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will not suffer it to be uprooted. It grows and expands with the heart that nourishes it, and according as it is well or ill directed, becomes the source of exquisite happiness or most enduring misery, or, as in the instance of Jeannette Langham, of much good and ill intimately inwoven.
We present her to the reader at the moment of her return from school to Langham Court,—the home of her childhood and the elysium of her imagination. A father and sister, by whom she was tenderly beloved, had anxiously awaited her arrival. Pressing her again and again to their hearts, they congratulated her and themselves that she was now to live entirely with them.
Jeannette had quitted school for the last time, and her moistened eyes attested that she was not insensible to the affectionate welcome that had greeted her. But her heart was too full for utterance. It might have been supposed, that excess of pleasure had taken away her voice. Her sister, however, more justly interpreted her silence; and anxious to divert her thoughts, which she saw were reverting to former welcomes home from a beloved but now deceased mother, she said to Mr. Langham :
“May I tell Jeannette, my dear father, who is here ?”
The well-timed question broke the thraldom of her secret feelings.
"Oh, who, Matilda ?" "Only Hamond!”
“ Only Hamond !" echoed the transported girl. lie indeed here ? Ah, my dear, dear brother!"- for at thai moment Hamond himself was in sight, and with the rapidity that affection gives to the foot of early, youth, she bounded: forth to meet him.
-Who is the owner of a treasure
"How well she is looking !” said Mr. Langham, as his eye followed Jeannette proudly and almost exultingly. “ Matilda, do you not think she grows more and more pain-fully like her poor mother ?”!
Mr. Langham's voice, as he put this question, lowered to the tone of sadness ; and his eye, as it still rested on Jeannette, might have been said to stream with light, so mingled and so powerful were the feelings with which he regarded her. Love and joy and hope, fear and pride and memory, were all in that look ; yet its expression was that of sorrow. Jeannette suddenly turned while he was thus gazing on her, and she felt as if words of kindness and affection had been addressed to her. Pressing her lip to his cheek, she murmured “ My dear kind father!”
Mr. Langham folded her fondly and repeatedly to his heart: and Jeannette little suspected how much of bitter grief was mingled with this demonstration of her father's love. But Mr. Langham well knew it, and trusted not his voice with words till he could assume the appearance and the tone of gayety. Yet, to a spectator uninformed of the leading passages of his life, happiness would not only have seemed within Mr. Langham's grasp, but bending spontaneously towards him. Did he then cast the blessing from him ? No; but when most it wooed him, then did he feel the most severely what it is to have poisoned the waters of hfe at their source. His sunk cheek became paler, and the heaviness of care on his still handsome countenance became more apparent. Time had had comparatively but a small share in tracing the deep lines of anxiety that his face exhibited when entirely at rest; for Mr. Langham, at the commencement of this history, was little more than forty-five years of age. Yet passion, suffering, and disappointment were so strongly impressed upon it, that it might be said to
resemble those seas which even when frozen retain their impetuous character.
Persons now first introduced to him naturally ascribed this shade upon his brow and melancholy on his spirit to the loss of Mrs. Langham, for whom he still wore deep mourning; while earlier acquaintances, less charitably, but more truly remarked that this want of cheerfulness had not been really increased by that affliction.
Such was the impression made by Mr. Langham beyond the circle of his own family : within it, he was all and every thing that a wise and indulgent father, a judicious friend, and intelligent companion, can become. His conduct as an anxious and affectionate parent was and had been unimpeachable; and so duteous and gentle-hearted had he hitherto found his children, that every care bestowed upon them seemned “twice-blessed."
Mr. Langham knew how to value so primary a blessing, and at times this more than repaid him for every suffering. But there were moments when this very happiness was converted into suffering, and totally overcame him. He saw the perspective of his children's lives clouded, and regret became
What had been undefinable depression was changed to an agonizing malady of soul, the worse and more fatal that it passed away only to return with greater violence and more subduing sorrow.
His two elder children were unfortunately aware of these silent struggles and their cause. Matilda, from long study of his countenance, could therein read his heart. And what a volume had it been to her! Day by day, as she perused. it, she became more fully acquainted with the force of human passions and the fallacy of human wishes. She drew from her silent observations lessons of wisdom and truth, that strengthened her understanding, and gave elevation to her views.
The pity she felt for her father increased her love for him; and this sentiment, which by many cannot be indulged without lowering its object, was in her the fosterer of respect.
Hamond's feelings were, alas ! very different: his knowledge of facts was more recent and less faithful than his sister's, and he was yet writhing under the pain they had given him.
Matilda had held no communication with her brother, but she felt much and deeply for him. His heart seemed to her at war with the world and himself, and in rebellion against heaven and his destiny.' At times he appeared to her as if afraid of confronting facts; at others, as if he had steeled himself to defy them.
Once or twice, by a probing inquiry, she had sought to force his confidence. She longed to sooth and comfort him, and, with a woman's logic persuaded herself, that her true and heartfelt sympathy would more than supply the deficiency of arguments, if these should fail her.
But Hamond evaded or repelled all her efforts, and his looks agreed but too well with his words, when he told her that he scorned consolation.
Such was the condition of several members of Jeannette's family at the period of her return. The excitement of her arrival, at first, indeed, banished all melancholy, whether of prospect or retrospect; her genuine gayety of heart being, like Falstaff's wit, productive of the same good quality in others.
But, excited spirits, even when called into play by the affections, soon subside-(to think how soon, is one of the saddest offices imposed by experience)-and Matilda began seriously to apprehend that the change in Hamond must call forth remarks from Jeannette. And, as she watched her light form, elastic from the ethereal cheerfulness that animated her, as much as from delicacy of proportion, many anxious fears obtruded themselves on her mind. What! if this bud of beauty should feel the canker too ?—if her full and generous heart should be made to suffer what Hamond's is bearing and mine has borne ?
-Pour thou oil
DECISION was never Matilda's characteristic, and there was one point on wbich her judgment always wavered, which was, whether Jeannette should, or should not, be suffered to remain in her present happy ignorance. One human counsellor alone did she ever consult on the doubt that now distressed her.
“Ought I, my dear friend, or ought I not, to acquaint Jeannette before she enters the world, with the sad details of her mother's life?” This direct inquiry was addressed to Mrs. Leonard, by whom both she and her sister had been educated. Fortunately for Matilda, Mrs. Leonard did not waver: her reply was prompt and decisive, and was as follows :
MRS. LEONARD'S LETTER.
“No! My dear young friend, you must not reveal to' Jeannette her mother's history: if possible, she must never know it. In all other cases, I should most probably say, the whole truth, and no concealment; but with regard to your sister, I say, any thing but the truth, and every device possible to shield her from it. I admit the soundness of your arguments in favour of a contrary line of conduct; but I should tremble for the future peace of Jeannette, if I thought the experiment were now to be made on her.
“ I need not remind you of her intense love for the parentshe has lost. You witnessed her grief, as far as grief canbe witnessed ; and for a time you felt persuaded that she, too, would die. I well remember your belief then was, that departed spirits might, and most probably did, suffer almost as much as their survivors on earth, from the pang
separation. Your inference from this belief as long as Jean