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who vouchsafed no acknowledgment of the attention, his temper not being improved by the discovery that he was spreading tea-leaves upon the bread with his butter. Then, while the servant and tray still waited, she was hurrying out into the garden, leaving her own meal untasted, when her brother stopped her : "Where, in the name of wonder, are you going, Clara ?"
"Only to gather a nosegay, to send up with mamma's breakfast," replied she, apologetically, as she paused on the threshold.
"A nosegay!" cried Mr. Capel, with an indescribable mixture of wrath and contempt, while George and Julia could not restrain their laughter, and the younger members of the family observed that restrained and awkward silence natural to children when a disturbance is going on among their elders. "A NOSEGAY! upon my word and honor, Clara, you are too provoking. Just come back and sit down, will you? I hate this confused uncomfortable way of having one's breakfast-it is wretched—it puts me out for the whole day. And your mother waiting all this while! She would much rather have a cup of tea, than all the nosegays in the world. It will be time enough to think of the graces of life when you have learned a little better to fulfil the commonest duties."
human being escaped a fall, it was a wonderful exercise of skill and affection on the part of the former, and he deserved high commendation for it. Ponto howled aloud; and Emily, who was very tender-hearted, and whose nerves were somewhat affected by the preceding scene, burst into a violent flood of tears; little Annie, as a matter of course, roaring, with all her might, for sympathy.
The Capels were universally pronounced a very happy family; nevertheless, this specimen of their domestic felicity was by no means solitary of its kind.
Mr. Capel could scarcely be blamed for seizing his hat, and rushing forth to his office in a passion; however, he was by no means a fundamentally illnatured man, only a little hot-tempered and fussy; so he came back again in five minutes, and made his peace with Clara, kissing her, and telling her "only to be a little more thoughtful in future, and these unpleasant scenes would n't happen." then patted Emily's head, and bade her not be such a little goose; neither did he omit to stroke Ponto, as he passed out for the second time. Poor Clara, with swollen eyes and aching forehead, betook herself, work in hand, to her mother's bedside, there to reflect upon this first specimen of her powers as leader and life of a family.
This closing sarcasm was quite too much for I suppose it will be thought that my heroine poor Clara; and as she resumed her seat and her was a very weak, inconsistent, self-indulgent young occupation, her tears fell fast. She tried hard to lady, whose good resolutions evaporated in solilorestrain them, and cautiously screened them from quies, or had just solidity enough for the construcher father's observation behind the urn. Then tion of a castle in the air. We must, therefore, followed sundry of those small, quiet kindnesses, endeavor to give an idea of her character and which are always forthcoming when any member position, which, as generally happens, were, in the of an affectionate family is in trouble, however first instance, peculiarly unsuited to each other; deserved. George and Julia exerted themselves whether she ever succeeded in solving the great to maintain a forced conversation, and the former kept vigilant watch over the sugaring and creaming of his father's cup, in order to repair any oversight, without drawing attention to it; Emily silently supplied her sister's plate with bread and butter; and little Annie, who understood nothing uncomplaining sufferer she was, somewhat weak except that Clara was crying about flowers, stole round to her side with a rosebud, just gathered from her own garden, soft and fresh as her own smiling lips, and quietly slipped the offering into Clara's hand.
