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THE PERPLEXED STUDENT.
A LESSON FOR BACHELOR BOOKWORMS.
BY MRS. C. H. BUTLER.
“From woman's eyes this doctrine I derive:
They sparkle still the right Promethean fire,
doted upon this ignis fatuus of his imagina
tion. HORACE MANSFIELD was rapidly becoming a How great then was his disappointment to misanthrope-yet stay, that may be too harsh find Horace, at the age of manhood, too deeply a term to apply to my young hero, for, although | absorbed by the Portias and Lucretias of anshunning society,
cient days, to bestow even a thought upon liv
ing beauties-going back into the dim ages of “He hated not his fellow-men,
the past, and there falling in raptures over the While from their close companionship he shrank,
virtues of a Cornelia, or the charms of a Helen, And in rapt converse with the dead, forgot To wave the mystic wand which must reveal
and would take to his arms an old musty blackThe sources, whence flow streams of deeper happiness." letter folio with more delight, than he would
clasp the fairest copy of womankind. In vain For, with an almost hermit-like seclusion from the old gentleman preached to his moody sonthe world did he shut himself within the nar- in vain tossing upon a sleepless pillow, he, row limits of his study-seldom going thence night after night, strove to devise some plan to unless to stroll in meditative mood, with folded draw him from his studies--one day he would arms and eyes downcast, through the adjoining propose hunting, another, fishing; sometimes he forest. Earthquakes might shake the globe- would urge travel, or suggest a winter in the thrones totter from their base, and kings bite city. But looking up with a dreamy air, Horace the dust-what then? To him, it was no more would only shrug his shoulders, utter something than the sighing of the autumnal blast, sweep- between a yawn and a groan, and then plunge ing in its course from the monarchs of the wood anew into the labyrinth of bygone ages, or their gorgeous diadems!
puzzle his brains with some metaphysical quesAlready at the age of twenty-three, he had | tion. Besides, never felt the passion of love, nor looked with “He was in logic a great critic deeper emotion upon any of Eve's fair daugh
Profoundly skilled in analytic; ters, than he did upon the painted butterfly
He could distinguish and divide
A hair 'twixt south and southwest side. glancing in giddy circles before him, and should
In mathematics be was greater either approach too near, he would probably
Than Tycho Brahe or Erra Pater, have brushed both from his path with the same
Besides 'twas known he could speak Greek stoical indifference-pretty, harmless creatures,
As naturally as pigs do squeak!” butterflies and maidens!
“Confound all books !” would the old gentleNow this was a most unfortunate state of man exclaim. And indeed had books been as things for Mr. Mansfield, Senior. A widower rare as in the days of the worshipful Knight of for many long years, and too much attached to La Mancha, how gladly would Mr. Mansfield the memory of the departed to think of marry- have emulated the zeal of the worthy curate ing a second time, he had suffered himself to and barber, and consigned to the flames those look forward with pleased anticipation to the silent yet sorcerous enemies to his hopes. But period when Horace, his only child, should be in these latter days," when, with the swiftness old enough to take a wife. Ah! the presence with which one wave chases another, as the of a young charming bride, how it would change speed of thought, or the constant dropping of all things at the lonely old Hall! What magic sand in the inverted hour-glass, the teeming would her sweet voice exert-how would her Press sends forth her offspring, well he knew, lightest footfall thrill his heart with the glad that from the glowing mass, another, Phænixness of other days! Bless her bright eyes, and like, would arise from its ashes, and its name her sunny smile—already the old gentleman | be “Legion!” Therefore smothering his fiery
ardour, he once more looked within his brain for and, therefore, merely raising his head, with a some more effectual counter-charm to their en- long-drawn sigh, he said chantments.
“Well, father?” And no wonder the poor old gentleman was “Now I tell you what it is, Horace," exout of all patience, for it did seem a thousand claimed the old gentleman, striking his fist pities that such a fine, handsome young fellow upon the voluminous mass of papers before as Horace, should be thus wasting the freshness him; “I can't stand this any longer—this sort of his youth, encased like a mummy in a cata- of life won't do for me. I have borne it as comb!
| patiently as a saint for as many years as you And so one day Mr. Mansfield suddenly broke can count fingers and toes, and now there must into this living tomb, making considerable bus- be an end of it. I ask you if you don't feel tle, too, as he did so, by slamming the door, ashamed of yourself, -I ask you if you are and kicking over a huge Josephus-but bless doing anything to make your old father happy, you! the student heeded it no more than he perched up there week in and week out, like a
piece of petrified clay, when you should be looking out for a wife, and gladdening my old eyes, ere death closes them for ever, by the sight of your happiness.”
