University of Virginia Library


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Glory and gain the industrious tribe provoke.


The little secluded and quiet village of H. lies at no
great distance from our “literary emporium.” It was
never remarked or remarkable for any thing, save one
mournful pre-eminence, to those who sojourned within
its borders—it was duller even than common villages.
The young men of the better class all emigrated. The
most daring spirits adventured on the sea. Some went
to Boston; some to the south; and some to the west;
and left a community of women who lived like nuns,
with the advantage of more liberty and fresh air, but
without the consolation and excitement of a religious
vow. Literally, there was not a single young gentleman
in the village—nothing in manly shape to which
these desperate circumstances could give the form and
quality and uses of a beau. Some dashing city blades,
who once strayed from the turnpike to this sequestered
spot, averred that the girls stared at them as if, like
Miranda, they would have exclaimed—

“What is't? a spirit?
Lord, how it looks about! Believe me, sir,
It carries a brave form:—But 'tis a spirit.”
A peculiar fatality hung over this devoted place. If
death seized on either head of a family, he was sure to
take the husband; every woman in H. was a widow
or maiden; and it is a sad fact, that when the holiest
office of the church was celebrated, they were compelled
to borrow deacons from an adjacent village. But,


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incredible as it may be, there was no great diminution
of happiness in consequence of the absence of the nobler
sex. Mothers were occupied with their children
and housewifery, and the young ladies read their books
with as much interest as if they had lovers to discuss
them with, and worked their frills and capes as diligently,
and wore them as complacently, as if they
were to be seen by manly eyes. Never was there
pleasanter gatherings or parties (for that was the word
even in their nomenclature) than those of the young
girls of H. There was no mincing—no affectation—
no hope of passing for what they were not—no envy
of the pretty and fortunate—no insolent triumph over
the plain and demure and neglected,—but all was
good will and good humour. They were a pretty circle
of girls—a garland of bright fresh flowers. Never
were there more sparkling glances,—never sweeter
smiles—nor more of them. Their present was all
health and cheerfulness; and their future, not the
gloomy perspective of dreary singleness, for somewhere
in the passage of life they were sure to be mated.
Most of the young men who had abandoned their native
soil, as soon as they found themselves getting
, loyally returned to lay their fortunes at the feet
of the companions of their childhood.

The girls made occasional visits to Boston, and occasional
journeys to various parts of the country, for
they were all enterprising and independent, and had
the characteristic New England avidity for seizing a
“privilege;” and in these various ways, to borrow a
phrase of their good grandames, “a door was opened
for them,” and in due time they fulfilled the destiny
of women.

We spoke strictly, and literally, when we said that
in the village of H. there was not a single beau. But
on the outskirts of the town, at a pleasant farm, embracing
hill and valley, upland and meadow land; in a
neat house, looking to the south, with true economy


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of sunshine and comfort, and overlooking the prettiest
winding stream that ever sent up its sparkling beauty
to the eye, and flanked on the north by a rich maple
grove, beautiful in spring and summer, and glorious
in autumn, and the kindest defence in winter;—on
this farm and in this house dwelt a youth, to fame
unknown, but known and loved by every inhabitant
of H., old and young, grave and gay, lively and severe.
Ralph Hepburn was one of nature's favourites. He
had a figure that would have adorned courts and cities;
and a face that adorned human nature, for it was full
of good humour, kindheartedness, spirit, and intelligence;
and driving the plough or wielding the scythe,
his cheek flushed with manly and profitable exercise,
he looked as if he had been moulded in a poet's fancy
—as farmers look in Georgies and Pastorals. His
gifts were by no means all external. He wrote
verses in every album in the village, and very pretty
album verses they were, and numerous too—for the
number of albums was equivalent to the whole female
population. he was admirable at pencil sketches;
and once with a little paint, the refuse of a house
painting, he achieved an admirable portrait of his
grandmother and her cat. There was, to be sure, a
striking likeness between the two figures, but he was
limited to the same colours for both; and besides, it was
not out of nature, for the old lady and her cat had purred
together in the chimney corner, till their physiognomies
bore an obvious resemblance to each other.
Ralph had a talent for music too. His voice was the
sweetest of all the Sunday choir, and one would have
fancied, from the bright eyes that were turned on him
from the long line and double lines of treble and counter
singers, that Ralph Hepburn was a note book, or
that the girls listened with their eyes as well as their
ears. Ralph did not restrict himself to psalmody. He
had an ear so exquisitely susceptible to the “touches of
sweet harmony,” that he discovered, by the stroke of


