Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

her chair old not marry his, did you, dear the encumb

"Hush ! dear : she is a full cousin to Mr. Bovie."

Well, you didn't marry Mr. Bovie with the encumbrance of all his family connections, did you, dear ?"

“No! I did not marry him knowing- ” she sank back in her chair, and gasped for breath. I hastened to her with a tumbler of ice-water.

“No, no," she murmured ; " let me go-let me for one brief moment forget."

I took her hand, it was icy-cold-her lips were bloodless -her eyes vacant. What mischief was there in my thoughtless words! What in them, thus to afflict my poor little lamb!

I stood mutely gazing upon her pale face, and was startled to perceive how thin it was ; the blue veins coursing her pure brow, shaded by the darkest brown hair, she looked so deathlike, yet so inexpressibly lovely.

With a long, quivering sob, consciousness returned. I stove to soothe her with gentlest caresses.

“Forgive me, dear, kind Minnie. My varying moods are a sore trial to your sisterly affection. Your kindness and love may comfort me for a little while ; but I am dying of a wound you cannot heal.”

“Oh, say not this, my Albertine. You are really ill, suffering from nervous depression. I will write for our physician, who will cure you right away. Then you shall go with me to Philadelphia, to visit cousin Nell, and then we will go to Baltimore-see my widowed sister-in-law, and her fairylike daughter, Lena Illeota, now seventeen, and the most beautiful, bewitching creature eyes ever bebeld,—thence to Carolina, to make aunt Guilder a long visit.”

"I should love to go far away, if it were only to forget, and to be forgotten."

The door opened, and a wedge-like head, with a false front of reddish hair, was barely visible ; but a cracked voice, only too distinct, was heard.

"Wal, now Albertine, have you found that ere collar and them ere gloves ?

CHAPTER XVII.

A MAIDEN lady " of no particular age,” and a tired mother with a great heavy baby, cross from being continually tumbled into strange places, greeted by strange voices and stranger faces, three or four other people of indifferent manners and mediocre intellect-were not the most desirable surroundings for poor dear Hal, with her nervous temperament, her aching head and feeble frame.

We had just settled into a cozy chat, when aunt Sally, the above-mentioned maiden, called out in a shrill voice

“Now, Albertine, have you seen anything of that are collar and them are gloves ?”

“I have not,” Hal replied quietly ; but a shadow of annoyance crossed her pale face.

“What about those articles, Miss Sally ?" I asked.

“Why I'd ben out one day to buy me a pair o shuze, and when I c'min, laid 'em on the fire-shelf, in the parlow, and I never seen 'em sence.”

“I am very sorry they should have gone out of the way, but I will look for them. Mrs. Bovie has so much headache that it would not be kind to tax her with looking for any thing mislaid."

“Wal, now if yeoule find um, I shall be ra-al glad, for that ere collar cost me nine an sixpence, and them gloves, ni-as much more."

Aunt Sally was not ill-natured, so neither was she sufficiently intelligent to amuse or interest poor Hal, or in any way gifted with a housekeeper's tact to lighten her cares.

Once when we happened to be alone, I said

“Dear Albertine, why do you tolerate the visits of this ancient maiden, in your present state of health, at least ?"

onnection in knowing hastened to

"Hush ! dear : she is a full cousin to Mr. Bovie."

“Well, you didn't marry Mr. Bovie with the encumbrance of all his family connections, did you, dear ?

“No! I did not marry him knowing ” she sank back in her chair, and gasped for breath. I hastened to her with a tumbler of ice-water.

"No, no," she murmured ; " let me go-let me for one brief moment forget.”

I took her hand, it was icy-cold-her lips were bloodless -her eyes vacant. What mischief was there in my thoughtless words! What in them, thus to afflict my poor little lamb

I stood mutely gazing upon her pale face, and was startled to perceive how thin it was ; the blue veins coursing her pure brow, shaded by the darkest brown hair, she looked so deathlike, yet so inexpressibly lovely.

With a long, quivering sob, consciousness returned. I stove to soothe her with gentlest caresses.

