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Harvest Festival at St. Paul's.

Revolting Conduct of a Penarth…




I 1 1 umerent TO uercruae. The rapture borne in upon fiis soul by the idea told even his inexperience that he loved Ah, brief delight. For an instant the ripple of the river, sounding like heavenly music in his iears the trees, whose e-,i, 1 v verdure rustled above his head, seeming to \vh; ;n the words of the anonymous letter, rat-li < pe;" the fair girl before him, turning blnsh: h- a-su-- as he bent upon her his ardent and impassiomte gaze—all spoke to him, in the passionate and seductive language of the heart, and a life of happines-s and love. There sprang up before his mind a vision of a, pleasant, peaceful home, the haven of rest after the storms and troubles of the world; of little children clustering about his knees, whose cheery voices called him Father!"—of a faithful councillor and helpmate, hand in hand with whom he walked through life, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, for better for worse," till death did them part. A blissful vision, brief in proportion to its intensity. For, quick following upon this lovely dream came the assurance that with the girl who stood beforehim--holdingloose and vague opinions upon the subject which he justly considered of para- mount importance and of a character not likely to change except from thorough conviction—this happy dream. could never grow into reality. The shock was as sudden as the lurid flash which reveals to some startled traveller the precipice over whose brink another moment's spurring would urge his quivering steed. It was a hard case, truly! He loved, and could not, dared not yield one iota of his principles. If his affection were returned, as he fancied might be the case, neither could Gertrude swerve from such priccipk-s as she held, unless upon full conviction. Hersin Say the real knot of the difficulty. The difference ai position and of ckcumntoBaos Raymond ■m J1ót, stffl m the flush of his gratification at Vaa Fiawker's kifrequent praise, estimate as obssaclesof particular moment. He judged Van Flpwker more rightly than could his daughter's partial eyes, and believed, I think with reason, that the merchant would prefer a son-in-law of value to his business, able to advance its interests, to the bluest patrician blood that could be bought for money. Being a man of thoroughly sound and healthy mind, used to meet doubts frankly upon the instant, and convert them into certainties of favourable or un- favourable hue. Raymond promptly resolved to face his prt sent difficulty here, and now. These thoughts were conceived, and his resolu- tion taken, during the pauses of a conversation too common-place and ordinary in character to be noted here. Raymond seized the opportunity of the next, in- terval in their talk, and put a case. Delicacy to Gertrude, if the result should prove as he. believed and hoped—desire to spare himself, in case he had been self-deceived—the necessity of leaving entire freedom of future action to both—all made it imperative that he should mask the actual situation under a fictitious veil. If Gertrude rightly read his heart, she would not fail to penetrate the disguise; if not, then both were saved unnecessary pain. Miss van FJewker," he began, consciousness of the importance of the subject to the happiness of both, lending a tender earnestness to his tone, "one who relies upon my judgment, has asked my opinion upon a very delicate matter. I am not much versed in these affairs myself, and should be glad to have the advice of a lady of tact and discretion, upon the honesty of whose sentiments he might rely. Shall I be asking too much if I beg you to act as judge in the question ?" Gertrude hesitated. The fine and delicate instinct of her sex told her in an instant that there was more in the request than appeared upon the surface. The gravity of Raymonds tone and manner further con- vinced her that some special interest of his own was deeply concerned. She had not the most distant suspicion of the real moment to herself of the opinion she was asked to give. It might be con- cerning a friend; it might relate to his sister," she thought. A spice of feminine curiosity mingled with her wish to oblige Raymond, and she determined to consent. "You pay me a high compliment, M. White," she returned, in asking my advice; though I can hardly think the opinion of one so unversed in the ways of world can be of particular value. Still, if it will oblige your friend, and give you pleasure, I shall -be happy to do my best." He thanked her ardentlv. "I know, he continued, that I may place per- fect reliance upon your telling me your real opinion, without disguise. It is precisely—pardon me !