Emily Percival.

The Amaranth : or, Token of remembrance, a Christmas and New Year's gift online

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is fresh and fragrant, and watch the clouds pile them-
selves in threatening masses or slowly dissolve and dis-
appear. They move up from behind the distant hills,
their silver edges bright but not dazzling, borne on the
wings of the wind to the zenith, changing but still beau-
tiful, never reposing, but seeking the horizon, and at last



disappearing, to be succeeded by a long train as fair, as
fragile, and as unresting as themselves.

No words can paint the wondrous, ever-varying beau-
ty of the clouds. They pluck the rainbow's hues for
their adorning ; they glow sometimes like floods of
molten gold ; they weave themselves into fantastic
forms ; they open the very heart of their blackness for
the moon to shine through and touch the whole with
glory ; and, when the parched earth calls to them, they
answer with blessed and refreshing showers ; and the
trees, and the blossoms, and the hearts of men rejoice.

Precious, then, to the spirit should be the assurance
that the Lord will make bright clouds. How should
we miss their moving shadows from the uplands and the
meadows and from the glittering streams ! Did you
ever stand in the woods, not dense enough to hide the
distant landscape, when a cloud came between you and
the sun, and all save the spot where you reposed was
flooded with golden light? If you have, the vision
comes back, and the heart thrill to which no words do

The showers of rain in the spring time are not the
least lovely among the changes of the natural world.
They fall tenderly upon the springing grass and budding
wild flowers, and their silvery clashing has a music of
its own. Sometimes their accompaniment is the light-


ning and the thunder peal; and sometimes they fall
before the very eye of the sun, which pierces them and
renews upon the clouds the tinted bow of promise.
They come in the morning and hush the matin song of
the birds ; they fall at noon, and send the ploughboy
from his toil to the protection of the cot ; they visit the
parched earth at eve and moisten it after the fervent
kissing of the sun ; and in the hushed and holy night
they tread softly lest they awaken the sleepers whom
they come to bless.

How the young leaves and the blossoms glisten after
their baptism in the pure element ! The breezes come
and shake the heavy drops from their edges ; and the
earth takes them to its bosom and yields them back in
added strength and beauty to her floral children. No
drop of all the multitudinous showers that fall is lost in
the great laboratory of Nature. Each one has its mis-
sion and performs it, though often wrought out beyond
our wisest thoughts. What do these soft showers upon
the bare mountain tops, where no flower looks to them
and no blade of grass springs up for a covering ? The
waters lie there until a strong wind bears them away or
they find a pathway down the rugged sides and join
the rivulets, which gleam like silver threads in the
sunshine and swell the river sources. Then they flow
through cultivated fields and by the dwellings of the


happy, till at last the broad ocean takes them to its
bosom and they mingle with its world of waters. Are
their sojournings ended here ? O, no. They rise again
upon the invisible element, and again sweep over conti-
nents, mountains, and rivers, sometimes pausing over
some far-off ocean isle and scattering healing from its
borders, and sometimes hovering over the deserts, but
gathering up their skirts and yielding no rain.

With all lovely things and precious let us henceforth
number the clouds of heaven. We shall not love less
the shell that lays its rose lip beside the foaming waters,
the beauty and the music of the summer birds, the in-
sects' hum and the sound of falling water, the spirit
melody of the human voice, the subdued soul light of
the eye, " the infinite magnificence " of the stars, and
the wild majesty of the mountain land.

The dull-gray mass which sometimes limits our vision
may indeed suggest gloomy thoughts ; but the mingling
of cloud and sunshine is all joyous and beautiful. With
what uninterrupted and graceful motions they glide
through the infinite space above us ! How rapturous,
and at the same time calming and elevating, are the
thoughts they suggest to us ! and from the fever of life
the soul seems to cast itself upon their vapory forms,
and flee away and be at rest.

Very beautiful are the morning, the noon, and the


evening clouds, with their background of serenest blue,
and their edges of gold, silver, scarlet, or purple.
Sometimes they pile themselves up, as if preparing a
throne for the monarch of the day, and again their rug-
ged outline seems like mountain summits shattered by
the storms of centuries ago. Sometimes they are so
light and fleecy one would imagine a breath might scat-
ter them, and we think to see them fade while we gaze ;
and in a few hours, perhaps, the storm king summons
his forces, and the hills are black with shadows, and the
fierce lightning rends the vapory mass, and the heavens
and the earth seem meeting in the terrible conflict.
Peace, the burden of the angels' song, soon succeeds the
rush of the storm ; and, as the darkness rolls away, all
things seem to rejoice, whether animate or inanimate.

