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Produced by Charles Aldarondo






DAWN

By Mrs. Harriet A. Adams


BOSTON:

LONDON:

1868






DAWN.



CHAPTER I.


They sat together in the twilight conversing. Three years, with their
alternations of joy and grief had swept over their married life,
bringing their hearts into closer alliance, as each new emotion thrilled
and upheaved the buried life within.

That night their souls seemed attuned to a richer melody than ever
before; and as the twilight deepened, and one by one the stars appeared,
the blessed baptism of a heavenly calm descended and rested upon their
spirits.

"Then you think there are but very few harmonious marriages, Hugh?"

"My deep experience with human nature, and close observations of life,
have led me to that conclusion. Our own, and a few happy exceptions
beside, are but feeble offsets to the countless cases of unhappy
unions."

"Unhappy; why?" he continued, talking more to himself than to the fair
woman at his side; "people are only married fractionally, as a great
thinker has written; and knowing so little of themselves, how can they
know each other? The greatest strangers to each other whom I have ever
met, have been parties bound together by the marriage laws!"

"But you would not sunder so holy a bond as that of marriage, Hugh?"

"I could not, and would not if I could. Whatever assimilates, whether
of mind or matter, can not be sundered. I would only destroy false
conditions, and build up in their places those of peace and harmony.
While I fully appreciate the marriage covenant, I sorrow over the
imperfect manhood which desecrates it. I question again and again, why
persons so dissimilar in tastes and habits, are brought together; and
then the question is partly, if not fully answered, by the great truth
of God's economy, which brings the lesser unto the greater to receive,
darkness unto light, that all may grow together. I almost know by seeing
one party, what the other is. Thus are the weak and strong - not strength
and might - coupled. Marriage should be a help, and not a hindrance.
In the present state of society, we are too restricted to know what
marriage is. Either one, or both of those united, are selfish and
narrow, allowing no conditions in which each may grow."

"Do I limit you, Hugh?"

"No, dearest, no; I never meant it should be so, either. When I gave you
my love, I did not surrender my individual life and right of action. All
of my being which you can appropriate to yourself is yours; you can
take no more. What I take from you, is your love and sympathy. I cannot
exhaust or receive you wholly."

"But I give you all of myself."

"Yet I can only take what I can absorb or receive into my being. The
qualities of a human soul are too mighty to be absorbed by any one."

"What matters it if I am content in your love that I wish for none
other?"

"I have often feared, dear Alice, that your individual life was lost in
your love for me."

"What matters it, if you give me yourself in return?"

"It matters much. If we are not strong for ourselves, we are not
strength to each other. If we have no reserve force, we shall in time
consume each other's life. We can never be wholly another's."

"Am I not wholly yours, dear Hugh?" she said, raising her eyes tenderly
to his, in that summer twilight.

"Not all mine, but all that I can receive."

"It may be true, but it seems cold to me," she replied, a little sadly.

"Too much philosophy and not enough love for your tender woman nature,
is it not, darling?"

"I think you have explained it. I feel as though you were drifting away
from me, Hugh, when you talk as you do to-night. Although I dearly love
progress and enlarged views of life, I do not like many of the questions
that are being agitated in reference to marriage."

"Because you do not take comprehensive views of the matter. I can, I
think, set you clear on the whole subject, and divorce from your mind
the thought that liberty is license. Liberty, in its full, true meaning,
is the pure action of a true manhood, in obedience to the laws of the
individual. For a simple illustration, look at our neighbors, Mr. and
Mrs. Danforth. She, as you well know, is an ambitious woman; smart,
and rather above the majority of her neighbors, intellectually, but
not spiritually. Her husband is a kind-hearted man, content to fill an
ordinary station in life, but spiritually far her superior. His nature
is rich in affection; her nature is cold and intellectual. He knows
nothing of other woman's views, consequently has no standard by which
to form an estimate of those of his wife. If she was wise, as well as
sharp, she would see that she is standing in her own light; for the
man whom she wishes to look upon her, and her only, will soon be a pure
negation, a mere machine, an echo of her own jealousy and selfish pride.
Now, freedom, or his liberty, would give him the right to mingle and
converse with other women; then he would know what his wife was to him,
while he would retain himself and give to her his manhood, instead of
the mere return of her own self. At present he dare not utter a word to
which she does not fully subscribe. She talks of his 'love' for her;
it should be his 'servility.' They live in too close relation to be all
they might to each other. I have heard her proudly assert, that he never
spent an evening from home! I think they are both to be pitied; but,
am I making the subject of freedom in any degree clear to your mind, my
patient wife?"

