Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

them unseasonably had given place to a tolerable flow of conversation, scarcely tinctured by mauvaise honte. In short, considering that he was endowed with a good share of common sense, he was really a handsome young man. Not but some moss was still discoverable. It takes a good while to rub off inborn rusticity, especially where there is much force of character. The soft are more easily moulded.

Seymour had spent this interval in the most sedulous application; - such application as few young men exhibit, except those who have been denied the opportunity of acquiring knowledge until they have learned to feel keenly their own deficiencies. It was by such effort that he had managed to make one year's time under the best instruction in one of our western cities do the work of three at least; and the result was, that, on his return home, his father, a sturdy stickler for republican simplicity, and one of that numerous class who think republicans ought to be rough and coarse, thought Seymour "a leetle too slick" for his liking.

Not that our young friend was the least of a dandy. What he had seen of that sort during his city campaign had but served to deepen that contempt for effeminacy which is the heritage of every true son of the forest. But his manners were extremely quiet; he no longer gave a certain twang to his parts of speech, without which no language is considered strictly classical among us; and he had learned to require conveniences for washing and dressing in his own room, instead of sharing the family basin and comb in the kitchen. Besides all this, he dressed with a strict neatness, which was supposed to indicate an incipient inclination to "stick up," and he evinced decided objections to taking his turn at milking the twenty cows that came lowing into his father's barnyard at sunset. These were bad signs.

However, when the old man found that in more important business Seymour was far more competent than before, and especially when he observed the clerkly skill and neatness with which he could use the pen (an accomplishment but too rare in the

neighbourhood), his respect for his son increased very rapidly, and he began to think it quite time "to set him off a farm of his own, and try if he could put so much larnin' to any real use."

These eighteen months, so important to Seymour, his scarce-remembered flame, Caroline Hay, had spent in New York, perhaps less profitably. She had gone to the city by invitation of a dear aunt, her father's sister, a member of the Society of Friends;

- childless, and longing for the cheering companionship of the young. Mr. Hay was scarcely willing to see his daughter depart for the gay city, even under such guardianship as that of his meek and pious sister. He feared that the fascinations of polished life the very comforts and conveniences of the domestic arrangements she would enjoy would cause her to look with cold eyes on her western home, rude and laborious as that must ever be by comparison. Still, the pleadings of Mrs. Tennett, of Mrs. Hay, and, above all, of Caroline herself,

overcame his better judgment, and he gave his reluctant consent to the visit.

For some time Mrs. Tennett's letters were full of her niece's improvement, both in point of health and of the various studies to which she had directed her attention. She could not say enough of her unvarying sweetness of temper, — of her docility, — of

her willingness to abide by the plain and quiet style of her aunt's house and company.

[ocr errors]

"Caroline," she would say, "is so loveable, so exactly what I could wish for a daughter, that I could almost be selfish enough, my dear brother, to ask her of thee for a life-long comfort. With four sweet girls left, would it be too much?"

But gradually, and by degrees almost imperceptible to any but a parent's watchful heart, the good aunt's letters had assumed a different tone. Caroline had become very healthy and blooming, and went out a good deal. She had become acquainted with "a number of world's people," so wrote her kind and scrupulous guardian; and her father was

given to know that dress was much more in requisition than formerly by frequent requests for money from Caroline herself.

Then Mrs. Tennett felt obliged to mention that her niece was receiving the attentions of a young man whose gay exterior and plausible address seemed to please her more than her aunt could think safe, since the gentleman, though only an employé in a public office, yet carried the air and indulged in the expenses of a man of fortune. After this followed a silence of unusual length.

Come we now to a cold evening in May, the west yet red with the last sun-gleam, while the north and east were heavy with clouds driven on by a bleak and damp wind. A storm was evidently in prospect, yet Mr. Hay, well-wrapped, mounted Hourglass for a ride to the post-office, three miles distant. Many times had he done the same, hoping for a letter from Caroline, now the source of many an anxious thought; and as he went he resolved, should he be as unsuccessful as before, to write requesting her immediate

« PreviousContinue »