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Autumn had already tinged the forest with its jaundiced hand, was searing the leaves, which in their primeval beauty are so lovely: it had begun also to denude the lovely groves and bowers, whilst the less adventurous birds had already sought more genial climes, and the gay lark no more was heard. Cunnington had not yet attained the age when our noble but unhappy bard (one whom I find myself ever quoting, so true is my sympathy towards him,) says
“My days are in the yellow leaf,”
but his heart was already in the yellow leaf of sorrow, and many conflicting passions had made inroads upon that handsome coun. tenance. The rich carnation tint was somewhat paler, and the once clustering brown hair had in many parts a less redundant appearance; it would not, Cunnington felt assured, require much of his lady mother's penetration to discover that genius and fame had not paled the cheek or thinned the hair.
Cunnington had often envied the energetic character of his mother, and very often admired the overflowings of that bright soul; but nevertheless he had never shaken off the trammels of indolence—he was a perfect picture of the evil of procrastination.
Cunnington at length approached the park, and he knew better than any one else where to enter by a door concealed in the palisades, which, in days of yore, seemed almost purposely placed to hide the truant boy's delinquencies, when he stole away from the obnoxious study; and at length before him stretched the lawn, not altogether deprived of its green tint: there Cunnington had first gambolled, there his mother had watched him with eyes overflowing with tenderness, and there, no doubt, she had often breathed hopes that the manhood of the fair boy would be strewn with the laurels of fame.
Cunnington involuntarily recalled the day when he had returned from Oxford, had left the walls of scholastic emulation—the spot where the bright beams of lore seem piercing almost through the high dull walls, -he had returned without even obtaining a degree, and he had smothered the shame which glowed in his bosom,-he was called “a fine fellow."
And what more now had he done? he had visited the island so lately groaning under the oppressive stigma of dogged slavery ; he had seen how brightly the labour of statesmen, orators, and enterprising men is sometimes rewarded ; he had seen those sons of oppression smiling their first glad smile of freedom; he had heard the shout of gladness, breathed the very atmosphere of genuine mirth, and he was the Idler still.
Moment of sadness! when lifting his hand to the door, the heir was on the threshold of his ancestral halls; and when the aged butler welcomed him home, Cunnington could only press his withered hand whilst hurrying up stairs ; he was soon kneeling by the side of his sick father's bed, and receiving that most touching welcome, a “father's blessing.” Sweetly sounded the words upon the wanderer's ears, sweetly they were pronounced ; and Cunnington felt a better man when he arose from his knees ; he scarcely thought of the past, as he grasped Alice Lemington's hand, almost as warmly as when he had parted from her. But suddenly he relinquished that hand, and his eyes meeting hers, he was painfully aware how true was
that look of bashful tenderness which was fondly bestowed upon him. It went to his heart—it reproached him in one moment for what he had done for weeks, and Cunnington asked himself if he should bury the past in oblivion, and live only in the enjoyment of the present. Perhaps there would have been more wisdom than nicety of honour in so doing ; perhaps the blind freaks of Cupid had not done perplexing our hero's heart, for suddenly relinquishing Alice Lemington's hand, he gave her one expressive look,—he seemed as if he were mutely acknowledging he had no further right to that gentle hand's pressure, and young as Alice Lemington was, she read every feeling which was passing in Cunnington's heart. She wondered who was the fair one who had supplanted her, for fair, good, and graceful she involuntarily thought her rival must be ; and the first,