ePub 版

as looking out for letters from you, even when, half the time, they didn't come! To be sure, I couldn't read them when they did come, written on both sides of that foreign paper."

"It is a pity you couldn't," said Philip; "it would have spared some words."

How economical you have grown,' answered Agnes. "I suppose you regret the many you threw away in your youthful days. But, do you know, you have appeared such a dolorous knight since you came home, that I have heard it hinted that you felt badly about my marrying George."



"It is the only thing that has made me happy this long time," said Philip; I could have asked nothing better." “Thank you! that's complimentary!" answered Agnes. George is your friend. George is a good fellow, and he deserves good fortune-so, it pleases you. But, why that should be your only bright spot, I can't understand. Is it so very dark to come home again after traveling all over the world and seeing everything, to settle down with plenty of money, and nothing to do but enjoy it!"

[ocr errors]

I haven't traveled for pleasure, I haven't seen what I wanted to, I am not ready to settle down,' I don't care for the money, and I don't know how to enjoy it," answered Philip.

"Well! I should say that was positive, if it were not so negative!" cried Agnes. "You mean you will be unhappy anyhow. That is easy enough to manage! One can make a poor dinner off anything. Here in New York there is no sort of necessity of seeing the sun; you may sit in the gloom all day. One may choose to be pricked by the points of the best joke, or find an acid in the flow of the liveliest spirits. It is easy enough to be morose; but, dear Philip, isn't it rather commonplace?"

"You won't answer?" she continued. "Well! that is a resource! Yet it is a disappointment to have you turn out one of that sort. Why, my weakestheaded partner at a ball can talk about life's being a bore!"

"Thank you, Agnes, you need not set me down in that set," answered Philip. "I have a real trouble which is enough to color the rest of my life."

"Oh! forgive me! A real trouble! That is an unusual thing. How could

I suspect it! I saw you were gloomy, but I supposed you were moody. This is the dark mood, I thought to myself; by-and-by our moon will turn round, and we shall see the bright side. Everybody ought to be allowed their moods. Sometimes I don't talk for two hours. But there you go, Philip, up and down the room again. Do sit down, and tell me about your real trouble. I am your best friend; you have not any sisters; there is nobody else you can tell. And you know, if I do talk, I never tell anything."

"It is a pity you can't do my talking for me," said Philip; "and, indeed, you can't help me."


Why, what is it?

Have Grimm & Co. failed? Don't your consignments come to hand? That's the kind of thing that worries George. Did you lose your heart on the peak of Teneriffe, or your trunk at Calais ?"

"If it were a game of twenty questions you would soon guess it," answered Philip; "that would save me the trouble of telling you."


Then I came near, did I? It was the heart, after all, I do believe. Now, tell me all about it!"

"It is not a heart that is lost, but a person. I had the clue, and I have missed it," said Philip.

66 a

"How romantic!" said Agnes; sort of Fair Rosamond. I hope there is no Queen Eleanor on the track!"

"Do you remember Mr. Grayley whom we used to know ?"

"What! Grayley the defaulter, who went off a few years ago with everybody else's money? That is, it turned out he did not carry off the moneybecause he had spent it all before-but he went off just the same. I remember, he was a friend of yours at one time; you went to his pretty place on the Hudson."

[ocr errors]

That was just before I went to Calcutta," said Philip. "I told you about his pretty place; and did I tell you of his pretty little daughter?”



"A pretty daughter? I declare you did not say a word of her," said Agnes. She was a young girl-a mere child," answered Philip, at the time she attracted me. She lived away from the world; yet was loved and petted by the whole household. At the time, as I tell you, she did not impress me strongly; but, after I had left home, in my travels, her face and figure often

came before me. On my way home, you know, I came overland, and through Spain, passing by the Azores. We had a short time for the town of Fayal. Frisbie and I went on shore for a slight exploration of the town. We passed up a narrow street, under some heavy convent walls. Suddenly a gate opened, and an old portress appeared to talk with some one outside. It was a pretty enough picture; the laden donkey in the street, the suddenly-opened archway, a garden revealed inside, glowing with flowers and fruits, and the picturesque old woman in the door-way. But there was added another feature; there appeared, in the background, a light, youthful figure, and the face was familiar! The gate closed suddenly. I stood fixed before it. It was the little Marie-Marie Grayley! I knocked at the door, but could not get admission. Frisbie thought I was suddenly crazy, and, persuading me that I was, got me off upon the ship. Not till after we had sailed did I convince myself that it was surely Marie that I had seen. At first it seemed impossible that she, whom I had seen so happy at home, should be shut up in a convent; but I reflected that, in my two years' absence, many changes might have taken place, In short, how could I but believe my eyes. I could think of nothing else she haunted me in my voyage night and day. The first news on my return home was of Grayley's misfortune."