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his axe, the musical capacities of certain species of
wood, and he made himself a violin of chesnut, and
drew strains from it, that if they could not create a
soul under the ribs of death, could make the prettiest
feet and the lightest hearts dance, an achievement far
more to Ralph's taste than the aforesaid miracle. In
short, it seemed as if nature, in her love of compensation,
had showered on Ralph all the gifts that are
usually diffused through a community of beaux. Yet
Ralph was no prodigy; none of his talents were in
excess, but all in moderate degree. No genius was
ever so good humoured, so useful, so practical; and
though, in his small and modest way, a Crichton, he
was not, like most universal geniuses, good for nothing
for any particular office in life. His farm was not a
pattern farm—a prize farm for an agricultural society,
but in wonderful order considering—his miscellaneous
pursuits. He was the delight of his grandfather
for his sagacity in hunting bees—the old man's favourite,
in truth his only pursuit. He was so skilled
in woodcraft that the report of his gun was as certain
a signal of death as the tolling of a church bell. The
fish always caught at his bait. He manufactured half
his farming utensils, improved upon old inventions,
and struck out some new ones; tamed partridges—the
most untameable of all the feathered tribe; domesticated
squirrels; rivalled Scheherazade herself in telling stories,
strange and long—the latter quality being essential
at a country fireside; and, in short, Ralph made
a perpetual holiday of a life of labour.

Every girl in the village street knew when Ralph's
wagon or sleigh traversed it; indeed, there was scarcely
a house to which the horses did not, as if by instinct,
turn up while their master greeted its fair tenants.
This state of affairs had continued for two winters and
two summers since Ralph came to his majority and,
by the death of his father, to the sole proprietorship of
the “Hepburn farm,”—the name his patrimonial acres


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had obtained from the singular circumstance (in our
moving country) of their having remained in the same
family for four generations. Never was the matrimonial
destiny of a young lord, or heir just come to his
estate, more thoroughly canvassed than young Hepburn's
by mothers, aunts, daughters, and nieces. But
Ralph, perhaps from sheer good heartedness, seemed
reluctant to give to “a party what was meant for mankind,”
to give one the heart that diffused rays of sunshine
through the whole village.

With all decent people he eschewed the doctrines of
a certain erratic female lecturer on the odious monopoly
of marriage, yet Ralph, like a tender hearted
judge, hesitated to place on a single brow the crown
matrimonial which so many deserved, and which,
though Ralph was far enough from a coxcomb, he
could not but see so many coveted.

Whether our hero perceived that his mind was becoming
elated or distracted with this general favour,
or that he observed a dawning of rivalry among the
fair competitors, or whatever was the cause, the fact
was, that he by degrees circumscribed his visits, and
finally concentrated them in the family of his aunt

Mrs. Courland was a widow, and Ralph was the
kindest of nephews to her, and the kindest of cousins
to her children. To their mother he seemed their
guardian angel. That the five lawless, daring litle
urchins did not drown themselves when they were
swimming, nor shoot themselves when they were
shooting, was, in her eyes, Ralph's merit; and then
“he was so attentive to Alice, her only daughter—a
brother could not be kinder.” But who would not be
kind to Alice? she was a sweet girl of seventeen,
not beautiful, not handsome perhaps,—but pretty
enough—with soft hazel eyes, a profusion of light
brown hair, always in the neatest trim, and a mouth
that could not but be lovely and loveable, for all kind


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and tender affections were playing about it. Though
Alice was the only daughter of a doting mother, the
only sister of five loving boys, the only niece of three
single, fond aunts, and, last and greatest, the only
cousin of our only beau, Ralph Hepburn, no girl of
seventeen was ever more disinterested, unassuming,
unostentatious, and unspoiled. Ralph and Alice had
always lived on terms of cousinly affection—an
affection of a neutral tint that they never thought of
being shaded into the deep dye of a more tender
passion. Ralph rendered her all cousinly offices. If
he had twenty damsels to escort, not an uncommon
case, he never forgot Alice. When he returned from
any little excursion, he always brought some graceful
offering to Alice.

He had lately paid a visit to Boston. It was at the
season of the periodical inundation of annuals. He
brought two of the prettiest to Alice, Ah! little did
she think they were to prove Pandora's box to her,
Poor simple girl! she sat down to read them, as if an
annual were meant to be read, and she was honestly
interested and charmed. Her mother observed her
delight. “What have you there, Alice?” she asked.
“Oh the prettiest story, mamma!—two such tried
faithful lovers, and married at last! It ends beautifully:
I hate love stories that don't end in marriage.

