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the raised her eyes timidly, and with a look of dread to the time-piece, for it only wanted half an hour to the time when the dress would be required, and, alas! there was yet much to be done to the beautiful robe, ere it could adorn the well-made figure of Mrs. Harris.
That lady, enveloped in a costly ntgligte, was under the hands of her hair-dresser, listening to choice bits of scandal, and trying to look grave at the gross flattery of her maid, whose chief business seemed to be in throwing herself into every possible attitude expressive of her admiration, like a dancing Jack set in motion by a string. Mrs. Harris, however, was not so absorbed as to forget her robe, and now and then broke out with,
"Pray, Pales, have not you almost finished? Do make haste! I never saw any one so tedious. —there, as I live, you are placing that flower upside down!"
She might have seen that tears were blinding the eyes of poor Lydia, who, making no reply, meekly corrected her mistake. The obsequious hair-dresser gave the finishing touch, and taking a last look as he made his exit, pronounced the head "magnifique" and the maid, giving a tragedy start, protested her mistress could not be more than sixteen.
But Mrs. Harris was growing impatient—it was getting late, so she hurried and scolded unmercifully, which, of course, only served to procrastinate. At length, however, the dress was pronounced finished, and so indeed was the poor seamstress; for, as she withdrew the last basting-thread, she fainted and fell to the floor, unfortunately crushing, as she did so, a splendid bouquet, which, at the price of five dollars had just been sent in from the florist's. Of bourse there was a great outcry in the dressing-room, shrill screams, and cries for hartshorn and cologne, and when, at length, the poor girl was restored to consciousness, her awakening senses were greeted with "Dear me, what a fright I have made of myself! and look at my dress! I declare the trimming is quite rumpled! 80 you have come to," continued Mrs. Harris, looking over one shoulder at Lydia. "Well, Gales, I may as well tell you, you need not come to me any more; I cannot have my nerves so dreadfully shattered—why it would kill me in a week, I have so much sensibility. Here is a levy for you; it is all I have convenient—there, you may go now; to-morrow you can call for the rest of your money. I hope you will get better, Gales, but you look dreadfully sick, and you must see the absurdity of my employing anybody who is too feeble to work. I told you so, you remember, when you first came to me, so you see you have no one to blame but yourself; you ought to exert yourself more—there, good night,
Gales." And, turning to her mirror, Mrs. Harris coolly adjusted her ringlets, and admired the exquisite lace which draped her shoulders.
The poor girl staggered to the door, and was forced to lean for snpport against the banisters for some moments, ere she could trust herself to descend the stairs.
O, Mrs. Harris, could you have followed the tottering frame of that wretched girl to her miserable shelter—could you have entered with her into that low, damp cellar, where scarce a ray of sunshine ever breaks the desolate gloom—have listened to the cries of starving, ragged children for "Bread, bread!"— would not the blush of shame have outrivalled the rouge upon your cheek?
In one corner of this squalid abode sat a man, whose red and bloated countenance told too plainly the talc of his degradation—before him stood a small riband-loom, but the shuttle was idle, for the arms of the man hung sluggishly down, his head resting on his breast, while his heavy and muttered breathing showed him to be sleeping. In another corner a pale, haggard woman, her hair falling matted and tangled from a dirty, torn cap, and her features ghastly with want and poverty, was striving to soothe the feeble wailing of a miserable little infant, which she held to her bosom.
Poor Lydia! What though her temples throb until the swollen veins seem bursting, and her trembling limbs can scarce bear her o'er the threshold, yet there is work, work to be done! No time for sickness have the poor—work—work —work; though the brain may whirl, and the heart sink, and the strained eyeballs fain court the darkness of the grave, yet hand and foot must to the task—work, work, or—starve!
The step of Lydia, feeble as it was, aroused the sleeper. With a look of greedy joy he arose and staggered towards her.
"The money, the money, girl!" wrenching the work-bag from her hand, and eagerly rifling the little change it contained. "What, is this all?—curses on you!—now finish that job quick," jerking his head toward the loom; "quick, do you hear, it must go in in the morning." And then, with savage brutality thrusting aside a little child, who, clinging to his knees, begged for something to eat, the miserable wretch slammed to the door, to spend at the next grocer's stand the little earnings of his child!