"Misfortune!" exclaimed Agnes, 'please don't burden Dame Fortune with his misdeeds!"


"At least, be willing to judge an exiled man kindly, Agnes,” answered Philip; "I can't believe that he was the only wrong-doer. But, anyhow my first thought was of his child. I made inquiries of his family. He had none but this one child. He had deserted his country-seat; not a servant could give a trace of his departure. I entered upon the search carefully and thoroughly. The only clue that, at last, I could find was a vague report that he had gone to Havre. But the probability that I had seen Marie became a certainty. Grayley must have left the country a poor man; and this poor child, brought up in the midst of luxury, he might very probably have placed in the school of a convent, while he wandered away himself."

"Was there no grandmother, or

maiden aunts who would know something or do something for the child?" asked Agnes.

"I took the next vessel for Fayal," continued Philip.

"Yes, you did not indulge us with a good-by," interrupted Agnes.

"We had a long, tedious voyage," Philip went on, "and after I had arrived it was long before I could gain admittance to the convent. At last I was admitted into the parlor, where were displayed articles for sale made by the nuns. In return for some little purchases, I learned that such a young girl had been at the school and had left that very week. I went back into the town and made some inquiries. Mr. Grimshaw, who had been consul at the Cape of Good Hope, or somewhere at the south of Africa, had stopped at Fayal with his four daughters, to take home with them the youngest, who had been at school in the convent. I saw the broad-faced Mr. Grimshaw and some of the daughters. They were so pleased with the island they were going to wait for the next vessel. But I, disheartened and disgusted, took my passage the next day. Now I am eager to go back again.

"The only trophy I have is this embroidered handkerchief I bought at the grating of the convent. It has a strange effect upon me. Whenever I look upon it, it brings back to me the vision of the little Marie as I saw her in the stone archway of the garden."


Let me look at it. What exquisite work!" exclaimed Agnes. "Oh, Philip, do you remember that beautiful winter we passed in South America? Oh, no, you were not with us. I was an invalid, you know. How delicious it was to lie on my couch and look out upon the blue sea, upon the point of land, and the cocoanut-trees that rose up from it. For yes, there were truly cocoanut-trees there; and below, such rich foliage and flowers glowing, so that it almost pained one's eyes to look upon them. But I asked nothing better than to look all the time, to lie quietly and dream as my eyes feasted upon the glory and the beauty and in those beautiful quiet days, I gained such strength and refreshment. It recalls to me all the resolutions I made to be no longer a mere butterfly, but to live a better and higher life. Then I had nothing to do but think-to think over the past, and

over a better future. I wish I could keep the thought by me. It seems like a gleam of summer coming out upon the hard frozen ground. Those gorgeous days! Oh, Philip, I am dreaming them all over again; what is there that carries me out of this wintry New York into that beautiful southern climate. And I, who felt sad and happy all that time, feel sad and happy now-"

The door of the room was suddenly thrown open, and the cry of fire was heard.

"There is fire in this wing of the hotel! Save yourselves!"

"Go! go! Philip, see if it is true!" cried Agnes. "What a noise! what confusion! I will look for George's papers. I have the handkerchief!""

But she had scarcely time to save herself. She ran for a box of valuable papers of George's, then was hurried down the stairway through the crowd in front of the house. Philip placed her in a carriage, and then went back to see if there were anything else to be saved.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

boy. "I was trying to get a glimpse of it, and down in the street I saw this handkerchief or something. I thought I would bring it home to you. It's a queer thing. It's enough sight better than mittens; it warmed my hands, it did, thin as it looks. All the way home I was thinking of last summer, and 4th of July, and boating expeditions in the


"Let's look at it," said Martha. "How beautiful it is, and such fine stuff as it is made of. Oh! Jemmy, that is what I miss now I am sick. It is good to be at home, and have mother care for me when she has time for it, but-it is wicked for me to say soeverything seems coarse round me! Out at service anywhere, even at Mrs. Flint's, where there were hard words enough, it was pleasant to see the fine furniture and the beautiful clothes; and Miss Julia used to look so lovely when she was dressed. Oh! Jemmy! when will I get well?"

