Evenings at Donaldson Manor - Or, The Christmas Guest
by Maria J. McIntosh
1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Transcriber's note:

Phrases enclosed in "_" are printed in italics style in the original Phrases enclosed in "=" are printed in bold style in the original Phrases that are printed in "small capitals" are converted into upper case

Maria J. McIntosh's Works. PUBLISHED BY D. APPLETON & CO



Illustrated with Ten Steel Engravings, 8vo., cloth, gilt edges, $3; morocco, $4.

"The whole sparkle with strokes of pleasantry and lively criticism, and ever and anon reveal most delightful pictures of fireside groups. A high-toned morality pervades the whole. We feel sure that the book will be a general favorite."—Commercial Advertiser.

"It is a book that parents may buy for their children, brothers for their sisters, or husbands for their wives, with the assurance that the book will not only give pleasure, but convey lessons of love and charity that can hardly fail to leave durable impressions of moral and social duty upon the mind and heart of the reader."—Evening Mirror.




One Volume, 12mo., paper covers, 50c.; cloth, 75c.

"We like this work exceedingly, and our fair countrywomen will admire it still more than we do. It is written in the true spirit, and evinces extensive observation of society, a clear insight into the evils surrounding and pressing down her sex, and a glorious determination to expose and remove them. Read her work. She will win a willing way to the heart and home of woman, and her mission will be found to be one of beneficence and love. Truly, woman has her work and her reward."—American Spectator.

"We thank Miss McIntosh for her 'Woman in America.' She has written a clever book, containing much good 'word and truth,' many valuable thoughts and reflections, which ought to be carefully considered by every American lady."—Protestant Churchman.




One Volume, 12mo., cloth, $1; or in Two Parts, paper, 75c.

"This is one of those healthful, truthful works of fiction, which improve the heart and enlighten the judgment, whilst they furnish amusement to the passing hour. The style is clear, easy and simple, and the construction of the story artistic in a high degree. We commend most cordially the book."—Tribune.




One Volume, 12mo., paper covers, 50c.; cloth, 75c.

"The previous works of Miss McIntosh, although issued anonymously, have been popular in the best sense of the word. The simple beauty of her narratives, combining pure sentiment with high principle, and noble views of life and its duties, ought to win for them a hearing at every fireside in our land. We have rarely perused a tale more interesting and instructive than the one before us, and we commend it most cordially to the attention of all our readers."—Protestant Churchman.




A new edition, complete in One Vol., 12mo., cloth, 75c.; paper, 50c.

This volume contains the following delightfully interesting stories: "Blind Alice," "Jessie Graham," "Florence Arnott," "Grace and Clara," "Ellen Leslie; or, the Reward of Self Control."


Most of these volumes may be had in cloth, gilt edges, at 25 cts. per vol. extra.

* * * * *


1. HOME SCENES AND HEART STUDIES. 12mo., cloth, 75 cents; paper cover, 50 cents.

2. THE DAYS OF BRUCE. 2 vols. 12mo., cloth, $1.50.

3. THE WOMEN OF ISRAEL. 2 vols. 12mo., clo. $1.50, pap. $1.

4. THE MOTHER'S RECOMPENSE. 12mo., cloth, 75 cents; paper, 50 cents.

5. THE VALE OF CEDARS; or, the Martyr. 12mo., cloth, 75 cts.; paper, 50 cts.

6. WOMAN'S FRIENDSHIP; a Domestic Story. 12mo., cloth, 75 cts.; paper, 50 cts.


HEARTS AND HOMES; a Story. Two parts bound in 1 vol. 8vo., cloth, $1.50; paper, $1.


1. THE EARL'S DAUGHTER; a Tale. 12mo., cloth, 75 cts., paper, 50 cts.

2. GERTRUDE; a Tale. 1 vol. 12mo., cloth, 75 cts.; paper, 50 cts.

3. AMY HERBERT. 1 vol. 12mo., cloth, 75 cts.; paper, 50 cts.

4. MARGARET PERCIVAL. 2 vols. 12mo., cloth $1.50; paper, $1.

5. LANETON PARSONAGE. 3 vols. 12mo., clo., $2.25; pap., $1.50.

6. WALTER LORIMER, with other Tales. Illustrated. 12mo., cloth, 75 cts.; paper, 50 cts.

7. JOURNAL OF A SUMMER TOUR. 12mo., cloth, $1.

8. EXPERIENCE OF LIFE. 12mo. (Just ready.) Cloth, 75 cts.; paper, 50 cts.


1. EVENINGS AT DONALDSON MANOR. 12mo., clo., 75 cts.

2. TWO LIVES; or, To Seem and To Be: a Tale. 12mo., cloth, 75 cts.; paper, 50 cts.

3. AUNT KITTY'S TALES. 1 vol. 12mo., clo., 75 cts.; pap., 50 cts.

4. CHARMS AND COUNTER-CHARMS; a Tale. 1 vol. 12mo., cloth, $1; paper, 75 cts.

5. WOMAN IN AMERICA. 12mo., cloth 62 cts.; paper, 50 cts.

6. THE LOFTY AND THE LOWLY. 2 vols. 12mo., cloth. (Just ready.)


1. DAISY BURNS. 1 vol. 12mo., cloth, or paper. (Just ready.)

2. MADELEINE; a Tale. 1 vol. 12mo., cloth, 75 cts.; paper, 50 cts.

3. NATHALIE; a Tale. 1 vol. 12mo., cloth, $1; paper, 75 cts.

4. WOMEN OF CHRISTIANITY. 1 vol. 12mo., cloth, 75 cts.


1. TO LOVE AND TO BE LOVED. 1 vol. 12mo., cloth, 63 cts.

2. JAMES MONTJOY. 1 vol. 12mo., cloth, 75 cts.; paper, 62 cts.

3. TIME AND TIDE. 1 vol. 12mo., 62 cts.; paper, 38 cts.


1. GRANTLEY MANOR; a Tale. 1 vol. 12mo., cloth, 75 cts.; paper, 50 cts.

2. ELLEN MIDDLETON; a Tale. 1 vol. 12mo., cloth, 75 cts.; paper, 50 cts.





The Christmas Guest.





"Oh Winter! ruler of the inverted year, I crown thee king of intimate delights, Fireside enjoyments, homeborn happiness."




In Miss McIntosh we fondly and proudly greet a transatlantic sister, and as delightedly introduce her, a "CHRISTMAS GUEST," to our own home circle. She is worthy of all honor and affection.

Miss McIntosh's writings are eminently pure in feeling—tender, graceful, and elegant in manner. Their moral, simply and unstrainedly developed, is invariably excellent—generously exciting, stimulating, encouraging all the noblest energies of our nature. To use her own words, addressed to her friends in America, and with equal propriety may they be accepted by the rising generation, and by every grade of society, at every period of life, in her unforgotten fatherland—"From the examples she will present to them, they may learn that to the brave and true and faithful heart, 'all things are possible'—that he who clings to the good and the holy amidst temptation and trial, will find peace and light within him, though all without be storm and darkness; and that in a right understanding and unfaltering performance of duty—not in the pomps and pleasures of a self-indulgent life, lie our true glory and happiness."

Not a tale, not a sketch, not an appeal to the heart or to the mind in any form, does our fair sister commit to paper, that is not pervaded, though unobtrusively, by a strain of the sweetest, gentlest, most cheerful and soul-elevating piety; it is hers at once to soothe, to charm, and to exhilarate.

Our "CHRISTMAS GUEST" well knows how to furnish forth a feast of infinite variety. Few, if any, will arise from a perusal of her delightful "word-painting" of life, incident, adventure, and character, without being wiser, better, happier; without enjoying a more entire confidingness in Heaven—in HIM, that God of love and goodness, whom Christians unite to worship.

LONDON, December 4, 1850.




























The largest and the most picturesque country-house of all I know in America, is the mansion house of my friends, the Donaldsons. I would gladly inform the reader of its locality, but this Colonel Donaldson has positively prohibited, for a reason too flattering to my self-love to be resisted.

"You know, my dear Madam,"—I give his own words, by which I hope the courteous reader will understand that I am really too modest even to seem to adopt the flattering sentiment they convey—"You know, my dear madam, that your description will be read by every body who is any body, and that through it my simple home will become classic ground. If I permit you to direct the tourist tribe to it, I shall be pestered out of my life when summer comes, by travelling artists, would-be poets, and romantic young ladies."

