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different from a man's! Let her be handsome, on the charms of a certain new bay-window, which good-tempered, warm-hearted, and well-principled, "Mr. Middleton had built for her, to her own little and she is a fit companion for the greatest man sitting-room." The apartment in question had been that ever was born, always supposing she is de- a mere closet, but was now the prettiest in the vicvoted to him." arage, with its delicately-tinted walls and white
"Without either refinement or intellect?" en- muslin curtains, its flower-strewn carpet, luxurious quired Clara.
"Certainly without intellect," replied he; "intellect in a wife gives one so much trouble. It is rather in the way than otherwise. Let her be positively stupid, dull, slow of perception, if only she looks handsome, and flatters one's vanity, by seeming to be fond of one, you will find a clever man talk to her and busy himself about her for hours together without being weary. And as to refinement, that too may be very easily dispensed with; one grows accustomed to its absence, and so forgets to miss it. After habitual intercourse with a mind that is not refined, one's whole estimate alters, and a mind that is so, seems prudish," affected, oppressive to us."
"Of course you are not in earnest," said Clara; "you cannot really mean that the very highest and closest union of which human creatures are capable, should- -but why do I argue about it? It is very absurd."
"I am not talking about theories," he answered, "such as young ladies cherish in the deep recesses of their hearts; but about plain matters-of-fact. It may be very shocking that it should be thus; nevertheless, thus it is, and it is useless to attempt to conceal it. But I should like very much to hear your notion of what a wife ought to be, though I think I pretty well know it without asking.' "Tell me, and I will tell you if you are right," replied Clara.
Mr. Archer heaved a deep sigh, cast up his eyes, and answered in a low, agitated voice: "She should live only for him; be his in every word, thought, and feeling; cling to him with the most submissive devotedness; and have her own way in everything." Mr. Dacre and Julia, who had joined the disputants, laughed heartily at this definition, but Clara looked cross. "After this," observed she, "I can hardly be expected to state my theory."
"Oh," cried Mr. Archer, "I was n't talking about theories, but about practice. Very few people would like the look of their practice if it was exhibited to them in the shape of a theory."
couch, and low, embroidered chairs, its prints, and its books, and, above all, its delicious, half-solitary, half-social window, with a charming view of lawn, and ornamental flower-baskets, and winding walks, and cool, shadowy trees in the background. It looked the very temple of pleasant study, dreamy leisure, or intimate causerie.
"What a boudoir!" cried Julia, as they walked home. "It is perfection. I declare, I think I could marry Mr. Middleton for the sake of such a room as that!"
"And how exactly the lady suits the room!" rejoined George, who had accompanied his sisters; she is much better-looking than I expected. She has more elegance of person, if not of manners, than Mr. Archer led one to imagine. How blue her eyes are! I do admire blue eyes." " said Mr.
"Talking of the bride, of course,' Dacre, joining himself to the group. "Yes," answered Clara; "what do you think of her?"
"She is exquisite !" exclaimed Mr. Dacre; " and so naïve and girlish-she is like one of Murillo's pictures."
"She is very pretty and pleasant," said Clara; "but I do wish she had not made Mr. Middleton build that bay-window.”
There was a general outcry, what could she mean? was it possible she did not admire it? It was the greatest improvement conceivable, &c. &c.
"Well," said Clara, "I think it is a great improvement in one sense, but not in another. Mr. Middleton used to spend all he could save from his income in charity; and I think a clergyman's wife ought to help her husband in his self-denials, not encourage him to relax them."
"Oh, dreadful! my dear Miss Capel," cried Mr. Dacre; "the poor clergyman has trials enough out of doors. Do, for pity's sake! let him find comfort and indulgence at home."
Clara thought it perfectly necessary that he should do so; but she did not think that a wife's devotion to her husband's comfort implied the necessity of her leading him into expenses for mere luxuries, and so she said. She said it, moreover, in a very unpleasant tone of voice, shortly and sternly, as if she were sentencing Mrs. Middleton to the galleys, and feeling that she deserved it.