"Well, the doctor said this kind of fever lasted five or six weeks, and then-"

"But how beautifully this is worked,

[ocr errors]

Martha went on, "it is finer work than any of Miss Julia's handkerchiefs. Oh! I like to hold it in my hand. It is but a few weeks before Robert will be home, and now he must be sailing by those warm countries he has told me of. Jemmy, he promised to bring me home one of the bright, gay birds they have in that country. If I could only go to meet him there! The warm air that he tells of would make me well again. When I close my eyes, I seem to be

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

I have done it up beautifully, and I never enjoyed doing up anything more in my life. Somehow it took me back to the old place. Oh! Jemmy! will you ever be as good looking as your father was when he came to see me Sunday nights in the old house. And quite as handsome, I thought him, out at work in the fields! Well, he's out of his hard life, now," she said, wiping her eyes with her apron. "But I've wasted plenty of time thinking. You

must find the owner,
Jemmy. Poor lady, she
must have cried hard
enough at losing it, and no
handkerchief left to wipe
her eyes with after all!"
"Phew!" exclaimed
Jemmy, "she's got hand-
kerchiefs enough! But
give me the flimsy thing;
let's see if it will warm me
up again; may be I will
speak to a police."

Jemmy proceeded first to the scene of the late fire. Here his active eyes discovered an advertisement on one of the neighboring walls:


"LOST.-A valuable embroidered handkerchief. The finder will be richly rewarded by bringing it to No. 61 St. Nicholas Hotel"

Jemmy at this hastened his steps. "If I get anything by the concern," he soliloquized, "", see if I don't buy some fireworks. Martha talks about the warm country; I'd be satisfied with sitting under a rocket, eating an orange, may be a cocoanut if it was the season."

[blocks in formation]

graceful these flowers are! Is there a perfume in the handkerchief? Perhaps it is sandal-wood; oh, Isabel, doesn't it make you homesick for New Orleans?" “I don't observe a perfume, but there is certainly-"


Mrs. Stacy, my mother, did it up," spoke up Jemmy; "she clear-starches and takes in muslins, three stairs up—" "Oh! we must go back to New Orleans, this winter, Isabel. How can we stay in this cold climate? Think of the roses, of the warm sun; think of the early violets."

"Indeed, I never forget them; I seem to feel a breeze of warm air that makes my head faint;" and Isabel threw her self upon a sofa, and covered her eyes. “I think of the jessamine vine that grew by my window, and those early violets-the perfume comes back to me now. Oh! Annie, we have done wrong to live away from home so long. This round of pleasures we have lingered in has confused us, and made us forget old ties. I have grown heartless; if I could only be simple once more-could only be again in that fragrant air! Annie, I was very thoughtless towards Arthur; I know he loved me; do you remember those beautiful spring days?"

"Hush! Isabel," interrupted Annie; "how you do go on; and here is this boy waiting."

"That is just the way my sister Martha talks when that thing is near her," said Jemmy; "and as for me—”

[blocks in formation]

the handkerchief in his hand. But there was another interruption. A party of travelers were passing through the entry, and about to ascend the stairs close by.


The Grimshaws, from Fayal," whispered Annie, as a short gentleman led the way, followed by a number of ladies. Four of them passed along, showily dressed; but they were followed by another-a young girl-heavily laden with carpet-bags and packages. Her figure was slight, her face very sad in its expression. It seemed as if the eyes had worn themselves out with weeping, and the lips had forgotten to smile. She looked up wearily for a moment, but suddenly let all that she had fall to the ground, as her eyes turned towards Philip.

Philip, who had moved away hastily, when he heard the Grimshaws mentioned, started as he looked upon the figure before him.

"Marie !" he exclaimed.

"Mr. Philip! is it you?" cried the poor little Marie.

The Grimshaws turned back. "Marie! Miss Grayley! what does this mean?"

"Is this indeed the little Marie for whom we have been looking so long?" exclaimed Agnes, as she went forward and seized her hands. 66 Perhaps these ladies will let us come into their room to explain all," she said to Isabel and Annie; and the Misses Grimshaw will excuse Marie for a little while to the friends who have found her."

[blocks in formation]
« 上一頁繼續 »