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Opinions of the late Dr. Nott, respecting Books, Studies and Orators E. D. Sanborn
Passage from Hawthorne's English Note-Books, A
Piano in the United States, The
Poor Richard. II., III.
Prophetic Voices about America. A Monograph
Religious Side of the Italian Question, The
Rose Rollins, The. I., II.
J. K. Medbery
W. D. Howells
Sunshine and Petrarch
A Magazine of Literature, Science, Art, and Politics.
VOL. XX.-JULY, 1867. — NO. CXVII.
THE GUARDIAN ANGEL.
SUSAN'S YOUNG MAN.
THERE seems no reasonable doubt that Myrtle Hazard might have made a safe thing of it with Gifted Hopkins, (if so inclined,) provided that she had only been secured against interference. But the constant habit of reading his verses to Susan Posey was not without its risk to so excitable a nature as that of the young poet. Poets always were capable of divided affections, and Cowley's "Chronicle" is a confession that would fit the whole tribe of them. It is true that Gifted had no right to regard Susan's heart as open to the wiles of any new-comer. He knew that she considered herself, and was considered by another, as pledged and plighted. Yet she was such a devoted listener, her sympathies were so easily roused, her blue eyes glistened so tenderly at the least poetical hint, such as "Never, O never," "My aching heart," "Go, let me weep," any of those touching phrases out of the long catalogue which readily suggests itself, that her influence was getting to be such that Myrtle (if really anxious to
secure him) might look upon it with apprehension, and the owner of Susan's heart (if of a jealous disposition) might have thought it worth while to make a visit to Oxbow Village to see after his property.
It may seem not impossible that some friend had suggested as much as this to the young lady's lover. The caution would have been unnecessary, or at least premature. Susan was loyal as ever to her absent friend. Gifted Hopkins had never yet presumed upon the familiar relations existing between them to attempt to shake her allegiance. It is quite as likely, after all, that the young gentleman about to make his appearance in Oxbow Village visited the place of his own accord, without a hint from anybody. But the fact concerns us more than the reason of it, just now.
"Who do you think is coming, Mr. Gridley? Who do you think is coming?" said Susan Posey, her face covered with a carnation such as the first season may see in a city belle, but not the second.
"Well, Susan Posey, I suppose I must guess, though I am rather slow at
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by TICKNOR AND FIELDS, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
that business. Perhaps the Governor. No, I don't think it can be the Governor, for you would n't look so happy if it was only his Excellency. It must be the President, Susan Posey, - President James Buchanan. Have n't I guessed right, now, tell me, my dear?"
"O Mr. Gridley, you are too bad, what do I care for governors and presidents? I know somebody that's worth fifty million thousand presidents, — and he's coming, - my Clement is coming," said Susan, who had by this time learned to consider the awful Byles Gridley as her next friend and faithful counsellor.
Susan could not stay long in the house after she got her note informing her that her friend was soon to be with her. Everybody told everything to Olive Eveleth, and Susan must run over to the Parsonage to tell her that there was a young gentleman coming to Oxbow Village; upon which Olive asked who it was, exactly as if she did not know; whereupon Susan dropped her eyes and said, "Clement, I mean Mr. Lindsay."
That was a fair piece of news now, and Olive had her bonnet on five minutes after Susan was gone, and was on her way to Bathsheba's, — it was too bad that the poor girl who lived so out of the world should n't know anything of what was going on in it. Bathsheba had been in all the morning, and the Doctor had said she must take the air every day; so Bathsheba had on her bonnet a little after Olive had gone, and
walked straight up to The Poplars to tell Myrtle Hazard that a certain young gentleman, Clement Lindsay, was coming to Oxbow Village.
It was perhaps fortunate that there was no special significance to Myrtle in the name of Clement Lindsay. Since the adventure which had brought these two young persons together, and, after coming so near a disaster, had ended in a mere humiliation and disappointment, and but for Master Gridley's discreet kindness might have led to foolish scandal, Myrtle had never referred to it in any way. Nobody really
Myrtle was contented with this statement, and asked no questions, and it was a perfectly understood thing that nobody alluded to the subject in her presence. It followed from all this that the name of Clement Lindsay had no peculiar meaning for her. Nor was she like to recognize him as the youth in whose company she had gone through her mortal peril, for all her recollections were confused and dreamlike from the moment when she awoke and found herself in the foaming rapids just above the fall, until that when her senses returned, and she saw Master Byles Gridley standing over her with that look of tenderness in his square features which had lingered in her recollection, and made her feel towards him as if she were his daughter.