problem how to bring them into harmony, remains to be seen. She was nineteen years old, and the eldest of seven children; her mother was a confirmed invalid, who never left her bed till noon, and then only to be moved to a sofa; a gentle,
both in will and intellect, but full of tenderness, and beloved by all who knew her. Mr. Capel was, as we have seen, a good kind of man, hot-headed and warm-hearted, deficient in cultivation, but not in natural capacity, a rigid disciplinarian by fits Mr. Capel was angry enough to feel his indig- and starts, and, consequently, the man, of all nation rather increased than abated by the evident others, to produce utter confusion in his housedistress of the culprit; it seemed to reproach him hold. Seven children and a sickly wife taxed to for a severity which justice had entirely demanded, the utmost the moderate income which he made as a and by aggravating his discomfort, aggravated also lawyer in a country town, and the perpetual strughis ire. He pushed his plate from him, saying, gle of a naturally liberal disposition, compelled to in a kind of finale tone of intense disgust, "A live and make live upon insufficient means, was wretched breakfast, indeed!" then sharply rebuked quite enough, when not converted by self-discipline Emily for spilling her bread and milk on the carpet, into a means of improvement, to account for the and trod hard on the toes of the family spaniel, growing irritability of his character. George, a who spent his life in an abortive attempt to commit promising youth of eighteen, and the delight of suicide by thrusting himself under the feet of each member of the household in succession, but who, being a favorite, was generally praised and petted for this, as though the natural place of dogs was wherever human feet were about to be planted; and if the dog escaped being trampled on, and the and disproportionate that it seemed to arise from
his elder sister's heart, was intended for holy orders; he was amiable and clever, even elegant in mind, but somewhat irresolute; there was about him a feminine want of self-dependence, combined with an occasional obstinacy of purpose, so sudden
a secret suspicion of his particular defect and a | ular as her sister. She had a most warm, loving, desire to prove to himself that it had no real exist-tender heart, a gentle, timid temper, a strong As it often happens in such cases, he was though quiet will, great natural reserve, great apt to overdo the cure, and to apply it at wrong times; he was like a person who coddles himself all the summer when he is quite well, and goes out without a hat on the first frosty morning. Of course, he catches so violent a cold that he must needs stay in-doors for the next six months. Julia was a pretty good-humored common-place girl of sixteen, very ready with small-talk, and passionately fond of partners. She was popular wherever she went, and was just the sort of person to be habitually quoted by gentlemen as an example, to prove that it was quite unnecessary for a woman to have a mind.
anxiety to be loved, boundless aspirations after excellence. She was at once enthusiastic and indolent, sadly deficient in continuous energy, yet never slothful. She felt herself useless, and despised herself for being so, and was almost ashamed to set about curing herself of the faults peculiar to what is called a woman of genius," because she was not certain that she was one. She had all kinds of ideal pictures before her eyes which she was impatient to realize; but she was obliged to be architect and mason in one, and she did not know the simplest rules of construction, She was the person of all others most likely to The two little boys, Frank and Hugh, had rosy, be misjudged by those who did not thoroughly smiling faces, hands never clean, and shoe-strings understand her; for, with an original and striking never tied. They got on very well at the day-character, keen thoughts and decided opinions, she school, thought it great fun to call their master had so little natural presence of mind that she "Dick" when he was quite out of hearing; inva- often appeared to have no character at all, and riably slammed the doors in summer, and left them she was so self-distrustful that she sometimes diswide open in winter; and always had in their pock-claimed an opinion almost in the moment of utterets a knife, a piece of string, six marbles, two ing it, lest it should turn out to be wrong. She broken slips of wood, a rusty nail, the leaf of a saw all the evils around her with a perception alLatin grammar, an ounce of toffy, some crumbs most morbidly acute; and she was too busy with of bread and cheese, a hard ball, and an apple. self-contempt for the sorry part she had played in Emily was a rather self-sufficient lady of nine the family drama, to think for a moment of critiyears, who thought it great promotion to put back cizing her fellow-actors. Suddenly she had waked her hair with combs and wear worked collars. up to the consciousness of all this, having hitherto She was a vigorous stickler for the rights of