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seated in his aunt's drawing room, engaged in an animated conversation with the lively girl who had so opportunel; made her appearance, in time to prevent his inflicting on himself the unnecessary trial of turning from the house of his relative, after years of absence, with a dis. appointed and dejected spirit. If her beauty and grace had, at first sight, awakened his admiration, that sentiment was heightened by the good sense, and—notwithstanding a slight disposition to playful raillery—the good feeling, displayed in her conversation. Mr. Belden was delighted, and once or twice asked himself if it were possible that, after all his travels-after years of intercourse with the polished daughters of Europe—a home-educated American girl could, without any apparent effort, appear so charming in his eyes. A trifling circumstance disturbed the current of his agreeable emotions. The sound of music was heard, and several young people left the drawing-room, to join in, or observe the dance that was just commencing. Mr. Belden “ ventured to solicit the honor of leading out Miss Blythe.” She thanked him, but was “already engaged.”
" There will, probably, be more than one dance: I will hope, then, that the pleasure may be mine, by reversion.”
“ I have danced the greater part of the evening; my father has charged me to dance but once more,” she replied, " and here comes my partner.”
A young man, with a sickly countenance, a thin, bending figure, and an unsteady step, was advancing towards them, and Miss Blythe arose to meet him : her tall, perfectly proportioned form and elastic motions, making his unsightly peculiarities of person and gait still more striking. As the ill-matched pair moved away, Mr. Belden, whose countenance express. ed•both surprise and vexation, remarked to the lady on his other side:
“Miss Blythe is, certainly, aware of the effect of contrast."
“She is, probably, not ignorant of it,” replied the lady ; " but I will answer for her, that she has no such thought at this moment. She is prompted by the kindness of her heart, and by that alone, in what she is doing."
The sincere friendship of this reply caused Mr. Belden to regard the speaker more attentively than he had hitherto done. He had been introduced to Miss Blythe and Miss Harley, at the same time, by Mrs. Austin; but the spark
ling witchery of the first-named young lady had so completely enchained him, that he had paid her silent companion little or no atten. tion; he was now surprised to observe that, though not be ul, she was singularly interesting in appearance. She had not Miss Blythe's brilliancy, either of complexion or expression, for she was pale and pensive; but her features were regular and delicate, and the “ soft sadness" of her deep blue eyes seemed appealing for sympathy to the beholder's very heart. Mr. Belden almost reproached himself for having, thoughtlessly, treated her with neglect, and hastened to improve the opportunity now afforded him, of making proper atonement. He continued the conversation by asking :
“ Is it usual for young ladies to defend each other's cause so earnestly ?"
“I hope so," she replied ; “ especially, when the cause is so worthy. I only wish my friend had a more eloquent advocate.”
“I should think that quite unnecessary," returned the gentleman, politely; “ but, pray, explain : I confess I do not see the extraordinary merit of Miss Blythe's conduct. She was engaged to dance, and adhered to her engagement; is not that all ?”
“No, sir, it is not all," answered Miss Harley, warmly : “ but I cannot explain. I cannot describe the sweetness of her efforts to win the invalid from despondency, and induce him to mingle in society, where his misfortunes draw on him a degree of observation that is very painful to his feelings. Kate endeavors to alleviate the sufferings arising from a morbid sensitiveness of temper, by sharing both the observation and the remarks that frequently accompany it. She probably knows that few will venture a smile of derision at the expense of one who is countenanced by the rich and beautiful Miss Blythe.”
" A very comfortable confidence; but I am rather surprised that, with so much sensibility of nerves, the gentleman alluded to does not shrink from exposing his deformity in so public a manner, as by joining a dance in so large a company as this.”
" Ile does shrink from it; but it is important that he conquer his repugnance to being noticed in every possible way. He dances well, and the exercise it affords is more pleasant to him than any other. Kate, who is always ready to do good to every one, assists him by being his partner, very often."
" But, are there no other young ladies as amiably disposed as Miss Blythe ? Would not Miss Harley do as much for the unfortunate ?"
“I would, indeed; but the effect would not be the same. I, also, am poor and friendless ; without standing or influence, to defend either him or myself against the proud man's contumely and the rich man's scorn. I am his sister, and we are alone in the world; we can only pity and love each other.”
Francis Belden was deeply touched; he colored with shame at the thought of the weak ill-humor in which he had been indulging, and sincerely entreated Miss Harley to forgive him, if, through a foolish pique at being repulsed in his attentions to Miss Blythe, he had inadvertently wounded her feelings.
“ How do you like my favorite, Kate ?” asked Mrs. Austin of her nephew, next morning, as they sat at the breakfast table. “I thought, at first, you were pleased with each other, but you seemned, afterward, inore occupied with Grace Harley."