"My dear Clara," observed George, "I think this is uncommonly like judging one's neighbors."
Clara felt rebuked. She was never cross to anybody except Mr. Archer; so, after reflecting a moment, she looked up at George with a frank, bright smile, and replied, "It must be very like indeed, George, for I suspect it is the thing itself; and as that is a much worse offence than building unnecessary bay-windows, I will let poor Mrs. Middleton alone."
"Yes, pray leave her to enjoy her sweet little boudoir unmolested," said Mr. Dacre. "All the bloom and fragrance would be crushed out of life, if duty held it in so iron and perpetual a grasp. A woman's greatest charm, after all, is that she is —a woman! and that charm Mrs. Middleton possesses in the highest degree."
He turned to Julia as he finished, and the rest of the walk he spent in wrangling with her about the color of her ribbons, and commenting upon the curls of her glossy dark hair, apparently quite as much to his own satisfaction as to hers. He followed them into the house to ask Clara's opinion upon a difficult German passage, discussed it with her for about a quarter of an hour in a steady, business-like manner, and then took his leave.
tell you that she wants a new book from the library, and that there was rather too much salt in the broth. I was to tell you-not Julia, because Julia never remembers. I have been hemming a pocket handkerchief for mamma. O, Clara, how happy it is to be useful!"
The little girl's face was radiant with innocent pride and glee; and she looked up into her sister's eyes for approval and sympathy. "Do you think," asked she, "when I grow up, I can ever be as useful as you are?" Clara kissed her, without speaking; and they went out together to procure the new book for Mrs. Capel. It was quite an expedition for Annie to go to the library, and she was in the highest exultation. As they passed through the garden, they came upon a most busy and tumultuous scene; the next day was Mr. Capel's birthday, and the children were to surprise him with a feast in the summer-house. Emily and the boys had just completed their preparations, wreathing the pillars and pediment with green leaves, and bringing their choicest geraniums to stand on either side of the entrance; they were contemplating their finished work with the highest satisfaction. Poor Annie! She was to have helped in the arrangements, but she had been forgotten. True, they had called her, but she did not answer, for she was in her mother's room; so they went merrily to work, and never thought of her again. She stood still, tears of anger and grief gathering in her eyes. Some slight sense of wrong they had certainly, but after once saying they were sorry, and it was a pity, they went back to their chaplets, quite at case, Emily expressing a consolatory hope that she "would n't be such a baby as to cry about it." Poor Annie! She had not even been missed, and the gathered tears began to fall.
Shall we admit the reader to another soliloquy of Clara's, as in one of her rare half-hours of idleness she stood at the table arranging some freshly-gathered flowers to decorate her mother's bedroom? "Charm!" she repeated slowly to herself," that is what I have not. Mrs. Middleton is captivating; she may do what she pleases, she has the gift, the mysterious, enviable gift of winning that interest and admiration which are sure to ripen into love. Julia, too-it is no matter what she does or says—she fascinates by what she is. But I-people esteem me, and make use of me, and are very much obliged to me, and value me, and so forth; but for me, for my own self, they care nothing. It is the book I discuss, or the sonata I play, or the service I perform, about which they think; the person who discusses, or plays, or does what they want, has no interest for them except as a vehicle. Those whom I best love miss me in absence because of what I did for them, not because of what I was to them. I have not the gift-I have no charm." Poor Clara ! was she not a very woman? I am ashamed to confess it; but I suspect she would gladly have changed places with Julia at that moment, for the sake of possessing Julia's mysterious power of attraction. I am afraid that she would rather have been teased about ribbons than consulted about German. Then she resorted to Mrs. Middleton and her bay-window, and condemned herself for censoriousness; but after all could not manage to bring herself into a right state of feeling about it. Surely it was, without doubt, a deliberate act of self-indulgence; and it was difficult for Clara to be lenient to deliberate acts of self-indulgence in others when they were just the very things against which she was making so ve- A year passed away-another note was struck hement a crusade in herself. It is so hard to in the scale of life, as it rose towards its final caavoid self-consciousness in the voluntary and inde-dence. pendent pursuit of duty.