"Yes, I begin to see that it is higher and nobler to be free, and far
purer than I supposed."

"Yes, dear one," he said, drawing her close to his heart, "we must at
times go from what we most tenderly love, in order to be drawn closer.
The closest links are those which do not bind at all. It is a great
mistake to keep the marriage tie so binding, and to force upon society
such a dearth of social life as we see around us daily. Give men and
women liberty to enjoy themselves on high social planes, and we
shall not have the debasing things which are occurring daily, and are
constantly on the increase. If I should take a lady of culture and
refinement to a concert, a lecture, or to a theatre, would not society
lift up its hands in holy horror, and scandal-mongers go from house to
house? If men and women come not together on high planes, they will meet
on debasing ones. Give us more liberty, and we shall have more purity. I
speak these words not impulsively; they are the result of long thinking,
and were they my last, I would as strongly and as fearlessly utter
them."

"I feel myself growing in thought, to-night, Hugh, and O, how proud
I feel that the little being who is soon to claim our love, if all is
well, will come into at least some knowledge of these things."

In a few weeks she expected to become a mother, and was looking
hopefully forward to the event, as all women do, or should, who have
pleasant homes and worthy husbands.

"I, too, am glad that we can give it the benefit of our experience, and
shall be proud to welcome into the world a legitimate child."

"Why, Hugh! what do you mean? All children are legitimate, are they not,
that are born in wedlock?"

"Very far from it. In very many cases they are wholly illegitimate."

His wife looked eagerly for an explanation.

"All persons who are not living in harmony and love, are bringing into
the world illegitimate offspring. Children should be born because they
are wanted. A welcome should greet every new-born child, and yet a mere
physical relation is all that exists between thousands of parents and
children, while thousands who have not given physical birth are more
fitted by qualities of heart and soul to be the parents of these
spiritual orphans than the blood relations, who claim them as their own.
I often think that many in the other life will find, even though they
may have had no offspring in this, that they have children by the
ties of soul and heart-affinity, which constitutes after all the only
relationship that is immortal."

Ten days after the above conversation, the eventful period came. All
night she lingered in pain, and at daybreak a bright and beautiful
daughter was laid at her side. But, alas! life here was not for her.
Mother and babe were about to be separated, for the fast receding pulse
told plainly to the watchful physician that her days were numbered. Her
anguished husband read it in the hopeless features of the doctor, and
leaning over the dear one he loved so well, he caught from her these
last words, -

"Call her DAWN! for is she not a coming light to you? See, the day is
breaking, Hugh," - then the lips closed forever.

"Come back, come back to me, my loved, my darling one," broke from the
anguished heart of the stricken husband, and falling on his knees beside
the now lifeless form, he buried his face in his hands, and wept.

But even grief cannot always have its sway.

A low, wailing cry from the infant moved his heart with a strange
thrill, he knew not whether of joy or pain, and rising from the posture
in which grief had thrown him, he went and bowed himself over the silent
form.

One gone, another come.

But the little being had her life in its veins, and slowly he felt
himself drawn earthward by this new claim upon his love and sympathy.

A strange feeling came over him as the nurse took the little child, and
laid upon the bed the robes its mother had prepared for it.

It was too much, and the heart-stricken man left the room, and locking
himself in his library, where he had spent so many happy hours with his
lost one, gave full vent to the deep anguish of his soul. He heard the
kind physician's steps as he left, and no more. For hours he sat bowed
in grief, and silent, while sorrow's bitter waters surged over him.

No more would her sweet smile light his home; no more her voice call his
name in those tender tones, that had so often been music to his ears; no
more could they walk or sit in the moonlight and converse. Was it really
true? Had Alice gone, or was it not all a troubled dream?