“Your observations were quite correct, madam, as regards myself—that is, Miss Blythe is a splendid girl, in appearance; but Miss Harley has a heart—a possession indispensable to the young lady who rivets my esteem.”
And how, pray, have you managed to arrive at the certainty that Kate is deficient in that particular ? I have known ber through her whole life, without making any such discovery."
* Perhaps she has as much of the article as is required by her position, that of a belle and an heiress. But give me, as a life-long friend, the girl whose heart throbs as warmly in another's cause as in her own, and whose modesty forbids a display of her power to please ; rather than one whose smiles are carefully bestowed where, alone, they will be allowed the merit of patronage and condescension.”
Ah, I see how it is, Frank. You asked Kate to dance with you, and she persevered in her engagement with poor Albert Harley. But tell me, was Grace willing to hear you speak so severely of her friend ?"
“ By no means; her faithfulness in defending Miss Blythe convinced me of the excellence of her own disposition.”
" I should have felt disa ppointed to hear otherwise. She is a good girl, I believe, and worthy of Kate's kindness. But I cannot suffe you
to be so unjust to my favorite : you must listen to the causes of her conduct. Somewhat more than a year since, an affair of business called Mr. Blythe to Halifax. The vessel in which he embarked on his return, was wrecked, almost within sight of the port of destination. Among the passengers were an English gen. tleman whose name was Harley, and his son and daughter. While attempting to pass from the stranded vessel to the boat in which several of the crew and passengers effected their escape, Mr. Harley unfortunately fell into the sea. The son immediately plunged in to his father's assistance; but all efforts were fruitless. Mr. Harley sank to rise no more, and Albert was, with difficulty, rescued from the same dreadful fate. In his exertions to save his father, he had, in some way, injured himself so much that: when landed, he was entirely unable to walk. Mr. Blythe, with his usual humanity, gave the hapless brother and sister every aid which the circumstances and the time permitted. He succeeded in procuring them a comfortable shelter for the night, and “looked in,” next morning, “10 see how they fared.” He found the orphan pair earnestly discussing the subject of their forlorn condition. Their father's death was, as may be supposed, their most prominent cause of grief; but, to add to the distress which that awful dispensation occasioned them, they had just now recollected that he had secured nearly all his money, and his papers, which, they had heard him say, were of still greater value, about his own person : of course, all were lost. His children saw themselves destitute in a land of strangers; the painful accident which had befallen the young man, rendering them helpless, as well as poor. Albert, who had ever until now been to his sister as 'the eagle, to shelter the dove with his wing,'
as bowed to the earth in view of their deplorable situation ; while Grace exhibited a strength of character, not to have been expected in one so young and gentle. Mr. Blythe was struck with the affectionate firmness of her behavior, and her cheerful endeavors to console her brother, and to propose plans of conduct. My worthy neiglıbor is not only rich, but, when the humor takes him, very generous : he resolved to offer these interesting young people an asylum in his own family. I have sometimes thought Mr. Blythe penurious, but he is never ostentatious; and, with true delicacy, he strove to give his invitation such a form that, in ac
cepting it, the orphans might not feel oppressed by a sense of obligation. It is unnecessary to tell you that his benevolent purpose was accomplished. His guests were welcomed by his wife and daughter, with cordial kindness ; and, in a very short time, secured to themselves the friendship and sympathy of all among whom it had pleased God to cast their lot. Albert's misfortune proved more serious than had been at first apprehended. Weeks, and even months elapsed, before he could walk without assistance; and then it was found that his once handsome figure had become, beyond remedy, crooked and ungainly. He was proud, and keenly sensitive: he refused to go abroad, even when he had recovered sufficient strength to do so,-for he shrank from the glance of a stranger's eye. Deeply grateful for the unpretending and unwearied kindness of his benefactors, he exerted himself to the utmost to serve them; and Mr. Blythe often asserts, that the intelligence and shrewdness of the young Englishman are invaluable to him, in business transactions. But though frequently assured of this, and also that Grace was quite as necessary to Kate, as her brother to Kate's father, Albert was restless and unhappy; grieving continually over the changes which had darkened and obstructed his way in life. He became, daily, more averse to intercourse with strangers, and secluded himself, as far as possible, from all society but that of his sister, and the immediate circle of their excellent friends. It was soon apparent that his melancholy musings, and the want of proper exercise, were performing their natural office of prostrating a constitution already enfeebled by suffering. Dr. Benton counselled a complete change of habits and pursuits ; and candidly informed the invalid, that a prompt compliance with this advice was his only chance of escaping the ravages
of a rapid consumption.
Why should I seek to escape them ?' asked Albert, with much bitterness. What is lifeWhat can it ever be, but
abroad, and seeking recreation of thought and feeling in cheerful society.' Grace and Kate ventured to hint to the good doctor their opinion that, with skillful management, this point also might be won. They have succeeded—though the ground has been yielded inch by inch. Kate has made her friend's cause her own; and nobly have the affectionate girls vied with each other in overcoming, 'by the patience of hope and the labor of love,' every obstacle that acute sensibility, wounded pride, and, perhaps, a habit of self-indulgence, opposed to their influence.”
