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black, electric clouds. Rose, who had been the disappointment as well as we had expected, unusually restless the preceding night, had at and, like a sensible man, made no attempt to length fallen into a quiet sleep; Rolfe watched prevent what he plainly saw to be inevitable. her; I recollected somewhat remorsefully that Indeed, as he came to know Rolfe, I think he I had once in my heart accused him of indif- was well content to leave Rose in his care, for ference to her. At noon the thunder began; he remained in America another month exlow, distant, continuous, at first; it came nearer pressly to be present at the wedding, gave away and louder; flash after flash, the lightning filled the bride, and retaliated on Rose the surprise the room from which I vainly tried to exclude she had caused him, by the pretty gift of the it. One bolt of blinding white light smote a Holbrook House, newly, completely, and most pine-tree on the near hillside, and shivered it charmingly furnished; my own connivance ento the root; but Rose never moved ; no more abling him at the same time to maintain the dethan if she had been lifeless did the tumult sired secrecy and to consult the pleasure of its disturb her, not the sharp rattle of the rain, future mistress. the strong rushing wind, nor the jarring thun There they live now, Rolfe and Rose. It is der. The dark hair lying in heavy masses still the pleasantest place in the neighborhood, round the white, wasted temples, the fringing but not altogether the most quiet. Two chillashes against the pure, wan cheek, the little dren are there now; Alice, a little two-years hand, so thin, so entirely helpless, none of these maiden, through whose rippling curls look up gave a sign of life. That was manifest only in trustingly a pair of loving eyes, blue as violets, the regular, gentle breathing.
and Lyndhurst, the baby, who is, it is said, his Toward evening the storm had spent itself; } father over again; both rosy, joyous, and widethe clouds were swept away from the sun; rain- awake. I do not know a happier woman than drops glittered every where; the green was their mother, nor one who diffuses more happibrighter, the blue intenser than before, and a ness around her. brilliant rainbow arched the eastern hills, from North-mountain to Monadnoc. That omen I
THE STORY OF A PIANO. accepted; to me it has always been a herald of
[T was the piano which spoke: good. Perhaps it was the reflex of my own Strange it is how things change among these mood, but I thought as I turned toward Rolfe, human beings! What joys and sorrows they go that he too looked as if a weight had been lifted through-how they are born, and marry, and from his heart.
die-how they laugh and weep—and how in the When Rose awoke the fever was gone, and end they all pass away like shadows! I have with it, said Dr. Warburton, apparently all dan- seen a little of their life, and it seems to me a ger. I was sure of it! White she was, as strange tangled skein—a strange medley too of a snow-drop, and just as powerless ; but such changing colors—not unlike the wild mingled nursing as she had! At first we dared not let hues of my mistress's perplexed embroidery. her know how very ill she had been; scarcely When I was born, five years ago, and placed to manifest our exceeding gladness in the pros- in Mr. Broadwood's show-room, I guessed little pect of her recovery. Every day, however, enough of the kind of world that I had entered. brought her increased strength, and every day Even for six months after my birth, while I lived we felt that she had become dearer to us than in a constant state of petty excitement concern
ing my future fate, I saw and knew all but noWhen she was well enough we gave her a thing. I heard, indeed, many things that I did letter that had come during her illness. It was not understand-talk that had only a vague from Mr. Home; he had been induced to pro- meaning for me; but my knowledge of lifelong his tour beyond his first intention, and my real acquaintance with itmonly began when would not return till the last week in Septem- those six months were ended. It began at last ber, when, if it pleased Rose, he would like to thus. go home as soon as possible.
One rainy morning I was bought by a gentleShe gave me the letter to read; Rolfe was man and ordered to be sent home.
The same there, he had just come in with his hands full afternoon, I reached my new abode, and was of beautiful moss-roses. When I had finished installed in a large, richly-furnished room. I reading I said, “Rose you will never leave us !” soon discovered that I was a birth-day gift from and then I bethought myself to go my ways. my purchaser to his only daughter ; I found, too, Something told me not to enter the room again that not only was the day to be made notable until Rolfe came out. At last-it seemed an by my arrival, but that it was to be celebrated age-I heard him open the door, and went to also by the giving of a great entertainment at meet him; I took his hands in mine, and look- night. ing up, said only, “Well ?” His face was trans That entertainment I remember well. Even figured, so radiant with beautiful happiness; I yet I recollect, as a thing I scarcely hope to see needed no answer. I went in to Rose; she, again, its splendor and its brilliancy. How like too! Does love always so heighten beauty, I a fairy scene it seemed to me, with its gleamwonder?