“And so do I, Alice,” exclaimed Ralph, who entered
at the moment, and for the first time Alice felt her
cheeks tingle at his approach. He had brought a basket,
containing a choice plant he had obtained for her,
and she laid down the annual and went with him to
the garden to see it set by his own hand.

Mrs. Courland seized upon the annual with avidity.
She had imbihed a literary taste in Boston, where the
best and happiest years of her life were passed. She
had some literary ambition too. She read the North
American Review from beginning to end, and she
fancied no conversation could be sensible or improving


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that was not about books. But she had been effectually
prevented, by the necessities of a narrow income,
and by the unceasing wants of five teasing boys, from
indulging her literary inclinations; for Mrs. Courland,
like all New England women, had been taught to consider
domestic duties as the first temporal duties of her
sex. She had recently seen some of the native productions
with which the press is daily teeming, and
which certainly have a tendency to dispel our early
illusions about the craft of authorship. She had even
felt some obscure intimations, within her secret soul,
that she might herself become an author. The annual
was destined to fix her fate. She opened it—the publisher
had written the names of the authors of the anonymous
pieces against their productions. Among
them she found some of the familiar friends of her
childhood and youth.

If, by a sudden gift of second sight, she had seen
them enthroned as kings and queens, she would not
have been more astonished. She turned to their
pieces, and read them, as perchance no one else ever
did, from beginning to end—faithfully. Not a sentence—a
sentence! not a word was skipped. She
paused to consider commas, colons, and dashes. All
the art and magic of authorship were made level to her
comprehension, and when she closed the book, she felt
a call
to become an author, and before she-retired to
bed she obeyed the call, as if it had been in truth, a
divinity stirring within her. In the morning she presented
an article to her public, consisting of her own
family and a few select friends. All applauded, and
every voice, save one, was unanimous for publication
—that one was Alice. She was a modest, prudent
girl; she feared failure, and feared notoriety still more.
Her mother laughed at her childish scruples. The
piece was sent off, and in due time graced the pages
of an annual. Mrs. Courland's fate was now decided.
She had, to use her own phrase, started in the career


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of letters, and she was no Atalanta to be seduced
from her straight onward way. She was a social,
sympathetic, good hearted creature too, and she could
not bear to go forth in the golden field to reap alone.

She was, besides, a prudent woman, as most of her
countrywoman are, and the little pecuniary equivalent
for this delightful exercise of talents was not overlooked.
Mrs. Courland, as we have somewhere said,
had three single sisters—worthy woman they were—
but nobody ever dreamed of their taking to authorship.
She, however, held them all in sisterly estimation.
Their talents were magnified as the talents of
persons who live in a circumscribed sphere are apt to
be, particularly if seen through the dilating medium of

Miss Anne, the oldest, was fond of flowers, a successful
cultivator, and a diligent student of the science
of botany. All this taste and knowledge, Mrs. Courland
thought, might be turned to excellent account;
and she persuaded Miss Anne to write a little book
entitled “Familiar Dialogues on Botany.” The
second sister, Miss Ruth, had a turn for education
(“bachelor's wives and maid's children are always
well taught,”) and Miss Ruth undertook a popular
treatise on that subject. Miss Sally, the youngest,
was the saint of the family, and she doubted about the
propriety of a literary occupation, till her scruples were
overcome by the fortunate suggestion that her coup
d'essai should be a Saturday night book entitled “Solemn
Hours,”—and solemn hours they were to their
unhappy readers. Mrs. Courland next beseiged her old
mother. “You know, mamma,” she said, “you have
such a precious fund of anecdotes of the revolution
and the French war, and you talk just like the `Annals
of the Parish,' and I am certain you can write a book
fully as good.”

“My child, you are distracted! I write a dreadful


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poor hand, and I never learned to spell—no girls did
in my time.”

“Spell! that is not of the least consequence—the
printers correct the spelling.”

But the honest old lady would not be tempted on
the crusade, and her daughter consoled herself with the
reflection that if she would not write, she was an admirable
subject to be written about, and her diligent
fingers worked off three distinct stories in which the
old lady figured.

