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the Past, sinca
Slowly, almost rom
My little po
THREE years, three busy years have glided stilly and smoothly onward into the ocean of the Past, since I laid down my pen. Slowly, almost reluctantly I take it up.
My little Jesse and her husband, Hamish McGreggor, had been up to tea with me, but have now returned to their pretty cottage. A year ago, at my desire, and with their glad consent, they came to America, and proceeded at once to Glenelvan, having been united in the holy bonds of marriage a few weeks previous to their embarkation.
Both being young, and a country strange to them, the winter approaching, I would not let them feel alone, or pining for mother or home, or dim the new brightness of their wedded life. I made their home for the time with me in my father's house, giving them those apartments which would have been appropriated to Katrine if she had married and remained at Glenelvan. They sat with me at my father's board, were my honored guests.
Meantime, the cottage was being renewed and made beautiful for their permanent home. The little mountain stream was brought into that“ cunningest” of all little kitchens ; the garden reset, the grape arbor, which had fallen into disrepute, put in prime order, (and by the way, was now hung all over, with rich purple clusters,) and in the rear had been constructed a miniature poultry yard, with its slight latticework fence, fringed on the upper side, that gradually rose up toward the hills, with a younger growth of evergreens, the spruce, the red cedar with its pleasant fragrance, the kalmia, in early summer covered with its rosy blossoms, thus combining beauty with utility-this was all done for dear Jesse, who had a most affluent imagination and gave promise of being a model house-wife.
And farther above these, higher up the slope, grew the mountain ash, and the wild service tree, blending with it the darker foliage of the hill-side, and anon, pecking at the bright clustering berries, the thrush and the black-bird sang the livelong day.
I took care not to fail in kindness at my cottagers, the Dunns and the light-hearted Biddy Malones, for I did not choose that they should conceive a feeling of jealousy towards my skyean protegés. Biddy at once took up the idea that the McGreggor's were distant relatives of my mother's, whom we had sought out, in our long absence, and no one being at the pains to refute it, settled into a conviction. And really, I know not but that it may be so. I should be most glad to think it was. I know of no people on the face of the earth with whom I should more gladly learn that I was connected with by the ties of blood.
My Jesse, young Mrs. McGreggor, charmed me with her house-keeping. She had her little maid, Dian, a niece of my aunt Frances's Dinah, who promised to prove as faithful and as fond as that invaluable household fixture, her estimable aunt.
The twain made a pretty picture in their neat cottage, Mistress Jesse with her fair hair, clear northern complexion, and light ringing tones, and Dian, dark and glossy, hair no. crisp but wavy and black as a raven's wing, and her voice, low, mellow, flexible, in feeling, a genuine child of the South, sensitive, shy, impulsive, her heart warmed at the sources of life.
My father so arranged his business connections with my skyean cousins, that they should never know any dependence, for having been born landholders, such a state of feeling would have been irksome.
Hamish was our shepherd, taking scrupulous care of our flocks and herds. IIe improved the sheep-walk, built rustic sheds for the flocks on the sunny hill-sides, looked through the wood-lands, cutting out decaying or unsightly timber,
grubbing up the dense under-brush, laying out a winding path into some charming ravine, so he was our landscape artist too, ever finding out some new and lovely picture. The various families of the feathered tribe, also, came under his practiced eye. He knew where many a shy partridge built her nest, where the wild duck hid among the rushes, where the beautiful wood-pecker made his house high up in some hollow tree, and the smaller wood birds hung their moss-lined homes far out on the swaying branches. The lithe squirrel, leaping from tree to tree, the timid rabbit with ears erect and hurrying away on fleetest foot, might be met at almost every turn, for wild game had ever been most abundant in the woodlands of Glenelvan. And now in the severest winter, when the deep snow lay unmeasured and unbroken, Hamish had a wise care for these aboriginal tenants of those broad forest lands, providing against any accidental failure in the supplies it was the province of dame nature to produce unasked—by feeding with cereals and hominy.