“Forgive me, dear, kind Minnie. My varying moods are a sore trial to your sisterly affection. Your kindness and love may comfort me for a little while ; but I am dying of a wound you cannot heal.”

“Oh, say not this, my Albertine. You are really ill, suffering from nervous depression. I will write for our physician, who will cure you right away. Then you shall go with me to Philadelphia, to visit cousin Nell, and then we will go to Baltimore-see my widowed sister-in-law, and her fairylike daughter, Lena Illeota, now seventeen, and the most beautiful, bewitching creature eyes ever bebeld,—thence to Carolina, to make aunt Guilder a long visit.”

“I should love to go far away, if it were only to forget, and to be forgotten."

The door opened, and a wedge-like head, with a false front of reddish hair, was barely visible ; but a cracked voice, of reddishi chinier was only too distinct, was heard.

“Wal, now Albertine, have you found that ere collar and them ere gloves ?

Hal hid her face amid the cushions of the lounge, and groaned, not only in spirit, but audibly. I went out into the hall, confronted the false hair and cracked voice, taking care to close the door behind me.

“Now, Miss Sally, I have looked sufficiently for the aforesaid articles. I have not found them. Now, if I ever hear you asking Albertine for them again, I will burn them in the fire-that is, if I ever find them."

“Yeour in fun, now 1

“Not in the least. It is not a trifling matter to worry her life out for your Ark-wronght rags, which, I dare be sworn, are at the bottom of your traveling-box."

“There now ! I'll go straight and see." And so it proved.

Change sweepeth over all, sometimes bettering, sometimes worsening our condition, other some, exteriorly doing neither. One of these, and coming events, must decide which was now at hand.

So, day of grace, soon or late cometh to all. Aunt Sally had a beau, in the person of Mr. Jeremiah Clearweather, widower. I gave up the back parlor, and even my cozy little seat in the boudoir beyond, the moment he came in, made myself disagreeable generally, (no difficult matter for me,) by which I earned aunt Sally's everlasting gratitude.

Thus much, Fred and I conceded to this ancient wooer, but all beyond, was "fair field and no quarter.

How his overshoes got down behind the basement door, his cane up stairs, his shining stove-pipe hat in the hall closet, some might have marveled, but no questions were asked.

But our great want was answered. Bridget was back again, and the "clod” gone, Albertine and I down in the kitchen, lending the brightness of our presences to that much neglected region.

He has come,” aunt Sally gasped out, as she came flapping down stairs, a great wan smile spreading from her watery eyes to her loose lips, “now, Miss Minnie, you may go with us to that ere 'World's Fair.'"

“Fie, fie, you fledgling of generosity," Hal made answer, “ go and make the most of your time. Fred will go with Minnie, but should he catch you decoying her away, presto! umbrellas, over-shoes, thimbles, night-caps, and all other appliances of femininity would come to a perpetual end."

Thus admonished, aunt Sally returned to the parlor, went out with her sage admirer, and no draft made upon her dawning generosity.

Next to inducting and intimidating this ancient maiden into some show of courtesy toward our hostess, my dearest pleasure was in quizzing Fred.

I was one afternoon goiug up stairs for my hat and cloak, when looking down, I saw Clearweather going into the back parlor. The next moment, aunt Sally came bustling up after me, and went into her own room. I stood before my mirror, leisurely tying some knot, when my door was flung open. Fred in the greatest consternation asked

“Is Sally going with us ?
"Why not !"
“Fiddlesticks !”
"Be polite to her, now, or I won't go.”

He disappeared down stairs at the same gait he came up, but when I went down into the hall, he was just emerging from the back parlor.

“ Clearweather is in there !” he said, gleefully. “I shook hands with him. I could have kissed him, I'm such a good Christian."

"Indeed, you are not, Mister Fred, but a very great hypocrite! you are only hugging the good luck that took off from your hands an undesired companion. I knew all the time that she was going with him. Take care there--and not splash mud.

“Well, there ! it don't rain-now I can't use this new umbrella 1"

« ПредишнаНапред »