Mrs. Courland's ambition, of course, embraced within
its widening circle her favourite nephew Ralph. She
had always thought him a genius, and genius in her
estimation was the philosopher's stone. In his youth
she had laboured to persuade his father to send him to
Cambridge, but the old man uniformly replied that
Ralph “was a smart lad on the farm, and steady, and
by that he knew he was no genius.” As Ralph's character
was developed, and talent after talent broke forth,
his aunt renewed her lamentations over his ignoble
destiny. That Ralph was useful, good, and happy—
the most difficult and rare results achieved in life—
was nothing, so long as he was but a farmer in H.
Once she did half presuade him to turn painter, but
his good sense and filial duty triumphed over her eloquence,
and suppressed the hankerings after distinction
that are innate in every human breast from the little
ragged chimneysweep that hopes to be a boss, to the
political aspirant whose bright goal is the presidential

Now Mrs. Courland fancied Ralph might climb the
steep of fame without quitting his farm; occasional
authorship was compatible with his vocation. But
alas! she could not persuade Ralph to pluck the laurels
that she saw ready grown to his hand. She was not
offended, for she was the best natured woman in the
world, but she heartily pitied him, and seldom mentioned


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his name without repeating that stanza of Gray's,
inspired for the consolation of hopeless obscurity:

“Full many a gem of purest ray serene,” &c.

Poor Alice's sorrows we have reserved to the last,
for they were heaviest. “Alice,” her mother said,
“was gifted; she was well educated, well informed;
she was every thing necessary to be an author.” But
Alice resisted; and, though the gentlest, most complying
of all good daughters, she would have resisted to
the death—she would as soon have stood in a pillory as
appeared in print. Her mother, Mrs. Courland, was
not an obstinate woman, and gave up in despair. But
still our poor heroine was destined to be the victim of
this cacoethes scribendi; for Mrs. Courland divided
the world into two classes, or rather parts—authors and
subjects for authors; the one active, the other passive.
At first blush one would have thought the village of
H. rather a barren field for such a reaper as Mrs.
Courland, but her zeal and indefatigableness worked
wonders. She converted the stern scholastic divine
of H. into as much of a La Roche as she could describe;
a tall wrinkled bony old woman, who reminded her
of Meg Merrilies, sat for a witch; the school master
for an Ichabod Crane; a poor half witted boy was
made to utter as much pathos and sentiment and wit
as she could put into his lips; and a crazy vagrant was
a God-send to her. Then every “wide spreading elm,”
“blasted pine,” or “gnarled oak,” flourished on her
pages. The village church and school house stood
there according to their actual dimensions. One old
pilgrim house was as prolific as haunted tower or
ruined abbey. It was surveyed outside, ransacked inside,
and again made habitable for the reimbodied
spirits of its founders.

The most kind hearted of woman, Mrs. Courland's
interests came to be so at varience with the prosperity


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of the little community of H. that a sudden calamity,
a death, a funeral, were fortunate events to her. To
do her justice she felt them in a two-fold capacity.
She wept as a woman, and exulted as an author. The
days of the calamities of authors have passed by. We
have all wept over Otway and shivered at the thought
of Tasso. But times are changed. The lean sheaf is
devouring the full one. A new class of sufferers has
arisen, and there is nothing more touching in all the
memoirs Mr. D`Israeli has collected, than the trials of
poor Alice, tragi-comic though they were. Mrs. Courland's
new passion ran most naturally in the worn
channel of maternal affection. Her boys were too
purely boys for her art—but Alice, her sweet Alice,
was pre-eminently lovely in the new light in which
she now placed every object. Not an incident of her
life but was inscribed on her mother's memory, and
thence transferred to her pages, by way of precept, or
example, or pathetic or ludicrous circumstance. She
regretted now, for the first time, that Alice had no
lover whom she might introduce among her dramatis
personæ. Once her thoughts did glance on Ralph,
but she had not quite merged the woman in the author;
she knew instinctively that Alice would be
particularly offended at being thus paired with Ralph.
But Alice's public life was not limited to her mother's
productions. She was the darling niece of her three
aunts. She had studied botany with the eldest, and Miss
Anne had recorded in her private diary all her favourite's
clever remarks during their progress in the science.
This diary was now a mine of gold to her, and faithfully
worked up for a circulating medium. But, most
trying of all to poor Alice, was the attitude in which
she appeared in her aunt Sally's “solemn hours.”
Every aspiration of piety to which her young lips had
given utterance was there printed. She felt as if she
were condemned to say her prayers in the market
place. Every act of kindness, every deed of charity,


