« PreviousContinue »
feelings for wbich I now suffer. And that suffering, dearest Henry,".
Henry remained silent for a while, and his companion gated
“Speak, Henry, Ospeak, and say that you do not think I intended to wound you."
He raised himself up from the bending posture which he had
“ Diamond," he said, and his voice was the same guiding voice,
I do not say that I think it sufficient
wife. We must then, as you say, bravely bow to these our bitter circumstancés. It will be a hard, a very hard trial to both of us, but it seems appointed for our bearing. Possessed as we are of the affections which yearn for domestic felicity, it is doubly difficult to forego this the highest joy of the human lot; but as our position would take away a chief element of that joy, and introduce painful doubts and feelings, the sacrifice must be made. As lovers, then, we part this night for ever; but we must, oh we must, be brother
and sister still. There is nothing to binder this companionship; and shall it not be all the dearer to us because of that which deprives us of a holier relationship? Let us still be one in heart and affection, partakers of each other's joys and sorrows, exchanging in all their frankness and freeness the endearments and attentions of fraternal affection. Say, Diamond, shall not this be the case ?"
“Yes, yes,” murmured the noble girl, and clung to him with a helpless, yet grateful grasp. How changed were they now, these two young beings, standing thus with the silence and obscurity of night around them! A little while ago, he was bowed down and overcome by grief, and she was affording him strength and consulation; he was overwhelmed amid a surging sea of despair, bereft of his manhood's strength, and alike hopeless and helpless in his agony; and she-herself a deep sufferer in the same calamityyet nobly suppressing her tears and her sighs, that she might support his sinking energies. But now all is changed, and the manly and womanly nature again come out. His perceptions, clouded by the sudden shock, gain their wonted clearness; the strength and courage of his strong heart and mind, borne down by the suddenness and violence of the grief, rise above the waters, and he is himself again, sad and sorrowful it is true, and but half resigned, yet no longer in the depth of prostration. And with his returning manhood, her strength gives way. Since it is no longer needful to cheer and encourage him, she comes back upon
herself, and realizes the sacrifice she has made; and listening to his words, which seal the hope that had in reality been sealed in her heart for years, she trembles and feels her womanhood. She is again the comforted, and he the comforter; the leaner, and he the support; the weak, helpless one, and he the protector, according to God's orúer and wise arrangement.
Brother and sister they said they were henceforth to be. Alas! alas! how egregiously do they deceive themselves! as if hearts that had loved with a holier love could ever let it die, or subside into any thing less divine, however dear. They thought they had been brother and sister; but did not this night's interview show how deeply both had been mistaken? And as it was in the past, so shall it be in the future. They may imagine that in thought, feeling, and action, they stand to each other in this relationship; but a look, a glance, a sigh, will ever come to remind them that their hearts are charged with a stronger passion, that love cannot be diluted, cannot be reduced, cannot be made any thing but what it is, the most exquisitely tender, yet quenchless, unconquerable thing in the universe of God. But they are young, very young, and this mistake may
pardoned, especially as they will find it out and understand it by-andby. Let thein wander back again to the city, with their arms twived
round each other, dreaming that they have not yet lost all; that
“ What's come o' Henry tbe nicht, Mr Everly ?" inquired Mrs
“I really cannot say, Mrs Ford," replied the latter. “ He left
Aye, he'll be awa up to the Lawnmarket, I fancy. Simple
"Ah, ha! Henry is in love, then?" said Richard, with interest.
“And who is the lady? I trust she is suitable and worthy of
“ A better he couldna hae fa'en in wi'," replied the landlady promptly, and with an appearance of great satisfaction.
“In that case, I suppose you will have no objection to the marriage, then?” remarked her lodger, with a half smile.
Objection, sir! Na, na; I wad hae nae richt to object ony way, but far less when she is so weel fitted for him."
Nay, you certainly would have a right to advise against the union, if the object of his choice was unworthy, or if there was a probability of the step issuing in his unhappiness; for are not you his natural guardian, at least the only one who has froin childhood exercised a care over him?"
- Ye'r richt, sir; but for a' that, I couldna tak' it upon me to dictate to him in sic a matter as this. It's true, that I hrought him up; but he's dune far mair for me than ever I did for him. In; deed, if it hadna been for Henry, I micht hae dee'd at the back of a dyke. I ken fine that he wad hae been married afore this, if it hadna been his consideration for me; and, I'm shure, I canna tell ye, Mr Everly, hoo glad I was when you and Mr Gray got him that new situation, for he will be able now to set up house without infringin' on what he ca's his duty to me.”
"If you have time, and are inclined, Mrs Ford, I should like to know Henry's history," said Richard. "I am strongly interested in the young man; and having an idea that there is a mystery attached to his birth, would be glad to know the particulars."
“Wi' great pleasure, sir," answered the landlady, coming briskly in, and taking a seat on the other side of the fire-place.
It's a lang story, and a queer story, and, as ye say, there is a mystery aboot it, that I doot will never be cleared up. But, hoosoever, I'll jist begin at the beginnin', and tell ye it in my ain way."