I may not therefore, dear reader, tell you whether this pleasant abode be washed by the waves of the Atlantic or by the turbid current of the Mississippi; whether it be fanned by the flower-laden zephyrs of the South, or by the health-inspiring breezes of the North. The exterior must indeed have been left wholly to your imagination, had I not fortunately obtained a sketch from a young friend, an amateur artist, of whom I shall have more to say presently. As I could not in honor present you with even this poor substitute, as I trust you will consider it, for my word-painting, without Colonel Donaldson's consent, I have been compelled, in deference to his wish, to divest the picture of every thing that would mark the geographical position of the place represented. The shape of its noble old trees we have been permitted to retain; but their foliage we have been obliged to render so indistinctly, that even Linnaeus himself would find it impossible to decide whether it belonged to the elm of the North when clothed in all its summer luxuriance, or to the gigantic live-oak of the South. Even of the house itself we have been permitted to give but a rear view, lest the more marked features of the landscape in front should hint of its whereabouts. As to the figures which appear in the foreground of the picture, they are but figments of my young artist friend's imagination. One of them you may observe carries under the arm a sheaf of wheat, not a stalk of which I assure you ever grew on the Donaldson lands.

Even from this imperfect picture of the exterior, you will perceive that the house is, as I have said, both large and picturesque. Within, the rooms go rambling about in such a strange fashion, that an unaccustomed guest attempting to make his way without a guide to the chambre de nuit in which he had slept only the night before, would be very apt to find himself in the condition of a certain bird celebrated in nursery rhymes as wandering,

Up stairs and down stairs And in the ladies' chambers.

In this house have the Donaldsons lived and died for nearly two hundred years, and during all that time they have never failed to observe the Christmas with right genuine, old English hospitality. Then, their sons and their daughters, their men-servants and their maid-servants, and the stranger within their gates, felt the genial influence of their gratitude to Him who added year after year almost unbroken temporal prosperity to the priceless gift commemorated by that festival. At many of these reunions it has been my good fortune to be present. Indeed, though only "AUNT Nancy," by that courtesy which so often accords to the single sisterhood some endearing title, as a consolation, I presume, for the more honorable one of MRS. which their good or evil fortune has denied them, I have been ever received at Donaldson Manor as at my own familiar home; nor was it matter of surprise to myself or to our mutual friends, when the Col. and Mrs. Donaldson named their fourth daughter after me, modifying the old-fashioned Nancy, however, into its more agreeable synonyme of Annie.

This daughter has been, of course, my peculiar pet. In truth, however, she has been scarcely less the peculiar pet of father and mother, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors—sweet Annie Donaldson, as all unite in calling her, and certainly a sweeter, fresher bud of beauty never opened to the light than my name-child. And yet, reader, it may be that could I faithfully stamp her portrait on my page, you would exclaim at my taste, and declare there was no beauty in it. I will even acknowledge that you may be right, and that there is nothing artistically beautiful in the dark-gray eyes, the clear and healthy yet not dazzlingly fair complexion, the straight though glossy dark-brown hair, and the form, rounded and buoyant, but neither tall enough to be dignified nor petite enough to be fairy-like. But sure I am that you could not know the spirit, gentle and playful yet lofty and earnest, which looks out from her eyes and speaks in her clear, silvery tones and graceful gestures, without feeling that Annie Donaldson is beautiful. Nor am I alone in this opinion. My friend Mr. Arlington fully agrees with me, as you would be convinced if you could see the admiring expression with which he gazes on her. As this gentleman cannot plead the Colonel's reason for any reserve respecting his place of residence, I shall not hesitate to inform the reader that he is a young lawyer of New-York, who has preserved, amidst much study and some business, the natural taste necessary to the enjoyment of country scenes and country sports. During those weeks of summer when New-York is deserted, alike by the wearied man of business and the ennuye idler, Mr. Arlington, instead of rushing with the latter to the overcrowded hotels of Saratoga and Newport, takes his gun and dog, his pencil and sketch-book, and with an agreeable companion, or, if this may not be, some choice books, as a resource against a rainy day, he goes to some wild spot—the wilder the better—where he roves at will from point to point of interest and beauty, and spends his time in reading, sketching, and—alas, for human imperfection!—shooting. These vagrant habits first brought him into the neighborhood of Donaldson Manor, and he had for two successive summers hunted with the Colonel and sketched with the young ladies, when he was invited to join their Christmas party in 18—. Here I was introduced to him, and in a few days we were the best friends in the world.

Mr. Arlington's sketch-book, of which I have already spoken, served to elicit one of our points of sympathy. Bound down by the iron chain of necessity to that point of space occupied by my own land, and that point of time filled by my own life, yet with a heart longing for acquaintance with the beautiful distant and the noble past, I have ever loved the creations of that art which furnished food to these longings; and as my fortune has denied me the possession of fine paintings, I have become somewhat noted in my own little circle for my collection of fine engravings. Many of these have peculiar charms for me, from their association, fancied or real, with some place or person that does interest or has interested me. In the leisure of a solitary life, it has amused me to append to these engravings a description of the scenes or a narrative of the incidents which they suggested to my mind, and for their association with which I particularly valued them. Annie was well aware of the existence of these descriptions and narratives, and, with a pretty despotism which she often exercises over those she loves, she insisted that I should surrender them to her for the gratification of the assembled party. One condition only was I permitted to make in this surrender, and this was, that Mr. Arlington should also bring forth his portfolio for inspection, and should describe the locale of the scene sketched, or relate the circumstances under which the sketches were made. A pretty ruse this, my gentle Annie, by which you furnished the artist with an opportunity to display to others the talents which had charmed yourself. In accordance with this compact, the drawings, with their accompanying narratives, were produced, and received with such approbation, that by the same sweet tyranny which drew them from their hiding-places, we have been ordered to send this Christmas Guest to bear the simple stories to other houses, with the hope that they may give equal pleasure to their inmates.


Merrily blazed the wood fire in the huge old chimney of the large parlor in which we were accustomed to assemble in the evening, at Donaldson Manor, and its light was thrown upon faces bright with good-humored merriment, yet not without some touch of deeper and more earnest feeling. That party would of itself have made an interesting picture. There was Col. Donaldson, tall, gaunt, his figure slightly bent, yet evincing no feebleness, his curling snow-white locks, his broad bold forehead, and shaggy brows overhanging eyes beaming with kindness. Beside him sat Mrs. Donaldson, still beautiful in her green old age. Her face was usually pale, yet her clear complexion, and the bright eyes that looked out from beneath the rich Valenciennes border of her cap, redeemed it from the appearance of ill health. Her form, stately yet inclining to embonpoint, was shown to advantage by the soft folds of the rich and glossy satin dress which ordinarily, at mid-day, took the place in summer of her cambric morning-dress, and in winter of her cashmere robe de chambre. Mrs. Donaldson has a piece of fancy netting which she reserves for her evening work, because, she says, it does not make much demand upon her eyes. This the mischievous and privileged Annie calls "Penelope's Web," declaring, that whatever is done on it in the evening is undone the next morning. Around the table, on which the brightest lights were placed for the convenience of those who would read or sew, clustered the two married daughters of the house—who always return to their "home," as they still continue to call Donaldson Manor, for the Christmas holidays—Annie, Mr. Arlington, and myself. Miss Donaldson, the eldest daughter of my worthy friends, is the housekeeper of the family, and usually sits quietly beside her mother, somewhat fatigued probably by the active employments of her day. The two sons of Col. Donaldson, the elder of whom is only twenty-three, his sons-in-law, and his grandson, Robert Dudley, a fine lad of twelve, give animation to the scene by moving hither and thither, now joining our group at the table, now discussing in a corner the amusements of to-morrow, and now entertaining us with a graphic account of to-day's adventures, of the sleighs upset, or the skating-matches won.

Such was the party assembled little more than a week before Christmas the last year, when Annie called upon Mr. Arlington and myself to redeem the pledges we had given, and surrender our portfolios to her. Some slight contention arose between us on the question who should first contribute to the entertainment of the company; Mr. Arlington exclaiming "Place aux Dames," and I contending that there was great want of chivalry in thus putting a woman into the front of the battle. This little dispute was terminated by the proposal that Annie having been blindfolded to secure impartial justice, the two portfolios should be placed on the table, and she should choose, not only from which of them our entertainment should be drawn, but the very subject that should furnish it. Mr. Arlington vehemently applauded this proposal, and then urged that he must himself tie the handkerchief, as no one else, he feared, would make it an effectual blind. Annie submitted to his demand, though she professed to feel great indignation at his implied doubt of her honesty. No one else, we believe, would have taken so much time for the disposal of this screen, or been so careful in the arrangement of the bands of hair over which, or through which, the handkerchief was passed; and the touch of no other hand, perhaps, would have called up so bright a color to the cheeks, and even to the brow, of our sweet Annie. When permitted to exercise her office, Annie, to my great pleasure, without an instant's hesitation, while a mischievous little smile played at the corners of her mouth, placed her hand on Mr. Arlington's portfolio, and drew from it a paper, which, on being exhibited, was found to contain the pencilled outline of many heads grouped together in various positions, some being apparently elevated considerably above the others.