Clara went up stairs with her flowers, but was stopped in the dressing-room by little Annie, who came to meet her on tiptoe, and with her finger at her lips. "Mamma is asleep," whispered she; "I have been sitting to watch her, and she is quite fast asleep now. I gave mamma her dinner. She said, when you came in, I was to be sure and
“Stay, and help them, darling," said the sympathizing Clara; "you may fetch the pink gladioles from my garden-and, hark! don't say anything about it, but I will send for a parcel from the town, of something good for the feast!"
O, how quickly the tears changed into sparkling smiles! O, how eagerly the little laborer hurried to her welcome toil! no sense of slight or sorrow remaining, working with all her might among the others, overflowing with gratitude and happiness.
And as Clara went forth on her solitary walk, her conscience said to her, "The kingdom of heaven is of little children."
Who notices enough those solemn sounds -those lonely strikings upon the bell which tolls and then is silent-who takes heed whether the note be higher or lower than the last utterance of that grave music, or whether it be unchanged? Our years, for the most part, are like poor Beau Brummell's valet, who, whensoever his master went forth to a party, remained behind to gather up the "failures" strewn about his dressing
"Julia, dear, what is the matter? Won't you tell me? Why are you crying?-are you unhappy about anything?"
room, in the shape of some dozen cravats, rejected mother, listening to all her doubts and hopes, because the wearer had been unable to attain due sympathizing with all, dispelling the one by the perfection of tie. Only the parallel must not be earnest assurances with which she encouraged the carried too far-for, alas! we very often strew other. And then she told her father, and bore part the floor of time with our failures, and go forth in the somewhat colder discussion which ensued of uncravated, after all. ways and means, and future position, times and seasons, and such sublunary matters, of which it would have been profane to breathe a word in Julia's presence. And then she went out for a Clara's arms were around the waist of her sis- quiet walk with George, and listened and responded ter, who wept silently upon her shoulder. After to his unmixed delight—all brothers are so pleased a while she looked up, smiling, through her tears, when their sisters marry—with a very good grace. one of those bright, unmistakeable smiles which And each one of the three with whom she distell of warmth, life, and light, as truly as sun-cussed the great event wound up the conversation shine does when it falls upon rippling waters, or by saying, "Do you know it is such a surprise to woos spring flowers to unfold themselves. me! I fancied he liked you." And to each one she answered, laughing, "Oh, how could you dream of such a thing!"
"It is very silly to cry, when I am so happy," answered she, after the fashion of Miranda; can you guess what has happened?" Clara looked earnestly into her face. "Yes," said she, "I think I can. Dearest Julia! I have long expected it. Tell me everything as soon as you can speak."
Clara's tears were flowing nearly as fast as her sister's. It is the way which women have of watering all the young, tender plants of happiness, which spring up new in the garden of life, to make them grow.
"He spoke, this morning," said Julia, still hiding her blushing face. "And will you tell mamma? for I shall never find courage. Oh! Clara, it seems so strange-and I never thought he was in love with me.
Her vanity was a little mortified-so she told herself in her subsequent deliberations on the matter. Mr. Dacre had belonged to her, and it was not perfectly pleasant to see him appropriated by another. He had from the first courted her friendship, and she was unused to be preferred, and she felt that her belief in her own incapacity for winning affection was strongly confirmed. She could not escape sundry far from agreeable misgivings; she had supposed him to be liking her best when he was only thinking of Julia. How often must she have bored him by her conversation when he wanted to be talking to her sister! Her cheeks burned at the idea, and she inwardly resolved to withdraw more than ever from attention in society; she must be vain, indeed, far vainer than she had suspected, to have fallen into such an error. She would watch herself strictly for the future.