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she had ever performed, were produced to the public.
Alice would have been consoled if she had known how
small that public was; but, as it was, she felt like a
modest country girl when she first enters an apartment
hung on every side with mirrors, when, shrinking
from observation, she sees in every direction her image
multiplied and often distorted; for, notwithstanding
Alice's dutiful respect for her good aunts, and her
consciousness of their affectionate intentions, she could
not but perceive that they were unskilled painters.
She grew afraid to speak or to act, and from being the
most artless, frank, and, at home, social little creature
in the world, she became as silent and as stiff as a
statue. And, in the circle of her young associates,
her natural gaiety was constantly checked by their
winks and smiles, and broader allusions to her multiplied
portraits; for they had instantly recognized
them through the thin veil of feigned names of persons
and places. They called her a blue stocking too;
for they had the vulgar notion that every body must
be tinged that lived under the same roof with an author.
Our poor victim was afraid to speak of a book
—worse than that, she was afraid to touch one, and
the last Waverley novel actually lay in the house a
month before she opened it. She avoided wearing
even a blue ribbon, as fearfully as a forsaken damsel
shuns the colour of green.

It was during the height of this literary fever in the
Courland family, that Ralph Hepburn, as has been
mentioned, concentrated all his visiting there. He
was of a compassionate disposition, and he knew Alice
was, unless relieved by him, in solitary possession of
their once social parlour, while her mother and aunts
were driving their quills in their several apartments.

Oh! what a changed place was that parlour! Not
the tower of Babel, after the builders had forsaken it,
exhibited a sadder reverse; not a Lancaster school,
when the boys have left it, a more striking contrast.


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Mrs. Courland and her sisters were all “talking women,”
and too generous to encroach on one another's
rights and happiness. They had acquired the power
to hear and speak simultaneously. Their parlour was
the general gathering place, a sort of village exchange,
where all the innocent gossips, old and young, met
together. “There are tongues in trees,” and surely
there seemed to be tongues in the very walls of that
vocal parlour. Every thing there had a social aspect.
There was something agreeable and conversable in the
litter of netting and knitting work, of sewing implements,
and all the signs and shows of happy female

Now, all was as orderly as a town drawing room in
company hours. Not a sound was heard there save
Ralph's and Alice's voices, mingling in soft and suppressed
murmurs, as if afraid of breaking the chain of
their aunt's ideas, or, perchance, of too rudely jarring
a tenderer chain. One evening, after tea, Mrs. Courland
remained with her daughter, instead of retiring,
as usual, to her writing desk.—“Alice, my dear,” said
the good mother, “I have noticed for a few days past
that you look out of spirits. You will listen to nothing
I say on that subject; but if you would try it, my dear,
if you would only try it, you would find there is nothing
so tranquillizing as the occupation of writing.”

“I shall never try it, mamma.”

“You are afraid of being called a blue stocking.
Ah! Ralph, how are you?”—Ralph entered at this moment.—“Ralph,
tell me honestly, do you not think it
a weakness in Alice to be so afraid of blue stockings?”

“It would be a pity, aunt, to put blue stockings on
such pretty feet as Alice's.”

Alice blushed and smiled, and her mother said—
“Nonsense, Ralph; you should bear in mind the celebrated
saying of the Edinburgh wit—`no matter how
blue the stockings are, if the petticoats are long enough
to hide them.' ”


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“Hide Alice's feet! Oh aunt, worse and worse!”

“Better hide her feet, Ralph, than her talents—that
is a sin for which both she and you will have to answer.
Oh! you and Alice need not exchange such
significant glances! You are doing yourselves and
the public injustice, and you have no idea how easy
writing is.”

“Easy writing, but hard reading, aunt.”

“That's false modesty, Ralph. If I had but your
opportunities to collect materials”—Mrs. Courland did
not know that in literature, as in some species of manufacture,
the most exquisite productions are wrought
from the smallest quantity of raw material—“There's
your journey to New York, Ralph,” she continued,
“you might have made three capital articles out of
that. The revolutionary officer would have worked
up for the `Legendary;' the mysterious lady for the
`Token;' and the man in black for the `Remember
Me;'—all founded on fact, all romantic and pathetic.”

“But mamma,” said Alice, expressing in words what
Ralph's arch smile expressed almost as plainly, “you
know the officer drank too much; and the mysterious
lady turned out to be a runaway milliner; and the man
in black—oh! what a theme for a pathetic story!—the
man in black was a widower, on his way to Newhaven,
where he was to select his third wife from three recommended

“Pshaw! Alice: do you suppose it is necessary to
tell things precisely as they are?”

“Alice is wrong, aunt, and you are right; and if she
will open her writing desk for me, I will sit down this
moment, and write a story—a true story—true from
beginning to end; and if it moves you, my dear aunt,
if it meets your approbation, my destiny is decided.”