“Why, my dear sir, I cannot conceive of greater happiness than these my silent friends afford me,” replied Horace.
"Nonsense-I know better; but I'm not going to argue the point with you,-it is only a waste of breath, and I am tired of it. Only answer me one question, — will you or will you not get married ?”
Horace smiled, shook his head, and tracing a parallelogram on the paper before him, replied:
“Methinks, my dear father, it would have been no greater absurdity for old Thomas Aquinas to have doffed the cowl, and relaxed his stern visage into the soft simper of a lover's smile, than for me to break from these rusty fetters, only to yield allegiance to Love's rosy bondage.”
“ Fiddle-de-dee !—Then I tell you what I've a great mind to do,-fall into the what-do
you-call-it bondage of Love would the dancing of a thistle-down through myself," answered the old gentleman. “Now, the open window. Dragging a chair not very suppose I get a wife, Horáce ?" gently to the table, the old gentleman seated “No doubt, father, a woman would be very himself facing his abstracted son, where he useful in looking after the house,-really, I might have sat unnoticed till doomsday had he think your suggestion most excellent.” not taken a pretty sure way of making his “Look after the house, you iceberg !—Mrs. presence known, namely, by suddenly sweeping Dimity does that, don't she? No, I want no his large bony hand over the open page, and wife that will be for ever bustling about in the hurling the book under the table. It must be kitchen and pantry—I want society, I tell you confessed Horace was too well accustomed to -I am tired of sitting like an old solitary this mode of salutation to express any surprise, badger, or of smoking my pipe with the gravity VOL. VI.
of Robinson Crusoe, with only the cat at my | Pęte down to the village for Treble to come elbow, and for amusement counting the flies and tune up the old piano. There, good-bye crawling over the ceiling, -I am tired of it, I to you.” So saying, he mounted to the roof of tell you !"
the stage, where he seated himself comfortably " Then, father, to be serious, why not get by the side of the driver, then, with a chuckle married? I really don't see how you can do and a significant nod toward the still closed better,” said Horace.
shutters of his son, he gave the word, “ All's “You don't, well I do,-for, after all, no ready.” The wheels groaned and shriekedpretty lass would fancy an old fellow like me, the coach grumbled-Jehu cracked his whip and as for the elderly damsels, they would the horses, looking sideways at each other, prefer their snuff and tea ;-10, no, I have a as if to say, “if we must-we must, that's better plan than marriage in my head. Harkee, all,” stretched their sinews to the task, and the young gentleman! I am going to rejuvenate coach was set in motion. these old walls; I will fill them with beauty, Mr. Mansfield once more waved his hand to with sparkling eyes and beaming smiles, angels the housekeeper, and then bracing himself to and sylphs shall glide amid its lonely chambers, bear the jolting of the crazy vehicle, was soon and the music of glad voices ring like marriage rattling over the turnpike, en route for Albany. bells through these old elms !"
« Do you wield the wand of Prospero, my dear father, that you can thus at pleasure
CHAPTER II. summon such dainty spirits ?” said Horace, smiling.
"MR. HORACE! Mr. Horace !-dear me, what “You shall see, for to-morrow I start for a boy! I say, Mr. Horace, don't you know New York, from thence I shall take a trip into your father is coming home this very blessed Jersey ;-I have nieces by the dozen, young, day, with all those city girls, and yet here you glad creatures, as merry as the birds, and it sit, although it is past five o'clock, in your old shall go hard but I will bring home such a dressing-gown and slippers !-Dear me, Mr. charming flock as shall make me young again. Hor-a-ce !" and elevating her voice almost to a So, Mr. Horace, revel among your old tomes scream, Mrs. Dimity, the housekeeper, aplike a book-worm, as you are, while I cry · Vive proached close to the elbow of the student, and la bagatelle !' " Saying which, the old gentle-placed her hand upon his shoulder. man leaped up from his chair, cut the pigeon “Ah, Mrs. Dimity, dinner is ready then,wing with a great flourish, snapped his fingers very well, don't wait, I will be down in a in the face of Horace, and then fairly danced moment," said Horace, without, however, raisout of the room with all the agility of a boy. ing his eyes from his book.