wo-lived, half-studiously, half-dreamily, indulged in man, which she not unfrequently attempted to ob- all her inclinations both by the love of her partain from her brothers by personal violence, being ents and the pride which they felt in her talents; always ready with the true English sentiment, and while frequently regretting and feeling teased "How cowardly to touch a girl!" if the smallest by the civil disorders of the little commonwealth, retort were attempted. To say the truth, the two contenting herself with the notion that she never schoolboys suffered many an instance of grievous could amend them, as it was useless for her to tyranny at her hands, which they bore the better try to be practical. This, however, was but because they had not yet opened their eyes to the a vague half-expressed thought, although it was fact. Little Annie, with her earnest blue eyes, decidedly acted upon, and the evils were persweet shy manners, and pretty loving ways, was petually growing, and at last her eyes opened. the pet, the plaything, and the sunshine of the Sorrowfully and earnestly her heart accused itself whole household. Clara herself was the genius before God, and then took refuge from its own reof the family, and as inoffensive a genius as it would proaches in the intensity of a fresh resolution. be possible to find anywhere. She had been a pre- No one suspected what was going on in her mind, cocious child, having learned all her letters before and numberless were the little difficulties unconshe was two years old, and composed a decided sciously thrown in her way; not a few, also, were rhyme before she was four; neither had her tal- the helps lent to her as unconsciously. Indeed, she ents evaporated as she grew up. She played very began to think that it only depended upon herself well, and sang with much feeling; she had a great to turn every difficulty into a help; the steeper the aptitude for languages, was fond of reading, fonder path the sooner you reach the summit, if only you of thinking, fondest of dreaming. She was very have strength and breath for the ascent. Clara shy, and did not please in general society; she thought she had strength and breath, and should was uncomfortably conscious that her abilities they fail her she knew where and how to renew were overrated, and believed herself to be desti- them. Her purpose burned within her with a fertute of those attractions which perhaps most wo- vor, almost with a passion, which those only can men covet more than ability. In person she was understand who are in the habit of feeling much interesting rather than pretty, having much intel- which they never betray, and who, believing with ligence and sweetness of countenance without reg- all their hearts that the will has power over life ularity of feature, so she believed herself ugly, and circumstance, and soul, are yet conscious, even and tried to persuade herself that she was careless to agony, of its practical impotence. The words, of admiration; yet she had much grace of man- conquer self!" were ringing in her ears, throbner, a musical voice, and a captivating smile, and bing in her heart and brain. blinding and deafenif she had not often made herself repulsive out of ing her for the time to all outward sights and the fear of being so, she might have been as pop-sounds. With an almost terrified hope that she
should ensure their fulfilment she repeated them | dispossessed of the parlor only just in time to inwardly as she knelt at the altar on the following gather up her museum of materials with all haste, Sunday, her whole spirit being (so to speak) in the attitude of a vow, though her lips pronounced no deliberate pledge. And afterwards during the evening luxury of a walk with the children, when they, bounding away in all directions, left her to solitary meditation, she calmly reviewed and sealed her resolution. How strange and how happy is the effect of even the most transient intercourse with nature upon a heart, wounded and erring, and yet desirous of good. How it soothes agitation, and softens pain, and creates life afresh, and in a nobler mould ! And this work is done not merely by gorgeous skies or lovely moonlights, by bright waters looking up like children into the solemn faces of mountains, or sleeping under the shadowy guardianship of overhanging woods, by the glory and the beauty of earth; it is done likewise by her simplest and quietest pictures, by her cheapest and most unpretending gifts. The sight of one dark-leaved tree rocking slowly against a dim heaven; the mere aspect of one green field is often enough to change and subdue the whole course of thought. Is it not, perhaps, because these creations are fresh and unmarred from God's hands that they so speedily affect us; because in this they transcend man, in whom there is so much of personal and of evil that the workmanship of God is, as it were, disguised, and only to be discovered by careful search? The blade of grass which we pluck is what its Creator intended it to be; who shall dare say so much as this of himself, or of any other?