And there is no work for the morrow—there is no work for the day after—a week, and still no work—no employment. Alas poor Lydia! Who shall dare to judge thee ?—Who shall dare to scorn thee, that, to save thy mother and those helpless babes, thou hast parted with thine only jewel—thy innocence—
"Tho good name,—the virgin's pure renown— Woman's white robe, and honour's starry crown, Lost, lost for ever!"
Better would it have been for thee, poor girl, to have died!
Such was the second result of Mrs. Harris's selfish policy. And would this were no common case. Yet could the secrets of all hearts be read, might not many of those whose sickly beat is beneath the gauds of vice and shame, betray that the hand of selfishness—the pitiful desire to make the most of a bargain—the power which wealth must ever possess over the needy and destitute, has thrust them thus piteously forth to live and die outcast and degraded!
Think of this, ye favoured sons and daughters of affluence, and deal mercifully and gently with the poor.
It is pleasant to look upon a brighter side of human nature than the last gloomy picture.
Under the unremitting and skilful care of
Dr. M , and the kindness of Mrs. Mayhew,
which brought comforts and luxuries to the sick couch, to which the poor invalid had long been a stranger, Mrs. Chilson was soon able to be removed to a pleasant little dwelling hired by the good physician, and a nice Irish girl employed to assist in the work of the family. Caroline and Nina were placed at school, while the patronage of Mrs. Mayhew soon supplied Amy with constant employment, such, too, as she could do at home, without being forced to leave her mother, who was still in very delicate health.
One morning having finished a piece of work for which she knew Mrs. Mayhew was in a hurry, Amy put on her bonnet and carried it to her residence, which was only a few steps from her own. As she went through the hall, she met a gentleman apparently just leaving the house, who, as he passed the unassuming girl, politely raised his hat. Their eyes met, and, without knowing why, both parties involuntarily bowed;—although strangers, the thought for an instant glanced through the minds of each—" wc have met before!"
"Strange!" exclaimed Leonard Darlington, as he walked slowly down the street, "strange, how the countenance of that sweet girl perplexes me. 1 am sure I must have seen it before, but where I cannot remember,—heighho !—only in my dreams, I fear."
"Why, Leonard, I have waited for you this half hour !" cried his pretty sister Ida, meeting him. "Do you forget, truant, that you en
gaged yourself to Cornelia and me for the morning? Fie, what an ungallant lover!"
"Pray, sister," retorted Leonard somewhat impatiently, " don't apply the title of lover to me quite yet, if you please. I have told you often that my heart can never belong to Miss Nixon, —but ah, Ida, such a sweet vision as just now met my eyes!—would that I could trace it!"
"And where, my very sensitive brother, did this same vision cross your path?" demanded Ida.
"In the vestibule at Mrs. Mayhew's. She was not a visiter, I should judge. I might perhaps, from her simple attire, conclude her to be some humble relative of the family."
"Ha ha! poor Leonard!—now I'll bet you your wedding gloves that you have lost your heart to Mrs. Mayhew's pretty chambermaid, or her dressmaker;—fickle, fickle fellow! And what becomes, pray, of your six years' fealty to poor Amy Chilson ?" interrupted Ida, laughing merrily.
"Amy ChiltonI" mused Leonard; "Amy— By heavens! her very eye; but no, it cannot be—yet how strangely her countenance brings up before me the beautiful features of Amy."
The same evening Leonard presented himself before Mrs. Mayhew, not a little to the surprise of the lady, for only that morning he had offered as an apology for not accepting some invitation she had for him, a previous engagement to the opera.
Leonard soon introduced the subject which brought him there by observing:
"As I left your house this morning, my dear madam, I passed a young lady in the hall whose countenance greatly interested me, and my desire to discover who she was, Is the only apology I have to give for my apparent fickleness of purpose."
"This morning, Mr. Darlington? I believe I have had no visiters to-day but Miss Cassidy; you are acquainted with her, I think?"
