child, we dare not speak; God only knows gladness and melody; as if all nature rejoiced the grief of a mother! at the union of the two loving hearts, whose It was a bleak autumn day when Ruth-no, secret had thus suddenly and unexpectedly been not Ruth, but the clay which had garmented discovered each to each.
her loving and gentle spirit—was carried to its Mrs. Grainger's first emotion, on hearing of resting-place in the forest church-yard. The the love between Ruth and Stephen, was un- brown withered leaves drifted down on the white mitigated surprise. In such cases people often pall as the coffin was borne through the woods. have their eyes closed to the most likely and Tears fell from hard eyes as the holy words were natural events, and then wonder at their own uttered, and then all the mourners departed, blindness. That Ruth should have preferred and Stephen Leigh was left alone with his dead. the quiet Stephen-whose gentle and retiring | His heart was well nigh broken as he looked on disposition made even his acknowledged talents the wide landscape, seen from the hilly churchscarcely perceptible--to the handsome, frank, yard, where many a Sunday he and Horace and noble-spirited Horace, was the wonder of the Ruth had stood together; a dim autumn mist mother; yet she herself loved Stephen best; was creeping over it now, and it chilled his very and what marvel was it that Ruth should do soul. They were all three so happy once, and so too? But, poor Horace, brooding over his now there was nothing but sorrow, estrangedisappointment in solitary bitterness! Even the | ment, and death. Who had done this? Not he. hearts of the happy lovers often ached for him, And Horace was as much to be pitied as himand they trembled for the time when the truth self-it might be more; yet grief had put bitshould come to his knowledge. It did come atterness in even Stephen's heart, and as he last; for in like circumstances “a bird of the air thought of his brother his hands clenched inwill carry the matter.” Fearful to witness was voluntarily; he knelt down on the grave, to the wrath and despair of the unfortunate young drive away all thought save of her who was man ; he loaded with opprobrious epithets his gone. regretful though innocent brother, who pitying He remained many minutes without moving, Horace, and almost reproaching himself as the and when he looked up Horace was standing unwitting cause of such misery, had not a word opposite to him. Months had passed since the to say. Stephen left his brother's house for brothers had met; both were changed; Horace ever, and the direst eninity took the place of fearfully so; he stood there immovable, his that fraternal regard which had hitherto sub- features white and still as marble, and marked sisted between them.
| all over with deep lines of anguish. “Man proposes—God disposes !"
Stephen rose up, shocked at the expression of
his brother's face; and both stood gazing at was an old and pious rhyme of our ancestors, each other in silence. At last the elder said, in and oh! how true! Whether it was from the a tone that made Stephen shudder, “ Go away! conflicting feelings which now troubled Ruth's | You have no right to her now.”
“I will not go," answered his brother. “My , allusion never failed to excite. And courted as place is here. Why do you come to trouble Horace Leigh had once been, most people shrank
from him now; for he had grown to be a hard “Go away!" Horace repeated more violently. master, a suspicious friend, easily roused to “ You stole her from me; you deceived me; passion; and many people said, by turns a miser and now you would keep me away from her
and a prodigal. He lived alone in his large grave."
gloomy house, and never appeared at church; “I never did you wrong, Horace,” said Ste
only at times he was seen to visit stealthily poor phen, trying to command himself and speak
Ruth's grave. A willow had been planted there, calmly. " I did not even know you loved her
and it was now grown up into a tree, and the till afterwards. I never stole her away from you.
birds sang in its branches; yet all these years What sin was it if Ruth loved me?
could not extinguish the fire that burned in the
two brothers' hearts. Stephen's animosity was “ Liar! How dare you mention her name?”
less than Horace's, for his nature was softer cried Horace in violent rage. “ You have
and more forgiving; yet he often thought, that sinned, and you are requited; you have lost her
rear for the results of Horace's anger had for ever; she is mine now as much as yours.
weighed down Ruth's meek spirit, and so Once more I say, go away from hence! You
brought her to her grave; and he could not, have no right to haunt me even at her grave.
without a shudder, look upon his brother when But for her, I would strike you where you
he remembered this..
And how felt the mother of her whose love “I will save you that wickedness,” said Ste- / had brought with it such dire effects ? Day and phen, whose gentler and not easily roused spirit night this fatal estrangement weighed upon grew calm in proportion as he saw his brother's Mrs. Grainger's heart. When the grass was anger increase. “ It shall not be said that we green over Ruth's bed of rest, and her memory two contended even over Ruth's grave. I will no longer brought with it such bitter pangs, the strive with you no more for her sake.” And he whole aim of the mother's life was to make peace turned and went away from the spot. As he between the two brothers. Had Horace indeed reached the little gate of the church-yard he been Ruth's chosen, and her own son, she could looked round; Horace had flung himself beside not have felt a deeper pity for him than now. How the little mound of earth, with his arms round could she think harshly of the bright handsome it, and the strong man's frame quivered like boy whom she had taken from his mother's that of a weeping child.
dying bed, and watched from boyhood to youth, į Stephen Leigh went home to his adopted and from youth to manhood, until that fatal mother, for he had promised Ruth to be to Mrs. love ? Every new tale that she heard of Horace's Grainger as a son. Henceforth he took up his advance in error but increased her compassion abode at the Hill Farm, and fulfilled towards for him. She felt as if she must live until the the widow all the duties of a child of her own brothers were reconciled; as if she could not This had been Ruth's dying wish, and it was a meet her Ruth face to face in heaven, until she comfort to both the bereaved ones.
could tell that she had left peace behind her Years passed, and no change took place, save on earth. that the widow's frame became feebler; and she Mrs. Grainger knew how hard was the work talked with a more solemn yet joyful earnest- she had to do, yet she did not fear. She began ness of meeting Ruth again. Stephen Leigh by silently striving to take away all that was advanced towards middle age, becoming more bitter in Stephen's memory, not suffering him immersed than ever in study; but he never | to think that Ruth's death was in any way to be thought of marriage. He had loved Ruth too attributed to Horace's wrath ; and then she imwell ever to love another; still, his heart was as perceptibly brought to his remembrance his full of goodness and tenderness as in his youth | brother's generous temper in their childish days ful days; and no son or daughter, not even the and all that was good in his character. And lost one herself, could have soothed and che- then she pleaded the misery of his unrequited rished with more affectionate care the widow's love; how much happier was Stephen to know declining years.
that Ruth had died loving him, than poor Upon Horace the blighting of his hopes had Horace, who had not one drop of honey in his a different effect. Happy love might have con- cup of gall. All this Mrs. Grainger accomquered the errors of his nature, and made his plished so unconsciously to the object of her brighter qualities shine forth; but misfortune care, that Stephen Leigh had forgiven his broworked otherwise on his character. Passionate ther in his heart long before even he was aware in all his feelings, his intense love changed into of the fact.
nt hatred, and the object of it was, as might! But the good work of the peace-maker was as be expected, his brother Stephen. Though living yet only begun. With Horace there was little within a few miles of each other, the brothers hope-he seemed to be as immovable as a rock. seldom met; or, if they did, each would turn The two brothers passed one another with stony aside as if the other were a snake in his path. and averted eyes, and quickened steps. A No friend or acquaintance of Horace's dared stranger would never have dreamed that they mention Stephen's name in his presence, so had once loved one another; had slept in the violent was the burst of wrath that such an same cradle; had played round one mother's