"Ah, Miss Annie!" exclaimed Mr. Arlington, with considerable satisfaction apparent in his voice and manner, "you must try again, and I think I must trouble you, ladies, for another handkerchief. This seems to me to have been scarcely thick enough."

"I appeal to the company," cried Annie, "whether this is in accordance with Mr. Arlington's engagement. Was he not to accept any thing I should draw from his portfolio as the foundation of his sketch?"

"Ay, ay," was responded from every part of the room.

"But pray, my good friends," persisted Mr. Arlington, "observe the impossibility of compliance with your demand. How can I possibly hope to entertain you by any thing based upon that memento of an idle hour in court, which I should long ago have destroyed, had I not fancied that I could detect in those sketchy outlines—those mere profiles—very accurate likenesses of the heads for which they were taken?"

"Those heads look as though they might have histories attached to them," said Annie, as she bent to examine them more narrowly.

"Histories indeed they have," said Mr. Arlington.

"Give them to us," suggested Col. Donaldson.

"You have them already. These are all men whose histories are as well known to the public as to their own families. There is the elder K——, at once so simple in heart and so acute in mind. Cannot you read both in his face? There is his son; and there is D. B. O——, and O. H——, and G——, and J——. What can I tell you of any of them that you do not know already?"

"Who are these?" asked Annie, pointing to two heads, placed somewhat aloof from the rest, and near each other. "That older face is so benevolent in its expression, and the younger has so noble a physiognomy, and looks with such reverence on his companion, that I am persuaded they have a history beyond that which belongs to the world. Is it not so?"

"It is. Those are Mr. Cavendish and Herbert Latimer. They have a history, and I will give it you if you desire it, though, thus impromptu, I must do it very imperfectly I fear."

"No apologies," said Col. Donaldson. "Begin, and do your best; no one can do more."

"Than my best," said Mr. Arlington, with a smile, "thank you. My narrative will have at least one recommendation—truth—as I have received its incidents from Latimer himself."

Without further preliminary, Mr. Arlington commenced the relation of the following circumstances, which he has since written out, by Annie's request, at somewhat greater length for insertion here, giving it the title of


Herbert Latimer was only twenty when, having passed the usual examination, he was admitted, by a special act of the legislative assembly of his native State, to practise at the bar. Young as he was, he had already experienced some of the severest vicissitudes of life. His father had been a bold, and for many years a successful merchant, and the young Herbert, his only child, had been born and nurtured in the lap of wealth and luxury. He was only sixteen—a boy—but a boy full of the noble aspirations and lofty hopes that make manhood honorable, when his father died. Mr. Latimer's last illness had been probably rendered fatal by the intense anxiety of mind he endured while awaiting intelligence of the result of a mercantile operation, on which, contrary to the cautious habits of his earlier years, he had risked well nigh all he possessed. He did not live to learn that it had completely failed, and that his wife and child were left with what would have seemed to him the merest pittance for their support.

The character and talents of young Latimer were well known to his father's friends, and more than one among them offered him a clerkship on what could not but be considered as very advantageous terms. To these offers Herbert listened with painful indecision. For himself, he would have suffered cheerfully any privation, rather than relinquish the career which his inclinations had prompted, and with which were connected all his glowing visions of the future—but his mother—had he a right to refuse what would enable her to preserve all her accustomed elegances and indulgences?

"You must be aware, Master Latimer," said he who had made him the most liberal offers, and who saw him hesitating on their acceptance, "you must be aware that only my friendship for your father could induce me to offer such terms to so young a man, howsoever capable. Three hundred dollars this year, five hundred the next, if you give satisfaction in the performance of your duties, a thousand dollars after that till you are of age, and then a share in the business equal to one-fourth of its profits—these are terms, sir, which I would offer to no one else. Your father was a friend to me, sir, and I would be a friend to his son."

"I feel your kindness and liberality, sir."

"And yet you hesitate?"

"Will you permit me, sir, to ask till to-morrow for consideration? I must consult my mother."

"That is right, young man; that is right. She knows something of life, and will, I doubt not, advise you to close with so unexceptionable an offer."

"Whatever she may advise, sir, be assured I will do."

"I have no doubt then, sir, that I shall see you to-morrow prepared to take your place in my store. Good morning."

Assuming as cheerful an air as he could, Herbert went from this interview to his mother's sitting room. Mrs. Latimer raised her eyes to his as he entered, and reading with a mother's quick perception the disturbance of his mind, she asked him in a tone of alarm, "What is the matter, Herbert?"

"Only a very pleasant matter, mother," said Herbert, with forced cheerfulness, which he endeavored to preserve while relating the offer just received.

"And would you relinquish the study of the law, Herbert?" inquired Mrs. Latimer.

"Not if I could help it, mother; but you know Mr. Woodleigh told you that five hundred dollars a year was the utmost that he could hope to save for you. If I study law, it must be several years before I can add any thing to this sum—I may even be compelled——" The features of Herbert worked, tears rushed to his eyes, and he turned away, unable to speak the thought that distressed him.

"You speak of what can be saved for me, Herbert—of what you may be compelled to do. Do you suppose that we can have separate interests in this question?—are not your hopes my hopes—will not your success, your triumph, be mine too? The only consideration for us, it seems to me, is whether the profession you have chosen and the prospects open to you in it, are worth some present sacrifice."

"They are worth every sacrifice on my part—but you, mother——"

"Have no separate interest from my child—I have shared all your hopes, all your aspirations, Herbert, and it would cost me less to live on bread and water, to dress coarsely, and lodge hardly for the next five years, than to yield my anticipations of your future success."

Others had felt for Herbert, and had offered to aid him, and he had turned from them with a deeper sense of his need and diminished confidence in his own powers—his mother felt with him, and he was cheered and strengthened. The offers of the friendly merchant were gratefully declined. By the sale of her jewels, Mrs. Latimer obtained the sum necessary to meet the expenses incident to her son's first entrance on his professional studies. She then appropriated three hundred dollars of their little income to his support in the city, and withdrew herself to the country, where, she said, the remaining two hundred would supply all her wants. When Herbert would have remonstrated against these arrangements, she reminded him that they were intended to accomplish her own wishes no less than his. He ceased to remonstrate, but he did what was better—he acted—and the very first year, by self-denying economy and industry, he was enabled to return to her fifty dollars of the amount she had allotted to him. The second year he did better, and the third year Mrs. Latimer was able to return to the city and board at the same house with her son. It was only by the joy she expressed at their re-union that Herbert learned how painful the separation had been to her. She would not waste his strength and her own in vain lamentation over a necessary evil. Four years sufficed to prepare Herbert Latimer for his profession, and through the influence of some of his mother's early friends, exerted at her earnest request, the legislative act which permitted his entrance on its duties, was passed. The knowledge of his circumstances had excited a warm interest for him in many minds, and they who heard his name for the first time, when he stood before them for examination, could not but feel prepossessed in favor of the youth, on whose bold brow deep and lofty thoughts had left their impress, and in whose grave, earnest eyes the spirit seer might have read the history of a life of endurance and silent struggle. All were interested in him—all evinced that interest by gentle courtesy of manner—and almost all seemed desirous to make his examination as light as possible—all save one—one usually as remarkable for his indulgence to young aspirants, as for the legal acumen and extensive knowledge, which had won for him a large share of the profits and honors of his profession. His associates now wondered to find him so rigidly exact in his trial of young Latimer's acquirements.

"You were very severe on our young tyro to-day," said a brother lawyer, and one on whom early associations and similarity of pursuits, rather than of tastes, had conferred the privileges of a friend on Mr. Cavendish, as they walked together from the court-house.

"I saw that he did not need indulgence, and I gave him an opportunity of proving to others that he did not—but I had another and more selfish reason for my rigid test of his powers."

Mr. Cavendish spoke smilingly, and his friend was emboldened to ask—"And pray what selfish motive could you have for it!"

"I wished to see whether he would suit me as a partner."

"A partner!"

"Yes—when a man has lived for half a century, he begins to think that he may possibly grow old some day, and I would provide myself with a young partner, who may take the laboring oar in my business when age compels me to lay it aside."