and thrust them at random into a closet, to make way for breakfast. After that meal she resumed her labors, varying them by an occasional excursion into the kitchen, which so amazed the cook that she had not self-possession enough to organize any immediate plan of resistance. The confusion of the apartment was at its height, when a knock at the door announced a visitor, and Mr. Archer entered. This was a gentleman who had been known to the Capel family for some years. He was good, clever, agreeable, and slightly satirical; at thirty-six a confirmed old bachelor in all his ways and thoughts; everywhere much liked, and everywhere a little feared; a great admirer of Julia, with whom he flirted in the easy, frank, comfortable way peculiar to his class, but by no means so fond of Clara, who was afraid of him, and whom he had never taken the trouble to know. In person he was gentlemanlike and pleasing, without being handsome; but he was afflicted with lameness, the consequence of a fall from his horse in college days. He assumed complete indifference to this defect, spoke of it openly, nay, even jested upon it, but in reality. and in secret, he was conscious of it, even to pain fulness, believed himself (absurdly enough) unacceptable to any woman by reason of it, and, though he never betrayed, by look or manner, the slightest sensitiveness when any allusion was made to it, and, though his own freedom of expression rather encouraged such allusions in persons of coarse feeling, yet there can be no doubt that all such words inflicted their wounds, and that the delicacy which avoided them was among the surest claims to his regard. When a man speaks of himself—except it be in the close and holy confidence of a true friendship, wherein falsehood is
Either consciously or unconsciously, be sure that he is throwing aside a veil to put on a mask.
Well, Sappho !" cried Mr. Archer, as he entered the room, and came to a dead halt, in front of a mysterious coil of pink ribbon, upon which Clara had some vague, undeveloped designs; “in the name of wonder, what does this portend? Private theatricals, of course?—and you are mistress of the robes! What costume will you provide for me?"
Clara was very happy, so long as she was busy with reveries of the future, and generalizations of duty; but she was far too much in earnest to rest in these, and on the Monday morning she determined to begin her new work heartily. She asked herself the question, "how?" and the sub-impossible and disguise absurd-distrust him! lime of thought instantly became the ridiculous of action. She would superintend their very indifferent cook in the preparation of dinner, and she would make herself a gown! Her mother had presented her with one on her last birthday, which lay useless in a drawer because she had not yet been able to save enough out of her scanty allow ance to pay the dressmaker. How easy it is to look upon life as a whole-how very difficult to encounter its details! Clara got up three hours earlier than usual; and when the housemaid de- There is no saying how much good Mr. Archer scended to her morning toils, she found the field might have done Clara if he had discarded that preoccupied with shapeless segments of calico and objectionable habit of calling her Sappho. As it unmeaning strips of silk, and a vast array of vari-was, in every conversation which took place beously contorted wisps of paper which were afflicted tween them, there was an unhappy little basis with a mental hallucination, and believed themselves to be patterns. Her young mistress stood in the midst, considerably flushed and somewhat despondent, having as yet achieved no visible end but the scattering of an immense multitude of minute pieces of thread and sewing-silk upon the surface of the drugget. She now submitted, with rather an ill-grace, to be hunted from room to room by the much-worried domestic, being finally
of irritation on her part to begin with, which caused her to consider his most innocent remarks sarcastic, and, not unnaturally, disposed him to think unfavorably of her temper. She now answered him as gravely as if no joke had ever been made since the deluge: "Mamma does not approve of private theatricals. I am only making a dress."
He assumed a demure expression of countenance
"I beg your ladyship's pardon," said he, with a profound bow, and then turned to Julia, who came forward with laughing cordiality, holding a book up before his eyes, and assuring him that she had "read it all through-every word of it!"
Mr. Archer was in the habit of lending Julia books, which she read, or professed to read, chiefly with the object of discussing them afterwards with him. To say the truth, her reading was a very desultory kind of skimming; but, as Clara always studied them in good earnest, her sister generally contrived to pick up enough knowledge about them, to carry her effectively through a conversation, as readers of reviews are often known to pass for proficients in the literature of the day. The present volume had not, however, taxed her powers of endurance very heavily-it was Tennyson's poems.
He took it from her hand, and turned the leaves : "And which is your favorite?" asked he; "Locksley Hall, of course-everybody chooses Locksley Hall, on a first reading. What a colorist he is! The Venetian of poets.'
"But I like this, very much," said Julia, looking over his shoulder, and laying her finger upon the name "Love and Duty.”
He read it at first carelessly, and as if about to pass from it again; but the passionate music laid strong hold upon him, and he could not leave
Far furrowing into light the mounded rack
He closed the book, uttering the two last lines aloud as he did so, with a prolonged emphasis, just a little exaggerated, in order to save himself from being laughed at by making it look as if he were half in joke. "Just a glimpse of light at the end," said he; "a promise of dawn-giving one a faint hope that this most unlucky couple might, perhaps, be happy after all. Do you know, Miss Julia, I should not have expected you to choose this poem for a favorite."