ing, dancing lights, with its wonderful gossamerMr. Home came in September; quite sur- dressed figures, with its music and flowers, with prised to find his plans thwarted, he yet endured its smiles and laughter. I have grown some
what wiser in the ways of this strange world | timid and quiet, yet always with something in since then, and, looking back now upon that her face when he was with her that it never night, I can imagine that all hearts were not as wore with any one but him. I wondered ; there light as they outwardly appeared to be—that were many others there whom I would rather some of the smiles had sadness under them, and have seen talking to or dancing with her, and some of the pleasant words were false and hol- yet she seemed to think of none of them what low ; but I had no suspicions of such things she thought of Mr. Linton. Before the evening then. I never thought of doubting what I saw, came to an end, a hundred things had put it or dreaming that things were other than they into my head that his presence made the happiseemed. I looked upon that bright scene in ness of it all to her. perfect faith and joy : it was all solid and real They danced till the morning light began to
shine through the closed curtains. It was broad It was my first sight of the world—and even day before the rooms were finally cleared, and before this one night was ended, the history of my mistress's face looked pale, I thought, when all whose future scenes I was a witness began they drew up the blinds, and let the white mornto unfold itself before me.
ing in. I did but little work throughout the evening, I had heard before to-day of love and lovers: for, as I found was the habit, there was a hired I had not been altogether clear about what eiband which performed all the dance music that ther the one or the other meant, but I suspected was required. I did not, however, stand abso- | that I had seen something of both to-night. I lutely idle, for at one period of the evening a suspected, but was not absolutely sure: therefew ladies in succession sang before me, and fore, on the following day and days I kept my after they had performed, my young mistress eyes alert, for I desired exceedingly to know also came and trilled out a merry little song. what kind of thing this was in whose name and
My mistress was young, and fair, and timid for whose sake, I had vaguely heard, some of -a little delicate thing, with the brightest curl- the wildest deeds this strange world does are ing golden hair that I ever saw upon a woman. committed. She had a pair of soft, blue, long-lashed eyes, I watched, and discovered various things. I and a bright quick color that came and went. discovered that my mistress cared for Mr. She was dressed to-night in gauzy white, with Linton above all things else on earth—that he some blue flowers in her hair, and the golden never came but she trembled with joy—that he curls around her neck and on her shoulders. never spoke to her but she fushed with happi
She sang, I say, but when she had finished ness—that she was like a stringed instrument the song she did not rise like the others, for in his hands, echoing in her heart each word he some one close to her asked her to sing again. said-taking the color of all her moods from The voice came from behind her, and I saw the him-silent when he was silent, gay when he speaker for the first time—a tall man, as dark was gay, sorrowful and grave when he was cold as she was fair, as proud-looking as she was and proud. timid and gentle.
I learned this soon-it was all easily read. “Do not rise yet, Miss Ashford,” he said; But of him I discovered less. I only knew "you must give us more than this one song, that he sought her constantly. For the rest, and he looked into her blue eyes as she timidly her presence never agitated him, his dark face raised them.
never changed its color when she spoke, her “But every one is so busy with dancing to- words were never echoed and lingered over : night,” she said.
his wooing was, I think, without the slightest “Not every one.”
doubt or fear of what its end would be. NeiHe bent toward her, and she smiled and blush- ther did I doubt, yet I watched curiously. ed as he spoke.
When the crisis came at length, it happened "I will sing again if you wish it,” she said. thus. “What shall I sing?”
It was a June day, and Mr. Linton had dined He chose her song, and stood by her while with us. It was evening, and he and my misshe sang it. He talked to her, too, again when tress and her father were in the drawing-room she had ended it, nor moved from his position, alone. Mr. Ashford and he had been talking until at length another gentleman came up to for a long while together; and presently, while her and addressed her with a quick, familiar- they talked, my mistress had stolen away and
* Amy, I want a partner-come away!” come to me.
Then with a laugh her dark companion sud For a little while she played alone, and then denly offered her his arm.