"But everybody else thought so," replied Clara. "His manner has shown it for a long time-only, I know it is a matter of course that these things are discovered by the lookers-on, and not by the persons whom they most concern. I dare say you thought he was quite indifferent to you, and rather wondered that he did not pay you more attention." "Yes, indeed!" murmured Julia; "I always Clara's strenuous efforts to be practical and useful thought he liked you the best!"
Clara felt greatly astonished, for such a blunder as this outdid the ordinary mistakes of young ladies in Julia's situation. "Liked me the best!" repeated she. "What! Mr. Archer!"
Clara looked at her without speaking. "It is Mr. Dacre," added Julia, holding down her face and relapsing into bashfulness.
The real truth was that Mr. Dacre had liked her best orginally, but had ceased to do so, partly from natural instability of character, partly from another cause which may perhaps seem utterly improbable, but which did, nevertheless, exist.
had impaired her attractions in his eyes. When he first became acquainted with her she had been exactly the kind of person about whom he could dream to his heart's content; there was no oppressive reality about her; no substance of character. Her time was divided pretty equally be
"Mr. Archer!" exclaimed Julia, kindling into an articulateness and decision scarcely to be ex-tween study, music, and conversation-all three pected of her. "Who was thinking of Mr. very elegant employments which did not in the Archer ?" slightest degree interfere with the consistency of his ideal portraiture of her. But when she took to darning stockings the ideal began to fade; and when she was heard pronouncing decided opinions on matters of fact—when she was seen not merely hurrying, but absolutely bustling, about her household concerns-when she cut short a disquisition on æsthetics to go and assist in putting up the drawing-room curtains, and was too busy settling accounts to come and play Beethoven, he quietly gave her up and betook himself to her sister. may sound paradoxical, but the truth is, that Julia's uselessness was her great attraction in his eyes. Of course he was unconscious of it, but so
There was a silence of some minutes, and then Clara warmly renewed her congratulations, and went to tell the news with all possible tenderness to her mother. How did she feel? It is difficult to say. There was immense astonishment and a momentary pang of something that was neither disappointment nor jealousy, and yet there was a pang, vehemently and instantly chidden into quietness, with a sensation of horror at its selfishness. And then she talked long and gently with her
it was. In the first place, it enabled her to be always at his beck and call; no imperative duty thrust itself between them. As she had nothing particular to do, she might just as well be making herself agreeable to him. Moreover, she was never preoccupied—a great charm to man's vanity -because, in fact, she was never occupied at all except when he occupied her. And the very absence of all that was definite or interesting in her character, while it ensured placidity of temper, gave his restless imagination free play. She was nothing at all, and therefore he might fancy her to be just whatsoever he pleased. There are certain smooth tablets on which you may write whatever you like; it needs but a wet sponge to efface the whole inscription. It is said that these tablets are made of the skin of an ass, but I would not for the world make an uncivil use of this fact in natural history.
Clara's next feeling was compassion for Mr. Archer. She was quite sure that he was disappointed, and, in fact, he had reason so to feel. Even a man so free from vanity as he was might have been led to believe himself preferred, by Julia's manner. She wondered how he would take it, but could not help laughing when she caught herself devising gentle means of breaking it to him. Soon afterwards he drank tea with the Capels; his congratulations were cold, decidedly cold; Clara was certain that it cost him much to offer them at all. She exerted herself to talk to him, and though he was in a more than ordinarily sarcastic humor, she did not lose her patience, for it seemed to her quite natural. Subsequently she prevailed on her father to forego his intention of asking Mr. Archer to the wedding, and reflected with pleasure that she had at least spared him that pain. As a matter of fact, Mr. Archer, being wholly unconscious of the special kindness which dictated his exclusion, was a good deal hurt by it, which Clara, happily, never discovered.
