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To-day's Short -Story.1


To-day's Short Story. 1 A NEAR-SIGHTED LOVER. Igre. Btanton was a little widow who "thought herself inconsolable. She was jonvimoed that there never had been, and that there never would be. such another nan as her late lamented husband. She mourned for him so incessantly that her health broke down, and she was obliged to leave her home and seek reetoratkm at a water cure. It was a very small establishment in one of the Eastern States, and it contained the usual complement of ailing ministers, men of business, and spinsters, with a very few young epileptic, cataleptic, or dyspeptic patients. Amomg the latter was a certain Mr. Charles Weeks. He was about 34 or 35, ■ather tall and spare, yet well proportioned. Ie had regular features, and a. neat, dark, moustache. He was not only nice looking, but his faco was tho in-dei of a kindly disposition, and he ha.d a very sweet smile. Thet^o advantage were off-set by two defects. He was very near-sighted, and he was desperately bashful. Thi3 amiable young man had lately lost a beloved mother. He had been her idol, I and she had been his friend and companion, and, indeed, had supplied him with all the I Bociety he was conscious of needing. They had lived a-lone together for years, and he was now mourning her loss very I deeply. Mrs. Stanton arrived at the water cure by a very late train; consequently, she did not make her appearance in public until the next day at breakfast. She was then placed at the table at which Mr. Weeks was seated, [ but on the oppooitt side and further down, next to Mr. Weeks, sat young Hardie, who, although a dyspeptic, broken down at college, was the life of the houee. He was a merry, rollicking young follow, with a good- humoured fa<e and a sparkling black eye- indeed, two of them. When the little widow took her place, he nudged his companion, and whispered: "Hello, Weeks, here is a new-corner! Very taking face-very. Seems to be an elderly j lady. Must be a widow." Weeks, in an agony lest the lady should overhear, glanecd acrces the table, but could only see a blurred, indefinite, palish splotch, orowned with a white film, which he took to be a widow's cap, as, indeed, it was. ¡ So he said, I suppose she is." Mi- Stanton spent her days as quietly as if she were in her own house. Here the j formula was, Water, water, nothing but water, not. cold, externally, internally, and eternally." The regular life, simple diet, aild bracing mountain air soon proved of great benefit to her. She W¡;g ordersd by the good doctors to rest as much as possible out of doors on a cot. At other times she took as long walks as she could. Now. young Yr, V.'eeka' bashfulnesa did not extend to eldorly ladies, and when, a day or two after Mrs. Stanton's arrival, he found her sitting under a. tree in the grove he reoognisd by her cap that rhe must be the widow lately arrived, and his natural politeness prompted him to stop and say: The air is very fine to-day, madam." As he uttered this commonplace with his attractive smile, the lady could not help recognising, a well-bred and kindly young gentleman, so she answered him with eqnal eauvity a.nd in a, sweet and winning voice, Mr. Weeks was sensitive to voices, and he honoured all elderly ladies for his dear mother's sake. He told himself that Mrs. Stanton reminded him of her whom he bad so tenderly loved, and almost before he knew it. he had seated himself upon an opposite bench, amd was talking pleasantly. At the end of half an hour, when the Tinging of the treatment bell cut short their interview, he said to himself that he had not met so charming a. person since his mother died. Mrs. Stan-ton's gentle voice and sympathetic manner, and the spirit of kindliness which inspired all she said, found a ready response in his own warm heart. From that time they were frequently seen together. Sometimes he would meet her om her wafks- when he would join her a.nd often ?<eF his arm to aasMt her over a rough part ,3ffer --h is -.a-i?n t'6'?egist her over n, rough part Thus their intimacy grew so mdually: that there was nothing in it to alarm the moet scrupulous little widow in the world. She told herself t;hat, although she could ■never love a.ga.in, she was glad th:1.t friend- ship. was etili possible to her. Besides, she considered Mr. Weeks óL mere boy, and felt a motherly iatere-st in him. His manner became more deferential as they advanced in friendship. They discovered that their tastes were very congenial. Under the influence of her pleasant surroundings Mrs. Stanton became resigned and cheerful. One day as she was coming from ber Tsajnmock to the house she saw Mr. Weeks stretched at full length on a bench under the trees. His handkerchief was b-ound over his eyes., and as she passed him softly, she thought. gihe heard a low groan. Are you suffering, Mr. Weeks?" she said. He answered that he had a. bad nerrous headache. Oh, I am so sorry," she said. You must try to sleep it off." Then a bright thought occurred to her. Her husband had been subject to such attaoks. and she had frequently cured them. She had a magnetic touch, amd she felt sure she could oharm away her friend's suffering, but still ehe hesitated. While she hesitated &he heard him groan again. If he were my young son or my brother," she ea.id to herself, I could not let him lie there suffering, and I believe I care for him almost as much as though he were. Why should I be silly a.nd prudish?" Finding no good answer to this question, she went back to her hammock and brought her own pillow. Then ehe gently raised Mr. Weeks' bead, and slipped the pillow under it. Seating herself on the bmoh, she made a few magnetic passes over the sufferer's forehead. The effect of her soft, delightful tcuoh was magical. The