Thanks, from the depths of an adoring spirit, that the
Lord has made and will make bright and beautiful



How beautiful is Day !
Day with its sunny gleams,

Its veils of silver light,

And shadows on the streams.

How beautiful is Morn,
When first its golden glow

Steals o'er the dewy hills
To woo the vale below !

How beautiful is Noon,

When radiantly from heaven
The cloudless sun looks down

On glories he hath given !

How beautiful is Eve,
Sweet sister of the Night,

158 DAT.

With roseate blush and smile,
And soft, unearthly light !

All, all are beautiful

Morn, Noon, and dewy Eve.

Shall man with thankless heart
Their loveliness receive ?

Through them a Father speaks
Through them an all-wise God ;

His book the starry skies
His book the flowery sod.

His voice is on the storm,
His whisper in the breeze,

His smile the sunbeam bright
Which resteth on the trees.

Earth is one mighty harp

Whose chords are silver streams ;
God lists its music soft,

Unworthy as it seems.

Will he not much more hear
When tremblingly we raise,

DAY. 159

With loving, childlike hearts,
Our fervent songs of praise ?

There is an angel air

We may not catch it yet ;
These few poor strains of ours

In sadder keys are set.

Yet He whose master hand

First tuned creation's lyre
Its feeblest notes can blend

With those of heaven's own choir

Then let the widespread earth

With hallelujahs ring ;
How beautiful is Day !

How glorious is her King !



Kath. DIDST thou not tell me, Griffith, as thou led'st


That the great child of honor, Cardinal Wolsey,
Was dead ?


Grif. Well, the voice goes, madam :
For after the stout earl Northumberland
Arrested him at York, and brought him forward
(As a man sorely tainted) to his answer,
He fell sick suddenly, and grew so ill
He could not sit his mule.

Kath. Alas, poor man !

Grif. At last, with easy roads, he came to Leicester,
Lodged in the abbey ; where the reverend abbot,
With all his convent, honorably received him ;



To whom he gave these words : " father abbot,
An old man, broken with the storms of state,
Is come to lay his weary bones among ye ;
Give him a little earth for charity ! "
So went to bed, where eagerly his sickness
Pursued him still ; and three nights after this,
About the hour of eight, (which he himself
Foretold should be his last,) full of repentance,
Continual meditations, tears, and sorrows,
He gave his honors to the world again,
His blessed part to Heaven, and slept in peace.


Mrs. Smith. I HAVE just finished a new novel, the
Head of the Family, which you must read.

Fanny. By the author of Olive and the Ogilvies, is
it not ?

Mrs. Smith. Yes ; but an advance even on those
clever and remarkable novels. I cannot but believe
that this young authoress for youthful she is under-
stood to be is destined to take a very high rank
among our writers of fiction. Her versatility is sur-
prising ; only the other day we were talking about her
Christmas story, Alice Learmont, a little book of a
highly imaginative character, in which fairyland is
painted in a poet's glowing hues, and fairy folk deline-
ated in the most fantastic manner ; and now we have
three volumes, in which, though a rich imagination and
the many graces of poetry are every where apparent,
there is an under current of strong sense which will
please the mere intellect even of prosaic readers.

Fanny. Is it, then, a less emotional work than Olive ?



Mrs. Smith. Nay, I will not say that; on the con-
trary, it deals with sterner and deeper passions than the
former works ; but the emotion is, as it were, reined in
with a stronger hand, as if, while the heart of the author
had expanded, the mind had acquired new force and
grown " many sided."

Fanny. Is it a tragic story ?