Mr. Linton left her father and followed her. I "I was engaged to Mr. Linton before, Char- do not know that he cared much for music-I ley,” she eagerly explained-and, as the new- think he did not, for he often let my mistress comer retreated, with his composed smile Mr. play without taking notice of her—but to-night Linton led her away.
he came. She looked round as she heard his She danced this dance with him, and more step. than this one. Again and again throughout “Oh, have I interrupted you ?" she cried, the evening I saw him with her: she was on quickly. his arm, too, when they went down to supper IIe said
“No, go on. Play what you played just in her traveling-dress, and stood for a few monow again. It sounded pretty."
ments looking round it. I watched her till she “Yes," she said; "it was a little song of went. My own removal was close at hand. I Beethoven's," and she repeated it as he sat knew that I should never see her in that room down beside her.
again. I remember even already, before the hour became memorable, thinking that this evening My mistress and her husband went abroad, my mistress looked more than commonly beau- and I had been for two months in my new tiful. Her white dress came to her throat, and abode-a very spacious handsome house-beshe had no decoration about her but one crim- fore I saw them again. It was almost winter son rose fastened at her waist, and the abiding when they at last came back—a wet cvening of ornament of her golden hair. It was all round a cold November. her neck now, not yellow only, but burning, Through the open drawing-room doors I heard for the low even red sunlight was shining the sounds that betokened their arrival before I over it.
saw themselves; among these sounds, I caught As she played, Mr. Linton sat and looked at Mr. Linton's voice. her. He did not watch her fingers, or, I think, “Make haste, Amy-do not let us stay here, listen to the music, but he gazed long and stead- for Heaven's sake!” he was saying.
“Come ily at her face and figure as she sat-criticising- up stairs. What a blast is blowing from that ly at first, then admiringly, and then with a look open door!" deeper and warmer than admiration. I saw it, Their steps were on the stair-case, and, in a and felt that I had not seen its like on him be- minute more, they both had entered the room; fore. My mistress saw it too. While he still Mr. Linton first, my mistress a step behind him. wore it, her playing ended, and she turned to He walked straight to the fire, and angrily adhim.
dressed a servant who was stirring it. She understood in a moment what with me “What are you doing? The room is as cold had only been a dim suspicion. She had scarce as ice. Could you not have seen to this fire bely looked at him when her color sprang up like fore ?" a frightened child's—there came a fluttering “It has been burning all day, Sir," the man movement-a nervous effort even to rise, until said, sulkily. he said one word " Amy!”-and then she sat "All day! It would not feel like this if it motionless.
had. Upon my word,” he exclaimed, shivering, “Stay with me,” he whispered, “now and the room is like an ice-house !" forever-my darling!--my love !"
“The night is so cold-but it will feel more Her wild eyes met his look again, but she comfortable presently," my mistress said, cheernever spoke a word; there was only for a mo- fully. “It is not easy with only fires to heat ment a kind of broken sob, as he took her in his such a large room well.”
“We must see to-morrow about some other There she lay-happy and at rest-but, as I means of managing it, then," he said, hastily. looked on her, I scarcely know what feeling it * But don't stand talking about it now, Amy; was that made my thoughts sadly follow the ex- get your bonnet off, and let us have dinner.” tinguished sunbeams that had taken away their They dined, and then returned to the drawgolden burnish from her hair.
ing-room together. Mr. Linton wheeled a large They were engaged only for two months be- chair, as soon as he entered, to the front of the fore their marriage, but even these two months, fire, and took possession of it; my mistress rang happy as she always said she was, brought for coffee, and then tried to talk, but Mr. Linchanges on my mistress. She grew so grave ton yawned and scarcely answered her. She and anxious that I sometimes thought the weeks was silent the moment she perceived he was dismight have been years falling on her head. At inclined to speak, and stole quietly about the the foundation of all her love for Mr. Linton room until the coffee came; then, pouring out a there lay an insurmountable fear, which made cup, she took it to him, and knelt at his side, her dread of offending him, or of falling short holding the saucer while he drank. of what he expected her to be, a painful thing “You had better go, dear-don't let me keep to see.
And yet she always said that she was you from yours," he said, carelessly, when she happy beyond all that she had ever deserved. prepared to stay; but when she told him she
They were married on a day in August. They liked it, the service was accepted without anhad what they call a fashionable wedding, and other word. the scene was a very pretty one when the draw “Abominable trash English coffee is!” he ing-room, after they had come from church, said, when the cup was emptied. “There-go was filled with its gay guests; yet to me it was and take your own!”. not like that first bright gathering. The laugh He leaned back in his luxurious chair, and ter and the smiles to-day had lost a portion of in five minutes he had begun to doze. Not their light.