“ And is the young gentleman such a prodigy now that he is resuscitated, as to repay their cares in his behalf ?"
“ Not a prodigy, perhaps, Frank; but he is the only brother of an orphan sister, whose life appears absorbed in his; a circumstance sufficient, in itself, to awaken every generous sy mpathy in such a heart as Kate Blythe's. You will be able to judge for yourself of his qualities, for our families are intimate."
KATE BLYTHE TO MARY W
April 10th. Concerning the gentleman of whose name and performances I made, you say, such frequent mention in my last letter, a few sentences will suffice me to tell you all I myself know of him. Mr. Francis Belden is the nephew and adopted son of our good neighbor and friend, Mrs. Austin. He was left an or phan in very early childhood. After the death of his parents, he passed several years with his aant in this place, then left her to enter college. He completed his course of study at Yale, and returned laden with learning's richest spoils, and decked with the highest honors that are ever awarded to the sons of genius in that venerable institution. His parents had left him a plentiful fortune, of which he was already in possession; besides this he was Mrs. Austin's acknowledged heir. It was not, therefore, necessary that he should choose a profession, and the young gentleman chose to travel; a sojourn of a few weeks with his relative over, he embarked for Europe. He has returned within the last few weeks, having spent more than six years among the historic wonders of nature and art, with which the old world abounds. You will next ask why, since he is so nearly related to Mrs. Austin, you
-a galling load, Along a rough, & weary road,
To wretches such as I ?
“A single glance of his sister's tearful, pleading eyes, iebuked the spirit which had dictated this unworthy response ; and the poor young man promised obedience to his physician, in every particular but that of 'going more
have not heard of him before, and here is my reply. I have never been acquainted with him before. You will recollect that we have resided in this town only about five years. You hint fears not a few, that my father's plans may be endangered by the foreign fascinations of this transcendent traveller. Now, my dear Mary, you need not expect me to pour a strain of abuse on the graceful head of Mr. Francis Belden, to prove to you, that I do not intend to be ensnared by bis many“ fascinations.” Instead of doing this, I will endeavor to describe him to you as he appears to me.
Has it ever been your fortune to meet with a person in whom the very absence of everything with which you could find fault, amounted of itself to a fault, or at best to a deficiency? I remember standing by your side as we looked at a beautiful statue representing a girl of our own age—then eleven or twelve years. The sculpture was exquisite; the true proportion of every limb and feature, the grace of the attitude, the finish of the surface, were subjects of equal admiration. I gazed with silent delight, but I fully shared the feeling that prompted your exclamation of “ How beautiful, how perfect! Oh ! father, if we could but take it home with us, how happy I should be to have a thing so pretty always with me.”
“ It could not add as much to your happiness, my child, as you fancy,” replied your father. You looked incredulous, but after a few minutes' silence, remarked :
It is beautiful, very, very beautiful ; but it is too white and smooth. A single spot ur blemish, a little, ever so little roughness would have made it seem more like a thing that might be alive. I believe you are right, father. I should love to look at it all day. I should love to come again as often as I choose to see it; but it would be more pleasant to have a real little girl at home with me, if she were not handsome at all, than this pretty statue.”
My emotions corresponded with yours; and, Mary, I cannot help likening the accomplished, highly finished Mr. Belden to that block of elaborate marble. Like it, he executes a first impression with remarkable effect; for his face is very
handsome, his figure strikingly graceful, and his air indescribable. But, as with the statue and your second thoughts, the lustre of novelty has faded, and with it, the most potent charm of that indescribable polish has departed. I find myself searching, involuntarily, for
something that marks a real, a natural character; for I cannot be persuaded that the graceful flexibility which accommodates itself with equal readiness, and, apparently, with equal pleasure, to every variety of manner, humor, and circumstance, is natural. I would not be unjust to Mr. Belden ; I do not accuse ; I confess a disposition to criticise him, but my most rigid scrutiny has detected nothing faulty, nothing unbecoming, or even disagreeable. It has merely assisted me to the supposition that he has so long and steadily kept in view the one object of self-culture, that education has advanced with him beyond the point of improving,—it has usurped the place of nature. Like the statue, again, he is a finished production of art. Nature, in both instances, prepared the material ; genius and labor have effected the rest ; and the workmanship is complete. The perfectly chiselled statue bears, I presume, as close a resemblance to the original mass of crude marble, as the perfectly educated, perfectly refined Mr. Francis Belden to the active, ingenuous, warm-hearted boy, to whose sportive pranks I have so often heard Mrs. Austin refer, with motherly delight, and whose return from Europe I was simple enough to anticipate. Yet the gentleman does not appear, and I do not believe he is anxious to display his exotic graces, for the purpose of exciting our rustic admiration. His manners are quite free from ostentation, and appear entirely unstudied, though they are certainly the result of much study.
