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Si tout le monde vous ressembloit, un roman seroit bientot


November's leaden clouds and fitful gleams of
sunshine, coming like visitations of heaven-inspired
thoughts, and vanishing, alas! like illusions, harmonized
with the state of Bessie's mind. She was
much abroad, rambling alone over her favourite
haunts, and living over the dangerous past. This
was at least a present relief and solace; and her
mother, though she feared it might minister to the
morbid state of her child's feelings, had not the
resolution to interpose her authority to prevent it.
Bessie was one evening at twilight returning homeward
by a road (if road that might be called which
was merely a horse-path) that communicated at the
distance of a mile and a half with the main road to
Boston. It led by the margin of a little brook,
through a pine wood that was just now powdered
over with a light snow. Meredith and Bessie had
always taken their way through this sequestered
wood in their walks and rides, going and returning;
not a step of it but was eloquent with some treasured
word, some well-remembered emotion. Bessie
had seated herself on a fallen trunk, an accustomed
resting-place, and was looking at a bunch of ground


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pine and wild periwinkles as if she were perusing
them; the sensations of happier hours had stolen
over her, the painful present and uncertain future
were forgotten, when she was roused from her
dreamy state by the trampling of an approaching
horse. Women, most women, are cowards on instinct.
Bessie cast one glance backward, and saw
the horse was ridden by a person in a military dress.
A stranger in this private path was rather an alarming
apparition, and she started homeward with hasty
steps. The rider mended his horse's pace, and
was soon even with her, and in another instant had
dismounted and exclaimed—“Bessie Lee!—It is
you, Bessie—I cannot be mistaken!”

Bessie smiled at this familiar salutation, and did
not refuse her hand to the stranger, who with eager
cordiality offered his; but not being in the least a
woman of the world, it was plain she explored his
face in vain for some recognisable feature.—“No,
you do not remember me—that is evident,” he said,
with a tone of disappointment. “Is there not a
vestige, Bessie, of your old playmate, in the whiskered,
weather-beaten personage before you?”

“Herbert Linwood!” she exclaimed, and a glow
of glad recognition mounted from her heart to her

“Ah, thank you, Bessie, better late than never;
but it is sad to be forgotten. You are much less
changed than I, undoubtedly; but I should have
known you if nothing were unaltered save the


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colour of your eye; however, I have always worn
your likeness here,” he gallantly added, putting his
hand to his heart, “and in truth, you are but the
opening bud expanded to the flower, while I have
undergone a change like the chestnut, from the
tassel to the bearded husk.” Bessie soon began to
perceive familiar tones and expression, and she
consoled Herbert with the assurance that it was
only her surprise, his growth, change of dress, &c.,
that prevented her from knowing him at once.
They soon passed to mutual inquiries, by which it
appeared that Herbert had come to Massachusetts
on military business. The visit to Westbrook was
a little episode of his own insertion. He was to
return in a few weeks to West Point, where he
was charmed to hear he should meet Eliot.

“I am cut off from my own family,” he said,
“and really, I pine for a friend. I gather from
Belle's letters that my father is more and more estranged
from me. While he thought I was fighting
on the losing side, and in peril of my head, his
generous spirit was placable; but since the result
of our contest has become doubtful, even to him,
he has waxed hotter and hotter against me; and if
we finally prevail, and prevail we must, he will
never forgive me.”

“Oh, do not say so—he cannot be so unrelenting;
and if he were, Isabella can persuade him—
she can do any thing she pleases.”

“Yes, a pretty potent person is that sister of


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mine. But when my father sets his foot down, the
devil—I beg your pardon Bessie, and Belle's too—
I mean his metal is of such a temper that an angel
could not bend him.”

“Isabella is certainly the angel, not its opposite.”

“Why yes, she is, God bless her! But yet,
Bessie, she is pretty well spiced with humanity.
If she were not, she would not be so attractive
to a certain friend of ours, who is merely human.”

Bessie's heart beat quicker; she knew, or feared
she knew, what Herbert meant; and after a pause,
full of sensation to her, she ventured to ask “if he
heard often from New-York?”

“Yes, we get rumours from there every day—
nothing very satisfactory. Belle, in spite of her
toryism, is a loving sister, and writes me as often
as she can; but as the letters run the risk of being
read by friends and foes, they are about as domestic
and private as if they were endited for Rivington's

“Then,” said Bessie, quite boldly, for she felt a
sensible relief, “you have no news to tell me?”

“No—no, nothing official,” he replied, with a
smile; “Belle writes exultingly of Meredith having,
since his return to New-York, come out on the
right side, as she calls it—and of my father's pleasure
and pride in him, &c. Of course she says not
a word of her own sentiments. I hear from an
old friend of mine, who was brought in a prisoner


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the other day, that Meredith has been devoted to
her ever since his return. They were always
lovers after an April-day fashion, you know, Bessie,
and I should not be surprised to hear of their engagement
at any time—should you?”