"Why not?" inquired the young lady.
"I think I am very sentimental," answered Julia, a little affronted.
saying Sappho, and consequently Clara, forgetting her shyness in her feeling for the poem, replied without hesitation. "Because she could feel no security that she was beloved till she was actually told so; no woman could; and not to give her that security would be to deprive her of her only comfort in the after desolation."
Julia looked up once more with her expressive smile: "That is exactly what I think," said she. Mr. Archer answered her, not-Clara, thinking the smile a great deal more eloquent than the speech, and giving it full credit for the substance of all that it shadowed forth. "You are perfectly right," said he, "but it is a new view to me." Then he opened the book once more and read the lines half unconsciouslyWas it not well
Once to have spoken ?—it could not but be well! "Come, I shall retort upon you; is n't this a feminine view of duty, and therefore, of course, loquacious? All women think that it cannot but be well to speak under any circumstances."
"What a shame!" exclaimed Julia. went quietly back to her work with a look of contempt. She had not the gift of trifling. Presently, however, she looked up with a brightening face-a new visitor had arrived-Mr. Dacre. (We will inform the reader in confidence that we have some reason for supposing
Dacre to be the name which was left blank in Clara's opening soliloquy.) He was also one among the family intimates, and moreover Clara's especial friend, though there was nothing between them partaking of the nature of a flirtation. They had the same tastes, generally the same opinions; he had considerable genius, which she indisputably overrated, he was elegant in his modes of thinking, feeling, and speaking, and liked few things better than a conversation with her. As to his character, that is, the combination of will, temper, heart, and habits, which are somewhat more important than mere intellect, it lacked stability, and was without that nameless ascendency which seems to be the special mark of a high
He looked doubtfully at her. "It is so very manly nature, and by virtue of which it stands sentimental," said he, with a half smile. erect, guiding and subduing those whose merely intellectual gifts may perhaps be superior to its This deficiency, however, Clara did not feel; perhaps she was scarcely aware of it; we do not criticize most strictly those to whom we stand the nearest. Clara could speak, and speak freely, to Mr. Dacre of subjects on which, in her own family circle and among her other acquaint
Besides," pursued Mr. Archer, "don't you think the verses are wrongly named 'Love and Duty? Would it not have been more in accordance with duty if the young man had held his tongue about his love, seeing that, for some reason or other, the obstacles to its prevailing were in-ance, silence was practically enforced upon her, surmountable?"
Julia did not very well know what to say, so she gave him a bright look and a smile, which implied that she had a vast deal in her mind on the subject, but thought it better not to express it. Clara remarked, bluntly, "That is a masculine view of duty, and therefore, of course, selfish."
"How so?" asked Mr. Archer. Some special interference of his good genius prevented him from
not by want of comprehension, perhaps, but by want of sympathy. The shyest and most reserved nature is precisely that which most enjoys the rare privilege of speaking-rare to it because it needs so peculiar a combination of outward circumstance and inward disposition to induce, or rather to enable it to do so. So slight a coldness, so small a sneer is enough to repulse it and shut it up for a long while to come. These characters are often boundlessly unjust in their feel
ing towards others, if not in their judgment about "O, we must not disturb Miss Capel," said Mr. them; but it is very difficult for them to help it. | Archer, with assumed deference; "this is one of It may be because we are so very thin-skinned the awful duties with which our frivolous converthat a touch has wounded us; but while the sation must not interfere for a moment. If we wound still smarts freshly we can scarcely be were to be compassing the queen's death our chidden for avoiding a repetition of the touch. treason would not check that running accompaniment, 'i, n, in—s, t, r, u, c, struc—t, i, o, n, tion, instruction.' Have I divided those syllables correctly, you poor little victim?" and he pulled the unreluctant Annie upon his knee, and began to play with her long curls.
I am sorry to record that no further progress was made in the construction of the gown that morning.