Noon came, and his brow became more fevered. But there was no soft hand
to soothe the pain away. Night came, and still he sat and mourned; and
then the sound of voices reached his ears. He roused himself to meet
the friends and relations of his dear departed one, and then all seemed
vague, indefinite and dreamlike.

The funeral rites, the burial, the falling earth upon the coffin lid;
these all passed before him, then like one in a stupor he went back to
his home, and took up the broken threads of life again, and learned to
live and smile for his bright-eyed, beautiful Dawn. May she be Dawn to
the world, he said unto himself, as he looked into her heaven-blue eyes;
then thanked God that his life was spared to guide her over life's rough
seas, and each day brought fresh inspirations of hope, new aspirations
of strength, and more confiding trust in Him whose ways are not as our
ways.




CHAPTER II.


Dawn grew to be very beautiful. Every day revealed some new charm, until
Hugh feared she too might go and live with the angels. But there was a
mission for her to perform on the earth, and she lived.

Each day he talked to her of her mother, and kept her memory alive to
her beautiful traits, until the child grew so familiar with her being as
to know no loss of her bodily presence, save in temporal affairs.

A faithful and efficient woman kept their house, and cared for Dawn's
physical wants; her father attending to her needs, both mental and
spiritual, until she reached the age of seven, when a change in his
business required him to be so often away from home, that he advertised
for a governess to superintend her studies and her daily deportment.

"What was mamma like?" asked Dawn of her father one evening as they sat
in the moonlight together, "was she like the twilight?"

He turned upon the child with admiration, for to him nothing in nature
could better be likened unto his lost and lovely Alice.

"Yes, darling," he said, kissing her again and again, "mamma was just
like the twilight - sweet, tender, and soothing."

"Then I am not at all like mamma?" she remarked, a little sadly.

"And why?"

"Because I am strong and full of life. I always feel as though it was
just daylight. I never feel tired, papa, I only feel hushed."

"Heaven grant my daughter may never be weary," he said, and stooped to
kiss her, while he brushed away a tear which started as he did so.

"I shall never be weary while I have you, papa. You will never leave me,
will you?"

"I hope to be spared many years to guard and love my charge."

A few days after, Dawn was surprised to find the governess, of whom her
father had spoken, in the library, and her father with his carpet-bag
packed, ready for a journey.

"Am I not going too, papa?" she said, turning on him her face, as though
her heart was ready to burst with grief. It was their first parting, and
equally hard for parent and child.

"Not this time, darling, but in the summer we shall go to the sea-shore
and the mountains, and take Miss Vernon with us. Come, this is your
teacher, Dawn; I want you to be very good and obedient while I am away,"
and then, looking at his watch, he bade them both adieu.

He knew the child was weeping bitterly. All the way to the cars, and on
the journey through that long, sunny day, he felt her calling him back.
There could be no real separation between them, and it was painful to
part, and keep both so drawn and attenuated in spirit.

In vain Miss Vernon exerted herself to make the child happy. It was of
no use. Her delicate organism had received its first shock; but in due
time her spirit broke through the clouds in its native brilliancy, and
there was no lingering shadow left on her sky. Dawn was as bright and
smiling as she had been sad and dispirited.

"I will gather some wild flowers and make the room all bright and lovely
for papa," she said, and in a moment was far away.

"It's no use training her, you see, Miss," the good housekeeper
asserted, as a sort of an apology for the child, whom she loved almost
to idolatry, "might as well try to trap the sunlight or catch moonbeams.
She'll have her way, and, somehow to me, her way seems always right.
Will you please step out to tea, Miss, and then I will go and look after
her; or, if you like, you can follow that little path that leads from
the garden gate to the hill where she has gone for her flowers."

Miss Vernon was glad to go; and after a light supper, was on her way,
almost fearful that the child might consider her an intruder, for she
instinctively felt that she must work her way into the affections of her
new charge.

She followed the path to the hill, and after walking for some time and
not finding Dawn, was about to retrace her steps, when she heard a low,
sweet voice, chanting an evening hymn. She sat upon a bed of grey moss
until the chanting ceased, and then went in the direction from which the
sound came.

