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observance of the manners of others, he had been thus far enabled to
retain his position. What his prospects in regard to pecuniary affairs
were, no one was able to say; suffice it, that there had been rumors of
an old bachelor uncle, who was much increased in this world's goods,
whose trembling hand held the desired treasure over the young man's
head; and as this report had not been corrected by Montague, he not
being over-burdened with many scruples of conscience, it is not
surprising that there should have been those, who looked upon him as a
desirable match for their dowerless daughters; but he, having realized
the desolation which empty pockets can produce, was now living upon the
hope that he might build upon his fortune, which never had foundation,
by introducing himself among the fair ones of uppertendom, as a
candidate for matrimony. For some time he had had an eye to the
well-filled purse of Winnie Santon, and he had looked forward to this
night, when she should make her _debut_, with as great interest as had
Winnie herself. Could he once get initiated into her good graces, he had
no fears for the rest; and he had already visions of what he was
pleased to term, "Old Santon's chest of gold." The attentions with which
Winnie had received him, on former occasions, had served in no way to
lessen his confidence as to his success, and with this end in view, his
steps were bent towards the scene of gaiety. Reasons best known to
himself, forbidding him to pass Mr. Delwood, whom he overtook on
the way.

"Quite an affair to-night! I'm thinking," remarked Montague, as he
observed Delwood's cool indifference, and endeavoring to draw him into
conversation, he added, "there's a young _protégé_ of Santon's, staying
with his daughter, who, I hear, hails from down east. Nantucket, I
believe, perhaps we may get a little information on harpooning!"

"Ah?" said Delwood, mechanically.

"Yes, the boys will have some sport I'm thinking; perhaps some of them
may be induced to ship as mate, for a down east voyage! I remember of
sailing by Nantucket many years ago, on my return from Liverpool, (he
did not add that he had worked his passage) and though some twenty miles
distant, we fancied that we got a whiff of the hump-backs. Our captain
was a jolly sort of fellow, and would have us land-lubbers believe that
his experienced eye could see half across the ocean, but he found we
were too smart for him, when he told us he could see a church-steeple
looming up on the island, for of course we knew that such things were
not raised there."

Much to Mr. Delwood's relief, they had now arrived at Mr. Santon's
residence. As the name of Delwood was announced, all eyes were turned
toward him, for his presence was considered a great acquisition to any
circle, and many a fair one envied Winnie Santon, as he claimed her hand
for the first dance. The Sea-flower stood by Mrs. Santon's side, that
she might attend to her least wish, when young Montague, disappointed
that he had not been the first to secure the hand of Winnie, in an
obsequious manner, solicited the pleasure of Miss Grosvenor's company,
to complete the set, but she politely declining the honor, the young
man, by the aid of the brass which constituted no small portion of his
composition, begged leave to remain by her side, that he might make some
few inquiries in regard to her enchanting home, which place he always
had a great desire to visit.

"The islanders I suppose are mostly fishermen, yet," added he, glancing
rudely into her face, "there are some persons of intelligence among
them, are there not?"

Natalie looked at him for a moment, as if in doubt whether ignorance or
some meaner motive had prompted the question, when she remarked, "you
evidently have never learned of the great dangers attendant upon a
stranger's visit to Nantucket."

"Ah, indeed, I shall be under great obligations for the information,"
said he, his eyes wide open with curiosity! "pray, what are
those dangers?"

"The islanders, as you have imagined, being so unlike the inhabitants of
civilized lands, have such a natural propensity for wielding the
harpoon, that should a person differing from their kind appear amongst
them, they might be liable to capture him, mistaking the object for a
new species of land-shark!"

At this piece of information, delivered in such a calm, pleasant manner,
the smiles which had been visible on the faces of those who listened,
grew into a hearty laugh, in which the chagrined Montague joined, as
being the safest way of retreat, and although piqued by the ludicrous
position in which he had been placed, he could not but look with
admiration upon the gentle creature, whose pleasant repartee had been in
self-defence.