Mrs. Smith. Partially so ; but by the side of poor
Rachel Armstrong's history there flows a more simple
tale, which yet in its truth and pathos has even a deeper
interest. Rachel is the victim of a repudiated Scotch
marriage. Most people are aware that north of the
Tweed a very slight ceremony, even a public avowal,
is enough to establish a marriage ; but the villain who
betrays Rachel believes that he has destroyed every
vestige of evidence, and after some changes of name
and fortune weds another. Rachel is of humble birth,
but has educated herself, possesses talent, and finally be-
comes an actress. I need not tell you how her love
turns to vengeance or how the retribution is ultimately
worked out. The true hero of the book, however, is
Ninian Graeme, the "head of the family," the elder
brother of a large family, who generously devotes him-
self to his younger brothers and sisters, perhaps uncon-
scious at the tune what sacrifices may be demanded from
him, but who bravely and nobly makes those sacrifices


which a high-wrought sense of duty demands from
him. It is a beautiful ideal of a man that is shadowed
forth in Ninian ; and I cannot help thinking that the
author has been thus successful mainly because she has
ventured to depict human nature as of no sex, and has
thus developed in her hero many of those noble, self-
denying qualities which the world commonly attributes
almost exclusively to women. It would be well if gen-
tlemen authors would take the hint, and, when they
are depicting their Isabels and their Clementinas, not
imagine that they have to describe denizens of some dif-
ferent planet; then we should be spared the unreal,
unnatural wooden dolls, which either on stilts or in slip-
pers shuffle through their prescribed three volumes,
doing every thing in the world except seeming for one
moment genuine women.

Fanny. You are severe on the gentlemen novelists,
but really not more so than they deserve.

Mrs. Smith. I am glad you agree with me. But to
return to the Head of the Family. Ninian has a sort
of ward, Hope Ansted, the daughter of a runaway bank-
rupt, who is a reckless character, sketched with no
common truth and force, and the poor girl is in her
desolation received into the family circle and treated
and considered as one of Ninian's sisters. Hope is a
charming character ; not wonderfully brilliant or arnaz-


iugly beautiful, but something mucli truer and better
a gentle, earnest, affectionate girl, that steals into Nin-
ian's strong, manly heart before he is aware. Now
come the strife and the struggle ; his love remains un-
spoken ; and Hope, whose deep reverence and sisterly
love a word would have fanned into something warmer,
weds another, that other being the villain of the book,
the sleek gentleman of fortune, the betrayer of Rachel.
I must read to you a scene between Ninian and his
younger sister Christina, familiarly called Tinie. This
sprightly lassie has just received an offer of marriage.
You will guess that her heart is not quite her own,
though far enougli from the keeping of Mr. MacCallum.

" And what am I to say to Mr. MacCallum ? "
" Say ? Nothing ! Or just tell him that I never meant
any thing but fun, anjl I couldn't think of marrying
him a comical, fat, little goose of a man. I wonder
he could ever fancy such nonsense ! " replied Tinie,
whose light spirits revived in a brief space of tune.
Strangely, bitterly, they jarred upon her brother.

" Child," said he, " you have done a wrong thing. In
this matter, my heart goes more with that poor man
than it does with you. If, instead of your thoughtless
message, I told Mr. MacCallum you were not worthy
this sincere attachment of his, it would be nearer the


" Tell him so then little I care ! "

" No, I will not tell him. But I will write at once,
as he entreats me; and something in his perseverance
touches me, so that I shall do it more warmly than I
would have done a week ago, when I thought he was a
mere wealthy simpleton, beneath the least notice of my

" And you think him not beneath my notice now ?"

" No ; because he offers you an honest heart, which,
though refusing, no woman ought contemptuously to
spurn. Child, you are young ; you don't know the
world or the men in it how lightly they love, how
continually they play and trifle with girls' hearts,
especially such gay, sparkling creatures as you, and
never say frankly, as Mr. MacCallum does, * I love you ;
be my wife, and I will try to make you happy.' And if
I must explain all, mind, I do it, not thinking of my
own feelings in the matter, but simply fulfilling my duty
towards this honest man, who has left his cause in my
hands, I ought to tell you, Christina, that, as the world
goes, this would be deemed no unworthy offer for a girl
entirely without fortune, between whom and poverty
hangs only one life mine. I say this because I wish
to lay all sides of the case before you, that at no after
tune you may repent of your decision."

This was a long, grave speech, the first of the kind


Iftat Tihie had ever heard from Ninian. She looked up
a moment to see if he were in earnest. He was, in-
deed ; she even felt delighted at the stem lines of his

" Would you be glad, then, if I married Eneas Mac-
Callum?" she asked.

" I never said that."

"No; but you implied it. I see how it is. Miss
Reay was right in what she told me I believe it all
now," cried Tinie, the angry tears rising to her eyes.

" You believe what ? Nay, answer I must know ! "
said Ninian, firmly, though his face flushed.