There sat Dawn, with eyes uplifted, lips parted as though in
conversation, and features glowing with intensest emotion. Then the eyes
dropped, and her little hands were pressed to her heart, as though the
effort had been too great.

Slowly Miss Vernon stepped towards her. Dawn caught her eye, and
motioned her to come nearer.

"Are you not lonely here, child?" she asked.

"Lonely? O, no. I am not alone, Miss Vernon, God is here, and I am so
full I sing, or I should die. Did you hear me?"

"I did. Who taught you that beautiful chant?"

"No one; it grew in me; just as the flowers grow on the plants."

"I have an instructor here, and one I shall find more interesting than
tractable," mused the governess, as she looked upon the child. But Dawn
was not learned in one day, as she afterwards found.

The sun sank behind the hills just as they entered the garden together.
Dawn missed her father too much to be quite up to her usual point of
life, and she went and laid herself down upon a couch in the library,
and chatted away the hour before her bedtime. She missed him more than
she could tell; and then she thought to herself, "Who can I tell how
much I miss my father?"

"Did you ever have any body you loved go away, Miss Vernon?" she at last
ventured to ask, and her voice told what she suffered.

"I have no near friends living, dear child."

"What! did they all die? Only my mamma is dead; but I don't miss her;
I think she must be in the air, I feel her so. Have n't you any father,
Miss Vernon?"

"No. He died when I was quite young, and then my mother, and before I
came here I buried my last near relative-an aunt."

"But aunts don't know us, do they?"

"Why not? I don't quite understand you," she said, wishing to bring the
child out.

"Why, they don't feel our souls. I have got aunts and cousins, but they
seem away off, O, so far. They live here, but I don't feel them; and
they make me, O, so tired. They never say anything that makes me thrill
all over as papa does. Don't you see now what I mean?"

"Yes, I see. Will you tell me after I have been here awhile, if I make
you tired?"

"I need not tell you in words. You will see me get tired."

"Very good. I hope I shall not weary you."

"I can tell by to-morrow, and if I do look tired you will go, won't
you?"

"Certainly; and for fear I may weary you now, I will retire, if you will
promise to go too."

She yielded willingly to Miss Vernon's wish, and was led to her room,
where the sensitive, pure being was soon at rest.

It seemed almost too early for any one to be stirring, when Miss Vernon
heard a little tap on her door, and the next moment beheld a childish
face peeping in.

"May I come?"

"Certainly. I hope you have had pleasant dreams, Dawn. Can you tell me
why they gave you such a strange name?"

"Strange? Why I am Dawn, that is the reason; and mamma was Twilight,
only her mother did n't give her the right name."

"Have you slept well?"

"I did n't know anything till I woke up. Was that sleeping well?"

"I think it was. Now will you tell me at what hour you have breakfast,
that I may prepare myself in season?"

"When papa is at home, at eight o'clock. This morning I am going to see
Bessie, the new calf, and Minnie Day's kittens, and Percy Willard's new
pony, so Aunt Sue says she can have breakfast any time."

Miss Vernon upon this concluded that she need make no hasty toilet, and
sank back upon her pillow to think awhile of her new surroundings.

Breakfast waited, but no Dawn appeared. Aunt Sue, fearing that the toast
and coffee might be spoiled, rang for Miss Vernon.

At eleven Dawn came in with soiled clothes and wet feet.

"O, Aunty, the pony was so wild, and the kittens so cunning, I could n't
come before."

"And see your clothes, Dawn. I must work very hard to-day to wash and
dry them. Now go to your room and change them all, and try to remember
others when you are in your enjoyments, won't you?"

"Yes, and I won't soil them again, auntie."

"Until the next time, I fear," said the kind housekeeper, who was,
perhaps, too forgiving with the strange, wild child.

The next day Dawn was filled with delight at her father's return. He
came early in the morning, and found his pet awake and watching for his
approach.

"O, papa, such a dream, a real dream, as I had last night. Sit right
here by the window, please, while I tell it to you."

"Perhaps your dream will be so real that we shall not want anything more
substantial for breakfast."

"O, it's better than food, papa."

"Well, go on, my pet."