Fortunately for poor Bessie, her hood sheltered
the rapid mutations of her cheek; resolution or
pride she had not, but a certain sense of maidenly
decorum came to her aid, and she faintly answered,
“No, I should not.” If this were a slight departure
from truth, every woman (every young one)
will forgive her, for it was a case of self-preservation.
Linwood was so absorbed in the happiness
of being near her, of having her arm in his, that he
scarcely noticed how that arm trembled, and how
her voice faltered. He afterward recalled it.

Herbert's visit to the Lees was like a saint's
day to good Catholics after a long penance. He
had in his boyhood been a prime favourite with
Mrs. Lee—she was delighted to see him again, and
thought the man even more charming than the boy.
She made every effort to show off her hospitable
home to Linwood in its old aspect of abundance
and cheerfulness; and, in spite of war and actual
changes, she succeeded. She had the skilful housewife's
gift “to make the worse appear the better,”—
far more difficult in housewifery than in metaphysics.
Herbert enjoyed, to her kind heart's content,
the result of her efforts. The poor fellow's appetite
had been so long mortified with the sorry fare


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of the American camp, that no Roman epicurean
ever relished the dainties of an emperor's table
(such as canaries' eyes and peacocks' brains) more
keenly than he did the plain but excellent provisions
at Lee farm; the incomparable bread and butter,
ham, apple-sauce, and cream, the nuts the children
cracked, and the sparkling cider they drew for him.
We are quite aware that a hero on a sentimental
visit should be indifferent to these gross matters,
but our friend Herbert was no hero, no romantic
abstraction, but a good, honest, natural fellow, compounded
of body and spirit, each element bearing
its due proportion in the composition.

Bessie yielded to the influence of old associations,
and, as her mother thought, was more light-hearted,
more herself, than she had been for many a weary
month. “After all,” she said, anxiously revolving
the subject in her mind, “it may come out right
yet. Bessie cannot help preferring Herbert Linwood,
so good-humoured and open-hearted as he
is, to Meredith, with his studied elegance, his hollow
phrases, and expressive looks. Herbert's heart
is in his hand; and hand and heart he'll not be too
proud to offer her; for he sees things in their true
lights, and not with the world's eye.”

Mrs. Lee was delicate and prudent; but she
could not help intimating her own sentiments to
Bessie. From that moment a change came over
her. Her spirits vanished like the rosy hues from
the sunset clouds. Herbert wondered, but he had


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no time to lose in speculation. He threw himself
at Bessie's feet, and there poured out his tale of
love and devotion. At first he received nothing in
return but silence and tears; and, when he became
more importunate, broken protestations of her gratitude
and ill desert; which he misunderstood, and
answered by declaring “she owed him no gratitude;
that he was but too bold to aspire to her, poor
wretch of broken fortunes that he was; but, please
Heaven, he would mend them under her auspices.”

She dared not put him off with pretences. She
only wept, and said she had no heart to give; and
then left him, feeling much like some poor mariner,
who, as he is joyously sailing into a long-desired
port, is suddenly enveloped in impenetrable mist.

Herbert was not of a temper to remain tranquil
in this position. He knew nothing of the “blessing
promised to those that wait,” for he had never
waited for any thing; and he at once told his perplexities
to Mrs. Lee, who, herself most grieved
and mortified, communicated slight hints which, by
furnishing a key to certain observations of his own,
put him sufficiently in possession of the truth.
Without again seeing Bessie, he left Westbrook
with the common conviction of even common lovers
in fresh disappointments, that there was no more
happiness for him in this world.

Mrs. Lee uttered no word of expostulation or
reproach to Bessie; but her sad looks, like the old


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mother's in the ballad, “gaed near to break her

There are few greater trials to a tender hearted,
conscientious creature like Bessie Lee, than to defeat
the hopes and disappoint the expectations of
friends, by opposing those circumstances which,
as it seems to them, will best promote our honour
and happiness. “Eliot,” said Bessie, in her secret
meditations, “thinks I am weakly cherishing an unworthy
passion—my mother believes that I have
voluntarily thrown away my own advantage and
happiness—thank Heaven, the wretchedness, as
well as the fault, is all my own.”

Many may condemn Bessie's unresisting weakness;
but who will venture to graduate the scale of
human virtue? to decide in a given case how much
is bodily infirmity, and how much defect of resolution.
Certain are we, that when fragility of constitution,
tenderness of conscience, and susceptibility
of heart, meet in one person, the sooner the
trials of life are over the better.


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