" That some of these days you would long to be rid
of us ; that we the twins and myself ought to
make haste and get husbands, ere we found we had no
home in our brother's house."

" And you believed this ? Go on ; tell me all she

" All ! as if that were not enough ! No, thank Good-
ness ! I have not yet seen my sister-in-law. I did not
suppose you would marry a mad woman like Mrs. Arm-
strong, or a mere baby like Hope Ansted, or "

"Or Miss Reay herself," added Ninian, trying to
smile. " Tinie might imagine even that, when once she
takes into her head such unjust thoughts of her brother."

He was indeed one worthy the name of man, who


could speak so calmly, with a voice that never betrayed
one trace of the struggle beneath- the passion, the
self-reproach, the love warring against other love, and
the stern, iron hand of duty laid over all.

" Were they unjust ! O, say over again that they
were unjust ! You couldn't do it, Ninian ; you cculdn ; t
turn away your poor little pet and marry her to any
stupid fool that asks her ; no, not even that you might
take a wife yourself! Never mind what Miss Reay
said the wretch ! If I had really believed it, it would
have broken my heart."

So exclaimed the little creature, pouring out her feel-
ings amidst a shower of tears, trying to draw Ninian's
hands to her, and wondering that he stood so grave, so
cold, so unlike himself, though without a shadow of un-
kindness or anger.

" You will forgive me now ? I would not grieve you
for a moment, my own brother ! We all know what an
angel of a brother you are. You will never think of
marrying when we love you so much ? That was what
I said to Miss Reay. Tell me, only tell me that it is so !
You will never go and love some stranger, and leave
your sisters alone in the wide world?"

He turned his face upward ; it was very white, or
else the sunshine made it seem so. He said, " God is
my witness, I never will ! "


Then he sat down on a stone and let his little sister
creep to him, clasping him round the neck, laughing and
crying at once, breaking off at times to murmur, " O,
forgive me ! " " 0, don't let my naughty words grieve
yo^u ! " " Ninian, brother Ninian, you are quite sure
you love me better than you love any one ? "

" What, not satisfied yet ? " And he tried to look at
her with his old smile and caress her in his old affec-
tionate way, but could not. " God forgive me ! " he
muttered, and once more turned his face up to the broad
sky, that wore to him a brightness like marble, as daz-
zling and as hard. He was thankful that Time's tears
blinded her, so that she did not see her brother.

" Yes, indeed, I am quite satisfied ! I will never
grieve you any more never ! Say that you are not
grieved now at least not very much."

" O, no ! O, no ! " He patted her hands, which held
him so closely ; and then, as he rose up, their clasp dis-
solved of itself. " We must walk on now, Tinie at all
events, I must. I think," he faltered, as if for the
first time his heart recoiled at the necessary hypocrisy,
" I think you will be tired if you go farther ; nor shall I
like you to return alone."

" I am not tired in the least, and I would like to walk
with you all the way to Helensburg."

" It will not do," said Ninian, with a faint smile. " 1


have business. I must send iny wee sister back, now
that we have talked over all we had to speak about.''

Tinie looked ashamed. She waited a minute for him
to recur to the subject of their earlier conversation ; but
he did not. He walked along mechanically, as if ob-
livious of every thing. She said at length, timidly,

" Brother, I know how wrong I have been about that
letter. Will you tell me what I must do ? or will you
tell Mr. MacCallum yourself?" -

Tell Mr. MacCallum what ? Ah, yes, child, what
we were saying. I understand ! "

" You will write to him, then ? Tell him I am very
sorry, I am, indeed, and I will never do so any
more," said the little maiden, in a tone of great compunc-
tion. " For the rest, brother, you know what to say."

" Yes ! yes ! " He drew his hand over his eyes. " I
am very stupid, Tinie ; but I did not quite hear you.
My head aches, the sun so dazzles on the loch. Tell
me over again what you wish written, and I will do it at
once. I rather think I shall walk to Dr. Reay's."

" O, don't write the letter there ! Pray, pray don't
tell the Reays any thing about it. She would think, and
he would think "

" Think what ? " said Ninian, attracted by the degree
of alarm expressed by his sister.