"I was thinking how glad I should be to see my papa, when I went to
sleep and had this beautiful dream: -

"I was walking in a garden all full of flowers and vines, when I saw my
mother coming towards me, with something upon her arm. She came close,
and then I saw it was a robe, O, such a white robe, whiter than snow.
She put it on me, and it was too long. I asked if it was for me why it
was so long. 'You will grow,' she said, 'tall and beautiful, and need
the long garment.' Then she led the way, and motioned me to follow. She
led me down a dismal lane, and into a damp, dreadful place, where the
streets were all mud and dirt. 'O, my dress,' I said, 'my pure white
robe.' 'No dust and dirt can stain it,' she replied, 'walk through that
dark street and see.' I went, and looked back at each step, but my
pure white robe was not soiled, and when I returned to her, it was as
spotless as ever. Was it not a lovely dream, and what does it mean,
papa?"

"A lesson too deep for your childhood to comprehend, and yet I will
some day tell you. But here comes Miss Vernon, and the bell has rung for
breakfast."




CHAPTER III.


The next day, while Dawn wandered over the hills, her father conversed
with Miss Vernon on what to his mind constituted an education.

"I know that all our growth is slow, but I wish to take the right steps
if possible in the right direction; I wish my daughter to be wholly, not
fractionally developed. There are certain parts of her nature which
I shall trust to no one. Her daily lessons, a knowledge respecting
domestic affairs, a thorough comprehension of the making and cost of
wearing apparel, and a due regard to proper attire, I shall trust to
you, if you are competent to fill such a position, and I think you are."

"I have seen so much misery," he continued, "resulting from the
inability of some women to make a home happy, that I have resolved if my
child lives to years of maturity, all accomplishments shall give way,
if need be, to this one thing, a thorough knowledge of domestic affairs.
Society is so at fault in these matters, and women generally have such
false ideas of them, that I despair of reforming any one. If I can
educate my daughter to live, or rather approximate in some degree, to
my ideal of a true woman's life, it is all I can expect. Are you fond of
domestic life, Miss Vernon?"

He turned so abruptly upon her that she feared her hesitation might be
taken for a lack of feeling on the subject, and yet she could not bear
the thought that one whose ideal was so near her own, did not fully
comprehend her upon such a theme; but there was no mistaking her meaning
when she replied, -

"I love home, and all that makes that spot holy. I only regret that my
one-sided labor and my circumstances have kept me from mingling, to any
great extent, in its joys and responsibilities. My ideal life would be
to work, study and teach, but as no opportunities for doing so have been
presented to me, and having had no home of my own, I have been obliged
to work on in my one-sided way, unsatisfying as it has been."

"It shall be so no more, Miss Vernon. If you will call my house your
home, so long as we harmonize, you shall have an opportunity to realize
your wishes, and I will see that your services are well requited."

She was too full of gratitude to speak, but a tear started from her eye,
and Mr. Wyman noticed that she turned aside to brush it away.

"You will stay with us, Miss Vernon, I am sure of that. Take Dawn into
the kitchen every day, no matter if she rebels, as I fear she may, and
slowly, but thoroughly educate her in all those seemingly minor details
of household economy. Cause her to feel the importance of these things,
and teach her to apply herself diligently to labor. I am not anxious
that she should make any exhibition of her mental accomplishments, for
I have learned to dislike parlor parades, and the showing off of
children's acquirements. I do not want Dawn to dazzle with false how,
but to be what she seems, and of use to the world. At the close of each
day I shall question her about her studies, and show to her that I
am interested not only in her books, but in her domestic attainments.
Supply to her, as well as you can, that material, the want of which is
so great a loss to a young girl, and your happiness shall be my study.
Treat her as you would an own dear child, and when she gives you
trouble, send her to me. I fear I may have wearied you, Miss Vernon, and
as the day is so fine, had you not better take a walk?"

She was already too anxious to go by herself, and think of the happiness
which was about opening for her. It seemed too much. All the years that
had passed since her dear mother's death had been so lonely. No one
had ever understood her nature, or seemed to think her anything but
a machine to teach the children their daily lessons. But now what a
prospective! How earnestly would she begin her new life; and burdened
with this thought she walked to the edge of a green wood, and sat down


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