patient lay there, feeling his pain ebbing away, a delicious languor stole over him, and at last he slept. He had tried once or twice to express his gratitude, but she bad gently forbidden him to talk. When he at last awoke, some hours after- wards, he found himself covered with Mrs. Stanton's shawl, but the lady had left him. As the remembrance of the lisrht touch of her fingers came back to him, he told himself ?eht she was the dearest woma m the I. world. She is my sister, or my adopted mother," be said. But does one thrill at the touch cf one's sister or one's adopted mother? Does one I feel beavy and dull in her absence, but at I rest and perfectly content in her presence? I Does one feel that without the society of one's eiste-r the whole world would te a. blank? This was now the state of Mr. I "Weeks' affection {or Mrs. Stanton. He nevex thought of her age. To him she was -perfect in all respects. Next day something occurred that dis- | tressed our young friend very much. He found Mrs. Stanton in tears. Mr. Weeks remembered how kindly she had comforted him on the foregoing day, and he felt that he could not leave her to indulge in her sorrow alone. He must try to comfort her. She had an open letter in her hand, and he now came forward and asked her to tell him the cause of her trouble. ot., Mr. Weeks," she said, it is cowardly and wrong of me to give way so." She struggled to check her sobs, and in a few moments beoame more composed. Then she said:— I have just learned that my little fortune has been swept away." I am only unnerved by this sudden news," she said, with a faint smile. "I shall soon be stronger and braver. I was a governess for one year before I married, and I shall go back to teaching. No doubt it will really be the beet thing for me. What does it matter?'' lfr. Weeks was overcome with concern and pity. He could not bear the idea of his dearest friend entering upon such a, life of drudgery. She is no longer young," he said to him- self, and it will be crueliy hard faT her." He was silent a long time. He nad an ampla fortune, and no c-ne but himself to think of. When at last he spoke it was to endeavour to persuade Mrs. Stantona to accept a loan, the half of his fortune, any- thing, if only she would allow h;m to provide for her comfort. But she rejected all his generous offers, firmly and gracefully. She persisted in saying that she must leave the cure soon, and make some arrange- ments for her future life as a tea-cher. At last he left her and went to take a long stroll by himself. It had only needed this last experience, this longing pity which made him yearn to comfort her, to enlighten nis mind as to the real state of his feelings. "I love her," he cried aloud. "I cannot give her up." He sprang rapidly down the hill and returned to the cure. At last he reached the spot where, the happiest Lorurs of his life ha,d been parsed. Mrs. Stanton was stiil there. lie went boldly up to her. Mrs. Stanton," he said, as he seated him- self by her and took her hand in his, I cannot give you up. I love you with a.ll my heart, and I cannot bear my life if you refuse me. I h?ve come to beg you to be my wife." Genuine love was too apparent in the young man's earnestness, in every word and action. You have surprised me so," she said at last, I must have time to think." Any length o,f time. "Then give me a week to decide, and please leave me now." For days a-fter this Mr. Weeks walked down to the little village pest-offioe for his letters. There wns but one for him. It was from an old friend. Among other matters of interest only to himself he read: By the way, old fellow, how are your eyes? There is a very famous oculist in this city who has performed wonders for people whose sight is affected. Why don't you run up and consult him? Don't you want to begin to see the world you live in? Ju""t then he was joined by young Hardie, who was taking his morning stroll. Think- ing of the same subject, they naturaHy began to talk of Mrs. Stanton, and Hardie said: What a charming woman Mrs. Stanton is; she is looking ever so much better than she did when 6he came. I ?-u?d not wonder if I had made a mistake in her age, after ;111. It is so hard to tell a woman's age. She may net be more than 40. What do you think?" I have Tever thought about her age," said Weeks, a little stiffly. This casual remark of Hardic's deoided him. He would &ee her. He knew she was charming, but he longed to see for himself. Next day he took the tradn for the city. Punctually at 3.30 o'clock on the day appointed by Weeks for learning his fat, a carriage drove up to the door of the water cure. and a young man, wearing coloured eye-glasses, stepped out. He dismissed the driver and turned into the grove. With impatient footsteps he walked to Mrs. Stanton's favourite seat. Was ahe there? .Someone was, but who was she? He stopped in utter amazement. A lovely young woman, who might, possibly, be 25, but who did not look over twenty, was seated upon the bench. Her eyes, which were raised to hie, were a soft, dark brown; her bau, wavy and luxuriant, was a beautiful shade of dark. golden auburn. She was dresed in deep mourning; she wore no widow's cap. She rose hesitatingly as he approached. Can you tell me where Mrs. Stanton is, madam?" asked Mr. Weeks, wondering and trembling. ob, Mr. Weeks, you don't know me!" answered a reproachful voice that made his heart leap. After a while he whispered to her, You are not more lovely than I knew you were, but you are much younger." "Well," she said, between tears and smiiles, that is a. fault that I will do my best to outgrow, and in the meantime "In the meantime," he interrupted, "wo will be as happy a couple as ever lived in this happy old world." And they were.

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