"I don't care I don't care not a jot! The


professor may consider me what he likes a foolish little
thing ' of the genus Papilionaceae,' as I heard him say.
But I don't choose that Miss Reay, knowing I have re-
fused Mr. MacCallum, should therefore imagine what
she had the insufferable impertinence to tell me one
day "

" More confessions ? Nay, wee thing ! don't stammer.
Let us have them ! "

" She said I was trying and you, too, in your eager-
ness to get me married that that I should be made
her niece. There, you have it now ! No wonder I was
hi a passion ; no wonder I have been playing all sorts
of wild games. She shall never think I want to catch
people that have all brains and no heart dry, musty,
geological, old "

"Nay, keep that foolish little head cool. Nobody
with any sense, certainly not Kenneth Reay himself,
would ever dream of such a ridiculous thing," said Nin-
ian, trying to reassume his ordinary manner and to turn
his mind to the things she was talking about. But he
heard them and answered through a mist; they made
no impression upon him. Only once more he attempted
to send away Tinie, dismissing her with a smile and
a jest.

" Go home, lassie ; I will keep your counsel. And
don't get into more love labyrinths for your sage elder


brother to have to dash in and rescue you. He migut
get lost himself, you know."

" O, no fear ! Nothing would ever bewilder brother
Ninian," cried the blithe creature, as she turned back and
went singing along the shore of the sunny Gare Loch.

Fanny. I guess that the young lady is in love with
the professor, though she does rail at him.

Mrs. Smith. I shall not tell ; but even this one pas-
sage may give you an idea of the book.

Fanny. I am sure I shall like it.

Mrs. Smith. I have half a mind to say I will not read
another novel for three months to come. I cannot read
poor ones, and the good ones are so interesting I would
say exciting if I were not tired of that hackneyed word
that there is no laying them down.

Fanny. Especially one like the HEAD OF THE FAM-
ILY, which is not to be skipped and rattled through ; for
so much of its merit consists in its subtle touches of
character and powerful writing.



Do you ner he Breeze whispering ? Hush ! hush
Do you her him ? Now listen to me :

There's a bonny ^vreet Brier there, hid in the bush ;

And he whispers and kisses, and makes her to blush :

But I'm told by a dear little spy of a Thrush
He has rivals and 01x2 is the Bee ;
Entre nous,
He's a very rich rival,, tie Bee.

"We all know how the FUC\SAJ tight laces

Well, her cheeks have gro\t a perfectly red ;
And I've heard it reported in several places
That the Lily is losing the who?c of her graces,
That failing and fading her beautiful face is,
Through tippling cold dewdrops in bed ;

Entre nous,
It's a bad habit tippling in bed.

15 * (173)


They do say that the Rose is a figure,

(But we mustn't believe half they say,)
That she's losing her petals and lacking her vigor,
Growing weaker and weaker, and bigger and bigger -
It's a shame among friends to use overmuch rigor.
But, hark you ! I saw her to-day ;

Entre nous,
I'm afraid she is fading away.

Have you heard little Puck is exiled ?

Such, I vow, was reported to me ;
Yes ! for being a somewhat too tricksome and wild,
And behaving far more like a little pet child
Than a decent small fairy, whose pranks should be mild

But Pease Blossom is waiting for me ;
Au revoir,

You'll remember the Brier and the Bee I



OF all the pleasures life can give,
Of all that makes it blest to live

Upon this lukewarm earth,
Grant me but one congenial mind
Wherein my own can ever find

All sympathy's sweet worth.

Not a submissive, pliant thing,
Which unto mine would meekly cling,

The semblance of a shade,
That could but think as I had thought,
As if it had the echo caught

Of every speech I made.

The kindred mind my love desires,
Something beyond a power requires
To image back my own ;



Its rich ideal world within
Should peopled be with tastes akin,
But not that mine had sown.

Its precious attributes should be
To feel deep interest in me ;

That interest to impart ;
To learn, not track, my inner ways ;
To note, not use, my mental gaze

By Love's perceptive art.

To waken life, and warmth, and light,
Where hang the dewy damps of night

Around my slumb'ring breast ;
So that those rays of mind may shine
Back on the chosen one from mine

With all my soul impressed.

To deem it favor's choicest task
My mind or body's aid to ask,

A smile or tear to claim ;
And so with hand, eye, tongue, and ear
Be ready, watchful, and sincere

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Online LibraryEmily PercivalThe Amaranth : or, Token of remembrance, a Christmas and New Year's gift → online text (page 8 of 14)