Mrs. Courland was delighted; she had slain the giant,
and she saw fame and fortune smiling on her favourite.
She arranged the desk for him herself; she prepared a
folio sheet of paper, folded the ominous margins; and


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was so absorbed in her bright visions, that she did not
hear a little by-talk between Ralph and Alice, nor see
the tell-tale flush on their cheeks, nor notice the perturbation
with which Alice walked first to one window
and then to another, and finally settled herself to
that best of all sedatives—hemming a ruffle. Ralph
chewed off the end of his quill, mended his pen twice,
though his aunt assured him “printers did not mind the
penmanship,” and had achieved a single line when Mrs.
Courland's vigilant eye was averted by the entrance
of her servant girl, who put a packet into her hands.
She looked at the direction, cut the string, broke the
seals, and took out a periodical fresh from the publisher.
She opened at the first article—a strangely mingled
current of maternal pride and literary triumph rushed
through her heart and brightened her face. She whispered
to the servant a summons to all her sisters to
the parlour, and an intimation, sufficiently intelligible
to them, of her joyful reason for interrupting them.

Our readers will sympathize with her, and with
Alice too, when we disclose to them the secret of her
joy. The article in question was a clever composition
written by our devoted Alice when she was at school.
One of her fond aunts had preserved it, and aunts and
mother had combined in the pious fraud of giving it to
the public, unknown to Alice. They were perfectly
aware of her determination never to be an author.
But they fancied it was the mere timidity of an unfledged
bird; and that when, by their innocent artifice,
she found that her pinions could soar in a literary atmosphere,
she would realize the sweet fluttering sensations
they had experienced at their first flight. The
good souls all hurried to the parlour, eager to witness
the coup de theatre. Miss Sally's pen stood emblematically
erect in her turban; Miss Ruth, in her haste,
had overset her inkstand, and the drops were trickling
down her white dressing, or, as she now called it,
writing-gown; and Miss Anne had a wild flower in


Page 180
her hand, as she hoped, of an undescribed species,
which, in her joyful agitation, she most unluckily
picked to pieces. All bit their lips to retain their impatient
congratulations. Ralph was so intent on his
writing, and Alice on her hemming, that neither noticed
the irruption; and Mrs. Courland was obliged twice
to speak to her daughter before she could draw her

“Alice, look here—Alice, my dear.”

“What is it, mamma? something new of yours?”

“No; guess again, Alice.”

“Of one of my aunts, of course?”

“Neither, dear, neither. Come and look for yourself,
and see if you can then tell whose it is.”

Alice dutifully laid aside her work, approached and
took the book. The moment her eye glanced on the
fatal page, all her apathy vanished—deep crimson
overspread her cheeks, brow, and neck. She burst
into tears of irrepressible vexation, and threw the book
into the blazing fire.

The gentle Alice! Never had she been guilty of
such an ebullition of temper. Her poor dismayed
aunts retreated; her mother looked at her in mute astonishment;
and Ralph, struck with her emotion,
started from the desk, and would have asked an explanation,
but Alice exclaimed—“Don't say any thing
about it, mamma—I cannot bear it now.”

Mrs. Courland knew instinctively that Ralph would
sympathize entirely with Alice, and quite willing to
avoid an explanation, she said—“Some other time,
Ralph, I'll tell you the whole. Show me now what
you have written. How have you begun?”

Ralph handed her the paper with a novice's trembling

“Oh! how very little! and so scratched and interlined!
but never mind—`c'est le premier pas qui
coute.' ”

While making these general observations, the good


Page 181
mother was getting out and opening her spectacles, and
Alice and Ralph had retreated behind her. Alice rested
her head on his shoulder, and Ralph's lips were not
far from her ear. Whether he was soothing her ruffled
spirit, or what he was doing, is not recorded.
Mrs. Courland read and re-read the sentence. She
dropped a tear on it. She forgot her literary aspirations
for Ralph and Alice—forgot she was herself an
author—forgot every thing but the mother; and rising,
embraced them both as her dear children, and expressed,
in her raised and moistened eye, consent to their
union, which Ralph had dutifully and prettily asked
in that short and true story of his love for his sweet
cousin Alice.

In due time the village of H. was animated with the
celebration of Alice's nuptials: and when her mother
and aunts saw her the happy mistress of the Hepburn
farm, and the happiest of wives, they relinquished,
without a sigh, the hope of ever seeing her an Author

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