"All that may do very well—I have some thought of doing the same myself; but I shall look out for a young man who is well connected. Connections do a great deal for us, you know, and we must always have an eye to the main chance."

"I agree with you, but we should probably differ about what constitutes the main chance."

"There surely can be no difference about that; it means with every one the one thing needful."

"And what is, in your opinion, the one thing needful?"

"Why this, to be sure," and Mr. Duffield drew his purse from his pocket, and shook it playfully.

"A somewhat different use of the term from that which the Bible makes," said Mr. Cavendish.

"Oh! let the Bible alone, and let me hear what you think of it."

"Pardon me, I cannot let the Bible alone if I tell you my own opinions, for from the Bible I learned them."

"It seems a strange book, I must say, to consult for a law of partnerships."

"Had you a better acquaintance with it, Duffield, you would learn that its principles apply to all the relations of life. The difference between us is, that when you estimate man's chief object, or as you call it, his 'main chance,' you take only the present into view, you leave out of sight altogether the interminable future, with its higher hopes and deeper interests, and relations of immeasurably greater importance."

"I find it enough for one poor brain to calculate for the present."

"A great deal too much you will find it, if you leave out of your sum so important an item as the relations of that present to the future. Depend on it, Duffield, that he makes the most for this life, as well as for the next, of his time, his talents, and his wealth, who uses them as God's steward, for the happiness of his fellow-creatures, as well as for his own."

"And so, for the happiness of your fellow-creatures, you are going to give away half of the best practice in the State?"

"I am going to do no such thing. In the first place, I did not tell you that I was going to offer young Latimer an equal division of the profits of my practice; and for what I may offer him I have already taken care to ascertain that he can return a full equivalent. His talents need only a vantage-ground on which to act, and I rejoice to be able to give him that which my own early experience taught me to value."

"Well—we shall see ten years hence how your rule and mine work. I think I shall offer a partnership to young Conway—he is already rising in his profession, and is connected with some of our wealthiest families."

"Very well—we shall see."

Herbert Latimer had nerved himself to endure five, or it might be ten more years of profitless toil, ere he should gain a position which would make his talents available for more than the mere essentials of existence. Let those who have looked on so dreary a prospect—who have buckled on their armor for such a combat—judge of the grateful emotion with which he received the generous proposal of Mr. Cavendish. This proposal, while it gave him at once an opportunity for the exercise of his powers, secured to him for the first year one-fifth, for the two following years one-fourth, and after that, if neither partner chose to withdraw from the connection, one-half of the profits of a business, the receipts of which had for several years averaged over ten thousand dollars. Mr. Cavendish soon found that he had done well to trust to the gratitude of his young partner for inducing the most active exercise of his powers. Stimulated by the desire to prove himself not unworthy of such kindness, and to secure his generous friend from any loss, Herbert never overlooked aught that could advance the interests, nor grew weary of any task that could lighten the toil of Mr. Cavendish.

"Herbert, you really make me ashamed of myself, you are so constantly busy that I seem idle in comparison," said Mr. Cavendish, as he prepared one day to lay by his papers and leave the office at three o'clock. "Pray put away those musty books, and bring Mrs. Latimer to dine with us—this is a fete day with us. My daughter, who has been for two months with her uncle and aunt in Washington, has returned, and I want to introduce her to Mrs. Latimer."

"My mother will come to you with pleasure, I am sure."

"And you?"

"Will come too, if I possibly can. You dine at five?"

"Yes—and remember punctuality is the soul of dinner as well as of business. So do not let the charms of Coke upon Lyttleton make you forget that fair ladies and hungry gentlemen are expecting you." Mr. Cavendish closed the door with a smiling face, and Herbert Latimer turned for another hour to his books and papers. At a quarter before five he stood with his mother in the drawing-room of Mr. Cavendish, and received his first introduction to one who soon became the star of his life.

Mary Cavendish was not beautiful—far less could the word pretty have been applied to her—but she was lovely. All that we most love in woman, all pure and peaceful thoughts, all sweet and gentle affections, seemed to beam from her eyes, or to sit throned upon her fair and open brow. She had enjoyed all the advantages, as it is termed, of a fashionable education, but the influences of her home had been more powerful than those of her school, and she remained what nature had made her—a warm-hearted, truthful, generous, and gentle girl—too ingenuous for the pretty affectations, too generous for the heartless coquetries which too often teach us that the accomplished young lady has sacrificed, for her external refinement, qualities of a nobler stamp and more delicate beauty. The only daughter among several children, she was an idol in her home, and every movement of her life seemed impelled by the desire to repay the wealth of affection that was lavished upon her. It was impossible to see such a being daily in the intimacy of her home associations—the sphere in which her gentle spirit shone most brightly—without loving her; and Herbert soon felt that he loved her, yet he added in his thoughts "in all honor," and to him it would have seemed little honorable to attempt to win this priceless treasure from him to whose generosity he had owed his place in her circle. Mrs. Latimer, though she did not fear for her son's honor, trembled for his future peace as she marked the sadness which often stole over him, after spending an hour in the society of this lovely girl; but Mrs. Latimer was a wise woman—she knew that speech is to such emotions often as the lighted match to a magazine, and she kept silence.

For almost a year after his introduction, Herbert continued in daily intercourse with Mary Cavendish to drink fresh draughts of love, yet so carefully did he guard his manner, that no suspicion of his warmer emotions threw a shadow over her friendship, or checked the frankness with which she unveiled to him the rich treasures of her mind and heart. It was in the autumn succeeding their first acquaintance that Mr. and Mrs. Cavendish issued cards for a large party at their house. It would be too gay a scene for the quiet taste of Mrs. Latimer, but Herbert would be there, and at the request of Mrs. Cavendish he promised to come early. The promise was kept. He arrived half an hour at least before any other guest, bringing with him a bouquet of rare and beautiful flowers for Mary. As he entered the hall he heard a slight scream from the parlor beside whose open door he stood. The scream was in a voice to whose lightest tone his heart responded, and in an instant, he was beside Mary Cavendish, had clasped her in his arms, and pressing her closely to his person, was endeavoring to extinguish with his hands the flames that enveloped her. The evening was cold: there was a fire in the stove, before which Mary stood arranging some flowers on the mantel-piece, when the door was opened for him. The sudden rush of air had wafted her light, floating drapery of gauze and lace into the fire, and in a moment all was in a blaze. Fortunate was it for her, that under this light, flimsy drapery, was worn a dress of stouter texture and less combustible material—a rich satin. After the slight scream which had brought him to her side, Mary uttered no sound, and with his whole soul concentrated on action, he had been equally silent till the last spark was smothered. Then gazing wildly in her pallid face he exclaimed, "In mercy speak to me! Did I come too late? Are you burned?"

"I scarcely know—I think not," she faltered out. Then, as she made an effort to withdraw from his arms, added quickly—"no—not at all."

Completely overpowered by the revulsion of feeling which those words occasioned, Herbert clasped her again in his arms, and fervently ejaculating, "Thank God!" pressed his lips to her cheek. At that moment, the voice of Mr. Cavendish was heard in the next room, and breaking from him, Mary rushed to her astonished father, and burying her face in his bosom, burst into tears. Aroused to full consciousness by the presence of another, Herbert stood trembling and dismayed at the remembrance of his own rashness. Agitated as she was, Mary was compelled to answer her father's questions, for he seemed wholly unable to speak.

"Latimer, I owe my child's life probably to you. How shall I repay the debt?" cried Mr. Cavendish, attempting, as he spoke, to clasp Herbert's hand. He winced at the touch, and a sudden contraction passed over his face.

"You are burned," said Mr. Cavendish, and would have examined his hand, but throwing his handkerchief over it, Herbert declared it was not worth mentioning, though at the same time he confessed that the pain was sufficient to make him desirous to return home, and have some soothing application made to it. Mr. Cavendish parted from him with regret, with earnest charges that he should take care of himself, and equally earnest hopes that he might be sufficiently relieved to return to them before the evening was passed; but Mary still lay in her father's arms, with her face hidden, and noticed Herbert's departure neither by word nor look.

"I have outraged her delicacy, and she cannot bear even to see me," he said to himself.

In passing out he accidentally trod on the flowers which he had selected with such care—"Crushed like my own heart!" he ejaculated mentally.

A fortnight passed before Herbert Latimer could take his accustomed place in the office of Mr. Cavendish. His hand had been deeply burned—so deeply that the pain had produced fever. During this period of suffering, Mr. Cavendish had often visited him, and Mrs. Cavendish had more than once taken his mother's place at his bedside; but Herbert found little pleasure in their attentions, for he said to himself, "If they knew all my presumption, they would be less kind."