He seemed for the time well satisfied with his occupation, indeed, he was like one of my father's house. His table had its matutinal supply of fish, as taken by James Dunn from the river, and from John, an abundant supply of beef and mutton. And beside these, be had with all our other people, a yearly salary, apportioned according to capacity and mutual agreement.
So these young householders were good, industrious and happy. Mistress Jesse had her house, her little maid, her garden and poultry, and added to these, a small, but well selected library and a few pictures, mostly Scottish in character and sentiment. , They had remained my guests through the entire winter, but took possession of the house in early spring. We visited often, taking tea with each other on alternate Saturdays, for now that Miss Standish was gone, I felt the need of some fixed and fast friend, and this was my pretty Jessie to me.
Young McGreggor and Yoppa were excellent friends ; the latter having finished his school education with credit to himself in the village, was now devoting his leisure hours to a course of valuable reading. * * *
I was recalled from my moonlight walk through the shrubbery by Meta, bringing me a letter that came up from the post-office with a few others. I returned to the house, į and seeing papa engrossed with the contents of his letters, quietly sat down to mine.
“New York City, Oct. —, 185 . My Dearest Minnie :
Your kind letter of the 1st instant, bringing with it the air of the hills and the meadows, as also a cordial invitation to me to come up and spend these lovely autumn days with you, was most welcome. The first I inhale, the second I must decline. And this is both a loss and a cross to me. For I had greatly counted on my sojourn at old Glenelvanhausen, which, by the way, has become a kind of Great Britain, in miniature, by its national representation, with a slight infusion of the tropical element.
I had so counted on our little visits with lovely Jesse, our rambles amid the autumnal woods and dusky ravines, and could I now be with you, dear friend, and freed from all har. assing thoughts, I should be wild with happiness. Happiness indeed, that must henceforth be a stranger to me.
I am in utter despair. Pray excuse me, dearest Minnie, if I talk a little wild. I have been very ill. I am still weak, and my head aches always and unceasingly. I cannot come to you. That is a settled impossibility. So come you to me. “ Circumstances," as Mr. Guppy would say, “over which I have no control,” compel me to reverse the order of our arrangements. I cannot now give you an explanation, neither must you require any, now, or ever. But if you are not domiciled with me by next Wednesday eve, cheerfully and cordially of your own will, I will never call you Minnie Minster again, but ignoring all your much prized and delightful English as
sociations, I will call you, downright Yankee, Mary Church, and that's the whole of it.
My little boy is well, and asleep in his crib. . Fred pursuing the even tenor of his ways, of which you know something, leaving his cap in the parlor, his boots in the kitchen, the very pest of my life, yet is he too proud and noble a brother for such as I am. But“ vale," as one says.
With much regard for all those who may bear me a kind remembrance. As ever, yours,
ALBERTINE BOVIE. P. S.-Do not fail to gain your father's consent to your remaining with me, at least three weeks, and oblige your ever grateful
HAL Miss Minster, Glenelvan."
I read this letter to the end, not without many misgivings. Was my dearest “Hal," then, unhappy, and from what cause ? Was Fred in trouble ? No: her letter stated the reverse. My friend had been ill, and was now evidently far from well. She had begged me to come to her, and added to this a petulant threat. This was unlike my friend. · I went to papa with the letter. He read it slowly and thoughtfully, and then said, there was evidently more meaning in it than the words expressed. I had better go to Mrs. Bovie on the next day, and remain with her, if it should prove agreeable, the space of time for which she had stipulated. “I will do so," I said.
But I was ill at ease. Moreover, I was reluctant to go from scenes of such glorious beauty as were every where spread out over the country—to leave my forest aisles and velvet paths, for the brick, or even marble walls and crowded pave of the city. I was both to be so long away from sweet Jessie. I should pine for papa. I began to feel how dear to me was this grand old Glenelvanhausen.
Something of this my father must have read in my face. “My child, the love for this early friend is not declining ?"