"Oh no, it was not Miss Cassidy by any means," said Leonard, smiling. "The young lady I allude to was dressed in very simple mourning, and if I mistake not, she had a small paper parcel"
"Oh, now I think I know—yes, she has a very sweet countenance indeed,—I don't wonder it struck you," cried Mrs. Mayhew.
"But who—who is she?" impatiently demanded her visiter.
"It is Miss Chilson—Amy Chilson—a young lady who"
Leonard waited to hear no further, but springing from the sofa, he seized the hand of Mrs. Mayhew, pressing and kissing it. us though the dainty little digits of Amy were already within his clasp.
"My dear, dear lady, yon have made me the happiest of men!" he exclaimed. "You have restored to me her whom for months I have vainly sought;—where is she,—where may I find her, Mrs. Mayhew?"
"Not a thousand miles off!" she replied, smiling; "only up one flight of stairs—as the young lady happens at the present moment to be engaged in a game of romps with little Miss Lilla and Master Harry,—you shall see her presently; only restrain your impatience, and hear me for a moment."
She then gave Leonard a brief sketch of her acquaintance with the Chilsons, to which you may be sure he listened with breathless interest.
We will not trace the path of our young heroine further—we found her in poverty, and we leave her in a state of affluence, which, as the wife of Leonard Darlington, she honours and adorns. With her, her mother and sisters find a happy home, and it is needless to say that she who could make so dutiful a child, cannot fail of being an exemplary wife.
As for Mrs. Harris, she was the first to call upon the once despised " Chileon." But Amy shrank from her with abhorrence. Whenever she meets her, the memory of that bitter night when she was turned hopeless from her door— the image of that poor old man—of that suffering mother—come up before her, and she turns faint and shuddering away.
Let us hope, however, there are not many of my fair countrywomen who resemble Mrs. Harris in heart, although there may be those who are thoughtlessly pursuing the same destructive course, who sincerely think they are not only doing their duty to their families, but really take credit to themselves for the cheap rates which they pay the poor seamstress. This is not because they are hard-hearted, or would willingly impose upon those whom they employ—it is want of consideration—culpable, I allow, but not irreparable. There is room for a better state of things; and may the day soon come when the truth of Hood's touching appeal may no longer ring upon the conscience.
BY J. B. DURAND.
Aloft, alone in a forest glade,
Where the brave old trees cast a leafy shade.
And where no sound on the balmy air
Tells of the din in a world of care.
Yet not alone! There are forms around
That dance on the boughs, and chequer the ground;
No, not alone, for Beauty is here,
With joy for the eye, and song for the ear.
The streamlet is murmuring by in glee,
Seeking its home in the far-off sea,
And the listener's heart in its depths is stirred
At the joyous note of the singing bird;
And the distant horn, and the tinkling bell,
With soothing melody reach the dell.
There's a dancing of leaves on every spray,
And a flitting of birds in plumage gay,
And the wild-bees* hum, and the zephyr's note
Upon the ear with a sweetness float.
There's a blushing of flowers on bough and mound,
While sunbeams play in the vista round.
Oh! who could call it a lonely scene,
With its wealth of song, and its dress of green?
I feel it no solitude lingering here,
Though Nature's the only companion near.
Alone, alone in the twilight gray,
Afar from the social hall away,
Where the flowers are closed with dews empearled,
And the shadows of evening shroud the world.
Yet not alone 1 O'er the dusky earth
There are things of love and music forth;
And the voices of night are whispering near,
That fall with joy on the listening ear.
Hark! in the shadows misty and dim,
Nature is chiming her vesper hymn.
The wind-song has died to a murmur low,
And the playing brook faas a gentle flow,—
On the dewy air its tones are borne
With the night-bird's note from the distant thorn.
And look to the sky! in its changing shade
What a change one brief-told hour has made!
For the glorious stars, from their far-off home,
Hare taken their watch in the night's blue dome,
And now o'er the couch of the sleeping earth
Are showering the shining treasures forth.
What though far from the festive throng,
Where light feet trip to the wildering song,
Companionship greets me along my way,
And unseen harps in the mists are at play.
