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little brown birds flitted on downy wing, or sang among the leafy bushes. This day-dreamer murmured to himself, that these little, wandering harmonies must be the elves, enjoying their noonday gambols in their own wild glen, and was mightily pleased with this conceit.
Following out his own unsuspected poetic fancy, when his massive house (or hausen) was built, with its many gables, its detached kitchens and offices for his retainers and domestics, he christened it Glenelvanhausen. But from this great, unwieldy name of the family mansion has long since been dropt all the superfluous, as also the plural sense, and is now simply, Glenelvan. And this, like many another ancient house, has its story-wild, sad, interwoven with golden threads of sweet and fanciful memories, and all in the rich, warm coloring of real life.
However pleasant it might be to revel in the myths and silvery memories of the olden time, a present purpose has to do with the events, deeds, and bright dreams of the later occupants of this storied house.
The soft fleecy clouds of evening were tinged with the sun's last rays, light summer breezes played in the luxuriant foliage or swept down as if to steal a kiss from the bright flowers blossoming all along the garden paths.
Out from the wide-spreading shadows of those giant oaks came two young girls hand in hand, and light almost as the playful zephyrs glided along through an opening in the hawthorn hedge into the flower garden. Tripping along the gravel walks, peeping in among the fragrant shades of the shrubbery where the wee birdies had built their nests, pulling a flower or stooping to caress an opening bud, flitting airily as a thought, at times laughing merrily, in everything the entire impersonation of innocent childhood, went the gay little maidens.
Twilight was deepening in all those garden bowers, the bright-winged butterfly had ceased his airy gambols, and the hum of the bee had long since sank into silence.
“Come away, Minnie-let us hide here under the lilacs, and wait until we see a little elve come out,” said the slightest of the maidens to her companion. And they quickly withdrew into the shadow of a white lilac. They had not long to wait, for a large—a very giant of a moth or miller came flashing from flower to flower, creeping into the cup of one, then out and wbirring into another, and ever keeping up that monotonous, droning sound.
“There is one—there is a little elve”-let us run and catch it. Come, Minnie.”
“No, no, wait—there is another ! Oh what pretty wings p" “ Are these little elvs Monica tells us about ?”
“I think they must be, for I have never seen any othersand these like hers, only come out in the twilight."
“Oh-pray see that pretty one going down into that trumpet flower 1 .
“And that large one just humming around those lovely evening primroses !”
Presto—and each little maiden pounced upon a little "elve.” This could only be done when the unsuspecting creatures were “deep in their cups," or in other words, far down in the recesses of some trumpet-shaped flower-but these were abundant.
“Oh, Minnie, hear mine beg to get out, and cry as if he thought I would hurt him.”
“And see, Albertine, mine is as large as a humming bird. There is his tongue that he sips honey with--long as my two fingers--see-how he coils it up under his chin ! There, go, little grey-coat, I've torn the flower to pieces to get a peep at you. Now, Albertine, I do not believe they are elvs at all—they are not drest in green but in modest gray—so I mean to call them little • quakers.'”
“But my mother does not like me to use that name--so I must call them 'friends, if you please 1"
“Which we, like the world's people generally-pounce upon with every good occasion."
om of gardens. appeared at
“But we never hurt them ?”
“Oh, no, we only snatch them up in our relentless little paws-out of mere curiosity.”
A tall, graceful figure now appeared at the window that looked into the gardens. It was a young lady in the full rich bloom of youth, with large blue eyes, hair of soft brown and very abundant with the brightest bloom mantling her cheeks, and lips like ripe pomegranites. She stood in a mute and easy attitude, looking down upon the young girls, and smiled at their eager play. A moment passed—and then with a slight gesture of her beautiful hand beckoned them in.
“My sister Mildred is calling us, Albertine," said the taller one, and they at once went tripping up the gravel walk and in at the side door opening upon the parterre.