And the wedding came and passed-a commonplace wedding enough. The bride, of course, had never looked so pretty, and the bridegroom behaved admirably. I never yet heard of a wedding at which it was not expressly stated that the bridegroom behaved admirably. Sometimes I cannot help wondering what it can be that bridegrooms are so strongly tempted to do, that resisting the temptation is enough to entitle them to such extravagant praise. The bridegroom on the present occasion looked at least as well as he behaved, being, by good luck, an unusually handsome man, tall, and distinguished in figure. There was a great deal of white lace, and a great many tears, and a crowd of people staring at the bride, and prophetically calling her "poor dear" at every third word, and a quantity of flowers to walk upon, which performed their symbolism to perfection, looking bright and fresh when the bride set her fairy feet upon them, but getting crushed and decidedly shabby by the time that the other members of the procession followed, and there was a priest in white saying
solemn words, and two faint voices slowly faltering their responses, speaking, in fact, with their hearts, which seems to be almost as difficult as reading with the back of one's neck; and there was a cluster of faces in the little vestry looking like rain-clouds at sunset, so glowing and yet so tearful; and there was a small collection of autographs made by trembling hands for the benefit of the parish; and there was hurrying back to the sound of a perfect steeple-chase of bells; and there was a breakfast which was a dinner in a stage disguise which deceived nobody, but just enabled people to call it by a wrong name; and there were a few desperate struggles at small talk made and then abandoned; and there were healths drunk, and speeches grotesquely pathetic delivered, and a band outside playing "Hearts of Oak," with a vague idea that it was appropriate to the occasion; and an agitated toilette, in which it seemed wonderful that the lady's stockings did not get upon her hands, or her bonnet upon her feet; and a rushing down stairs and sundry close embraces in the hall, silent and sobbing, as though the form thus passionately grasped were just about to be committed to the executioner; and four horses gallopping as fast as four horses ought to do when they are carrying joy away from sorrow; and it was all over.
Clara felt very lonely-not that Julia had been a companion to her in the highest sense of the word-nevertheless, it seemed as though a completer kind of solitude than heretofore were come upon her life. She had no one but George to whom she could now speak of what she felt, and to him she clung with a fervor of affection absolutely passionate. This was, in truth, the greatest fault of her character, and it may be described in a single phrase-the need of idolizing. That a woman must needs lean and love who will deny? But that she should lean helplessly, and love immoderately, is the evil. Yet never was there woman in the world, of true woman-nature, to whom this was not a danger narrowly escaped, an obstacle scarcely surmounted, if, indeed, escaped or surmounted at all. Clara followed her brother's college career with proud and joyful devotion; in a very agony of hope she watched through each crisis of the course, and language is powerless, indeed, to express the rapture of her thankfulness when the final trial was passed, and the honors of the first class were won. With her whole heart she believed that the world had never before owned such a genius as George's. She associated herself in all his pursuits, tastes, troubles, and pleasures, with a touching mixture of reverence and tenderness, and so made him her all, that she could scarcely be satisfied to be less than all to him. The incredulous scorn with which she turned away from sundry intrusive whispers, that he was not quite so steady as he might have been, was too lofty to be otherwise than calm. It is little to say that she would have given her life for him. An every-day affection could do thus
much out of mere shame, if the alternative were | He looked a little pale, he had certainly overworked distinctly set before it; but she gave her life to himself. Now she was come, that could never hap him, and that is far more. pen again; she would beguile him into the refreshment of a walk, or the luxury of a little chat; she could help him in all his labors, and ensure his not overdoing them.
"You look tired, dear!" was her observation, her eyes fondly fixed upon his face.
"I was up late, last night," he replied; " and I have a little headache."
"You will have no more headaches now I am come," said she. "When I think bed-time has arrived, I shall take away the books, and put out the candles. I have no notion of letting you work so hard in the present as to impair your power of working for the future."
He laughed. "Oh!" answered he; “I was not working last night. Wonderful to relate, I was at a party! Three old college friends of mine have taken a shooting-box in the neighborhood, and I dined with them, and we kept it up rather late They are capital fellows."