I feel not alone; for the radiant sky
Beams with a joy on the gazer's eye,
And a whispered hymn from the mantled earth
Calls slumbering bliss from the spirit forth.
Alone, alone at the midnight hour, e
When silence broods with a holy power
O'er the watcher's heart, as he treads the hall,
Where no sounds save the hollow echoes fall.
Yet not alone l For while I stand,
Memory weaves, with a shadowy wand,
A spell for the heart, a dreamy spell,
Tales of the misty past to tell.
Yes, they come in a noiseless throng,
Things that have slept in the memory long,
And the fancies of childhood, waking, seem
As fresh as when formed by the summer stream.
And the boyish hope, and the warbled tone
Of the little maid that I called my own.
Come back to my heart with a kindling power,
And chase the gloom from the midnight hour.
Oh! I feel it no solitude lingerlng here,
Though my thoughts are the only companions near.
A Short ride in the cars, a sail across the river, and a beautiful up-hill drive, brought us to Mr. Ryder's hotel one morning in time for a late breakfast. We were so unromantio as to have good appetites, and so thoughtless as to spend a long time in satisfying them. I say thoughtless, not because I advocate fast eating in general, but because our stay at the Point was to be a short one, and we wished to see everything, and "the lions of West Point" are numerous.
"Let us go and see the cadets ride, first of all," said Florence, "the Newtons went every day while they were here, at eleven o'clock, and they say it's perfectly lovely." The proposal was immediately adopted, and we all scattered, each one exhorting the others to make haste.
But there is no hurrying some people, and one or two of our party tarried so long at the toilet, that of course we were late,—ladies always are, if one may believe gentlemen,— and though we intended to walk very fast, it was no easy matter to accomplish. We were so glad there had been no drought, and the weather was so fine, and it was so hard to take our eyes from the plain, and the flag, and the mountains—(I confess mine were fairly entranced)—that when we reached the exercise hall the groups of people outside the windows, and the quick passing horses' heads within, warned us that the riding had begun.
"We shall not get in!" was on every one's tongue,^ but at the moment a dragoon opened the door, and we entered.
All I took in at first was, that two strings of mounted horses were passing rapidly round the hall; that the quick beat of their feet, the smell of the tan-strewed floor, and a certain metallic clang which resounded through the apartment, formed a combination somewhat confusing to my nerves; and that at the far end of the ellipsis there was a place of bonnets, and shawls, and safety, could 1 but reach it.
One string of horses had just passed, but I in my wisdom looked to the right hand, as well as the left, and there came the second string, headed by a new figure in heraldry—a
cadet and horse rampant, bearing down upon us sabre in hand. Don't anybody laugh,— horses do look remarkably large in doors, and cadets remarkably fierce with drawn sabres at the shoulder, and black straps under the chin.
Well, we waited to see the last horse whisk his tail, and then set out on a trial of speed,— not gracefully I presume, hurriedly I know. Bnt we might as well have been graceful, for we could but reach the partition before tramp, tramp, they were upon us again, and once more I stood still while they clattered by. It was enough to make one think of the old legend of "The Wild Night Huntsman."
"Now you can go," said my companion, and a few steps brought me within the barricade— a slight one to be sure, but better than nothing, and where I had time to look about me.
In the place where I stood there was a sprinkling of cadets and officers,—
u Black spirits and white,
just enough to amuse any ladies who raignt tire of the riding; the rest of the spectators were "them things, sir, that do wear caps and aprons"—some sitting, some standing, some mounted on benches, so as to be more on a level with the aforesaid cadets rampant. The caps and aprons themselves were sometimes wanting, sometimes to be seen in new varieties. For instance, — a silk apron with long silk shoulder-straps, unmodified by shawl, cape, or scarf, and overshadowed by a flat, has to say the least a striking appearance, when coupled with those years which we term, "of discretion."
In front of this assemblage of sense and nonsense was a long oval, from end to end of which stretched two rows of pillars. Outside of these went the horses, and in the central space there stood two gentlemen.
"That left hand one is Mr. B ," said an
officer to me; "he has just come back from his furlough, and has not yet donned his uniform."
"And why does he stand there?"