Natalie followed with her eye the graceful form of Winnie, as she
threaded her way through the dance, occasionally interchanging a witty
remark with her handsome partner, and as he lead her to a seat, Natalie
observed to Mrs. Santon, "how beautiful dear Winnie is to-night! I do
not know who can help loving her!" So enthusiastic was she in her
praises, that she had not observed the two contemplating her, and ere
she was aware of their approach, the bewitching Winnie had taken her
hand, and presenting Mr. Delwood, she mischievously remarked, "Now, Miss
critic, it is for you to perform _a la perfectione_, and depend upon it,
you shall be dealt with according to your own measure! for you have not
once taken those eyes off from me through the whole course!"

Before Natalie could say a word in her defence, the music had commenced,
and ere she had hardly realized it she had taken Winnie's place by the
side of Mr. Delwood. Other eyes than Natalie's had looked upon Winnie
with admiration, as she had leaned upon the arm of Delwood, but now, as
he led forth "the gentle star," the suppressed murmur of applause must
have been apparent to the fair one herself had she not been engaged with
other thoughts. For several successive figures it so happened that
Natalie was the partner of the reserved Mr. Delwood, who never was known
to appear a second time upon the floor, and it also happened, how, or at
what moment was a mystery, that the two had sought to dispel fatigue, by
the conservatory's soothing influences, whither the eye of Winnie
wandered ever and anon, as with Mr. Montague she vied with her
competitors in the giddy waltz. Miss Winnie's brain was capable of
containing two thoughts at the same time, and no one would have
suspected, absorbed as she appeared to be with the attentions of
Montague, who was playing the agreeable to the best of his knowledge,
that her curiosity was at work, wondering what the subject of the
truants, tête-à-tête might be. "They are discussing the rare exotics,
sent to us from the South," she thought within herself, and indeed,
what other could interest the cold-hearted Delwood? who, it was thought
had never dreamed of love this side of the Atlantic; and as for Natalie,
many a private lecture had she received from Winnie, in regard to her
indifference toward the gentleman! though those discourses had been
invariably of the same termination, "for all that, Natalie, your heart
is made for love."

From the first moment that Clarence Delwood had set his eye upon the
Sea-flower, an interest which he had never known before had been
awakened within him. It may be said that it was a weakness, that he had
always looked upon women as mere butterflies, but owing to early
circumstances, he having been bereft of his mother in infancy, never
having known the blessings of a sister's society, he was not to be
condemned for the impressions which a gaudily attired attendant had left
upon his mind as he grew up into boyhood. But as he listened to the
Sea-flower, as she told him of her home in the sea, of the music of the
glorious billows, companions of her childhood, filling the very soul
with nature's beauty and sublimity, he looked upon her, as if fearful
she might prove an "Undine," and he would not have been taken by
surprise had her spiritual face faded calmly from beneath his gaze, to
join her sister nymphs of ocean.

"And you will soon return to your island home?" he asked, as a thought
of the warmth with which she had expressed herself to a stranger, bade
her pause in her enthusiasm with downcast eye.

"Yes, I shall soon return," she answered joyously, "and yet I shall
remember Boston with feelings of pleasure, for I have spent happy
hours here."

As she said this, their eyes involuntarily met; a silent spectator would
have noted the contrast of the moistened blue, to the deep black of
sterner make, but as it was, that contrast was not discovered, each felt
that the other was reading the thought, which had but then sprung up
within the soul. Natalie withdrew her gaze, while Delwood, stooping to
pluck a moss rose-bud from an urn at her feet, placed it within his
diamond fastener, and the two retraced their steps to join their friends
again. Montague was still at Winnie's side, and though the unusual flush
upon Natalie's cheek was a sad tell-tale of the state of affairs, yet
she observed Winnie as she listened with a ready ear to Montague's
remarks, and an unpleasant feeling rose in her heart; she could not bear
to have her dear friend on such intimate terms with him, whom, as by a
natural instinct she shunned.

All things must have an end; and the cheerful lights, which houseless
ones had watched as the bright beams fell across the pave, one by one
had faded. Formal adieus had been said, kind wishes interchanged, and
the last sound of rumbling wheels had died away. Excess of excitement
bade the blooming Winnie seek repose, and quiet reigned triumphant at
Santon Mansion; yet there was one who seemed to have forgotten that the
morning follows so close upon the evening. The Sea-flower had lingered
among the last to say adieu, and now, in her own apartment, she had sunk
into a chair, the delicate pearls still encircling her sunny tresses,
vieing in purity with her fair complexion; her eyes were fixed on
vacancy, and she was not aware that the morning was peeping in upon her,
till started from her reveries by her own gentle sighs.