Sure enough it was no joke, the threat which “Dear me! dear me! do pray shut up your Mr. Mansfield had uttered, for, that very even- | book, Mr. Horace !” cried the good woman; ing, Pete was despatched to the village, three why, bless me, they will be here in an hour! miles distant, to book the old gentleman for the Do now, Mr. Horace, go and shave yourself, Albany stage, whence the steamboat would and put on your new black coat and your bear him to the city, and, at an early hour the satin vest,—why dearee me, your beard is as following morning, the quiet woods around the long as any old patriarch's in the book of old Hall echoed, not with the merry peal of Genesis !-Come, Mr. Horace, I have laid your the huntsman's notes, but with the doleful clothes all out for you-Mr. Horace ! Mr. Ho“ Toot-loot-too-00-ot-toot” of the tin stage-horn, race! there, there !—Mercy on me, he don't dolefully re-tooted on every side, and in a few hear no more than the dead !" And poor Mrs. moments the lumbering coach itself, with its Dimity made a second attempt to attract the four lean, spavined attachées, appeared looming attention of the absent young gentleman, by through the fog, and wheeled up with a des- pulling his sleeve. perate attempt at display to the door of the “Ah, yes; well, Mrs. Dimity, what were Hall.
you saying?" “Well, good-bye, .Mrs. Dimity,” exclaimed “Why that it is time for you to make yourthe old gentleman, slowly descending the steps, self decent to appear before the company," and drawing on his gloves; “have an eye on replied the housekeeper. “For shame, Mr. the boy that he don't starve upon his logical Horace; why most young men would have been chips, and remember, too, to have everything dressed an hour ago, and all on tiptoe, like in readiness, just as I told you,-see that the Prince Chorazzin in the fairy tale, to see your rooms are all well aired,-keep Pete busy beautiful cousins,-come now, throw away your among the weeds, and look out for the straw- | book, do !" berry beds, for there will be dainty fingers busy “My good Mrs. Dimity,” replied Horace smithere by-and-by,—and don't forget to send | ling, “if you ever read Shakespeare I would ask,
•What's Hecuba to me or I to Hecuba!' Yet I, the fine, fragrant butter, and the rich cream thank you for reminding me of these expected set apart for the table. The tea-room next deguests, whom I had indeed forgotten."
manded her attention-lifting the fine damask " Forgotten! dear me, did any one ever hear cloth spread over the tea equipage, to discover the like !” exclaimed Mrs. Dimity, raising her if the flies had dared to crawl within any chance hands in astonishment.
opening, and were now, little thieves, feasting " How many of these cousins of mine do you upon the delicious cake, the dishes of ruby expect ?” asked Horace. “Mere school-girls, I quince, or the lumps of snowy sugar heaped so suppose.”
generously upon the social board. Her next visit "All I know is, your father said he would / was to the parlour, surveying for, at least, the bring home a whole coach-load, if he could get twentieth time that day the proofs of her neatthem,” answered Mrs. Dimity, “and I have ness and taste, displayed in its arrangement, been all the week getting the house in order and every time finding a little something to do for them-rubbing up the old furniture-clean- -a chair to move half an inch to the right, a ing the brasses, whitening the linen, and filling table to wheel a little more to the left—the curthe store closet with plenty of plum-cake and tains to be looped up or let down-books to ginger-nuts! I vow and declare, Mr. Horace, move, and the little china vases filled with it is absolutely provoking to see you take it so pretty flowers to rearrange, so as to exhibit to coolly, just as if your father was only going to greater advantage some favourite blossom; and bring home a new brood of ducks or chickens !” lastly, the notable old lady took a hurried and
“They will gabble as fast, no doubt,” said satisfactory inspection of the chambers, and Horace. "I shall be glad, however, if my father then hastened to her own little room to doff the finds pleasure from their society, Mrs. Dimity; homely dark chintz gown for a more becoming so far, their presence will be a relief to me.” attire, ere the arrival of Mr. Mansfield and his
" Well, well, aren't you going to dress your young nieces. self ?--Mercy on me, if you appear before them A short time sufficed for her toilet, and Mrs. in that dishabilly, the poor things will think Dimity came forth arrayed in a shining black you are Valentine and Orson !"
silk petticoat, relieved by a short gown or ne“Rest easy, Mrs. Dimity-I will be in readi gligée of white cambric falling just below the ness to receive our guests. Don't stop longer on hips, and ornamented with a broad ruffle neatly my account, I beg,” returned Horace.
plaited, and her gray hair combed smoothly back "A-hem! hem!-just as sure as I live he will under a cap of the whitest and stiffest lawn. But never stir a step if I don't keep teasing him !" of all her earthly possessions, that which the old said the old housekeeper to herself, pretending lady most prized was the gold spectacles which to leave the room, but stopping midway to watch | Mr. Mansfield had presented her on Christmas, the effect of her previous admonition.