another word was spoken between them. My It was afternoon when she went away. The mistress crept softly about, as if she was moving guests had gone down stairs to breakfast, and in a sick room: presently, taking up a book, into the empty drawing-room my mistress came she stole to a chair near Mr. Linton's, and sat
down with her face to me. I saw that face made it, for while I knew him he was always fully then for the first time.
grumbling at English manners and habits; and I think it is less than the truth to say that he must, in truth, have found time hang heavy she looked as if years, rather than months, had on his hands, for he ha.. no natural employpassed over her. She was very beautiful still ments here to occupy him. -possibly more beautiful than she had ever How he did pass most of his time I never been-but all look of girlishness was gone from clearly knew. While he was wooing my misher forever. Such an anxious, wistful look had tress I had seen him often content to lie for come to her eyes, such strange thin lines were hours in the hottest sunshine, holding her hand, beginning to form about her lips. To-night, and scarcely ever speaking to her; but after he too, she looked so pale and tired, and all her returned from the continent there was no hot hair-her rich golden curls-were gathered from sunshine to bask in, and little caressing-in any her face. I saw the change in her far more position-of my mistress's hands. His resources, clearly now than I had done at first, while she therefore, whatever they were, he found thencehad talked to Mr. Linton: it all came strange- forward out of the house. ly out when the face was in repose. It was al Before they had been at home more than a most as if a mask had fallen from it.
month he had fallen into the habit of passing She never read a word. She sat for a whole almost every evening, until very late at night, hour with the book upon her knees and never away from my mistress. Where he went I did opened it. She sat, looking sometimes into the not know, nor did she ever ask him. Sadly fire, oftener into her husband's face. At the and uncomplainingly, night after night, she sat hour's close a clock over the mantle-piece struck, alone. From the servants I occasionally heard and the weary look fled from her face, for Mr. hints, which I in no way understood, that he Linton started and awoke.
played and lost money. My own experience “What time is that?” he exclaimed. “Elev- only told me that he came home at every hour en? Oh, Amy, you should be in bed! I dare of the night, and often in a furious temper. say you are wretchedly tired.”
I suppose that no one who had watched things “You are tired, too,” she said.
from the first would be surprised to find that “I? Oh, I am as tired as a dog !" and he Mr. Linton's affection for my mistress did not yawned prodigiously. “I wish you had awak- last long. He soon tired of her. She knew ened me before. What have you been doing? this herself as well as any one, and almost bereading ?”—he gave a short laugh. “You are fore she had entered her house her heart had very studious, Amy!”
begun to break. “I only had the book in my hand,” she said. The winter passed, and in the spring, upon a
“Well, put it away, and go to bed now. I day that I well remember, I, for the first time, will follow you immediately. How wretchedly saw a face that soon mixed itself familiarly with cold it is!” and he poked the fire into a blaze, my mistress's history. and bent over it.
She had been out one morning, and coming, She lighted her candle, but she did not go at on her return, into the drawing-room, I peronce. She stood a moment looking wistfully ceived a very unusual brightness in her look. toward him; then, with her timid color rising, Mr. Linton was in the room. she went to his chair again, and, stooping down, “Oh! Sherard," she exclaimed at once, “I stole her arms round his neck.
am so glad you are at home: I have something “I am glad we are at home, Sherard,” she to tell you. I have had such a surprise!" she whispered.
cried. The tears were in her eyes as he turned round “ Indeed !" to her. He saw them, and looked softened. He His tone was cold enough to have chilled her, took her by the hands and drew her toward him; but she would not notice it. Still cheerfully he kissed her, and said, kindly,
she went on : “I ought to have given you a better welcome, “I have just seen some one at papa's whom Amy; but I am sure you know how glad I am I scarcely thought I ever should see again-a to have you here. You do not think me un- cousin of mine-an old playmate. Sherard, kind for not having said so ?”
who do you think it was?” “Oh, no, no," she whispered.
“How can I possibly tell ?” he said, impaHe put his arm round her, and kissed her tiently. more than once before he let her go. He called She laughed out merrily. her “his darling." It was the first caressing "Ah! but that is the wonderful part of it!" word, I remember, that he had said to her all she exclaimed. “It is somebody you know the evening.
somebody you used to know well in India. Yon Mr. Linton was rich and idle. He had been can not guess, Sherard? It is Henry Vaughan!" born in India and had been in the army, as I “What! Vaughan from Calcutta? Vaughan heard, in that country, until a year ago, when, of the 4th ?" he cried. the death of his father having brought him into I do not think that Mr. Linton cared much a large fortune, he had thrown up his commis- in general for his friends—I had seen small sion and returned to England. But I do not igns of such affection in him hitherto; but think he much liked the change when he had either the surprise of finding that this one was
related to his wife, or the thought of seeing had traveled into old times. Do you remember an old Indian comrade again, for the moment a particular day that I was thinking of, when roused and pleased him. He went out at once they nearly cheated us out of an afternoon toto seek him, and, within an hour, he brought gether, because you had not known some leshim to the house. Captain Vaughan dined and son, and they wanted to shut you up alone ?" spent that evening with us.