His college course was now over, and, in one of those fits of enthusiasm natural to a character of his stamp, he announced his intention of devoting a year to retirement and study preparatory to his examination for deacon's orders. He talked and felt beautifully concerning the responsibility about to come upon him; and his sister's warm heart bowed itself before him as he talked, grateful to him for thus realizing its highest ideal. There was a painful struggle in her mind when he asked her if she would come with him to the cottage which he had chosen in a retired village on the sea-coast. At first she believed that her duty forbade her this great happiness, and that she must needs stay at home to uphold the system of domestic comfort which she had constructed; but she was overruled in her own favor by her parents. They did not tell her all the motives which determined them upon sending her with George, for many reasons; but the fact was that their experience had by no means encouraged them to a perfect reliance upon his steadiness, and they had so grown into the habit of looking to Clara in all trials, of seeing her arrange all difficulties, endure all annoyances, and bring order and comfort out of all confusions, that they felt, as though by estab-time with your friends as you did before I came. lishing her under her brother's roof, they were setting a guardian angel to watch over him, and keep him from going astray. Circumstances, unfortunately, prevented this plan from being put into praetice according to their original intention. Little Annie was ill, and Clara was obliged to stay at home to nurse her. George had been more than four months in his solitary abode when his sister set forth to join him. Long enough to commence, to waver in, and to forsake his original resolution-or to persevere in it till he made a habit of it.
Clara had never in her life felt so perfectly happy as she did when her brother's arms received her on
"I am so glad!" cried Clara; "I was afraid you had no society or amusement at all here, and that must be bad for anybody. You know, love, you must n't think of me; I am used to be alone, and rather like it. So I hope you will spend as much
Are they studying too?-how lucky it was that you met them here!''
"Not exactly. Very lucky!" replied George, with a slightly embarrassed manner; and the next minute he began to talk of home, and they separated for rest, after one of the most delightful evenings that Clara had ever spent. The next morning, after a happy tête-à-tête breakfast, she fetched her work and sat quietly down, anxious not to be troublesome or officious in her offers of service, but ready to work, to wait, to talk, to be silent, to sympathize, with alacrity, as she might find that she was wanted. George produced his books and alighting from the stage-coach. The solitary papers, and took his seat with a desultory yawn. journey, always a nervous business, was over; the The length of time that it cost him to find his place, warm welcome so long looked forward to was actu- the vague, aimless manner in which he went to ally being received. She was now with him; in work, the parade of new pens and clean paper five minutes more she was making tea for him. might have caused a more suspicious person than How comfortable the little room looked in her eyes, Clara to guess that, at the very least, he was rewith its soiled carpet, gaudy paper, straight-backed suming an interrupted habit. He had not been chairs, and narrow horse-hair sofa! How delicious employed above an hour, when a note was brought was the tea, made with water guiltless of having him, and he started up eagerly. "I am going out, ever boiled; and surely never before was such a Clara, dear-I shall be back to dinner;" and he dainty tasted as the under-done mutton-chop which was gone, without further explanation. That day the good offices of the hostess had provided for the he did return to dinner; but the compliment to his refreshment of the traveller! If she noticed any-sister was not often repeated. Gradually, even her thing amiss it was only with the agreeable anticipation of reforming it, and so making him more comfortable than he could possibly have been without her. And she looked greedily at the well-filled book-shelf, and thought how she should make ex-own determinations; he was so resolutely blind to tracts and look out passages for him, and sit by his his own defects, that it would have needed a stronger side while he worked, holding her breath lest she hand than poor Clara's, who, alas! was only anxmight disturb him; and how delightful it would be ious to be blind with him, to open his eyes. Morewhen he should look up for a moment to read a over, he did work by fits and starts; and she restriking sentence, or discuss a doubtful argument! | membered each day of work with a vigilance more,
loving incredulity was forced to confess that he was idle-even her faith in him, which could have removed mountains, began to waver. He was scarcely conscious himself how far he had departed from his