and these she had now mounted, together with In another moment Horace had apparently the large silver watch once the property of her forgotten everything but the page before him, deceased husband. In this becoming and tidy to which he now gave his most rapt attention. garb, she now paused before the door of
“How beautiful !” he exclaimed abstractedly Horace's chamber. _"as A is to B, so is C to D—let me see-as X "I may as well give him a call," said she, is to Y-90 is M to N-what harmony !” “ for just as likely as not he is off in one of
“Dear, dear, only hear him!” cried Mrs. his absent fits again." Dimity. “What is the use of spending so much She listened a moment,--all was still-taptime if one can't learn? Poor boy, he is always tap-tap-no answer-tap-tap-“Mr. Horace!" puzzling over A, B, and C-well, I don't know -knock, knock,—“Mr. Hor"-knock,-“ ace! much to be sure, but thank Heaven, I do know -Come, are you ready, Mr. Horace ?” And the that AB spells ab, and CA spells ca! Mr. Ho | good lady, now quite out of patience, shook race!" and this time the vexed old lady shook and pounded the door as if the house was on our hero not very gently.
fire, and unconscious of danger, the inmate “Ah yes, true—I had forgotten-Well I will of the chamber calmly sleeping. go now;" and most reluctantly the student rose | “Yes, Mrs. Dimity, yes, yes, I am coming, from the table, and casting a long lingering I hear,” said the voice of Horace, aroused at look behind,' proceeded to the duties of the length by the din. toilet.
Even as he spoke, the winding of the stageFeeling that she had thus successfully ac- horn proclaimed the approach of the travellers. quitted herself of this responsibility, the house “Mercy on me, here they come! There—the keeper now hurried to the kitchen to see if the coach is now turning into the great gate,--do supper was in progress—the coffee boiling, and make haste, do, Mr. Horace.” And as rapidly the rolls ready to put in the oven-from thence as she could the old lady descended the stairs, she put her head into the dairy, to look after and throwing open the hall door, stepped out upon the piazza to receive them. Horace al- / where is Meg ?-ah, there she goes, the gipsy, most mechanically followed close behind her, skimming over the lawn like a lapwing !" but, to the horror of the worthy housekeeper, And each fair cousin in turn presented a all her labour of speech had been thrown away, rosy cheek to the salute of the embarrassed for there he stood in the full glare of sunlight, Horace. still in robe-de-chambre and pantouffles, his beard “Well, girls, welcome to Mansfield Hall,” unshorn, his hair disordered.
continued the old gentleman, as the gay party “Good gracious, Mr. Horace! Do go back- tripped up the steps of the portico. “Here, you look like a fright-pray go quick, I will Mrs. Dimity, I make over these merry girls to say you are sick, or out, or anything, only you. Show them their rooms, if you please, and don't stand there in such a trim.”
then let's have supper, for this long ride over But it was too late. The driver cracked his the hills has given me a pretty sharp appetite. whip—the horses bounded forward, and the Hark ye, girls, you need not stop to beautify crazy old coach drew up to the door.
yourselves; there is nobody here but your old Merry peals of laughter met the ear, and the uncle to see you, for as for your cousin Horace, music of young, girlish voices,-bewitching he will never look at you, or fall in love with little straw bonnets clustered together, and you." taper fingers and snowy wrists rested upon the There was more than one arch glance cast old brown sides of the coach-then suddenly toward the spot where Horace stood leaning these were withdrawn, and fluttering veils against one of the pillars, feeling, it must be thrown back, and out blazed a galaxy of the confessed, a little foolish at this blunt speech most brilliant orbs, all fixed with mischievous of his father,-and more than one little head glance upon the person of our hero, standing was saucily tossed, ere the fair girls disapready to assist their egress from the stage. peared with Mrs. Dimity into the house.
Agile as sylphs, out they sprang upon the “Nice girls, Horace, full of life and spirit!" bright green turf, and gathered around poor exclaimed Mr. Mansfield, slapping him on the Horace, whilst Mr. Mansfield, his good-hu- shoulder. “Bless their sunny faces, why they moured face all in a glow of delight, slowly have made me young again !-Hark, did you dismounted.
ever hear such music as that?” as a joyous “You need not laugh, you little jades, I am laugh rang out upon the summer air from one not as young as you are!-Ah, Horace, my of the upper windows. “Ah, I see you, minx !” boy, how are you?” cried the old gentleman. shaking his cane at a mirthful face peeping “ Bless me, why don't you salute your cousins ? down upon him through the fragrant sweetNever be bashful, man,-here, this is your brier which clustered around the casement. cousin Kate, and this is her sister, Lucy Mans- Horace quickly retreated into the hall, and field, and here is my stately Constance, and passed on to his chamber, his ears yet ringing this, the mirth-loving Gabriella Lincoln, and with that happy, merry laugh. this is roguish Bessie, and this little-hey,
(To be continued.)