“Yes,” she said, smiling; "and how you It was spring time, I said. The primroses came and helped me, and the lesson got said. —the first spring flowers, as I have heard — Harry, you used to help me very often with were beginning to come out, and a glass of those lessons long ago. I missed you so when them, I remember, freshly gathered, stood this you went. I used fairly to sit down sometimes day on one of the drawing-room tables. My and cry about you." memory fails me sometimes in trying to count • Did you, Amy?” by days and weeks; but long before the prim “Amy,” he said again, after a pause, “I roses had ceased to blossom that year, I rec- often think that those years when we were chil. ollect that Captain Vaughan was daily at our dren together have been the happiest of our house.
lives—at least they have been of mine. No I liked him, and for a long time I was glad happiness has come to me since but it has been he came. He was lively, and he cheered my mixed with clouds, and disappointments, and mistress. It was a kind of brightness for her, shortcomings." in cach day, to see his pleasant, handsome face, She was pale-always very pale now; but and hear his kind voice. I saw, too, that he while he spoke a flush of color came upon her was very fond of her, and I did not like him cheek. For a few moments she mado no reply. the less for that.
She turned her head away a little ; she put up It was more cheerful through this spring than her hand and shaded her eyes before she anthe winter had been, and yet, presently, out of swered him. the very midst of this relief, slowly and gradu “ There were clouds and disappointments ally, there arose some mystery that I did not then, too,” she said, in a low voice, at last. understand. It was a thing that crept over us “ It is only we who, in looking back, half forlike a shadow. What it was, what the change get them. They were lighter than the clouds it wrought meant, I did not know; what even of after life, perhaps, but if they were"-her the explanation that I at length heard signified, voice grew suddenly clear-"oh, Henry, tho I did not clearly understand. I only heard the happiness was lighter too!" servants whisper that Mr. Linton was growing “Perhaps you are right,” he said, slowly. jealous of my mistress.
“You have had more cause for happiness in It was full summer-a July morning. Mr. later years than I have had.” Linton was from home, and my mistress and He watched her as he spoke. I watched her her cousin were together in the drawing-room. too. I do not know if he saw the tears that He had been with her at the opera the night were visible to me, starting to her shaded eyes. before, and he had come, he said, only for five If he did, it was not love, but selfishness and minutes, to ask how she was; but, as usual, the cruelty, that made him speak again. five minutes soon lengthened out. He was fond “I sometimes can scarcely think that nine of music, and they stood together that morning years have passed away since we were chilbefore me, turning over the music that they had dren,” he said. “At times—though God knows heard last night-it was an opera that they call- the change is great enough!-when I talk to ed “Fidelio”—and my mistress, every now and you, I can almost forget that I have been away then, at his request, sang little snatches from at all—I can almost delude myself with the bethe different airs to recall them to him. At last lief that every thing remains as it was once, they came upon one which he persuaded her to with only a few years added to our ages." sing throughout. She sat down to do it, and She raised her head. I saw her face, with a he drew a seat beside her.
startled look upon it, half of uneasiness, half of He sat looking in her face the whole time she pain. His tone changed suddenly. sáng His eyes never left her. He looked at “What has set me thinking of these old her as Mr. Linton had done the night when she times to-day?" he exclaimed.
* Your singing promised to marry him.
must have done it, Amy.” Her song was ended. Before she turned to She tried to smile. him his face had regained its customary look, * There was little in the song to recall them," and, in his usual voice, he spoke at once, though she said. what he said had little reference to her singing. “ Then it must have been something in your
“How long it is ago," he exclaimed, "since look while you sang. Do you know, Amy, there we were playmates together, Amy !"
come at times across your face such strange, fit“What made you think of that just now?” ting likenesses of your former self that they oftshe asked.
en startle me." He laughed lightly.
She raised her wan face to him reproachfully “You think I ought rather to have been list-1-almost sternly. ening to your song? Well, so I ought, Amy, “You think I am so changed, then ?" she and so I was, in a way-only my actual thoughts said.