In a large old fashioned drawing-room, finished with rich, dark wood, the choicest of the surrounding forests, in an elaborate style, with its superb but antique furniture, with all the appliances of wealth and the evidence of thriving industry, sat the lady of the mansion-a most lovely looking woman, who seemed scarcely to have reached the full maturity of matronly perfection.
But the soft light in which she sat, the mellow tints of the rich drapery of the room, and the sweet, kind expression of her fair face, the stateliness of her manners, lent her a charm, greater even than the freshness of youth. The two young girls entered from the garden and were greeted with many caresses. The lady said
“My little robins, I want you to sing for me."
“Ah, dear mamma, robins do not sing at this hour, unless it be after a bright summer rain."
“Would you not like to sing then, pet ?”
“Oh, certainly, my mamma. And I would love to sing as the robin sings at your window in the morning ; one can feel that his soul goes out in his song."
The mother cold red, my pet in a half
“Well, why cannot you, Minnie ?”
"I guess my soul is not so well trained to harmony, or, else is not as large.”
The mother laughed brightly, then added, “You must sing oftener with Mildred, my pet."
“Albertine," Minnie said in a half whisper to her friend, “now as my sister Mildred plays, we will try to believe ourselves the veriest larks in the meadows, singing and soaring."
The young lady who at the window had drawn those bright young creatures from the garden, now took her seat at the grand piano, played a prelude and then commenced a sweet but simple ballad, Albertine and Minnie joining with their voices. Half an hour elapsed, and there was a pause in the singing—the mother said
“Mildred, I marvel much if Rose has not yet returned from the cottages 1”
At that moment there was the flutter of snowy drapery at the door, and a young lady of some sixteen summers came tripping into the room, bringing a lovely nosegay of scented leaves and roses of many varieties and colors, but the beautiful blush-rose predominated.
“I lingered to bind up these roses for you, dearest mamma," she said, presenting them with a graceful courtesy.
Meantime in the large ball leading through the house, and from which the drawing-room opened—the entire domestic corps had been gradually gathering. It was a goodly sight to see this robust, cheerful and intelligent group—an entire family in itself, yet in one way the dependents of the landholder.' Their fathers had come from the “Faderland," but they belonged to the peasantry, and this family was now most warmly attached to the family of their protector.
Ranged along beneath the broad stair-case which led up the great hall, or thoroughfare of the house to the spacious chambers, was a row of seats and lounges, where the do
mestic group habitually gathered at evening to hear the young ladies sing and play on the grand piano, or at times listen to the master as he read for an hour, and in earlier days to hear the mistress play on the harp, accompanying it with her sweet voice in many a familiar song.
There sat good Monica, who had been the handmaiden of the mistress of this house, and only a few years her senior, and by her side her good man Hans Kronk, and on either side of them their children, Katrine and Meta, excellent girls, with such a look of hearty content, and John, the sturdy counterpart of his father, and Yoppa, already falling asleep upon his fat and ruddy hands.
The music had been resumed, Rose joining with Minnie and Albertine in singing, but as the clock in the hall told off the hour of nine, Meta was summoned to the parlor by the mistress-it was the hour for the little ladies, Minnie and Albertine, to retire.
The young handmaiden returned to the hall, took up a small silver candlestick with its wax taper, lighted it at the candelabra in the hall, and then waited at the foot of the stairs. Meantime the young girls had said good night to the mother and sisters in a formal but elegant manner ; then came out into the hall, and to each and every one paid the same tribute of respect, and followed Meta up the broad staircase and disappeared within their own room.
The master of Glenelvan had not yet returned ; but Monica and Hans, as was their wont, saluted the mistress and went to the apartments long since appropriated to their use. Rose took her seat at the piano to practice under her mother's eye.
It was their habit to wait for the father and brother to return from the city, and John sat in the hall to attend them on their arrival. So closed the day, and like it in all its main features; every day in the year, in this happy and wellordered house.