His illness passed away, his hand healed, and he resumed his accustomed avocations; but no invitation, however urgent, could win him again to the house of Mr. Cavendish. "I have proved my own weakness—I will not place myself again in the way of temptation," was the language of his heart. Apologies became awkward. He felt that he must seem to his friend ungracious if not ungrateful; and one day observing unusual seriousness in the countenance of Mr. Cavendish on his declining an invitation to dine with him, he exclaimed, "You look displeased, and I can hardly wonder at it; but could you know my reason for denying myself the pleasure of visiting you, I am sure you would think me right."

"Perhaps so; but as I do not know it, you cannot be surprised that your determined withdrawal from our circle should wound both my feelings and those of my family."

Herbert covered his eyes with his hand for a moment, and then turning them with a grave and even sad expression on Mr. Cavendish, said, "I have declined your invitations only because I could not accept them with honor: I love your daughter—I have loved her almost from the first hour of my acquaintance with her."

"And why have you not told me so before, Herbert?" asked Mr. Cavendish, with no anger in his tones.

"Because I believed myself capable of loving in silence, and while I wronged no one, I was willing to indulge in the sweet poison of her society; but a moment of danger to her destroyed my self-control. What has been may be again—I have learned to distrust myself—I cannot tamper with temptation, lest I should one day use the position in which you have placed me, and the advantages which you have bestowed on me, in endeavoring to win from you a treasure which you may well be reluctant to yield to me."

"Herbert, I only blame you for not having spoken to me sooner of this."

"I feel now that I should have done so—it was a want of self-knowledge, the rash confidence of one untried which kept me silent."

"No, Herbert—it was a want of knowledge of me—of confidence in my justice—I will not say my kindness. What higher views do you suppose I can entertain for my daughter, than to make her the wife of one who has a prospect of obtaining the most distinguished eminence in my own profession."

"If that prospect be mine, to you I owe it—could I make it a plea for asking more?"

"You owe what I did for you to the interest and esteem excited by your own qualities, and all I did has only given you a place for the exercise of those qualities—I do not know how you will win Mary's forgiveness for refraining from her society on such slight grounds."

"Dare I hope for your permission to seek that forgiveness?"

"Dare I hope for your company to dinner to-day?"

"Now that you know all, nothing could give so much pleasure—though I fear——"

"What, fearing again!"

"I fear that Miss Cavendish is very much displeased with me."

"For saving her life?"

"No—not exactly that."

Herbert Latimer did not confide the cause of his fear to Mr. Cavendish, neither did he suffer it to interfere with his visit on that day. He went to dinner, but stayed to tea, and long after, and as Mary was his companion for much, if not all of this time, we presume that her displeasure could not have been manifested in any very serious manner.

It was about six weeks after this renewal of his visits that Mr. Duffield meeting his friend Mr. Cavendish one morning, accosted him with, "I hear that your daughter is going to be married to young Latimer—is it true?"

"Yes, and I heartily wish the affair were over, for I hope Herbert will recover his senses when he is actually married, as now I am obliged to attend to his business and my own too."

"Not much profit in that, I should think—I manage somewhat differently."

"Did you not tell me that you intended forming a partnership with young Conway?"

"Yes—but before I had done so, I heard that Sprague, who is as well connected as Conway, and a great deal more industrious, would go into business with me on less exacting terms. He has been associated with me for some time. He does all the drudgery of the business, and is content with one-eighth of the profits for five years."

"Those are low terms—with talent and connection too, I should think he could have done better."

"Why, you see his connections were of little use to him while he was alone, for he was so desperately poor that they did not like to acknowledge him, but I knew as soon as he began to rise they would all notice him, and so it has proved. I have no doubt I shall gain through them more than the thousand dollars a-year which Sprague will draw, while I shall be saved every thing that is really disagreeable or laborious in my practice; and you give two thousand dollars a-year, and are to have your daughter married to a gentleman who leaves all the business on your hands—which of us, do you think, has attended most successfully to the main chance?"

"According to my views of the main chance, it is not to be determined by such data—but even in your own view we may have a very different account to render nine years hence?"

"Ah, well! Ten years from the day that Latimer passed we will compare notes."

Ten years are long in prospective, but it seemed to both parties only a short time when the appointed anniversary came. On that day Mr. Cavendish invited several of his brother lawyers, and amongst them Mr. Duffield, to dinner. Herbert Latimer, his wife and mother, his two noble boys, and though last, not least in importance, if in size, his little girl, her grandfather's especial pet, were of the party. It was a well assorted party. The guests found good cheer and social converse—the cherished friends of the house, food for deeper and higher enjoyment When the ladies had withdrawn, calling Herbert Latimer to the head of the table, Mr. Cavendish seated himself beside Mr. Duffield.

"Well, Duffield!" he exclaimed, "do you know that it is ten years to-day since Herbert Latimer stood before us for examination?"

"Ah!" ejaculated Mr. Duffield, in the tone of one who did not care to pursue the subject further.

"You remember our agreement—are you still willing to make our success in that time a test of the truth of our respective principles?"

"It may afford a more conclusive proof of your better judgment in the selection of an associate."

"Sprague stands very high in his profession."

"Yes—I knew he would, for he has talent and connection—therefore I chose him; but he left me just at the time these were beginning to be available, as soon as the five years for which our agreement was made, had expired."

"What occasioned his leaving you?"

"Why, Duval offered him better terms than I had done—I should not have cared so much for his going, but he carried off many of my clients, with whom he had ingratiated himself during his connection with me. My practice has scarcely recovered yet from the injury which he did it."

"He seems to have acted on your own principle, and to have considered the main chance to mean the most money."

"And do you suppose Latimer would have remained with you if he could have made better terms for himself?"

"I know that during my long illness he was offered double what he was receiving, or could then hope ever to receive from my practice, and his reply to the offer was that the bonds forged by gratitude and affection, no interest could break. He has now built up the business again to far more than it was when he joined me—I know that I owe most of it to him, yet he will not listen to any advice to dissolve our partnership. Gentlemen," he said, "I have a sentiment to propose to you, which you may drink in wine or water as you like best. 'THE MAIN CHANCE—always best secured by obedience to the golden rule—as ye would that others should do unto you, do ye even so to them.'"


The morning after Mr. Arlington had commenced our Christmas entertainments with the sketch of his friend Herbert Latimer's life, was dark and gloomy. At least, such was its aspect abroad, where leaden clouds covered the sky, and a cold, sleety rain fell fast; but within, all was bright, and warm, and cheerful. Immediately after breakfast we separated, each in search of amusement suited to his or her own tastes: some to the music room, some to the library, and Robert Dudley and Annie Donaldson to a game of battledore and shuttlecock in the wide hall, with Mr. Arlington for a spectator. As the storm increased, however, all seemed to feel the want of companionship, and without any preconcerted plan, we found ourselves, about two hours after breakfast, again assembled in the room in which quiet, patient Mrs. Donaldson sat, ravelling the netting of the last evening.

"Now for Aunt Nancy's portfolio," cried Annie, as soon as conversation began to flag.

The proposal was seconded so warmly that, as I could urge nothing against it, the portfolio was immediately produced, and Annie, taking possession of it, commissioned Robert Dudley to draw forth an engraving:—"Scene, a chamber by night, a sleeping baby and a sleepy mother, a basket of needle-work—I am sure it is needle-work—on the floor, and a cross suspended from the wall," said Annie, describing the engraving which she had taken from Robert.

"That cross looks promising," said Colonel Donaldson, who likes a little romance as well as any of his daughters. "Let us have the fair lady's history, Aunt Nancy."

"I know nothing about her," said I, with a smile at his eagerness.

"Then why, dear Aunt Nancy, did you keep the engraving?" asked Annie.

"I might answer, because of my interest in the scene it depicts—a scene in which religion seems to shed its sanctifying influence over the tenderest affection and the homeliest duties of our common life; but I had another reason."

"Ah! I knew it," exclaimed Annie.

"I first saw this print in company with a very cultivated and interesting German lady, to whose memory the sleeping baby recalled a cradle song written by her countryman, the brave Koerner. She sang it for me, and as the German is, I am grieved to say, a sealed book to me, she gave me a literal translation of the words, which—"

"Which you have put into English verse, and written here at the back of the engraving in the finest of all fine writing, and which papa will put on his spectacles and read for us."

"No; I commission Mr. Arlington to do that," said the Colonel, "without his spectacles."

"First," said I, "let me assure you that the original is full of a simple, natural tenderness, which I fear, in the double process of translating and versifying, has entirely escaped."