And what spell is this that so usurps the calm, usually characteristic
of her nature? We have a vague suspicion as to what it may be, yet she
is all innocent of the source from which these new feelings have sprung;
even the last low words of Delwood, which are still sounding in her ear,
do not lead her to mistrust, and we leave her, as the fringed eyelids at
last droop in repose, to take a peep at our hero, who is only distant a
few squares from the gentle one, who, he feels, as he sits by the
gas-light, made pallid by the dawn of day, is all the world to him.

If Delwood possessed the cold heart, of which the world gave him the
credit, its fetters had at last yielded to the genial sunshine. Sleep
was most remote from him, and pacing his room with a quick tread, he
uttered, in a sarcastic tone - "Love! Clarence Delwood in love! Love at
first sight! I never would have credited it!" his voice softening, he
added - "I feel confident that she of all others, is the only one who
could have wrought this change! No, I cannot look upon this as weakness!
I must see more of her; she is an angel of purity, too good for such as
I. Can she think favorably of me? and what will my father say, if he
learns that his only son will sue for favor in the eyes of - it may be a
maiden of low birth! It matters not! Should he disinherit me, I will
seek her society! I must love her even though she look upon me coldly. I
will see her again this very day!" with these resolves he threw himself
upon his couch, if he might get a little rest, before he again went
forth into the busy day, with feelings how changed!

Natalie was awakened from her late slumbers, by a kiss from Winnie,
whose merry voice made the apartment ring. "So, ho! Miss Natalie," she
exclaimed, "you have been holding late revels with the water nymphs by
moonlight! and now, when the stronger light of the sun bids us mortals
awake, you have made good your retreat, and are enjoying Morpheus's
protecting care! but I can guess from whence the smiles came, as you
slept! never fear, darling, I'll tell nobody of whom you dreamed!"

"Why, Winnie dear," exclaimed Natalie, endeavoring to free herself from
the kisses which that crazy little body was lavishing upon her, "have I
slept so late? and what has turned your head so early this morning? I do
not know what will become of us all before the day is ended, if you go
on thus." Opening her eyes, she looked about her, endeavoring to collect
her senses. Her eye fell upon a bouquet, of the finest, most delicate
flowers, in a vase, upon her toilet table; it had evidently been placed
there since she had retired, as she did not remember of seeing it
before. "You are very kind, Winnie, in being so thoughtful of me," she
said, "but where did you get those beautiful varieties? they are not
from our conservatory."

"O, you innocent rogue! you think to make me believe you know nothing of
them, do you? they certainly came from some one who was thoughtful of
your well-being! but come, make yourself look as charming as possible,
for there is a friend awaiting us in the drawing room, who it is, I'll
not say, for 'haste makes waste,' you know!"

Natalie blushed, for there came at once a rush of thoughts to her mind.
She but then remembered the pleasures of last evening. Winnie giving her
a knowing look, left her to her own reflections. Banishing all other
thoughts from her mind, Natalie kneeled at her morning devotions, her
low voice went up in thanks for the many blessings which were hers, not
forgetting to ask for greater favors for her dear mother and brother,
whom she expected so soon to meet, in two short weeks, at the time which
had been fixed, when she would return to her home.

A simple morning dress of pink delise, edged with white, set off her
light figure to a charm; her snowy collar fastened with a cross, and
taking a lily of the valley from the mysterious bouquet, she placed it
in her hair, and half-hesitating, lest Winnie had been playing off one
of her mischievous tricks, she descended to the drawing-room. Seated
upon an ottoman, was no other than Clarence Delwood, who arose as she
entered, taking her proffered hand with some little embarrassment, which
was soon dispelled by the adroit Winnie, who took a seat at the piano,
and with a rich full voice sang the last opera. "Your friend, Miss
Santon, has an enviable voice," remarked Delwood to Natalie, regarding
the lily buds which he recognized as of the bouquet which he had ordered
his servant to place in the hands of her attendant, giving no name of
the donor. "Yes, I love to listen to her voice, it is so full of
feeling; she has a peculiar style! The Signor tells me her voice is of
great talent."