An untutored human being, like myself, whose knowledge of etiquette is limited to her knowledge of right and wrong, of propriety and impropriety, laughs, weeps, moves or sits still, speaks or remains silent, as thought or feeling inclines. But Mr. Francis Belden has no thought, no feelings, no inclinations; none, I mean, that are exhibited by the ordinary modes of hearty expression. He walks, to be sure, and talks, and both with singular elegance; he often smiles, but seldom laughsnever at anything he himself says or does. Indeed, but for his fastidious neatness, one might almost suppose that self had neither “part nor lot” in his composition. He describes the scenery of the countries he has visited, the governments, appearance, character, and dress of their inhabitants, with the minuteness of a book; but makes no mention of his own adventures, though he frequently
refers to those of other travellers who have visited the same regions; and but for a life-like coloring which he contrives to throw over his pictures, and which interests his auditors extremely, whether they will or not, you would be as likely to fancy that he was reciting something that he had somewhere and sometime read, as that he was speaking of what he had himself seen and experienced. He is, as you will see, no egotist; in truth, I am puzzled to decide what he is. I find it so much easier to say what he is not. Of this I am convinced : though much learning hath not “made him mad," much education has unfitted him to relish the uncultivated, and, as it must almost appear to him, uncivilized society, which alone can be found among the haunts of his earlier life. I think it possible that the same cause may have another effect also, that of making him less useful and agreeable among bis neighbors, than his talents and resources would otherwise enable him to be. For myself, I observe and listen with admiration, pleasure, and perhaps with profit, when I am in his company; yet I become every day more sensible of the value of the unsophisticated minds and hearts which compose our own fireside circle ; “holy and precious” indeed are “the spells of home.” I have now, beyond dispute, filled my letter with matter relating to Mr. Francis Belden. Our worthy Mrs. Austin would, without doubt, were she to read it, pronounce me “causelessly caustic.” She loves her nephew, and loves her pet friend, Kate; she sees, of course, no fault in the former, and her kind, affectionate heart excuses all in the latter. She is anxious to see us on the best terms with each other, and I hope nothing may ever occur to disturb our present amicable position.
tude;' and the milder radiance of her almost sis ter, is only less dazzling, hardly less charming."
“ And Albert-"
“ Is worthy of all their solicitude. The restoration of a mind like his from the shades of despondency, and almost from the deeper gloom of the grave itself, was a work for angels to perform ; and he is not insensible of his indebtedness to the sera ph pair who undertook and accomplished it. Grace is his precious, priceless sister,' and Kate—I am not so certain of the light in which she is regarded."
“ In much the same light as Grace, I presume, though you can hardly expect him to speak of her as freely."
“ Excuse me, aunt, if I profess myself somewhat incredulous on that head. Albert has been intimately acquainted, for more than a year, with a girl of matchless beauty and worth-a daily observer of her graces and her virtues—himself realizing the value and the benefit of them all. I cannot think it possible that, with such a soul as his, he has not learned to look on her with other eyes than those of a brother-unless, indeed, his warmer affections were pre-occupied.”
-“ Which supposition is probably correct. Grace told me, a few days since, that her brother had been engaged from his boyhood, to a lady of their father's choice.
His present situation is likely to delay, if it do not, eventually, preclude the marriage : this disa ppointment may be one of the causes of his sadness. As to Kate-though not engaged, she is aware that her father has his own schemes relative to her marriage.”
“ And does this knowledge place her beyond peril? Most young ladies would be falling in love, for the mere romance of it, in such circumstances."
“ Kate is not like most young ladies : she has much firmness of purpose, and is devoted to her father; for his sake, she will keep' watch and ward' over every avenue to her heart."
“ A strong inan armed keepeth his palace, until a stronger than he taketh from bim his armor."" “ My sweet friend wears
armor that may defy assault ;-her goods are made secure by a sincere affection for her parents, and a high sense of filial reverence and duty.”.
“Admirable lawgivers, madam—if the heart would be subjected to rules and systems.”
[To be continued ]
A moon has “ waxed and waned,” since Miss Blythe's letter was penned. Mrs. Austin and her nephew are again seated at the breakfast table, as when we last presented them to our reader's fancy. Their conversation refers to the same characters, and we insert a fragment of it, as the most available synopsis we can command of that month's evolutions, as connected with our “ dramatis personæ."
Mrs. A.—“ You confess, then, that my young friends have achieved a thorough conquest over your uncharitable ‘first impressions.'
“ I make the acknowledgment with all candor, madam. Kate is a star of the first magni