"I don't know, unless to display his mustache."
There seemed some plausibility in this notion; for Mr. B stood looking our way in
the most complacent manner, and for no perceptible reason.
And now the trot wns changed to a gallop, and the orders to "take" or "loose" stirrups, were obeyed without any diminution of speed. The tan flew from the horses' hoofs to our faces, and in the full bright eye of each animal that passed (each quadruped of course), I read no guarantee that he would not take a flying-leap over my head the next time he came round. On they went, without stirrups, and so fast that the inclination to the centre was often considerable in both steed and rider; bright sabres in hand, and the long scabbards jingling and clattering a most suitable accompaniment.
"Do they never get thrown?" I asked instinctively.
"O yes, often; but they are seldom much hurt. A day or two's medical treatment generally cures them."
"Black Hawk is a little restive to-day," added my friend presently, and pointing to a dark horse not in the line, on whose hack sat cadet officer; "he don't like that sabre-sheath. Poor fellow! he has been curbed pretty well!— see, his mouth is bleeding." And as the fine creature threw back his head in nneasiness at the powerful bit, I perceived that the open mouth was indeed of a deeper red than it should be. I was glad to hear "Halt!" "Sheath sabres !" and "Dismount!"
Am I ill-natured ?—it certainly did seem to me that there was some attitudinizing when the cadets were once more on their feet,—or it may have been that their dress made them necessarily picturesque, stand as they would. I will let the reader judge; but his imagination must furnish the high, Mexican saddles, the gray riding-jackets, and white pantaloons,— my sketch would be nothing without them.
One cadet was most affectionately patting his horse on the head and shoulder; another stood half reclining, with his arm thrown over the neck of Am steed, cap off, and hair brushed back, both horse and man facing the spectators. A third had confidingly let go the bridle, and was now endeavouring, by dint of eloquence, to make the emancipated charger come to his extended hand. But moral suasion failed for once,—the horse was a true American, and though he didn't run away, he scorned to surrender. Mahomet was forced to go to the mountain.
Some time was given them to rest, and then came the remounting, without the aid of stirrups. There seemed to be a preparatory order and motion, and at the next word every cadet but one was in his saddle. He failed; and I
was amused at the flushed and somewhat furious look which he gave the spectators, as he led his horse out of the line to make a second attempt. The riding went on as before, with one or two variations, a-la-March cotillion, and then the two lines drew up to go through with what they call "the sabre exercise."
The instructor, Lieutenant H , who, during the riding had remained almost motionless in the centre of the hall, now rode slowly among the cadets to criticise their performance. To describe it well, would require much more knowledge of the words and motions than I can pretend to.
Once in a while I could understand an order, as "the point a yard from your horse's head, at the height of a man's neck from the ground."
Very comprehensible that!
Then there was another manoeuvre, in which the hand being raised in front of the face, both heads and sabre-points were turned towards us—the inoffending spectators; the cadetsrampant being transformed into cadets gardant (heraldic truth compels me to reject the more descriptive term of regardant), and it was hard to tell whether eyes or sabres were the most conspicuous. I had much ado to keep my countenanoe.
After this the performers twirled the sabres over their horses' heads, and over their own (with an occasional admonition to "take care" of the former); and it was interesting to note the different adroitness and limberness of dif- . ferent hands and wrists.
Meantime some ladies were retiring—in other words, walking off in sight of everybody —and a cadet would come back in great haste for some forgotten shawl, or with a message to some left-behind friend.
N. B. Men should never run.
Or, as that might be a hard maxim to follow when a lady is in one place and her scarf in another, suppose it be adopted that people should never look at them when they run.
But the running ended, and so did the sabre exercise. The cadets dismounted, the dragoons came forward to take the horses; and while the riders "fell in," we walked out, flushed with excitement and the heat of the room, and felt the sweet, cool air, playing about our faces, and a good degree of satisfaction playing about our hearts.
People sometimes attain ends which they never aimed at; and I fear I may have made that ludicrous on paper, which in reality was but amusing. If so, my apologies are due to all the horsemen herein mentioned; for they did ride remarkably well—for beginners, and "stuck on" to admiration.