Mr. Arlington, taking the paper from Annie, now read,—




Slumberer! to thy mother's breast, So fondly folded, sweetly rest! Within that fair and quiet world, With downy pinions scarce unfurl'd, Life gently passes, nor doth bring One dream of sorrow on its wing.


Pleasant our dreams in early hours, When Mother-love our life embowers;— Ah! Mother-love! thy tender light Hath vanished from my sky of night, Scarce leaving there one fading ray To thrill me with, remember'd day.


Thrice, by the smiles of fav'ring Heaven, To man this holiest joy is given; Thrice, circled by the arms of love, With glowing spirit he may prove The highest rapture heart can feel, The noblest hopes our lives reveal.


The earliest blessings that enwreathed His infant days, 'twas Love that breathed. In Love's warm smile the nursling blooms, Nor fears one shade that o'er him glooms, While flowers unfold and waters dance In joy, beneath his first, fresh glance.


And when around the youth's bold course Clouds gather—tempests spend their force— When his soul darkens with his sky, Again the Love-God hovers nigh; And on some gentle maiden's breast Lulls him, once more, to blissful rest.


But when his heart bends to the power Of storm, as bends the summer flower, 'Tis Love that, as the Angel-Death Wooes from his lips the ling'ring breath, And gently bears his soul above, To the bright skies—the home of Love.

"Poor Koerner!" said Mr. Arlington, as he concluded reading this song—if indeed it may claim that name in its English dress—"I can sympathize, as few can do, with his mournful memory of mother-love."

This was said in a tone of such genuine emotion, that I looked at him with even more pleasure than I had hitherto done.

"Such tenderness touches us particularly when found, as in Koerner, in union with manly and vigorous qualities—perhaps, because it is a rare combination," said Mrs. Dudley.

"Is it rare?" I asked doubtfully. "The results of my own observation have led me to believe that it is precisely in manly, vigorous, independent minds that we see the fullest development of our simple, natural, home-affections."

"You are right, Aunt Nancy," said Col. Donaldson; "it is only boys striving to seem manly and men of boyish minds, who fail to acknowledge with reverence and tenderness the value of a mother's love."

"So convinced am I of this," I replied, "that I would ask for no more certain indication of a man's nobility of nature, than his manner to his mother. I remember a striking illustration of the fidelity of such an indication in two brothers of the name of Manning, with whom I was once acquainted. The one was quite a petit-maitre—a dandy; the other, a fine creature—large-minded and large-hearted. The first betrayed in every look and movement, that he considered himself greatly his mother's superior, and feared every moment that she should detract from his dignity by some sin against the dicta of fashion; the other did honor at once to her and to himself, by his reverent devotion to her. They were a contrast, and a contrast which circumstances brought out most strikingly. Ah, Mr. Arlington! I wish you could have seen them—a sketch of them from your pencil would have been a picture indeed."

"We will take your word-painting instead," said Mr. Arlington.

"A mere description in words could not present them to you in all their strongly marked diversity of character. To do this, I must give you a history of their lives."

"And why not?"—and—"Oh, yes, Aunt Nancy, that is just what we want," was echoed from one to another. They consented to delay their gratification till the evening, that I might have a little time to arrange my reminiscences; and when "the hours of long uninterrupted evening" came, and we had

"——stirr'd the fire and closed the shutters fast, Let fall the curtains, wheeled the sofa round,"

and disposed ourselves in comfort for talking and for listening, I gave them the relation which you will find below under the title of



"Some men are born to greatness—some achieve greatness—and some have greatness thrust upon them." Henry Manning belonged to the second of these three great classes. The son of a mercantile adventurer, who won and lost a fortune by speculation, he found himself at sixteen years of age called on to choose between the life of a Western farmer, with its vigorous action, stirring incident and rough usage—and the life of a clerk in one of the most noted establishments in Broadway, the great source and centre of fashion in New-York. Mr. Morgan, the brother of Mrs. Manning, who had been recalled from the distant West by the death of her husband, and the embarrassments into which that event had plunged her, had obtained the offer of the latter situation for one of his two nephews, and would take the other with him to his prairie-home.

"I do not ask you to go with me, Matilda," he said to his sister, "because our life is yet too wild and rough to suit a delicate woman, reared, as you have been, in the midst of luxurious refinements. The difficulties and privations of life in the West fall most heavily upon woman, while she has little of that sustaining power which man's more adventurous spirit finds in overcoming difficulty and coping with danger. But let me have one of your boys; and by the time he has arrived at manhood, he will be able, I doubt not, to offer you in his home all the comforts, if not all the elegances of your present abode."

Mrs. Manning consented; and now the question was, which of her sons should remain with her, and which should accompany Mr. Morgan. To Henry Manning, older by two years than his brother George, the choice of situations was submitted. He went with his uncle to the Broadway establishment, heard the duties which would be demanded from him, the salary which would be given, saw the grace with which the elegants behind the counter displayed their silks, and satins, and velvets, to the elegantes before the counter, and the decision with which they promulgated the decrees of fashion; and with that just sense of his own powers, which is the accompaniment of true genius, he decided at once that there lay his vocation. George, who had not been without difficulty kept quiet, while his brother was forming his decision, as soon as it was announced, sprang forward with a whoop that would have suited a Western forest better than a New-York drawing-room, threw the Horace he was reading across the table, clasped first his mother and then his uncle in his arms, and exclaimed, "I am the boy for the West. I will help you fell forests and build cities there, uncle. Why should not we build cities as well as Romulus and Remus?"

"I will supply your cities with all their silks, and satins, and velvets, and laces, and charge them nothing, George," said Henry Manning, with that air of superiority with which the worldly-wise often look on the sallies of the enthusiast.

"You make my head ache, my son," complained Mrs. Manning, shrinking from his boisterous gratulation;—but Mr. Morgan returned his hearty embrace, and as he gazed into his bold, bright face, with an eye as bright as his own, replied to his burst of enthusiasm, "You are the very boy for the West, George. It is out of such brave stuff that pioneers and city-builders are always made."

Henry Manning soon bowed himself into the favor of the ladies who formed the principal customers of his employer. By his careful and really correct habits, and his elegant taste in the selection and arrangement of goods, he became also a favorite with his employers themselves. They needed an agent for the selection of goods abroad, and they sent him. He purchased cloths for them in England, and silks in France, and came home with the reputation of a travelled man. Having persuaded his mother to advance a capital for him by selling out the bank stock in which Mr. Morgan had founded her little fortune, at twenty-four years of age he commenced business for himself as a French importer. Leaving a partner to attend to the sales at home, he went abroad for the selection of goods, and the further enhancement of his social reputation. He returned in two years with a fashionable figure, a most recherche style of dress, moustachios of the most approved cut, and whiskers of faultless curl—a finished gentleman in his own conceit. With such attractions, the prestige which he derived from his reported travels and long residence abroad, and the savoir faire of one who had made the conventional arrangements of society his study, he quickly arose to the summit of his wishes, to the point which it had been his life's ambition to attain. He became the umpire of taste, and his word was received as the fiat of fashion. He continued to reside with his mother, and paid great attention to her style of dress, and the arrangements of her house, for it was important that his mother should appear properly. Poor Mrs. Manning! she sometimes thought that proud title dearly purchased by listening to his daily criticisms on appearance, language, manners, which had been esteemed stylish enough in their day.

George Manning had visited his mother only once since he left her with all the bright imaginings and boundless confidence of fourteen, and then Henry was in Europe. It was during the first winter after his return, and when the brothers had been separated for nearly twelve years, that Mrs. Manning informed him she had received a letter from George, announcing his intention to be in New-York in December, and to remain with them through most if not all of the winter. Henry Manning was evidently annoyed at the announcement.

"I wish," he said, "that George had chosen to make his visit in the summer, when most of the people to whom I should hesitate to introduce him would have been absent. I should be sorry to hurt his feelings, but really, to introduce a Western farmer into polished society—" Henry Manning shuddered, and was silent. "And then to choose this winter of all winters for his visit, and to come in December, just at the very time that I heard yesterday Miss Harcourt was coming from Washington to spend a few weeks with her friend, Mrs. Duffield!"

"And what has Miss Harcourt's visit to Mrs. Duffield to do with George's visit to us?" asked Mrs. Manning.

"A great deal—at least it has a great deal to do with my regret that he should come just now. I told you how I became acquainted with Emma Harcourt in Europe, and what a splendid creature she is. Even in Paris, she bore the palm for wit and beauty—and fashion too—that is in English and American society. But I did not tell you that she received me with such distinguished favor, and evinced so much pretty consciousness at my attentions, that had not her father, having been chosen one of the electors of President and Vice-President, hurried from Paris in order to be in this country in time for his vote, I should probably have been induced to marry her. Her father is in Congress this year, and you see, she no sooner learns that I am here, than she comes to spend part of the winter with a friend in New-York."