"I need not ask of your own voice," remarked Delwood, "for your tone
betrays you."

"Yes," cried Winnie, who in spite of the music had an ear alive to the
conversation, "it is moved and seconded that Miss Grosvenor shall give
us a benefit, and if she fails to entertain us with her first attempt,
she will lay herself open to be called upon again."

"She may rest assured that your sentiments, however expressed, will be
truth in regard to the matter! for you are far from being a flatterer,"
said Mr. Santon, as entering the apartment he welcomed Mr. Delwood to
his house. Natalie chose a simple piece - "The Wanderer's Home," and as
the sound of her voice died away, there was not a dry eye in the room.
Winnie was the first to break the spell, and smiling away a tear, she
exclaimed, "I had forgotten to caution you against too great success in
charming your listeners, therefore the _encores_ of your audience will
not permit you to retire without feeding the flame which you
have excited."

"Remember you were not to flatter me," said Natalie, glancing at
Delwood, who was silently contemplating her.

"Flattery or no flattery, you must repeat that to please me," said Mr.
Santon, making manifest exertions to clear his throat, and looking for
his handkerchief, as if suddenly seized with a cold. The piece was
repeated with greater effect, and it was not till Winnie began to rally
him that Delwood was aware of his negligence in escorting the fair
songstress to a seat. "Pardon me, Miss Grosvenor," he said, "but the
first tone of your voice carried me far back, to when I was a child of
five or six years. It was in Italy, where my father spent some time,
after my mother's death, and it so happened that I was permitted to
accompany him to an entertainment given by an Italian lady of note, who,
in the course of the evening, favored the company with a song. I was
engaged with some sweetmeats as she commenced, but as she proceeded,
gradually they fell from my hands, and when she had finished, I had
found my way to her side, and clinging to her dress I burst into tears,
begging her to take me to that beautiful place again! It is years since
I have thought of the circumstance, and I trust you will pardon my
enthusiasm, when I say that your "Wanderer's Home," has produced a
similar effect!"

Natalie expressed her thanks for the compliment, with blushing modesty,
and as Delwood bade them good morning, after having made arrangements
for testing their courage with his iron grays, on the following morning;
so long did his eye linger upon her, who had full command of his every
thought, that he did not observe miss Winnie, who was trembling lest her
fresh supply of mischief should come to an unendurable crisis, before he
should depart.

It was soon rumored that the lion had been tamed, that the beautiful
Miss Grosvenor had found her way to the heart of Clarence Delwood.
Boston beauties sighed, and those who had been unsuccessful in what is
sometimes termed "setting their caps," looked on with interest, but none
who had seen the favored one, could find it in their hearts to wish her
other than a life of joy. And thus time passed on, scarcely a day sped,
but Clarence Delwood was seen ascending the steps of Mr. Santon's
hospitable mansion. As Winnie expressed herself - "the affair was coming
on bravely;" she had now found for whom Natalie was reserving that
heart, which in spite of her caution, would impart to others its only
element. The time was also drawing near, when Natalie was to have made
glad her mother's heart by her presence. Old Vingo had desired his Massa
Harry to write to young Missy, "dat eben de breakers gettin' impatient
to see her once more, and dat he walk alone now, on de beach in de
moonlight, but he neber 'speck to find anoder Sea-flower."

In a few days the Santon family were to part with Natalie. It was in
vain they had urged upon her to remain with them another season, for as
much as she had become attached to them all, she longed to see her home
once more. Even Winnie failed to keep time with her usually joyous
spirits, and there was one to whom this parting was not to be thought
of. Mr. Delwood had as yet received no positive assurance, that his
unmistakable sentiments towards Natalie were reciprocated, and yet he
was confident that she regarded him with no common interest. He had read
it in her soul, but he would hear from her own lips if happiness or
misery was to be his through life, and it was with a nervous step that
he wended his way on this last evening of her stay in Boston, that he
might hear his fate. As he drew near the house, he observed, though
early in the evening, but one dim light gleaming from an upper
apartment, and as he reached the gate it was fast, and a porter stood
within, who, to Delwood's hurried question if all was well, as he threw
him a gold-piece, replied in a sad tone - "kind sir, my orders are to
receive no one, as my mistress is dying, or you should have admittance
at once; but I know that you, of all others, could serve to lighten the
blow to my master, and if you take the responsibility, you shall be
admitted."