— because of that inexperience in wori(Ilywile, to which you allude, that I think your judgment would be so valuable. The matter is this. The gentleman of whom I speak is in the service of a rich merchant in the City. In society he has occasionally met his employer's daughter. Circumstances have thrown him a good deal together with this lady, and he has conceived a ^strong attachment to her. He is not a coxcomb-I will do him the justice to sav that—and yet he imagines it^ possible that in time the lady might re- ciprocate his affection. Further, he does not apprehend that his employer would be averse to his suit, for he believes that gentleman would look, in choosing a son-in-law, more to capacity to assist in the conduct of his busyness, which is of a, peculiar character, than to rank or money. So far the matter would appear to present no very unfavourable aspect." Clearly not," answered Gertrude, with a laugh. "Your friend is apparently a fortunate man, wbos- prospects many would envy." Raymond went on. "Now comes his He has been biy"gfit up to consider religion as the principal object in life. It is not with him, as with many, a mere theory or respectable convenience. It is bound up with his existence. All his hopes in this world and the next are based upon its teachings. He believes in it .thoroughly, heartily, and cheerfully. It is his aim and his happiness humbly to endeavour to guide himself by ics rubs. With the lady for whom he has conceived an attachment the case is altogether different, tier father is an essentially worldly man. He cares nothing for any species of belief, except in so far as it may tend to advance his interests. Educated under these circumstances, and having lost her mother young, the object of my friend's affection has not enjoyed the advantages of any religious training. He tells me she is gentle, affectionate, kind, and intellectual; he may be partial, of course, but I am inclined to believe that in these xespefcts the lady's character is by nomeans ovez. ted. Her only defect, in fact, as far as I can tmfifer. Auno, appears to be her want of a fixed and earnegfc ,¡ ¡, —————— religious bias. My friend, however, is afraid that his regard may have induced him to take too favourable a view of her character; and this is the principal reason why he has desired advice in the matter." He paused, affected by the struggle it had cost him to subdue his emotion, and relate the story with in- difference and calm. Gertrude's eyes had never left his face while he was speaking. The moon shone full upon his countenance with the radiance of day, and showed each muscle sternly kept in order by an iron will. His eyes met hers as he concluded, and the two looked at each other for some seconds without a word. chap 22 Did the suspicion begin to enter Gertrude's mind that it was her own story he was relating? Did she —ah! did she guess who this mysterious friend might be ? Will she not understand, and spare me further pain ? Oh will she never understand ?" Yet, like the Spartan boy when the fox was gnaw- ing at his vitals, Gertrude made no sign, and Ray- mond continued- This, therefore, is his strange and unhappy fate. He loves, he thinks he is beloved, yet dares not ask I the object of his love to share his lot. He dares not ask, because he believes that life has higher duties than the mere gratification of passion. He dares not ask, because he thinks it w ould be a sin, a crime, an outrage upon all the principles and practice of his 'I' life, to make one, unstable in what he has been taught to believe holy, the partner of his days, the mother of his children. Say, Gertrude, honestly and frankly, what is your own opinion ? Is he right, or is I he wrong ?" | She understood him—ah! she understood him now. The ffimsy veil of fictitious reserve that had inter- J posed between them was rent in twa&i, and their liea-rte beat qufokiy as tbejjstood there face to face. The hour of decision—of that final, ultimate, per. 1 emptory decision, that should make or mar the happi- ness of two noble lives—was come. "IUs hard-is very hard!" whispered Gertrude, faintly; so faintly, that Raymond was forced to bend low to catch her words. I—I can hardly advise. Alas What shall 1 do ? What shall I say ?" Her voice died away into an articulate murmur. Even by that white light Raymond could see that she was deadly pale that the cruel battle waging within her breast between the love that spoke so strongly, and the pride that would not yield, was written upon her face. Truly, it was very hard! "The truth, dear Gertrude!" he panted. "The truth—nothing but the truth len-your-fr¡tllJ-is--i5right! shestammerec1 jZiS next minute she fainted in his arms.