In her evening self-examination, Clara did not by any means spare her own feebleness of purpose. The next day, and the next, and for many succeeding days, she renewed her efforts with unflagging vigor. "To be practical;" this was the sentence inscribed upon every thought, and prompting it to immediate action. Very troublesome she was, there can be no doubt of it, in the first fever of her undisciplined usefulness. She wore a stern aspect, she was grievously and unnecessarily punctual, painfully energetic, and so abrupt in some of her resolves that it was more than ordinary nerves could endure. She would call in all the bills at unheard of times of year, to the great discomfiture of tradesmen, and introduce an unexpected charwoman to clean the drawing-room, in the midst of a morning visit. But these natural exaggerations, like the painter's first efforts at art, which, if he have true genius, are often caricatures, o'erstepping, not falling short of, the modesty of nature, exuberant rather than deficient gradually softened down, as a habit grew out of a succession of impulses. Her many failures became so many lessons to teach gentleness; her perseverance was too strenuously vigilant of its own defects to degenerate into obstinacy. She imposed one law upon herself which she never broke, and which perhaps more than anything else tended to her improvement; namely, that whenever any service, duty, or business was needful in the family life which was of a disagreeable kind, or in any way repugnant to her own taste, she volunteered to perform it. She resolutely ignored, so to speak, the peculiarities of her own character, doing violence to them with a promptitude and energy which was the surest test of the reality of her intentions. No confession of disinclination-no look of reluctance appealed to the unselfishness of those about her; and it gradually began to be taken for granted that Clara "did not mind" doing a hundred things which she did cheerfully, but which perhaps she would have given worlds to avoid. They still called her, with good-humored bantering, the "genius," the "blue-stocking," the " unpractical lady," but somehow or other they did not act upon the notion which was too permanently established in their language to be uprooted.
"News, Clara, news!" cried Julia, as, squired by Messrs. Archer and Dacre, she entered the room, full of glee and glowing with the exercise of a country ramble.
Clara looked up; she was teaching Annie her lessons, and Annie was wilful, and by consequence slow to learn, and Clara had the headache.
"I don't know," replied Annie; "I have not got into four syllables."
"That's a pleasure to come," answered her friend; and opening her writing-book he volunteered to provide her next copy, and solemnly set down in huge text-hand the words, "Heaven preserve me from four syllables."
Clara laughed; but it was somewhat languidly. There, there, we will release you this once, Annie," said she. "And pray tell me your news, for I am all curiosity."
Her eye wandered to Mr. Dacre and Julia, who were whispering together in the background; but they did not respond to the look, and Mr. Archer answered her, "Mr. Middleton is going to be married."
Clara was as much excited as any news-teller in the world could wish. Her wonder and interest were great. Mr. Middleton was the vicar of the parish, a sensible, agreeable, middle-aged man, indefatigable in his duties, and supposed by all his friends to be a confirmed old bachelor. She inquired eagerly concerning the lady.
"To begin with the most important part," said Mr. Archer, "she is very pretty, and she is twenty-five years younger than her husband.”
"Have you seen her?" exclaimed Clara, "and what sort of person is she? Will she make a good clergyman's wife? O! how anxious the poor will be about her!"
"She will make a perfect wife," said Mr. Archer; "she will always look handsome and good-humored, she will be active and affectionate, and she will never require the smallest mental exertion on her husband's part. It will be a very easy life for him; so long as he is satisfied with himself, he may feel quite sure that she is satisfied with him."
"Mr. Middleton deserves something more than that," observed Clara, with quiet disdain.
"Deserves? Perhaps; but what if he does n't want it? A hard-working man like Middleton does n't want a spur for his times of leisure-he wants a pillow."
"And you think a wife is only meant for times of leisure?" said Clara.
"And times of sickness,” replied Mr. Archer; "she may nurse him if he is ill, and I think Mrs. Middleton will make a very good nurse."
Clara's lips curled as she asked, "Will she be a companion for him?"
"She is the companion he has chosen," answered Mr. Archer, leaning back in his chair and laughing. "A woman's notion of a wife is so