Now this had its advantage; for as Clement was Susan's young man, and had been so for two or three years, it would have been a great pity to have any such curious relations established between him and Myrtle Hazard as a consciousness on both sides of what had happened would naturally suggest. "Who is this Clement Lindsay, Bathsheba?" Myrtle asked.
"Why, Myrtle, don't you remember about Susan Posey's is-to-be, - the young man that has been — well, I don't know, but I suppose engaged to her ever since they were children almost?"
"Yes, yes, I remember now. dear! I have forgotten so many things I should think I had been dead and was coming back to life again. Do you know anything about him, Bathsheba? Did n't somebody say he was
very handsome? I wonder if he is really in love with Susan Posey. Such a simple thing! I want to see him. I have seen so few young men."
As Myrtle said these words, she lifted the sleeve a little on her left arm, by a half-instinctive and half-voluntary movement. The glimmering gold of Judith Pride's bracelet flashed out the yellow gleam which has been the reddening of so many hands and the blackening of so many souls since that innocent sin-breeder was first picked up in the land of Havilah. There came a sudden light into her eye, such as Bathsheba had never seen there before. It looked to her as if Myrtle were saying unconsciously to herself that she had the power of beauty, and would like to try its influence on the handsome young man whom she was soon to meet, even at the risk of unseating poor little Susan in his affections. This pained the gentle and humble-minded girl, who, without having tasted the world's pleasures, had meekly consecrated herself to the lowly duties which lay nearest to her. For Bathsheba's phrasing of life was in the monosyllables of a rigid faith. Her conceptions of the human soul were all simplicity and purity, but elementary. She could not conceive the vast license the creative energy allows itself in mingling the instincts which, after long conflict, may come into harmonious adjustment. The flash which Myrtle's eye had caught from the gleam of the golden bracelet filled Bathsheba with a sudden fear that she was like to be led away by the vanities of that world lying in wickedness of which the minister's daughter had heard so much and seen so little.
Not that Bathsheba made any fine moral speeches to herself. She only felt a slight shock, such as a word or a look from one we love too often gives us, such as a child's trivial gesture or movement makes a parent feel, that impalpable something which in the slightest possible inflection of a syllable or gradation of a tone will sometimes leave a sting behind it, even in a trusting heart. This was all. But
it was true that what she saw meant a great deal. It meant the dawning in Myrtle Hazard of one of her as yet unlived secondary lives. Bathsheba's virgin perceptions had caught a faint early ray of its glimmering twilight.
She answered, after a very slight pause, which this explanation has made seem so long, that she had never seen the young gentleman, and that she did not know about Susan's sentiments. Only, as they had kept so long to each other, she supposed there must be love between them.
Myrtle fell into a revery, with certain tableaux glowing along its perspectives which poor little Susan Posey would have shivered to look upon, if they could have been transferred from the purple clouds of Myrtle's imagination to the pale silvery mists of Susan's pretty fancies. She sat in her day-dream long after Bathsheba had left her, her eyes fixed, not on the faded portrait of her beautiful ancestress, but on that other canvas where the dead Beauty seemed to live in all the splendors of her full-blown womanhood.
The young man whose name had set her thoughts roving was handsome, as the glance at him already given might have foreshadowed. But his features had a graver impress than his age seemed to account for, and the sober tone of his letter to Susan im plied that something had given him a maturity beyond his years. The story was not an uncommon one. At sixteen he had dreamed and told his dream. At eighteen he had awoke, and found, as he believed, that a young heart had grown to his so that its life was dependent on his own. Whether it would have perished if its filaments had been gently disentangled from the object to which they had attached themselves, experienced judges of such matters may perhaps question. To justify Clement in his estimate of the danger of such an experiment, we must remember that to young people in their teens a first passion is a portentous and unprecedented phenomenon. The