Richard, inserisibly beguiled from his own consuming thoughts, put his feet upon the fender, and settled himself into a listening attitude, wheu Mrs Ford thus began
" It's just three-and-twenty year next month since I was married. Thainas Ford, my husband, was a weel-daein', industrious man, a cumpositor in the King's Huose; and never was ony body sae happy thegither as him and 1. He took this large, nice hoose-rather owre big and grand for a compositor and his wife to live in; but he said he wanted to mak' me comfortable, and his wages wad afford it. Still I wasna very content; and as we had nae family, and my hands no very full, I thocht I micht as weel help to mak'tbe iucome bigger if I could. We bad twa bonny, weel-furnished rooms in the boose, never used; and I thocht if I could get lodgers, it wad gie me some wark to look after them, as weel as add something to the sum that gaed every week into the saving bank. I spak to Thamas aboot it; and though he wasna very fond of the idea at first, yet he did consent that it should be tried. So the very neist day he stoppit half-an-hour ahint the ithers, and set up, in big letters, the words, · Furnished Lodgings,' and got a pressman to pull half-a-dizen o' them, and brocht them doon in his pocket. Then at nicht, after he cam' hame, lie got a bit broad, and pasted €wa o' them on to it, ane on ilka side, and nailed it to the ootside o' the window. O, hoo prood was I neist mornin' to see the snawwhite sign stickin' oot where everybody could see it! I gaed doon to the street wi' Thamas when he went to his wark at breakfasttime, and lookit up, and saw it shinin' in the mornin' suplicht.
4. Now, Mary lass,' said Thamas, clappin' me on the shouther, "tak" care wha ye let the rooms to.
Be shure that the folk are respectable; for if we get dishonest lodgers, we had far better be without them. And tak my advice, if a young, spreeish gent comes seekin' them, dinna let him into them at nae rate, for
"O, ye're jealous, are ye?' cried I, lauchiu' richt oot in his face, afore he had finished the sentence,
"No, I'ın no jealous,' said he; but it wadna look weel ava for the folk to see a smart, swaggerin' young fallaw gaun oot and in; and ye ken nacbody can shut the folk's mooths.
Very weel, lad, says I, • I'll dae the best to mak' things richt;'
for, ye see, I kenned Thamas was a very sensible
and judged a'thing maist reasonably. So we pairted at the stair-fit, and I cam awa up to the hoose.
“Mony days passed, and to my surprise naebody speered aboot our lodgin's. The guidman was rather pleased than otherwise; but I was the very opposite, for I had set my heart on haein' the rooms let; and ye ken, sir, whan a woman ance fixes on a thing, she canna be putten aff't. Weel, ae afternoon, just aboot the darknin', whan I was sittin' by mysel, a lood knock comes to the door. It was sae sudden and sae startlin' that my very heart loupit to my mooth; but I gat up and opened it. In the dusk, I got a glisk oʻa tall, strappin'chield, six fit high, and stood as dumb as a stookie.
“« You hae furnished lodgin’s here, I believe?' said the man, in a clear, sweet voice; and whanever I heard the tongue, I kenned it was nae common body, for he didna speak broad Scotch.
Yes, sir,' said I, no kennin' very weel what to say, for Thamas' words aboot young gents rang in my ears. 6. Will
be kind eneuch to let me look at them ? he askit, in his smooth way; and really I couldna say no, for he seemed sae .civil. So I let him in, and showed him ben to this room, and ran awa to licht a candle, wonderin' a'the time hoo I was to get rid o' him.
Whan I went ben again, he glanced carelessly roond the room, but lookit far mair earnestly at me, so that I fairly hung doon my head, and blushed. Frae the burried glance I got o' bim, saw he was a guid-lookin' chield, no very stout, but lang and weelformed, wi' a high forehead, big blue een, the pleasantest lips I ever saw, and a crap o' licht broon, curly hair. To tell ye the truth, I likit him at first sicht, though I saw I durstna let the room to bin.
“ He lookit and lookit, and better lookit at me, no impudent like, but as if he was tryin' to read my character. At last, to my great relief, he spak'. * The rooins will suit, I think,' he said, in a low voice, as if half speakin' to his sel. You will be very quiet, here, I suppose ?'
“TO yes, sir; very quiet,' I said; "but I wad rather prefer & leddy to lodge wi' me.'
Ye wud ?'
cried he, wi' animation. • Then yours is just the hoose I am in search o'. It is a leddy that's comin' to the rooms.'
""O, I'm glad o' that,' cried I; and so I was, for I didna ken hoo to say no to sic a braw gentleman. Weel, matters were settled; he gaed awa, and in a boot an hour cam back wi' my leddy lodger, What a bonny young creature she was; and, o hoo sweetly did she smile on her companion! If ever happiness was enjoyed on earth, I'm shure she was happy at that time. She shakit
ту as if she had kenned me a her days, and lauched sae prettily wi her little, bonny mooth; and he stood by in pride and joy, lookin at us baith. Then they gaed ben to the room, and steekit the