Henry arose at this, walked to a glass, surveyed his elegant figure, and continuing to cast occasional glances at it as he walked backwards and forwards through the room, resumed the conversation, or rather his own communication.

"All this is very encouraging, doubtless; but Emma Harcourt is so perfectly elegant, so thoroughly refined, that I dread the effect upon her of any outre association—by the by, mother, if I obtain her permission to introduce you to her, you will not wear that brown hat in visiting her—a brown hat is my aversion—it is positively vulgar—but to return to George—how can I introduce him, with his rough, boisterous, Western manner, to this courtly lady?—the very thought chills me"—and Henry Manning shivered—"and yet, how can I avoid it, if we should be engaged?"

With December came the beautiful Emma Harcourt, and Mrs. Duffield's house was thronged with her admirers. Hers was the form and movement of the Huntress Queen rather than of one trained in the halls of fashion. There was a joyous freedom in her air, her step, her glance, which, had she been less beautiful, less talented, less fortunate in social position or in wealth, would have placed her under the ban of fashion; but, as it was, she commanded fashion, and even Henry Manning, the very slave of conventionalism, had no criticism for her. He had been among the first to call on her, and the blush that flitted across her cheek, the smile that played upon her lips, as he was announced, might well have flattered one even of less vanity.

The very next day, before Henry had had time to improve these symptoms in her favor, on returning home, at five o'clock, to his dinner, he found a stranger in the parlor with his mother. The gentleman arose on his entrance, and he had scarcely time to glance at the tall, manly form, the lofty air, the commanding brow, ere he found himself clasped in his arms, with the exclamation, "Dear Henry! how rejoiced I am to see you again."

In George Manning the physical and intellectual man had been developed in rare harmony. He was taller and larger every way than his brother Henry, and the self-reliance which the latter had laboriously attained from the mastery of all conventional rules, was his by virtue of a courageous soul, which held itself above all rules but those prescribed by its own high sense of the right. There was a singular contrast, rendered yet more striking by some points of resemblance, between the pupil of society, and the child of the forest—between the Parisian elegance of Henry, and the proud, free grace of George. His were the step and bearing which we have seen in an Indian chief; but thought had left its impress on his brow, and there was in his countenance that indescribable air of refinement which marks a polished mind. In a very few minutes Henry became reconciled to his brother's arrival, and satisfied with him in all respects but one—his dress. This was of the finest cloth, but made into large, loose trowsers, and a species of hunting-shirt, trimmed with fur, belted around the waist, and descending to the knee, instead of the tight pantaloons and closely fitting body coat prescribed by fashion. The little party lingered long over the table—it was seven o'clock before they arose from it.

"Dear mother," said George Manning, "I am sorry to leave you this evening, but I will make you rich amends to-morrow by introducing to you the friend I am going to visit, if you will permit me. Henry, it is so long since I was in New-York that I need some direction in finding my way—must I turn up or down Broadway for Number—, in going from this street?"

"Number—," exclaimed Henry in surprise; "you must be mistaken—that is Mrs. Duffield's."

"Then I am quite right, for it is at Mrs. Duffield's that I expect to meet my friend this evening."

With some curiosity to know what friend of George could have so completely the entree of the fashionable Mrs. Duffield's house as to make an appointment there, Henry proposed to go with him and show him the way. There was a momentary hesitation in George's manner before he replied, "Very well, I shall be obliged to you."

"But—excuse me George—you are not surely going in that dress—this is one of Mrs. Duffield's reception evenings, and, early as it is, you will find company there."

George laughed as he replied; "They must take me as I am, Henry. We do not receive our fashions from Paris at the West."

Henry almost repented his offer to accompany his brother; but it was too late to withdraw, for George, unconscious of this feeling, had taken his cloak and cap, and was awaiting his escort. As they approached Mrs. Duffield's house, George, who had hitherto led the conversation, became silent, or answered his brother only in monosyllables, and then not always to the purpose. As they entered the hall, the hats and cloaks displayed there showed that, as Henry supposed, they were not the earliest visitors. George paused for a moment and said, "You must go in without me, Henry. Show me to a room where there is no company," he continued, turning to a servant—"and take this card in to Mrs. Duffield—be sure to give it to Mrs. Duffield herself."

The servant bowed low to the commanding stranger; and Henry, almost mechanically, obeyed his direction, muttering to himself, "Free and easy, upon my honor." He had scarcely entered the usual reception-room and made his bow to Mrs. Duffield, when the servant presented his brother's card. He watched her closely, and saw a smile playing over her lips as her eyes rested on it. She glanced anxiously at Miss Harcourt, and crossing the room to a group in which she stood, she drew her aside. After a few whispered words, Mrs. Duffield placed the card in Miss Harcourt's hand. A sudden flash of joy irradiated every feature of her beautiful face, and Henry Manning saw that, but for Mrs. Duffield's restraining hand, she would have rushed from the room. Recalled thus to a recollection of others, she looked around her, and her eyes met his. In an instant, her face was covered with blushes, and she drew back with embarrassed consciousness—almost immediately, however, she raised her head with a proud, bright expression, and though she did not look at Henry Manning, he felt that she was conscious of his observation, as she passed with a composed yet joyous step from the room.

Henry Manning was awaking from a dream. It was not a very pleasant awakening, but as his vanity rather than his heart was touched, he was able to conceal his chagrin, and appear as interesting and agreeable as usual. He now expected with some impatience the denouement of the comedy. An hour passed away, and Mrs. Duffield's eye began to consult the marble clock on her mantel-piece. The chime for another half-hour rang out; and she left the room and returned in a few minutes, leaning on the arm of George Manning.

"Who is that?—What noble-looking man is that?" were questions Henry Manning heard from many—from a very few only the exclamation, "How oddly he is dressed!" Before the evening was over Henry began to feel that he was eclipsed on his own theatre—that George, if not in the fashion, was yet more the fashion than he.

Following the proud, happy glance of his brother's eye, a quarter of an hour later, Henry saw Miss Harcourt entering the room in an opposite direction from that in which she had lately come. If this was a ruse on her part to veil the connection between their movements, it was a fruitless caution. None who had seen her before could fail now to observe the softened character of her beauty, and those who saw

"A thousand blushing apparitions start Into her face"—

whenever his eyes rested on her, could scarcely doubt his influence over her.

The next morning George Manning brought Miss Harcourt to visit his mother; and Mrs. Manning rose greatly in her son Henry's estimation, when he saw the affectionate deference evinced towards her by the proud beauty.

"How strange my manner must have seemed to you sometimes!" said Miss Harcourt to Henry one day. "I was engaged to George long before I met you in Europe; and though I never had courage to mention him to you, I wondered a little that you never spoke of him. I never doubted for a moment that you were acquainted with our engagement."

"I do not even yet understand where and how you and George met."

"We met at home—my father was Governor of the Territory—State now—in which your uncle lives: our homes were very near each other's, and so we met almost daily while I was still a child. We have had all sorts of adventures together; for George was a great favorite with my father, and I was permitted to go with him anywhere. He has saved my life twice—once at the imminent peril of his own, when with the wilfulness of a spoiled child I would ride a horse which he told me I could not manage. Oh! you know not half his nobleness," and tears moistened the bright eyes of the happy girl.

Henry Manning was touched through all his conventionalism, yet the moment after he said, "George is a fine fellow, certainly; but I wish you could persuade him to dress a little more like other people."

"I would not if I could," exclaimed Emma Harcourt, while the blood rushed to her temples; "fashions and all such conventional regulations are made for those who have no innate perception of the right, the noble, the beautiful—not for such as he—he is above fashion."

What Emma would not ask, she yet did not fail to recognize as another proof of correct judgment, when George Manning laid aside his Western costume and assumed one less remarkable.

Henry Manning had received a new idea—that there are those who are above the fashion. Allied to this was another thought, which in time found entrance to his mind, that it would be at least as profitable to devote our energies to the acquisition of true nobility of soul, pure and high thought and refined taste, as to the study of those conventionalisms which are but their outer garment, and can at best only conceal for a short time their absence.