"Leave that with me," he replied, "you shall not be censured," and with
assumed calmness of manner, he entered. Noiselessly he opened the outer
door, proceeding to the upper drawing-room, which opened to the room of
the dying one. Mr. Santon sat with his face buried in his hands, sobbing
aloud. Mr. Delwood took him tenderly by the hand, and whispered a few
words in his ear, which seemed to rouse him from the dreadful state of
mind to which he had yielded. "You find here a house of mourning," he
said, "but your presence is most welcome."

"What can I do for you in this trying hour?" asked Delwood; "can I be of
any assistance?"

"There is nothing to be done but to submit to the will of God," he
answered, "and I pray that I may have strength so to do." The door of
the chamber of death was opened, and the physician summoned Mr. Santon
to his dying wife's bedside. Delwood stood in the door; pale, but not
emaciated were the features upon which death had set his seal, her last
moment was near, but she had strength and consciousness supported by the
Sea-flower, to say a few parting words; with one hand in that of her
husband, the other upon the head of her grief-stricken daughter, she
said: "farewell, my dearest husband; it is but a little parting; you
will meet me there at last." Turning to the Sea-flower, with her hand
still upon the head of her daughter, she added, "my child will soon be
motherless; through you, she is what I could wish to see her; and when I
am gone, will you never lose sight of her? make her to be like
yourself!" In a feeble voice she continued, "thank God that we may see
heaven upon earth; the gentle spirit is pointing me to my rest;" a
slight trembling of her weary frame, and she had gone to be with the
"just made perfect;" a smile was upon her features, and they smoothed
her limbs as for a night's repose. The father mingled his tears with
those of his child, who was all that was left to him. The Sea-flower,
leaning upon the arm of him who thought it not unmanly to weep over the
scene he had witnessed, retired, leaving the afflicted ones to weep away
the anguish in their hearts, ere they might look upon the loving
kindness of Him, whose ways are all perfect.




CHAPTER IX.


BEHIND THE CLOUDS THE SUN IS SHINING.


"I am armed with innocence,
Less penetrable than the steel-ribbed coats
That harness round thy warriors."

MADDEN'S THEMISTOCLES.


"That one so formed in mind and charms to grace,
The brightest scenes of life, should have her seat
In the shadow of a cloud; and yet 'tis weakness.
The angels watch the good and innocent,
And where they gaze it must be glorious."

MRS. BALE'S "ORMOND GROSVENOR."


My gentle reader will pardon the long stride of time which here
intervenes, disclosing nothing of those in whom we feel an interest.
Nearly a year of moments had sped since that in which Mrs. Santon had
passed away. Winnie had seen her loved mother laid in that narrow,
silent house, which is prepared for the dead, and her tears had watered
the green grass which groweth so silently, - upspringing everywhere, even
in the lonely places of burial, a fit covering for those who
slumber, - emblematical of the life beyond the tomb. The joyous mirth
which abode in Winnie's nature had superseded, in a measure, days of
deep mourning; yet this first taste of earth's sorrow had left an
impress upon her mind never to be erased; and though thoughtless ones
perhaps observed no change in her young, elastic spirits, there was one,
gentle and youthful, who had been to her as a mother in her
bereavement, - the Sea-flower. She could see that the death of a loved
one had wrought a good work upon the heart of her friend, as it may with
us all, if we will lie passive in the hands of the workman.

It was a disappointment to Natalie that her intention of returning home
had been frustrated; yet it was with cheerfulness that she resigned her
hopes, when she saw that duty pointed out another way. Mr. Santon, on
the sudden death of his wife, which occurred on the very evening before
Natalie was to bid them farewell, had himself written a very touching
letter to Mrs. Grosvenor, begging, if it were not asking of her too
much, that she would spare her daughter to them a little while longer,
as it had been the last wish of Mrs. Santon that their daughter might be
with her who had proved such a blessing to them all; and so, in pity for
the dear ones of her friend, of whose death she was pained to learn,
Mrs. Grosvenor had consented to another year's separation from her


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