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broken hearts and the smothered cry of anguish hushed there
- the names anathematised that sound before men so fair : and well that it is so; for who but the Infinite can read aright the unseen life within, with its sins, its grief, and its untold aspirations after the good and true ?
“I am an old man now, and the world's judgment is as nothing to me; and if it were, there is a sterner voice within more fearful, because I know its truth.
“My earliest recollections were of the old manor house of Hazlehurst, where my mother retired with me and my young sister on the death of my father, which took place before the latter saw the light. Grief for her loss in my mother's heart only gave way to a blind idolatry to the child that was to work her woe. I was the last male heir of our ancient house, and everything in childhood seemed to unite to foster the selfishness and ungoverned passions of my nature. My gentle sister, iny fond but ill-judging mother, and one dearer to me than all else, were but victims; and yet I believed I loved them — even as I was beloved.
“My mother was ambitious for me, urging me in my career at college to overcome my love of ease and indulgence, and add a lustre to a name of which she had reason then to be jealously proud. And to college I went; but there was an attraction in our little village of Hazlehurst that kept my thoughts lingering there, and drew me from all nobler ambitions.
"Mabel Grey was the motherless daughter of our curate; we grew up together playmates and companions, and in those days I hardly know if my sister Millicent or Mabel were the dearer. But time passed, as I dreamed away my life, and circumstances soon taught me how deep was the slumber in which I had hitherto lain. I knew she loved me—she had said so a thousand times, with a smile upon her lip, in her frank and winning way, when I had urged her, poor child ! Her blue eye never fell beneath my gaze — her hand never trembled in my clasp ; it was love-but not such as we were dooined to know in after years. Our little circle was first broken by the arrival of my cousin, a fellow-student at college, Stephen Gower. He was a youth who had little interest in our country pursuits—his hours were devoted to abstruse speculations. Nothing seemed too deep or too insignificant for his theme; now dwelling on the glory of the heavens, or on the weed and wild flower at our feet. Perhaps, in the very contrast to myself I was led to seek him more intimately, and as much in curiosity as in any other feeling. It was not until I saw how Mabel's ear hung on his words, as, with the eloquence of genius, he drew from the rich vein within, that I began to feel my own inferiority, and envy was engendered, that, like the serpent's egg, was in time to become a deadly foe to my peace. New desires and ambitions sprang up in my soul, although he possessed but the advantages I had hitherto despised.
“My mother made him a welcome guest, for she had seen, in fear and regret, my growing love for Mabel. He had long outstripped me in the race in all things—how should it be otherwise ? I had despised him who, forsaking the social enjoyments of youth, gave himself up to the black-lettered book and the midnight lamp, as if all minds had not in their mould the faint attribute that blends into one entire whole.
“One sees in the deep forest shade but a pleasant shelter from the noontide heat, or the exchange of the mighty trunks for gold; another knows nothing beyond the thousand voices that seem to whisper among the leaves, or the spirit tones from the blossoms at his feet, and he will tell you of Him who careth even for the flowers of the field, and listens for the heart whisper that their gentle beauty calls forth. Yet all of these are necessary.
“A long-summer had been passed together, full of hap
piness for me, for I had Mabel's plighted troth, although I had determined it should remain a secret until I came of age, of which time there wanted but another year. I confided my love but to Stephen, feeling how much opposition I must expect with my mother. I had determined to forego even the sweet indulgence of spending the vacation at home, in order to be prepared for the final examination that was to take place before I left; and I was the more satisfied when I saw that Mabel, who had so excited my jealousy in regard to Stephen, now shunned him, more like a timid child than the frank-hearted
“Shortly before the examination letters reached me from Hazlehurst, on the part of Mabel short and constrained, and from my sister urging my return. With a mind and nerves unstrung I went up for the ordeal of examination for my degree, only to be rejected. The disgrace fell heavily on me; but the thought of Mabel overwhelmed every other.
“Stephen Gower came to visit me in my rooms, where I had passed hours with my face buried in my hands, feeling as only the young feel on their first defeat. To me there was something irritating in his words of sympathy: he urged me to travel for a time, and I feigned to consent. A gleam of ill-concealed joy stole over his pale face. He was on his road to Hazlehurst, where already the circumstance of my disappointment was known. I commenced my preparations for departure, and no sooner had he quitted me than I was on my road to the only source that could at that time soften or remove the fearful auguries of evil that pressed heavily on my heart. By the evening of the second day I reached Hazlehurst, and, springing into a boat that lay at its moorings, paused not in my eager way until I reached the opposite shore, and made my way on foot to the outskirts of the village. I reached the parsonage. Under the trellis porch, beneath the clustering