The next day was brilliant. Snow had fallen during the night, and the sun, which arose without a cloud, was reflected back from it with dazzling brightness, while every branch and spray glittered in its casing of ice as though it had been a huge diamond. Before we met at breakfast, the younger members of the party had decided on a sleigh-ride. Even Col. Donaldson malgre old age and rheumatism, found himself unable to resist the cheerful morning and their gay solicitations, and accompanied them. Mrs. Donaldson and I were left alone, a circumstance which did not afflict either of us. Mrs. Donaldson was never at a loss for pleasant occupation for her hours, and Annie had given me something to do in parting.

"Remember, Aunt Nancy, we shall look to you for our entertainment this evening; you shall be permitted to choose your subject. Is not that gracious?" she added, with a laugh at her own style of command, springing at the same moment from the sleigh in which Mr. Arlington had already placed himself at her side, and running up the steps to the piazza, where I stood, that she might give me another kiss, and satisfy herself that she had not wounded the amour propre of her old friend, by speaking so much en reine. I was, in truth, pleased to be reminded of the demand which might be made on me in the evening, while I had time to glance over sketches intended only for myself, and ascertain whether they contained any thing likely to interest others.

A late dinner re-united us, and the fatigues of the morning having been repaired by an hour's rest in the afternoon, our party was more than usually fresh and ready for enjoyment when we met in the evening. I had availed myself of Annie's permission, and selected my subject. It was a crayon sketch of a lovely lake, taken by Philip Oswald, the son of one of my most valued friends. The sketch was made while all around remained in the wilderness of uncultivated nature. Since that day, the stillness has been disturbed by the sound of the axe and the hammer. Upon the borders of that sweet lake, a fair home has risen, from which the incense of grateful and loving hearts has gone up to the Creator of so much beauty. The associations which made this scene peculiarly interesting to me I had long since written out, and now give to the reader under the title of



Winter had thrown its icy fetters over the Hudson, and stilled even the stormier waves of the East River, as the inhabitants of New-York designate that portion of the Harbor which lies between their city and Brooklyn. The city itself—its streets—its houses—all wore the livery of this "ruler of the inverted year"—while in many a garret and cellar of its crowded streets, ragged children huddled together, seeking to warm their frozen limbs beneath the scanty covering of their beds, or cowering over the few half-dying embers, which they misnamed a fire. Yet the social affections were not chilled—rather did they seem to glow more warmly, as though rejoicing in their triumph over the mighty conqueror of the physical world. Christian charity went forth unchecked through the frosty air and over the snow-clad streets, to shelter the houseless, to clothe the naked, to warm the freezing. Human sympathies awoke to new-life, the dying hopes and failing energies of man; and the sleigh-bells, ringing out their joyous peals through the day, and far, far into the night, told that the young and fair were abroad braving all the severities of the season, in their eager search after pleasure. In the neighborhood of Waverley Place, especially, on the evening of the 16th of December, did this merry music "wake the silent air" to respond to the quick beatings of the gay young hearts anticipating the fete of fetes, the most brilliant party of the season, which was that evening to be given at the house of the ruler of fashion—the elegant Mrs. Bruton.

Instead of introducing our readers to the gay assemblage of this lady's guests, we will take them to the dressing-room of the fairest among them, the beautiful, the gay, the brilliant Caroline Danby. As the door of this inner temple of beauty opens at the touch of our magic wand, its inmate is seen standing before a mirror, and her eye beams, and her lip is smiling with anticipated triumph. Does there seem vanity in the gaze she fastens there? Look on that form of graceful symmetry, on those large black eyes with their jetty fringes, on the rich coloring of her rounded cheeks, and the dewy freshness of her red lip, and you will forget to censure. But see, the mirror reflects another form—a form so slender that it seems scarcely to have attained the full proportions of womanhood, and a face whose soft gray eyes and fair complexion, and hair of the palest gold, present a singular contrast to the dark yet glowing beauty beside her. This is Mary Grayson, the orphan cousin of Caroline Danby, who has grown up in her father's house. She has glided in with her usual gentle movement, and light, noiseless step, and Caroline first perceives her in the glass.

"Ah, Mary!" she exclaims, "I sent for you to put this diamond spray in my hair; you arrange it with so much more taste than any one else."

Mary smilingly receives the expensive ornament, and fastens it amidst the dark, glossy tresses. At this moment the doorbell gives forth a hasty peal, and going to the head of the stairs, Mary remains listening till the door is opened, and then comes back to say, "Mrs. Oswald, Caroline, and Philip."

"Pray, go down and entertain them till I come, Mary"—and seemingly nothing loth, Mary complies with the request.

In the drawing-room to which Mary Grayson directed her steps stood a stately looking lady, who advanced to meet her as she entered, and kissing her affectionately, asked, "Are you not going with us this evening?"

"No; my sore throat has increased, and the Doctor is positive; there is no appeal from him, you know; I am very sorry, for I wished to see some of Philip's foreign graces," she said playfully, as she turned to give her hand to a gentleman who had entered while she was speaking. He received it with the frank kindness of a brother, but before he could reply the door of the drawing-room opened, and Caroline Danby appeared within it. Philip Oswald sprang forward to greet her, and from that moment seemed forgetful that there was any other thing in life deserving his attention, save her radiant beauty. Perhaps there was some little regard to the effect of his first glance at that beauty, in her presenting herself in the drawing-room with her cloak and hood upon her arm, the diamond sparkling in her uncovered tresses, and the soft, rich folds of her satin dress and its flowing lace draperies, shading without concealing the graceful outline of her form. The gentleman who gazed so admiringly upon her, who wrapped her cloak around her with such tender care, and even insisted, kneeling gracefully before her, on fastening himself the warm, furred overshoes upon her slender foot, seemed a fit attendant at the shrine of beauty. Philip Oswald had been only a few weeks at home, after an absence of four years spent in European travel. The quality in his appearance and manners, which first impressed the observer, was refinement—perfect elegance, without the least touch of coxcombry. It had been said of him, that he had brought home the taste in dress of a Parisian, the imaginativeness of a German, and the voice and passion for music of an Italian. Few were admitted to such intimacy with him as to look into the deeper qualities of the mind—but those who were, saw there the sturdy honesty of John Bull, and the courageous heart and independent spirit of his own America. Some of those who knew him best, regretted that the possession of a fortune, which placed him among the wealthiest in America, would most probably consign him to a life of indolence, in which his highest qualities would languish for want of exercise.

By nine o'clock Caroline Danby's preparations were completed, and leaning on one of Philip Oswald's arms, while the other was given to his mother, she was led out, and placed in the most splendid sleigh in New York, and wrapped in the most costly furs. Philip followed, the weary coachman touched his spirited horses with the whip, the sleigh-bells rang merrily out, and Mary Grayson was left in solitude.

The last stroke of three had ceased to vibrate on the air when Caroline Danby again stood beside her cousin. Mary was sleeping, and a painter might have hesitated whether to give the palm of beauty to the soft, fair face, which looked so angel-like in its placid sleep, or to that which bent above her in undimmed brilliancy.

"Is it you, Caroline? What time is it?" asked Mary, as she aroused at her cousin's call.

"Three o'clock; but wake up, Mary; I have something to tell you, which must not be heard by sleepy ears."

"How fresh you look!" exclaimed Mary, sitting up in bed and looking at her cousin admiringly. "Who would believe you had been dancing all night!"

"I have not been dancing all night, nor half the night."

"Why—what have you been doing then?"

"Listening to Philip Oswald. Oh Mary! I am certainly the most fortunate woman in the world. He is mine at last—he, the most elegant, the most brilliant man in New-York, and with such a splendid fortune. I was so happy, so excited, that I could not sleep, and therefore I awoke you to talk."

"I am glad you did, for I am almost as much pleased as you can be—such joy is better than sleep;—but all the bells in the city seem to be ringing—did you see any thing of the fire?"

"Oh yes! the whole sky at the southeast is glowing from the flames—the largest fire, they say, that has ever been known in the city—but it is far enough from us—down in Wall-street—and who can think of fires with such joy before them? Only think, Mary, with Philip's fortune and Philip's taste, what an establishment I shall have."

"And what a mother in dear, good Mrs. Oswald!"

"Yes—but I hope she will not wish to live with us—mother-in-laws, you know, always want to manage every thing in their sons' houses."

Thus the cousins sat talking till the fire-bells ceased their monotonous and ominous clang, and the late dawn of a winter morning reddened the eastern sky. It was half-past nine o'clock when they met again at their breakfast; yet late as it was, Mr. Danby, usually a very early riser, was not quite ready for it. He had spent most of the night at the scene of the fire, and had with great difficulty and labor saved his valuable stock of French goods from the destroyer. When he joined his daughter and niece, his mind was still under the influence of last night's excitement, and he could talk of nothing but the fire.

1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse